I was born in 78. I lived with my Mum – I can’t remember living with my Dad. She had a bloke who she met – she had another kid with him. I was about 4, I think, when he went to prison – he had his own kids as well. He went to prison for raping his daughter, and he had a kid with her!
T’s life was tragic from the beginning, and she was destined to lead a chaotic lifestyle. It is unsurprising that she found herself mixed up with many unsavoury characters and became involved in high risk behaviour which will burden her for the rest of her life.
This is part of a series of articles on Women’s Work who have supported T through her most difficult of times, and continue to do so.
My Mum ran off and left him…with me and my brothers. My Nana then came and took us – she found us playing on the streets late at night. Then I lived with my Dad – he was a good Dad but he was bad with women – he had different ones all the time He used to say ‘I’m just nipping to the shops for a loaf of bread’ and come back 4 weeks later. He was good. The longest he left us was for 8 months. He didn’t take us to the park, or play with us…..and we didn’t have Christmases, but he was nice. He was never horrible, or nasty…he didn’t make me go to school.
Then I went back to my Nan’s – lived there for a few years, then back to my Dad. When I got to about 13 I lived with my Nan from then on.
I saw my Mum’s, Mum and Dad only on Sundays, she was a witch. They used to drink from the time we arrived to the time we left, slowly getting drunk – they made their own drink.
My Mum was supposed to be dead, she made out she was in a car crash , then I found out that she wasn’t. She met my best mate’s Dad, and she was going out with him – we were in the pub once – and then I saw that my Mum was there! It was odd!
She was all nice with me for a while, I spent Christmas with her when I was 13, then she took us on holiday, but she only wanted me to baby-sit for my brother. She must have kept him for 6 or 7 months before she got rid of him into care.
When I was pregnant with my daughter at 16 – she told me to come to her house. She only wanted me there to tell me to get rid of it….but I didn’t, although by then it was too late as I didn’t know I was pregnant until I was 7 months gone. I only found out because I had a kidney infection, and it was only when I went into hospital that they told me. I’d have probably gone into labour if I didn’t. I was that naïve as no one told me. After that I didn’t see by mother again until the hospital asked me to contact her – they wanted to know if cancer ran in the family.
I asked her – ‘Have you ever had ovarian cancer?’ She said ‘No’ – then the battery died on my phone and I’ve never heard from her since.
I then had a son, who got took off me when he was 3 – he’s with family.
I first started smoking weed when I was about 11, first took crack when I was 13 – but I didn’t know what it was, and then, when I was 14 I took heroin. First few times, I didn’t like it….I didn’t like being sick – but I still carried on. My brother’s were doing drugs – so I just started, and did it with them – then I got addicted. I then started to like it as I stopped being sick. It wasn’t just heroin – it was acid tablets, E’s everything. We used to get the money from robbing.
When I was a teenager I could do what I wanted, when I wanted….no one cared. I was in bed all day and went out at night.
When I was about 18, I met with a guy who used to hang around the red-light district in Nottingham, and although I mixed, I wasn’t working. He used to be a professional boxer, and his brother got murdered – they threw him off the roof. I got with him, but he was on drugs, he was evil, and everyone was scared of him, and then he started mentioning going out on the streets, and then he introduced me to this girl, and we ended up going out – that was when I started working the streets. If I went out and came back with nothing , or not enough he used to go crazy! He used to batter me, and once he stabbed me with a screwdriver – he did all sorts. I left there as he would have killed me if I hadn’t. I went to Sheffield to get away from him and worked the streets there. I was taken there by a punter to score drugs. I met another guy there, and he was evil, he went round robbing girls, and he kidnapped me and locked me in the house. When I got out, I went back to Nottingham and bumped into my ex. He kidnapped me for 3 days, beat me up, but then I escaped.
I worked inside once, in Long Eaton, in a massage parlour above the cake shop but it didn’t last long as I couldn’t take drugs as I’ve got a habit – so ended up back on the streets.
I then got involved with drugs on the street and kept being busted, and bailed, and then I was up for two ‘conspiracy with intent to supply’ charges, and two ‘normal supply charges’ as I wouldn’t grass them up…..I then ended up going to jail. First of all I got 13 years, but then appealed and I got it down to 4 years.
When I got out, I went to Nottingham and stayed with my half-sister – she’s got bi-polar. She’s an alcoholic and smoked weed all of the time, and did coke.
I needed to leave, so came to Derby and lived with my brother. He was doing drugs, and so was his girlfriend, so I had to go on the streets to work. Everything was split 3 ways, and I also had to give him money for staying there. One day I could score crack, , but couldn’t score gear, and there was no way I was having crack without heroin – its not good, it sends you into withdrawl. When I told him I couldn’t get anything from anywhere in Normanton he went mad. It annoyed me as he was sending me out to work on my own.
I met George and stopped working mainly because I became pregnant. There were times when I needed to go out again, but I didn’t tell him. He found out eventually.
Now, I’ve got 2 children, and 3 grandkids, but all of my grandkids are now in care – my daughter just kept getting pregnant knowing they would all go into care. The problem was she was spoilt by my Nan, with money, presents, everything.
When I was pregnant I had pains in my stomach, and they found out I had a cyst. They told me if I had a caesarean they’d remove it but I didn’t have one. Then they said they’d keep me in a week, and remove it but because they were dealing with my son I got lost in the system….and then I forgot about it. Then a lot later I started getting belly ache, and my stomach was getting hard…and I knew there was no chance of me being pregnant. And then it started getting bigger, and became massive. It was painful but the heroin was masking it well. Then it got so big I couldn’t walk – I had to be taken everywhere. I lost a lot of weight – I was down to six stone. Then it started to spread around the back. I went to the doctor and they thought they could feel the baby’s head. I got a lot of criticism from the hospital for being a drug user and pregnant – they wouldn’t believe me. They didn’t scan me.
I then saw a German doctor and he told me ‘I’ve got bad news – you’ve got a tumour’ – I didn’t know what one was. He told me it was aggressive and not benign….malignant, I think. Eventually it got so big..it was 37 cm, I had to go to hospital as I couldn’t breathe.l had to sleep sitting up. I had a blood clot in my main vein and they were worried that if they removed the tumour it would go to my heart. But they decided to do it but they kept cancelling me. When I had the operation ( Dec 2015) , it took 3 of them to get it out. It felt like someone had a blow torch to my stomach. I’ve got a massive scar down the front of my body.
They said it might spread to the other ovary, – they’ve taken one out. I’m now on radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I’m really tired all of the time.
When I had my daughter, I didn’t hold her when she was born, she was in a baby unit for 5 weeks after a cardiac arrest. When they brought her to me they tried to get me to dress her, but I didn’t know what to do…., I didn’t feel anything for her, and I still don’t – that was 21 years ago.
Now, at Christmas, with my young lad, I go over the top. I don’t want him to feel as though he’s missed out.
I’d feel bad.
I know how it made me feel.
He’s doing really well…
T has not worked on the streets of Derby for a year, she still has a drug habit, and seems very philosophical about what will happen with her cancer. She really doesn’t know what the future holds in that respect. She recounted her story fairly casually, and in the flow of her life-story she seemed like a passenger on a precariously buoyant piece of flotsam barely saving her from drowning at every twist and turn. Her years seemed to be a never-ending series of rapids, with no rocks to hold on to – nothing to give her a foundation, nothing to give her a breather. Her young boy gives her something to focus on, to motivate her, perhaps now, to keep her a little more grounded.