“I ended up locking myself in the bathroom. I knew what was next. Dad kicked down the door. Long story short, I had to wear pants and long sleeve shirts for the next week…”
I was a rough and tumble, wild, and free-spirited little girl who always had scraped elbows and knees. I was in constant need of a Band-Aid. So when my bruised arms, cheeks, back, and bottom began to show up, no one really noticed or questioned it. No one would have guessed that I was experiencing my own form of police brutality at the hands of my father. This man who was supposed to “protect and serve”.
At 5 years old I became an expert liar.
I knew that if I told anyone that my Dad was abusing us that I would never see him again. I was always prepared if anyone ever asked where my bruises came from, “Oh I was climbing the tree and fell”, “We were wrestling”, or “I went on an adventure in the woods behind my house”.
I don’t remember what life was like when we were a family of 5 living in the same house, besides that my family was well known in the community because my Grandfather was Mayor, and my Dad was a big deal at the Police Department and had just joined the Army. I do however remember living in a one-bedroom apartment with my Mom, older sister & brother while in the midst of my parents divorce. I was four years old. I couldn’t sleep at night; I would always have a “tummy ache” which was my way of expressing that my heart was hurting. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t live with Dad anymore. All I knew was that I wanted my Dad. My parent’s divorce finalized when I was 5 years old, not too long after that is when my Dad became physically abusive.
My new normal
I began to think that this was normal, that this is what happened when you didn’t listen the first time. I thought that we were just bad kids. I knew when I had done something wrong, Dad would go to the garage for the 2×4 that he often used to beat us with. I would be so angry with myself for making mistakes. My siblings and I learned the hard way that we couldn’t protect each other because he would turn his wrath on whichever one of us tried to stop him. “You’re next!”
When I was 7 years old, Dad had asked me to put the dishes away and my brother had come in to tell me Dad told him to help too. I told him that I didn’t need help, but thanks anyways. He went and told my Dad what I had said and when he rounded the corner of the kitchen, I knew I was in trouble. I ended up locking myself in the bathroom. I knew what was next. Dad kicked down the door and, long story short, I had to wear pants and long sleeve shirts for the next week. My brother wasn’t too lucky though, he tried to stop Dad and he ended up in the Hospital that night. This was the first time that anyone started to put together the pieces and asking questions.
Fear for what would happen now…
I was afraid I would get in trouble for not saying anything, that my Dad would get in trouble and I wouldn’t see him again. I was afraid that they would take me away from my Mom, and that she would get in trouble for not saying anything. So I lied, we all lied. When questioned by the Police (who worked with my dad) I lied through my teeth, I told them that it wasn’t what it seemed, that it was an accident, that it wasn’t my Dads fault. I thought that because I lied for my Dad that it would stop the abuse. I was wrong; it only got worse.
My sister and brother ended up moving in with my Dad not too long after this. I didn’t want to leave my mom alone, so I stayed with her. My Dad’s abusive behavior finally stopped when I was 12 years old. My brother had to be transported to the hospital again, he tried to stop my Dad from beating our sister. After the police were called, Dad received a slap on the wrist and nothing happened to him. However, the abuse stopped.
I stopped going over to my Dads all together, I was angry that he didn’t get in trouble. That because of his position in the Police department & who his father was nothing would happen to him. I resented him for all the pain he caused. I didn’t care if I never saw him again. I lied to all my friends about my family, because I didn’t want them to know what my life was really like.
I was 15 when my Dad was deployed for Iraq for 16 months. The day before he left, I showed up to tell him I didn’t care if he came back alive. I left so angry with him, and my family for just sitting by and letting everything happen. I was mad that they could sit there and throw a party in his honor. There was nothing honorable about him in my mind.
Six months after my Dad left on his deployment, I met some Lovelies that helped me walk through all my hurt. They helped me see that I didn’t have to be angry anymore, and that I didn’t have to let anger run my life. They showed me that I didn’t have to live my life in fear of what people would think of my family. The most important thing I learned was that I wasn’t broken; that people could love me and I could love them.