Market Town : Helena : Every day is a morning after
Helena, 14, outside number 68. 2011.
“I was 15 and he was 19, 20. We started to meet up for a while, and most of the time, four out of five days he was fine and then the next moment he’d just turn. He did tell me he was on very strong anti-depressant pills and they affected him big time, so he often did not like to take them.”
“One night when we were up in my room, he was just rocking forwards and backwards on the bed and he looked down for a minute or so, and when he looked back up at me he was just a completely different person. His whole way had just changed, he said to me ‘Are you OK?’ and that was it, I just had to get out of the room. So, I made my way to go to the toilet but he grabbed my wrist and pulled me down back on the bed. I tried to look into his eyes but all I could see was pure evil in them. I could see that he just didn’t care at all. He was just a completely different person. Afterwards he went to get a (pencil) sharpener from my chest of drawers and he ended up taking the blade out and began cutting himself and his neck, his arms. Basically he without a word he grabbed my arm and started to cut me as well, my arm. He was just completely out of his zone.”
“About ten minutes later he ended up taking a load of pills and I asked him “What are they for?” he said “Oh, nothing serious!”. After that he was just back to how he was, like. One minute he’d been like pure evil, I was being strangled on the bed, really hard, and I thought “This is it!” that he was never going to let go, I was going blue then all of a sudden it was over and he just let go and was back to his normal self.”
“The next day we went downstairs and my mum noticed all the scars and asked what they were, he just said “Helena scratched me!” so I just thought “Oh, great, I’m going to get the blame for this now!”.
“A few days after we went back to his and on my laptop I began to tell mum what he’d been doing to me, and he saw the messages that I had been messaging her. The next minute he pushed me to the floor and started kicking me in the side, in the ribs a number of times. He pulled my hair, my head, so I was near the door and he forced me to sit there and he took my laptop, took some parts from it so I could not contact mum or anyone. Then he tried to force me to go home, but I had to get a bus and had to find some money and so I came home. I’d been with him just over two weeks and it felt like years and years.”
“One day I went back to his and he was just fine, bright as anything. He said he had to go out to see his ex to get some of his things back, when he returned he told me that he’d just cheated on me, so everything ended there. I felt like I must have been there to use on the rebound, like his punching bag basically.”
“To this day mum remembers me coming down the stairs and I’d just be shaking, I’d sit down and not say a word. Everything just started tumbling down from then I started hitting the drugs and the drink. I got involved with the wrong people. I was self harming a lot more, it just completely messed my life up. He’d just played with my mind so much, too much. I just couldn’t get the experience out of me. I wanted to say something to the police but when I did it was too late because I’d kept it hidden for three months.”
“I kept it hidden I think because with the police you need a lot of evidence and even though I had the scars he left, well, they could just turn around and say that I’d done that to myself so I thought that they would never believe me. They kept a report of it. Apparently he’s done it again since to a few other girls and he’s been cautioned but he just walks around town as if nothings happened.”
“At the time, I think I blamed myself for everything. Mainly because he was like, my responsibility and I just kept blaming myself, I didn’t know what to do for anything that happened, I should have kept an eye on when he was taking his pills but I knew he’d not listen to me.”
“Mentally, he was really fucked up in the head, they were a really strong medication. He was only supposed to take two a day, but often he’d take a load, when he did this he completely changed and had a whole other side to him, he was just gone, his bad side really came out when he took too many of his pills and then, if he didn’t take any of them he would change too.”
“I really met him at the worst time as I was having trouble at school, bullying. I’d heard that before he’d met me, he wanted to go with someone else but they never showed and he’d got a blade in his coat and started cutting himself outside Strikes (Bowling alley) and people were watching and everything but no one thought anything of it. Then he ended up doing it to me.”
“The whole experience really set me on another course in life, as afterwards I really got in with the wrong people. They actually started to believe his story over mine. They started spreading rumors around town, saying it was all just my fault. I just couldn’t take it anymore and had a sort of mental breakdown and really began to give up on life.”
Helena, 16, back at home after her suicide attempt. March 2013.
“I did self harm a lot and I also took an overdose then, mostly because of all the things happened between me and him. I ended up being taken into hospital because the pills I’d taken were birth control pills, painkillers and a load more. He didn’t have a care in the world, just kept putting up Facebook statuses saying that I was a complete fucking bitch, I should have killed myself, that I was just trying to get attention. I just wanted to give up on my life, that’s why I did it. Looking back at that, now, I feel pretty stupid, doing that over someone that was out of my life and was so fucked up in the head.”
“After I had split up with him I had the mental health team visit and I’d go and see them up in Norwich but they weren’t any good at all. They were no help at all. All they ever did was ask me bits about myself like ‘What music are you into?’ and ‘What do you do in your free time?’ and the last session I had with them they said ‘We don’t need to see you no more’. So, then I got involved with another mental health team who I have at the moment and my doctor has actually diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, O.C.D. and a load more things and this was all because of this experience and the rapes that happened and so now I’m on medication.”
“I know I need the medication but I’ve stopped it for a while, though I know I’ll get put back on it, I’ll get put on stronger pills for a while and I’ll have to make sure I take them but I think I just have a real downer about them, people saying I’m a freak for being on them. Both other people and me, I feel like it too sometimes. People at school never understood, like I only really had the two friends at school and I talked to them about it and the other students from the bigger groups found out and started talking about me, picking on me because of my mental problems.”
“I used to feel so lonely at school, really I just had these two friends, that I could talk to properly and trust and rely on to not back stab me but they moved away up north and anyone else I was friendly with have moved out of the town now, all live outside it so I rarely see anyone.”
“It’s been such a mad few years, now I’m just trying to get on with my life, do my therapy. It’s helping a bit but monday, I had to talk about the second rape that happened and I had to in like, full detail and my therapist said if I talk about it like that, in detail it would be easier to deal with it but it’s one of the hardest things I have to do because it always brings me back to the time I was at the police station about the first rape and they just sit there whilst you’re feeling your whole world tumble down around you. Also, when I talk about it in therapy, I feel really sad as I’m saying to myself ‘You could have done something to stop this all happening’ and you really just feel like everything, everything is all your own fault and now, when I think back about it, I just want to fight back even if they were stronger than me, I want to do something but I know I couldn’t.”
“Living in this town, when my first rapist lives just down the road, I always see him about, only yesterday I saw him in town and he looked at me and laughed and said ‘Bonjourno!’ and I felt just like some piece of meat, like I’d been treated like shit, all his friends were laughing and I felt I should do something but there was just nothing I could do.”
“I have been getting a lot of shit recently about the first of my rapes. I had this friend and she’s kept saying I was lying about it, just kept giving me abuse about it, saying she’s going to smash my head in. She’s friend’s with the rapist and I always say to her ‘You just hear the rapists side of the story, not mine, not the victims.’ I know sooner or later he’ll do it again and they would have to report it and if they do he’ll be getting sent down for it. With me, he got off scot free really, he just had 180 hours of community service, put on a sex offenders register for seven years and he has a suspended sentence of ten years, so he got away free really.”
“What makes me laugh is one night when I was in the centre of town and everything kicked off there. He brought a load of people to a place me and my friends would sit and in this courtyard they have a load of C.C.T.V and he was angry with me and I was angry with him and he said ‘Go on then, punch me!’ and as I was leaning in to hit him he grabbed my arm, pulled me over a fence and kicked me in the leg. C.C.T.V filmed it all but it was never mentioned in court. It’s just unbelievable.”
“It was so hard to report it at all. When I did, a few months after the first rape had happened, I’d been hitting the drink, after the first attack and I had my friend bring me back home and I told everything to mum and she called the police and they came round to our house.”
“First off, two women came to see me and they were alright but when they were leaving I just wanted to jump out of my bedroom window and I was up there and they saw me and said ‘You’re not going to do anything silly are you?’ and I said ‘Maybe’ and they just got in their car and drove off and didn’t do anything, it was my brother that saw me and dragged me back in and tucked me into bed.”
“In the interview room, you’re told where all the cameras are and you’re on your own with them and they start asking all these questions and you just feel, ‘Oh my god, I don’t like this at all’. You feel SO claustrophobic in that little room, feel totally watched by these other people and you just feel like the whole world is tumbling down around you, I felt like all the blame was on me, that they were blaming me more than him and you want to cry, the room is so depressing it’s untrue. All you want to do is sit there and cry, all the time.”
“The second rape happened last year, almost a year after the first. It was the worst one as the guy involved, he really had made out that he was my friend and I went to go and meet him for a second time, he’d said we could go and get a kebab and go back to his and watch a few movies, that sort of thing. When I got there, there were two other of his friends at his place and basically I thought they were alright.”
“As the night kicked in he started rolling joints but there was other stuff in it and that made me pass out and he raped me there and then whilst I was asleep but I woke up during the middle of it all. His friend was actually asleep on the sofa and all I wanted to do was to wake him up as I thought he might help me. Afterwards he just acted as though nothing at all had happened. I’d only met him twice and I still have to face him every time I go up to the city because I go to a place called MINT to get me back into education and work and it’s in a building where he always hangs about outside with all his friends and I really hate to have to see him. I mean, I have to walk right past him and he just looks at me so dirtily every time.”
“I didn’t report the second rape. I was scared, too scared of going through that experience again, or that they would not believe me, having to go into full detail about everything again, then all the therapy, it’d be like going right back to day one after the first rape and that’s something I really don’t want to do because it always puts me in a really bad mental state, so depressed and so I was just too scared to do anything.”
Helena. March 2013.
“I’d saved some money for a tattoo and I just thought I’d have a drink, y’know, treat myself, have a laugh but it did not really turn out like that. I’d got this text in the middle of the night to go and see this girl for a bit and I said ‘Yeah, I can do.’ but mum said ‘No, she’s trouble, you’re staying in.’ So, there was a huge argument and I threw a bit of a wobbly and basically, I never meant for anything to happen, I just did it.”
“My (then) boyfriend was getting ready to leave for the night, to go to his place and as the argument was going on he was saying he couldn’t handle it all, and Mum came upstairs and started screaming and shouting at me and I hit her, slapped her in the face and my brother came up and held me down to prevent me from hitting anyone else and everything just went tits up. I’d hit my ex as he’d said something he was never supposed to say and mum said something to get at me, saying that she thought the rapes were never real, to get back at me for all I’d said to her about her boyfriend. I think I head butted my brother, from what I can remember and so we all had this massive falling out that night.”
“There was another huge argument on the monday and I split up with my boyfriend, we had got back together following the previous split. After the argument though I took an overdose, 16 paracetamol and I went to see my ex. He said ‘Nothings going to happen to you, you never took enough, 20 is the amount that will harm you.’ and then mum rang up to say that two packets of the paracetamol had gone, one was hidden in my drawer and I ended up having a paramedic come over and he said I had to go to the hospital to have a few tests run, so I stayed the night there.”
Bruises left from cannula drip. March 2013.
“I had to have a cannula in my arm, had a panic attack the first time they put a 30 minute drip into me and I had the four hour one afterwards then the 16 hour one. I had a few blood tests, my blood pressure checked to make sure everything was all out of my system and then I could come home.”
“I did it because I had no one to turn to, it was either doing that or cutting my wrists or something completely stupid. Now that I’ve done it, I’m not about to do it again, especially after what the sister said to me, she told me that if I did it again, take another overdose that I would just bleed from everywhere.”
Helena, morning after returning home from hospital. March 2013.
“I used to self harm a lot at school, really badly on my legs and someone found out about it and everyone used to walk around school, every time they would see me they would get their arms out or pretend to make a gun and put it to their head, taking the piss basically. I’d get really upset about it.”
“After Silence is an online support group for survivors of rape and sexual violence, I just flicked around in Google, looking for things, as I knew I needed more help through everything and I came across the After Silence group and I joined it. It took me awhile but I managed to share a few details of what had happened. With a computer I can put it so much better than I could with a therapist. With my therapist I never really felt comfortable, I never felt at ease. All I seemed to get asked was ‘How do you feel about things?.’ and I was like ‘ Well, how do you fucking think I feel about this!.’”
“I think I kind of helped myself in a way, because my therapist didn’t really do anything for me. They just seemed to want me to keep repeating the full story in great detail every time. They kept saying ‘The more times you repeat this, the easier it will get.’ but, I don’t see how it could ever be like that. So, I really think I kind of just helped myself, I’d look up other peoples stories of how they self helped and thought to myself ‘Right, time to just buck up and pull myself out of it, instead of always pulling myself down.’ but, even after the rapes and everything that’s happened I still just feel dirty, thats how I always feel, because of what has happened. I know I still need some help coping and I’ll try and get some more.”
Helena, at home, the day after a mixup at the hospital abortion clinic. June 2013.
Helena : “I can’t win either way because my therapist and my Dr have said if I were to keep the baby it would be taken into care right away.”
Donna : “When I first found out, I just cried for about two or three days. Only Helena’s support worker from the mental health team, they have been the only ones who have said to me “Look, I’m here if you need to talk.”
“I’m just totally, totally against abortions, as far as I’m, concerned it a living being, that’s how I see it, so I’m dealing with Helena being pregnant badly. I’m having to try and be the strong one and I try and explain this to Helena but it do me every time I try and explain it, I feel as if I’m killing my grandchild, and that hurts. I’m sorry, but I do, but I know that is what she needs. It’s her life. Her ex doesn’t want anything to do with her.”
“She’s got no other options. You know, you just can never turn your back on your kids though, that instinct is there. I couldn’t kick her out over this, that’s just not on. You always think when they were little, when they were born, the bond you get is unbelievable, the bond you make is so strong, you can’t break it, it’s going to be there forever and so she’s just going to have to put up with me forever! (laughs) you’d do ANYTHING for your kids. Personally, I’ve had no help with this by the authorities, I’m totally brushed under the carpet. I’m not allowed to have any doing’s in this whatsoever. It’s all left to be Helena’s decision. At the clinic they just gave Helena a load of literature and basically leave it all up to her to make her decision. “
Helena : “Every time I asked for mum to be in the room (at the abortion clinic) with me they said ‘No, we just want you in there.’ but if I had my ex with me, they would let him in but they won’t let my mum in with me.”
“The clinic just asked me have you had any literature on the procedure and sent me out the same letter three times. All it says is about the abortion, the procedure, and that’s all they give me every time I am there. If I go to see them all they do is tell me they will give me this first tablet for 30 minutes then the next one, then I have to go to hospital within eight hours to miscarry and then you leave and go home, just fuck off basically. That’s it, that’s all they say, they don’t ask if I need any help dealing with it all, just if I’m in a lot of pain I have to tell the nurse and she’ll give me paracetamol. I still don’t really know what’s happening, just what is on this letter, though I know the longer I leave it, the more painful it’s going to be, I mean I’m almost two months gone now and after what happened today, I just feel terrible.”
Donna, Helena’s mother. July 2013.
Donna : “I think they need to be more supportive and a better explanation of what’s going to happen. Today, we had to go up to the hospital, she had to have all the blood tests, then gets told it’s time for her to go to this ward, so we walk over to it, thinking she’s going to have to take the first of these tablets, the one to stop the baby forming any more and we turn around and they said ‘Sorry, you were supposed to be here wednesday.’ To be told that stood in the middle of a maternity ward, all the doors are open there, people walking past with tiny little babies in carriers going home with them, it’s just not on, Helena just started crying. They lied about the phone calls they said they were supposed to be making, that is very bad of them, it’s a disgrace.”
Helena : “It clearly said on the letter that they gave me the name of this ward, so I expected it to be a ward for people to go to specifically for the abortion but no, it was actually a maternity ward and to see other women coming out of there left, right and center with newborns, it was just too much to take.”
Donna : “They first said they had tried to phone us, so I asked on what number, then they said they did not have our telephone number at all so they just bloody lied to us, didn’t they?, they lied about the dates of the appointments and they lied about calling us, I mean, c’mon!”
“So, it turns out, and we never knew this before going, nothing was said, nothing, that everyone that has to have an abortion has to go to a maternity ward, that’s where they deal with it, that’s where you go to have this life form finish. Why is it that a child, because that’s all she is, has to go to a maternity ward to have a tablet to abort the baby, the life form, whatever you want to call it, it’s absolutely disgraceful and wrong. It’s like an punishment for those that have made a mistake, that’s how I see it.”
“Why is there not a certain room, a place away from the children ward, maternity ward for this, you just don’t want to be around that when you having to go through all this. It’s wrong, it’s totally wrong.”
“We now have to get on the phone again, get another appointment, as she couldn’t have the first pill today and all this is doing is prolonging things in her mind, it’s just messing her up. I just can’t believe that this happened. How many other young people have had to go through this?, and how traumatized must they be after it?. It’s just been such a hard week.”
Helena : “A really hard week.”
Helena, the morning after her abortion. July 2013.
“We went up the hospital, for the pills. Mum was sat over near the window and I had two nurses come in, a Sister and a regular nurse. They told me that they had to give me two tablets, one in my fanny, one up my arse, basically, and she said it all should happen within four hours. I couldn’t move for one hour because everything could go tits up. I really wanted to go to the toilet but I couldn’t, so I kept marching up and down to the toilets and Mum got me a drink, everything I ate and drank I just kept chucking it right back up, I was sick probably five or six times.”
“After the four hours were up it wasn’t working so I had to have some more put into me, another three and they said that if they did not would I’d be left with no choice at all but to have the surgical abortion. That really started me panicking as that, the surgery, was something I was really afraid of.”
“So, me and mum started to go through all the corridors, to leave the hospital and wait outside and catch the bus. I sat down for a bit and had a cigarette and I turned round to mum, I thought like, I needed a wee, but I didn’t… I said to mum ‘Shit, I think it’s going to start!’ and the bus was only a few minutes away. Mum said ‘You’re going to have to try and wait otherwise we are just not going to be able to get back home.’ On the bus I was struggling to hold it, it’s like dying for a wee basically and you just can’t hold it anymore and the lumps and the bumps in the roads really didn’t help. I had to keep my legs crossed at all times to make sure nothing happened.”
“As soon as we got into town I looked on the seat and there was nothing there, thank god. Grandad and nanny picked us up and they asked us how everything went and I just wanted to get home, thats just how I felt, I just wanted to get home, I didn’t want to bother about anything else, just get home. I could feel everything starting to come through and as soon as I got out of my grandads car I looked at the seat and it had gone blood red, I looked behind myself as I was wearing a long top, it was all covered. I quickly opened the front door and just ran inside and up the stairs, opened the door of the toilet, went inside and started crying.”
“I dunno, I just kept thinking at the time that my mum shouldn’t be here, it should have been my ex helping me through this, none of these things are things my mum should have seen, I didn’t want mum to have to see all this, go through all this, that’s not what I wanted at all. I’d got told by so many people not to look down, after the miscarriage, well, I did the worst of all things and looked down and that’s when I saw something that I really didn’t want to. To this day I still have really bad nightmares about it.”
“I didn’t have no choice but to have the abortion because I’m with this mental health team and they said if I was to keep the baby, because of the things that have happened to me in the past, they wouldn’t give me a chance and they would have to take the kid straight away. At the time, I thought OK, I was concentrating on my education, because I’ve never really had the chance to have one, getting out of school so early, thanks to all the trouble and bullying.”
“I had an abortion. The thing is, I know I did it for all the right reasons. If I had a kid with me now I could not do the things I wanted to do and I’d be held back for the rest of my life until they were 18, plus, I’ve always thought marriage should come first, before children and that’s how I really want it to be, I mean, I said it to mum, I want this with someone I’ve been married to for a fair while and someone I can settle down with.”
Donna at home. July 2013.
Donna : “The thing of it is, children of today are made to grow up very quickly and they are put under so much pressure by the way life is, they want to go out, do everything. The amount of kids you talk to these days that have got so stressed out about it all they are either cutting themselves or they are taking drugs, drinking heavily.”
“A lot of it’s peer pressure, they’ve got to be doing this, got to be doing that it’s just a lot of life now is just too much these days. When I was younger, Helena’s age I didn’t know anything about drugs, the drinking thing, if you had a sip of your dad’s beer you thought ‘woooo!’ the thing is we had inquisitive minds but no answers, now, with the net, kids can find out anything they want, anytime.”
“When we go to the sex clinic in the city, for contraceptives for Helena, you’d be amazed at the age of some of the young girls in there, they’ve come from school and it opens your eyes, it really does. You just can’t believe the age of some of these girls in there, it’s a shocker and you mainly see mum’s with these girls or their friends.”
“In sex education at school there should be a lot more about relationships. How people think, not just a man, but women too, and how relationships should work not just the sex part and how relationships should be, not just the biology but practical things too. How to say no, to say no and walk away.”
Helena : “When I was taught sex education, all my time at school I learned nothing. They just said ‘If you’re with your boyfriend and things aren’t working, you try and sort it out and if that does not work, break up with them.’ it seems the pupils in the higher groups got taught loads and us in the lower ones got taught nothing. They got taught everything and we got taught fuck all basically.”
“I think to them (men) in a relationship now they think ‘Well, are we going to do it then?’ and some blokes if they don’t have sex with you then they just fuck off. You definitely are pressured. like, say this girl just got with a guy, she knows right away that he’s expecting something and if he does not get it, he’ll leave and that’s wrong. A relationship shouldn’t just be all based about that one thing though should it?… I mean you should be there to support each other it’s not all about sex.”
Donna : “A lot of kids today, they just don’t have any respect, not for themselves or for others. In my day, you had that, if you wanted any respect you had to be like that, that way to others. I wouldn’t want to be their age again, no way, not in this day and age. Just so much of what kids are into these days is unbelievable. You see, the coppers years ago, if we did something naughty, I mean, I got wrong from a policeman for reckless riding my bike, no lights and it wasn’t even dark yet I got a clout round the ear and told to walk home and tell my father. The following morning the policeman turned up at home and my mum went ballistic saying ‘Wait till your father get home!’ and I thought ‘Shit, I’m in REAL big trouble!.’ and I knew I’d have the next week indoors doing the cleaning and stuff.”
“I think the internet has a lot to do with all of this. When I was kid sex it just wasn’t talked about. Now you can see anything anywhere online. There talking about having a limit aren’t they, for sites that show all kinds of pornography which is a good thing. When these were little I used to put a lock on the computers but the boys, well, they were too clever for me and unlocked it and that was it but now, kids don’t just have their laptops do they, they can see all this stuff on their phones, they have it 20 four seven right in front of them. I think the internet is a great thing, really I do, but it’s only as good as what you take to it.”
Helena : “I don’t think it’s just the internet though, I mean, clothes shops are really starting to sexualize kids clothes, children are sexualized so early now.”
Donna : “Nowadays, if you wear a short skirt or anything, they (men) think you’re asking for it, it’s just how it is now. It was different in the sixties, you look at Twiggy and she was glamorous, you can’t say that for the way women are now. Or Lulu and all that lot, nothing was said outright it was all implied. Now you have Katie Price or whomever and it’s just so in your face, it’s too much.”
“So, I put in for my expenses at the job centre, for the travel on the bus when we had to go to the abortion clinic at the hospital. When I went to sign on they turned round and said that ‘Why on earth.’ did I put in and claim for it and they explained that they might ‘Not be able to pay me anything now.’ they kept all my booklets, paperwork for all the jobs I had looked for, what I had done in that fortnight and they said ‘We can’t accept this.’ when I asked them why I was told it was because of the two days I had spent with Helena in hospital, because when I was there, I was not looking for work.”
“Then I had to try and prove myself, what I had done and everything else, then they turned round and said ‘You need to come back in two hours time and see this other woman.’ So, I went back, saw this other woman and filled all the forms out and she told me they could stop my money for a fortnight even a month.”
“On the 8th July Helena had to be in the hospital and it was the 18th I signed on and they turned round, after what ten days and said this. I tried to explain to them everything that had been happening but they weren’t going to have it. They then sent all the paperwork to Basildon and told me they would know what was happening in four days so I had all that time to just worry about it. I had to wait friday, saturday, sunday, monday, tuesday, then tuesday afternoon I rung up and I was told I was being allowed my benefits, they had looked into it all close enough and this was a warning to me as such. I now have to go in again next friday and see the woman again and she is going to show my all the paperwork I have to do.”
“I feel very bitter after all this, I was fuming afterwards. They make you feel like you have to beg for your money and the humiliation of it all in front of everyone there, nothings private in there anymore. It’s just not fair, it’s degrading in there. I was fuming. You wait there and you can just tell the wrong ones that are coming in, you can smell the drugs on them, you know what they are going to do, soon as they get their money they are going to waste it on drugs. My money just covers all the bills, food for the house, it’s just to cover living expenses, nothing else. It’s hard enough but they just don’t see it, they really don’t.”
“You don’t get any help, you have to beg for a bloody appointment in there. When you go to these places like you have to every fortnight now, to Ingeus (Provider of recruitment solutions) in the city, well, what a waste of bloody time that is. they don’t do nothing, they just sit and talk with you, to get you into work but do they get you work, help find you work, do they bugger. They just want to know all about your background, everything else and I’ve been to so many different people now. It’s just ridiculous. There is no help to find jobs in any way, basically you just sit down, chat, then they say ‘See you in a couple of weeks’ it’s a waste of time but you have to go, they threaten you you’ll get your money stopped, they just, really throw the law down on you like, you have to do this and if you don’t, you’re in big trouble.”
“They talk down to you, all of these people, very down. They make you feel as if you’re a piece of dirt on their shoe. You want support and confidence but all they do is knock it out of you. I’ll give you an example, the other week i put in for a job, with a care company and because they are a care company you have to supply loads of documents, I needed the green paper for my driving license which I cannot find any bloody where, that’s going to cost me 20 quid, my birth certificate, I can’t find that anywhere either, so that’s another tenner. Then the interview, I had to get on two different buses and all that would have cost nearly 50 quid.”
“When I next visited the job centre the woman told me ‘We can help pay for the travel but the other things, the documents, no.’ so I had to cancel that interview because if I had to pay out of my money, I would have been left with nothing. What is more important, keeping yourself well by eating or do I sacrifice that, go to the interview and for the next week we are all going to be living on toast or something, that’s how it is, and we have done that. We have to rob peter to pay paul and that’s how it’s been and it’s getting worse and the whole thing is humiliating. I mean, how do you apply for jobs that don’t even exist?, you have to apply for jobs on J.S.A. even though you know you don’t have the qualifications to get them but you still have to apply. It’s disgusting.”
“Everyone has their pride and I don’t like asking for help from anyone even if it means I have to sell stuff and I have done, I’ve sold my engagement ring, my wedding ring just to pay for things. That’s how bad it is, it’s all getting worse, it’s so dehumanizing and I don’t see why we have to beg, we shouldn’t have to beg.”
“The thing of it is, this really winds me up, they put a little bit, 1% or something on what workers earn and politicians want 11% extra so they can rake it in, it’s not fair. They are getting all their allowances, all their expenses paid but what about the ordinary person?, we struggle our guts out. It’s ALL about the rich at the moment and nothing for the people who are trying to work, trying to keep their home and trying to just keep their family together.”
Helena and Daniel. July 2013.
“Daniel had just lost his grandfather, so I sent him a message saying ‘You’ll be fine.’ just to comfort him and he said thanks. I’ve known him for years, we used to live close to their family ages ago. As soon as we really started talking, we just clicked. I arranged to have a meet up with him, I’d told him all about the abortion and what happened and everything and he came over the next day as he had it off work. He was just fine, we really got on, talking, it was great. When he had to go home, he admitted he had some feelings for me, and I told him I did too, but I wanted to take things slowly and he said ‘ That’s fine.’ so, that was just perfect basically. Since that day, well, we’ve been just like an old married couple, really happy.”
Helena and Daniel. July 2013.
“Daniel, he just really wanted to be there for me. He’s been through a lot too. He could understand how I felt, that it wasn’t fair for mum to keep being there for me, because you know, it shouldn’t all be up to her. Right from the first time he came round, he made me feel at ease. I felt calm. Of course I still think about everything that has happened, I don’t think I’ll be able to change anything because I still do get nightmares about it all but ever since I’ve had Daniel with me, I’ve started to feel better about myself, within me.”
“With my ex’s they put me on such a downer. They never complimented me, at all, I mean, they might say something on Facebook, but never in person, Daniel though, he compliments me all the time. If I went outside looking like total shit, to me, no makeup on, hair up, glasses on, he turns round and says ‘God, you look lovely today!.’ We are quite old fashioned really, and that’s what I’ve always wanted.”
“Blokes, most blokes these days, are just complete bastards. Like, when they meet up with their friends all they ever say is “Yeah, shagged a bird, went to the pub, watched the football!.’ but with Daniel, he doesn’t treat me like a trophy or anything like that to his mates. Daniel’s old fashioned, like, he’s romantic, more inclined to want to take me out for a meal than rush into things, just take things at a lovely pace, rather than just shagging on the first night, that’s how he is, old fashioned and romantic and I really like it to be like that, not with someone who in this day and age has just been brought up to be a player, you know?.”
Helena, 16. 2013.
“I want to go to college, I have a course starting in September, for a year. I’m really nervous though, because I keep thinking that it will be just like school, I got treated so badly there, so, that makes me worry a bit, going there and being bullied again. After that, if I can get a grant from the Prince’s Trust, get enough money together, I’d like to go to university and study archeology, thats been my passion since I was little. “