Lita, 32, shares her true life story.
My mum Christine beamed as our neighbour paid her compliments.
"You've done such a wonderful thing," she said. "You've given a little girl a home – who knows what might have happened had you not rescued her? You must be so proud…"
'If only she knew the truth', I thought sadly.
Everyone thought my mum Christine Morgan had selflessly welcomed me – an unwanted child – into her home.
No doubt she revelled in the admiration.
As a tiny baby, I'd been abused by my birth mother and put up for adoption.
After my first birthday, I was placed with Christine and Roger Morgan.
I called them Mum and Dad, but we were far from being a proper family.
When I was four, when other mums were taking their daughters to the playground, my mum was letting me know her true feelings.
"I hate you, Lita," Mum would yell. "You're a waste of space. I wish you were dead."
When I was sent off to school, my friends all got a kiss and a packed lunch, but I was thrown out of the house in bleached, smelly old clothes with holes.
"You're disgusting, you don't deserve any better," Mum told me.
My clothes made me a target for bullies at school. I had no friends there.
As I walked home alone, watching the other six-year-olds excitedly chatting to their mums about their day, I couldn't help wondering why I was so unloved.
What was wrong with me?
One morning, Mum served me egg on toast.
"What's the matter?" she said as I pushed it around on my plate.
"Er, it's just that… I don't really like egg, Mum," I said.
"You ungrateful bitch!" she screamed. "Well maybe you'll like it now…"
Then she grabbed my plate, spat on it and handed it back.
After that she stopped feeding me. If I asked for food, she slapped me.
She kept me locked in my room, too. One night at bedtime, she came in, grabbed me by the throat and pinned me up against the wall.
As I gasped for breath, she smacked me until my skin throbbed red, and pulled my hair out in clumps.
Her violent bedtime visits became a regular occurrence.
"I wanted twin boys, but someone else got them and I got lumped with you instead," she snapped.
The abuse grew worse.
One day, when I was seven, she'd been cleaning the bathroom when she suddenly pinned me against the wall.
She picked up the cloth she'd been using to clean the toilet and stuffed it into my mouth.
I gagged as the bleach dripped into my mouth and throat, and burnt me like fire.
Desperate, I struggled against her, finally managing to wriggle out of her grasp. In my room, I collapsed to my knees, heaving from nausea and shock.
Nowhere was safe.
One evening I was in the bath when she marched in.
Her claw-like hands grabbed my shoulders and she began to push me downwards.
"No-one wants you," she shrieked. "I'm doing everyone a favour by getting rid of you."
"No!" I screamed, my flailing arms battling against her.
As I cried, the water flooded into my mouth.
This is it, I thought, as her hand pushed down on top of my head and the water went up my nose. I'm going to die.
She finally let me up and I gasped for air, lucky to be alive.
Dad was my only hope.
He was a kind man who worked long hours, and I only felt safe when he was at home.
Mum never laid a finger on me then.
I loved our time together. We spent Saturday afternoons on walks or at the pool while Mum seethed with jealousy at home.
Surely Dad had an inkling about what was going on under his roof?
Still, I never questioned him about it. It was just the way things were.
Besides, Mum was a great actress in front of him – and to anyone else who dared question her.
One day she had a visit from social services, after school had noticed bruises on me as I changed for PE.
"Oh, Lita worries me with all her accidents," Mum lied. "She's always excited about something, so she's always tripping over."
I guess it was easy enough to pass off a young girl's cuts and bruises as clumsy accidents.
But as the social workers left, giving me a cheery wave, I couldn't understand it.
If Mum didn't want me, why didn't she just give me back?
As I grew older, I earned cash from a Saturday job so I could pay to go to Guides and gymnastics and avoid being in the house.
My time alone with Dad was the only other thing that kept me going. For those few hours I could pretend I was normal.
When I was 17, Dad fell ill with heart problems. I was at his bedside while he deteriorated. "I'm so sorry for everything that happened," he croaked as the last breaths left his body. "I'll never forgive myself for not helping you."
I reeled backwards in my chair. So I'd been right. He had known all about Mum.
I should have felt angry at him for not protecting me, but I suspected he was scared of Mum, too.
Also, I'm sure he didn't want to risk losing me.
If social services had taken me away, he'd never have seen me again.
Sadly, Dad died and Mum's violence worsened.
Months later, I found the strength to leave.
"I don't want to be on my own," she sniffed, but I had no sympathy.
I started working full-time but suffered depression and began self-harming.
My GP referred me for counselling but it was too painful to relive all those terrible memories.
Then at 25 I had a breakdown. Voices in my head were urging me to take action. One day I walked into a police station and said I wanted to make a statement.
Thankfully, they believed me and pressed charges against Mum.
In court, I was too scared to face her and gave evidence behind a screen.
Christine Morgan, 61, was found guilty of two charges of cruelty to a child under 16. But her failing health due to rheumatoid arthritis meant she got 250 hours' community service and a two-year
It was nowhere near enough punishment for what she'd put me through.
It's hard not to dwell on how my life might have been if another family had adopted me.
I also feel my school and social services should have done more to protect me.
Now, I'm telling my story because I want to make a difference.
If you experienced abuse as a child, speak up.
This stuff still goes on all the time and we have to try to do something to stop it.