As a child Anne [name changed] was left to look after her siblings and was bullied during her marriage. After being raped she began to self-harm and isolate herself. St Wilfrid’s Centre helped Anne to build up her self-confidence and self-worth again.
Anne was the eldest of six children. She looked after her brothers and sister while her mum and dad got drunk.
“I didn’t have a childhood. For as long as I can remember I’ve been looking after other people,” says Anne. “I remember having to leave school to go home and look after my dad. I enjoyed school, but I was always missing lessons running home to cook meals for my dad.”
Anne’s mum and dad would leave her alone at night to look after the other children while they went to the pub. Often the meter would run out leaving them without light or heat.
Anne remembers having to ask her neighbours for 50p for the meter, “I’m still afraid of the dark now – the memories of being alone and cold stay with you.”
Marrying the wrong man
Eager to get away from home and crippled by a lack of confidence, Anne married at 21. But she never felt good enough for her husband and was bullied by her mother-in-law. Her husband spent all their money on luxuries leaving Anne struggling to buy essentials. Unable to carry on and wanting to give her children a better future, they divorced.
Anne’s confidence grew as she saw her children grow into the adults she hoped they’d become.
One night as Anne walked home on her own she was attacked. “I was raped and made to feel worthless. All the confidence I’d developed vanished. I wasn’t worth anything, exactly how I’d felt as a child.”
Thinking no-one would believe her she started to self-harm and isolated herself from everyone and refused to leave the house. Unsure of what had happened but knowing her mum needed support to get her life back, Anne’s daughter suggested she visited the St Wilfrid’s Centre.
“I remember the first time I came to the centre,” recalls Anne. “Helen came and met me on the road so I didn’t have to go in on my own. Someone I didn’t know caring that much for me meant a lot. They valued me before they even knew me but that’s what they’re all like here.”
Ever since that first day, St Wilfrid’s have been supporting Anne to build up her self-confidence and self-worth. When she arrived she had totally withdrawn from everyone including her family and friends. Now she plays an active part in the helping others to overcome their barriers.
“Just the other week I took my grandchildren to school so my daughter could go to work. It’s a simple thing but it meant so much to all of us. Having the confidence to know I could look after them and keep them safe was amazing.”