Note: This is a true story written by a 32-year-old from the perspective of her 5-year-old self– I turned out ok, despite everything. I share this story as a reminder to abused women everywhere don’t stay for your children witnessing abuse will kill the people your children could have been and while your children will always love you, they will also hate you for staying. Apologies in advance for the bad language in this post but it’s what I heard as a child, and I wanted to share my childhood as authentically as possible.
My family may look just like yours there is a mom, a dad and three kids, we live in a nice house and drive a Toyota. People who drive past our house might make the assumption that we are the “perfect family” – that is the assumption we wanted them to make – but we have a secret that is known only by the five of us.
My first memory was of my father storming into our bedroom – foaming at the mouth over something my mother had said – he picked up the brown-chair I was sitting on – with me still in it – with the intent of hitting my mother over the head with it – as he held the chair up in the air I remember thinking “please don’t drop me, please don’t drop me” and thankfully he snapped back into to his senses and set the chair down on the floor but unfortunately for me, that was the first of many times where I would be used as a rope in a tug-of-war between my parents.
What people don’t seem to understand about domestic abuse is that before an abuser can break your bones he/she has to break your spirit to the point where you don’t even recognize yourself. The first time somebody calls you bitch, worthless or stupid it hurts but you will get over it eventually but, if you’ve been called bitch, worthless and stupid for the past 20 years you can’t help but believe it and I think that is exactly what has happened to my mother. I make a point of telling her how pretty, smart and kind she is as if to counteract all the negative things my father says to her but, it doesn’t seem to matter because she doesn’t believe that she is pretty, smart or kind and that, to me, is the most heartbreaking part – even when my father isn’t saying all those things to her she probably says it to herself and in doing so she has become her own abuser.
I am very grateful to my father because he has showed me what kind of life I DON’T want and that has given me the freedom to go forth and create the life I DO want and as for my mother I LOVE her because she is my MOTHER but at the same time, I HATE her for staying and subjecting herself (and us) to my father’s abuse.
If you’re an abused woman and believe in “staying for the kids” PLEASE DON’T. Your duty as a parent is to teach your kids the right way to be in the world and how do you expect to do that when you allow yourself to be treated like something somebody else stepped on.