I hate the words “Domestic abuse” and “Domestic Violence”. Its like putting the word “Domestic” in front of the word violence and abuse lessens the impact. The act. And then we take it further and put “She is the victim of DV”. Which seems to make people even more desensitised to what is being said. It is like child sexual exploitation. Just by calling the grooming and sexual assault of a child “Child sexual exploitation” …it seems to make it more palatable for people. And then we call it CSE and it rolled off the tongue with ease. I use all those words above. All the abbreviations. I am guilty. And it makes me angry.
My mother was subjected to ultra-violence and sexual assaults within her own home over a substantial length of time. She was beaten, verbally assaulted, controlled financially, isolated. The list goes on and on. But because the man that was abusing her was living in her home , it was treated in a completely different way than it would have been if he had been a stranger.
Yes…it was a lot to do with the time my mum lived in also. They married in the 1960s. He was abusing her before they got married. No one questioned it, least of all my mother. It was the norm to many people. The police only got called if things “got out of hand” and if the police did attend then it would be treated as a “Domestic matter”. My mother was living in a time where it was accepted that certain things took place in the marital home.
Yes, things have changed slightly now. But not much. Not really.
My mother suffered years and years of targeted abuse. The emotional impact was unmeasurable. The physical impact long lasting. My mother was nursing injuries until the day she died caused by her abuser. She had known him since she was 13. She trusted him. He knew her family and they knew him. My mothers abuser was well respected in the community. Her abuser was her husband.
I was born into violence. My father physically, mentally, and emotionally abused my mother before I was born…whilst I was in the womb…and for many years after. He allowed others to do so also.
As a child I saw my mother with broken bones and injuries often. She wore these oversized glamourous tinted glasses when I was young. I know now that they covered the black eyes the best. My mother suffered abuse at the indirect hands of my father …even when he was in prison. How about that…. What is his charge for that? For getting…allowing others to harm her.
My father should have been charged with all the crimes he committed against my mother. He never got arrested once. Or any of his little cronies who also made her suffer “domestic abuse”.
I was subjected to violence from birth. Shouting, Punching. Screaming, Crying. Blood.
Never directly at me. That was my father’s line. That he never touched me.
Like …everything that happened around me did not affect me. Like he did not fuck up my thoughts and feelings towards my mum. Struggling to hold on to any respect I had for her as she stood my him time and time again.
He created an environment that would impact on me for the rest of my life and I had no choice in it.
No services…no organisation…no institution held him accountable for what he did.
He once beat my mother to the ground. Until she was not moving. In front of me. My farther was around 6ft 7. A bear of a man. An Ox. Easy…in his hay day…21 stone and mostly Muscle. Years in prison had made him into the hulk. Big giant strong Italian man. Hands like shovels. Hands he used to hurt people when they would not do what he wanted.
My mother…then…around 5ft 5. Underweight and undernourished, Her cheeks always gaunt, Her eyes always wide. Weighed in at about 7 stone. A diet of anxiety, medication and left-over dinners had built her frame.
And as a child I have seen that man beat my mother like she was his equal in stance. Beat her knowing she would not even lift her hand to defend herself.
The time he beat her to the ground…. there were a few times he did that but THE time… I have said it before but …. I need to get it out loud anytime I think about it… They were standing behind the sofa that was pulled forward to be near the fire as it was winter. I was sitting on a big old armchair with a tray on my lap and a puzzle on the tray. My mum had given me this as a distraction as he had come to the house drunk. Had kicked the door for some time until it finally openend. I can remember it…me and mum sat huddled on the sofa in the cold. Mum crying silently whilst trying to comfort me…as bang after bang echoed through the flat. And absolutely every single person in that block of flats would also have heard it. And not one person did a thing. All stayed in their own homes and hoped he would go away. ….
And here they were now. Him shouting and screaming about some shit. She is just looking at me. Telling me to go to bed. Na lady….im going nowhere. And then he starts hitting her …big punches. One to her head and then one in her belly. As she falls forward, he grabs her hair and punches her in the face, So much blood. So so much blood for a little girl to see. He then throws her to the ground. I cannot see her…because like I said…. they are behind the sofa. But she is not making any noise. He then starts to kick her. Saying as many bad words as he can in English and Italian. Bitch…slag… Cagna ….Buchiach. His loud booming voice and the hollow kicks sounding ten times worse in a room that was not well furnished.
I must have screamed so loud. I know I did. I can remember the fear even now. And shouting, “Is she dead Daddy…let me see her” and then me just screaming “Mummy…Mummy” over and over again. …and him stopping and coming over to me…covered in blood and stinking of drink and weed and picking me up and trying to sooth me with his words. All anger gone. “Bella Bella” over and over. And he took me to my bed…and put my little light on and asked if I wanted a story. And then he made me porridge and said to eat that as it would make me sleepy. Whilst my mum lay moaning and crying in the next room.
How does that make you feel to read? I hope sick.
And that was classed as domestic abuse. Yes, if that happened today, he would be arrested and would be on bail no doubt. But in professional conversations it would be referred to as “domestic”
Its just abuse. Fuck domestic.
What my father did was extreme. But all the other things that people have to suffer and is classed as “domestic” is disgusting. Just because the person lives in your home or you have some relationship with them should not lessen the impact or criminality of what they have done.
I believe that perpetrators of domestic abuse and /or violence in front of a child should be charged with child abuse. Emotional abuse. Neglect.
Why is every single person that has been charged with domestic abuse or violence…and a child has been present …not been charged with child abuse? Because they are subjecting the child to abuse for sure.
It’s so frustrating to know that these people are abusing people within their homes and that children are being subjected to this…and the perpetrator will not be charged with some sort of child abuse unless they physically hurt the child. I mean…I’m sure that might not be the case every time, but in my experience…it never goes anywhere. There are even perpetrations out there that blame the children for their violence. I have deleted the line I wrote after I typed that as it was nasty. Even for me.
Using the words “domestic” when referring to violence within the home should not ever lessen what people think that looks like in terms of abuse and violence. And the child is NEVER spared from what is going on. Never. They are impacted every single time and it can have long term consequences.
My dad never ever laid a finger on me. In his mind, I know for a fact that he believed that he didn’t subject me to anything. It was not until I made it clear to him that he would never touch my mother again that he stopped. It was like…no one had ever challenged him about what he was doing before and when I did…he never touched her again. But I still stand by the fact that he should have been arrested and charged. Which I told him…and my mother many times.
I said to my dad when I was about 20…. One day I might meet a man like you. Who treats me the way you treat my mum.
We just sat opposite each other at my kitchen table. He took a long draw on his spliff , not taking his eyes off me. “Then” he said in his deep Italian accent, a voice so deep that it kind of rumbled in your belly “Then…If that happed. ..I would kill them”. I nodded and said “That show I feel about my mother …. How you feel about me is how I feel about my mother…that love ….I may kill someone if they ever hurt her again”
That was the first time I saw any kind of recognition for what he had done. A flicker of a regret. He then said “what about me…. would you not feel the same way about me” and before he even finished his sentence I has said “No…Never”
My Dad went on to be a different man. He fully accepted what he had done, and he became a different person. Which was amazing for my own children…. who will remember nothing but an amazing grandad. And my mum…who had been with him since she was 13 and was with him until the day he died… forgave him for all he had ever done and they spent 10 years very happy
Me… I tolerated him. I saw the love my people had for him. I acknowledge that he was an amazing grandad and was trying to be a good husband.
We caught eyes, me and my father, one or twice when he would catch me looking him a certain way. A look he knew too well. A look I had seen him give a million times. A look that said…I don’t respect you.
A look that I continue to give to those who disappoint me the most in life. My mum called it the John look. Because she knew I had inherited it from her husband. My Father. A look so cold that ..if you are on the receiving end…it makes you want to turn away in shame.
He gave my mother that look often. And so in turn… he lived many years reciving that same look from the women he loved the most.
His actions impacted on many things that happened to me throughout my life and still do now. I’m 40 years of age and the domestic abuse I witnessed and suffered as a child still impacts on me now. The way I view things. My relationships with others. How I hold myself. My anger.
Every single day.
Domestic abuse /violence. The words are a direct disrespect for every person that has ever been impacted by the abuse of someone who has violated them within their own home or relationship.
2 Comments Add yours
I have never experienced anything close to the things you describe – until I read what you describe. I agree with you that the prefix domestic minimises the seriousness of the crimes of violence they act as adjectives for in our bureaucratic age. Thank you.
I will never use the word “domestic” again! Thank you.