Teens Living with Domestic Abuse
The Abuse from the Child's Views
Having to grow up in an environment where violence is considered the norm, can be heart-wrenching for a child. The countless nights of witnessing your mom being physically and verbally abused by her partner a nightmare you can’t soon escape, and the fear of waking up and finding your mom in a pool of her own blood traumatizing to say the least.
How could someone that claims to love you hurt you so badly? Why can’t my mother leave him and never look back? Why aren’t the police doing anything to stop it when the neighbors call it in? All of these questions and more ran through my six year old mind when I saw it happen over and over again. This man that claimed to love my mother and us, yet every time he got drunk forgot about the love and used my mother as a punching bag.
I knew then it was wrong. At least the romance movies my sisters and I watched showed us a different kind of man. A man that not only supported his family, but spent quality time with them. A man who cherished his wife and did everything he could to make her happy, a man that would put his life at risk to protect her and the children they had together, be it his or someone else. This was the kind of man I dreamed of once marrying. This is the kind of man I vowed I would find.
Remember at the time I was only six years old, but when my mom met my step-dad I was only four. I remember this man coming over to our house with treats and flowers as he wooed my mom and they became an item. Months later, our apartment suffered a very devastating fire and we had to move out, for our apartment was beyond repair. It was then my mom moved us in with him in his basement apartment with only two bedrooms, which meant my brother who was fourteen had to move in with my aunt until my mom found a bigger place for us all. I remember one day my mom, sister and I going to visit him at his place of business and on our way home, his home a woman began to call my mother names.
I remember my mom trying to avoid her and telling us girls to keep up and stay close. Unbeknownst to her, a block later this woman who was still following us attacked my mom and literally tore her blouse off her in the middle of the street as my sister and I looked on in utter fear. Eventually some passerby’s tore this woman apart from my mom and she quickly grabbed her blouse off the floor and walked us the rest of the way home with blood streaming down her now scratched face. That night my sister and I watched our step-dad tend to her wounds, and apologize. Years later we found out this woman was his ex-wife who was totally upset he moved on and blamed my mom for him leaving her.
After my mom found that bigger place we all moved again and my step-dad came with us. At first things were great, but as the years progressed the verbal abuse became physical and this is when the nightmare truly began. One night my mom who was going to school nights to attain her nursing degree, arrived a bit later than usual because she had to attend a friend’s funeral so she went shortly after class. When she walked into the house, she arrived with takeout food. My step-dad was livid and that night he beat my mom for the very first time. The following morning my mother had a black eye and a large bruise on her left arm. Since I enjoyed helping her around the house with chores I realized she wasn’t moving as swiftly as usual. She was still sore from the beat down she endured the night before, and she refused to let her friends see her so therefore hid in the apartment until she was able to cover up her bruises with make-up.
At this point my sister and I were the only ones to witness all of the bad fights, and I later caught on that he wouldn’t dare hit my mom when my brother was in the house. My brother was very protective of us all, but was only sixteen. He went to school days and managed to get a job after school at a friend’s family business so sometimes he arrived home between nine and ten at night. To avoid some of the yelling matches between my mom and step-dad my sister and I spent most of our time in our brother’s room and sometimes fell asleep there until he arrived and carried us to our bedrooms.
By the time I was eight years old I learned to stay at a friend’s house and my sister did the same. Since we knew to be home by dinner time my mom was okay with it, and she sort of understood that we preferred to stay out than come home and watch her nurture yet another busted lip or bruise. My brother was now starting to catch on, and began to come home a lot earlier than usual. It was during one of these nights that he walked in on us cowering in his bedroom crying while my mom lay unconscious on his bed bleeding from the gash on her head inflicted by my step-dad, who chose to bust her head open with the base of the telephone.
That night my step-dad also got the same treatment as my brother busted into my mom’s room where he now slept peacefully, as my mother continued to bleed in the room he carelessly left her in. With bat in tow my brother swung and swung at him until our step-dad resembled my mother’s state, and then he took my sister and I to our neighbor’s while he waited for the ambulance to take them both to the hospital. Needless to say, my mom and step-dad returned a day later from the hospital, and although he now was skeptic about abusing my mom it surely didn’t stop him from doing it again. My mom refused to learn that she could live her life without him. Yes the man took care of the financial things, helped out with the meals, but there was no respect in our household.
He belittled her every chance he got, prevented her from having a life outside of the house, and flirted with every friend my mom had. Little by little I watched my mom’s self-esteem diminish as she began to believe she would never find a man to support her and her children the way he can. It didn’t matter to her that we were all suffering along with her and for that I shall always hold some sort of resentment, but also a bit of pity. It took her another three years to finally leave him, but for some reason she still managed to choose the wrong men. The physical abuse wasn’t there, but the verbal abuse continued. In a way I am grateful because I learned to choose my boyfriends with caution when I did decide to date. I will not follow in her footsteps, and I refused to be a repeat scenario.
My sister on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky. She too learned time and time again the abuse a man can inflict on you if you let it. While we were growing up common law was a huge thing to the police, and so nothing was done when they did arrive at your doorstep other than the occasional “You have to leave until things die down a bit and then you can come back later”. To then turn to my mom and tell her they can’t haul him away to jail because common law states they are considered a married union if living together as long as they have been. These days domestic abuse is taken a lot more seriously, but sometimes it could take a long time before something is actually done to defend or protect the victim.
To date many women and men suffer from domestic abuse on a daily basis. Many are unreported until it’s too late, and in some cases the victim walks away from the relationship, yet never fully let their guard down for fear of a public outburst or being caught off guard and ambushed. It isn’t fair to live your life scared, and if you have children it certainly isn’t fair to them to have them witness it each day. Now there are many places you can reach out to if you fear the person you’re with. If you have family members you can trust please let them know what’s happening. My mom was embarrassed to tell her family what was happening, but when she finally did some doors were opened, and we were then better off because she finally realized she deserved better.
To better assist the victim suffering from domestic abuse I will include some links to sites which go into detail on how you can get back in control of your life and that of your children.
National Domestic Hotline1-800-799-SAFE