Popular Olympic boxing champion, Nicola Adams, has opened up about one of the struggles she had to deal with as a kid. She revealed that she was forced to sleep with a hammer under her bed because she was so scared of her mum’s violent boyfriend and needed to protect herself and her mother.
Nicola’s struggle started with her father who started abusing her at the age of 4 and continued until she was 11. Just when she thought her nightmare was over, her mum started dating a second abusive man.
At the age of 12, Nicola confronted her stepfather with the weapon after a violent row, screaming: “Leave the house now or else I’m going to use it.”
“It was horrible. I couldn’t understand why it had happened, and I remember asking my mum: ‘How have we ended up in this situation again?’ I’d been through a lot already, and this guy was a lot bigger than my dad. I knew there was no way I’d be able to stop him if anything serious happened.
“He wasn’t abusive towards me, just my mum. But what she went through was as bad as it was the first time. I was pretty scared.
“That was why I decided to sleep with a hammer. Then one night I’d just had enough. I went downstairs and took the hammer and said: ‘You need to leave the house now or I’m going to use it.’
“I remember I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen, I just knew I had to do something. As soon as I had, I was thinking: ‘Oh c**p, I’m here now, and I don’t know what’s going to happen.
“But he went to the car. I went with him and I told him not to come back. Then I threw a brick through his window as he drove away,” she recounted.
Nicola, who’s now 39-year-old revealed that she spent most of her childhood feeling “scared and sad” as she feared her dad, Innocent, would lash out with his fists or belt. This led her to turn to boxing as an escape from her home life and undergo trauma therapy to get over the pain he caused.
“My dad had this rule, I had to be home before dark. If I was late, I was just waiting to see how angry he was going to be and if he’d just use his hand to beat me and not anything else.”
“If you hit an eight or nine-year-old, and you’re a grown man, that is going to really hurt. I remember one particular time – I was only three or four – he was trying to beat up my mum and I had a plastic sword and I was trying to rescue her.
“But my dad just pushed me to the side. I got used to feeling scared a lot of the time, feeling sad,” she said.
Nicola went on: “I was dealing with a lot of pain because I knew there was nothing I could do to help my mum. That’s why I liked boxing so much. It was a safe space, like a family.
“A lot of people know me as the girl that won gold at the Olympics – but most don’t know the journey I went on, and what it took to get to that point.
“I wanted to make this documentary to inspire people – especially people who come from backgrounds like mine – to believe that anything is possible with hard work. And I’m hoping it will help domestic abuse sufferers have the courage to walk away.
“If I could speak to my dad now about what he did to me, I’d tell him that I had to have trauma therapy to get over what I’ve been through. But ultimately I have been able to heal and to move past it. And it would have been really easy for me to take a different path completely.”
Tamera Glenn loves writing stories about people’s experiences.