Momfession Monday: I Survived Domestic Abuse

No boyfriend ever hit me, ever bullied me. My husband has certainly never raised a hand and barely his voice in the few times we’ve “argued.”

But I can’t say that about my dad. He bullied. He punched. He grabbed. He yelled. He controlled. He manipulated. While my siblings, especially, my brothers, received physical abuse from his hands, I only had two instances of contact. However, his dictator reign had more than enough influence and affect on my life.

My father saved the bulk of his rage for my mother. It was nothing for him to backhand her, to get into yelling matches over the stupidest of things, or to rip off her clothes . . . right in front of me. Of course, none of these actions — and more — are any more noble or any less disgusting if he had acted this way in private. In fact, I can only imagine the horrors of his behavior when absolutely no one was around.

In so many ways, my family’s secret does not fit the stereotype. My father was not an alcoholic; he religiously frowned on anyone who dared take a sip. And by religiously, I mean it. He was seeped in religion and commentaries and sermon preparation. He believed God made him head, ruler of his family, and he could wield that power however he saw fit, which allowed him to indulge his narcissistic and violent urges. My mother feared God would punish her if she ever disobeyed — and my siblings and I were taught the same.

While my dad — for whatever reason — chose to forego making me his punching bag, and even many times doting over me as a favorite, I became the scape goat, per se, for my mother. As I often read, the abused becomes the abuser. She expressed her frustration and hurt at my expense: dragging me down the hall by my hair at age seven, slapping my face so hard and so often my blood vessels burst and her hand imprinted on my face, hurling me into a chair . . . all in the name of discipline. This sampling of events is horrific enough; I can’t even bear to tell you of the vulgar and derragortary verbal abuse.

domestic abuseBut my parents aren’t monsters. It’s true, I swear. That’s the tricky thing about abuse. Abusers are humans who tell funny jokes, cook great dinners, and have a knack for gardening. My dad loved sports; I have heaps of wonderful memories watching games with him. We talked for hours about theology and philosophy and good card playing strategy. My mother played Barbies with me over and over and over again. We loved to laugh together, play the piano, take walks around the neighborhood. I have fun memories of traveling to new places, touring the country in the back of a Toyota Corolla. In their own ways and as best as they knew how, my parents loved me. I absolutely love them.

If you haven’t wondered yet, maybe you are now: Why in God’s name am I sharing this?

To remind you that good qualities and positive expressions of love don’t negate punches of the hand or tongue. That moments of monster should not be categorized as honest mistakes or be easily brushed aside with promises of “never again,” “can’t help it,” or “you made me.” That forgiveness has nothing to do with a free pass or an invitation for more. Abuse is abuse. Abuse is always unacceptable. Abuse repeats and repeats and repeats. Call it what it is.

Abuse wants to smooth over, blur lines, tweak the details, and provide a healthy dose of “it’s not really that bad.” Abuse loves isolation and secrecy and darkness.

So step in the light. That’s how I survived. That’s how I accepted my past, yuck and all, and watched those wounds turn to scars. God wasn’t joking when He said truth will set you free — the truth about Him, the truth about you, and the truth about abuse.

To that little girl turned woman turned mother (maybe it’s you), please know that your story isn’t so unusual. That you are not the only one who’s hurt so deep and for so long. Your past can be sorted and stitched. Sadness and dysfunction do not have to be your future.

To the little girl turned woman turned mother (maybe it’s you), please know that those hurtful comments he makes, those tantrums, those shoves and slaps now and again are not little personal flaws or moments of weakness. It doesn’t matter if he will do better next time, although you know he won’t. Your strength will not be his death sentence. You cannot save him; you are not his savior. Cling to truth every moment of every day. Love doesn’t hurt, not like this.

I survived domestic abuse. You can too.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here