I have re-written this so many times. I feel like I can’t get it right. I lost someone who I loved so much, all because of the senseless act of domestic violence. This has been a hard time: to know we lost someone so special because someone couldn’t control themselves. This is something that I have always had a hard time with because of what I witnessed growing up, but to hear someone lost their lives is heart wrenching. I was going to share a bit more about that, knowing that I wanted to raise awareness of domestic violence, and felt called to do so, but the direction has changed a bit. My hope if anything, is to offer love to those who are in place where they feel they are stuck, or feel they can’t find anyone better, or think for some reason they deserve this. I want to just say, those are all lies. You deserve better than what is happening. Instead of sharing this sweet girl’s story, which I know her mom will be doing to help people who are struggling and give them encouragement. I have instead decided to share my story, which is from the perspective of a child who had to witness her parent in an extremely toxic relationship.
I am writing this because, although I love to share funny stories of Arwen, the fact is, this is real life and I want to be real.
Growing up I can’t remember my mom being in a single relationship where she wasn’t abused. Sometimes mentally, but every time physically, and I had to stand by and witness so many things. It came to a point where with each new boyfriend my mom would laugh and say to me, “OK, Randie, go ahead and ask them your question.” My question was always, “Will you beat up my mom?” They would always say things like “of course not,” and “I would never,” and they were all liars. I never understood why my mom would laugh. It actually bugged me because as much as I like to find the humor in things (I got that from my mom, which I am thankful for), this wasn’t funny. It wasn’t until this last year that I realized I don’t think she found it funny, I think she was scared as well, but having me ask what I am sure she so badly wanted to, helped her.
Because of the things I had to witness I am on high alert if I hear someone scream a certain way. Movies and TV shows can be tiring to watch with me. I do my homework before hand to see if it seems like things will set me off, or my husband has his hand on the remote to mute things if it looks like a scene might be taking a bad turn. Usually I stick to watching funny and lighthearted things. When I hear a scream I get so angry that I yell, and it is literally so involuntary, but it’s like I feel like I have to fight back, or I have flashbacks. The flashback that I get the most is with my mom and her boyfriend who I considered a dad. He went the longest without hitting my mom: two years, actually. He one time hit her so hard she lost her sight for a half a day. But one night I woke up to them yelling, and I went down to try to calm the situation. He had gotten so drunk he was screaming. He started to hit my mom so hard that she tried to run and he would follow her and lay on her while pounding her. Her screams mixed with my screams of, “Stop!” to this day haunt me. He finally got up and proceeded to rip out all of the phone cords–and of course this was way before cell phones. My mom had enough energy to stand up, beaten and bloody to say, “Go get help,” and she fell at my feet, passed out. I was in my sports shirt-looking nightgown with Garfield on it, and I went running for the door, screaming. I couldn’t open the door because we had a lock at the top of the door that I couldn’t reach. He started walking towards me and I covered myself thinking I was next, but he opened the door for me. I ran screaming for help and no one came out to help. All of a sudden I heard my mom yelling for me to come and ran in and we locked ourselves in her room. He had passed out drunk and the next morning he didn’t even remember what had happened. My mom finally left him…for a time, but later went back for awhile.
Domestic Violence is so common and so stupid. I get there are levels and why people act the way the do, but it is just so awful and no matter what it is not ok! It is not ok to lay your hands on anyone to hurt them, because you can’t control yourself. It is selfish and awful. The damage that it can do to the person, and God forbid if there is a child who can see, are so hurtful, that some damage cannot be undone or acts unseen. These acts of violence can help shape people into people they wouldn’t otherwise be, and speaking from experience it is so very hard to try to forget what you saw, and the healing process is hard. So hard. I didn’t do anything, but yet I saw so much that it has now affected me and, at times when I am having a flashback, that affects my family. The effects dwindle down for generations.
Because of the choices that were made by others, I have memories that will always be there. The effects may get less extreme, but I have to navigate through them to be a better mom for my daughter and wife for my husband, and to give her a better life, and try my absolute hardest to protect her. The work it takes to reverse so much damage is hard, but I know I want to be a healthier person for my family, and it is already getting better, but it will never be perfect. The work will never be done.
Please. If you are in a relationship that is harmful, please get out. Get out as fast as you can for yourself, and if you have kids, for their sakes. You all deserve better.
If you need resources and support you can call the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233