Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
Content Warning/Trigger Warning: Domestic violence, child abuse, imagery of violent acts. Kindly read at your own discretion.
Growing up, I was in a very toxic environment. I was raised in a very patriarchal household.
The women in my family were always taught to never argue or talk back to men. Even if you were being abused by your husband, son, or father, you are not supposed to question them.
Why? Because you are a woman.
My mother was fine with this. Every time I asked her why, she would just ask me to try to understand. Maybe my father was going through difficulties to feed us, and he was just lashing out from frustration.
One day, I asked my mother: “Why is this only happening to me but not my brother?”
Her reply was, “It’s something common, especially for females.” She brushed it off as if it was an excusable reason.
I did not really understand her answer, but I believed her, especially since she said it so nonchalantly.
For her, it was “fine” for him to do it, because he was a man. I learned from her that it was something that I had to compromise in life, especially if I wanted to have a good marriage in future.
My first memory of being hit was when I was around 3-4 years old.
My father had just come back from work. Over dinner, my mother told him that I was being picky.
When he heard this, he grabbed me by the arm, threw me to the ground and dragged me by my hair to a dark room.
He made me sit in the corner of the room and yelled at me. With his hands still in my hair, he took the hot soup we had for dinner and threw it on my face.
It went into my eyes and instantly started burning, which made me cry louder. That’s when he decided to stop, he just left me there and went out of the room to call my mom. My mom came and cleaned me up.
As I got older, the beatings would get worse.
It was never like a slight slap on the cheek, or a spank at the bottom. It would go on for hours. My father would keep screaming and hitting me.
It was as though he wanted to take his time and enjoy it. I am sure if he could, he would’ve beaten me to death.
Usually by the end of it, I would have a black eye or purple bruises on my arms and legs. My whole body would be sore, and I would be unable to function for the next week or so.
As a child, I grew up being scared of every second of my life. I did not know what to do, or how to defend myself. I would just shower and cry my heart out thinking, “What did I do to deserve this?”
Sometimes I would think I would not survive any more of this, and I’d just get mentally ready for my last day.
There were even times that I would think about just ending my life. But a voice in my head always told me to keep going.
My mother was also a victim of his abuse
Other times, my mother would be the scapegoat for his abuse. I would see her getting punched in the face and kicked in the stomach. She always ended up with swollen, burst lips.
There was one time my father was in one of his violent rages, and my mother said something in her defense.
In a fury, he grabbed a chair to hit her with it.
My mother put her hands up to protect herself, and when he swung it at her, the chair hit her hand and broke her wrist. She had to go to the hospital for an X-ray and was in a cast for weeks.
It was so brutal and violent. To see that as a kid, I was scared out of my wits.
I wanted to know why my father hated me so much. I had no other family to compare it to, as I was not allowed to have a social life.
My father controlled all aspects of my life
My father was very controlling of everything in my life. Once I hit my late teens, he dictated what I wore, how much makeup I could use, or the way I do my hair. If it didn’t go according to him, he would flip out.
My father had this rule that I had to answer his call. If I didn’t, he would hit me, no matter the reason.
There were days when I would go to college and my father would call me because the house wouldn’t be clean. He’d threaten me, saying, “You better come back immediately or else to watch what I am going to do.”
It did not matter to him if I was having an exam or in the middle of a lecture — I had to leave everything to go back to clean the house.
My father would say things such as, “If you go out alone against the family, you would have no future. You would be forced to be a prostitute or worse, get raped.”
Since I was not allowed to have a social life or friends, I became socially awkward. I was the shy kid that was scared to even step out of the house.
I became scared of everyone, and would not let anyone become close to me, especially men. I feared they would hurt me. I thought everyone would treat me like my father.
Watching my father treat women like this, my brother was raised to think that it was okay for him to do anything to a woman without any consequences.
He grew up to be an abuser like his father.
One day, I said: “Enough.” And I packed my bags.
One morning, I woke up to the sound of screaming, so I rushed out of my room to the living room. I saw my brother, standing in front of the iron board. He was yelling at my mother for ironing his shirt the wrong way.
I interrupted him, saying, “Stop yelling at mom.” He looked me up and down, then he came over to where I was standing and slapped me.
For me, that was the last straw. I had been dealing with this for 23 years. I have had enough.
So I went back into my room, packed up my bags, and told my mother goodbye before leaving.
My mother looked at me pleadingly. She said she did not want me to be alone and that she will come with me. So I agreed and we left together.
We reached out to a relative who offered us shelter until we figured out what to do. I have never met them, but luckily for us they were kind and understood our situation.
While I was there, I decided to report this case to the authorities. My father should not get away with it after everything he had put us through.
When my mother realised what I was trying to do, she tried to talk me out of this. She was afraid I would embarrass the entire family and that no one would marry me.
But I didn’t want to give up. So, against her wishes, I reported my father for domestic violence.
My mother convinced me to withdraw the police report
After the report was made, my mother started manipulating me. She told me that I should withdraw the case and just compromise with my father. She said she only wanted me to start my new life without these issues dogging me for life.
For some reason I was convinced, so I withdrew the police report.
I do regret that now, because I should have moved forward with the case. But to this day, my father has never answered for his actions.
After everything that happened, my mother knew there was no space for my father in my life. But she started saying how we should give my brother another chance.
“He was young, he has changed now,” she pleaded with me.
I didn’t want to have my brother in my life, so she tried to contact my father to go back and live with them, because she missed my brother.
However, my father would not take her back. That’s when she started accusing me of things like ruining her life and her family.
My mother used to always tell me, because she gave birth to me, she can kill me too. She’d say this to threaten me, to get me to contact my family.
By then, I completely had enough. I was done. I told her if she wanted to leave, she could. I would carry on my own life.
So, she went back to my father and begged him to let her move back. Eventually he gave in.
As for me, I moved to a different state, got a job, and changed my number so that none of them could contact me.
Meeting my husband saved me
When I met my husband, it was when I was in a very dark and alone place. He supported me throughout everything, and was the first ever person to show me what it is like to be loved.
That love doesn’t involve fear and someone laying their hands on you. Instead, it’s about understanding and caring for that person.
My husband was also a neglected child. His parents always worked and never was at home to take care of his needs. And even when they were, they’d be distracted.
Having distant parents and growing up as an only child, it was lonely for him. Their maid would be his only company.
Our past brought us together since we knew how to ease and comfort the other. We understood each other’s pain.
However, his family was not happy about us being together. They were uncomfortable with the idea of having a daughter-in-law with my background.
They thought I would be mentally unstable because of my family trauma. Since I came from a broken home, I was perceived as ‘broken’ and not good enough. His parents were worried what society would think of him getting married to someone with this background.
It was difficult, but my husband didn’t allow his parents’ opinions to affect our relationship. He told them that, in the end, “It’s my choice and my life.”
They were not happy about it but they came to terms that there is nothing they can do about it. It’s been years and they are still unhappy about it, but they are more civil about it now.
It’s been 6 years since I got out of that toxic environment
I am 29 now.
To this day, I will never understand why my mother was not more concerned for me. It didn’t make sense to me as a child, and it still doesn’t today.
I feel bad for my mother, I wished she would realize that she does not deserve that to live in that environment but at the same time when she had the opportunity to get out, she refused.
It is not her fault as that is how she was raised. But at the same time she does not want to register that it’s wrong. How is someone supposed to help her if she does not help herself?
Hopefully, one day, she grasps what’s right and what’s wrong before it’s too late.
The last time I heard from them was through my cousin who found me on Facebook. She told me that my reputation among them is that I “dragged their family name to the ground and ruined the family.”
Well, to me, there was no family to begin with.
The moment my dad hit me, and my mother let him, the relationship was broken beyond repair. To them, living as a slave to be tortured and bullied is fine, but standing up for yourself is not.
If there’s one truth I realised, it’s this: At the end of the day, you have only yourself to depend on and no one else.
Keeping quiet and putting up with something that hurts you is not an option. You have to help yourself and leave.
I am so happy that I decided not to care about what society thinks. I only wish I had done that sooner.
People always think parents are right and you have to respect them no matter what. This is not true.
Respect is a two way street. They are the ones that are supposed to protect you and love you no matter what. They’re not just there to give you food and shelter, only treat you like you’re worth nothing.
In some cases like mine, parents have the mindset that they can abuse their kids and they think that’s ok.
But it’s not right. No one is allowed to abuse anybody, no matter what gender or age. Everyone is equal and should be treated the same.
It took me a while to realise that it was not my fault for being abused. It never was.
If you are like me, I’m here to tell you that what you’ve experienced is a hard thing to go through, and it’s never because of you. Do something about it, go out and speak about it.
What is not acceptable is living with it. As soon as you acknowledge it, get out of that environment. Don’t try to compromise or make excuses for that person.
I did it.
You can, too.
For more stories like this, read: I’m a Survivor of Domestic Violence — Here’s What I Did After I Left My Abusive Relationship and How We Miss the Signs of Being in an Abusive Relationship
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