Looking back it was probably the dinner plate that was thrown at my Mother's head that was the catalyst. The moment when she thought enough was enough. I’m guessing it was then anyway.
My father wasn’t an aggressive man, well not physically. And not usually. I’ve written about him HERE, but to sum it up, he was an alcoholic. And not even a particularly good one. A man lost to his mad mind long before I was even born if we’re to be honest. But my brother and I weren’t aware that our lives weren’t normal. That to have a father who verbally abused his wife on a constant basis wasn’t normal. That to be in a household where you as a child, were often afraid of what your father would do next, wasn’t normal. Because that was our normal.
That particular night started out fine enough and my brother and I tell this story often. At BBQ’s or dinners and often with an injection of humour. When in reality, we shouldn’t I guess, because domestic violence is anything but funny.
I was about 8, my brother 11. Dad was in the kitchen trying to light his cigarette from the hotplate after returning home from the pub. He was also whipping up some fried rice. As you do. Meanwhile, Mum was dishing out the perfectly fine meal she had just finished cooking behind him on the kitchen bench. My brother and I were in the room we shared more than likely dicking around doing something we shouldn’t have been doing. We heard a commotion and both eagerly ran up the hallway to check it out. I was in front, he, close on my heels.
That’s when we saw the fire. The one that, in his paraletic state trying to light his smoke on the hotplate, my father had managed to start with the assistance of an ill placed tea towel. My brother and I watched on in horror as Mum raced around trying to extinguish it. She started to shout, told him to move. That’s when I saw him walking towards us with such malice that I remember I physically tried to shrink. To become invisible. As he reached us, he turned on his heel, grabbed a dinner plate and frisbee’d it directly at my mother’s head. Somehow she had the 6th sense to duck and it smashed into a hundred tiny pieces on the wall behind her.
My brother and I audibly gasped and turned to run as fast as our little legs would take us, back to our room. The next thing I remember, Dad was reefing our bedroom door open as I cowered in the corner, my brother standing protectively in front of me. I remember Mum screaming and chasing him up the hallway. He didn’t hurt us, he simply, with a little more force than was necessary, removed us from the room. The next we knew the television was being thrown from the second story window, then the fan, then our toys. We were bundled up and we fled. I can’t even remember where we went.
This wasn’t the first time that heavy shit went down, it was just the one that sticks in my mind the most. When we returned to the house later that night, he was gone. And Mum did what she had to do to make sure he could never return. And believe me, back in the early 80’s removing your husband from the house, supporting yourself as a woman and not losing your mind, was no easy task.
So why am I telling you this today? Well, this is my experience with Domestic Violence. And it is one too many.
My very good friend Kristen Brumm has been recently endorsed as Ambassador for the Domestic Violence awareness campaign, SPEAK OUT. Her story is hers and hers alone to tell, but she reminds me a lot of my Mum. She did what it took, everything she could, to remove her children from the unhealthy situation that they were in.
I urge you, if you need a safe place to discuss your situation, to do so. Don’t let Domestic Violence become your normal. Because it should be anything but.
If you're in Australia, start here with some links: Reach Out