It seems everybody has a story to tell and, to be honest, I didn't realise I did until I was reading through some other blogs this morning. It's not that I don't care about violence. Hell no! It's just that it has never related to me in the first person. Friends, sure. But me? It never happened to me, did it?
I guess, when you are scared of someone in your home, it's a sure sign there has been some kind of violence - seems even now I'm trying to find the words to downplay the situation that was my brothers and mine - no matter how big or small. And, when you're kids, even teenagers, I think you question your own behaviour more than you do the adult involved.
So when my stepfather would hit us, it was because we had deserved it in some way, had we not? It is almost too easy to justify the behaviour of our parents when we have been misbehaving or cheeky or disrespectful. We asked for it. We knew we shouldn't and we did and that was the consequence. And yet it sits so wrong even at a young age when it happens.
For the record, I still believe there is a huge difference in smacking and hitting to the point of abuse so please don't think I am judging anyone who chooses to give their child a smack. Heck, I've been known to do it myself every now and again.
I only remember my father hitting my older brother once. I have been told my older brother copped a few hidings as a youngster but I was either a) not born or b) too young to remember and, considering my father and mother separated when I was four, I'm guessing it was a bit of both. My father never hit me or my younger brother. My mother was aggressive, a venomous spitter of hatred when she was angry. Emotional abuse can cut so deeply. I guess when your plans for a happy little family fall apart, you get bitter and you start blaming.*
And then along came my stepfather. And he has mellowed so much these days that I feel awkward, mean, for even bringing it up. It's in the past. Shouldn't that be where it stays?
He had hit me a few times. And my mother. But I will always remember the times that he hit my brothers. The first my older brother but by far the worst (in my eyes) being when my grandfather - the man who had been our stand in father for so many years. The man we all still adore to this day. The man who made our lives stable - was in hospital and my younger brother had such a fat lip that he couldn't go and visit for fear it would send our grandfather to an early grave.
I don't think my grandfather still knows to this day what happened in that house. I have only seen my grandfather cranky twice. Once when a young smart arse called my grandmother four eyes. My grandfather jumped to her defence so quickly and came out fists in the air ready to have a go with a young man half his age who probably would have put him on the floor. And once at me, when my mother was sick and I was being an absolute rat of a child. He still never hurt me. His anger as he chased me to grab me was enough to scare me. I had never seen him so protective. But those times are what makes me think that, had he known, his protective fight for us would have been strong. I guess the child in me wishes someone had known. Had removed us from those situations. It's hard to be rescued when nobody knows what's going on though.
And I don't know why my mother never left. I don't know what she was thinking. Maybe that she didn't want two failed marriages. Maybe that she wanted a man who would support her financially like my father had when he was there (she had never had to work until they divorced). Maybe she didn't feel she had anywhere she could go. Anyone to turn to for support with three children by her side. Maybe she was embarrassed to tell her parents that she made the wrong decision.
I make excuses for them all the time. For her. For him. I put it in the past. And yet, there are days when I am at breaking point, and I spit venom at my own children (only two occasions in eight years but two too many if you're asking). And I blame them. It is not okay to act this way. It is not okay for our children to believe that they "deserve" it. We are the adults. We are the ones who need to be in control of our situations. We are the ones that need to teach our children that NO person in their lives should treat them this way. There are no justified excuses for this behaviour.
So when people say to me "They did the best they could." You could forgive me for wondering if that was enough. It wasn't. It wasn't for me then and it isn't now.
IT IS NOT OKAY!!!
November 25th is White Ribbon Day so I'm joining up with Wanderlust to Speak Out. Today!
And I don't know how long this post will be around so forgive me if I get cold feet and take it down. It's hard when it's not just your story to tell and you're dragging other people through the mud with you, especially when it's family. You know?**
*There's a lot more to her personality but for this story, it doesn't change things. She has always been this way.
**And for those that know my family, I would be grateful if we left it here.