My mum never had time when I was growing up. She had six kids, seven jobs and alcohol issues. It was chaos.
My granddad started sexually abusing me when I was five. My dad knew about it. I managed to tell my family what was happening to me, but they called me a liar. I became mentally very unwell and ended up in a secure mental health unit.
I don’t know how many times I tried to cut myself and kill myself. I was afraid to be at home, so I ended up dulling the fear with drugs and staying at a house where I was used for sex.
The truth did come out. I wasn’t the only one who had been abused, and there were four of us girls. One of my sisters moved into YMCA, and we’d meet up. She said she was really scared for my life. I wanted to live, so I applied for YMCA too.
The day I arrived two years ago, I was all over the place, but it is calm here. It gets hard sometimes, but there are people to help you. The staff sit down with you and listen to you. I’ve genuinely never had that in my whole life. I said, “Please help me to help myself”.
I started off in a room with meals provided and a lot of intensive help. The first thing was to help me create a routine, Monday to Friday. I’d never had one before.


"I start every day now with meditation and tai chi. I love it!"

I start every day now with meditation and tai chi. I love it! It calms me and puts me in a good mindset. I’ve also had therapy through YMCA. “How does that work?” I’d wondered. The answer is it takes time. I had to learn to trust the therapist. I do drawings of how I’m feeling inside. Mine were dark, dark, dark. Sometimes she gets me to draw a tree and where I am on it that day – close to the solid trunk or wobbling on the end of a branch. Learning to identify your feelings gives you a bit more control.
I’ve recently moved into my own little YMCA flat. I’m learning to do things by myself, like going shopping. I have a lot of anxiety about going outside, but I’m doing it.
It has taken me a very long time to get through this. I have had a couple of blips and some days, I still struggle to get out of bed. When I start my routine though and come downstairs, there’s always a member of staff with a smile who will say “Hi, how are you doing?” and I’ve never had that before either. I’m starting to let people in a little bit. In therapy now, I’m actually drawing butterflies!
I’ve also started cooking a Sunday roast for some younger ones. I’ve discovered I love cooking for people and I like helping them.
Thinking about moving on is scary but I want a life now. I want my own home and to start a business.
Thank you for helping me get through this.

Thank you for caring about young people

As Darcy’s YMCA keyworker, Emma has seen her courage to get through profound childhood trauma and change her life.
“Darcy is a different person to the one who arrived two years ago. I met her in a small office and had to open both doors to give her space. People were scared of her but now we see she is a big softie.
“She had never had boundaries. When we gave her some, she took them on. She is becoming aware of what could be a red flag in a relationship that may be
come dangerous to her. Darcy is also learning how to manage her anxieties better. I am so proud of her. She is working really hard at this, just touching base with us when she needs to.
“Some of the help we’ve been able to offer Darcy has been made possible by supporters. Without that, Darcy would never have had the chance to show who she really is underneath. I would like supporters to know that.”