“I did everything I could to make him love me. But it was like I was invisible – unless he was hitting me or making fun of me.”
— Stephen (name changed and stock photos used to protect identity)
“Dad coached our sports team and all the kids loved him and everyone thought I was so lucky to have a dad like him. I wanted so badly to be one of the other kids so he would praise me and have fun with me. I always thought I was doing something wrong because nothing I did was ever good enough.
Dad always told me that no one cared about my thoughts or feelings. He always told me I was too short and too fat. He made fun of everything I did. He was mean to everyone in our family – to mum, and me and my sisters. He hit us and threw things at us. We were all scared of him.
My father’s abuse affected my younger sister even more than me. Years later, she’s still struggling with it. He used to tell my little sister that she was a mistake. That she should never have been born.
The worst time for me was one night when I was in the kitchen where my mum and dad were fighting. My dad threw a mug at my mum, but it missed and smashed against the wall. She looked at me and told me to ring the Police.
It felt like hours that I just stood there because I couldn’t decide what to do. I hate that I didn’t just ring the police straight away, but I knew that dad would be so angry at me and then I would never be able to get him to love me. I didn’t know that nothing I did would ever get my dad to love me. Finally my little sister came in the room and she rang the police.
The police took dad away. After they left, someone from Shine came and talked to mum, and mum got a Protection Order.
The next week, a KIDshine Advocate came to talk to me and my sisters. My dad kept driving past our house really slow and staring through the window. We were really scared that dad would come in the house and hurt mum or one of us. Our KIDshine Advocate helped us to think through how we would get out of the house, then came with us to talk to our neighbour so we knew we could run there for help. This made such a big difference to my sisters and me.
A children’s lawyer from the Family Court told us we didn’t need the protection order, even though my sisters and I kept telling him we were scared of my dad and we did need it. Then a judge cancelled our protection order. Our safety plan was the only thing that made us feel safe.
I used to blame my mum for what happened. I used to be mean to her and copy the things dad said – I called her lazy and stupid. Our KIDshine Advocate got all of us kids to sit down with mum and talk about our feelings. I remember thinking it was kind of silly and wondering why we were doing it. But it really changed things. I finally started to see how things were for my mum. I also used to bully my little sisters, but because of KIDshine I stopped being mean to them too. We are all really close since then. Mum sits down with us about once a week and we talk about how we are feeling.
It’s been about four years since all of that happened. Shine and KIDshine really, really made a huge difference to my life. They taught me that I’m good enough, that I’m worth it. I feel like I have a whole lot of power all of a sudden. I’m more confident. I’m starting to come out of my shell. I’m achieving so much in school now. I still deal with a lot of regret and guilt sometimes, but mum is always there to encourage me.
No one wanted to believe us but Shine did. I’m truly grateful to them.
Now I also know that Shine doesn’t have nearly enough funding to help all the families that need their help. That’s why I got my school involved in raising funds for Shine. I’m really proud of what we did, but I know that much more needs to be done.
So please support Shine to help more kids and more victims of family violence – like me, my sisters and my mum – to become safe.
It’s about more than safety for families like us – it’s about not being surrounded every day by fear and hate. It’s about being whole again.”