A letter to my mother, the survivor

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!

Pink envelope

Photo by kalilo

Dear Mother

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.


Your Daughter

Photo by xJasonRogersx

Photo by xJasonRogersx

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

12 responses to “A letter to my mother, the survivor

  1. This was so beautiful to read that I’m in tears right now. Thank you for writing from your heart. In a period of time when mother-blaming is rampant, it’s heart-warming to hear from a daughter who sees the bigger picture. I love how you and your mother kept a strong relationship with each other, even when you disagreed.

    My daughter and I chose to live together, combining our resources after my divorce. It has been mutually comforting and healing for each of us. ❤


    • Thank you very much, and I’m so pleased that you and your daughter are supporting one another and finding comfort together. The mother-daughter relationship is amazing. Wishing you and your daughter all the best on this special day 🙂


  2. Hi

    HaPPy Mother’s Day! 🙂

    We in South Africa celebrate it in May.
    I had to tell you that the first word I felt whilst reading your open letter to your Mom was STRENGTH. Your Mom is a Survivor and so are you.

    I am shying away from Mommy things right now as the anni(misery) of my Mom’s death is on 4th April. Truly my best friend, I will either celebrate her or sleep. She’d love the celebration, but she would understand my sleep.

    Still, it needs saying: your courage is amazing. And, I understand the weaknesses that build courage so well. By the end, an abused woman is not only fighting her oppressor, she’s fighting for her children, for her life, for her home – she is also fighting HERSELF!
    I came across your blog via Teela Hart, bless her heart. 🙂
    Thank you ladies, inspiring indeed!


    • Hi PastelPoetry and thank you so much for your comment. Teela is a wonderful lady.

      I’m very sorry to hear that your mum has passed. She sounds like an extraordinary lady. It is great to hear you may celebrate her life, and, however you choose to do it I hope that bittersweet 4 April goes how you want it to.

      And you’re so right about a survivor’s fight. It is the very experience of being in fear, pain, and instability that teaches us strength. Even though we may feel weak, we are very powerful. 🙂 x


  3. This brought tears to my eyes. The first time I left my ex, my dad called me a liar. Once he was *supposedly* convinced he refused to allow the kids and I to stay with him b/c he didn’t want the trouble. My mom, however, welcomed me and for that I will be forever grateful. Your letter to your mom is beautiful.


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