Since I was born, I witnessed domestic abuse of all forms between my parents. Emotional, verbal and physical. The thing is, when it starts early on, it becomes normal as you have nothing to compare your life to. Eventually, I unknowingly became the target for abuse.
The change was gradual, and the abuse started subtly, but eventually it got to a breaking point. I was deprived of sleep whilst studying for exams, berated, accused of theft, my emotions were dismissed and minimized, ill mental health was called an 'excuse', breakdowns were mocked and name-calling were a few things I endured.
It wasn't until one day, when I finally spoke to friends that they told me that my experiences weren't normal. My school supported me whilst my parents were divorcing and were aware of what I was facing at home. I only have a month and a half left before I move out for good. But if I had known there would be a support network as strong as the one I have, and a place to stay offered by numerous friends, I would have put my plans to leave in motion much sooner.
It is a daunting prospect that I will be moving, it feels like running away, but I have finally learnt that my own happiness shouldn't be compromised. I have my whole life ahead of me and although I have missed out on my childhood and I have a lot of work to do on rebuilding my confidence and well-being, I know that I am doing the right thing, and that no one should ever feel guilty for not wanting to let their toxic past influence their lives anymore. I'm 18 years old, and just because someone is family, it doesn't mean they are entitled to abuse you.