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AJ's story. 'I had a life that's been taken away from me.'

09.07.2018 2204 XX

“I’m from London, but I’ve been in and out of hostels and care homes the majority of my life. My mother stabbed me in the head with a spade when I was one year old. I was in hospital for two years with broken bones from the abuse. She’d burn me with cigarettes and lock me in the cupboard. That little girl is still in that cupboard. 

When I was taken away I stayed in a nunnery for a while, but I rebelled because they weren’t my mother or father. I just remember the huge doors frightened me and I wanted to get away. Since then I was past from pillar to post. I tried to hang myself when I was fourteen and self-harmed a lot by cutting myself. I even tried to jump onto a motorway once.

At nineteen I decided I wanted to find my real mother again. She was in Cardiff then, so I came here from London to meet her. I wanted to take her shopping, I wanted to do her washing, I wanted to do the dishes for her; take her out for a meal, things like that. But it was nothing like I expected. I tried to prepare mentally for it. I thought it would either make or break me, and it broke me. I think she felt guilty for what she had done to me, but I realised she wasn’t my mother at all. She was a monster. 

I had no other family at all, but there have been good times since then. I was a qualified riding instructor once. I knew all about stable management and looking after the horses. I even qualified to worked in building construction, but I was also pole dancing and stripping, and I started to become really mentally ill. I ended up in and out of hospital for five and half years. I’m better now, but I was on a lot of meds for a long time. I’m surprised I’m still standing.

I’ve been in this hostel seven times now. Before this time the council had found me a privately rented bedsit, but it was infested, and there was damp and mould everywhere. The windows were falling apart. Even some of the doors were on upside down. Environmental health came out three times to check it, but the landlord wasn’t prepared to pay the money to make it habitable, so he just gave me an eviction notice. I ended up back in hospital because of the stress, but afterwards they wanted to send me back there again, and when I refused, they put me back in the emergency room at the hostel because I was high priority. I was apprehensive at first, but I’m actually much happier here now. I have my own room, and at least I’m not alone anymore. The staff here are fantastic. They know me and they’re really nice.  

I always try to make where I stay homely with bright things and teddy bears, because I haven’t had any love all my life. Two of my best friends also recently died of cancer, and I don’t want to be on my own anymore. I lived in supported accommodation for about a year and a half before, but I didn’t get the right support. They would only come when it suited them, and in the end, they just shut me out. My psychiatric nurse left because I was getting better, but when there’s no support I get scared of what’s outside. Now I don’t really get any support at all. 

It’s wrecked my life being ill. I hate it, but it’s just because of the way I’ve been treated. I had a life that’s been take away from me. What I really want is a secure, clean place, with a decent bathroom you can actually use. With nice people that don’t take drugs. I don’t want to live in a rough place away from everyone I know. I don’t want to be lonely again. They set limits on how long you can stay here so I don’t know what will happen in the future, but for now, I like it, so this is my home.” 

AJ, Cardiff.

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