Having to wake up to your mother yelling your name and being dragged by her hair from one side of the house to the other, and all you can think is save her! That’s what I did for so long I saved her. I do not know when I learned to dial 911, but the knowledge of how to dial 911 was an essential part of my childhood. How did she survive before me? Maybe he got tired, maybe he saw her face swell to an unrecognizable person, or maybe the blood was so slippery a hit wasn’t a bullseye anymore. I do not know however, I do know what it feels like to wake up to your mother yelling for you to save her. How could I save her? I was a skinny little girl, no older than 8 years old how could she call on me to save her?
“April, April”, I jolt awake as I hear someone yelling my name. Where am I? I’m in bed, I jump and see my baby sister sitting up wide awake and scared with tears in her eyes. “April, April”, my mom screams, I know that voice now I hear it so often. I run to my mother, her screams come from the hall; I pull my door open, but it’s locked as usual. I unlock it and pull it open to see my mom with her face bloodied and swollen, getting pulled by her hair. When her eyes meet mine and she yells to me “call the cops April call 911”!! I slam the door, and get my sister who is only about 6 and tell her we have to go for a run, she is crying scared out of her mind. I pull her to the window and put her out, “Stay there Bobbie” I say as I climb out myself, my door slams open and it’s him, but I’m out of the window and I take my baby sister and we run.
It was just a dream April, just a dream, I wake from a deep dark sleep, with chills. He’s not here and he’s never coming for me again! I am not a little girl anymore so scared and easy to bully, I am a woman! Is what I have to tell myself since these dreams are so frequent and even though I am grown they make me feel as if I am still a child with his grip at my throat. Now I can’t go back to sleep knowing that I will just go back there back to that place where I was scared for my mother who would never fight back. Back to my room, back to a place where as a child you should feel safe in your home, but I never felt safe, it was never in a happy home.
I always said that when I got older I would find someone to treat me with love and respect, someone who would never hurt me. But little did I know that I would fall in love with someone who would turn my love into a prison. I met him when I was just 13, I should have seen the signs then but I didn’t know what they were. Maybe had I known what signs to look for or how I should be loved I wouldn’t have followed the same path as my mother. According to newhopeforwomen.org, a website that shines light on domestic abuse, states some red flags to look for are:
1. Act extremely jealous and/or possessive
2. Treat you with disrespect and put you down
3. Put down your goals/ideas, friends and family
4. Make you feel like you are walking on eggshells
5. Play mind games or make you feel guilty
The abuse from my ex started small and eventually ended in actual violence and death threats. One would expect that a smart person would just pack up and leave, but it was not that easy. I had two babies, a job, a car, bills, and the thought of nowhere to go, even though I did have my family to turn to having to rely on them was too hard for me to do. One day while on a family fishing trip, he was in a horrific mood and we followed behind his parents, he turned and looked at me with such hatred and said, “I’m so embarrassed to be with you, I don’t even know why I’m with you? You disgust me, you are so ugly!” Of course my feelings were hurt, but this was not the first time he put me down, my low self-esteem is something I still have to deal with on a daily basis because of his abuse. I simply said with tears streaming down my face, “When we get to the lake you can stay, I am taking the kids and going back home”. He grabbed my arm so tight that I could actually see his forearm muscles flex and whispered viciously into my ear, I could hear the venom in his words, “If you embarrass me, I will kill you and no one will ever find your body”. As a warm salty tear dripped down my nose, I thought to myself I really believed there was nothing that he could say that would shock me, but this, this scared me to death, not the fear of dying I would welcome that, but the fear that my children would be left with him I could never let that happen. When we finally arrived to the lake I put my sunglasses on to hide my puffy red eyes and put on my fake smile as I pretended as if the world was a rainbow. Unfortunately, these incidents were way too frequent and so much happened in front of our kids that I am truly frightened of the after effects that could resonate in their innermost selves. Safehorizon.org a website that fights to end domestic violence states:
1. Girls without help who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults
2. Boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults
My kids were ages four and six when I finally left him, I was scared of what he would do but I had to do it for my babies. I have never been strong, walking away was the easy part but staying away was the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. I have had to undergo therapy and found ways to positively deal with stress, like going to a gym, writing, and sketching. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% okay or if I will ever be able to trust anyone again, but I take things day by day. As every mother I have my stresses and worries about how my children will fare as adults, knowing all they have endured before the age of four scares me to death. What will they become? Will my son become an abuser? Will my daughter become a victim? How can I prevent these things from becoming real life? All these fears for my children, innocent babies who never deserved any of this, I love them. I spend all of my free time with them, they are the reason I was put on this Earth, they are my reason for breathing, and I will fight tooth and nail before I let them become me or their father. I see their hearts and know that if I teach them and love them and get them any help they need they will be okay. In the end it’s about stopping this horrible cycle and I will stop it for them!
If you or anyone yo may know is experiencing domestic violence/abuse please remember you are not alone and there are resources and people out there to help. Please take a second to visit:
National Domestic Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) (24 hour hotline)
or http://www.feminist.org/911/crisis.html for a list of other resources