Every year in October there is a focus on domestic violence. I listen to stories of survival, most of the time women with children, and their horrific experiences. I wonder why we only hear about these stories in October?
Frightened Little Boy
I grew up in the “South City,” if you’re from St. Louis you know exactly where that is. If you’re not from St. Louis, the South City is a suburban neighborhood near the famous Anheuser Bush Brewery, everybody knows that name! Other than the brewery there wasn’t anything special about my neighborhood, in fact, most of my memories are of a frightened little boy who grew up working hard to forgive my parents for the abuse that was in my home year-round.
My mom was a hairdresser and my dad, who was a Marine, he worked at the GM plant and eventually retired from Monsanto. Dad was an alcoholic and extremely abusive to his family.
My first memory was at four years old. I remember covering my head with my pillow trying to drown out the sound of dad hitting my mom. The next morning mom had two black eyes and a bloody lip. She would gather up my sister and me and take us to our grandparent’s house where we would stay for a couple of days, maybe a week and then we’d return home. This cycle would repeat itself for years.
You see my mom, not unlike many abused women, wanted to make her marriage work. My dad would apologize and promise it would not happen again, and she would believe him. The reality was, he not only continued to abuse her, he began abusing me too.
Not My Choice
I spent most of my youth walking on egg shells. I was just a little boy, yet I was tasked with keeping my brother and sister safe. My grandparents would constantly remind me to “take care of your brother and sister and be a good boy.” I got really good at assessing my surroundings and making sure not to do anything that might provoke my father to anger because if he got mad we all got beat.
Needless to say my childhood, in that quiet suburban South City neighborhood was anything but quiet behind closed doors. I lived in fear of my dad. My time at school was spent tired and scared because I’d been awake most of the night before. I made myself sick with worry we might go back there when mom picked us up. Many times I wished that someone (a teacher, neighbor, pastor, family member) would notice or help, but no one did so I had to learn to handle my circumstances to survive.
Make A Different Life
If you are living with abuse I implore you to make a different choice for yourself and your children. There are many resources today for women to help transition out of an abusive home, use them-make the call! If not for yourself, for the sake and wellbeing of your children. I know, I’ve been there.