They went to school dirty and hungry and took to shoplifting to feed their empty stomachs. Hard work and abuse was a way of life. Peter’s mother too suffered physical and mental torment at the hand of his father. Aged nine, the authorities placed Peter and his siblings in care. Peter thought he would be safe, but during a period of nine years he was physically and sexually abused by teachers and carers. At 14 he developed an ulcer. A stay at one establishment resulted in Peter being admitted to hospital for a back injury inflicted by a teacher – there are allegedly no medical records.
Peter left care when he was 18. Between this time and the age of 23 he was in and out of prison for several crimes, some serious. He was also badly let down by partners in the years that followed, including one who deceived him with his best friend and later, the mother of his five children, who stole from the family to support her alcohol dependent lifestyle, openly flaunted her casual sexual liaisons and eventually left the family home announcing that she would put the children in care unless Peter looked after them. Let down by his upbringing, by the authorities that should have kept him safe, by partners that proved unloving, Peter resolved to put all his energy as a lone parent into providing what is best for his five children. Although he is not the biological father to all the children, he is desperate to keep them safe and to give them a better life than he has had.
Peter came to Hafan Cymru in January 2010. Having experienced such physical and mental cruelty during his life, along with bouts of his own anger and violence as a result of it, at Hafan Cymru, Peter was able to tell his story and weep, not only for his past, but because he had finally found someone that would listen and help him. After a few months, on good days, Peter can smile and joke. He needs a huge amount of support to help him realise his goals. The physical scars inflicted by his father’s leather belt have gone but he says he can never forget the past. At Hafan Cymru we hope we can help fade these memories at least, and that Peter’s heart and mind will heal with time.