I’d like to set the scene: I’m 5 years old, I live with my mum, dad and brother in a small, terraced house situated in a small town in Norfolk.. But for this scene I’m not in my house, I'm in a place with other ladies and children, we are sleeping and eating here… I’m not sure why we are here but it’s nice. I’m currently standing at the top of the stairs in my superman outfit and pretending I'm flying above everyone and I'm on my way to save my mum from being hurt. She has a black eye and I know who did it… he scares me when he yells and hurts my mum.. We then hide and cry… I want it all to stop and her not to cry. As a child I loved the concept of being a superhero so I could save my mum, repeatedly, when I watched her crying, shouting and being hurt. Therefore I wanted to become Superman, strong, brave and fearless… able to lift cars and whisk those I that I love away to safety… The truth is I latched onto superman at a young age because he was everything I was not, I couldn't save my mum, I couldn't get her to safety, and I was terrified. Being aged 39, my memories of being a 5-year-old child feel like such a long distance away but in some shape or form I’m still feeling the scars from my experiences, they still burn like the day I got them. It’s sad looking back at 5 year old Aaron, I can’t remember many good times but what I do remember is the feeling of insecurity, stress, worry and anxiety. Every single day I didn’t know what the day would bring… Would my mum get hurt today? Would there be shouting? How much would I have to hide under my bed? Would my toys get broken again…? This was my daily life… I can’t tell you what I would do to go back and just whisk that child to safety. But it was one of those situations - everyone knew, and everyone stayed quiet… Not knowing the impact all these actions would have on me growing up, the relationships I would form with partners, colleagues, and the drastic impacts that these actions would have on my mental health and those around it. To say at least my parents' relationship was toxic, it's the simplest of words to describe what it was, 2 people that should have not been together, especially with children. I think they thought they were right for each other when the reality was that all they did was cause each other pain, mental and physical… Looking back, I can’t say either of them were any better than the other, they both had their own traits but neither of them recognised the effect that each one had on us as children. Especially as our minds were at a key stage of development, every action taken between them had a direct impact on us and would set the road for us about how we would look at the world… I think this is where people sometimes forget the responsibility of being a parent, it’s their job to keep their children's minds and bodies safe. Even through it all my childhood wasn't always bad, we had good times don’t get me wrong but all I can really remember are the bad bits, the hurt, bruises, the shouting, the hiding, and the rage that would take over the home in front of our eyes. We found ourselves in and out of refuge centres, moving across the country, school to school, friends to friends to get away from the toxic environment and each time we would go back. All my life I’ve asked myself why you went back? But it's not something I can answer... Maybe it was to keep a family together - whatever it takes. The old mindset that so many still have… The reality is you do not have to live a life like this. It’s harder said than done but you don’t… All the above came to a head when I was 7, my parents split, my mum fled overnight without notice leaving me and my siblings behind and split up - my siblings went to one of my grandparents and I went to a different one… Turbulence at its finest! Fast forward to now, I’m learning to grow, let go and see my childhood for what it was… a moment in time and it has made me to who I am today, I now have the power to change who I am and will not let any of these experiences define me. My experiences can be used to educate and help provide some comfort in that you are not alone with the feelings you feel. Everything I suffer from today is because of all the actions that took place around me as a child. The social and separation anxiety, the nervousness, the inner flicker of anger and the need to crawl into a darkened corner when things get tough… All these symptoms and learnt behaviours are ones that I developed as a child to keep safe but can be worked on and changed. Being a parent, I have used my own experiences to provide my son with love, kindness, and safety. I always said to myself that I would do everything I can to protect him from the environment I grew up in, and he has become the most awesomely kindest guy I have ever met… What I'm trying to say is that goodness can come from the bad. This is a very snapshot of my life and a reason why I have chosen refuge as our focused charity. Without charities like them I would not have had a safe space to go to or the chance to live out my imagination of being the hero I so wanted to be! 10 % off all profits made this month will help those in desperate need, those women and children just like me.