Count yourself lucky

By some standards my upbringing was normal. Born in 1974 in a small mining town in South Yorkshire, my maternal grandparents lived one street away and my paternal grandparents had a farm.

Until I was 5 years old my life was perfect, if you don’t count the fact that my tiny tears doll didn’t cry anymore because my baby brother pulled it’s head off!

Then one night my mum left my dad and moved us in with his best friend. A man who’s wife had left him because he beat her. My world changed.

Suddenly I had to eat all the food out in front of me at meal times. If I didn’t I was punished. Even if the food was cold.

Doesn’t sound too mean does it? Sometimes I would have to force the food down. Even if I was gagging. I was told if I threw up I’d have to eat that too.

I once fed the bit of food I couldn’t eat to our dog. He knew of course and he put me over his knee, pulled down my pants and hit me with his slipper. A leather bottomed moccasin.

My mum said I “should count myself lucky he used that and not his hand”.

We didn’t know at the time (it wasn’t recognised) but I have severe dyslexia, and my teachers would say I was bright but lazy. I was punished for that too. My writing wasn’t neat enough. So he made me write out all the Mr Men books we owned over and over until it was what he considered neat. Nothing I did at school was good enough.

Of course I wanted approval as most children do, but the older I got the harder it was to get. He told me how stupid I was. When my mum would have me “show off” a new dress he would tell me that it was a shame I had no boobs and a big backside like my mum (it was never said as a compliment).

When I eventually started dating at 16 (remember the age of consent in the UK is 16) it got worse. I was pinned against a wall by my throat, my feet not touching the floor. I was carried again by the throat from one room and tossed in my bedroom. I hit my head and was knocked out after that one.

I went out and stayed away for a week after that episode. I eventually left home at 17.

Before I left home for good, when I had left school, was working, and dating my first husband, I would walk around at night waiting for all the lights to go out, then wait 20 minutes, before going in. Hopefully that meant he and my mum would both be in bed and I could safely go to my room.

My mum told me I was challenging and ungrateful. That I asked for it by answering back. To this day I don’t think anything I said warranted his response.

I’ve tried very hard to move past it. But I find it hard. My mum didn’t protect me. She allowed him to grab me by the throat and for years I couldn’t stand anyone to touch me near my neck.

She made me call him “dad” and play nice. She made me lie to my extended family that he was generous and loving. She told me no one would believe me if I said anything anyway.

She was wrong. I told my maternal grandmother and aunt. They believed me.

My dad knew I think, but we never talked about it, but my paternal grandmother and aunt knew. They also believed me. Unfortunately I didn’t tell enough people when I was young. I waited until after I had a child of my own, when I had already left home.

He never touched me in a sexual way. I didn’t suffer that way. For that I am thankful. It was verbal, emotional and occasionally physical abuse. I don’t want to miss lead anyone, I wasn’t beaten, I wasn’t hospitalised. I never had a broken bone. But I lived in fear and no child should.

15 Replies to “Count yourself lucky”

  1. This must have been a hard post to write but I am glad that you felt able to share. Too many people have been in this position and it upsets me that as a society we seem unable to prevent it. ❤️

    1. I think part of it was that getting “smacked” was considered normal. My friends would talk about getting smacked for misbehaving. It wasn’t until later that I realised they meant “one” smack.

  2. I am always gobsmacked when I hear how mothers let their children be abused in any way! I am sorry you suffered like that. However until women are willing to stand up for their kids and the law steps in earlier, it will continue. More important though is you moving through it and healing. All the best!

  3. What makes me sad is your last paragraph, it doesn’t matter if it could have been worse, your feeling are very much valid and I am so sorry that you want through things in your childhood that you shouldn’t have. I’m so glad that you are able to write about your experiences and how you have grown. You are a strong person that will inspire others to be.

  4. Your last line is pivotal – NO CHILD SHOULD LIVE IN FEAR – I want to shout that one out. I can relate to some of this. My step father verbally abused me but my Mum wasn’t on his side. That must have made it soul destroying for you Sweet. I was just leaving a comment on Melody’s post saying why can’t we manage to change this? It has happened in the past it is here now and future generation are going to suffer in the same way. This is something that should be made a priority – not bloody the state of Trump’s hair!
    Thanks for writing xx

  5. Professionally I work as a teacher, and this still happens too often and for too long before even caring adults can intervene- decent evidence collection and the wall of silence around domestic abuse is so hard to pierce. I am sorry this was your experience and as May has said, we need to find ways to make discussion of these issues a priority, because otherwise its too easy to pretend it doesn’t happen.

  6. I’m so sorry sweet that you had to endure that. It has always baffled me how parents can allow such abuse to happen and continue. The thought is horrifying. This can’t have been an easy post to write and is such a brave thing to share so openly. Xx

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