St Albans author’s harrowing autobiography reveals childhood of violent abuse
- Credit: Archant
A brave local author has recounted her traumatic life experiences in a hard-hitting autobiography about rape, abuse, and reinvention.
Amelia Hendrey, 34, wrote What Nobody Knew to open up about a series of horrible events in her childhood.
Her problems started when her mother abandoned her in St Albans city centre at three years old.
Reassuring the toddler Amelia she was “just going in that shop”, and “will be back in a minute”, her mum never returned.
Instead Amelia moved in with her abusive and alcoholic father who she said would beat her, push her down the stairs, and forcefeed her. The battered youngster was sent to boarding school “as a way to get rid” of her, she believes, but that did not stop the attacks.
On one occasion he inflicted such harmful wounds to her jaw that it had to be wired shut for weeks. Amelia said the neighbours could hear her screams, but stayed silent.
The abuse culminated in a rape that saw the bully go to prison for seven years.
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In that time Amelia was sent by herself, without any life skills, to live in a hostel for recovering alcoholics and drug users - even though she was not yet one herself. Amelia would eventually turn to substance abuse after meeting her biological mother as an adult.
The woman, who was now in her 40s and a stranger to Amelia, had both dementia and a rare progressive disease called leukodystrophy.
Amelia said: “She didn’t know who I was or who she was, she was a vegetable in a wheelchair making these noises. I thought she would say she loves me and give me all the answers - and instead I get that.”
Through her mother’s new husband Amelia found out she has a step sister: “I felt replaced because my step sister had a lovely life. My mum was pushing her on a swing and teaching her to ride a bike while all this bad stuff was happening to me.
“I never could have a relationship with my step sister because she idolises my mother and I blame her for everything bad that has ever happened to me.”
Amelia, who stressed she would never advocate drugs or alcohol, said she used a concoction of narcotics including ecstasy, LSD and speed to escape from the reality of her life: “It was good because it made me forget, which is why I kept doing it.
“When you are broken into 1,000 pieces the drugs make it go away, it makes all the memories and flashbacks and feelings go away.”.
However, after meeting her husband Amelia reinvented herself: “I didn’t want to be that broken person any more, I thought if I changed my name and pretended that person didn’t exist any more then I could be a normal person and be like everybody else.
“The whole reason I wrote this book is because it wasn’t just one thing, it wasn’t just a parent dying, it wasn’t just abuse or alcohol, and it could hit so many people. It was really hard because once you open Pandora’s box, it’s open. I started waking up at 3am, gasping, to start writing and it kept coming to me like flashbacks.”
The book took six months to write and was sent to hundreds of publishers in draft form before Amelia decided to self-publish.
“I want people to understand when you feel you are at your lowest, you can come out at the other side and be okay. I have had a lot of bad stuff happen to me but I don’t hurt people because of it. People have been awful to me but that doesn’t mean you have to be awful to other people.”
The novel includes real documents from social services and court cases. Amelia said she will explain the whole story to her four-year-old daughter when she is old enough.
You can meet Amelia at a book signing in Kimpton’s The Boot pub on January 20 at 2pm. The paperback is available on Amazon.