I was taught to be there for those who needed a voice.

I didn't grow up in a house where domestic violence happened, instead I grew up in a house where I was taught to be there for those who needed a voice.

When I was in my early teens I thought my mum was just my mum. I was wrong. When I reached high school I realised that I had to share my mum, share her with people I had never met.

When I was 10 my dad passed away leaving my mum with my sister and I to care for on her own. She, however, didn't stop there with the caring. As I grew I began to notice how many people I went to school with that also called my mum "mum". I was a little disconcerted at first until I realised that it was a sign of respect. The word "mum" was not in fact associated with the woman who gave birth to you, no, it was given to a woman who cared and made you feel safe. Over the years my mum would be called "mum" by countless adolescents as she helped them through their journey of grief, pain and often violence.

I cannot tell you how many hours we spent at football, at the end of school discos, at the end of the school day, at the early hours of the school day not because my sister and I needed to be there, but because someone needed my mum to be there as their mum. Often I didn't realise what she was doing, but sometimes, the story made it to my ears and I became more and more aware of the challenges so many of my peers faced. I was both shocked and grateful that I was able to be a part of helping someone through this. My mum taught me to listen and care for those who needed an ear. I became more and more happy to share my mum. So many others didn't have what I had- a mum to make them feel safe.

As I became an adult, a teacher in my own right, I never forgot the lessons I learnt from all those years of others calling my mum "mum". I have sat next to and listened to many a crying child, just like my mum did, because she taught me that it was my job to care.

Benita Dwyer