Child abuse survivor whose mother forced them to eat dog food speaks out

Child abuse survivor whose mother forced them to eat dog food speaks out

It takes a lot of bravery to talk about child abuse, even if the issue hasn't personally affected you. The problem is vast and global, and all around us are silent victims, people who were subjected to emotional, sexual and physical harassment throughout their early life. Approximately 2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the United States alone, to say nothing of the countless others which are never uncovered. But now a former victim of child abuse has come forward to talk about the shocking treatment he endured at the hands of his own mother, to raise awareness about this kind of crime.

From an early age, Andrew Copley's mother Christine, was the worst kind of parent; beating, starving and taunting her son for over a decade. It all began after Andrews parents separated, and he was left to live with a mom who hated him. Although Andrew had many close friends, he was too frightened to confide in them, and social services were unable to find enough evidence of mistreatment to take him into care. It wasn't until Andrew was an adult, and had children of his own, that he was able to face what he had been the victim of, and seek justice for himself.

Andrew Copley holding a fish after a fishing trip. Credit: Press Association

Commenting on the horrendous conditions in his childhood, Andrew stated: "The house was filthy. There was dog excrement all over the floor, and no carpet. There was nowhere to go for comfort except a field at the bottom of the garden, where I’d sit by myself.” he said, remembering how they had barely enough money to survive. From virtually the moment I was born, Christine didn’t want me. After having my older brothers, she’d wanted a girl, so when I arrived, she was furious. She would tell me she wished I’d died at birth."

Christine's other cruel torments included dunking Andrew in icy bathwater, (which helped reduce the bruises she inflicted on him, selling his Christmas and birthday presents, locking him in a dirty cupboard for hours, whipping him with a dog lead, and forcing him to stand outside naked.

She also starved him, and Andrew added:

"I was very skinny, because I didn’t eat. Christine made meals for herself, then would show me the empty saucepan. Sometimes, there’d be no food for days. I begged other pupils at school for leftovers, or I ate hamster food and dog biscuits, just to survive."

"The final straw was when she hit me with a wine bottle for refusing to give her money. In that moment, I knew she’d never change and that I had to get out. I ran past her, out of the house. She chased after me, but I eventually got away with just the clothes on my back. I didn’t bring anything else with me. I ran to the train station to call my dad, Barry, who has since passed away, and from that day on I lived with him. He had demons with drink, so life wasn’t exactly rosy, but it was easier."

Andrew sought counselling as an adult to help cope with the PTSD he suffered, and was inspired by the survivors of infamous British paedophile Jimmy Saville to report his mother at long last. In 2013, told the police everything, and they arrested Christine shortly afterwords. She denied everything, but in 2016 she was found guilty of historical cruelty to children, and was sentenced to three years in prison.

An image of Andrew's mother Christine Copley. Credit: Press Association

If you or anyone else you know has been abused as a child, or if you suspect that a minor is being abused currently, then please visit the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) for help.