My mother had to be in control of everything and everyone. She would tell my father what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Rather than cause a confrontation, he would just comply and consider it “his cross to bear.” Things with me were not much different than they were with my father. I would do whatever, whenever she told me to do something. She controlled my interests, my friends, my free time, what I did, with who and when. My brother showed some backbone and would stand up to her from time to time, but even he, rather than enduring a shouting match would simply leave the house. He had a car to escape in while I did not.
My father would try and stay out of the house and avoid the conflict by working long hours 12-14 hours per day six days a week. My mother would have dinner cooking, and woe to my dad if he was five minutes late coming home from work due to traffic or a last minute customer. She would scream at him, throw the dinner at him or let it burn and serve it to him that way. Things were so bad I would sit and watch out the front room window waiting for my dad’s car to pull into the driveway praying he wouldn’t be late so we could have a non- violent evening.
Occasionally there would be some major blow ups. I remember one time my mother broke one of the old cradle telephone receivers over my dad’s head splitting his head open while my brother wrapped my dad’s head with a towel and rushed him to the hospital emergency room with a trail of blood all over the floor behind him. I also remember a cold Ohio winter night when my mother started breaking out all of the windows in our house and my father became so frustrated he began breaking them out with her. That night I huddled under a blanket in my room for warmth and to escape the violence.
One escape for me was playing baseball, I would play with kids in the neighborhood from morning to night all summer long not wanting to go back to the scene of violence in my house. My mother was not happy with that, and would give me a deadline that I had to be home by, and if I missed it, it would usually mean going to bed without eating. She wanted me to take up a sport she liked, roller skating, and because I’ve always been pretty athletically inclined I was pretty good at it. I did this to avoid confrontation, but the atmosphere around the skating rink was not a good one to grow up in (more about that later).
My mother would always put money away so she knew she would have enough to take her private skating lessons and go to the skating rink four or five times a week. This often meant buying junk and cheap foods so part of the grocery money would go to the skating rink. I was often told, I was an unplanned pregnancy, and that I was not supposed to happen. To this day I believe this is why my older brother always had the better things while I received hand me downs. My parents paid for his college education, but when he had to leave due to grades, they said that was it and they wouldn’t be paying for a college education for me. Fortunately for me, I was good enough at baseball that I was able to get a full scholarship and graduated in four years.
As I mentioned last week, domestic violence can come in many forms both physically and mentally. Next week, I will talk about how DV in my childhood affected me as a young adult and into my adulthood. The long-term effects of DV are extremely powerful, and often difficult to eliminate or overcome. I hope you will continue to read the remaining two weeks of this blog as I believe there are many men (and women) out there that know of someone who has a similar situation they are going through now. Perhaps this someone is actually you.