Interview with Helen, 19, White British, middle class, no religion. Women, Risk and AIDs Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LJH31)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Helen. She fell pregnant at age 16 and now has a daughter, but is no longer in a relationship with her child's father as they both struggled with the pressure of parenthood at a young age. The pregnancy was planned, but she recognises that it was an attempt to maintain their relationship. She is planning on going back to college when her daughter is in nursery. Helen talks about her first sexual debut with an older man who she thought she was in love with. She had asked him to use a condom, but found it difficult to negotiate this when he had said no. Since this encounter, she has become much more confident in navigating these conversations in sexual relationships, especially since learning more about AIDs, which she is especially worried about. She has had a difficult relationship with her mother, but it seems much better now. Sex education at school was good and covered different attitudes as well as the biological aspects, though she learnt a lot about the gay community through her upbringing with gay women. Helen and her daughter live in a flat in London, but she thinks the area is 'a dump' and gets a lot of stick from black women in the community for having a mixed-race child.
1989-08-17 00:00:00
Janet Holland
Reanimating Data Project
Temporal Coverage
Spatial Coverage
CC BY-NC 4.0
extracted text
LJH31 17.8.1989
Q. So how did you get hold of the questionnaire?
A. A friend gave it to me Q. Yeah
A. - who works for a youth club, she works...
Q. Well one of the main things that we're interested in... about young women and their
relationships A. Yeah
Q. - what they feel about them, what they think about them, what's the most important
relationship to them. What would you say is the most important relationship to you?
A. My daughter, the relationship with my daughter, and if I can get another man - 'cos
I've got a kid and I'm separated, basically get another man, and then how that's gonna
work out. That's the most important to me really.
Q. How old is your daughter?
A. She's two and a half.
Q. Yeah. How is she? How is she, how's she getting along?
A. She's alright, she's... a lot Q. Yeah?
A. She's - she's at the stage where she has tantrums, you know, she goes a bit mad at
times but she's alright...
Q. Where is she now?
A. She's at nursery...
Q. This - the relationship with the father A. Yeah
Q. - how did that work out?
A. It didn't work out really, I mean like I got pregnant when I was sixteen and we were
still going together but after a while it was such responsibility asking like to him that - it
was just too much, you know, like... was saying, she's asking too much from him.
Q. How old is he?
A. He was a year older than I was, a year and a half older, and after a while he started
getting a bit violent as well, so I had to break it off. I couldn't take it anymore.
Q. Yeah. Were you living together?
A. Yeah, well... like he would go out to work and it was just too much commitment for
both of us, I was cleaning up and doing his dinner, and he wouldn't come in at the right
time and Q. Yeah
A. - it was just too much. I had to do everything for him, like, he just didn't want it, so in
the end I just gave up. It's better now.
Q. Do you still see him?
A. Yeah, I do still see him, I mean we've got a good friendship more now than it's ever
been, and he's said to me that he still wants me back, but I'm not gonna take him back,
'cos I know it's gonna be the same again, all over again.
Q. Yeah.
A. I won't accept it.
Q. Yeah. How long had you been together before you got pregnant?
A. About a year and a half. I've known him since I was about fourteen, we started going
out together when I was about fifteen,... about a year and a half.
Q. Is that the first sort of relationship Q. - big relation that I've ever had, yeah, the first one.

Q. And the first person that you'd slept with, made love with?
A. No, before that it was a twenty-five year old guy –
Q. Yeah?
A. - who I didn't - I didn't know what I was doing, I thought I was in love, and at the time I
was going through a lot of - what is it, adolescence, you know, I thought... he loves me, I
thought ... a guy who loves me, that time, so I slept with him, I didn't really want it, he
provoked me into it, you know.
Q. What were the circumstances, how had you met him?
A. Well he was upstairs and I was downstairs, when I used to live with sort of like hostel
parents. At the time I was going through a bad patch, so I think that - that was the only
reason why I did have sex with him, you know, 'cos I wasn't getting on...
Q. Yeah. And was it sort of like a relationship or just like a one night A. No, it was like a one-off. You know I didn't want it really, I just wanted someone to
love at that time. He just wanted a bit of, you know,...
Q. Yeah. What was it like, I mean was it pleasant, unpleasant A. No, it was Q. - as you thought it would be?
A. I don't know, I was frightened, I was feeling very frightened and scared, you know, but
that was the first time I - I was a virgin, that was the first time I'd ever had sex.
Q. Yeah.
A. You know, I just sort of like - scared, I didn't know what to do, didn't know what my
feelings were towards this guy or anything. Which I didn't really have any feeling...
Q. Yeah. And afterwards did you see him around or A. Well I had to move back to my mum at that - that stage, because at the time, 'cos I
was going through a bad patch, I took an overdose when I was about fourteen, fifteen,
my mum didn't want me living ... hospital, 'cos she was frightened that I'd do it again, you
know, and I went back to live with my mum. And that relationship didn't really work out...
we both wanted to, I didn't... such a long time beforehand, and that was it.
Q. Yeah. I mean when you first...
A. I mean it wasn't like, it wasn't like - it wasn't - see my mum got beaten up when she
was younger, when she was nineteen, twenty, and she had four kids to like bring up, and
she was in a refuge and she met these two women – and [INTERVIEWEE LIVED WITH
Q. But you saw your mum?
A. Yeah, I saw my mum like every Saturday or whenever she phoned up or when I ever
phoned her, whatever, it wasn't sort of like I didn't see her at all.
Q. Yeah.
A. But like when I went back to live with my mum it was sort of like - we both expected
different things from each other, you know, 'cos we'd both been wanting each other and
then just, you know, it didn't work out.
Q. So how is it now, the relationship with your mum?
A. Oh, it's very good, very good. I mean we're both the same star sign, born on the same
sort of like birthday, [REDACTED], and we get on really well now actually, I mean I can
talk to her and she can talk to me and, you know, it's sort of like - there's something
special there between us, it's not sort of like mother and daughter, it's more, it's a little bit
more than that, it isn't sort of like, you know, how you see mother and daughters now like
on the streets, it's sort of like - it's something really special that we've got together, you
know, and I think like if she's angry with me she - she won't tell me, she sort of like you
know - I don't know, it's different, I don't know, I can't explain it.
Q. Mm. It sounds good though, whatever.
A. Yeah, yeah.

Q. Does she feel the same way?
A. Yeah, she's very proud of me, 'cos I brought up... I mean she's helped me a lot
moneywise, 'cos it's hard like, I'm on social security, really hard like, helps me a little bit
moneywise and she tries to help me to budget as well, but she still thinks that I'm doing
very well, and she helps me a lot, you know like if I want a babysitter I'll ask my sister or
my mum or whatever, and they would help me out, you know, just so long as that I don't
mess them about, you know Q. Yeah
A. - they'd help me out.
Q. ... But it sounds as if it's gone through a difficult phase that you've managed to get
through A. Yeah.
Q. - to something good.
A. Yeah. It's better the way it is now, I mean I'm glad that I've got my own flat...
Q. What's the flat like...?
A. ... Well it's just been done up, but I mean it's not posh, it's just sort of like - where the
person decorated it... It's really nice, I'm quite happy about it.
Q. ... what a nice street this was.
A. Oh, I don't like this street anymore.
Q. No?
A. I mean this area's a dump. I mean it's nice if you live by yourself, but when you're
bringing up children around here I don't much like it, I mean there's a lot of - look at the
rubbish, a lot of rubbish everywhere, a lot of litter and - compared to Islington it's much
tidier... so much poverty...
Q. ...
A. Yeah, yeah, that's right. I mean you get that in Islington as well but - working class
people down there, they're trying to improve themselves, you know, to their standards.
That's what it looks like anyway.
Q. Yeah. You were saying that - well, let me ask you another question about the
relationships A. Yeah.
Q. - after this first experience, were there anymore before you had... the father of...
A. No, no.
Q. So he was like the second A. Yeah Q. - the second A. Yeah. But he always thought he was the first Q. Yeah. You didn't mention A. No, I did, I said, you know I'm not a virgin and he went - he was sort of like shocked,
you know, he thought I was a virgin...
Q. So that - what did he - I mean what was, his reaction was shocked, but did it make
him behave differently towards you?
A. No, I - he was just shocked, he thought 'cos I was quiet and, you know, I was quiet
towards him... like shy, that he always thought I was a virgin, he assumed that I was.
'Cos I used to go out with him before, when I was younger, as well, when I was about
fourteen; and then he went off, 'cos he used to work down the bottom of this road, work
in a garage, and I fancied him... and then I got a friend to say that I liked him, and then
he went off 'cos [REDACTED], and I didn't see him, but he put just sort of like, a silly
relationship, you know silly sort of like fling, and then I kept writing him letters... all this
and all that, and then in the end he got in touch with me, when I was fifteen, and it
started from there...

Q. ... You were clearly very keen at the time. What about the quality of the relationship, I
mean it got - it got difficult after you'd had the baby, but beforehand?
A. It was really nice. I mean - I mean the only thing was 'cos I was young and he was
young and the pressures of life - but it was something different, I mean like you didn't
have somebody else to care about, you could have walked out on the street and not
have cared about this other little person.
Q. Yeah.
A. You know, so it put a strain on us, you know, and he said that after I got pregnant that
I was... Whilst I was pregnant I was moaning a lot 'cos I was going through hormone hormone changes.
Q. What - had you - I mean was it accidental that you became pregnant?
A. No, I planned it. Yeah, I mean I - at the time... like my mum kept saying to me oh,
you're gonna get pregnant, I said no, I'm not, no, I'm not, you wait and see, but I wanted
a baby really, and I think that the only reason why I wanted it was to keep him.
Q. Yeah?
A. Yeah, I think that was the only reason why I wanted to get pregnant, was so that I
wouldn't lose him, you know, 'cos I loved him, or I thought I loved him.
Q. Yeah. What about A. 'Cos he wanted - he wanted a kid as well.
Q. He did?
A. Yeah.
Q. Yeah. Before you got pregnant were you taking precautions?
A. Yeah, I was at a certain time, then I said to my boyfriend that I wasn't gonna take any
Q. ...
A. Then I went to go and get a cap, but I didn't like that. Too much hassle. And then after
a while I just stopped using contraceptives and I sort of like told him, well look, I want a
kid, you know. And he said that he wanted one as well and ... I got pregnant.
Q. Yeah.
A. After about six months or whatever.
Q. Had you before - but before that you had been using A. Yeah, we'd been using contraception...
Q. Yeah...
A. ...
Q. What about the first guy?
A. No, I never.
Q. A bit unexpected...
A. Yeah, I was shocked I suppose. I said to him, can, like can you use a Durex at that
time, 'cos AIDS wasn't going around then, I wouldn't have sort of insisted that he used a
Durex 'cos I was quite, I still am frightened of AIDS, but in them times I didn't really know
anything about it, fourteen Q. Yeah
A. It's quite young Q. Yeah.
A. -... Like nobody knew anything, a lot, well nobody knew a lot about it then, and I even
said to him like, could you use a Durex, he said I won't come inside you, so I thought,
you know, that's - even though it's a rubbish motto, I won't come inside you, I thought
yeah... and that's it.
Q. So you did ask.
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. Do you think you would now, I mean if you started a relationship?

A. Well I - I - I have started a sort of relationship with another guy, but it hasn't gone
anywhere, I mean you know, I met him... friend introduced me to him and I sort of like
said to him, why don't you come to my house sometime, you know after about a year
and a half or whatever, no, about a year, cos (?) we got to seeing each other again, and
I did ask him to use a Durex and he didn't mind using it, you know. But - in a way he did
mind 'cos he was sort of like - he couldn't feel the proper sensations as if you use a
Durex, he said, but I'm gonna - even if I'm on the pill I'm gonna ask you to use a Durex
anyway, whether you like it or not. And after a while talking and... whatever, I ain't seen
him since.
Q. You haven't?
A. No.
Q. No?
A. No. I ain't seen him since. I mean, two weeks ago I saw him and he came round, I
said, look, where the hell have you been, you know I've got a kid and you come round
my house at four o'clock... and he sort of like, he was playing silly games with me, he
said - he's the same age as me, he's nineteen, and - and then I asked him, look don't
mess me about, if you really care for me come around again Sunday, 'cos this was a
Saturday night that he came around, he never came round on the Sunday night, but then
if he come around - see he probably - 'cos it's been a week now, a week and Wednesday, Thursday - he might come around Saturday night, say, make up all
excuses, you know Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. And I'll just tell him to forget it, 'cos obviously I knew what he was after, and I don't
want that, I want a relationship. I mean I need it for my child and for my security, I don't
need some...
Q. So that you - you envisage having a sort of settled relationship?
A. Yeah, well that's what I hope to get.
Q. Yeah.
A. I mean I prefer to get myself sorted out for myself first, I don't really know what I want
- I know that I want a relationship, but I prefer to get myself sorted out, myself settled
down into knowing what sort of person I am and what sort of person I want. You know, I
don't wanna sort of like one-night stand, I don't like them, you know, 'cos you don't
hardly know the person.
Q. Have you done that much or -?
A. No. That was the first time that I thought - no reason why -'cos see I had sex with him
quite quickly - the reason why I had sex with this guy ALAN quickly was 'cos I trusted
him, you know, and he was telling me a whole load of bullshit, basically.
Q. You said on the questionnaire that you... about how men messed you around...
A. Yeah.
Q. You feel that, do you?
A. Yeah. I mean like me and my friend were talking about everything... you know,
everything, and ... and how we're getting on and what we'd been up to and how much
money we've got and things like that - we talk about anything really... the lot. I don't
understand what they're doing.
Q. No.
A. I mean no matter how much you tell them, look why do this to me, I just had all this
from another relationship, they do the same thing. Unless you get a guy who's really nice
and understands you, whatever.

Q. And you feel you haven't had that yet.
A. Never.
Q. Not even with the father A. Well I had it before I had (child's name).
Q. Yeah.
A. I haven't had it since... go to college and study...settle down properly.
Q. You said you were thinking... college but...
A. Yeah, I mean I sorted all that out, I'm going to [NAME OF COLLEGE] in September,
'cos she'll be at nursery, and I'm doing a course and then after the course - ... two year
course... after that, do something like for a year, 'cos they don't take you that young (?)
anymore... and it's the right age that I feel that I can settle down.
Q. It sounds as though... sorted out.
A. Yeah. I really... fourteen Q. Yeah?
A. - and when I was thirteen I wanted... you know like (?) be a nurse, helping other
people. Like when I came... I wanted to be a social worker, you know, try and help
Q. Quite hard going.
A. Yeah. My mum's a [CARING PROFESSION].
Q. Yeah. …
A. Yeah. I know quite a bit about it, sort of like help people in trouble, and like my - when
my friend was pregnant... and I helped them through it... So I help people... refuges,
things like that friends, you know, friends of mine.
Q. Mm.
A. I feel that I can help people Q. - in that sort of way.
A. I've got the talent. Well I feel that I've got something there to try and help people.
Q. Well it sounds as if you're getting well - well sorted out... Can I ask you something
again about your relationships, which is more about the sort of sexual aspect of it?
A. Mm, yeah.
Q. Did you enjoy it, I mean was it pleasurable? The first one A. No, the first one wasn't. I mean, before I had (child's name) it was nice, you know,
sort of like different. It was pleasurable, but I felt too dominated, I felt too sort of like every time we had to have sex, after that, after having (child's name), you know,
sometimes I - I wouldn't want it, sometimes I wouldn't want it, but I felt sometimes that I'd
been too pushed into it, you know, 'cos it was like a steady relationship, but I mean Q. So you couldn't sort of make any decision yourself or A. No.
Q. - or say no or something.
A. No, no I mean like if I said no it wouldn't be sort of like that'd be the end of it, he'd still
carry it on, you know, and in the end I'd just give up, I'd go asleep afterwards, you know,
it'd be like that.
Q. Yeah... boring.
A. Yeah. After a while it did get boring, after I had (child's name).
Q. Do you think that you're - but before you had, I mean you said... What made you
decide to turn it into a sexual relationship in the beginning?
A. Well I decided that - because he (we?) sort of like got fed up with touching and – just
touching, I felt that like he (we?) wanted more than that... hadn't actually... sex...
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. ... before that even... you know, but -

Q. So it was gonna happen anyway A. Yeah
Q. - progression in the relationship.
A. Yeah, I thought it was gonna happen so I just thought... I felt it was the right thing to
Q. Yeah. Well... yeah.
A. Whatever time I got pregnant I thought that I knew everything and that even if I had - I
did have a kid, I would be able to look after it, you know like... when you... don't really
sort of like know everything, but you think you do.
Q. Mm, yeah...
A. ... I mean whilst I was at college, 'cos I was pregnant, I used to go a sixth form... and
I'd get people come up to me and say to me, why are you pregnant, you know, and
there'd be girls there thinking, god, she's pregnant, how does she cope going to college Q. Yeah.
A. You know, and they'd sort of like admire me, and then I'd go write a little leaflet, you
know, for young women on when the baby's young...vegetables... I think a lot of
women... young... much more healthy, need advice before they think about having a kid,
you know, because like they don't know anything about it, basically. I mean I never, I
thought that I did but I never. You know, I didn't... and food and money and if you can
get someone to babysit for you, you know, you've got to ask in advance as well. There's
clothes, there's everything. 'Cos you don't think about that, you just think about having a
little baby to - to look after.
Q. Yeah. Take all the responsibility of adult life... sort of thing A. Yeah
Q. - at a very young age.
A. Yeah. It's hard.
Q. Yeah.
A. ... I was cooking for CARL, I took on a lot of responsibility at fifteen, sixteen, 'cos I was
pregnant, I still cooked for him and cleaned the clothes and that, whatever.
Q. Like a sort of housewife.
A. Yeah, yeah, it was like that, and in the end I got bored with that sort of lifestyle. Well,
for him anyway, he didn't appreciate it.
Q. Just took you for granted.
A. Yeah, that I was there, and he knew that I was gonna be there...
Q. You decided that you just wanted to leave.
A. Yeah... It wasn't the same, it wasn't love anymore, it was just the same boring routine
every day and he wasn't changing that, or he didn't know how to change it. He didn't
respect me for who I was, he wanted something different, which I felt that I couldn't be.
Q. That sounds as if you both wanted the other to be something different.
A. Yeah.
Q. ... find somebody who fits the bill... One of the other things we're interested in... is the
sort of sex education you got. Would you - how - what did you think of the sex education
at school, I mean...
A. Yeah, yeah, I got taught a lot of things, I mean like Q. You ticked everything.
A. Yeah, I got taught a lot of things, I mean like - 'cos I was brought up with lesbians as
well, I got taught from an early - an early age.
Q. Mm. What, so you learned at home, stuff at home as well?
A. Yeah. I learned about lesbians, heterosexuals, gay men and bisexuals and everything - it was up to me to decide who I wanted to be, they made that decision up to
me -

Q. Yeah.
A. - and they taught me about periods, you know, everything else. But I learnt - I mean I
learnt more about periods in school as well, like in primary school I saw a sanitary towel,
I went and told... what is it? And the teacher taught us from then what it was, about
periods. And then I came home one day... secondary school... thirteen, thirteen and a
half, and I came with my periods, but I was taught a lot about it, I was given books and
magazines to read about it, all about adolescence and...
Q. So you felt very well informed...
A. Yeah. In secondary school we were taught about, you know, sexual diseases,
pregnancy and diseases and contraceptives, everything.
Q. Yeah.
A. ... biology.
Q. In biology?
A. Yeah. Mostly it was in biology,...
Q. So you felt it was useful, this sort of stuff you learned at school?
A. Yeah, it was funny as well, sort of like, I mean we - we were we were sort of like, you
know, ugh, I'm not touching that, like the teacher would pass it on to you and show you
like through a carrot what a Durex looked like, a penis, whatever Q. Yeah.
A. And sort of like - he'd show you the cap, and the KY jelly and all that, and you pass it
round - ugh, take it away, you know.
Q. Was it in a mixed group or A. Yeah, it was in a mixed group.
Q. Yeah. Do you think that caused embarrassment...
A. No, I think it helped me. It helped me to understand about men, you know, attitudes Q. Yeah.
A. - and women's attitudes, together, you know.
Q. So you did talk about that aspect, I mean it wasn't sort of just the physical A. No, I mean the teacher we had was sort of like trendy, he sort of like - he knew what
to sort of like talk about in biology,... you know, he explained it, he said there's nothing
wrong with it, you know... on it...
Q. So you think - it sounds as if it was quite reasonable.
A. Yeah. I got taught quite a bit.
Q. And having these other sources of information as well.
A. Yeah.
Q. You said that there wasn't much about AIDS because it wasn't around. Where do you
think that you first heard about it?
A. I think it was a couple of years ago. I can't remember where I first heard about AIDS.
Q. There was a lot of stuff in the newspapers and on the telly at one point.
A. Yeah, there was a lot of it, wasn't there? About three, four years ago.
Q. Do you think that was the first A. Yeah. And that's when I said oh, my god... Durex. But even then there's not even
Q. Yeah, well it might break.
A. Yeah. So how do they expect - I don't know - I mean, how do they expect people to
sort of like live if they're - why don't they invent something different? You know... sort of
like secure and safe and whatever.
Q. Mm. Did you feel that? Some people, young women that I've spoken to, said that...
cheat on them because here they are, they're young, they want to have sex and a big
threat suddenly hangs over it and really changes the whole thing. Did you feel like that?
A. No, I didn't feel so much like that 'cos I don't feel like I want sex all the time like that -

Q. Yeah.
A. - I just feel that I want a relationship, but I know it involves sex and all that. I do feel it
a little bit, but not so much, but it's sort of that I feel that there's more than just sex in a
Q. Well, yeah.
A. You know, I don't just want one-night stands. It's different if a girl wants a one-night
stand... sex or whatever, then obviously she's gonna feel a bit frightened 'cos of, you
know, the threat or whatever. But I don't feel so much of it.
Q. You feel that - well in any case I mean you say that... but do you feel that if you go
into a relationship where you knew the person and felt that you knew their sexual history
A. No, I'd still ask him to use a Durex.
Q. Yeah.
A. ... trust a guy. He can say whatever.
Q. Yeah.
A. I mean, I mean I just told a friend like if a guy says to you, I don't wanna use a Durex,
just say look I'm not on the pill - it's sort of like, you know mess them about as well.
Q. Yeah.
A. 'Cos I mean if someone came up to me and said, oh, I won't use a Durex, say look,
it's either that or nothing. 'Cos I'm not on the pill. Just lie to them, you know. And after
you get to know them more you say, look, I was on the pill but I was - but even then I
think it - it's still frightening. 'Cos I mean how many - how many people are gonna die in
a year or something. That's the thing that really frightens me, you know, if I think I'm
gonna be one of these people who are gonna die.
Q. Yeah. Do you feel you know much about AIDS? I mean what - what do you know, do
you know A. I watch programmes about it but quite a bit of time ago, and after a while you sort of,
like, forget a lot - I know it's a disease and that it starts on the body, you know, and the
brain, and you can't do a lot of things, you know, you can't - well, they haven't cured it
yet, have they?
Q. No. They've found a few drugs that can control it –
A. Yeah.
Q. ...
A. ... But they're still gonna die.
Q. Yeah.
A. But mind you they said that they - I mean I remember there was one guy who had
AIDS who I watched on TV and he (?) had an injury, and he recovered from it.
Q. Really?
A. Yeah, I'm sure - I'm sure it was something like that.
Q. Yeah. Maybe - maybe it was something related. What about the difference between
A. Oh, that, yeah, that might have been it. I mean I don't know I only know about AIDS, I
don't know about HIV positive or negative or whatever.
Q. Yeah. Just ... but not about... Well, the HIV is the virus that you get, and it may or
may not develop into AIDS, and it can sort of remain dormant for quite a number of
years, that's why people are so worried A. Oh I see Q. - because they don't know whether it's gonna turn into AIDS or not, so there are all
these people who may have the virus A. - give it to the next person -

Q. - they can pass it on, and it may or may not develop in them to AIDS, and you can't
tell whether you've got it or not unless you have one of these tests. Would you consider
having - I mean, it's probably not necessary for yourself, but would you consider asking
someone to have the test, to see whether they might A. I don't know, I mean if I was going into a relationship I would expect myself and that
person to go together.
Q. Yeah.
A. Like if I wasn't into a steady relationship then I would just forget it and just use a
Durex or whatever.
Q. Yeah.
A. If I was going into like marriage or something like that then I would ask him to use a
Durex - I mean not a Durex, ...Q. ... take a test and check it out, yeah.
A. Both of us go down, if one of us has got it...
Q. Well what about - what do you know about safe sex? There was quite a lot of publicity
a while ago A. I probably know about it but Q. Well, you do, yeah A. ...I've heard of it, safe sex.
Q. Safe sex, well when I say safe sex what does it mean to you?
A. That you don't do anything.
Q. Ah, well, it's - what they're - a lot of the sort of information about it was all around
using Durex, which you've been saying you do anyway, but safe sex that you don't
actually run a risk if the Durex remains intact, sort of thing.
A. Yeah.
Q. But let me ask you another thing - what are the ways in which you can catch AIDS or
A. What are the ways?
Q. How can you catch it, yeah.
A. Gay men... intercourse in the bum, and women can catch it as well through sexual
intercourse, and gay people through actually having intercourse...
Q. Mainly sex, but there's also blood.
A. Ah yeah, blood, yeah.
Q. Yeah, and needles.
A. Yeah, heroin and all that. I wouldn't do anything like that.
Q. No, no? Do you know anybody who does?
A. No. Not heroin. No, I know people who smoke pot and all that, but not heroin, they
wouldn't sort of, like, take that risk.
Q. They wouldn't inject?
A. No.
Q. ...
A. ...
Q. So you can catch it in those various sorts of ways. But the main one that you...
sexual... Well I mean I suppose the idea of safe sex is to do things in which you won't
exchange those body fluids sort of thing, so you use a Durex or you do other sorts of
things which don't necessarily involve intercourse, either for men or for women. Like you
were talking about before, before you actually moved into having a sexual relationship
with your boyfriend, you said you got fed up with touching... so I suppose that's, you do
all that sort of thing A. Yeah.

Q. - rather than actually having intercourse. What do you think of that, I mean, does it
A. I think it's a nice feeling but after a while you get too turned on.
Q. Mm. And you feel that you really want to have A. Yeah. Well I do anyway, I don't know about anybody else.
Q. Yeah. Is that what sex means to you sort of thing?
A. No, it doesn't mean just sexual intercourse. The word "sex" isn't just sexual
intercourse to me, it's sort of like touching and holding each other and cuddling and
touching and whatever, but, that's what sex means to me, having sex... After a while,
you keep doing that all the time, it gets boring, you know, not boring as such, but you
want something different. When I said to you it started getting a bit boring, I wanted
something different, I wanted to see what it felt like...
Q. Yeah. Curiosity as well.
A. Yeah.
Q. When you were talking about your relationships with men, you -I mean - you were
rather negative, I felt as if you don't really trust them A. No, I don't.
Q. Do you think there's kind of like a double standard about sex...
A. I don't know about that. I mean I just feel that I've been let down by men full stop. I
don't know if any woman feels the same way. Because partly because I've never really
sort of had a dad, sort of like 'cos my mum was beaten up Q. Yeah.
A. - I never learnt to trust any - any man basically Q. Yeah.
A. - you know, so - I wanted to trust my dad 'cos he was my dad, you know, but I don't - I
don't feel that I can sort of like trust any man.
Q. Yeah.
A. You know, 'cos what CARL done to me, what this other guy done to me, what this guy
just done to me now, so I mean basically that men... basically ...
Q. Yeah. Let's hope you meet a man that's not quite like that. How long ago did your dad
disappear from your life, I mean how long A. I think I was seven, younger than that. You know, and I saw it through my mum being
beaten up, just to know what it felt like,...
Q. Do you ever see him now or A. No. If I saw him now, I'd walk past him. If he went up to me I would... I'd just spit in his
face for what he put my mum through, you know. 'Cos I don't know how any man can do
things like that. He must be crazy...
Q. ...
A. Yeah, he was violent towards me, that's why I had to break off, I said to him look, if
you get violent towards me, that's it, we're finished. 'Cos I didn't wanna go through the
same thing that my mum went through with my dad Q. Yeah.
A. You know, if he hit me once he'd like think, oh, I can hit her again, she won't do
anything, you know. I just said to him, the first time you hit me, that's it. The first time he
hit me...
Q. Yeah...
A. I mean, but if you love a person it's not just as easy as sort of like, go away, you
know. You accept - I mean I wasn't - I did expect him back a couple of times but he
never hit me, he didn't go, you know... he used to do other things to me mentally, you
know, which was sometimes just as bad Q. Yeah.

A. - like after a while I got an injunction out on him 'cos he smashed my windows and,
you know... (?) key... (?) the right time when we'd finished... all finished together, he felt
that he had the right to come and see her whenever he kind of felt like it. I just felt that
was wrong, so that's when I got the injunction out... you haven't got as much rights as
you think. You know, I put myself first and my child.
Q. Right.
A. That's the most important thing to me. And then after a while I may...
Q. When you find anyone suitable.
A. Yeah.
Q. Yeah.
A. ...
Q. ... bad experience... Religion, that was another question we were asking, would
A. No, I don't - I don't believe in God at all. It's boring. It's not a thing, I mean - different, I
wouldn't mind getting into it but it's something, God, God, God, God. I had a friend and
he come round all the time, not preach it, but sort of like get it into my system that God
loves you, you know, and I thought, flipping hell, shut up, you know, and I didn't wanna
get into it, it was just too much of a complicated issue. I don't like getting into it.
Q. Yeah.
A. I don't know anything about it, I wasn't brought up to believe in God, I wasn't
christened or anything, you know Q. Yeah.
A. I don't believe - I believe that there is a person there but not as much as, you know,
some people make it out to be...
Q. Yeah. What about - there's a question I've been asking people, what how - how do
you see yourself, what is your image of yourself? If you had to sort of describe yourself
as a person to somebody else, what would you say?
A. Paranoid, a bit shy, not a lot, but I'm coming out a bit more now. What, do you mean
in looks or in personality-wise or Q. Well, whatever, whatever - what's the strongest A. My strongest point, you mean?
Q. What you feel about yourself, you know, either looks or personality or anything.
A. I don't think I'm all that but - I think I've got a nice personality and I think I'm a very
strong like person, you know, and that if I wanted to help somebody I could really help
them and all that, I think I've got a talent for that...
Q. Do you think that your image of yourself, that is what other people think of you?
A. Yeah, I mean I - I'm stroppy as well, sort of like - yeah, people would say to me, yeah,
she's being a right bitch. And I'm stubborn, and sometimes, I'm stubborn. It depends, I
mean like in relationships, like even with friends I'm just so stubborn, you know. But I've
got a strong personality.
Q. ... What about friends, do you A. Oh, I ain't got much - I ain't got much friends - I mean I have - I do - when I used to go
to school I used to have loads of friends, but after I had a kid and I met CARL, I sort of and now I've just got one good friend to me now, the same age as me, and we went to
the same school together. We don't go out much as I would like, you know Q. What, babysitting problems?
A. Yeah - no, it's not babysitting, it's sort of like - it's the (?) things that we've got to go
with. If she's - if she's got someone to go, I wouldn't wanna go then, you know, 'cos it'd
be a wedding or something like that...
Q. What kind of thing do you like to do?

A. I like going out, enjoying myself. I mean that is the thing that she's got to do, but she
works and everything, so it's hard for her to come back in the morning early, and sort of
wake up and go to work and - I don't know.
Q. Mm. Yeah. But do you do many of the things that you like to do, going out, having a
good time?
A. No, I don't do as much as I could 'cos I'm short of money...
Q. Yeah, that's a problem.
A. ... but I accept that.
Q. Well, I mean once you get your training...
A. ...
Q. But you haven't A. Yeah, I am. I mean it's hard at times, but it'll get easier.
Q. But you were saying how - how you wouldn't... have done it A. - if I knew a lot more about it beforehand Q. Yeah
A. - and not just from parents, I mean from teachers, teachers didn't say a lot about
pregnancy in all, they just told you about contraceptives - they didn't say how hard it was
to look after a kid or - and I think it should come from the teachers or somebody actually
who's had a kid coming into the school who can relate to them, you know 'cos they're
young themselves Q. Yeah.
A. - say like, just among girls really, and I think someone - boys I think to (?) assert girls
Q. Yeah. It's - a friend of mine has just written a book, she's working on a project... book
about teenage mothers... different ways of... sort of... responsibility...
A. ... nursery now so I'm lucky, I've got time to myself when I want to. But it's still hard,
even after nursery, sort of like she's going through a difficult stage at the moment. It's
difficult coping by yourself... if I had two, another person to help me along with it,...
Q. When - is she still gonna be able to go to nursery...?
A. No, not really, but I'm keeping quiet.
Q. So what, you'll bring her A. Yeah, I'll bring her in until I get a place in Islington.
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. But I'm gonna keep it quiet... nursery finds out...
Q. Yeah.
A. Once I've got the injunction out of CARL, I gave them a copy, to one of these people,
nursery people or whatever, and she never stuck by it.
Q. ...
A. Yeah, she wasn't supposed to let him in. Anyway, she let him in and I gave her...
copy... She never listened to me, she wasn't sticking by me, she was sticking by him,
you know so just - after talking to the head of Social Services and... argument with... got
her back in. It was sort of like they were all on his side, you know.
Q. Yeah.
A. They weren't sticking by me whatsoever, they... interest for the child, which they didn't
think about the child, they thought about themselves basically.
Q. Yeah.
A. So I just got her back in there... transfer her to... quite close... and from there...
Q. Does she get on okay...?
A. Yeah, she gets on really well with them, but I think she'd prefer to see them a lot
more, like it's not as easy as that.
Q. ...

A. I've tried to work things out but I can't, I can't...
Q. But you still...
A. Yeah. Quite (?) recently (?) I let him see her a lot...
Q. Yeah... It's all very complicated.
A. Yeah, it is, yeah.
Q. Still, you sound as if you've got things pretty well organised.
A. ...
Q. One of the things we've been asking young women to do for us is ... re-interview...
A. I smoke a lot.
Q. I left them out. No, actually, that's another thing I was gonna ask about,... about risky
behaviour. What do you think - you're not - you don't take many risks in your sexual
behaviour, but do you think you take risks in anything else that you do?
A. With my mouth I do.
Q. Yeah?
A. Yeah, talking about people.
Q. Yeah.
A. Nothing much than that. Like if I see somebody on the street looking terrible... you
know. And it really annoys me, ‘specially when I've - 'cos my child's mixed race, I get a
lot of stick, but I can plait her hair and I look after her and she looks really lovely, she's a
cute kid Q. Yeah.
A. - and when young black women see that, I can look after her... and I can plait her
hair... white women with a little kid... big afro, whatever. They couldn't manage the hair like I can plait my kid's hair properly and a couple of times... for no reason, I don't know
them, and that's how I get in a fight with them and that's when I feel that I'm taking risks,
when I've got my child to look after... carry shopping, you know. I had another woman
saying to me, like two women, look at her, look at her... and I thought... disgusting sort of
Q. Do you just get that from black women, or do you get it from whites as well?
A. No, I get it from young black women.
Q. Yeah.
A. Like 'cos I look alright and I'm young, my daughter looks nice. I hate it. I mean I've got
a lot of black friends. I don't know, it's just like - it's the wrong attitude, I don't know what
it is with them. It's like they can't accept it still Q. Yeah.
A. - it's been going around for such a long time.
Q. Yeah. But not so much - you don't get it so much from whites? You think it's more
accepted A. It's more accepted, yeah, black and white couples... I mean... But it's not acceptable,
you know, so - I think from a black woman's point of view, not - not so much a black
man's, a black woman's point of view, they feel degraded or something, you know.
That's what... as well, you know. That's why I think I'm a bit paranoid.
Q. Yeah.
A. You know, like when I walk out in the street...
Q. Yeah, yeah. So what do you - get into rows in the street if they say anything?
A. Well sometimes, like if I know... something like that Q. Yeah.
A. - I won't bother. Well I would bother, I just like give them mouth and that, well Q. You get upset about it.
A. Yeah. Most of all it's shock. You know, I walk along with a big heavy bag pushing my
daughter and all I think about is getting home, sitting down and resting my feet -

Q. Yeah
A. - and I get these black women saying, bloody slag, black daughter - you know, things
like that, just 'cos I've got a mixed race kid.
Q. Yeah... So you think that's your only risky behaviour apart - what reminded me was
you smoking, 'cos some people think that smoking's risky, and drinking.
A. Well I don't drink a lot - I mean - I mean I drink, but not to, you know, an over(?)amount level...
Q. Yeah.
A. I - I smoke 'cos I feel that...
Q. Yeah
A. - you know it helps me sort of like feel better. I prefer smoking than drinking...
smoking more than drinking I feel... You know, I gave up before when I was pregnant Q. Yeah.
A. - six, seven months. I can give it up again if I really wanted to but I don't.
Q. ...
A. ...
Q. Yeah. You said that some of your - your friends smoke dope and things like that. Do
you ever A. ... they take - they smoke hash and they take - well I know a couple of people who...
tablets and... and things like that, but I mean I've been asked do I want some and I said
no.... me, 'cos I know that, even when I drink I'm sort of like - it's not the same person
that I really am, you know, so I wouldn't bother with all that.
Q. Yeah. Prefer to stay the same.
A. Yeah. I mean drinking's bad enough - I like drinking when I've got the money, you
know. When I ain't got the money, it doesn't bother me.
Q. No?
A. Like if I want a drink, okay, I drink, but if I don't feel like it I won't, you know, it's like
that with me. It doesn't - doesn't bother me if I have a drink or not. But I've got to have
Q. So what - what I was gonna say before - one of the things that we're asking young
women to do is if they would keep a diary for us for a short while, maybe for a couple of
months or something like that, just writing about their relationships and their feelings,
and also about what they're actually doing, especially in relation to sexual relationships.
A. Yeah...
Q. Well, I happen to have on me - I've got - just a notebook for you to write it down in
and an envelope addressed to me for you to send it back. Stamp... I'll write the address
on, and that's just for the letter...
A. So what's these diaries for after - after Q. Well it's just so that we'll know - what we really want to know is what young - the
same sorts of things as I was asking you in the interview, it's to get a bit more detail on
it... you know, what you're feeling and thinking and what you're actually doing in
relationships. We'll just use them the same way we do A. ... just like a diary that you keep, like what your feelings are really, isn't it?
Q. Yeah. But we are especially interested in A. I haven't kept one of them for ages.
Q. - in anything you're actually doing as well, that is an important part of it. But the same
as with all the material on the interview, it's all completely anonymous and what we'll do
is try and get some information that will be helpful with the AIDS education and health
education for young women, just sort of feed it back into the campaigns and everything,
sex education at school and - and we probably will be - write reports about it but - but it
will be so heavily disguised that nobody would ever -

A. I don't mind that anyway... if anything. 'Cos I think they've got the right to know what
young women think.
Q. That's right, yeah, well that's what we - that's one of the main reasons why we're
doing this, because I mean there's a lot said about young women, but people don't
actually find out what they think and what they actually feel about what they're doing and
about their own sexuality and so forth. I mean, how do you feel about your sexuality
A. Oh well, at the moment it's not progressing at all. It's just sort of like, by myself...
Q. Yeah.
A. I ain't doing anything with nobody, I mean like ALAN comes round and I feel like I
want... whatever... you know...
Q. Yeah.
A. I probably might - I think I might say yes, but then again I might not, it depends how
the mood takes me Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. I mean Q. How you feel about it at the time, you can't really judge.
A. Yeah, yeah. I might not 'cos I might think he's messing me about again, but I might
feel that oh, I want to use him, you know.
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. Why not use him?
Q. ... there and available. Take advantage of it if that's what you want at the time.
A. Yeah.
Q. Okay, well thanks very much for talking to me. Do you think -another thing we're
asking... friends... Have you got any friends who you think might be interested?
A. Yeah, I think - yeah, I could ask a few.
Q. Shall I give you a couple of questionnaires. (interruption)
A. What sort of woman, I mean like person - person doesn't want a relationship with a
man, just wants sex and they don't care about AIDS, like I said to ALAN, you know, the
reason why I'm asking you to put a Durex on is I'm frightened about AIDS, and how
many people have you slept with.
Q. Yeah.
A. At first he said twelve and - he's only nineteen - first he said twelve and then he said
six, and then, you know, you don't know what to believe.
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. Sort of like not just - who were they - and they have those ads where they sort of have
two people in bed and then behind them all the people they've slept with sort of thing.
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. To me, that's scary.
Q. Yeah. What - what would you count as being promiscuity?
A. Say it again?
Q. Promiscuity.
A. What, I've got to explain the meaning of it?
Q. No, what - well, yeah, what A. Well I've heard about it and I probably will know about it Q. Well I'll tell you then, shall I - promiscuity - it - the word is used to describe people
who have lots of sexual relationships.
A. Oh, yeah.
Q. But the A. See I mean - I know about it but I can't get the word -

Q. Yeah, right - I didn't mean - it wasn't like, you know, a test to see whether you know, I
thought you might know. But then people differ about how - you know, how many is too
many, or a lot, or whatever.
A. Yeah.
Q. I mean, but when you said twelve and then six, when you said twelve it sounded as if
you thought twelve's a lot, you know...
A. Yeah, twelve is a lot but six is a lot as well, to me, you know.
Q. No, some people think, oh well, you know, you go through a phase and you have a lot
of one-night stands and, you know, it doesn't matter, and other people think A. See I mean - I mean - that's what I said to ALAN, I said that to ALAN, and he said to
me well, I'm gonna die sooner or later anyway, ain't I?
Q. Yeah. So he's not bothered about it.
A. No.
Q. Do you think others of your friends are bothered about it?
A. No.
Q. Yeah. Or not changing their behaviour because of it.
A. No, I mean I talked to my best friend about it 'cos she had sex, anal sex, without using
a Durex, and I was really upset with her for sort of, like, doing it, you know she just, it
was like a little fling to her Q. Yeah.
A. I said look that's nasty, I mean it's nasty, but it's dangerous, I said to her, don't you
know about AIDS and things like that, couldn't you use a Durex, she goes .., I gotta die
sooner or later anyway ain't I, and that's the attitude that some young women have.
Q. Yeah.
A. But - and they could - they could change it, you know, 'cos men do...
Q. Yeah.
A. You know, but it's just like, ...no, I don't wanna use a Durex and they think alright
then, leave it.
Q. Yeah. But you think that they should stand A. It doesn't feel - it doesn't that any different, that much different, with a Durex on.
Q. From your point of view.
A. No. I mean okay, you can feel it a little bit, but it doesn't feel so much drastically
Q. Yeah.
A. You know.
Q. Yeah, some people do - they sort of say - well like you said that the... really don't like
to use them.
A. Well it's mostly men, not women Q. Yeah
A. - not the women.
Q. Yeah.
A. It's mostly men that feel that they can't stand using it... whatever, but if women stood
up a bit more about it then it would be alright.
Q. Do you think that would be a useful thing to put into, you know, sex education at
A. Yeah.
Q. Like you say they ought to be told about pregnancy... to be told about that?
A. Yeah, yeah. I think it's just women, young women, who need to assert themselves
and like tell men what they want instead of men telling them what they want.
Q. Mm. And you think that's the way it usually goes?

A. Yeah. I mean it's gotta change. If they wanna stop AIDS then they've got to stop it
with young women, 'cos men aren't gonna listen. You know if men say, look, I don't
wanna use a Durex, then say okay then, fine, you don't care about me, and that's it. 'Cos
that's what I would do. If a man wouldn't use a Durex... forget it...
Q. Yeah. Yeah, well that's it, you're absolutely right, and it is through young women that
it's got to be controlled.
A. But the way I see it young women aren't going to stop it, I mean the young women I
know aren't gonna stop sort of like - they don't care, put it that way, they don't care.
Q. Yeah. They don't think about the consequences as well. Well, maybe more
information about the actual effects of AIDS if you've got it A. It's easy if you - if you sort of like - if you showed young people in schools what AIDS
actually does to you, like, you know like... or whatever they've got... or whatever they've
got... sort of like, films about pregnancy, a woman giving birth Q. Yeah.
A. - that freaks out kids, it freaked out me, it freaked out everybody, you know, you go
‘ugh, no, the woman's in pain’. They see a person who's got AIDS and they're in the
classroom and actually sort of like looking at the person, you know a young woman or
whatever, a young man having AIDS, and what they have to do every day just to be
alive, and I think they'd think about it a lot more.
Q. Mm, yeah.
A. I think that would be good Q. Yeah - the other thing A. I mean to me it's just this age, my age group who aren't gonna think about it 'cos
they're not - they haven't been told to think about it, you know.
Q. Yeah. And they also need to make that connection between them, I mean you can
show them people with AIDS and they'll think it's got nothing to do with them, I'm not at
risk or something like that, 'cos they don't recognise what the dangers are from the
inside. Did - at the beginning of a whole load of stuff about AIDS there was talk about a
gay plague or something like that, did you ever think of that yourself?
A. No.
Q. Especially A. 'Cos I was brought up - 'cos I was brought up... I mean I think a lot of men think that, a
lot of young men think that, a little amount of women Q. Yeah.
A. - but I think it's mostly young men who are frightened about that. You know, they think
oh, it's only gay men, you know. 'Cos I think they're frightened of - is the idea, you know,
some... rather than themselves.
Q. Mm.
A. ...
Q. ... I suppose they're doing it now with drugs...
A. But I mean how - how - how do we know that it's true, though, how do we know that okay, we know that it's sort of like, it's there, but how do we know that it's actually from
Q. Well I suppose that they've done quite a lot of studies to show that that's about the
only behaviour that would have caused AIDS, and they've found - they've found, sort of
tested sperm and stuff like that and found, you know... And they - I read something the
other day, they've found it in tears even, but I mean they - not in sufficient quantity really
for it - the only places that it can really get across to another human being is if you mingling the blood or the sperm or whatever, if it gets into your blood stream that's
supposed to be it, I mean something like, you know, a tear drop, wouldn't be sufficient A. So how many people do they say that's gonna die?

Q. Well, I'll try and remember the number, I keep seeing the figures and I put them out of
my head, you know, but it's a lot, it's a hell of a lot, it's millions worldwide because it's
spreading A. But I thought it was supposed to be from 1990 that Q. Well why they say that is because of this business of the lag, you know, because you
can have the HIV for maybe about five years or something, then you start developing
AIDS, and then you might live for about two years ...
A. ...scary.
Q. It is scary. But I mean the likelihood of you having it is pretty low, isn't it, I mean, let's
face it.
A. Yeah. It is scary even thinking about it.
Q. Yeah.
A. ... if I - if I did have it and like I was fourteen... still around when I was fourteen, and I
slept with this other guy, you know, when I was twenty-five Q. Yeah.
A. - wouldn't I be showing the signs then?
Q. Oh you would, yeah. You would... you're okay on that one. I don't think you need
worry about... worry about CARL... relationships. But even then, I mean - it's also more
difficult for it to go from a woman to a man A. So I mean even CARL's said that he like, he can use a Durex, I mean like we talked
about it after we'd finished, if we could ever get back together sort of like, you know, for a
fling or whatever, that he would use a Durex on the other girls, on every girl that he used
- and I can trust him with that Q. Yeah.
A. You know, but - I've just been too long and I think that I... oh forget it, but I'm just...
Q. Well, that's the other thing too, that it's not just AIDS, but I mean AIDS is just the most
frightening of them, the other things they can clear up hopefully.
A. But that is just as bad...
Q. Yeah. Well it's terribly unpleasant. And they can be, I mean they can damage... get
pregnant again.
A. Oh, can it?
Q. Some of them, yeah, but if they're not treated, because sometimes they're sort of you don't see many symptoms with them, like gonorrhea or something like that, and then
it can cause an effect and damage the tubes and stuff like that. So I mean the thing is A. But it's all from men, isn't it?
Q. From men?
A. Yeah.
Q. Yeah.
A. So why don't we get their sperms cut off or whatever?
Q. A radical solution. Well do you think you'd like - you might move in that direction
yourself, I mean you sound as if you're very much interested in men, but do you think
that you might...
A. No. No, I mean I could have made that option already Q. Yeah.
A. But I've changed, I've got a kid and, you know, I like men.
Q. Yeah.
A. I feel attracted to men, I don't feel attracted to women.
Q. Yeah.
A. I mean if my mum wants to be a lesbian, fine by me, you know, it doesn't, you know, I
feel - I feel happy that she is what she wants to be, you know, I mean she's chosen that

for her life. I mean it's not like she didn't know what she wanted to be, but she slept with
men first and then slept with women.
Q. Yeah.
A. But I know what I wanna be, you know, I'm too attracted to men to sort of like... I don't
think it's nasty...
Q. So I suppose all these problems are less likely to arise with women. Still, okay, look,
I'll just put your initials on there, so I know where they came from A. Right.
Q. And there's your diary, and I'm very grateful to you.
A. Alright then. When shall I start writing it?
Q. Well you can start immediately.
A. Tomorrow.
Q. Yeah, and keep it for a couple of months, like to the end of September, something
like that.
A. Alright.
Q. And the other thing was, some young women we're gonna re-interview next year...
new address.
A. Yeah... well shall I just put it here.
Q. Just write it there, yeah.
LJH31 17.8.89
19,5; ESW; CPVE but plans to go to college in September and ultimately be a social
worker; lives with 2 and a half year old daughter (mixed race); Ma is [CARING
PROFESSION], and lesbian; pa disappeared from her life when she was 7; heterosexual;
first time one off with 25 year old (she was 14); long term relationship with child's father (a
year older than her) now ended but are friends now after some problems; has seen
another man a few times (about her age) but he does not treat her right, so probably
won't have much more to do with him.
Attractive blonde, carefully made up and coiffed, hair cut very close to the head at the
sides, with pattern cut in it, a bit longer and slightly curled on top. Wearing an unusual
shade of lipstick, pale mauve, which matched her tracksuit type top. She seemed
confident, and very together about what she thinks and what she is going to do with her
life, although she feels she needs to understand herself, what she really is and can do,
more. She wants to be social worker, like ma, and sounds as if she has got set up to go
to [NAME OF COLLEGE] and start the process. She knows how long it is going to take,
but she says they don't like to take you on as social worker until you are older, about 26,
have some experience, and she will be ready to settle down by then, having sorted
herself out.
Her ma broke up with pa, he beat her up, she and four children went to refuge. Ma
became lesbian, and in fact two lesbian friends of hers looked after (sort of but not proper
foster parents) LJH31 and her younger sister for some years. This relationship broke
down when she was 14 (with the lesbian women who raised her for a period) and she
went back to live with ma. She had overdosed, was really mixed up at that point. But it did
not work out with ma at that time. Now however, she has a very good relationship with
ma, really close. She gave ma's address and telephone number on the qr.
She is currently living on ss, looking after her little girl [MICHELLE] (or the like). The child
is mixed race, and the one risk which 31 admitted to taking now was getting into trouble
in the street. She says that she looks after her little girl very well, can plait her hair
properly and the child is very attractive and well cared for. She has experienced young
black women coming up to her in the street and calling her 'slag' bcs of her child. This
has made her paranoid in her view, and she almost expects it. So she 'badmouths' them
when it happens, and can get into rows in the street. She said tho, that if it was a big
woman she probably would not risk it! She says this type of abuse does not come from
older black women, whites, or black men, but from the younger women. There was
another of my interviewees who was attracted to black men and went around with a black
group who said she had experienced something similar, or it was the young black women
who had problems with that mix, white woman, black man.
She knew a lot re various aspects of sex and sexuality, since the lesbians who brought
her up told her everything about it that she could possibly want to know. Also left it up to
her to make decisions about what she wanted. Her first sexual experience was when she
was 14, the guy upstairs, 25 years old. She didn't want to do it, he just went ahead
anyway. No protection. She did not like it. It was probably technically rape, but she went
along with it, tho she did not suggest that. Next was the father of her child (also when she
was 14, she started the relationship with him, but they did not have sex for some time).
He was 'shocked' that she was not a virgin, but did not have any particular attitude
towards her bcs of it. He just thought that she was so shy, young and quiet that it was a
shock. She had fancied him and got a girlfriend to approach him. They were together for
a while but he did not take it seriously, and they did not see each other for a while. She
was pretty determined and wrote to him saying that she loved him, and he started to see
her again.

They were together a year and a half before sex. They (or she at any rate) got bored with
all other stuff, want to try sex again. She went on the pill prior bcs she knew that they
would do it soon. Enjoyed sex with this bf. They were carefree and happy. She decided
that she wanted a child and went off the pill, he said he wanted one too. She said that
she did it to keep him, which was not how it worked out. But the responsibilities of the
child, she was effectively a housewife and mother at 16, were too much for the
relationship. He took her for granted. They had a stormy period. He hit her once and as
far as she was concerned that was it. If you let them hit you once they think they can
always do it. She had an injunction against him and there were problems re him seeing
the daughter. Now it works out fine and he has said that he wants to get back together.
But she does not. She said something interesting about risk taking re AIDS in this
connection. In case they get together again she has told him to use condoms with other
women, and he seems to have agreed, or so he tells her I suppose. But she said if it got
to be a long time, she could not trust that he had.
Her most important relationship is with her daughter but she does want to have another
man, hopes to settle with one, she and her daughter need the security. But she thinks
that you cannot trust men, the one she has seen for a while now just wants one thing,
and may not return in any case. She has insisted on a condom with him, and would with
anyone else. She is really worried re AIDS and death tho not very well informed re AIDS.
Quality of the relationship is important to her, not just sex. Did not know what safe sex
was as such, tho she had constantly talked about the importance of using a condom
before I used the term. Does not think young women use their sexual power over men to
insist on condom use, but they should. In her view young women give in to male desires
and wishes. She criticised her best friend for having unprotected anal sex with a guy she
did not know.
I asked if she had thought re women - she said no, not at all, tho she knew all the options
being brought up by lesbians. She likes sex with men, tho it is not the be all and end all.
It's OK if her ma wants to be lesbian, that's her choice, but 31 does not.
Some of her friends do drugs (tho not H, nor injecting) but she 'certainly does not'.

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