The following story was written by Niamh, aged 16 in April 2010 – A courageous and wonderful young girl who has survived domestic violence in Northern Ireland.

School and home life both mixed together are hassle. Teachers nagging, coursework and exams are hard enough, but compared to the reality what some face when they enter the door of their home, doesn’t seem big to others.

Awaking in the morning and doing the usual routine with great tension of anger throughout, knowing that something will yet again happen and tear the family apart.

Walking out of the house is like a breath of fresh air, just being around company who are happy and alive, and forgetting the life that lies within those four walls that not one person in the outside world knows about.

Chatting to friends about shopping, boys and movies, some of the main things enjoyed by me. Sitting in class is a complete blur, I can never concentrate, the flash backs of reoccurring events that should never have happened to a single human being were being replayed in my mind like an reinactment right before my eyes.

Happiness is not a word I am familiar with, I only see this as I gaze at people from afar and watch how they laugh and smile. One thing that I am completely familiar with is acting. My life revolves around it. Smiling between the cracks that should never have been placed there, walking around school trying to be ‘normal’ with everyone knowing that last night happened and yet I’m trying to move forward and smile putting on a brave face for my family.

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK, the clocks move fastly to home time. The fake happiness of the day fastly drawing to a close. Ringg. Home-time. On the bus is a contrast of what I had felt earlier that morning, now knowing I am only a few minutes away from opening the door to see what is too happen.

Trying to draw out the time I have before I go home, standing at the top of the road, chatting about all the daily gossip with a close friend. Standing for an hour, enjoying the time I have left in the ‘normal’ world. Walking down the road, have a sick feeling what lays in for me later this evening. Slowly walking around the corner, no car. The real smile that appeared on my face, but then thinking he is at the pub.

Walking through the door, my brother watching tv and chatting to mummy who is laying on the sofa depressed, but who is trying her hardess to put on a happy face for us kids. Sitting completing homework doesn’t seem a big task as this could be my escape to a safe life.

Most of my night is spent in my room alone, showing for dinner and going back up again. Laying in bed and watching the soaps of how others lifes were, not seeming to be quite as bad as mine. Darkness comes quick and the noise of a car pulling on to the driveway, with the lights flashing into my window.

In came dad, drunk and unable to stand nor talk properly. The anger in his eyes is unspeakly. Waltzing in thinking he rules the place, trying to start a fight with mum. As he raises his voice, my heart starts to pound. I hear the sound of glass being thrown across the room, heads banging against walls and chairs being thrown. All I can do is sit and listen, but from somewhere I have the strength to go downstairs. Dad standing over mum, punching her while she is screaming for him to stop. The strength I got allowed me to kick my dad making him stop, allowing my mum to escape from his control. As I watched my mum lay crying on the living room floor, I thought she was going to die.

The only way I could cope with this was to sit on the bathroom floor with a bleach bottle and a razor, never actually doing anything to myself, but having the thoughts were worse. Depression at my age isn’t good and suffering alone inside is the thing that gave me the depression. School life seems so much better than this.

Niamh, 16 years old

Read Niamh’s story One year on.