Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teen Ran Away With Man 30 Years Older, Wrecked Her Family

When Lisa Wright was 16, she fell in love and ran away with a man 30 years her senior - an unemployed grandfather of four who was a family friend. Now, a year later, she looks back with regret for what she's done to her own family.

In April last year, the couple ran away together, and Lisa - an A-grade student - missed her GCSEs to spend time with her lover in a one-bedroom flat, with hardly any money. However, police say Lisa wasn't underage, and didn't appear to be in any danger, making them powerless to act.

A year later, Lisa is single again, and deeply regretful of her actions. Her mother, Angela, has been left devastated by the incident, while her older sister Gemma, 20, refuses to speak to her. Nobody had expected her to run off with the 46-year-old Nigel Trowbridge.
Lisa admits that after turning 11, she began rebelling: "I think going to senior school was a turning point. I started breaking all the rules, staying out, smoking. Mum and I clashed a lot." She added, "Mum tried to be a disciplinarian, but I wasn't interested in listening to her. Her one consolation was that I kept at my studies even thought I hated school, and I was an A-star student."

Her father left the family home when she was 13, and it seemed to have a powerful effect on Lisa. She says by the time she was 14, she was sexually active.

Her sister at that time, at 15-years of age, had a boyfriend called Glyn Trowbridge. Their mother had been to school with Glyn's father, Nigel, but hadn't been in contact with him as his family was known to have a bad reputation. Nonetheless, Glyn Trowbridge seemed to be a polite, easygiong guy, when three years later, Gemma announced she was pregnant at 18. The family was very happy for her.

The baby was born in February last year, and Glyn's father Nigel came over to see his new grandchild (his fifth). Angela hadn't been there at the time of his visit as she was in the hospital with under medical supervision for a suspected heart attack. With Glyn and Gemma busy with their new baby, Nigel was free to court Lisa - who had turned 16 two weeks earlier.

"It seems hard to believe now, but I thought he was really attractive," Lisa says. "There was an immediate rapport and we chatted away easily. I'll admit I was flattered by the attention. It didnt occur to me that my age was an issue. I didn't tell him and he didn't ask. Later, I found out he thought I was older than Gemma."

Trowbridge returned the next day, not only to visit his new grandson, but to see Lisa again. She recalls: "We were chatting away again and then later we were sitting in the garden when he asked for my number. I was a bit shocked, but I gave it to him anyway."

By the end of the evening, the two had kissed and parted promising to see each other again. "Over the next few days, we text-messaged a lot and I went to visit him at his flat, which wasn't far away," Lisa says. She says at that point, the relationship hadn't become sexual, and Trowbridge still wasn't aware of her real age. She adds, "It only came out about a month after we met, when I mentioned by exams. Nigel asked what sort of exams and I said it was my GCSEs. He was shocked."

The couple continued to meet, until Lisa's mother and sister became suspicious. When Angela found Trowbridge's number on Lisa's phone, they confronted her about the calls. Lisa told them she loved him. "They were both furious," she says. "Mum was asking what on earth I was thinking, that he was too old and that he was my neice's grandfather. They were both really upset. But I just said I knew what I was doing."

Angela then confiscated her daughter's mobile phone and sent Lisa to stay with her father. A week later, Lisa returned with sobs of apology, and Angela thought the matter was settled.

But behind her mother's back, Lisa continued to see Trowbridge. Lisa pretended to set off to school every morning, but instead went over to his flat to spend the day there. She says Trowbridge did try to talk her into going to school, but she refused. "I wanted to be with him, and nothing he could say would dissuade me," she says.

When the couple found out that Lisa's mother was getting suspicious again, they decided to 'run away'. "it was a spur-of-the-moment decision," she says. "We didn't pack anything. We didn't even know what we were going to do, and ended up staying with a relative of Nigel's overnight." Meanwhile, Angela reported Lisa missing to the police when she didn't return home by midnight.

The pair returned to the flat the next day to gather their things for a proper 'runaway'. "When we got back, the police had battered the door down looking for me," Lisa says. She adds that night was the night the couple's relationship became sexual. The next day, she and Trowbridge lef the flat, destination unknown.

With little money and prospects, Trowbridge begged a friend in a nearby town for help, and the pair stayed in his flat. Lisa finally called the police and told them of her whereabouts. "I told them I was safe and not being held under duress," she says. "I also texted Mum because I wanted to put her mind at rest, but I didn't want to speak to her."

Six months later, the couple decided to return to Trowbridge's flat for a fresh start. "Nigel was determined to work and I wanted to apply to college," Lisa says. "We thought we could go back and start again. We talked about getting married and Nigel promised to buy me an engagement ring." But instead, their relationship took a downturn.

"When we moved back, we got a lot of abuse from people locally and Nigel felt under a lot of pressure," Lisa says. "We still had no money and it was like a pressure cooker in the flat. He started spending the little money he had on drink and when he was drunk we would start fighting."

Lisa was on speaking terms with her mother, but still didn't have anyone to turn to. She then met a girl of her own age when she went out shopping for food. The two "clicked immediately", and she began to feel happier doing "normal teenage stuff". "I finally realised everything I had been missing out on. The downside was that Nigel was jealous and became more possessive and difficult," she says.

By the end of April, the fights and violence had increased. "After one huge row that left me cowering terrified in a corner I finally confided in my new friend, who told me I had to get out of the relationship immediately. When I said I didn't know where to go, she said I could go and stay with her."

Lisa left the same night, and hasn't returned since. "He is sorry for the hurt he caused me and had promised to get help for his problems," she says. "He did let me down very badly but he's a weak person who needs help."

Since then, Lisa has been trying to repair her relationship with her mother, while her relationship with her sister Gemma has been damaged beyond repair. "She is still very angry with me for all the upset and distress I caused, especially at a time when she had a new baby who should have brought the family closer together," Lisa says.

Lisa intends to re-sit her GCSEs next year and hopes to eventually go to university to study psychiatry. 

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