House of Pain: Growing Up With Domestic Violence

Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence 

I remember getting a call a couple of months ago from my sister telling me that my mother was in the hospital. I could feel my heart racing as I shakily asked what happened. She told me that a guy had beaten her up, breaking her wrist, fracturing a bone in her face, blackening her eyes and breaking her nose. As I drove home, it was a wonder that I did not crash into something. Luckily, it wasn’t until I got home that I completely unraveled, screaming, crying, cursing and completely distraught. What’s worse is that my mom doesn’t live in the same state, making the news even tougher to take. 

This news led me down the dark road of memory lane, so it felt like history was repeating itself. My mother was in a violent relationship when I was younger, maybe around six years old. My mother had fallen in love with a man who I thought was very kind, but he had his own demons, which he would show later down the road. I remember plenty of times where my mother was locked in her room and I’d sit helplessly watching and screaming for her to be released. One night, I tried calling the police, but he came and took the phone from me, so there were plenty of times where I was helpless and afraid. 

The worst night was when they got into an argument while some of my cousins were there. Though I don’t fully recall the night, I just remember both of my mother’s arms being cut from her wrist to the bend in her elbow. We walked downstairs and I remember repeating, as she cried, “we’re going to die”. She was in casts for a while. The trauma definitely impacted me as a young girl-- though I don’t recall-- because my grandmother told me a story about when I was in the car with her. I had broken down out of nowhere and said I had to go back to my mom because I could sense that she was being hurt by the man. It was not until he was imprisoned that she got away from him. To be honest, she’s lucky to be alive. 

Afterward, she fell in love with someone else, but she never trusted men and she was extremely aggressive in this new relationship, carrying baggage from her past relationship into this new one. I think it impacted my outlook on relationships to see violence in my household and for a while, I thought that love wasn’t love without violence. I remember asking my mom, when she was in the abusive relationship, why she didn’t leave the man. She attributed it to love. So, I equated violence with passion and love. However, I realize that violence is toxicity and not the kind of relationship that I would want to find myself in. Healthy relationships and love is not equal to violence, not even close. 

To those who have witnessed or been in abusive situations, let me start off by acknowledging that I understand and I am sorry. The best thing that anyone can do in a case of domestic violence is to get out of the situation because it doesn’t get better. The person who hit you and said they’d change, won’t. For some, getting out of domestic violence situations isn’t easy. Not everyone has somewhere to go or someone to turn to. 

There is a National Hotline that can be called and there tend to be shelters in each state. I recommend finding one near you. Call the police if you can and get a restraining order. Yes, it’s just a piece of paper, but it can make the difference if you have to go to court. If you’re supporting someone who is in a domestic violence situation, try to not be judgemental, acknowledge that their situation is difficult and encourage them to get help. Although it was difficult to go through this with my mom, I am glad she’s here. I got her permission to write about our situation because she and I both feel that it’s important for people to know and that it can be helpful.