Last week the Magazine published an article on ChildLine. In our reader's column, someone - who wishes to remain anonymous - describes how the charity helped save his life.
Most calls are about bullying
It takes a lot of courage to open up to someone, especially after being beaten every day by an alcoholic father.
My mother was too scared to do anything about it - when she did stand up to him she got a beating herself.
When I was 10 I remember one day sheltering from the rain in a telephone box, too scared to go home, not wanting another beating or to listen to another argument.
I remember wanting to leave and run away, but knew I couldn't leave my brother behind. I then saw a poster of a little phone with a smile on it - it was advertising ChildLine.
I thought that even if they didn't understand, it would be a friendly voice, a comforting voice at the other end of the line. I dialled the number, but the first couple of times I tried I didn't get through and went home to face whatever was going to happen that night.
ChildLine is 20 years old
I eventually got through to someone the next time it rained and I found myself standing in the same phone box.
I didn't say anything and just remember crying for about 10 minutes and then putting the phone down.
It took a while before I spoke to them and remember being told I wasn't alone. Just to know that somehow gave me the courage to stand there and talk about how my father made me feel.
It eventually gave me the courage - with the help of the always-friendly volunteers - to tell someone at school what I was going through at home. Also, to speak out about the bullying at school, for being the shy, quiet type who wasn't particularly good at anything.
Bleeding and scared
I remember my teachers talking about ChildLine at an assembly, with the whole school of about 1,200 kids present. They said it was to help children who were being bullied or hit at home. Also, if you just needed to talk to someone about an issue you were facing, but didn't want to talk to one of the teachers.
I was 14 when I finally had enough courage to do something about my home life. It was after one particularly bad incident which left my mum and brother in the corner of the living room bleeding, bruised and scared.
I stood up to my father and told him what I thought about him and his actions over the past five years. I told him the way things were going to be from now on. I told him he had no right to hit us anymore and if he did I would call the police. I told him to leave which, after trying to hit me and shout at me, he did.
ChildLine were even there for me through the divorce and custody battle that followed.
I'm now a 28-year-old guy. I don't speak to my father now and haven't done for 12 years. My mother and brother died a few years later.
I believe if it wasn't for the help that I received from ChildLine then I would not be sitting here now, writing about this with my two-year-old son playing at my feet.
ChildLine was and still is a lifeline for many children. I hope that my son never needs to call them. If he does then I hope there will be someone there to help him they way they helped me.
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This story has moved me to tears. What a dreadful thing to live through as a child, and what courage it took, to stand up to such a bully. Thank God for ChildLine, and the bravery shown by a schoolboy. Your mum would have been a very proud grandmother of your little boy.
Good grief. I'm a 6ft rugby player and I'm sitting at my desk at work trying to hide my tears. I have 2 children of my own and I cant imagine why people would want to treat children and partners in such a way. I will be donating to Childline like I do for the NSPCC. Your a brave lad, love your little one.
Luca, West Sussex UK
Don't be moved to tears. Be moved to help. You can help Childline through their 20th birthday appeal.
I have worked as a volunteer counsellor at childline for almost 4 years now. Some calls can be so brief - others for hours at a time, I have spoken to many children and young people about every different types of issue you could ever imagine. The list is endless... but one thing that never fails to amaze me is the courage of these children & young people. Being part of an organisation that offers these young people a unique oppertunity to be listened to and to be made to feel as though they matter... I feel like i am privileged to be allowed in to 'thier' world.
Having survived the horror of a similar childhood and wondering desperately would I ever hurt my own children, I can now say with happiness that I am the mum of a beautiful little girl and I've never behaved as my father did to my mum and I. That in itself was healing and I wish peace to you and all the other kids (the grown-up ones who grieve for the child they were) and the kids who are suffering right now. Every child deserves a childhood. All the best to you and your family.
Bree, Cork, Rep of Ireland
I wonder how many children give up if they don't get through first time.
I only wish it had been around when I was younger. I have come through a very similar situation but being well into my 30s there was no-one I could talk too, confide in. But now thanks to the great people at charities such as Childline, the children of less fortunate circumstance have someone they can talk too, and for this I can be thankful to Esther and her colleagues for the work they have done in setting this up.
Your mum must have been very proud of you. Your bravery has moved me to tears and to be thankful that my little girl lives in a safe and loving environment. I wish you a very happy life with your own family.
Tanya, Stevenage, Herts
Child line saved my life, i was once a drunken dope addict in my youth and this showed me the light. i am now a well educated doctor and am very thankful to the support of Childline
Dr Scott mildenhall, birmingham uk
I felt moved by the story. I'm glad you have a family, its a moving testimony, for you as a person, to overcome that challenge.
Thank God for the blessing, of ChildLine
Wow, my Mum went through undescrible things as a child & her parents fostered other children as well. If childline had started then much pain could have been avoided. To have the courage to stand up & say no more is amazing & Thank the Lord you did & prevented it carrying on. Well done for then & for speaking up now as well to remind people of the need for childline. God bless you & your family.
Your story just made me go and donate to them. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Well done for standing up for yourself and your family! So brave!! Childline is a brilliant system and more should be done to make children who are suffering aware of it!! Lets hope this helps!
Leanne, Nr Leeds
You are very brave to stand up to your father in the way you did. Wish I had the same strength to stand up to my dad 15 years ago. Especially after a very bad beating that I got from my dad's belt. I just knew that I had to get out that house some how. I studied hard, went to a university far away from home and now I'm a doctor even further away from home. I wish I had heard about childLine then, or had the courage to stand up to my dad. But thank God that option is available for children in that same situation now.
I endured years of abuse from 2 of my mother's brothers. She knew about it but did nothing to help. I grew up with the knowledge that no-one would protect me. Only know, after speaking out and finding others like me, do I realise that sadly,I was not alone in going through this ordeal. I remember praying for someone to come and rescue me. Childline is that someone. Had Childline been around, I have no doubt it would have been an absolute godsend to me. I only wish it wasn't needed. I am now the mother of a beautiful 7 year old that I know I would die to protect.
Ali, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Childline does excellent work and I'm glad it helped you, and hope that your story will inspire more children to call the freephone number, but also motivate more adults to volunteer to help.
Thanks Ian in Manchester for your comment as it prompted me to act. I too was moved by this article and have made a donation immediately online, it only took a couple of minutes maximum to do.
I'm sitting at work thinking how incredibly privileged I am to have grown up knowing how much my parents loved me. I've just donated (it only took a couple of minutes) and I hope this brave article inspires others to do the same.
Gina Smith, Marlow
My father too. It is unbearable. My heart goes out to the others. I help myself by helping others. Counting down the days until I leave home. Prayers and nature help. Volunteering to help others like me does too.
E Falleninizadei, USA
I wish something like this had been around when I was sexually abused by by father for 10 years. I got married just to get out.
I endured years of sexual abuse as a child, by my uncle. The scars live with me forever. He is now dead, thankfully. My children and grandchildren are at least safe from him. Childline was not around when I was a child, maybe I could have done something,but at least I am a survivor.
Please spare me the sentimental comments and send Childline some money. Ideally, every month on a direct debit. Thats what will really help!
The NSPCC is a fantastic charity. ChildLine, as this story shows saves lives. How many people can accurately say what the NSPCC does? Everyone knows what ChildLine does, but most children don't through - they just get engaged tones. They need support!
Mathew O'Marah, Wovlerhampton, UK
Moved to tears and to donate...
I'd just discovered that I could ask BT to donate to Childline the £12 I'll be saving by setting up a direct debit. Then I read this & my decision was even easier. Plus making a donation direct. I give thanks that the writer had the strength and courage to keep phoning and believing that what he was experiencing was wrong. And the wisdom to share his story to inspire others. Thank you.
I am very grateful for childline being there, I had been going through physical and mental abuse at home from as early I can remember (about 5 years old) until I left home at 15. Although the beatings were bad, it was being being continually made to feel lower than something my father had scraped off of his shoe. After a while you start to blame yourself and believe that it is all your fault. I remember having the same problems trying to get through to Childline first time. Second time I missed the school bus to ring from the phone at school after hours, it was good to be able to speak to someone and to eventually realise that it was not my fault after all. I am 30 now and still feel thankful that the folks at Childline are still there, it would be a crime if they ever had to shut their doors.
D H, Glasgow
i came from a country where there is no such helpline. the abuse started when i was very young when my mother started gambling and she would horrifically beat me and my brothers very frequently. being the only girl also left me very vulnerable, i was mostly left at the mercy of my oldest brother who sexually abused me between the age of 7 and 11. i did not know my rights then or where to go for help, often hating myself and the situation. i have a daughter now and thank god, i am not at all like my mother. My daughter is very much loved, aware of her rights and about Childline, which she said will be handy when she knows of some other children who may need the help.
cal s, West Yorkshire
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