Tyla’s story

“I’m going to break the cycle.”

After surviving a traumatic childhood and two abusive relationships, Tyla is determined that her young daughter will have a different life than hers.

27-year-old Tyla had a very unhappy childhood – both of her parents used drugs and there was a lot of violence. She and her brother went to live with their Nana and Poppa who were very loving and created structure in the children’s lives with regular routines and positive discipline. However, the harm had already been done, says Tyla, and both she and her brother have paid the price for the trauma they experienced as young children. 

Tyla wasn’t really interested in school and left when she was 17 years old, working on and off. Before long, she met her first partner, but he began to abuse her within three months, which continued for the duration of their four-year relationship. During that time, she miscarried several times. “Each time it happened, he would just drop me at the hospital and pick me up once it was sorted.”

By that stage, Tyla had left Whangarei and was living in Auckland, which meant she lost touch with her Nana. “My Nana never really knew what was going on with me,” she explains. It wasn’t until she was found lying unconscious under a tree after a particularly bad beating that her family became aware of the abuse and the life she had been living. 

As soon as she was well enough, her Nana took her back to Whangarei to live with them. Tyla started on the long road to recovery which involved learning to speak, read and communicate again. “It was a really hard time for me. Most of my life I’ve struggled with trauma and depression and this was a particularly bad period.” Tyla tried to end her life several times during this time.

Eventually, she met her daughter’s father and fell pregnant not long afterwards. They weren’t in a relationship, and she was happy to raise the child on her own. “My Nana was really supportive, and I knew I would be okay, but he wanted to be involved and that didn’t work for either of us.” 

The relationship turned out to be very toxic and Tyla had to take out a protection order. Oranga Tamariki became involved and recommended she attend the Iosis Whānau Centre, a residential centre which helps young mothers learn how to become better, safer parents to their children. 

“I now have hopes and dreams for the future.”

Before she came to the Iosis Whānau Centre, Tyla was living in social housing. “I gave up my house to come here and I was really nervous that I was doing the right thing.” However, Tyla says the six months has flown by and now she feels the opposite and is nervous about leaving!

“I’ve done heaps of great programmes here, but the stand-out for me has been the ‘non-violence communication’ course, which really made me understand how much the things that I experienced as a young child have affected me,” she says. “I’m more determined than ever for my daughter not to have the same experience.”

She also found the early years programme very helpful – “especially knowing that as a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. I’ve learnt to think about how things may be interpreted, and how certain things we say to a child can be harming,” she says.

As well as acquiring more practical tools, Tyla has developed personally. “I have a much stronger sense of self-worth and now have hopes and dreams for the future.” Tyla says one of these is she doesn’t want to live her life on the benefit. “I want to be a truck driver and I dream of having my own business, so I can own a home for my family.”

Tyla will soon graduate from the Centre and looks forward to her future with her daughter. However, she says she will miss the wonderful staff and “living in a safe space, where I can be myself and people have got my back.”

“I’m graduating with a new perspective on life, about being a parent and about myself. I’m going to break the cycle, so that my daughter has a different life to mine.”