(Originally posted in 2019 - The Labour Party are about to run a hit piece about me and gave me right to reply. They aim to taunt me with my past. So here it is. Obviously some of this is very painful.)
I have had a stalker named (insert name of extremely small, incontinent, obsessive troll of your choice) for 5 years now. That's more time than I have been with my partner. This is weird to consider.
I cannot shake him. He is obsessed. That's the thing about stalkers. They never stop. You can ignore them. You can plead with them. You can report them. They will never stop.
Now. Enough about him. The only power he ever had over me was to reveal my details and strip me of anonymity. He still thinks he has that power. But he doesn't really know my details. My face is right here anyway. But here is me. I'll make it as brief as possible.
I was born in Sheffield on Lowedges council estate. It was a tough place to grow up. My abuser often called it "the gutter" and threatened to "put you back in the gutter where you came from". My parents were older and poor but they were hard working and I never went without food or clothes. My aunt and uncle took care of me quite a lot. Mum and dad drank quite a bit and I was better off out of the way. My uncle instilled in me a need for an education and helped to push me and push me. I read a lot as a kid.
My dad was very political. I learned my politics watching him watch the news. He once threw his shoe at "Pudding Face" as he called Ted Heath and mum was scared she wouldn't be able to watch Corrie if he broke the telly. Of course he hated Margaret Thatcher with a passion. He was a shop steward. A steelworker. I was very proud of him when he got angry and brought the men out on strike. He did this a lot in the seventies and early eighties. I remember his boss coming round when he died and I was proud that my dad had never ever backed down to him and that man knew it.
Mum worked in a factory too, She wasn't political at all and had really struggled at school. She sort of followed around in dad's shadow and there wasn't a lot of time left over to keep an eye on me so I just did my own thing really. I was a fighter. I fought boys a lot. On that estate....you either fought or ran and I am a terrible runner.
But I was a socialist through to my bones. How could I be otherwise? The estate was predominantly white but when I began going to the youth club, kids from the other side of the city used to come over. They had better records. Black lads who visited had all the good stuff. I didn't understand racism until then. I just saw music. I started seeing a black lad from down by the ice rink and a neighbour told my dad who hit the roof. Then the local thugs started to come and attack the youth club and demand "give us back our white girls or we will kill you niggers on your way home" and it was terrifying. We had bottles thrown through the bus windows as we travelled together over to estates on the other side of the city where afro-carribean communities predominantly lived. We had gangs chase us through town at night. I was called a "nigger-lover" and I knew racism then. I was the "property" of white boys. I was "stained" because I went out with black boys.
I left home at 16 because my dad wouldn't sign my forms to stay on to further education. I signed on the dole and went to college. You could do that then. You could go and learn stuff if you were poor. I did my A levels and dad died shortly before I finished. In fact he died the night before one of my exams. I passed. I got an A. Because when you grow up fighting you don't know how to stop.
I stayed behind instead of going to Uni in Manchester so that I could be around my mum. I met and married a miner. We went through the Coal Not Dole protests together. I went off to university after I got married. We split amicably as were so young and went our separate ways. He was a lovely bloke and we are still friends and in regular contact. I got my degree and then worked and bought my own house and I was doing ok. I was happy. Independent. I was me. I was a Labour Party member. Not that active. I was a feminist. More gobby than activist. But I knew who I was. I was strong.
And then I met my abuser. He targeted me probably because I was strong. But he sniffed something else in me too. I think it was my upbringing and not being cared for too well. Anyway - most of that I've written about before. 15 years of it. I got gradually smaller. Broken bones, name-calling, control, bullying etc etc. I'm not going over all that again. But I got lost. I mean really lost. He delighted in changing me completely. I became a sort of puppet.
I gave birth to and raised a beautiful daughter so I kept fighting. I kept trying. But I got deeper and deeper into a surreal world. I did whatever I thought would make him happy. I spouted his politics sometimes to keep the peace. This I am more ashamed of than anything else. He loved Thatcher. Some of our worst arguments would start with me standing my ground until I either went quiet or.... I once convinced him in the early days to vote Labour and he never let me forget it. Quietly he worked on getting his own back. He needed revenge for that. I became a dead thing smiling. There were no lights on behind my eyes if anyone looked. No one looked. I didn't recognise me. Everyone still thought I was confident and strong. Was I hell. I was barely keeping my head above water. I kept trying to get out. I signed up for a Law Masters degree thinking eventually I might be able to support myself but he made me give it up calling me selfish and saying we couldn't afford it. Shortly afterwards he bought a Porsche for himself.
I kept going. He made me open a rug shop. I knew nothing about rugs or shops! It was ludicrous. I have a career I could have gone back to but he wouldn't let me. Here I met the best woman ever to walk this earth. My beautiful Helen. I loved her from the start. And she loved me. My abuser ended that eventually. He stopped me from seeing her by poisoning our relationship with lies. I didn't see her for a couple of years in total. I missed her every day. When the rug shop didn't work he made me work within the family business where he could keep a close eye on me and control me.
He said I was useless at it. But he made me keep doing it anyway. I was totally brainwashed. I stopped being me. And then I did a really crazy thing. I thought he would be proud of me and leave me alone if he could just see that I was doing things that would please him. Show I agreed with him. That he had won. I thought it would give me a break from his abuse. I joined the Tory Party.
I am more ashamed of this than anything I have done in my life. It makes me cry with shame. In my defence.... I actually did some reasonably good things and I stayed a feminist as best it allowed. (Planet Cath - some of you know her - once said and I quote "you're the only Tory I've ever liked") I quickly worked out that they were a bunch of mildly-racist ,poor-hating losers at best, but I also realised that the city of Sheffield was being sold down the line by a really ineffective Labour Party who poured finances into contracts they didn't understand and left vital services begging for funds. Our PFI contract with AMEY is one of the worst things ever to happen to Sheffield and I campaigned against it. Our contract with Veolia was signed erroneously with the Lib Dems years earlier and I poked and poked and uncovered the millions that had been overpaid. No one really cared but I was proud of it.
One of the other things I did was to run Nigel Bonson's campaign for South Yorkshire Police And Crime Commissioner. This is when I came up against Shaun Wright who was eventually stripped of his post and expelled from the Labour Party who selected him as candidate. Way, way too late. I never let that go either. I dug and dug and dug. I unearthed the evidence that he was complicit in covering up child sexual abuse in Rotherham and had been doing so since his time as head of Children's Services. I found evidence of possible corruption around his selection process and his being Vice-Chair of the Police and Crime Panel appointed by one of the subsequently convicted grooming gang's relatives. I confronted him with this at every single hustings whilst his own party supported him while knowing. At the election count his wife cornered me and told me she would "make sure you get what's coming to you now Shaun is elected". Secretly I was told that the pressure I was putting him under had put his marriage on the rocks.
I continued to campaign against him and eventually it all fell apart. Throughout this time I received support from ShefDap in Sheffield. The Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership and they and my IDVA gave me the strength and support I needed. I felt I could finally shake the stink of the Tories off me without letting anyone down and I walked away. I kicked out my abuser at the same time. I marched back to me so fast I was dizzy. I almost immediately rang my Helen at this time in 2013 and it was like we had never been apart. We had our own language we two. I will never have a friend like her again. My heart is slightly broken right now. I didn't get enough time with her. She died a few weeks ago.
Eventually along the way I met my beautiful Sidekick. I won't name him. He doesn't need the abuse. He's a gorgeous, intelligent, kind man who is mad as a box of frogs, fit as all the world and totally gets me and all I am. I adore the bones of him and thank the sky each day that he is in my life.
So I hope you'll forgive me for the mistakes I made when I was being abused. I really do. Because everything I have done since has been for women. I like to think I have proved myself. I have never sought fame or anything like it. I just do my stuff. I fought the Ched Evans thing for a long time and I raised money to help his complainant. I'm proud of that. I would do it again despite it bringing the stalker Goggins into my life.
I have always worked hard to support women exiting abusive relationships. A lot of the time I do this when women approach me by DM. I do my bit to signpost and support. I never refuse women my time. I was given a hard time at one bit in 2014 because a woman spread some malicious gossip about me. I ignored it and carried on doing my thing. At this time women leaked my details to Goggins including details from my Facebook like the name of my daughter and my cats. I really wish those women hadn't done that. He uses it constantly and obsessively along with his lies. I won't put my own or my daughter's name here. Lots of people know them and I don't need to broadcast it. I don't hide my identity any longer. My face is easy to find. I'm no longer anonymous. My cats are Stanley and Woobie. They hate Goggins too and frequently do little craps in the shape of his saggy old body.
So now Goggins has nothing. He can't expose anything about me. I've been investigated by my work. My ex husband now knows who I am online and stalks my profile relentlessly. Ched Evans fans don't care who I am anymore and have moved on. No one is coming to kill me.
And that's it. That's how you take back control. You own the thing they think scares you.
I will never be scared of any man again.
Peace sisters x
(P.S .... I'll never be scared of anyone who tries to humiliate me with these details either. I hope others are thoroughly disgusted when they do.)
Cheers Helen M Tann. You were a bloody marvel. Till we meet again love.