Hi, I am writing to you to share my story in the hope it helps other teenagers.
Please use an anonymous name for me. Thanks in advance.
My Dad is a lifer in prison and I am 18 years old.
He and Mum split up a year after he was sent to prison. I was 15 when they divorced.
When my Dad was first sent to prison; I ran away from home because I couldn't cope with the neighbours staring, students at school laughing at me and more so the loss of my Dad and what he had done. I was called names; I was kicked at school and no one bothered with me. My friends parents told them to stay away from me and I was basically alone coping with the grief.
It was a rollercoaster ride that never seemed to end.
I'm 18 now and I write to my Dad twice a week, speak to him on the phone and visit him once a month. It's the best we can do in the situation but it works. I send him photocopies of my college essays which includes him in my education and always send him a funny card once a week to cheer him up. He sends me cards too which is nice to receive.
I've made new friends; because the older you become; people are less judgemental and understand that what my Dad did had nothing to do with me. I am honest with my friends and I have a great support network of people around me. My Dad made a terrible, terrible, mistake; and before he was sent to prison because of it; he had never ever broken the law before or had been in trouble before.
He talks about it when I visit and although it is something that deeply upsets me; I have to accept it because he is my Dad when all said and done and I love him. What he did could happen to anyone. It helps a lot staying in touch with him and even though he is in prison; he wants me to write about the times I go out with friends and enjoy myself because he wants to hear about the free world and what I'm doing. He is still a part of me no matter what. It's tough going at first but I have found that staying in touch helps me a lot.
Thank you for letting me share my story. Lots of love, 'Estelle'.