Unfortunately, too many of us know about domestic violence because we have been or are being beaten and raped and degraded. Some of us may have been witness to domestic violence as a child. I was. I saw my mother being beaten by my father many times. I saw my sister grabbed and handled by my father. For some reason, I was the only one who could stop his attacks and yes, I was the eldest of three girls.
I do not write this because I am proud of having gone through domestic violence and gotten out. I write about it because I want others who are living this to know that there is hope and for those who suspect they know of someone going through this, to try and get them to see that there is a way out.
If any of you have read my previous posts, than you know that I considered myself to have been fairly sheltered from the harsh realities of life and that I had never known hunger, homelessness, never saw anyone begging and walking about in rags and I would have said that I had never seen drug abuse, only I realize now that I have. My father abused alcohol. He was usually drunk when he beat my mother.
One night, we were all in bed, all except for my father because it was a weekend and he usually drank with his buddies. What woke me was the sound of loud cursing and then cries from my mother. I covered my ears, hoping that it would soon cease. It did not. Her cries continued and increased in volume. I got up and went down the hall to their door. It was open and I will never forget the sight. My mother was lying on the floor and my father was kicking her. I ran in and grabbed him and pulled him back. I looked up at him and yelled for him to “stop it!” We stood nose to nose. He had a wild look in his eyes, an uncomprehending look and he just stared at me and I back at him. Meanwhile, my mother lay whimpering on the floor. My father backed away from me without saying a word, he left the room, went down the hall and down the stairs. I went to my mother as she was still sobbing. She asked me to call the police. I did. They came and said that they would be on the lookout for my father. In the ensuing days before the court date, they got back together. My father would come in and bring my mother gifts and be nice to her and then he’d be back in the house. Until the next time, that is.
You see, domestic violence is going to continue. We hear from our abuser how it will never happen again. We hear about how sorry they are and they don’t know what came over them. Some will even blame the victim for causing them to get angry by suggesting that it is something they did. It’s called, ‘not wanting to take responsibility for their actions’.
Unfortunately, domestic violence can be learned. When I was dating my now ‘ex-husband’, he would tell me of the times when he would pull his father off of his stepmother. He was actually shot in the leg for coming to the aid of his stepmother. And yet, before I married him, he beat me up in my parent’s house because my cousins wanted me to go with them to the club and he did not want me to go. My parents were at home at the time and it did not occur to me that what they should have done was to throw him out and call the police because he had beaten their daughter. What they did was to encourage me to go home with him and talk it over and things would be okay. Oh, I was young and dumb. I did just that. And yes, he promised never to hit me again. We got married and one evening I was talking on the phone to my sister and he came in the room and told me to get off the phone. I refused. The next thing I know, I was seeing stars and everything went black. I left him and went back to my parents. I had him arrested. We went to counseling. We got back together. He hit me and choked me and dragged me and did other things and he was arrested again. I finally left him for good. But he wasn’t having it. He would have his friends park outside my new home and just stare at me coming and going. He would come and bang on the door, demanding entrance, threatening me. I called the police. Then I heard about how with getting restraining orders, there’s no guarantee that it will stop them.
I had no choice. In the dark of night, I snuck out the back, left my car and walked to the bus station. The next bus leaving was bound for Baltimore, Maryland and I was aboard it. I could not use my credit cards. I was terrified and looking over my shoulder all the time. I felt beaten twice over and yet, somehow, through perseverence and determination and finding inner strength and enduring setbacks like the fire, and the subsequent loss of another home, I survived.
To those of you who are going through this, I know what you’re dealing with. I know the pain, the “what am I doing wrong?” It is not you and it is not going to stop. I do realize that if you are not working and you’ve got young children, you feel that you are stuck. There are shelters for ‘battered women and their children’. No, it’s not the Ritz or the Waldorf Astoria, but it will not be forever, just until you can get things sorted out. Just get out!! Go! I know it is not an easy decision to make with so much at stake, but your life is at stake and possibly that of your children. I wish that I could tell you that it is going to be easy. I cannot. But I will say this, you can do it and I have said this before, some where else, “you are stronger than you think!” Never doubt it for a minute!