Real-life Jessica’s story

My name is Jessica. I am in my mid 20’s and live in Liverpool. This is my story.

My experiences of domestic violence happened throughout my childhood, but I was fortunate to escape that situation when I was a teenager. I grew up in a family of 5 – my parents, myself and my two younger siblings. My dad had two very different sides to him.

When people met him, he was charming, friendly and a typical ‘family man’. He would sometimes offer to be one of the volunteer parents to help out on school trips, went to most of my parents evenings and sometimes took me on long bike rides, so anyone that didn’t live with him thought everything was great, but the truth was he was very emotionally and physically abusive to his family.

My dad would dictate what we wore, what we watched on TV and how we spent our free time. He had an uncontrollable temper. If his favourite football team lost a match, he would scream and shout the house down, get drunk and often start hitting my mum and sometimes us kids in a rage. I remember on multiple occasions he would become physically violent if I didn’t get a perfect score in primary school spelling tests, so naturally I developed a huge anxiety problem which still partly affects me to this day.

When we weren’t at school we had to stay in our room and stay quiet or stay in the kitchen and do housework, making sure we quickly responded to his demands for more beer. He didn’t have much interest in going on days out or playing with us in the garden, he stayed in the lounge with the curtains closed, playing violent video games and getting drunk.

My mum bravely moved us away from him when I was 13 years old, and it was only then that I realised how bad the situation was before. In our new house, without my abusive dad, we were so happy, were allowed to voice our opinions, have family discussions, went on days out, did everything together as a family, got a pet for the first time, and most importantly, were allowed to be kids. Instantly, I was doing better at school, sleeping properly and my anxiety went down. It’s been 15 years since we moved away from him and we are a very happy family now.

When I heard that The Crossing Point delivers assemblies to schools around Merseyside about domestic abuse, I was overjoyed. If someone had delivered an assembly or lesson about the signs to spot when I was younger, I would have immediately picked up on it and sought out help from teachers.

I never once approached a teacher or friends parents about what was going on at home, not because I was worried about what would happen, but because I genuinely thought I was to blame for his actions. I thought it was my fault, that I must have been badly behaved or not up to his standards, which I now know is completely untrue. I sincerely believe that educating younger people about the signs of domestic abuse will help so many victims recognise that what is happening to them is not right and give them the courage to speak up about it.