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Women: I tried to knife my mum.

Byline: BY JANET TAPPIN COELHO

PUSHED up against a wall, a knife pressed to her face, mum-of-two Rachael Tyson feared for her life. But this wasn't a random attack in a dimly-lit street, and her attacker wasn't a thug in a hoodie top.

It happened in the comfort of her own home - and the person brandishing the blade was her 15-year-old daughter, Lucy.

The terrifying incident was the culmination of two years of physical attacks on Rachael by her only daughter. Barely a day went by when Lucy didn't punch, hit or spit at her mum.

Her violence and temper tantrums affected the whole family. Dad Jeff considered moving out. And her older brother James chose to live in a friend's shed, just to get away from her.

But it was Rachael who bore the brunt of Lucy's anger. And, following the knife attack, she knew Lucy needed help to curb her violent rages.

In desperation, she turned to Channel 4's Brat Camp. And after months in the no-nonsense regime, Lucy is a changed person and has learned to control her temper.

Lucy's bad behaviour started when she was 13, and the family moved 200 miles from their home in Lincolnshire to start a new life in Lancaster.

"She resented moving," says Rachael, 36, an accounts administrator. "She had to leave behind all her friends and her grandparents who she was very close to."

Whatever the underlying cause behind Lucy's outbursts, her behaviour became increasingly threatening. She would stand at the top of the stairs and spit on her mum as she walked up them.

"I was absolutely terrified of her," admits Rachael, who felt useless as a parent and was at a loss over what to do. "She wore me down with her constant swearing, frequently calling me a 'lousy mother' and a 'whore'. I loved her as my child but 1 I hated her behaviour.

"It had got to the point in our house that if she walked into the room, I'd walk out. We didn't have a relationship because I all she ever did was shout, scream and physically attack me."

Rachael was so ashamed of Lucy's violence towards her that she kept the worst of it from her husband Jeff, 40 - a mechanical engineer who worked away from home for months at a time.

It wasn't just Lucy's violence that disrupted the household. Her bedroom was also a pigsty - strewn about it were dirty plates and cups that had been left to go mouldy and even soiled sanitary towels.

"We could never go out together because we were frightened of the tantrums she might throw," says Rachael. "We became prisoners in our own home. It got so bad that Jeff seriously considered moving into his own place for a bit of peace and quiet."

In the end their 18-year-old son James did just that.

Jeff says: "You could never tell when Lucy was going to kick-off. Her violent tantrums really affected James. Last March, he got so fed up with her that he went to live in his friend's shed. She had punched him in the face when he was asleep one morning simply because he'd forgotten to pay her pounds 2 he owed her."

Things came to a head that day in April 2005, when Lucy pulled a knife on her mother. Desperate for some kind of help, Rachael went online, saw an ad for Brat Camp and prayed that this was the answer. Four months later, Lucy and six other British youngsters were on their way America, to the Aspen Achievement Academy in Utah.

At Aspen, the girls were stripped of their own clothes and possessions and forced to live outside in 10,000 square miles of mountains wilderness. The conditions were austere and challenging.

"I hated it," says Lucy, now 16, who refused to co-operate and attacked the staff. "It didn't work for me. I can't stand hiking and they made me carry a big, uncomfortable rucksack. We had to sleep outside and at night the temperatures were freezing.

"It was a real shock to have to use the toilet in the open and to wash from the same billycan that you ate in."

Lucy tried to run away 10 times.

"Whenever they caught me they'd use force to restrain me. They would sit on my arms and legs, and twist my hands until I screamed with the pain," she recalls.

After four weeks, Lucy became the first applicant to be expelled from a brat camp after she punched a member of staff.

Anxious to make sure she didn't go home to her family feeling angry and frustrated, the course organisers transferred her to the Turnabout Ranch, which offers a more structured environment. It proved to be a turning point.

"I was relieved when I heard they were moving me and it suddenly dawned on me that this was my last chance. I decided there and then to change," says Lucy.

"I have now learned how to keep calm by doing breathing exercises. I also know how to recognise the signs in my body that tell me I'm about to lose my temper. And I focus on keeping it under control.

"It's weird because the place changes you and you don't even know how they do it. But I enjoyed my time there and learned that I can be a nice person."

Even so, Rachael wasn't convinced that her daughter was a reformed character.

"When I heard Lucy was coming back I started to have panic attacks," she says. "The doctor put me on anti-depressants and I was off work for six weeks with the stress. I was so frightened she would be exactly as she was before that I kept waking up at three in the morning with my mind a whirl with anxiety.

"I was convinced she was pretending to be better just to get out of the camp."

It has taken time for the family to accept that the old Lucy has gone for good.

"Lucy came home thinking, 'Well, I've changed and it's all in the past now so everyone should forgive me'. But it's taken James and me quite a bit of time to forgive her for the things she did," admits Rachael.

"It's probably only in the last couple of weeks that I've actually been able to relax and treat her like a normal teenager.

"Of course, she's not perfect and she has had a bit of a tantrum on a bad day, but it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

"If I ask her to do something now she'll do it and I'm starting to enjoy her company. We even went shopping for clothes together for the first time a few Saturdays ago."

To ensure that Lucy doesn't go off the rails again, Jeff and Rachael are working hard at their parenting skills.

"We've changed the way we react to Lucy now," says Jeff. "It was so easy in the past for her to play us off against each other. Now we always show a united front and never make a decision without checking with one another first."

But Lucy insists that she's never going back to her old ways.

"I like who I am now," she declares, proudly. "I'm really sorry about how I treated my parents and brother, but I just didn't care who I hurt at the time.

"The temptations are still there to try and shout to get my own way, but I've learned that if you're kind to others, people are kind back to you."

Brat Camp: Series 3 begins on C4 tonight at 9pm.

I was terrified of my own daughter, we were like prisoners in our own home

Her brother got so fed up that he went to live in his friend's s hed

CAPTION(S):

LIPPY: Defiance in her eyes at eight' CUTE: At four, before the tantrums started' ANIMAL MAGIC: Lucy mucks in' CHALLENGE: Brat Camp' HAPPY: With mum Rachael and dad Jeff' PROUD: Lucy now has her temper under control Pictures: BRIAN WILLIAMSON
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 8, 2006
Words:1350
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