THREE BULL-MASTIFFS IN A CORNER KITCHEN – 

April 2, 2021 – Like a pea pushed down a snowy mountain, is how Sam Batley describes his spiral into addiction. From the age of 15, his consumption of substances gained momentum: the amounts grew and the sober time in between shrunk, until he was using every day.

“The cycles of behaviour I was developing in my teens would be the foundation of repetition going into my adult life,” Batley, 30, says.

That cycle of trying to mend an internal issue – grappling with feelings of guilt and shame – with external stimulation would lead him to a corner kitchen at 17 years old. The room, in the South Yorkshire home of a dealer he bought off to sell on, was the scene of chaos and intimidation. Bull-mastiffs, with their faces scarred and bloody from badger baiting, circled the space he would visit regularly up to the age of 22.

“I was scared, but couldn’t show any fear,” Batley says. “Those spaces are inherently very male, the pecking order and manoeuvring are clear in unwritten rules no one discusses but everyone knows. You can’t appear weak because weakness is attacked and seized upon to inflate others. Bravado is king.”

These experiences saw Batley unknowingly creating a character. One impervious to the situations he was finding himself in. Or so he thought.

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