Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Nina

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Nina says she was born into a ‘complicated’ family environment which was never able to provide the care and support she deserved. Her mother married a man from overseas and Nina was subjected to racial abuse throughout her childhood. After their home was firebombed, they moved to a council house.

Nina’s mother had been abused herself; she suffered from depression and was very unstable. When Nina was a baby her mother put her into foster care for a time as she couldn’t cope. Her older brothers also spent time in care. Two of Nina’s brothers spent some time in a Catholic-run care home where they were physically and sexually abused, returning home with injuries.

After Nina returned back home from care an uncle came to live with them. He brought his own family, so the house was crowded with young children. In time the uncle’s children were also moved into care. She discovered that this uncle had been abusing her sister since she was five years old. Nina told her social worker that she needed to get away but was warned that if she said anything her ‘dirty washing would come out’.

By the time Nina was seven years old, her mother had given birth to two more children and would make Nina stay home to look after the older ones. If Nina disobeyed and went to school, she was beaten by her dad and other members of her family. She says she became a scapegoat for everything and was treated like a Cinderella.

At this time, Nina’s uncle started to abuse her in her bedroom and the bathroom. He would touch her and threatened to take her virginity when she was older.

Nina told the social worker who said she would try to get her into care. In the meantime, a family who lived nearby offered to give her music lessons but when she went to their house they weren’t there. Instead a man was waiting for her, and she was raped and beaten.

The rapist talked his way into Nina’s family home and continued to rape her. She was also trying to hide from her abusive uncle. When she was eventually sent to foster care Nina discovered something was wrong with her tummy and a scan eventually confirmed that she was pregnant. The authorities and her foster mother wanted her to terminate the pregnancy, and her foster mother tried to push her down the stairs to cause a miscarriage, but she refused and went on the run, living on the streets. 

She says her social worker provided little assistance and there was no provision for her in the system. She had no money for food or clothing and no support, despite being pregnant.

When she gave birth, Nina says the staff at the hospital were uncaring and judgemental. She wasn’t allowed to hold her baby for five days, and she believes staff kept him away from her hoping she would give him up for adoption.

She was told that because she’d decided to keep the baby she wouldn’t get any help. Initially she returned to her mother but because she received no benefits she was told to leave. School friends would sneak her into their houses sometimes, at other times she slept in a park. Both Nina’s and her baby’s health began to deteriorate.

Eventually she was placed in care at a home with her baby, but on the first night there one of the workers tried to get into bed with her and rape her. She escaped by jumping out of the bathroom window with her baby in her arms.

Nina ended up back on the streets, asking for help from social services in the day, and sleeping in a park at night. She began to suffer badly from malnutrition and was taken back into foster care for a period of time. Without her agreement, Nina was given a coil which she says caused her to bleed very heavily and caused her serious health problems in later life because she was so young when it was fitted.

Eventually Nina managed to get her baby into a nursery and she returned to school. She enjoyed a short-lived period of stability but then the man from the home who had tried to rape her turned up at her school claiming he was her boyfriend. He was violent and aggressive and blackmailed her, by saying that she would be locked up and lose her child if she didn’t do what he wanted. He raped her regularly and tried to force her to take heroin and to work the streets.

Nina says this man had put other girls from the children’s home ‘on the game’ and that many of them are now either dead or have drug problems.

Her son has grown up with personality disorders which have led to him being in prison for much of his adult life. Nina had a second son who is autistic and needs a lot of care. 

Nina reported her abuse to the police who were able to link the man who raped her and got her pregnant to her first son, through DNA and other evidence. This led to his conviction and a long prison sentence.

She eventually found a cleaning job and a place to stay but has since been twice diagnosed with cancer and has undergone gruelling treatment. She worries about her sons and how they will cope if anything happens to her. 

Nina adds that she is very keen to work because she hopes to buy a property through the government’s right-to-buy scheme so that she is able to leave something for her sons.

Nina wanted to share her experience with the Truth Project to ‘clear my past and move forwards’. Nina wants to see change and believes that he care system is ‘rotten from the top to the bottom and needs a systematic reform’. Nina believes that people like her would be able to offer insight and help in reforming the system.

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