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Claire Davies

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8

I got together with the father of my four children when I was nineteen. He’s a very violent person. He attacked me with a hammer and I had to go to hospital and have the back of my head stapled up. It happened in front of my children which is why they’ve all been taken away from me. The older two have been adopted and the younger two, who are twins, are in foster-care. The twins were taken away from me in the hospital straight after I’d given birth. I’ve been told that if I have a child with a different father then I’ll be allowed to keep the child but if the father is the same then the baby will be taken away from me.


There were things from my childhood I needed to forget and that was partly why I started using heroin when I was seventeen. I went to prison for the first time last year. I was in Low Newton for six months. I was in at first just for seven days before I was given bail. Two days after I got out my mum, who had been unwell for a long time, died, and the funeral took place just before I went back to court and was given my sentence.


Things brew over in your mind when you’re in prison. I just wanted to be on my own and cry. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with crying but if the others see you being weak then they pick on you and nick all your stuff, so I wanted to be in a cell on my own. The prison arranged for someone to see me from Sunderland MIND. She helped me - I felt she understood something of what had happened to me, but I didn’t see her enough - just once every three weeks. And I saw the chaplain who told me about God, which, with respect, didn’t help me. You can also ask to speak to a ‘listener’, who is another prisoner who will come and talk to you in your cell. As far as I could make out people asked to see a listener if they had run out of tobacco, because they usually give you something to smoke.


I stayed on methadone throughout my sentence. I’m still on it now and I use heroin as well. I started using subutex whilst I was in prison. There’s lots of it in there: you get it as a pill and you crush the pill and snort it. It stops you feeling so bad if you’re on a lower methadone script than you need. I came out with a subutex habit which was as much of a problem as my heroin habit. People start using it in prison and then come out and use heroin to feed their subutex habit. All I know about drugs is that there’s no point in trying to keep them away from people; there’s only any point in finding ways to help people not to need them.


I was lonely in prison. I wanted my mum to be there to give me a cuddle. I was frightened of being picked on by the other prisoners. Some of them want you to be their girlfriend and I was frightened of that. I would have liked to be able to talk to the prison officers in a more friendly way. I suppose they haven’t much time, and their job must be difficult, but I wanted some kindness from them, particularly the men. I’m frightened of men after what I’ve been through, so being treated harshly made things worse.

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