■ Use of support networks
■ Openness of appropriate communication
■ Changing your circumstances
"Sally, what happened to your eye? Were you in a fight?" Sally's best friend Tanya asked, sounding concerned.
"What? Oh, nothing, nothing at all. I ... I just fell over."
But it wasn't nothing. It had never been nothing. Ever since Sally's mother, Violet Evestone, had died tragically in a car accident 10 years ago, her father, John Evestone, would come home late every night, smelling horribly of alcohol. He would stumble round the house and if Sally talked to him he would shout and hit her. Her life was very hard.
John hadn't cooked her a meal for 3 years and she had to look after herself. She cooked her own food, washed her clothes, and did everything she needed to do. Every day she would tidy her room, which was easy since she had not had a birthday or Christmas present for ages. She could not buy anything because she didn't get any pocket money but she didn't want to tell anyone about her problems. She didn't want to be in even more trouble with her dad.
At school some of the teachers noticed her problem. "Sally, are you okay? Your eye looks really bad, and yesterday you had bruises all up your arm. What is happening?" Mr. Smith, her teacher, asked curiously.
"Oh . . . um . . . well." She was stuck. Should she tell him about her father? No, this was her problem, she could sort it out she thought, but she made the wrong decision by not telling him. "No, I'm fine. I'm just having a bad week, that's all," she replied, trying to sound convincing.
"Oh, good then," said Mr. Smith and they got on with class.
That night Sally's dad was in a really bad mood. When she asked if she could have some money to buy clothes, her dad violently threw a chair at her.
The next morning she limped the 5 km walk to school. She was too scared to ask her dad to drive her. In PE that afternoon she collapsed to the ground. The pain in her ankle was unbelievable. Everyone ran to see if she was okay but she was not.
"Look, that ankle of yours is broken," Ms. Applecross, the PE teacher, said. "What did you do to break it that badly?"
"Um ... I fell off my bike yesterday," Sally lied. It was really the chair her dad had thrown at her.
"Look, you're going to have to go to hospital," said Ms. Applecross and she picked Sally up and helped her to the school nurse, Madam Fluer's, car. Madam Fluer drove Sally down to the hospital. Later on when Sally's ankle was bandaged up the nurse rang her father.
"Hello, is this Mr. Evestone?" asked the nurse into the receiver. "Your daughter has broken her ankle. Could you come down to pick her up?"
"No, she is your responsibility," came the reply.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you must come and pick her up. . . . It's not her fault. . . . No, she can't stay overnight. . . . (sigh) . . . Okay I'll drive her home. . . . 'Bye." The nurse finished and put down the phone.
"Okay Sally, your father wasn't too keen to pick you up, but I'll drive you home," said Madam Fluer. Sally didn't really want to go home and face her father.
That night she tried to stand up to her father by telling him that it was his fault, that he had to pay the hospital bill for her broken ankle. He went crazy. Then without any warning he unbuckled his belt, held it above her head, and whipped her. Blood gushed down Sally's face from the deep scar he had left on her forehead. She couldn't hold it in. She burst into tears. John stormed out of the house yelling, "Next time you'll think before you accuse me of anything." He got into the car and drove off—probably to some stupid pub.
Sally decided this had gone too far. She phoned her Gran and told her everything that had happened. Gran was appalled. She drove straight to Sally's house. When she saw the cut on Sally's forehead she screamed and started swearing badly.
She has taken Sally to her house and she looks after her very well. Sally is very happy now and she hasn't seen her dad for ages, not that she wants to.
Remember, if you have a problem tell someone about it. They may be able to help solve it.
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