2019 and the years ahead..

I haven’t written here for a while. I needed some time to reflect on this year. Last year was the 10 year mark of when mum passed away. This was the hardest year by far, 10 years? It’s felt like a life time, even though it felt like yesterday. I still remember every detail of that horrible day, it’s stuck on my mind like a post it note, everyday constantly reminding me of that day. The day I lost her.

I really hope she knows how much she is changing lives, I promised myself and her, that I would try my very best to make a difference to others and the way we view domestic abuse. Last year I created an awareness morning in memory of her. It was such a success. The very beginning of something amazing. I will be hopefully speaking at the AADFA conference this year, I am so blessed. I am Jenny’s voice, I will speak on behalf of her for the rest of my life, the way she died was not right, we have to remind the world of that, I won’t stop there.

Grieving never stops, never pauses, there isn’t really a beginning or really an end. We don’t have a chance to accept or to let it sink in. It’s ever lasting, we have to learn to adapt and cope with death, even though we shouldn’t have to. Nobody ever thinks they will be affected by homicide, the truth is, it’s happening a lot more than we realise. The one thing I know is that I am not alone, I have met families who are in the same boat, the same path, the same journey as me. Jenny is not just a statistic, she is a person, a mother, a sister, someone’s friend. The statistic is just a door, what’s beyond the door is more important, I will always describe the type of person she was to every person I speak to, the person she was and still is, means so much more than just being defined by her death. Because she may have been murdered by her partner, but Jenny Young is my mother and she is worth way more than that.

Me and her are riding this storm together, on behalf of every victim who has suffered or is suffering from domestic abuse. My life has completely changed since losing my mother, it will never be the same, when I have children of my own, they will know about their amazing grandmother that was the strongest woman there ever was, who got up and packed her bags, started a new life and fought until her very last breath, I know she didn’t go down without a fight, I know her better than anybody.

Bereaved families are one of kind, the strongest of all. I know because I’ve met them, I’ve met the type of people they are, their pain sits beside their passion for change, for a difference. We never think it will happen to us, but when it does, we come up fighting, it’s just the beginning. So to every bereaved family, we’re in this together.

I have written plenty of blog posts, but every single blog post has come from my heart and the memories I have left of my mum. As life goes on, years go by, I still walk down the street, be reminded of a place. Drinking at a bar, her favourite song plays. It may be 11 years on, but she is more here than she ever was. It’s my birthday, I turn 23 tomorrow, the last time I spoke to or even saw my mum was when I was 12 years old. A lot has changed, the world has gone by. One thing I know that hasn’t changed is that Jenny’s memory lives on. We either sink or swim, but sinking isn’t option, because of that was ever an option, I wouldn’t be Jenny’s daughter.

Advertisements

We will never let our past define us..

So I thought I’d be done here, but the truth is, I will never will be done here. The last few months, even years has taught me so many things. My mum taught me a lot of things about life. We grew up with next to nothing, appreciating every little thing we ever had, just seemed natural to us, still to this day I am exactly that. It’s been 10 years this year since mum passed away and it will always feel like yesterday, forever yesterday. I do wish she was here, I wish she was here telling me to stop over analysing every little thing, getting angry over unnecessary situations, pushing people away. Without making this about me, my mental health has suffered over the previous 4/5 years. My anxiety drives me crazy and I feel like i’m in a battle with my mind everyday.

Mum really struggled with her mental health, however the strong and amazing individual she was, she always put others every single time, even though she should of put herself first. I am not perfect, I am not perfect whatsoever. I have seriously big flaws, sometimes they are noticeable to the people who I am closest to and unfortunately they can get the backlash of my mood swings and irritability, the negatives. I wish I wasn’t this type of person and it didn’t exist, it’s just not fair on them. I can never explain this side of me and one day I hope to. My relationships with men also suffer, because I’m frightened, I’m frightened of getting involved, I’m frightened of getting hurt or attached. The idea of a relationship scares me, even though I would love to be in one. I grew up around negative experiences of relationships, I never witnessed one in which mum was happy in, truly happy in. When someone comes along who is genuine, I will almost definitely push them away, because in a reality, I am just not used to it. I wanna change this. Someone could give me the world and one day I hope to give them the world in return, but I’ve got to sort myself out first, it’s not their fault.

“Bad things happen to good people”, I live by this saying, this is correct. Shitty things happen to good people. I wanna dedicate this to my sister, Meg. Earlier on this year, we lost the lovely little Alice. From the short time she was on this earth, she created a sense of positivity and happiness. Her little smile and her little laugh. Mum loves her Meg and I’m pretty sure she’s sat right with her. I cannot express how proud of you I am, I know it’s not similar situations, but I will let you know you can always come to me and I will forever be here to support you. You are still a mummy and always will be a mummy. You will always sit in a photo frame next to me besides my bed Alice.

I am one of the luckiest people on earth, I have a very supportive and loving family and friend base. I can never explain how lucky I am, because I just am. My mum and I are very loved. I can tell you one thing, I love this lady more than life itself, I know she’d be sat here next to me whilst I write this blog post. I couldn’t be more thankful for her, my family and my friends.

I partially believe in the saying “Things happen for a reason”. However my mum dying, there was no reason behind this. There was valid reason or explanation to why she was killed. What I do now is going to make the difference, the person I am today. The person mum would want me to be. She would not want me to break down, fall apart. She would want me to succeed, build a career, get married, have children, chase my dreams. Not sit here in pity, upset and regret. Mum I promise I’m going to better myself for you and everyone in my life. I am better than this. I’m going to go travelling, take you around the world with me. Take you into my new home, build it the way you would like it. Take you to every date (even though I don’t go on any), you can tell me your opinion. I’m going to walk you down the aisle, take you to my child’s first school play or sport. I’m going to take you to every single place I go and share every memory with me, because to me you are still here and life doesn’t stop.

I hope you are proud of me, because I am so proud of you I’m bursting with it. Please remember me, like I will always remember you and help me get through this really hard masters degree (haha). I promise I will graduate again with you next year. I will promise not to get angry over silly things, cry over people who don’t matter and try to be better at making decisions in every aspect of life. I will promise to make big and life-changing changes this year.

Your Daughter Forever,

Dannielle

The future..

This blog has become a significant¬†part of my life, when I began this blog, I had a mixture of emotions, I felt worried, anxious, scared that my mum and myself would be judged. When in fact, it has been the opposite reaction, this blog has raised awareness and created a move which I never thought existed. A few months ago, I finished my final year of university, three years which had been a long and sometimes difficult roller coaster. I moved 4 hours up north, completely out of comfort zone, surrounded by new people, new places. However it was the best decision I ever made, moving up north improved my independence and changed me. My mum always encouraged me to chase my dreams, no matter where it took me and I was going to take her with me, regardless. My move up north slowly became my second home. Sheffield really is my second home. They always say you meet your life-long friends at university, you potentially may meet your love. I made some life-long friends and yes, I did actually love someone up north too. I guess I had the best of both worlds for a while. My mum always had faith in love, all her life she just wanted to be loved, the lady that gave her all for a man and got nothing back. She never wanted to be on her own. I definitely have that trait, I don’t like being on my own, I’ve been on my own for 2 years and guess what? I genuinely¬†thought that my last relationship would be the one I stayed in for years. One thing my mum helped me to realise is that you should keep looking, because there is someone for everyone, but you should never settle, it actually can make you unhappy, I want to live a happy life for her, she’d definitely want that.¬†

My university years taught me so much about friendship, love and okay, a little bit about childhood studies. I lived in three different rooms, lived with people who made my experience so much better. I had the most amazing and supportive university friends. You know all who you are and thank you. A few weeks ago, to my surprise, I achieved a 2:1 overall, including a first on my dissertation, which was all about domestic violence and the effects on children & young people. I am honestly overwhelmed, happy, full of emotion. Through my school years I was always doubted, never encouraged. No, I definitely I got that confidence from the lady who brought me into the world. Nobody was going to tell me I wasn’t capable, I wasn’t going to bow down to the negativity, I was going to prove people wrong. I had not such a good set of GCSE’s, I didn’t pass most of them. I got into sixth form on the skin of my teeth, I passed my a levels. All my universities I had chosen dropped me on results day, I had no universities that would take me and thank you to University of Huddersfield who gave me the opportunity because I wouldn’t of gotten this far. Next week I’m going to be graduating, I know that my mum would of loved to been standing next to me in my very long gown, as you know I’m a tall girl. I would of been taller than my mum now and she’d definitely be laughing at that. I’m going to celebrating in style with my inspirational foster parents, who I can’t even begin to thank, I’m so blessed they are going to be there, alongside my biological dad. It’s going to be a very emotional but happy day, I can’t explain it.¬†

Saving Jenny will be continuing into a book as I am contact with a publishing company who are interested in turning my blog into a story. I am pleased to announce that my mum will helping more women, children and men get out of a domestic violence relationship, this blog will be progressing into something bigger and I am pleased that it has created so much awareness already. One day I aspire to the women who took a lot of shit in her life, however still was an incredible women, taught me to push through the hardest of times and still come out the other end. In every dark tunnel, there is a light and that’s what helps to understand my mum’s death and the struggles that people have who have experienced domestic violence. I really appreciate every bit support, big or small, I wake up everyday and realise what lovely people I have in my life, my mum is a lucky lady, as well as myself. We are still a pair even though she is not here anymore, I can keep this alive by writing this blog.¬†

In 2008, My mother was murdered, In 2009, I laid my mother to rest. In the years leading from that, I have stood up and spoken about her experiences, her life, what I witnessed, how domestic violence ate away all she had, how it took her life. From 12 years old, I learnt to understood why someone could kill another person, how court proceedings work, how to identify a body, how to plan a funeral. Most of all I was taught how to stood on my own two feet and face reality, that I couldn’t see or speak to my mother ever again. I wrote this blog from the depth of my heart, the deepest parts of my memory, I wrote this to help others, to help children, mothers and fathers. Most importantly that domestic violence is wrong, it shouldn’t be tolerated and nobody should make you feel small, undervalued, not worth anything. YOU are worth everything, YOU deserve happiness and YOU are loved. Nobody should lay their hands on you, you should not be punished by someone who is meant to protect you and treat you like you are the only person in the world. All my mum wanted was to be loved and to love in return. That’s what we all want as humans and that’s what we should do.¬†

Jenny young, thank you for being my mother. Thank you for showing me what a true mother is. Thank you for helping me grow into who I am today. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What should we look out for?

“One in seven (14.2%) children and young people under the age of 18 will have lived with domestic violence at some point in their childhood” -( Women’s Aid )

“2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner” (Office of National statistics, 2015) 1 women killed every three days.

“1 in 6 men in their lifetime are domestically abused” (lwa.org.uk)

So when will enough be enough? 

I personally feel that domestic violence will never go away permanently, but there are ways to reduce it. Creating awareness for this topic is so important to me. Three groups are affected; women, men and children. Okay, so women are statistically more affected by domestic abuse than men, but men are still affected too. However children and young people are also affected, whether they are in the room or not, they’re affected, it affects them. As a child growing up around domestic violence, I knew it was wrong. I knew that a women shouldn’t be hurt by a man, vice versa. As I grew up, I understood that what my mum experienced was more than just the odd argument between a couple. She was constantly battling everyday and even though he would break her down, she still loved him, why? Because she was lonely, she had no family, she had very few friends and he was the only person in her life who was ‘there for her’. He was very manipulative, misleading and always got his own way with her. I would sit and watch my mum deteriorate¬†as a child and I wish I understood what she was really going through for me to help her. All I felt is guilt after my mum’s homicide and I wish I could of put an end to her misery. However, he had such a hold on her, if she did escape. She would have faced even more danger. The most dangerous time for a women to leave a violent relationship is when she leaves. My mum had left him briefly, she got her own flat and wanted to start a fresh. The abuse got worse, she was being stalked, watched and couldn’t leave the house without feeling frightened. It was almost she spent her life being frightened, scared she’d do something wrong. She shouldn’t of had to live that life. When she died that day, I definitely felt it.

Controlling behavior, by this I mean controlling every aspect of their life. What they wear, who they see, their finances, what they do on a regular basis, whether they see their family or friends etc. The very last time I saw her, she said to me she was scared and she knew the day would be coming soon. What human should feel that terrified? It was only a few months later I got the news she had gone. I would never want anyone to go through what she went through but unfortunately people do on a day to day basis and I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. People are losing their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters.. I could go on, on a daily basis and awareness is the only thing that could move domestic violence.¬†

Myths of Domestic Abuse:

Alcohol and drugs make men violent:

Many men are violent when they are stone-cold sober. Many men who drink never lay a finger on their partner.

Blaming drink or drugs is an excuse, a way of denying responsibility. Both may be the trigger for a particular attack, but they are not the underlying cause – Women’s Aid

Domestic violence is a private matter, you shouldn’t get involved.

For too long domestic violence has been allowed to happen behind closed doors. People think what goes on in the home is private, and not their problem.

Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law.

We are all affected by domestic violence, and we all have a responsibility to speak out against it. Only then will it end – Women’s Aid

When I first started to write this blog, I didn’t think I’d raise much awareness, but this blog has gone so far. My mum would have wanted this blog to help others who were in the same boat as her. Even though she is not here, she is watching me write this blog and smiling. She always put others before herself, sometimes for once in her life I wish she just put herself before others. In August this year I will begin to write my book “Saving Jenny”. I’m hoping that all the proceedings will go to Women’s Aid or Refuge who help families on a regular basis seek help and safety who experience or have experienced domestic violence, I never wanted it to be about me, but about the women who saved my life.

To all the women, men and children out there. PLEASE seek help, it is not right to be abused by your partner or to witness domestic violence. All I want in the world is for people to not experience what my mum experienced. There are charities, support and people out there who can help you. I know it’s easier said than done, but I’m hoping that my blog can help others to realise the seriousness of what can happen. If it happens once, it will most likely happen again.¬†

 

 

 

How I coped with her death:

No, there is your answer. Everyone is different.

Everyone has their own coping mechanisms, it may take longer or it may be a quick process. When mum passed, initially I found it easier and as time has moved on, I have found it harder. I didn’t understand how somebody could take someone’s life & that took a long time to process. I never really understood domestic violence until I got older. My mum’s death left me with sometimes painful anxiety, especially when being in relationships, I know I’m a difficult person at times and I have trust issues, because none of my relationships have never really worked. My mum was the same with relationships and I must get that trait from her. I don’t really tell anyone these things and I’m very good at hiding how I really feel from people, even family and friends. A few years ago, I developed OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), it was more than just being tidy, it was starting to dominate my life and I knew something wasn’t right. I am definitely not perfect.¬†I was never unscarred from my mum’s death, there is still damage I am yet to fix, I am getting there. When I applied for university I always knew I wanted to work with children and young people. Mum always wanted me to end up at university, I wasn’t prepared to let her down now. I decided to move up north, I was always adamant I would stay in Cheltenham for my whole life, because it was my home, but I wanted a change of scenery. I am nearly at the end of my degree, I have learnt so much about myself and that I am a unique individual who has the greatest of support from everyone in my life. I am not alone. I graduate in July and it will be one the most biggest achievements so far, I know mum will be standing there with me, most probably patting me on the back saying “you done it babe”. For years, I was desperate to be a social worker, but last minute I had a change of heart, I’ve always wanted to work in domestic violence, be on the front line. I want to help others, save lives. So I decided joining the police will be my desired career choice now.

I am blessed, my life could of gone the opposite way, but from somewhere I have developed a strong attitude, a positive outlook. I am proud of my experiences, where I’m from, what I have been through. I’m proud of my mum, I am proud to have been her daughter. I am going to¬†carry on her legacy, her name will be saving lives in a few years. She’ll be the reason that domestic violence moves, that a change will be created. She would of wanted that and it’s what I want. I want my future kids to know what strong women she was, that she made the world a better place, safer. That she was loved. In every dull moment, she is going to be right there with you.

I still listen to her music, go to places she loved, be reminded of a specific memory. That’s one of my ways of coping. Remind myself everyday that she may not be here in person, but she remains in my heart and a small tucked in place at the back of my mind. Her killer took away her, but he didn’t take away my memories of her and what made the person she was. I will always be her biggest fan.

My family and friends have my absolute rocks through-out this experience, through-out my life. My foster parents I actually can’t tell you how much I love them, because it’s a lot. My foster sisters, Lucy, Meg and Lauryn. My niece Camilla, you have grown up way too fast but you continually show me the reasons to why I love kids. Of course my friends from back home and my friends made up north. You know who you all are. Also, the professionals who have worked or still work with me, my social worker, Simon. This also includes the amazing lecturers who have constantly had my back during university, you’ve made this process even easier.

I am going to give credit to an amazing lady who works with me to create the move in domestic violence, to be more recognized. She inspires me, Jane Monckton- Smith.

The court case..

The longest wait of my life, waiting for her boyfriend to be sentenced for what he did to her. I wasn’t allowed to go to the court case as I was too young, so my foster dad and sister went instead. They endured a week’s worth of him smiling and smirking as they went through the evidence of what happened that day and the events leading up to my mum’s death. My mum was beaten, emotionally abused for years, they went through every single detail. He made her become a person that you couldn’t recognise anymore, she had lost all her personality. She turned into a scared, fragile and sad person. I watched this happen to her, I watched her slowly fade away and I did everything I could to try and stop this from happening, I never wanted to lose her. 

Hearing the amount of pain he inflicted on her through out her life and she still felt that he loved her. This man left her with nothing. But when he ended her life, he wanted her to be nothing. To me, she was the world. I carry her memory with me every single day and nothing will ever change, every day I go to work, every day I go to uni, she’s by my side. Domestic violence never defined this lady, she was still Jennifer Young, who did die tragically, but died fighting. 

You will never stop grieving over a loved one, they say time is a healer and yes it does heal over time, but the pain doesn’t lessen. It still hurts. I’m never gonna see her again and that hurts. That I can’t hear her voice, see that smile, it will always hurt. But to the people who are reading this, you can cry, you can get angry, you can scream.. it’s allowed, were only human and it’s a process that takes time to get over. People always say to me “I don’t know how you’ve coped”, I don’t know either, I really don’t. But I never wanted to make this about me, my mum died, not me. She deserves more than any recognition. I don’t want attention, I don’t want pity. I just want remembrance, celebration of life, justice. It still hasn’t sank in, I don’t think it ever will.

In 2009, Darren Roberts was sentenced to life in prison, 18 years. Was I happy? Did I think there was justice? No. 18 years is not enough for a person to emotionally torture, beat a women. Who did not deserve anything but love. He’s in prison, gets to live a life, whereas my mum can’t. That day he was sentenced, I felt a sense of relief that he couldn’t do that to another women. That another women didn’t have to go through what my mum went through. 

I’m a proud daughter, I am proud to be the daughter of Jenny young. I am proud to say, I got my strong attitude from my mum. I can sit here and tell you all the story of how my mum lived, what she did and what she achieved. She gave me a life, gave me opportunities. She really did. 

Mum if you could read this, I really love you. I miss you from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to sleep. Even sometimes you remain in my dreams. This blog is to help others like you, encourage them to get help, to be a survivor. You are the reason others will be able to live a life, a happy life. 
Xo

The aftermath..

So weeks were slowly turning into months. Time was going really quick and it was almost like time was catching up with me. I didn’t want to face this alone and this was something I had grow up very quickly over, become an adult and think straight. I had a victim support officer who what I remember of, was lovely. I felt like he was making this process as easier as possible. I remember him seeing me not long after I found our the news, he said “Danielle you’re next of kin, you need to be in charge of everything”. I was only 12 years old and having to arrange a funeral, identify my mum’s body, that was too much. I had never even been to a funeral before and the though of this gave me big anxiety. Especially laying my mum to rest, it was something I never wanted to do in the first place and I had to do it. I remember saying to him “My sister needs to know about this, but I haven’t seen her in years”. Me and my sister had a rocky relationship, but the last time I saw her was years and years before. I didn’t know where she was, where she lived, if she was still alive.. I didn’t know. He then went and did a big search of where she might be and managed to track her down, he then told her the news. I hadn’t seen my sister in years and I was so nervous, she then became next of kin, as she was older than me.¬†

I was yet to find out the details of my mum’s death and I don’t know what came over me but it was a strong attitude, the attitude that my mum gave to me. I wasn’t going to face this alone, people were next to me, going to catch me if I fell and it was okay to be upset, to get angry, to scream. It was okay. I was grieving, my family were grieving. The day I met my sister after 5 years was one of the emotional but also best days of my life, we had be reunited after all these years, not in the best circumstances, but we were sisters again. We cried for hours and speaking of memories of mum, it was like mum was alive again, but through conversation. The day we got asked to empty her flat was hard, the new flat mum had been in before she died. I remember entering the building, there was candles outside her door, someone had left a prayer on her door also, it set me off. I didn’t know if I was ready to face this yet. My foster dad and sister came with me and we opened the door and all over the walls was photos of me, my brother and sister. It was like a shrine dedicated to her kids, all my letters were pinned up in the kitchen, school reports, everything. I felt like she was stood in her flat beside me, I felt a presence in that flat that I had never felt before.¬†

I sat and went through her clothes and they all smelt like her perfume, her distinct smell. All her leather jackets, her pjs, her jeans. They all smelt like her. It was a smell I could hold onto, even though she wasn’t here. She had began painting her flat, she always loved decorating, she loved being creative. There wasn’t much in her flat, but I kept everything of hers. I wasn’t prepared to let anything go yet and I don’t think I ever would. It was clear how much her kids had made an impact on her, we were everywhere in her flat and I will never forget how overwhelmed I felt. This women really did everything and anything for us and that’s what a mother should be, she is a pure example and i’m proud to call her my mum. ¬†My sister and I felt a sense of despair when we left the flat, I felt like everything we were doing was saying goodbye to her and I really didn’t want to.¬†

The body wasn’t released to us for over a year because of testing and all the evidence that lead up to the murder trail. We had to wait to send her off and I couldn’t cope with the wait, it felt so long since she had passed and the pain was still lingering. Once she was released to us we could finally plan her funeral. It’s crazy how much i’m in tears writing this but her funeral was really one the hardest things to plan. Flowers, where she’d be buried or cremated, it was all decisions that I found hard to make and I just didn’t know what to do or think. I wanted her to have lots of flowers, she loved flowers and she loved roses. They were her¬†favorite¬†type. We choose a variety of music, I choose “Westlife- Written in the Stars” and my sister choose a song by the McCartney’s. My mum loved her music and I wanted to have a variety at her funeral. I will always remember the hearse pulling up in front of my auntie’s house and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t believe that was my mum inside that. I got into the family car with my sister, I actually couldn’t talk. Like my whole body froze. It pulled up outside the chapel, my family helped me get out the car, I felt so faint and had to walk inside first. Her coffin was at the front with photo’s of her placed on top, as well as a big bunch of flowers. It was beautiful and I had tears streaming down my cheeks for the whole entire time of that funeral. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and she really was liked by so many people, the chapel was full. The song I choose was playing and the curtains started to close and I went up to the coffin and said my final goodbyes before she left us for good. It was one of the hardest goodbyes I had ever made. My family and friends were my greatest support that day, I had so many people looking out for me and I couldn’t of done without them. Especially my foster family, my brother, my sister and my Dad. We said goodbye to more than just a lady, we said goodbye to the memories too.

After the funeral, we had a lovely gathering with all the family and friends celebrating her life, it wasn’t a goodbye, it was a see you later we all said. We didn’t want to cry anymore, we wanted to celebrate what a person she was. We all had time to chat about her and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to talk about her, it was her day and nobody else’s. We didn’t want to mention his name, he was no longer in my thoughts.¬†

It’s hard to explain how I grieved, how I got over the death of my mum. But somehow I did it, writing this at 20 years old. I did it. I still think of her from time to time, she’s stored in quiet place of my mind. Her memory will always live on. But I had so many sources of support, where as my mum did not. The system failed her, the issue was not picked up until after she died. I want to mention how amazing and supportive my foster family was.¬†Counselors, therapists, everyone who helped me become the individual I am today. Sometimes I get up in the morning and I cry because I miss her and sometimes I get up in the morning and smile because I was lucky to have her as a mother.¬†

‚ÄúGrief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The worst day of my life..

Years went by and I was getting older, I had been in foster care for nearly 4 years now and I had been with three different foster families. I moved into my last foster family when I was 10 years old. Me and mum had letter contact for the first few years that I was in care, she’d send me letters once a month, in pretty envelopes and lovely hand writing. Every letter has something meaningful written in it and I will always remember her writing pages and pages of letter, it wasn’t just quick, she wanted to know what music I was in, what food I liked, how school was doing. It was detailed and I couldn’t get away with not telling her anything, she probably already knew.¬†

My social worker at the time always tried her best to encourage my mum to see me and sometimes mum would back out of visits because she felt guilty for letting me go. Eventually, we had a visit. The first time I’d seen my mum properly in years. When I was 11, we went for tea in a garden centre. The first time I saw her, I couldn’t get over how happy and how excited I was to see her. She turned up in her hoop earrings and brown leather jacket, she looked well and she was smiling. We had a conversation, she wanted to know everything, her eyes were just focused on me the entire time and she never once strayed conversation. She told me she had moved out of Darren’s house and she got her own flat and was in the process of decorating it. She told me she was getting better, she had left him. Our visit didn’t last very long, but this was the last hug I ever gave her, the last time I saw her alive. That moment will always be cherished in my mind and I will always remember what she wore, what make up she had on, it’s an image that will always remain.

On a sunny day in June 2008, I was walking home from school, it only took 5 minutes for me to get home as I lived so close. I opened the back door and my foster mum was there to greet me straight away and she was being more than fussy, but I didn’t think anything of it. I remember her saying go and sit down in the living room. I remember walking in and there was a few police officers sat down, along with my social worker, my biological dad and my foster family. I never knew what was just about to hit me at 12 years old and I don’t think I was mentally prepared for the news ahead. “We’ve found your mum dead at an address in Cheltenham”. I remember the sinking feeling I had, the shock and my heart just shattered. I didn’t even know how to react at first because my mind had gone into overdrive. They were treating her death as¬†suspicious and I knew straight away who has capable of it, the amount of hate that hit me, I couldn’t handle it. I ran straight up stairs and cried on my bed constantly for hours and I couldn’t stop. I barely ate for days, barely slept and couldn’t stop thinking about her. They had released it already on social media, everyone knew about my mum. People kept ringing me, messaging me and I was too sad to respond. The day I lost my mum was the day I lost everything and I completely mean that, my world had crashed and I couldn’t do anything about it. The women who brought me into the world, protected me, watched me grow, was gone. I lost my other half that day.

I didn’t go to school for a week, I will always remember the day I woke up and didn’t wanna stay in my room anymore, I couldn’t hack it. I went to school for the first time and I was given flowers, cards and the school had my back completely. All my teachers were supportive, helped me catch up, a shoulder to cry on, I needed that. My family, my friends, I couldn’t thank enough, they supported me continuously through the worst stage of my life and that’s how I build up a strong attitude. Nothing could prepare me for the long year ahead, having to plan her funeral, having to hear the details of how she died, the court case, it was going to be tough, but she needed me to be tough and I was going to be tough for her.¬†

My mum was beaten to death, stabbed and he broke her neck. In a bitter rage, he ended her life. She fought, she didn’t go down without a fight, but she was too fragile and unfortunately the world lost a strong lady that day. I lost my mum, but someone lost a sister, someone lost a best friend. I lost all three. To stop her whinging and moaning, he decided to take away a women, who meant more than the world to me. She couldn’t watch me pass my gcse’s, help me with my first date, watch me pass my a levels and go to university, watch me graduate, be at my wedding, be a grandma to my children. She’s not going to be here to witness anything special, any birthdays, any occasions, he took her life that day, he also took away my memories and her memories. He didn’t love her, he is a coward, he’s definitely not a man, because a man does not beat, emotionally abuses, kills a women.¬†

 

 

 

 

 

 

“But I love him”

There was something almost too good about this man, he seemed too over caring and sometimes a little over protective of her. I was trying not to assume that he was going to be similar to any of my mum’s previous relationships. So I definitely tried to keep an open mind. Until, he started becoming more aware of what outfits she wore, if she wore a lot of make up or none at all. The little cracks in his growing controlling¬†personality¬†shone through and I could see that. He’d be constantly questioning where she was, what she was doing. He had to be with her all the time, sometimes making me feel unwanted and pushed out in the process, he wanted her all to himself, sometimes me not included. Regardless my mum always used to say to me “you’re my number one priority always”, which she fought and fought until her very last breath, I knew that.¬†

Not very long into the relationship, he asked us to move in, mum obliged, of course! But I was never too sure of the situation. He gave me my own room, I had my own space in his house. Like I did in my house, even though I preferred living with my mum, not him. I could tell how much mum was in love with him, she loved the company and was willing to settle for someone who probably wasn’t good for her. Whatever decision she made, I stood by her. She was my mum, my role model, sometimes a sister and always a best friend. I always praised her for her strong attitude towards life. The experiences in which she had in life, she never wanted any sympathy, just love and support. A few months in to moving in with him, it was going well, I felt like a family circle was beginning to form and I felt welcomed. However happiness was only ever short lasted, I remember the times I would lay in bed and I’d hear the sound of screaming and crying from the room next door, they were arguing.. again. He would shout in her face for hours, it was like emotional torture, I was young, but I quickly learned what was right and what was wrong and I knew this was wrong. I never knew him to be so angry and unfortunately his anger was released on her. She’d be pleading for him to stop, but he just wouldn’t and this become a regular and acceptable thing to her. I grew up around domestic violence and this is something that I’m not proud to say, I don’t expect sympathy and I certainly don’t expect anything. But she was a fighter, she always fought back, when he tried to hit her, to smack her, punch her.. she wouldn’t bow down to his actions.¬†

Alcohol had a big part to play in this toxic relationship, they were both alcoholics, they would drink together and this became more and more frequent. Mum would drink to get through the pain, the tears and the bruises that she over her arms, her face, her back. I knew this was time for intervention, I couldn’t let her live like this anymore. One day, as a primary school child, I told her, “We need to leave him mum”, “I can’t Dannielle”, she would always respond. You could see the desperation in her eyes, to get out, to pack her bags, to go. But¬†every time¬†she tried, he’d find her, bring her back. He used to say to me “You’re having a big and very bad influence on your mum”, I never knew what this meant as a child, but he saw me as a stop sign, something that was stopping from hurting her, controlling her. He wouldn’t just stop there, he’d steal her money, stop her from going out and even cut her off from family and friends. It was getting worse by each day, each hour. He would never compliment her, love her, support her, in fact it was the complete opposite. It was almost like pain was his only vocabulary.¬†

One day, I was at school, a normal day, nothing special. Mum picked me up as usual, of course Darren was by her side, guarding her every move. I got home, some people were stood in my living room, I didn’t know who they were or what they were here for. Early that day, my mum had rang social services and¬†voluntary placed me in foster care, I had no choice, no say, they had already packed my bags for me and took me away from my mum. The tears I cried, I couldn’t cope with being away from her. Mum was so emotional, she couldn’t say goodbye to me and Darren was pushing me out the house. The day I was¬†separated from her is the day I became a child, she saved my life, she took me out of a terrible situation and gave me an¬†opportunity¬†to grow, to thrive, to be a happy individual. At the time, it was the worst thing imaginable, I couldn’t understand why my mum wouldn’t want me, what had I done wrong? did she not love me anymore? When in fact, she did it because she loved me, because she wanted me to be safe, to not be harmed anymore. She saved my childhood. As a young adult, I can only look up to what a women she was, the battles she faced and what a hard decision it must have been for her to give me away to complete strangers.¬†

 

 

Today is my mum’s birthday, Happy Birthday beautiful lady x

Was every relationship going to be the same? 

My mum always use to say to me “I want you to have a boyfriend who respects you for you”, at this point I was only young and to me, boys were yucky. But as I’ve got older I completely understand what she means. I will always remember the day my mum and dad split, I know my dad did it for all the right reasons, he had such a positive impact on her, tried to distract her from her addiction. I know deep down she appreciated it, but wasn’t she such a stubborn lady. 

My mum always wanted a man in her life and she hated being on her own, she found it difficult being a single mum. As much as she battled, she helped me grow into the individual I am today. When I first went to nursery, every painting I did, every thing I made, she would pin up in the kitchen and call it “Dannielle’s corner”. I could tell how proud of me she was and everything I do now, I know she’s watching me. She watched me grow, she watched all my school plays, especially when I was in the nativity, I was so pleased I was an angel, she videoed everything, what a mum she was.  

Regardless of the judgement, I stood by her. She was my mum and all I could see was a strong, independent and loving individual. She’d brush off the comments and carry on what she was doing. She taught me how to appreciate, to be grateful, to be kind to others and how to not rely on anyone. I’ve have brought this with me into my adult life. 

I will always remember the little things she did for me, like buying my first CD player and my first ever album was s club 7. She taught me how to sing in my bedroom and she had a beautiful voice. All these memories I will be telling my children when I get older and they will know all about their strong grandmother who battled everything until she died. 

Each relationship she had after my dad was toxic, they made her become more depressed and I will always remember the first time she overdosed and that forever scars my memory. The day I came back from my neighbours house and I found her face down on the living room floor, almost lifeless. The first ever time I rang 999. I had almost grown up way too quickly, I saved her life. The first time I felt more scared than ever, I couldn’t take my eyes off her I was scared she’d do it again. 

One day she was in the kitchen listening to the radio, she loved the radio and was always dancing around to 80’s music while cooking. They had a dating hour on the radio and that day my mum decided to ring in, she was set up on a date with man called Darren. All she knew was a name and an age, the excitement on her face was real. She was finally going on a date and nothing could take that smile off her face. I remember getting her ready for this date and I helped her do her hair and of course, she wore red lipstick and her leather jacket. 

He took me and her out for a pub meal, of course, they got on like a house on fire. You could tell how much she was happy, I loved seeing her happy. If she was happy, I was happy. She looked gorgeous and you could see how much she enjoyed the attention. She deserved all the attention in the world. At first, he seemed nice, but almost too nice. Was it all to good to be true? 
In my next blog post I will be writing about the relationship they had.