My name is Amarah Kaur Gill and I was born on Saturday 4th August 1990, at Birmingham City Hospital, to a Mr and Mrs Shinji. That was probably the only thing my birth Mother did for me – She gave birth to me. My biological parents were really disappointed when I was born because they had their heart set on a baby boy – so when I popped out they weren’t happy at all. According to my records my parents tried to leave me at the Hospital but were stopped by a Nurse who was working at the time. Social Services were called and I was handed over to them. It sounds really weird and not like something that you would expect to happen these days but it did and I have had to learn to deal with that. It took me years to deal with the life my parents selected for me.
I could have killed myself for saying this back then but putting me into care was the best thing my biological parents could have done for me. It makes me sick to think that there are people in this world who would give up their daughter and dump her on a load of strangers and so I am glad that I was never around them and never had their influences around me. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if they kept me and brought me up.
Growing up in care was never easy! Anybody who has grown up in care will know that. It wasn’t like growing up in a home with your family who loved you unconditionally. The adult’s at that home were there because they were being paid to be there. There wasn’t a sense of “love” in any of the places I stayed in. The staff would just come in, do their shift and then go home. With your Mum and Dad – if ever you have a problem you know that they are there for you 24/7 and you can phone them whenever you want. You can’t do that when you’re in care. As soon as the staff clock off they you’re not their problem and you deal with whoever else is on shift. Even if you needed money for clothes or anything – you had to make an application to get money and that would take ages! Most of the time you would get rejected because you would have to prove that you need those things you want to buy etc. It was just a load of bollocks to be honest. You had a weekly allowance which was like £10 I think and that was it. If you over spent you would have to go without.
There was never a sense of stability when I was growing up in care. There was always somebody leaving and somebody new coming to live with us. It was more like a hostel – I think thats why I had to grow up so fast and learn how to take responsibility of myself. Being moved from home to home was so tough – as soon as you’d get settled it would be time to move and I quickly learnt to depend on myself emotionally – that’s the only way I could deal with it. Its a very lonely life to live and pretty much everyone is in the same position as you. Alot of the people that lived with me in care had serious behaviour problems. They were out of control. Sometimes it felt like living in a prison because you would always have to be on guard. I remember there was a time when I was the quiet girl, the one nobody would really notice. Im not ashamed to say that I got pushed around and bullied in care and that had a severe impact on me – I’ll go into that later.
I remember one time when I was about 5 or 6. This new kid had moved into the care home I was in – he must have been about 8 or 9. I remember eating my dinner and then going to bed for school the next day. We all sat together, he was really quiet but everyone ignored him. I remember going into my room that I shared with this other girl and he burst in minutes later with a knife in his hand. He thought we had stolen his wallet and he was stabbing our pillows. The staff ran in as soon as we started screaming and managed to get the knife off him. I remember thinking – what the hell is going on? Is he joking? I just couldn’t digest what had happened and for weeks after I couldn’t sleep because I was scared he would come into my room while I was asleep. It was terrifying. You could hear him banging walls and playing loud music at night and everyone was too scared to say anything to him. Even the staff were scared of him. He was this monster. I had to live with him for what may have been a whole year! Constantly watching over my back – it was hard. I couldn’t confide in anyone because I never trusted them. Alot of people left the home within the year and in the end I was the only one there that knew him from when he first came to live with us – everyone else was new. I was an easy target for the bullies. I was lonely I had no friends and I was weak. They would beat me up if I never gave them what they wanted, i would have my rooms smashed, my things broken my personal stuff broken and damaged. One time they went into my room and got all of my under wear and burnt it in the garden. There was no control what so ever. I wasn’t strong enough to retaliate and, if I’m honest, I was so scared.
It was in that year that I realised that I had to deal with things myself because nobody else was ever going to help me. Emotionally I had learnt to block people out. Everybody was just an acquaintance and never a friend. I trusted nobody. I befriended nobody and I was just me on my own and thats the way it had to be. Everybody I had ever trusted and let in either moved away or betrayed me and it was too difficult to keep going through over and over again. I always told myself that so long as I have “me” I can survive and that all I ever need. I remember one time I came home and they had taken my pencil case from my room and written nasty things all over my walls. I remember walking into the kitchen and getting the knife from the drawer. I went into the girls room and I stood there and demanded she gave me back my things. I even threatened to stab her – I WAS 7! She freaked out and gave it me back and since that day nobody ever said anything to me again. I never intended to hurt her I just wanted to scare her and it worked. Thats when I learnt to put up a front and show people that Im not as weak as they think. It did scare me a little because things could have gne so wrong but I also learnt not to dwell so I focused on the fact that I was left alone for a while.
Still 7 years old they moved me to another care home in Birmingham. There was a girl who I shared my room with – Sarah. She was like some kind of goth who was about 5 years older then me. She used to smoke weed and take other drugs. I know this because I would sit there and watch her sniffing the cocaine and the whole room would stink of bud! It was disgusting but she was always quite nice to me. I think she realised that we were a lot alike. Only I never ever touched drugs and she did. I guess that was her way of dealing with it. We were really close – like sisters and so many times I asked her not to do drugs and was always ignored. The staff knew about it but they didn’t do anything to sort it out. I remember her trying to give it all up but she would get all shakey and sweaty and she would start crying and screaming because she was in pain. I saw her at her worst. I was 7 years old and id be hiding cocaine in my room so she couldn’t find it. I would try everything I could to try and get her to stop but it never seemed to work. One night I hid it under my pillow and she came in and started beating me because she couldn’t find it. I think it was cocaine anyway. I had two black eyes, I was screaming and none of the staff came to help! They were useless. I ended up giving it to her and I sat there crying and in pain while I watched her take it and down some alcohol. I started self harming. I wasn’t coping with the pressure of living with a druggie. It was so much and I went to the staff about it but they didnt seem to be doing anything about it. They said there was nothing they could do and that they had done their best etc.
One night she broke down and I sat with her all night. We had a real heart to heart and I saw a completely different side to her. She was raped by her Dad… and thats why she was in care and abusing herself. It brings tears to my eyes now just thinking about it but I remember having to sit there and tell her she could get through this and that I was there for her. It was like I was the older one. I had no idea what to do about it. I didnt know how to help her and night after night I would watch her destroying herself with these drugs and injections. I never touched it myself because my biggest fear was turning into her. I never wanted to be anything like her. I loved her, she was my friend but I looked at her and I always thought “you are wasting your life”.
My coping mechanism back then was pretending it wasn’t happening. At night I wuld lie in my bed and close my eyes and try and block out her noises by pretending I was somewhere else – a million miles away from here and I had this little place in my head that I used to go to. Where I could be anything I ever wanted to be. Where I was accepted for me and not what society wanted me to be. It sounds mad but that was my home. The one place they could never take away from me. In my head I built a life for myself in this imaginary place. It was somewhere I would go to recharge myself and give myself encouragement to deal with the things going on in my life. I think that was the moment I realised I wanted to be an actress. I like the idea of becoming someone else and being able to escape my own life and live as someone else for a bit. Thats why I started acting.
I moved again after a while to another new place and this time I thought im gonna try and let people in and make my life better. So I did. Same thing happened and I ended up getting hurt. There was this one member of staff there… Steve his name was. He was so funny and he used to make me laugh alot. We spent alot of time together. I slowly started to trust him. He would take me out shopping or to the park and sit in my room talking to me. He would even let me stay up late at night and watch tv with him while everyone else went to bed. It was “our little secret”. It was really exciting having a friend who you could share secrets with. I never had anything like that before. I never trusted anyone enough and there was Steve… who somehow managed to worm his way in to my life. He would always help me, always tell me I was good kid and that id make my dreams come true. I started to become dependent on him. He would tell me things that used to scare me like he heard people were going to rob the carehome and id get so scared and refuse to go to sleep without him by my side. I couldn’t do it on my own in the end. I was always scared. I started to lose trust in my friends. He told me that they hated me and they were using me and that they weren’t my friends. He isolated me. He was a care worker and he isolated me. I looked on him like my granddad. I never had a father figure before and he became one to me.
He told me once that he was gonna be leaving. My whole world crashed and I started crying and he said that it was because none of the kids here were normal and not one person did the normal thing that every other kid does. Basically… he told me that every kid has to play with an adults private area… because its normal. But he said he would stay if one kid did it because that would make him think everyone else was normal or had a chance of becoming normal. That person was me. I lost my virginity at 8 years old to a man in his fifties. I didnt know what sex was at that age. I thought what I was doing was apart of life. I thought it was normal. In the end he left and moved away after a year. Without telling me. I went into breakdown mode. I was scared, I was lonely I was just not myself anymore. I would keep myself away from everyone else. Slowly, slowly I became used to him not being there and I never gave what happened a second thought. It still didnt register what he had done to me! How dumb was I?!
My life started to get better! I started talking to a cleaner who started working at the care home shortly after. She was such a lovely woman! I remember looking forward to seeing her every so often. We would sit and have so many chats and she would tell me about her life on the outside and about her 4 kids and her husband. I met her husband a few times – he was really nice. The woman was about 50 odd and she was Indian. She over a two year period we started talking more and she started calling me her daughter – it was weird but funny and I liked calling her Mum. She was always laughing and joking with me.
The one time I asked her about what children were meant to do with adults. She was confused so I told her what Steve told me and she was in complete shock. I remember the tears running down her face. She looked at me differently and hugged me and told me everything was gonna be okay. The next thing I knew I was being interviewed by Police and so was everyone else at the acre home. There were a few interviews I did for them. I was told about abuse and that it had happened to me and that normal adults dont do that to children etc. It was the worst feeling ever. I felt dirty I felt thick, degraded, shamed – I just wanted to die. It was as simple as that I wanted to kill myself. Even now it gets to me sometimes. The memories all come rushing back. The smell of his aftershave – brut. The rougness of his beard against my skin, the weight of his belly on my body. The sounds he made, his voice, his breath, the way he touched me, the way he would hurt me, the way he looked at me. Everything – I remember it all. And sometimes its hard to deal with. Its changed me to an extent. Sometimes im ok other times I flinch when someone touches me. I dont trust old men and I hate it when they flirt with me because it brings back memories. I find it very hard to trust men in general because no matter what – they have always let me down and they have always made me suffer in some way. That might be normal to normal people but it effects me alot.
I think the worst thing was when I found out he was dead. There was this feeling that he would never be punished for taking away my innocence. I don’t know how many others he abused nor would I be interested in finding out. It would just bring up too much stuff again and I wouldn’t wanna go down that road by trying to get people to come forward.
The cleaner woman I told u about – thats my Mum! And her husband is my Dad 😀 After all of this came out we got really close and there was this bond between us – there still is! My adoption was finalised in 2001 and I finally got to live with my parents and since then I have never looked back. My biological parents have tried to make contact but I have no interest in ever hearing what they have to say. My Mum and Dad are my whole world. I thought things would get easier for me but God had other plans.
Last year my Dad died of a heart attack. This year ive been diagnosed with cervical cancer and its terminal. I have cut this story of mine a lil short because there are alot of things I would like to keep to myself. Yes I went through some shit times in my life – many people do. I life we all go through bad things and good things. We still have a choice. Do I let the bad things ruin my life? Or do I use it to my advantage and turn my experiences into something good and positive? I took option 2 my whole life and its what has got me through the worst of times. The truth is that you only ever need yourself and self belief to survive the obstacles God throws at you in life. You dont need anything or anyone else. Learn to be independent if your not. You never know when you will need to be. Dont rely on others – get out there and fight for whatever it is you want in life. Dont ever let anyone tell you you cant because you can! Dont let the bad things in life define you. You can sit and cry about your life or you can pick up the pieces and move the fuck on – again option 2 all the way! If I never did any of those things I would be dead. I know im dying but you what? I am so happy with the person that I am. I am glad I went through those bad things because I met my life when I was 11 (my parents). I am so blessed to have met them! The bad things that happen in life aren’t even worth ur air! Dont let them define u – let them make u stronger not weaker!
I wanted to give you guys more of an insight into me and my life so here it is
Thats all from me
Sadly Amarah passed away on Nov 7, 2011 . It was important to share her story so that her memory lives on and those who abused her in the UK child care system are brought to justice.
Her FB Tribute Page Here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RipAmarahKaurGill/about)