Domestic violence is an issue that is close to my heart because my mother and I were victims of it for many years. I have experienced first-hand the destruction of how domestic violence can destroy relationships and families. However, it is still a pattern of behaviour that is often considered too taboo or not important within society. Its happenings would seem like a foreign world to those not exposed to this brutal act of destruction. The impact of domestic violence goes far beyond physical scars… for those abusive moments can be forgiven in false hope and love, and in order to claim respite, but the experiences never forgotten.
I remember times standing in the back garden shaking in fear. My mother and father were arguing again – being Jamaican my mother could dish out her share of words, but this could do nothing when greeted with a fist, kick or a knife – the neighbours came out and asked if I wanted to come inside their house. I knew if I did so this would give flame to the situation even more than it already was at that point. As if I would have taken some family secret and shared it with the community that didn’t already know what was happening. – Other times my mother would be sprawled across the floor… a punch, a kick, a push and when my father was drunk a scar left on my mother’s arm by a knife.
Many times I hid, other times I tried to protect my mother, which also resulted in myself being a part of the abuse. Sticking by my mother meant that I would often be the victim of domestic violence also. Once some teeth were punched out, another time ridiculed in front of guests. Yes, domestic violence is not just physical abuse, but also mental.
In time I grew immune to the arguments and fear of my father turned to hate. At times I would consider the benefits of suicide and even go so far as to try several methods. However, I loved life too much to follow through and most importantly I didn’t want to leave my mother behind. Other times I thought how I could best bring vengeance to my father. Many scenarios played out in my mind…. but alas I wasn’t about to go to some juvenile prison for him. So, we continued to stand up to him and eventually through collective effort and support we kicked him out.
Then came the after affects like some post-war syndrome. My mother’s self-esteem and love for life lost. We were all left emotionally scared (with some physical for myself), my siblings and I and my mother. We never trusted any man to be with our mother again and this resulted in us being indifferent to anybody that came into our mother’s life. My brother and I vied for male respect and authority. This caused us to clash physically and mentally too often for our mother to bear. The after affects of domestic violence lasted long after my father was gone… and only were buried when my family and I created physical space from each other and I (we) grew old enough to truly comprehend the situation and revisit old wounds.
Even now a piece of my father’s rage and my mother’s quick mouth rise up within me when disturbed and it has taken time, but I have learned to dampen and put to bed those flames through my many experiences (travel, work, friendships made, family) and habits (meditation, wing chun, walking, reading, etc.). My wife and children have been a major part of my transition into the person I am today. And my dear grandparents who showed me love in the darkest of times… I believe if it wasn’t for friends at school and my grandparents when growing up then maybe, just maybe, I might not be here today.
Of course there is more to the story, but it isn’t necessary to share it all. You can understand a lot from a little and there are many more worse cases. Domestic violence is real and its impact can last a lifetime for those directly and indirectly involved. The two charities below do amazing work and I wish I knew about them when I was younger… but then the world wasn’t so tech-savvy and such situations perhaps were thought not to be the meddling of others. Domestic violence is not just a victim’s problem, its ours as a society and something about it must be done when it is spotted. We must give a voice to those silenced!