Before I begin with this blog post, I would like to mention that if you are sensitive to material concerning abuse, proceed with caution.
I don’t really know where to start this story, so here goes nothing.
I don’t usually like to talk about my childhood, I have a habit of cherry picking the good things and trying my hardest to sugarcoat the memories that are far from cheery. From the outside, I doubt many people could see that my dad was abusive. The physical abuse was worse when I was younger. Once, when my sister and I got into a can of pie filling, my dad took the flame of a lighter and held it to our sticky hands (to this day, I am terrified of anything pertaining to fire, and have difficulty lighting my own candles). On another occasion, our dog crawled underneath our bed and pooped multiple times, and my sister and I didn’t immediately clean it out. My dad’s response? Slapping us across the face and hitting us with a belt on our legs and butts. But, those are just a few instances.
As I got older, the physical abuse was less often. However, in it’s place came verbal and emotional abuse. One of my dad’s favorite things to tell me was that I was fat. He would regularly tell me that my thighs were bigger than my but, how I had so much cellulite that I looked like an old woman, how no one would ever like me because of how fat I was. I could go on and on. In middle school, my dad would force my sister, my brother, and I to run around our backyard until he deemed appropriate. I would cry and beg, pleading that I couldn’t breathe and I felt an asthma attack coming on. He would always add time. We were made to do ridiculous exercises all while being called fat, stupid, a bitch, so many horrible names. The verbal abuse got worse and worse as I got older. Anytime that I was sick, my dad would claim that I was faking. I was rarely ever allowed to go to the doctor’s because he claimed that all my health problems were mental. After suffering severe chest pains for close to two years, my mom finally took me to the ER after I passed out. However, my brother, was immediately taken to the doctor when he had a stomach ache.
Instead of coming home to a drunk, abusive, pathetic excuse for a man, I would pour my time into school and extracurricular activities. I would do anything to stay out of my house and out of my job, which was working for him. From a young age my dad would take me to work. While I do understand that this could teach me good work ethic, I hated going to work for him. He would only pay me a fraction of what he was supposed to, and keep the rest of the money for himself. While, I would somewhat understand if he was paying for everything of mine, he wasn’t. I paid for my gas, most of my school clothes and shoes, my hair upkeep, my school supplies, my school lunch, and a bunch of other things. Not only did he not pay me, he got such a thrill at seeing my get upset in front of other people. He would embarrass me when I made mistakes in front of customers and his workers. Not one of them ever stood up for me. A few would comfort me once they were out of his sights, but they respected him and wanted to keep their jobs, which I understand.
As I neared my senior year of high school, I began to realize that I had a voice. Anytime I would try to stand up for myself, my siblings, or my mom, he would become even angrier. Didn’t I realize that women were supposed to be meek and just take whatever men deal at them? Silly, silly Autumn.
The arguing between my father and I escalated a few times to where I was told to leave my house. I would stay with two friends, both of which didn’t really know what was going on. My mother would always beg me to come back at about 11 at night, which I would usually end up doing as long as he wouldn’t be waiting up.
The night of my graduation, my father was a complete and total asshole. He tried to cause all sorts of trouble with my aunt and uncle, and with my brothers and sisters. On my special day, the day that marked a huge milestone in my life, the day that I was to make a speech to the entire graduating class and the attendees, and here my father was trying to ruin it. The next day, my mother, my siblings, and I packed a bag or two and left while my dad was at work. My mom began filling for divorce and reaching out for help as we stayed with my aunt. During this time, my father would routinely call and harass us. He would tell me that I wasn’t welcome in his house, and that he never wanted to see me again. During that emotional summer, my dad killed one of our beloved family dogs as revenge for us leaving.
Right before I was to go off to college, my mother decided she was going back to my dad. After finally tasting freedom, I didn’t want to return. I cried and cried, begging my mom not to go back. She told me that I needed to trust her, so I shut my mouth and I did.
The day that we went back, my dad told me that I was too fat to wear my hair short and wear dresses. Nice homecoming, right?
Two nights later, he wrapped a belt around my mom’s throat and strangled her until she passed out. When she didn’t die like he hoped, he told us to pack our bags and leave. When he took my mom and I to the airport so that we could head to Denver, he told me that I needed to find a new mom because my mom wasn’t going to be able to “baby” me anymore. He then go into an argument with my uncle, who had come to say goodbye to me. Another milestone for me, and it was ruined yet again.
After leaving for college, I didn’t speak to my dad except to tell him happy birthday. When it came time for me to come home for winter break, I asked to stay with my aunt. My mom agreed because my dad had already told my mom that he would have me arrested if I tried to come to the house. During my first few months away from home, I didn’t really get to talk to my mom. Every time I would call, something else more pressing would come up, or my father would start saying stuff about me and my mom didn’t want to put up with it. During this time, I became closer to my aunt. She became that mother figure for me, so in a way, I did find a new mom. I was experiencing a lot of gastrointestinal issues, along with my depression and anxiety worsening. My aunt was there for me when I needed her, even after I went in for a blood test and had a psychiatrist talk to me because they were worried about my mental well-being.
Right before I was to return home, my brother’s counselor reported my dad to Child Protective Services, and he was made to leave the house. I couldn’t have been more relieved.
However, going back caused many horrible memories and anxieties to resurface. I would check the doors over and over again because my dad had found his way into the house multiple times, despite my family having a protection order against him. I would wake up throughout the night from nightmares where my dad was standing over me or yelling at me, or hurting my mother. It was unbearable.
Right before I went home, my doctors were trying to figure out the right combo of drugs to help combat my anxiety and depression, and I became very emotional. I found it harder than ever to deal with all these emotions, and didn’t really feel as if anyone could help.
Recently, I began to focus on meditation and yoga to work on my anxiety and panic attacks. Once I began to feel as if I had control over my anxiety, anger reared its ugly head. I began to realize that I wasn’t this disgusting, horrible, person that my dad had always made me to believe. I began to realize that I was a loving, caring individual, and I deserved better. In stead of feeling scared, I got angry.
Out of this anger, came my voice. Anytime my mother, brother, or one of my father’s friends would say that things weren’t that bad, or try to discount my experiences, I began to speak up. While it wasn’t always easy, and I couldn’t always get the words out, I tried.
During the short time that I have been home for summer break, my dad has drunkenly called my mother multiple times, threatened her over the phone, and has tried to contact my siblings and I. As per the domestic violence injunction, he was prohibited from contacting us outside of visitation, including electronic contact. I told my mom that I wanted to see about having a restraining order placed against my father, and she agreed to take me to the police station. I ended up pressing charges since my dad had broken the domestic violence injunction multiple times. I was worried that once he found out, that I was done for, that all those threats would come to fruition. I shared my concerns with the police officers and they explained to me that he would instantly be taken into custody once all the paperwork was filed. It took a few days for them to arrest him, but that same day he was released on a $30,000 (what we were told) bond. I panicked. I refused to stay at my house, and all my siblings and I stayed in my mom’s room. During the day when my mom was gone, my sister and I would find ways to stay out of the house to avoid him coming there. We were terrified.
Fast-forward to this weekend, when my siblings went to visit with my dad for visitation. I stayed at home with my mom. About an hour into the visit, my sister called us crying, saying that my dad had already started in with the name calling and being horrible to her. I became infuriated. After she called, she stopped responding to texts, and my mother and I freaked out. We called her multiple times, and each time the calls went unanswered. I finally decided that I was going to call the cops. My mother was able to go pick them up with a police escort and she brought them back home.
During this time, I became really emotional. I have always been protective of my siblings, especially my sister that is two years my junior. She has gone through multiple brain surgeries and has a hard time dealing with stress and being berated. I was so angry. I wished over and over that I could be the one receiving the abuse in her place. I just wanted to protect her, and it ate me up inside because I couldn’t protect her from that.
During this stressful time, I expressed to my mom that my sister was braver than I was. I explained to her that I believed this because she was able to face him, even though she knew what he was capable of, even though she was scared of him. My sister had started finding her voice way before I did, and it always amazed me. My mom responded that she believed I had it in me to tell him how I really felt.
I decided that maybe I did have it in me.
I will have to put this to the test when I have to go to his bond hearing and tell the judge why I believe his bond shouldn’t be revoked.
Wish me strength and courage, as I am scared shitless by the idea of facing him again. But, I am also ready because I believe that this will be healing for me if I am able to explain to someone and know that he will finally get punished for all the horrible things he put my family through.