Fri 12 November 2021
My Childhood Experience of Domestic Violence
I hate my story; I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. But with some professional help, I've realised that I like who I am, I'm actually proud of who I am, and I wouldn't be who I am today without the life experiences I've had.
I was raised in a violent household, both physically and emotionally, and my father was far from pleasant. He spent his life making sure that I felt completely and utterly worthless. I was riddled with shame, self-doubt, guilt and anxiety, and a multiude of other emotions that I still struggle to name today. To outsiders, Dad was charming, and we had a picture perfect family, but behind closed doors all the pretence fell away. I had to endure endless lectures or silent treatment, or physical abuse for days on end over the smallest of infractions. I was also expected to be perfect, at school, at sport, at home, everywhere. To him I was a possession, an extension of him, and I was only worthy when he perceived I was a good reflection on him. That was always an extremely temporary situation.
Apparently he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I genuinely don't care what he has. He is an awful human being and he nearly destroyed myself, my siblings and my Mum. Narcissists, I've learned, genuinely believe that they're better than other people. I'm yet to meet any person that he was better than. He also made me feel like I didn't matter, and I still struggle with my self esteem to this day. What's worse is I'm also terrified I might turn out like him. I've even sabotaged relationships for fear of being jealous and controlling like he was. I feel like I spent my entire childhood on high alert, continually assessing how to protect, hide, escape... the only time I felt I could be a kid was when I was staying with friends, and that was an entirely rare thing. He made sure that I had no sense of self, my own wants, or needs. I didn't know who I was or who I wanted to be. I was just surviving; ground hog day over and over again.
When he was arrested and we finally made our escape, I was a shell of a human with a horrific inner critic, an endless running dialogue in my head that was relentless, and that continually reinforced how useless and worthless I was. I considered suicide.
It wasn't until I started talking about my experience with a professional and I was challenged on how I actually thought about myself. My inner critic was as bad as my father; my actual thoughts were not! In actual fact, I realised I was smart, really caring, and I'm really proud of how I managed to survive my experiences and I'm sure one day I'll use it to help others. I was allowed to stop focusing on who I wasn't and start focusing on who I was. It has taken time, but I'm where I want to be now. I was at my lowest point when I sort professional help, and that step has been such a guiding light in turning my head around to focus on the positives in myself and the positives in my experience. While it's taken a long time to learn, the one thing that really helped me was that for every negative, there is a positive and when I find my head starting to dwell on the negative, I then say 'yes, but" and change my head to the positive. Or I simply ask myself "Is this true?" and I combat the negative dialogue in my head with evidence to the contrary.
The other important thing I realised, the abuse was never my fault. Abusers are 100 percent responsible for their abuse.
I also really want people to know that while my family had a really tough time of it for a lot of years, I was reluctant to seek help because I didn't want a diagnosis that I then had to cope with too. As it turned out, I didn't need a diagnosis, neither did any of my family members, what we needed was support and guidance to help us make sense of our situation. I am so grateful we found that.