Hello Dr. Laura,
I heard a call from a person who was returning to a marriage after experiencing domestic violence. My stomach dropped, and I was taken back to the days and nights I spent in a violent home. From the time I was 5 years old and into my teens, I watched as my father drank himself into a fury and fought with…and beat my mother in front of us kids. Sometimes, it would happen on the lawn in front of our neighbors with our own baseball bats. My brother and I would beg them to stop. We would throw ourselves into the path of the thrown beer cans and, even bricks. We called our grandparents. We called the police. We even called an ambulance on several occasions.
We asked our mother to take us and leave. We even hid in the woods near our house until the wee hours of the morning on more than one occasion. We went to school many times after staying up all night trying to keep our parents apart until my father passed out drunk. We never spoke of it in school for fear of what would happen when my father found out. And, we were embarrassed. I learned to become a very good liar…to convince anyone who would ask that all was OK. This continued for years.
Today, I am 52 years old. And, while I have made a good life for myself, I am still stunned that no one tried to help us. I am still confused my mother never took us out of that situation. We had aunts, uncles and grandparents. Why didn’t they rescue us? I now know they were all concerned with ‘keeping up appearances’ even though many people knew what was happening. Silence kept us in that house for years of abuse. It was terrifying: screaming…tears…blood….broken bones. All kept under wraps right in the light of day. I recently asked my mom about why we didn’t leave. She said there was no place to go…times were ‘different’.
Even to this day, I wish we had left….even to a shelter. We should have left.