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'I held my first gun at six-years-old'

Image Credit: Claud Jackson

Phoebe Simcock, 3rd Nov 2021
Tags: Life Interview Drugs

Childhood and adolescence are a turbulent time of learning and understanding. Claud Jackson spoke to us about his early relationship with his brother, domestic abuse and coping with the bereavement of a parent.  

Claud Jackson and Phoebe Simcock
Claud Jackson and Phoebe Simcock

You first held a gun at the age of six and it was your brother’s gun. Did you see your brother as a role model at the time despite his illegal activity?

Claud: Yeah, I absolutely saw my brother as a role model. He was my eldest brother, and he had moved out of the family home at an early age to move in with my Nan who lived in Brixton. The rest of my siblings and myself still lived at home. It was a very dysfunctional household filled with domestic violence, aggression and emotional abuse. So when my brother would come back to the family home, he was the one that found freedom and he would come back with new clothes and new trainers so I was very much influenced by him. 

Seek professional help.

I did feel pressure to follow in his footsteps and I think he knew he had an influence over us, particularly later on in life. I would imagine he got some value and self-fulfilment from us applauding his behaviour and his money and being interested in his stories of adventure outside of the family home. I would say to anyone dealing with something similar should seek professional help. It doesn't lead to anything good. Things only get worse. 

You grew up in a house of domestic violence, how did this affect you?

Claud: My mom tried to protect me from it by buying me lots of gifts and presents, but I still suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia and depression from an early age through to adolescence. 

It was all sewn together due to the turmoil and trauma, I think you become desensitised to a dysfunctional environment. Then you create a dysfunctional environment for yourself later on in life. 

Author Claud Jackson
Claud Jackson
Image Credit: Claud Jackson

Your father passed away when you were 16, how did you cope with this? 

Claud: When my dad died, I had conflicting feelings, because I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad. I was so pleased that the emotional and physical abuse was over. However, my dad had been a great protector of us. So although he often flew off the handle, and got aggressive with us, he'd never let anybody else do that and he had dealt with victimisation in his own life too. 

All of your feelings are valid. It's all normal. It does get better.

The difficult situation wasn't when my dad died, it was when my mum died. That derailed me greatly, and that bereavement is the hardest thing I've ever been through. To my understanding at the moment, there's some sort of pattern to bereavement. I remind myself that a bad day or week passes, and you get a breath of fresh air, just like when you swim and you come up out of the water and you feel life again. All of your feelings are valid. It's all normal. It does get better.  

You once believed money meant power, why do you think this was? 

Claud: We grew up in poverty and I think when you're really empty and you've had no validation then everybody looks to what money can do. Money can make things easier and it's a great tool to have because it can open a lot of doors. But it doesn't bring yourself worth of anything, it just makes you feel even emptier. I had no self-confidence and I was pretty hollow inside in hope that money would fill that void. 

I think if I had grown up in the same toxic environment of dysfunction, and domestic violence, but financially supported, it would have probably been exactly the same. I used money as a form of escape. It's almost like substance misuse, people use drugs, or substances to just escape the reality. I was escaping through money. 

Guns to God
Guns to God
Image Credit: SPCK Publishing

If you’re affected by any of the issues mentioned above, please consult the helplines below: 

  • Premier Lifeline Open 9am to midnight every day on 0300 111 0101 
  • Text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger for free 24/7 support across the UK. Text YM to 85258. 
  • Samaritans 116 123. Call us free, day or night, 365 days a year 
  • The Matthew Project

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