In the UK, it’s Mother’s Day. Today, I’m sharing this letter for my mother – the first domestic violence survivor that I ever knew.
This Mother’s Day is the first I will celebrate as an ‘escapee’ of domestic abuse. Today, I’m showing appreciation for my mother – who experienced and had to watch me go through it, too. Wishing all you mothers and daughters a happy, safe day!
You are the strongest woman that I know, and I’m truly privileged to have you in my life.
Growing up, you protected me from the full reality of what my biological father did to you. It was only after I hit my teenage years that you began to share some snippets of what you went through.
Being thrown out of the house on a snowy night, without even a coat to keep you warm. Having him pull a chunk of hair clean out of your head. The black eyes. The bruised ribs.
Being uprooted from country to country, as he couldn’t settle and certainly didn’t have the guts to relocate without you. The emotional blackmail, the psychological abuse as he moved the goal-posts so that you could never ‘get it right’ and always (in his head, at least) had it coming. All the times you tried to leave, but couldn’t. All the times you did escape, but went back.
When I was a new baby, you were so sick you could barely stand, but still crawled out of bed to take care of me because he couldn’t be bothered. Or maybe didn’t see it as his ‘job’. Whichever it was, I don’t much care and I don’t suppose it really matters.
I was lucky, because you chose to run – and you took me with you. Some years later, you met a kind and funny man who I see as my father and will always call Dad. Like you, he was a pillar of strength and support throughout my life. At no time was this more apparent than when I was, ironically, going through domestic abuse myself.
You and Dad saw firsthand what I was up against, when the extremity of my abuser’s jealous rage turned on you shortly after my child was born. You told me you had never been more afraid in your life.
Still, you didn’t cut me off because I wasn’t able to run for the hills at that point. Instead, you offered your quiet support, and I drew on it in ways I wouldn’t admit to you (or myself) at that time. You encouraged me to leave, without trying to force me or make me feel guilty or stupid.
You had the wisdom and self-control to allow me realise for myself when I had reached my boiling point, and my need for freedom became stronger than any trauma-bond. Because you know what it feels like to love an abuser, and how impossible it seems to escape.
And when Baby and I did get out, you welcomed us with open arms. As a mother and a survivor myself now, I understand you even better than ever. You are amazing.
Is there a survivor that you admire and respect? Have your family members tried to help you?
ALSO SEE: How my biological father reacted when he learned I had left my abuser, in Telling my abusive father.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14