To Hell and Back


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A Short Story of my Life
By Ann Denise Parsons


ISBN: 978-1-84747-047-8
Published: 2006
Pages: 31
Key Themes: Ann is a survivor of an abusive alcoholic father, divorced parents, homelessness, a Christian Cult, police corruption and psychiatric abuse.


Ann’s book is the poignant yet accessible memoir of being bought up with an alcoholic father. ‘To Hell and Back’ documents the effect that this, coupled with her parent’s bitter divorce, can have on a young mind. Throughout Ann searches for ways to explain her own troubled times. This is an excellently written and vividly descriptive narrative, a must read for anybody who has had similar experience to Ann.

About the Author

Ann was born in 1961 and grew up in Loughton in Essex until her parent’s divorce when she was 22, when she moved with her mother to nearby Woodford Green. She now lives in Ilford in East London.

Despite their father’s alcoholism Ann and her sister both had horses and enjoyed an idyllic childhood, but things dramatically changed for Ann after her parent’s bitter divorce. This set off a series of events that spiralled out of control. After several years of misdiagnosis and tragedies, Ann has now found relative calm in which to tell her story.

Ann is currently studying Life Coaching, Abstract Art and Sculpture and is now embarking on a Foundation Course in Art and Design. She is also a qualified gym instructor and personal trainer, as well as retaining her skills as a secretary and audio typist.

Book Extract

Firstly, I was aware from when I was a teenager that my dad had something ‘wrong’ with him. Later I was to find out that it was because he was an alcoholic. I first became aware of Alateen (12 step fellowship for teenagers of alcoholics) when I was 16 and went to my first meeting in Chelsea shortly afterwards, I then drove to Enfield when I was 17 (having passed my driving test first time at this age) to attend Alateen, where it was started by two American’s – Bonny and George. These meetings were great and gave me the chance to talk about stuff that I couldn’t really talk to anyone else about.

I was always out at disco’s especially Epping Forest Country Club and the West End and had loads of friends and boyfriends. I also had a horse that my parents bought me when I was 16, mostly though it was my mother who persuaded my dad eventually. I kept my horse for 5 years and used to love riding in Epping Forest, I also did show-jumping and cross-country eventing on her and used to have great fun and won plenty of rosettes. My sister also was bought a horse and we used to go out riding together, we also had two cats, a Labrador dog and lived in a very expensive area of Loughton in Essex in a huge detached five bed-roomed house overlooking the countryside of Ongar and Abridge, (we also had a gardener and a cleaner). We lived close to Epping Forest and I had grown up in Loughton since I was five years of age and lived a very comfortable privileged life, apart from the times with my father being an alcoholic and his irrational behaviour which got progressively worse as time went by. He was lucky that in the business he had, which employed about thirty people he had very competent managers who virtually ran the business for him when he was in the pub drinking all day.

I broke up with a serious relationship, which lasted for five years, at the age of 21, my mother pointed me in the direction of a counsellor (who was also a vicar) who lived in Orpington in Kent, I was so upset I agreed to go. (From what I have now found out about the whole mess at this time, was that my parents were seeing this particular ‘vicar’ for counselling too, which to me made sense years later as to why this vicar was pressurising me to leave home, as he knew from talking to my parents that things were not as they seemed at home, we later found out that about this time my dad was having an affair with a girl at work who was the same age as me then (which was 21) and was also married (I saw them together on a couple occasions whilst driving but thought it was work related), also over the years I have found out that a counsellor should never see anyone from the same family unless it is family therapy as this is not good practice and ‘unethical’).

This vicar talked to me about leaving home and in particular going to work on a kibbutz in Israel, so that’s what I did. I gave up a promising career as a shorthand secretary to three directors, and at the age of 21 left home for the first time and went to Israel. I ended up on the Lebanese Border, it was a nerve racking situation because of the war that was going on in 1982 when Israel was fighting in Lebanon, and I was right in the midst of the main military build up by the Israeli’s, on the Lebanese Border checkpoint on the main coastal route to Beirut, working in the Mitz Bar literally on the border crossing, a café/restaurant. I saw lots of soldiers from the United Nations and Israeli soldiers and the carrying of guns all over the place and tanks, it was a bit scary but exciting. After four months I left Israel, but not before back-packing around the Holy Land going to all the religious sights, which made an impact on me.

I went home to Loughton where I grew up. By this time my sister had left home to go to study physiotherapy at Middlesex University Hospital, so I was left with just my parents which was odd. I decided to move out to a flat, which I rented in Walthamstow in the East End of London. I was unemployed and felt a bit down and out, the action and adventure in Israel compared to living in a dingy flat in the East End really made me feel depressed. I joined an unemployment centre and made lots of friends there. I got really run down, had boils in my ears and went back home. My parents were abroad on a Far Eastern tour, so I recovered on my own. Shortly afterwards I got a job working as a forest surveyor for Epping Forest Conservation Centre. This was for about 6 months. I felt that it was strange living at home with my parents without my sister, and some of my friends had moved away.

The next thing I remember is my dad telling me that he was leaving home to ‘be on his own’. After a couple of days we found out that he left the home to live with his girlfriend from his company that worked for him and not on his own as he had told us, this girl was married and the same age as me 21. I was furious and went hysterical, shortly afterwards her husband got her back and my dad was left on his own, apparently her husband went to my dad’s work to beat him up.

About the time my dad told us he was leaving, there appeared on the front of the Loughton Gazette (local paper), a photo-fit picture of a man with the spitting image of my dad, when I saw this photo my blood ran cold and I almost fainted with fear, it was so like him, and the front page story ran like this – ‘the police were looking for a man in connection with a serious assault and attempted rape (or rape) in Epping Forest’. I told my mother, and was convinced it was my dad, she said she didn’t believe it was him and dismissed it. I later went to the theatre to watch Rowan Atkinson in a play with my sister and one of her friends with my dad, I was so nervous of him, and was waiting for a time when I could ask him if it was him that raped or attempted to rape this girl.

I waited until we were going to go in the auditorium and were gathered together in the bar area – I was so nervous and sweating but wanted to clear something up with my dad; I really don’t know what I was doing there that evening with him, I was now petrified of him, I said ‘dad, I saw this picture, which looked like you on the front of the Gazette of a man that raped or attempted to rape a girl’ (I can’t remember which it was now as it was so long ago) and I said ‘was it you’, and he just looked around and said ‘of course it was me’. Well I was even more petrified that it was him and I couldn’t sit still all through the evening at the theatre, even though it was Rowan Atkinson, I felt sweat pour down my face and couldn’t wait to get out of there. This just went to reinforce what I felt about my alcoholic father. I was always scared of him. Some years later I was interviewed by two detectives about my concerns after I had met the police in the solicitors in London, I asked if I could clear this matter up, so consequently two detectives came and interviewed me from Epping to where I lived in Ilford, they took away a picture I had of my dad, and a copy of the newspaper article that Steve and I had traced back through Loughton library. When the police came back to me some time later, they told me that they got someone for the crime, some bloke called Godfrey and that he had confessed to doing this, but even now I wonder if it was a false confession that this bloke had made, I wouldn’t put it past my alcoholic father in doing something like that, and why was he always so nasty to me, especially wanting me, later on to end up in ‘chemical hand-cuffs’ and to be ‘silenced’ with drugs.

Bye the way I should add that my dad was also a violent and aggressive and manipulative man; he had been physically violent to me on a number of occasions, punching me in the face, kicking me in the shins, slapping me violently around the head. He also rowed with my mother all the time and bullied her and was violent to her too, this went on for most of my teenage life, although he wasn’t like this to my sister, mostly because I was the eldest and tried to protect my mother from him, as well as trying to break up the physical fights between my parents but all this was counteracted because we never went short for anything we needed and apart from my father everything was ‘normal’?!


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