I divorced my parents at 19-years-old after they abused me so badly I feared they’d kill me – and police and social services never believed my reports

Hayley was severely physically and emotionally abused by her mother and father from a young age (stock photo)

While many 14-year-olds might roll their eyes at the prospect of a summer holiday abroad with their parents, the idea struck Hayley with pure terror.

She had been severely physically and emotionally abused by her mother and father from an early age, and being in a place where no one knew them would only put her at greater risk.


“The abuse was more isolated,” Hayley, who speaks under a pseudonym, told FEMAIL.

The holiday was a turning point for the teenager, who realized she had to make a plan to leave her abusive parents.

Hayley was abused for as long as she could remember. Other family members have told her that they remember seeing signs of abuse while she was “in her crib.”

Hayley was severely physically and emotionally abused by her mother and father from a young age (stock photo)

Hayley was severely physically and emotionally abused by her mother and father from a young age (stock photo)

During this family vacation, she finally reached out to a family member she could trust and asked for help.

‘My parents abuse me, I need help. I have to leave right away,” she told the relative.

Hayley only had a short time to speak before her parents returned from a trip to the shops, but she remembers her relative ‘knowing straight away’ how desperate her situation was.

“Upsetting my parents would have its own consequences,” Hayley noted. ‘But I was more concerned that it would get worse. I had to put them aside.”

She and her relative made a plan to call Childline as soon as she returned from holiday, but Hayley says asking for help did not give her the refuge she had hoped for.

Shortly after the call, social services showed up at Hayley’s door and questioned her about her claims of abuse. However, she said her parents were “in the next room” the entire time.

“I remember (the social workers) talking to my parents, reassuring them and then leaving.” Hayley said. She added that she was too scared to go into detail about the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents because they were in the house at the time.

But after reporting to her parents for the first time, Hayley remembers having a stubborn feeling that she had to carry on. So when she went back to school, now 15 years old, she confided to her teachers about the situation at home.

“Then the police got involved,” she explained.

After feeling abandoned by social services, Hayley recalled being hopeful that police would listen to her story. However, instead of being invited for a police interview, she claims she was taken to a mental health center where she was asked questions about the abuse while her parents were in the room.

Hayley recalled: ‘The woman asked me, ‘What makes you think your parents are abusing you? How do you think this affects them?’

She claims that at the end of the interview the woman who interviewed her “threatened” that she would be arrested if she complied with her story.

“She said if I kept reporting it I would be locked up,” Hayley tearfully recalled.

“If I strapped in and got shots, I’d be out. I wouldn’t be able to see anyone anymore. It was very sinister.’

Hayley believes her parents’ reputation as ‘good’ members of society, working in the medical profession, made authorities less likely to take action against them.

Although she maintained her parents were abusive throughout her teenage years, Hayley recalls how her parents went on a charm offensive with her teachers and her friends’ parents – trying to convince others that Hayley’s story was false.

In the meantime, she explored all her options, interviewing charities that ran homeless shelters in the hope of finding alternative accommodation.

“I was told I didn’t qualify for many of these places,” she recalls.

The abuse at home did not get any better: Hayley’s parents regularly locked her in the house and took away her phone.

“I can’t believe I made it to eighteen,” she said. “It was a very miserable four years.”

Her grades began to deteriorate as her mental health continued to deteriorate and eventually Hayley had to leave school due to frequent panic attacks around the time she was studying for her final exams. Her physical health also deteriorated in her teenage years and she was eventually diagnosed with ME.

‘I was quite ill during that period. I was bedridden for almost six months due to chronic migraines,” she said.

Hayley started teaching herself from home, but says she didn’t do well in her final exams because her final scores were based on the predicted grades from her teachers who hadn’t seen her for a while.

When the time came to study her A-levels, Hayley was already doing her best to save money by working part-time in the kitchen. Her goal remained the same; to move as quickly as possible.

By the time she turned 18, Hayley managed to move after saving for just three months – something she says was made easier because of the pandemic.

But even though she managed to find respite from her parents, the teen still desperately wanted to go to college, which she believed would help her break away from them forever.

Still not well enough to go to school to study, Hayley worked with a retired teacher who agreed to tutor her for free. After a lot of studying combined with her part-time work, she completed her A-levels and gained a place at university.

“My university is great, I love the course,” she said. ‘I have always loved learning, but school was never the right choice for me. I always believed that in the right environment I would really enjoy it and learn a lot.

“I wish I could do it forever.”

Although Hayley’s academic life was finally on the right track, she was still harassed by her parents, who tried to contact her in any way they could.

On one occasion they forced their way into her flat, leaving her fearing for her safety.

After feeling abandoned by the authorities charged with protecting her when she previously reported the abuse, Hayley did not know where to turn and spoke to a university staff member about her situation.

The staff member put Hayley in touch with Advance, a charity that supports women, children and young people affected by domestic and sexual violence, debt, substance abuse and mental health problems.

Before long, she was assigned a worker who helped her cope with her parents’ abuse – and brought forward an option that Hayley didn’t know was available to her.

The counselor explained the purpose of non-abuse orders and informed Hayley that she could consider going to court to have such an order issued against her parents, which would prevent them from contacting her.

“Advance was the first organization of any kind to believe me about my story and about the crimes that had occurred at home,” said Hayley, describing the relief she felt when she finally found some support for her situation.

The charity helped her get legal aid so she could apply for the order.

“I didn’t know what they were beforehand,” she said. ‘It’s a great option, because you don’t have to go through criminal court and I didn’t feel safe enough to go to the police.’

Hayley’s non-abuse order, which was issued against her parents last May, states that they cannot enter her home or be within 100 meters of property where they believe she lives.

They are also prohibited from contacting her except through a lawyer, and are prohibited from ‘harassing’, ‘bullying’ or threatening violence towards her.

“It’s such a relief to have legal protection,” Hayley said, explaining that she is now looking forward to her future.

She added that she has always been interested in writing, but has been inspired to explore a career in law and plans to convert her college degree.

‘I have so many plans. “I have so many people who believe in my potential,” she said.