My mum was domestically abused
Daisy shares her experience of witnessing her mum's physical and emotional abuse, and how it impacted her family life growing up.
My name is Daisy and I am nineteen years old. As a child, I witnessed the physical and emotional abuse of my mum at the hands of my dad. For the last few years, I have been campaigning so the voice of young people who witness domestic abuse is heard.
He had control
Control. Not just power, but complete control of my mum’s life. That’s what he had. Even after my mum got a non-molestation order that forced my dad to leave the house. Even after their divorce, he still wielded his control. He used the ‘every-other-weekend’ custody of my sister and I to force his way into our life.
Why doesn’t she leave?
When you hear the words ‘domestic abuse’, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Physical abuse, a wife beater, drunken fights and more often than not: “Why doesn’t she just leave?” It is not that simple. As a child who grew up in this environment, I know that even when my mum built up the incredible strength to leave my Dad, it was not over. It will never be over for us.
I was sheltered
When I was very young my parents separated. I was only made aware a few years ago that it was very messy. I do remember my mum telling me about how my dad would come to the house and sing the song ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’ by Elton John on the doorstep. However, I wasn’t told until recently that my mum had to get a court order to get him to leave the house. I didn’t know why half my toys had been thrown away. Now I know it was because he went around breaking things, smashing glass into our toy box and smearing blood on the walls.
My mum was afraid
My mum applied for a court order, and he lost the full control he thought he had over my family. Mum had had enough of keeping the peace – her own sort of control over him to try to keep him calm and the family safe. We stayed away for a few days while the orders were being issued. When we came home, all I remember is my mum asking my uncle to check the entire house before we went inside. Even the attic. Now I know that was because she was afraid. She couldn’t step foot in her own home in case he was hiding inside, waiting for us.
He found a way back
It didn’t take long for him to find the excuses to let himself in. When he came to collect me and my sister for the weekend, he would get me to answer the door while Mum was cooking. He would make his way to the kitchen, creeping towards my mum until she was backed up against the counter. After this it was agreed that Mum would drop us off at his. He would still come to the car and poke his head in, pretending to do my seat belt up, even when I was old enough to do it myself, just so he could get a chance to get information about a new boyfriend that she had. He would only know she had a new boyfriend because he would quiz me constantly, not even subtly, about what Mum was up to.
I felt responsible
When I was 10 years old, three women stood up to my dad by taking him to court for abuse. One of them was my mum. When I found out that I may never have to see him again, I felt the biggest weight lift off my shoulders. For so many years, I felt responsible for what my mum had been doing before the divorce. She kept the peace when my little sister and I stayed at his house. After the divorce, I found that it was me who was walking on eggshells instead, trying to avoid anything that may stress him out. I would pretend that I wasn’t ill when I felt sick. I knew he would say I was faking, or that “you’re a drama queen, just like your mum”.
He went to prison
My mum fought to get him sentenced for what he had done to her over so many years. He got a four year prison sentence, of which he served two, and three years extra probation under the dangerous offenders legislation. He was released away from our area and was not allowed into our town. This was only a temporary relief, however, because his family still lived in our town so I constantly felt like I had to look over my shoulder.
We moved out of the area to feel safe
His probation ended this year, so to feel safe we moved out of the area. Now I can go to a pub when the football is on. I know that my dad won’t be in there, drunk, trying to pick a fight with anyone who looked at him. My friends were confused, saying, “Why don’t you wait until he does something to you before you move?” What would that something be? This is a man who smashed my mum’s head against the ground while telling her he was going to kill her. He put a plastic bag over her head. He pulled a knife on her while his youngest daughter watched. What would we be waiting for?
I’m afraid he will recognise me
I am nineteen years old now. I’m still afraid when I see a car like the old red one my dad used to drive. I turn my face away when I see a man of a similar build to him. It is not that I am afraid of him in particular – he never did anything to hurt me physically – but I am afraid that he will recognise me even after nearly ten years. What would I do if I saw him in the street? It’s not fair that this man should still have this level of control over our lives. We will never shake our fear of him and what his is capable of.
Are you worried about your partner’s behaviour? Do you feel anxious or unsure? It can sometimes be difficult to spot signs of abuse in your relationship, and know what to do about it.
But what if you could find out how healthy your relationship is? Check out our tool below to understand your relationship dynamic, and what you can do if it’s not as healthy as it should be.
- Women's aid protects women from domestic violence. Call their 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.
- Solace Women's Aid find creative and innovative ways to support thousands of women, children and young people each year from prevention and crisis to recovery and independence.
- Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Updated on 02-Aug-2018
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