Sometimes changing the environment can make all the difference in the world

Hard facts and research data often cannot replace a true account of what someone has been through personally. We have asked those who have experienced abuse situations to come forward, anonymously, and share their story with us. Through the coming weeks, we will be focusing on a series of these personal accounts. Our second story is about a little girl that lived in a family ridden with alcoholism and domestic abuse.

“My father and I never really got along. I wouldn’t say that he was a monster, but he certainly had his moments. Those moments loomed over the family throughout my childhood. Both of my parents drank quite heavily; my father out of pure alcoholism and my mother simply to escape the situation with my father. She was a kind woman, always looking out for those around her; whether this was family, friends, or even the animals…she was gentle and very sensitive. My father, on the contrary, was rough and often quite rude. He was a “macho man”. He used to tell my mother that she was not allowed out of the house or harm would come to her. She did not know better at the time, as it was a new area for her, and so she believed him and lived the first few years in their new home in fear of the outside world. My father was raised quite poor and the manners in his family showed this as well. He was brought up with the old-fashioned views that women were second-class citizens and worth only half of what a man was. He was beaten by his father and there was constant abuse in his household, both physical and verbal. My father believed that he was a good man and was often blind to the abuse he inflicted on us.

When I was a little girl, it was made clear to me that I was not the preferred sex. My father would tell me that I was “stupid because you are a woman and women will never amount to anything without a man”. This was told to me over and over again. However, strangely enough, when my father brought over his friends or would take me out on trips, he always told people how lovely I was and how smart and beautiful I was. It made no sense to me at all. Did he like me or not? Was I stupid or smart? There was always a pattern of chaotic instability with my father, one moment he was a charming, funny guy and the next a tyrant. I never knew which was coming and it could change on a dime.

I remember being terrified of him when my mother wasn’t around. She would take classes at night and leave me home alone with him. He was big into sports and would lay there on the couch all evening with the sports on and a beer in his hand. If I made any noise at all, he would shout at me to pipe down and if I by chance continued to make any noise, I’d get a proper slap in the face (or worse). So I hid. We happened to have a large box in our home that was big enough to house me. The moment my mother left for school, I would grab my green little pony and jump straight into the box. I stayed there for hours until she returned, I wouldn’t dare venture out as I knew if I somehow disrupted his game I would have to deal with his temper.

My mother used to go to the neighbor’s home to get away from my dad sometimes, and of course she took me with her. They were big into drink as well so it was always one big party. One afternoon, my mother and I were downstairs in the neighbor’s apartment. My father had woken up from his drunken slumber in a rage when he realized neither I nor my mother were home. He stomped down the stairs (and boy did we hear him coming), barged into the neighbor’s house, and started ordering my mother to get back upstairs right then and there. My mother refused. She told him that he was obviously still drunk and would do well to sleep it off some more. She said that she was having a pleasant time with the neighbors and that he was being rude. He asked again, this time screaming at her. She again, refused politely, remained sitting in her chair. My father quickly grabbed the back of my mother’s head by her hair and pulled her backwards, toppling the chair and my mother onto the floor. He held her hair firmly and dragged her up the stairs this way. I stayed below out of fear. Later in the evening, no one had come for me so I eventually made my way up the stairs back home, as I was starting to feel like a burden to my neighbors. The door was unlocked and I made my way inside. Silence. It was dark and I wasn’t sure if anyone was even home. I realized my father was not there, to my relief. I ventured into the bedroom and saw my mother lying on the bed, curled into a ball, asleep. Her knees were bleeding (from being dragged earlier I assumed) and her clothes were thrown in a particular way… I had a sinking feeling that my father had raped her (and though I shouldn’t have known what that was so young, I was very aware of this concept). Whether or not that was true, I felt it in my gut that something really foul had just gone on there.

This sort of behavior went on for years. My parents continued to drink and I hardly ever went to school due to their staying up so late (I was either too tired in the morning to get up or my mother wouldn’t wake up when I tried to get her to drive me). The older I got the more protective I became as well. I would not be able to sleep if it was quiet as the sounds I heard always reassured me as to what was happening in the house. I could always tell what sounds meant it would be a peaceful night or if there would be a fight. And when I heard those fight sounds, I would rush to my mother’s side to protect her from my father’s wrath. He did spend more of his venom on her than on me when I was younger, but as I grew older, it was more directed at me. When I was younger, it was more verbal abuse than physical, though that did occur on occasion. However, when I was able to stand up to him more regarding his behavior with my mother, he would retaliate. I never knew if he would throw me against the wall, punch me in the face, or simply walk away. It was a coin toss. But whatever he did, it did get him to stop attacking my mother, and that was my goal so for me it was worth whatever I got.

There were times when my father would get so drunk he would confuse me with my mother, as we were roughly the same height, same hair color, etc. Once he pinned me against the wall and tried to kiss me but I kept fighting and repeating, “No stop! I’m not mom! I’m not mom!” and he did manage to snap out of it before any real damage was done, thank goodness. Though the image stayed with me and I was very afraid of the day he would not realize quickly enough that I was not her. Sometimes I would find him lying naked in my bed (confused it for his own bed), or lying naked in his own urine on the floor (didn’t make it to the bathroom I assume). There was one day I caught him urinating on my friend’s porch when he was in a drunken stupor.

These are only small examples of what was happening and there are far too many to tell you about. What I will say, is that I was suicidal at age 4 and went through years of therapy and counseling. I never fit in with kids my age and I was massively depressed until I moved out at age 18. I had been convinced by the therapists that there was something wrong with me, that I was chemically imbalanced. But when I moved out, I realized that actually I was naturally quite chipper. It was the environment I was in, you see. Until I left that place, I thought of leaving this earth every day. I didn’t understand why I was so unlovable and I felt like what my dad said about me being stupid was accurate. I had very few friends as most of the kids made fun of me and I could never stay awake in class as I was so incredibly exhausted from my home life. Thankfully, I never did any drugs, but I did drink heavily at one point as a teen. I eventually quit all of that stuff. The situations I found myself in as a child and teenager were not things that someone that age should ever have to see or deal with. I spent a lot of my free time researching self-help topics and working on myself to overcome the habits and responses that became habitual due to the long-standing abusive environment that I was in. My self-esteem took a massive beating until I moved out, during my primary developmental years, and that is a tough thing to combat. At this point in my life, I feel I have worked through a large majority of the issues that this situation had brought on, but it certainly still has an impact on my views and instinctual reactions.”

Domestic abuse is common all over the world and we often dismiss the warning signs when a family is in trouble. No one wants to out their parents or family members to the authorities because deep down they do love them, so many times a person basically feels forced to stay in the abuse and helpless to stop it. Children in particular have very little power to change the circumstances that they find themselves in. If you notice that a family is in trouble, do not brush it aside. Reach out and try to help. Even showing a person in this situation that there is someone out there that is willing to help them could be the bit of rope needed to save them from drowning in a pool of toxicity. Many people in abusive households do not know what they can do to stop what is happening, and worse even, think that this sort of behavior is NORMAL. It isn’t. Whether you are in this situation or know of someone who is, there is help out there. Here is a list of resources that you can start with.

 

When overcoming an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.

Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!

 

Author Bio - Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information, you may find her Linkedin profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kasiakraut/

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