Abuse comes in many different forms

Abuse comes in many forms.  I never thought much about writing my own story about the abuses I suffered as a child.  It’s difficult to know where to start as memories are a jumbled mess and not necessarily in chronological order.

One of my earliest memories (I was about 6) is of an older male cousin making a game out of each of us undressing and looking at and touching each other.  I guess kind of like “kids playing doctor”, not really physically harmful but I knew it wasn’t the proper thing to do.

As far as physical abuse it’s difficult to remember when it started.  I was adopted by my mother’s second husband when I was 3 years old.  It seems like I was always afraid of this man, though I have no memory of my very young years so I’m not sure why.  The physical abuse that I can remember started sometime after my mother and her second husband had a child of their own.  I was 8 when he was born and though I loved him dearly he was my “adopted father’s” pride and joy and me and my other brother (both of us have the same father and were adopted together) were suddenly pushed into the background.  By the time I was 12 I had no feelings of self worth at all.  My self-esteem was as low as it could go and I felt completely unloved or unlovable.

It seemed nothing I did was right and the punishments were severe.  My “full” brother has cerebral palsy and I was always very protective of him and used to take the blame of things he did so that he wouldn’t be punished by our “adopted father”.  I can remember my brother trying to get himself something to eat out of the refrigerator one time and dropping a bowl.  The bowl shattered on the floor and made a terrible mess.  I was in the process of trying to clean it up before our “father” found out when he walked in and became extremely angry.  I told him that I had done it and being terrified I took off running outside.  My “father” chased after me, tackled me to the ground and proceeded to punch me in the face several times.  He then yanked me up off the ground and dragged me into the house and threw me into the mess on the floor, yelling for me to clean it up.  Luckily the cuts I got from the glass on my hands and knees were minor.  I finished cleaning up the mess.  I was 10 years old.

Another very painful memory happened when I was about 11 or 12.  My “father” had told me to set the table for dinner, then he went into the other room.  My grandmother (who lived next door) called and wanted to borrow a pan.  My mother told me to take the pan next door, and I was gone maybe 5 minutes.  When I walked back into the house, my “father” grabbed me by the hair and threw me up against the door.  He started yelling at me about leaving when he had told me to do something and started punching me in the face.  My mother started yelling at him not to hit me in the face and the punching stopped.  He still had a hold of my hair while he and my mother started arguing.  All I can remember about the argument was my mother crying and saying that he didn’t have to hit me with his fist.  He let go of my hair and stormed into the bedroom for the rest of the night.  I slid to the floor and sat and cried for a long time.  Dinner was not enjoyable that night.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when spanking was an accepted form of punishment, but the “spankings” I received were anything but “normal”.  They were usually administered by my “father” and he almost always used a piece of plastic “hot wheels” track.  I don’t know if they still make them or not, but they were orange pieces of flexible plastic that were about 18 to 24 inches long and about 2 inches wide.  It was worse than getting hit with the belt and left nasty welts.  My “father” would hold me around the waist and swing and hit where ever he could.  As I got to be about 12 I would just stand there and glare at him and not dare to shed a tear until I was alone in my bedroom and I think that only served to infuriate him more, but I didn’t care.  I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry.

By the time I was about 10 or 11 my “father” had become an alcoholic and didn’t spend much time at home which was fine by me, but when he was home his temper and attacks were violent.  Unfortunately he drank most all the money so it was extremely difficult for my mother to make ends meet and we had to do without a lot, including food at times.  All I can say about that is thank goodness my grandmother lived next door as she fed me and my brothers whenever we were at her house.  My “father’s” drinking is what finally broke up the marriage and I was so extremely happy that he was no longer living with us.

The sexual abuse happened when I was 15 and was on a required weekend visit with my “father”.  I was sleeping on a pull-out couch in the living room and my “father” woke me up by climbing into bed with me.  It only took a few seconds for me to realize that he was naked.  I quickly used my feet and hands and pushed him off of the bed.  Thankfully he got up and went back to his own room, but the next night when he was taking me home we were sitting in the car.  He suddenly put his arm around me and started fondling my breast with his other hand.  I was so terrified that I didn’t know what to do.  This went on for several minutes.  I just sat there not moving until he quit.  I didn’t say a word to him all the way home and refused to go on any more visits.  My mother never questioned why, and I never told her until I was in my 20’s.

After reading some of the other stories I feel like mine is hardly worth mentioning, especially the sexual abuse, but like I said at the beginning, abuse comes in many different forms and none of it should be acceptable.  Even what may seem to be “minor” abuse can cause a lot of pain and leave scars emotionally and psychologically.  I think because of what I suffered as a child caused me to become an obsessively overprotective mother.  My kids (who are all grown) joke about it now, but I know I made life a pain for them growing up because of it.

My young life was filled with violent physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse and some sexual abuse.  I have not had any contact with my “father” for 20 years and I probably never will again.  I have found my biological father and have established a very good relationship with him.  We as a society need to remember never to minimize any type of abuse suffered by a child, even if it seems inconsequential.  Abuse is abuse and all of it hurts.


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