When she was 13 years old, Andrea (not her real name) suffered abuse by her mother’s partner and other family members. It changed her personality overnight.
“I was a bright student. I was going places and would probably have got straight As. But then something changed. My mind set was totally different. After one half term break, I went back to school a completely different girl.”
Andrea, now 25 and from Southampton, says her experiences at home changed her into an extremely disruptive pupil.
“You hate the world don’t you? Hate everything that’s around you. I think I just wanted to vent and take it out on everybody.”
Andrea’s teachers bore the brunt.
“There was a lot of abuse towards the teachers,” she says. “A lot of not listening. I caused massive disruption in class. I got detentions and exclusions”
Looking back as an adult, Andrea says there seems to have been no effort by teachers to understand why her personality had changed so dramatically.
“The teachers weren’t actually acknowledging that I needed help. As a child you want protecting and that wasn’t happening in my case. No-one asked why a child could just change from being a happy go lucky girl to an abusive mess.
"I think if someone had actually taken the trouble to sit down and talk to me, it could have been very different.”
Fixers has helped Andrea make a film loosely based on her own experiences. She hopes it will encourage children to speak out if there’s something bad going on at home, but the main target is teachers.
She explains: “The main message to teachers is to listen. If bad behaviour needs a detention or whatever then fair enough. But at the same time talk to them. Find out why they’re doing what they’re doing.”
Andrea eventually told a teacher she trusted what she was going through, and was soon taken into foster care.
“People need to ask why a student who was okay is suddenly so different,” she says. “Ask them – are you okay? Sometimes that’s all they need.”
This project was supported by the Blagrave Trust.
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