I was born to a single mother. For reasons unknown to me, she didn’t have a good grasp on
the concept of parenting. She felt it was entirely acceptable to beat me for the small things like losing the dime in change from my lunch money. When I was attending first grade, the teacher felt it was her right to beat me as well. Since then, the laws have changed, but at the time corporal punishment was allowed in school where I lived.
There is one incident that remains fresh in my mind to this day. We were near the end of
recess, which was being held inside. I needed to pee badly, so I made a bee line for the restroom. I made a bad choice in my path and accidently knocked over a game board that some other kids were playing with. I quickly apologized told them I would clean it up when I got finished. When I returned, I began cleaning up the game. The teacher grabbed my arm and dragged/beat me all the way down to the principal’s office. Things like this happened to me in that classroom every day. I was being beaten at home seven days a week and beaten at school five days a week. When I complained to my mother about what was going on, she refused to even look into it. She didn’t believe me until years later when other people told her the same thing about that teacher. Then she would remind me of it.
My brother was born in 1989 when I was about eight years old. Due to his father being a
drunk who spent his evenings passed out on the living room couch, I became his second parent. I looked after him while my mother worked nights at a nursing home. My mother’s reasons for the beatings went from lost change to I made a mistake when I changed his diapers. I became increasingly resentful of my brother. In fact, I hated him. My beatings continued until I was ten or twelve years old. At this point we had moved, and one of our neighbors took her turn beating me. Again, my mother refused to intervene. I in turn became abusive to my brother, so my beatings from my mother increased. When I was fifteen, I went into foster care. It was then that I had an epiphany. I was not at fault for the way other people were treating me, and I didn’t deserve it. Also, my brother was not at fault for what happened. I was making him as much a victim as I was, and he didn’t deserve it. The next time I saw him, I gave him a sincere apology for what I had done and made the successful effort to stop.
Many years later I once again found myself in an abusive relationship. I was dating a man
who felt it was ok for him to tell me who I could talk to, and what I could wear. One night I went outside without a coat on, so he kicked me in the back knowing full well that I had problems with my back. We were actually engaged to be married. The longer I was with him, the more abusive he became. If I didn’t answer the phone when he called, he would automatically accuse me of cheating on him. One day I was walking home and decided to take stock of my life. I weighed the pros and cons of my relationship with him, and decided that the cons far outweighed the pros. I dumped him, and he threatened to have my family and I killed. I was still young and uninformed about the world, so I just blew his threats off. Thankfully he did not go through with them.
A few years after, I moved back in with my mother. This was about the point where my
brother started using drugs. This time he became the abusive one. He slammed me into walls and such. I tried to help him as best I could but was unable to. This was also the point when my mother became terminally ill, and I was caring for her. Although this did not make me happy, and I didn’t feel it was the best thing for my brother, I had to send him to live with someone else. It made my mother angry, but I didn’t have another option. There was no other help for me. In all actuality, it worked out well for all involved. It took a few years, but my brother finally got his shit together, and became quite successful.
My mother passed away in 2007 from ovarian cancer, and due to the stress of spending
several years caring for her while my own issues went unattended, I ended up with a plethora of problems. My mental health problems were full blown out of control, and I became homeless. When I started getting my stuff together again, I went to live with my grandmother. I also got a job and went back to college. After a couple years, I decided to move in with some friends. I had stayed with them before. I knew there would be alcohol involved, but we had also gotten along before, so I thought things would be ok. The move would also make going to school easier, because it was closer. I could not have been more wrong. The drinking had gotten far worse than I imagined. There were nights that I was kept up when I had both work and school the next day because of the arguing between the two.
One night it got physical. I came home from work and was having a smoke on the porch with the girl while her boyfriend kept an eye on Toki the dog. Toki was being soaked in the bathtub due to skin problems. He jumped out of the tub and refused to go back in. Suddenly I heard him cry out, so Iran back into the house with the girl. Toki was cowering underneath the kitchen table as the boyfriend stomped on his rib cage. We put a stop to his beating, but the violence escalated. Later that night I had to call the cops and stop the girl from beating her boyfriends head into the bathroom floor.
We threw him out of the house that night, and eventually removed him permanently, but not
before several more nights like that one. Eventually I took ownership of Toki, and for numerous other reasons he and I moved out. The situation was not a good one for a struggling college student with mental health issues. The reason I stayed as long as I did was so that I could get myself into a position where Toki could leave with me. The girl had people who were willing to help her if she would allow it. Toki only had me. I tried to help the her too but could not get her to understand that what was happening was not normal. It wasn’t normal for her boyfriend to verbally abuse her. It wasn’t normal for them to get into fights that were so bad they got physical. It wasn’t normal for him to break into the house after we threw him out. It wasn’t normal for him to go through the belongings in the house and demand to know who was staying there. None of these things were ok, but I could not convince her of that.
I am telling my story so that it may teach others. If you are or were in a situation where you
were being abused, the actions of the other person are not your fault. If someone beats you
because you made a mistake, or said something they didn’t like, that is not ok. If you find
yourself in this situation, there are people out there who want to help you. It is a difficult step to take, but you can contact your local police. If you don’t want to press charges, they can at least direct you to services that can help. You can also talk to your personal physician or look in the phone book. If the person who hits you says they are sorry, but still continue to hit you or abuse you verbally, they aren’t sorry. They do it so that they can control you physically, emotionally, and mentally. There are people who will listen and want to help, but you have to make the first step and reach out. Unless your abuser seeks out help for themselves, they will not improve, andmore likely than not will get worse. They may even kill you.
To those who are abusers, there is help for you too. You can seek out therapy and anger
management courses. What you are doing is wrong, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change. It is possible. What ever caused you to do this, you didn’t deserve it. You need some of your own healing, and it can happen. Please reach out. Don’t continue hurting those you say you love. If you really care about them, I implore you to put down your fist, pick up the phone, reach out, and most importantly, listen.