A testimony from a survivor of domestic abuse:
I come from an abusive background where not only the children in the family but also my mother were frequently beaten by my drunken stepfather. To the outside, we were a dysfunctional family but not a violent one. This image was carefully managed by my parents.
This post will come from the heart and from the hard school of experiencing this day-to-day until I reached a point when I was big enough to fight back. I remember the fear, the pain and the negative anticipation of waiting for the beating and the sorrow and depression that I felt watching my mother being beaten and bleeding. I can still remember the smell of alcohol, the smell of cigarette smoke and the relief when he finally fell asleep. My mother was a strong woman who kept the family together. My stepfather was a weak man who found courage through in a bottle and used this courage to make my mother pay for “dominating” him and “making him less of a man”.
I remember clearly the tension that existed in our house, tension that could explode at any moment between me and my siblings or my parents. The first time I saw my stepfather hit my mother, it was after he had been drinking at lunchtime and came back and found the sunday lunch she had cooked not to his liking. I remember the hand flying across the table and my mother collapsing back in a heap, closely followed by the plate of food. We, as children were terrified especially when he shouted that we would be next if we ever told anyone. This scene was repeated over and over and we became accustomed to seeing my mother with bruises but never where they might be seen publicly.
This went on until my mother broke his arm with a poker after snapping one day. The sheer hell of living like this is indescribable. How did it affect me long-term? I developed a over-exaggerated protective nature for women, I did not relate easily to men purely because I didn’t trust them. I know my character was moulded due to my experiences in my family.
Domestic violence is often associated to physical and sexual abuse but emotional abuse is equal in destructive potential. If you recognize the list below as daily life, research more on domestic violence.
1. You are purposefully embarrassed, diminished or ignored in front of others.
2. You are selfish when you don’t give in to the other’s demands and wonderful when you do.
3. You are showered with gifts or love after arguments.
4. The abuser consistently points out his/her good qualities as to convince you they are better than their behavior shows.
5. When the other is angry at you, you are verbally insulted or physically/sexually intimidated.
6. You are always made out as the one who misunderstands.
7. You are lied to and/or made to look as though you were the one who lied.
8. You systematically begin to lose friends, family, maybe your job and become isolated and financially dependent.
9. Guilt oozes from your pores.
10. You feel you have no way out and worse, nowhere to go.