A woman whose alcoholic sex worker mum left her to beg outside the chip shop and steal for food has spoken out about her chaotic upbringing.
From a young age, Emma Lewis was left to fend for herself when her mum Betty went out drinking and selling her body.
Sometimes, things got so bad that she held knives up to their throats and considered ending it all.
In 2000, she dropped a match on herself and set herself on fire in her chair, reports Wales Online.
The horrific burns proved too much and just two days later she died in hospital.
But now, Emma – who was tragically subjected to sexual abuse amidst the other traumas – has put the desperation of her childhood behind her and wants to help others.
The 41-year-old, who had no qualifications when she finished school, told the outlet about her grim start to life.
"I was left alone quite a lot as a baby and my mum would go out drinking," she said.
"When I was older I would get up and steal food and would beg for food from the chip shop.
"My mum was profoundly deaf and mute and would lip-read and sign.
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"These men would come to the door and my mam would tell me to go away.
"I would watch my mother sign the word for money before the men would give me the change and I would go and I would buy a tonne of sweets to eat.
"My mum would have a red light bulb in her bedroom and I wanted one."
Devastatingly, Emma’s mum – like her daughter – was also sexually abused during her childhood.
The trauma had a huge impact on her adult life and suicidal thoughts occurred several times.
"I remember my mother would get so low she would hold the knife to us," Emma said.
"It must have got bad because it happened more than once – she was very unhappy at times.
"When she was in a relationship there would be blood and clumps of hair everywhere. I would be trying to be a child."
In 1992, Emma was taken away from her home to live with a foster family – who she told the true scale of the horrors she had been through.
But now, Emma has managed to turn the life of pain around.
She works for community groups in Swansea and has a husband, Craig, as well as a kid called Harry.
Founding The Roots Foundation to work with victims of exploitation and kids in care, she’s also scooped up multiple recognitions.
"I deal with the trauma every day, my default position is to feel weak, useless, worthless, and pathetic," the mum said.
"I've come to understand that it’s okay if you feel vulnerable, call it out, but never allow those thoughts to win."
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can access NHS mental health support online here or call Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123.
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