Why We Exist
Young people in Canada have been turning to Kids Help Phone for help during their most difficult challenges for more than 27 years. Our Five-Year goal is for Kids Help Phone to be the most nimble, accessible, effective access point for young people to the support they need.
All too often, our counsellors hear from kids suffering from verbal or emotional abuse. These young people can feel worthless, depressed, and anxious. Some even start to believe they deserve the negativity. It’s so important for these kids to have someone they can open up to.
Here is the story of a past service user who came forward with his story as an ambassador of our services.
Kids Help Phone helps kids in Canada over 1 million times per year, 6 years ago I was 1 in a million. Today I reflect back to say thank you, to let you know I survived, and to speak out so others can also survive.
When I was nine years old my parents became divorced. Shortly after I became an outlet for my mother’s feelings. At first it started with unrealistic expectations, and when I couldn’t fulfil her expectations she would hit me. Shortly after that a new activity started… what she called “special time” locked in her room she sexually abused me, she made me powerless with threats that she would harm my brother, or even take my life. Special time became routine for nine more years… I grew numb, my grades dropped in school, I became a target of bullies, I felt like an empty shell labelled “child”.
In grade 12 I wasn’t sure why I was still alive. Routines at home had become so ordinary I had no idea something was wrong. I felt my life was normal, and one day I casually mentioned some of the things that happened at home when one of my friends was explaining how she got in trouble. I remember the blank looks on their face after I spoke… I didn’t believe it at the time but my life at home was not okay, and it should never be normal. That day was the longest day in my life so far… what started as a casual mention to a friend, became a conversation with a teacher, which then went to a school counsellor who made a call to child services. I felt I betrayed my mom, and I still remember my friend sitting with me during lunch as I cried, scared, lost, and confused.
I ended up living with my brother, safe from the routine… but not from the memories. I didn’t know how to process the feelings and at that point it felt hopeless. That’s when I found Kids Help Phone; I saw your number on the cereal box. I didn’t know if you could help someone like me but I had to try. I was very scared on my first call but even though they weren’t with me they quickly made me feel safe. I told you about my mother, I talked about how angry I was at myself and how I dealt with those feelings. You didn’t laugh or judge me, instead you gave me hope, you gave me courage, and you told me I was brave.
You connected me with local counsellors I could talk to and you were always there on the nights I was overwhelmed. You gave me homework to keep me going, little tasks like listing what I like about myself or what I dream to be. When I felt alone you shared with me the idea of a “chosen family,” picking people I trust and can build a strong relationship with. Today I have a “chosen Family” that consists of my biological brother along with four sisters, a mother and a father.
On New Year’s Eve you gave me strength to fight through another year, at midnight the first person I said “Happy New Year’s” to was a counsellor named Sandra.
I came to you broken and alone, you helped me find the strength to keep moving forward. You were role models on how I deserved to be treated as a person. I want you to know I’m much stronger now. In an analogy you once used, I’m in the driver’s seat now and the past memories no longer fill my rear view mirror. So many amazing things have happened that they are only minor bumps in the distance. I have a growing career; I’ve gone back to my high school and spoken on hope. I’ve had the opportunity to tell kids about Kids Help Phone and I will always be a volunteer in order to encourage kids to always raise their voice. I am truly thankful for Kids Help Phone being there… for me, 1 in a million… Thank You!