I thought long and hard about answering this, but here goes. I am answering as a 58 year old woman who witnessed her father hitting her mother as far back as I can remember.
AS FAR BACK AS I CAN REMEMBER!
Those are the relevant words. I have a few other hazy memories of when I was very young. Our dog, Topper. Our cat, Arthur. But over and above all of them, my father hitting my mother. Not just a slap, but knocking her to the floor.
You see, my father drank. When he was sober, he was the nicest man alive. Get alcohol into him, and he turned into a monster.
This went on for years, until I got to an age where I would try to get between them. Then I got it too! Some weeks I couldn’t go to school because the bruises were so bad. One New Years Eve, when I was 15, they came home from a works party, and he started. For once my mother fought back, and I ran out of the house in my nightgown, looking for help, and was lucky enough to run into a passing police car. By the time I got back to the house with the police, there was blood all up the stairs, my kid brother and sister were awake and terrified, and both my mother and father were carted off to hospital, leaving me to deal both with two very scared little kids and to clean up all the mess.
Did it stop after that incident? No, of course not. My father still drank, my mother and I still got battered, until one day a couple of years later.
I was 17, had recently started work, and got home that day to find my mother, sister and brother hiding in the garage. All three of them had punch marks. Yes, my father had been drinking again. My mother begged me not to go into the house, but that day, something in me finally snapped. I marched into the house, and my father came at me. He landed a couple of punches, driving me back into the kitchen, until I backed into the cooker. Without even considering it, I grabbed the handle of a pressure cooker, a hefty bit of kit, and swung it at him as hard as I could.
He hit the deck. Out cold. Turns out I’d broken his jaw in two places. What a shame!
I left him lying on the floor, and went to get my mother, brother and sister. My mother was shocked to see me, and couldn’t believe I’d walked out relatively unscathed, and when I told her what I’d done, she almost ran into the house to see for herself.
My father had started to come round, and was moaning that he needed to go to hospital. My mother said she’d take him, and he rather unsteadily got to his feet. He almost flinched when he looked at me, and that was when the last of my fear of him left me. He was a bully, just a drunken bully, and like all bullies he could be stood up to. I took a step towards him and said, quite calmly ‘If you ever hit any of us again, I will kill you in your sleep.’ He clearly believed I meant it, because he never again raised his fists to any of us.
Years later, talking about it with my mother, I remarked that he must have believed me. My mother gave a little smile and said ‘Not just him. I believed you!’
I guess what I’m saying with this story is, don’t make your son be ME! Don’t make him grow up with memories of his father hitting his mother, don’t put him into the position where he will try to defend you. Once a man starts hitting a woman, it’s a slippery slope. Leave. Or make him leave.
My Husband Slapped Me For The First Time Today
I am absolutely dumbfounded by all the upvotes, and the wonderful comments. I so very nearly didn’t answer this question at all, but now I am very glad I did. I’m not normally one to post deeply personal stuff, as my Facebook friends would attest, but just now and then something in me has to respond.
Times are very different now to when this all took place. The year in which I finally stood up to my father and decided ‘NO MORE’ was 1978. For many women like my mother, there was NO HELP. Families might know that this kind of thing went on, but it wasn’t talked about.
I also want to refute any suggestions that my mother was a weak woman. My mother was trapped. My father was ten years older, and had abused the trust of a young, innocent girl, got her pregnant, and was forced to marry her to escape prison. My mother was 15 when I was born, three months before her sixteenth birthday. They were married two days after her birthday. She had NO CHOICE. Again, these were very different times.
A year after I finally stood up to my father, my grandmother passed away. She left her house to my mother. Finally, my mother had somewhere to go, and she took that chance like a shot. Although my father had never used his fists again, he had resorted to verbal abuse. Some of the things he would say were truly awful, and in it’s own way verbal abuse can be as bad, if not sometimes worse, than physical abuse. I had been offered a job at the other end of the country, and my mother finally having her own place, and an escape, allowed me to pursue my dream. We all moved on. A couple of years after she left my father, my mother met a wonderful man. They were together until he sadly passed away from cancer three years ago. He was a fantastic husband to my mother, a brilliant stepfather, and a fabulous grandfather to my children. He was truly a gentle man, and a gentleman.
I am only 4 ft 10. My father was not a tall man, but the day I stood up to him I wouldn’t have cared if he was 6 ft 10. I wasn’t thinking about anything except ‘This is going to stop’. Seeing my mother, brother and sister cowering in the garage, on a freezing cold day, shivering and too scared to get any warmer clothes was the final straw.
For those who have commented that they have lived through very similar events, I am truly sorry. I DO understand your pain, and the scars, both mental and physical, that it leaves behind. I have sometimes wondered how different my life would have been if none of that had happened, but I finally realise that it has shaped the person I am today, and I LIKE the person I am today. Since that day I have never been afraid to stand my ground, to stand up for what I believe to be right, and to speak up for those too afraid to speak for themselves. I am speaking to those of you now who have similar scars. ’You were a child. It was NOT your fault. ‘
I am compelled once more to add an edit.
Looking at all the upvoters and the people who have commented, one thing has struck me.
This has hit to home so many people, regardless of age, sex, nationality and ethnicity. It shows me that decent people are EVERYWHERE, all over the world, of all creeds and colours.
Thank you, every one of you.