The shattered glass surrounded her body as my sister and I screamed. At first, I thought she wasn’t going to get up. My stepfather looked shocked as he reached down to grab her…to pull her up from the glass. He looked sorry, like he didn’t mean for things to get out of hand. My mother sobbed, and he apologized over and over again as he tended to her wounds.
Scenes like this were normal around my house. My mother was a fighter. Unfortunately, my stepfather was, too. Their relationship was volatile. Every time my mother thought he was talking to another woman, she would fly off the handle and hit him. Eventually, he always hit back. I remember feeling horror as I screamed for them to stop so no one would get hurt.
Believe it or not, in the midst of the horrible incidents, there were what we used to consider semi-humorous times…times when my mother would tie my stepfather up so he couldn’t get away and told us to find something so she could do it with. None of that seemed abnormal to me. I thought everyone lived like this.
Sadly, too many children are experiencing things like this on a daily basis. Although my mother and stepfather fought like cats and dogs, I never thought of it as domestic violence. Until today. To me, domestic violence was what I went through when I got older…where it’s not a fight between two equals…where you get whaled on without having a chance to fight back. Until today, I didn’t realize that maybe I found myself in the situation that I was trying to avoid because of what I saw my mother and my stepfather go through.
Children live what they see. My mother never told me not to find a man who didn’t hit me. As I grew up, I was able to realize that something was wrong with the scenarios that played out around our house. But over the years, I never thought about it. I put it to the side—until I found myself at the end of a fist. Even when I was trying to decide whether or not I was going to stay with my then-boyfriend, I didn’t think about what I saw as a kid. But it must have been there. It had to be in my subconscious, playing with me, toying with my memories, but lying dormant. Until today.
Today, I was finally able to put the pieces together. Today, I was able to realize that I am a product of what I saw. Today, I am thankful that I did not repeat the cycle. Today, I’m thankful that someone told me to get out after that first hit.
If you have children, please think about what they are seeing. The things that they’re witnessing will stick with them long after you’re gone, so please make it good.