This post was submitted anonymously.
“He’s been rolling in the f*cking mud you stupid tw*t!”
I was desperately trying to stop him from continuing to hurt the family dog who had made the mistake of simply being a dog and rolling in the mud during a walk. It had made him angry because now the dog would require cleaning up and so he took it out on him. Our dog was so frightened and cowering in the corner of the shower and I was yelling at him to stop, and as I’d had the nerve to stand up to him this was what was being screamed in my face.
I left for a few hours. I couldn’t stay to witness what was going on and I was frightened. I don’t know what happened after I had gone, but when I returned the dog was simply sitting and staring into space. It took him a few day to recover.
I will never, ever, forgive myself for doing nothing that day.
When adverts appear on the TV that focus on child abuse, the children that are depicted are often dirty, malnourished and looking extremely unhappy. My sisters and I weren’t any of these things. We were raised in a large house in the suburbs of a small town. We were well fed and clean, we participated in lots of activities, we were doing well at school. My father, as well as having a full-time job, was a local politician and head of our school governing board. My mother was a PA. It was a quintessential 2.4 family that those on the outside looking in would deem to be a great team.
I didn’t tell a single person the truth about what my life was really like until I was about 19 years old.
My father was a nasty, vicious bully with a violent temper, and he liked to show this with his fists and feet. To my knowledge, he never hit my mother, but he more than made up for it on my sisters and I, and the family pets. He and my mother were in a desperately unhappy marriage, and he blamed us for being in debt, being tired all the time and having no life of his own. He never wanted three children to begin with, that was my mother’s idea, and as we grew older his aggression increased. Repeated smacks on the back of the legs developed into punches in the arm and head and kicks in the bottom and stomach. He would beat the family dog, a beagle at the time, with the pole of the vacuum cleaner if she stole food, once hitting her so hard that he damaged ligaments in her leg and she needed vet treatment. I was called names like ‘b*stard’ and ‘tw*t’ if he felt I had done something wrong. I accidentally slapped him in the face once – it certainly wasn’t intentional – and all I remember was hanging onto the door as he repeatedly punched me in the shoulder so hard that I thought I was going to pass out. It was impossible to predict when this would happen – sometimes he would fly into a rage over nothing and sometimes it would be a prolonged state of anger that would last for several days.
My school found out what he was doing after he attacked my sister and contacted social services. He was placed on a register for a few years. Instead of changing his attitude, he simply kept her off school the next time he did it and threatened her that if she told anyone she would leave. We kept quiet, we didn’t want him to go.
I never told anyone because, to me, this level of violence was normal. He hit us. My sisters and I hit each other. I was used to the sick feeling in my stomach that I would get when I knew something was going to happen. I was being severely bullied at school and would return home to be severely bullied by my family. I blamed myself, and I blamed my youngest sister for the situation, as she had started to rebel and get into trouble, which made his anger worse. I was so stressed that I would have random nosebleeds on my way to school.
The ironic thing is that as I became a late teenager, he and I became friends. I was too old for him to regularly beat me, and we developed the strongest bond out of any relationship within our family. When I moved away to university, he would come and visit me and we would spend the day in various music shops and eating lunch at the pub. I would ring him when he was at work to say hello. I enjoyed his company.
During the summer holidays a year later it emerged that he had been having an affair with the mother of my sister’s friend for a number of years, and so my mother kicked him out. For a while, I defended him, until he rang and threatened me, telling me “you know what will happen” when his new partner lied and said I had been to her house. I hadn’t, but that was the turning point. Despite developing a friendship, nothing had changed. He was still the bully I had grown up with, ready to lash out if he disagreed with a situation.
Enough was enough. I told him never to speak to me again, and that from this point on we were no longer related. I started to talk about what I had been through to close friends. When I told my oldest friend, who had stayed over at my house many times as a teenager, she cried.
I stuck to my guns. I refused to have any contact with him. On my 21st birthday he sent me a cheque for £25 and a letter explaining how the situation was my fault. A month later, on Christmas Day, he arrived at the family home and attacked me by grabbing me by the throat because I told him I didn’t want a present from him. My sister pulled him off me, hitting him so hard across the face that she knocked his glasses off.
I called the police, who cautioned him. Of course, in his opinion it as all my fault. Something changed in me. I realised that it wasn’t my fault. None of it was, and this sort of life was not normal. I haven’t seen him since, and that was 13 years ago. For a while, it destroyed me – my family broke apart and for the last decade I have had to fight for everything solely on my own. It’s been tough but it has been absolutely worth it – what’s mine is mine alone and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved.
I’m at peace with everything that happened. I haven’t forgiven, and I haven’t forgotten, but I have been able to assure myself that nobody will ever lay another finger on me ever again. There will never be another day where I will stand back and do nothing.