Speaking on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast, Ian Wright has opened up about the reality of growing up in an abusive household and how he has tried to process it in adulthood.
Please be aware that this article discusses domestic abuse.
Ian Wright is a former footballer with a legacy of 581 league games, 387 goals for seven clubs in England and Scotland, and 33 England caps. He is now a hugely successful and respected pundit and broadcaster.
Last year, during his incredibly emotional Desert Island Discs episode, we learned that Wright is also the survivor of growing up in an abusive and violent household. He is now continuing to expose the reality of domestic violence with a new BBC documentary, Home Truths, which airs at 9pm on Thursday 6 May on BBC One.
In an interview on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast earlier this week, Wright talked more about his own experience and why it’s so important that he speaks out about it.
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Explaining the anger he has always experienced because of the trauma caused, Wright told Cotton that he is angry for his nine-year-old self: “I’m still angry for that stuff – when I found myself in rooms crying to the deepest of my soul.”
He added: “On a daily basis, I’d get something that made me feel very unhappy or a remark or something. There was a lot of alcohol and weed smoking involved in my household and I remember one night I was so angry. And when [I’m] asked, ‘Who [are you] still angry [for]?’ I say, ‘Well probably the nine-year-old who is still inside me.’”
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Describing how the anger manifested over the years, Wright said that he spent a lot of time suppressing it at home: “So when I went outside I’d be very angry – anything would start a fight or a confrontation. I had that as I was growing up and I think it started to manifest more as I played football…”
Wright then talked about the therapy process he started to address his childhood: “When people ask, ‘What would you say to your nine-year-old self now?’ I probably wouldn’t say anything…”
He added: “What I wanted more than anything else, Fearne, was just to be hugged and to be loved and know that everything was going to be fine. Because I couldn’t understand the words – some of the things my mum would say on a daily basis, or my step-father would beat me. I was scared to even go into the same room. All that sort of stuff.
“So if I could go back, I’d just hug him and say everything is going to be fine and it’s not your fault.”
What I wanted more than anything else, Fearne, was just to be hugged and to be loved…
Wright’s words are particularly poignant right now because, in the last year alone, 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse, and in 90% of domestic abuse cases there is a child present. During the first lockdown,Refuge experienced a rise of around 50% in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, and traffic to the helpline’s website rose by around 300%. And despite the domestic bill act recently getting royal assent, campaigners say there is still a lot of room for improvement to help women in particular.
That’s why Wright’s documentary, which sees him revisiting his roots and looking at the wider problem of domestic abuse, is well worth the watch this week. And why his Happy Place podcast episode is equally worth your listening time.
For more help and support, you can also seek confidential support with Relate or contact Refuge for help and guidance. Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline is free to call and available 24/7 on 0808 2000 247.
Images: Getty, Happy Place
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