Friday, April 3, 2015

Domestic Violence: When It Happens In Your Family

12.7 million people are 
physically abused, 
raped or stalked 
by their partners
 in one year. 

That's approximately
 the population of 
New York & Los Angeles

That's 24 people 
every minute. 

facts via

Thursday, July 29th, 1993

names have been omitted in this post 

this post contains some language


“Plate With Ripe Cherries” by Apolonia 

Ooh, child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh, child
Things'll be brighter
Ooh, child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh, child
Things'll be brighter
Some day, yeah
We'll put it together
And we'll get it undone
Some day when your head
Is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the
Rays of a beautiful sun
Some day when the world
Is much brighter
La la la la la…..

lyrics Ooh Child by Dino 

It was a typical night at home for my family growing up… it was summer, school was out and everyone was scattered, trying to stay out from under the radar and keep quiet. My mother was in my parents bedroom where she often stayed in the latter part of the evenings watching Seinfeld or reading her subscriptions of Southern Living magazine. She, likely from the stress of an unhealthy marriage and at the time undiagnosed celiac disease suffered from several autoimmune diseases… and would often retreat to bed. My two younger sisters were in the den curled up on the dark navy couch just outside my bedroom watching something on t.v., probably a favorite movie of my youngest sister's like All Dogs Go To Heaven. I was holed up in my blue and white Laura Ashley bedroom listening to a 90's mix of music as low as I could and still hear the lyrics with my door shut but not completely… just pushed enough to look like at first glance it was closed but in reality there was just enough of a crack to still hear what was happening in the rest of the house. Throughout my childhood I had always felt the need to be within earshot of what was happening in the rest of the house. My father was in the storage room where he'd set up a work table and spent most nights repairing frames for customers… hand mixing clay to replicate the engraved frames clients brought in that had become damaged due to time and neglect. Then he would begin the tedious process once they dried to match the finish to what already existed, spraying or hand painting it on, finishing with a clear coat of gloss.

But soon my sisters movie ended, the credits rolled and I heard them stirring to get up and get ready for bed. The den was cloaked in paneling that had never been painted white much to my mother's chagrin… it screamed of the original brown wood, of masculinity and was lined with shelves overhead of my entire collection of Nancy Drew books. Most families dens would contain a wall or two of cherished family photos… but not ours. Photos were absent in our house. The paneled walls in the den were covered in antique war posters our father collected. It was fitting… there was an unspoken war in our home. Along one wall caddy corner to the couch was a long slick maple table decorated with my mother's collection of scottie dog figurines… big and small black dogs adorned with sweet plaid ribbons round their necks stood at attention on the table along with a ceramic decorative bowl of plastic shiny cherries… a piece my mother had purchased from a Mary Englebriet collection at a Hallmark store.

It was when I heard some laughing between my two younger siblings and then a crash that I paused my music to listen. It sounded like pebbles that had been released all over the floor… what was that? I wondered and it was then that I heard the angry male footsteps coming. Oh no… I got up from my blue floral bedspread and walked to my door. Opening it halfway, I looked out. There was my younger, middle sister, eleven, with a pale expression on her face kneeling down hurriedly picking up the scattered cherries one by one. In one hand she had the bowl still miraculously intact… and was meekly placing the cherries back into it. She looked up as he came romping in mad as heck and he roared at her…  What the hell had she done? What had she broken? What was all the noise about? Rapid questions were fired and without any chance of sputtering out a coherent answer, she fled to her bedroom she shared with our youngest sister. He followed her through the living room with it's exquisite art and fine antiques, his heavy tread resounding on the wood flooring… and then down the hallway past the little antique wood stand the phone rested on… into the bedroom after her.

An expletive ran through my mind as I had knelt down to finish picking up the wayward cherries on the floor and it was when I heard my sisters panicked screams from her pink floral bedroom I raced through the house after him…

I nearly collided with my mother in the hallway who flew out of my parents bedroom, the door slamming open, her with a bewildered expression on her face… dressed in a pale blue and white pajama set and her hair in a chin length blonde bob she spoke "What the hell is going on?!" She demanded.

From down the hall I can hear my younger sister screaming:

 "It was an accident! I didn't mean to do it!"

"She accidentally knocked over your bowl of cherries in the den. Nothing is broken. He's out of his mind." I told her over my shoulder and continued down the hall toward the lit room. Upon standing in the doorway of the bedroom… on the far side of the room sat my sister, trapped in the corner on her bed trying to fend off him beating her, leaving bright red whelps on her arm and screaming like an unhinged psycho. She kept screaming "Stop it! Stop it! I didn't mean to knock it over!" Tears ran down her red-tinged face as she tried to protect herself with one arm raised… she continued to try to scramble further away from him into the corner but there was nowhere to go… she was essentially trapped.

My youngest sister was in her bed, her blonde brown hair and face peeking out from her pretty bedding with tears escaping telling him to stop but her plaintive cries like that of a baby lamb were barely heard over the chaotic fray.

My mother past me as I entered and strode up to him, screaming for him to stop hitting my sister. He turned to face my mother, his face angry and dark, boiling with fury that he was being called out on his behavior, on what he deemed appropriate discipline… in his mind she was overstepping her boundaries.

"You stop it right now!" She exclaimed.

He shoved her, causing her to stumble back slightly but she caught her balance. She didn't back down.  I stood absolutely shocked as she pushed him right back and yelled "Don't push me! Get out of here! Right now! GET OUT!" She screamed.

He stood there, every muscle on his face flinching like he was trying to determine how far he should go, how much he could push her. I knew if he pushed her again she'd land on the floor next time. I made the choice for him right then.

I had slowly backed down the hallway and rested my hand on the phone.

I now picked up the cordless phone and stepped in the doorway.

"You get out!"I snapped "Right now!" I told him "Or I swear I'll call the cops and have them come pick your ass up." I threatened him, trying to steady my voice… I never cursed… I would have gotten my butt whipped if I ever did, but I did that moment to let him know how serious I was. My entire body was trembling like a leaf… At sixteen it was the first time I'd gone up against my dad and set a boundary yet I knew he could snatch the phone from me in a nano-second if he wanted.

He stood there, glaring daggers at me. I glared right back. He looked around at all of us one by one… he knew he was outnumbered, he knew he was done. It was clear. His rage and abuse for one night was over. With a huff and flared nostrils he turned on angry feet and stormed out of the room, down the hall and from his dresser top I heard him snatch up his car keys. Seconds later I heard the front door slam shut and then tires squealing down the driveway into the summer night. He had left without a word. At least for the night. He'd be back. Now all we could hear were my sister's both sniffling…my mother fetched ice for my sister's arm and tissues for her tears and I was left shaking…  my mother's rant was heard throughout the house about him as she grabbed supplies… I was half hoping he wouldn't come back… and yet if he had to return, I hoped only as a better person.


There is no excuse for abuse… 
domestic or any kind. 
You can take the pledge here 
as I did and say No More. 

Some may ask: 

"Why don't you leave?"
"Why don't you get out?"

There are many reasons why people in domestic violent relationships don't get out or feel they can. Let's say hypothetically your abuser has a "connection"… you'd likely feel stripped of choices, you'd feel trapped… maybe your father tells your mother anytime someone pisses him off: "All it would take is one phone call to have their kneecaps busted or their head blown off"… you would probably think twice about getting out, right? You'd probably acquiesce, back down. You probably wouldn't risk leaving until his "connection" died. 

But even if your abuser doesn't have a "connection"... An abuser is a constant threat of his own accord, as he (or she) uses threats as consistent bullying tactics of intimidation and control... keeping their target fearful and under their reign. If you're getting beat to a pulp it only stands to reason that you'd fear worse retribution if you left.

As many of us know protective orders are a worthless piece of paper. People don't stay in a domestic violent relationship because they want to. They stay because they are terrified of the alternative… of not being alive to enjoy the rest of their life… not being alive for their kids and risking their children ending up with some psycho or in foster care… because child protective services are not always adept and may make situations worse instead of better. And the one wanting out? They aren't big enough, strong enough to squash the toxic little roach their with… so they remain stuck… waffling between wanting the one their with to die or even themselves because their so miserable…  like a light that slowly fades out over time and with that light so does perhaps their hope of ever getting out. It's no hell anyone should have to live in. It's a prison. And if you're blessed enough to get out once you don't ever want to risk getting in it again.

Let's join together in saying no more to domestic violence… to domestic abuse of any kind.

Whether you're the abuser or the abused it's time to get help.

Because no one should have to live in despair.

God wants so much more for you.

© ~ 2015