Danni's letter

I was homeless, I was you

I know that you hate living in a hostel, but can see no way out.

Not everyone grows up in a loving and happy family.

When I was three, I was physically abused by my mother.

They said my injuries were similar to someone who had been in a car crash.  My mother went to prison but what she did had a lasting impact on my life, leaving me disabled and partially blind.

I was adopted by members of my mother’s family, but that was not a happy place to be either. There was always screaming and tension in the house.

My adopted parents are Jehovah Witnesses and they were very strict. I was not allowed friends outside the religion and grew up a lot quicker than anyone should have to.

I was unhappy living there, and moved into student accommodation just before my eighteenth birthday.

Although I had more freedom, I was in a bad place and tried to take my own life a couple of times.

I was really lonely and thought nobody wanted me and then I met a man. It was not a safe relationship. He repeatedly raped me, although at the time I didn’t realise what he was doing really was rape.

My parents took me back in when I left student accommodation after my course, but they didn’t want me there, and one day I came home and my entire life had been packed into bin bags. One day I had a home and the next day everything was gone.

I found a place in a hostel. Even though I wasn’t sleeping on the street, I was homeless.

I got in to an abusive relationship with a much older man who slowly started to control me. Again I was sexually abused and when I moved into my own flat, he followed me. I eventually called the police.

It was at this point that I finally started to take steps to turn my life around, and enrolled on the 1625 mentoring course.

I'm in a much better place since I reached out for help and have hopes and dreams for the future. I am back at college retaking my GCSEs and I hope to one day go to university to study to be a mental health nurse. I’m also helping young people who have difficult pasts like me.

The one thing I wish I had done differently is get help sooner.

If abuse is happening in your home, and you don’t feel safe, take action. There is help out there, but it's up to you to go and get it.

I could have given up a number of times, but I am still here, and I am still fighting.

Aged 24, Bedminster.