My Dad was an amazing dad, sometimes, when we were out with all his friends and their families. But at other times, he was the scariest person I knew. I figured out there was something wrong with my family when I was about 9 years old. I went to play at a friend’s house and when her dad came home from work, he hugged and kissed her mom, and my friend ran to him and was also hugged and kissed. Then they all had a discussion about what happened in their day. He even wanted to know how my day went. After my first visit, I thought that they were putting on a show for me, but every time I visited, and I went there a lot, it was the same thing. I also noticed that her mom was always singing while she did stuff around the house. None of this ever happened at my house.
This is what happened at my house…mom would laugh and play with us when our dad was not at home. Then close to the time when he’d be home, mom got very agitated and would rush us to get things ready for dad to come home. Everything would always have to be just perfect. Mom would also remind us that when dad got home we needed to be very quiet, no music or TV unless dad wanted music or TV, and after we said hello we should all go to our rooms and be very quiet.
Sometimes dad would come home and he would be in a good mood and laugh and talk to mom. Not that the good mood was permanent because it could change at any given moment and without explanation. Then there were the other times, which seemed to happen more frequently than the ‘good mood times’ when dad would get home and you could tell he was in a bad mood as soon as he closed the front door. He would close the front door so hard it felt as if the house shook. My little brother would immediately go either under my bed or n my closet to hide, and I would and lock my bedroom door as mom instructed for these occasions. My little brother and I would cover our ears and try not to hear what was happening to our mom, but it was hard not to hear and hard not to cry from fear and to keep my brother quiet at the same time.
Mom would always scream that she was sorry and that she’d do a better job next time as my dad hurt her over and over. She would beg him to stop hurting her, and ask for another chance to prove that she could do a better job. I could hear when he threw her against the wall, I could hear all the stuff breaking and moms cries and screams. I could hear all the mean things he said and the names he called her. Once I even heard when he told her that he was going to kill her and all of us.
When mom was silent, he would storm down the hallway looking for us. But I always kept my door locked and I pushed furniture behind for added protection. (I’d seen that in one of the movies I watched at my friend’s house and decided to do it from then on) Dad would call our names and I always hugged my little brother and covered his mouth with my hand just in case he answered or made any other sound. Then we’d wait like that until we heard mom come towards our room telling dad to leave us alone because it wasn’t our fault. It always takes a lot of convincing and mom being hurt some more before dad walked away from my bedroom door. When he left, mom would whisper to us that it was okay, but that we should stay in the room and keep the door locked.
This kind of thing had gone on for as long as I can remember. The next morning, mom’s face would be bruised and her eyes and mouth would be swollen. She would always tell me that she was fine and that dad didn’t mean to hurt her it’s just that he had such a difficult and stressful job that sometimes he just needed to let off steam. I loved my dad when he was in a good mood, but when he wasn’t in a good mood I was afraid of him. Afraid of what he might do to my mom and my brother and myself and then I hated him. I would imagine what it would be like when I was bigger and I didn’t have to hide from him anymore, instead, I would calmly wait for him to come home and if he started hurting my mom I would beat him up. I would break all the dishes on him and hit him with all the things he uses to hit my mom. I would not let him get away with hurting her anymore.
When I was 10 years old, I came out of my room during one of his episodes and yelled at him to stop hurting my mother. I called him a combination of all the names I’d heard him call mom. I used the same swear words he used at mom. At first he turned around and didn’t do anything, then he came after me. As he stepped over mom she grabbed him by the foot and kept screaming at me to run. He caught me anyway and hit me over my back, stomach and legs over and over and over, as mom jumped on him and tried to get him away from me. He finally stopped and left the house. Mom helped me back to my room and put me in bed. The next day I couldn’t go to school I was so bruised and in pain I could hardly move. I now understood how mom felt the day after the beatings. Mom and I spent the whole day together. She looked very worried and kept checking on me constantly and asking me what and where hurt. I was in so much pain I didn’t even enjoy staying home from school.
When I was almost 12 years old I vowed to myself that the next time my dad hurt my mom I was going to call the police. I wanted him to be out of our lives. I’m not sure why my mom didn’t do anything or tell anyone, and she always told me not to say anything because if dad found out he’d be very angry. But I wanted to say something, I wanted it to stop and I wanted to not be scared anymore. I wanted to feel the way I did when I played at my friend’s house. I know my mom said not to tell anyone, but I told my friend and she said that if I call the police they would take my dad away because what he was doing was wrong. So we made our plan…I had to wait until I felt strong and brave. The plan was that I would leave the house through my bedroom window, run down the street and use the pay phone on the corner to call the police. I would take my brother with me so he didn’t have to be scared by himself.
About a month after we made the plan, my dad came home and slammed the door then started yelling at my mom. I locked and barricaded my bedroom door then opened my bedroom window and climbed out then helped my brother to climb out. We ran down the street to the corner when the pay phone was and I picked it up and dialled 911. I was so scared, I didn’t realize I was crying until the woman that answered the 911 line and I tried to tell her my dad was hurting my mom. I could hardly get the words out around my sobbing. It felt like it took forever to tell her what was happening and my name and address. She told me that the police would come to help me soon and to go to a neighbour’s house and wait there for them.
That was the longest night ever…the police came…the ambulance came…I could see them through the neighbour’s window. I waited for what seemed like forever and then they finally came out with my dad and put him in the police car. The police came to my neighbour’s and told me that I did a very brave thing and took me to my mom. The paramedics were taking care of my mom when we got to the house and one of them was telling her of this place that she could go to be safe and away from my dad. My mom said she would like to go there. We packed a bag each, I made sure I remembered to get my brothers special blanket and teddy bear so he wouldn’t be too sad.
We climbed into the back of the ambulance and I looked out the back window as our house got smaller and smaller…on our way to start a new life.