Finding Hope

Jenna Murphy reports on her time at HMP Styal



I am currently residing at HMP Styal. Due to my drug abuse, negative relationships and being a working girl from my early teens, this isn’t the first time I have been here.

I have suffered many traumas throughout my life and I have never dealt with them in a positive way and because of this my mental health has suffered.

Whilst I was out I returned to prostitution. I was working last September when a man in a white transit van picked me up and we drove to a secluded area. The man told me that his wallet was in the back and we might as well get in there so people couldn’t see us. I got out, walked to the back of the van with the man behind me, I opened the door to find four men in there. The driver pushed me inside and I was then raped by all five men. This lasted for nearly four and a half hours, I was then driven back, thrown out of the van and had money thrown at me. I sustained severe injuries from the attack and my mental health rapidly deteriorated. I was in a relationship with a girl who just wanted to score and use drugs, and in the days leading up to my recall I didn’t see her at all.

I arrived at Styal on 8 September 2017, due to being recalled for my drug use. I kept all of the information about September inside and I knew that I only had myself to blame for being in that situation. Three days later my wife came into Styal and our relationship resumed, however I didn’t get any support from her. She left me for my best friend and this broke me, at this time I found Ms Sampey, and she was my rock.

My mental health deteriorated further. I was so angry I assaulted a girl and I was put in segregation. Whilst I was on the CSU my wife left me and I was hearing voices. I felt so alone I tried to take my own life, but Mr Thornton checked on me earlier than he should have done and saved my life. Ms Sampey was there in minutes and for the first time in months I actually felt as though someone actually cared. I believed my family would be better off without me so I didn’t have any contact with them. I had no clothes, no money to buy any and my life had become unbearable. From the moment Mr Thornton found me things changed. I was taken to hospital and on arriving back I was taken to the meeting room, where I was faced with a number of staff, all of which I had known for years. I couldn’t believe how concerned they looked, they were all so genuine and they all said ‘Jenna, what is going on?’.This was the first time I spoke to anyone about my ordeal in September.

It was decided I would reside on the Dove for a few weeks until I was ready to move on. Every Tuesday I had a review and what was needed to make my life easier was put in place. I had a mental health review. I was encouraged to contact my mother, this went really well and when my parents visited Ms Sampey came along to meet them. They gave me clothes from the pick n mix shop, so that I was able to save my wages to help me purchase more when I needed them. They felt that a quiet house would be good for me and help me to settle rather than a big and noisy wing. It was arranged for me to be moved to a self-catered house where I could cook for myself and one which had women who would support me.

In previous sentences I haven’t been a model prisoner, however my behaviour has improved enormously (not without a few minor hiccups! Ha Ha). Due to the support, encouragement and help I have received from the Safer Custody Team. I wanted to make them proud of me. Therefore, I’ve stayed strong and got on with my sentence. I am now an enhanced prisoner, a member of the violence reduction team (which in the past it would have been a definite no – no.!)

I am now in a really good place, but I know that I wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for the selfless actions of the Safer Custody Team at HMP Styal

At HMP Styal you’re not just a number!


NewsCaterina Howard