I once read in an online article somewhere that one single act of physical; emotional or sexual abuse on a child is enough to cause long term trauma and do permanent psychological damage.
I experienced fourteen years of sustainable long term abuse from the hands; closed fists; foot; boot; stick; belt; broom; truck; gun or chunk of wood by my father. Basically anything that was readily available and at an arms distance was fair game. There is significant physical harm in the use of objects because the abuser is unaware of the force of the blow they are inflicting, as with the case of my father, the abuse can last for longer sustainable periods of time because the impact is not hurting the attacker!
I had many non-accidental injuries growing up, and I often wonder why nobody ever noticed or spoke out about them. Back then there were no such things as battered women's shelters or child protection services in our area. Domestic battering; physical, emotional and sexual abuse were taboo subjects rarely talked about. My extended family knew, his relatives and friends of mine, but nobody ever spoke out or tried to help in any way. His own parents knew! My Grandparents! When I would say to them that "Dad" was hurting us they would dismiss what I said, making some sort of excuse and brushing it off! Everyone held their peace back then.
My fathers preferred method was his fists, I would often receive blow after blow and remember covering up my face with my hands as often as I could. He also loved to walk by when I was at the kitchen table either eating or doing homework and out of the blue, slap me so hard in the head or back that the force would knock me off the chair falling on to the floor. While I am lying on the ground I asked him once, "Why did you hit me? What did I do?" His reply was, "This is for all the things I didn't catch you doing." He had this belt that was all leather and thick. It was forty inches long, three inches wide and a quarter inch thick, it was brown and those little times that it was not in use, he rolled it up and placed it in an easy accessible location. Needless to say, when I was lucky enough just to be hit with the belt, it would leave large, deep welt marks that hurt like hell and would sting so bad that you almost passed out from the pain. After the beating it was almost impossible to try falling asleep with those welts stinging. It was impossible to take a shower for obvious reasons, when that water hit the freshly inflicted wounds it stung and when you used soap and water it was a double shot of pain and agony all over again. Not only with the initial beating did you feel the effects but days afterwards until the welts became less fresh and your every movement did not aggravate them. Imagine going to school and having to run around in gym class where your t-shirt is onstantly rubbing on them or when you are playing dodge ball and another opponent hits you in the back, which is where he usually liked to whip me. The sting and constant reminder of the pain lingered long after the final assault.
Most people who are unfamiliar with how the effects of child abuse damage the adult with almost every area of relating in relationships, emotions, thoughts, self-esteem and will run! They see our behavior as "weird" and "crazy," when all we are trying to do is ensure that they love us back, care for us and will stand by our side no matter what. I have driven many close friendships and relationships away because of these behaviors.
He also used the broom quite a bit and would not hit me with the bristle side because that would not hurt or torture me enough; it always had to be with the wooden handle side! One of his favorite games to play came when he was chasing me throughout the house. I would run down the hall as fast as I could hearing him right behind me, I would then go into my Parents bed room and slide underneath their bed. It was an antique bed with a clearance from the floor of a foot and a half. I know this fact because once I measured it to assure myself that as I got older and bigger that I would still have this option for escape. They had a king size bed so it was hard to grab me from either side once underneath and I would constantly roll from side to side away from his grasps. He would try on the ground but only his arms would fit through the opening as he was a fairly big man. He could never reach me completely so he would grab the broom or that damn belt and sling it under the bed trying to hit me. I believe this was when I developed my agility and coordination for sports because you were constantly moving from side to side to avoid contact. Those times when it became horrifying were when he would lie on top of the bed where I could not see him and then have to guess from which direction he was going to attack me from. He usually gave up and got tired because he could never get to me. That bed, Praise the Lord, was really heavy and I remember only once where he tried to picked it up from the foot to reach me, but he had to use both hands so when he did that he could only kick me. The time that he lifted the bed after being kicked in the head I ran out from under it and darted for that damn door making my escape out into the corn field.
That day he was especially pissed at me for something and chased me out that door. I was a fast kid and I would fly out that door jumping off the porch and would run towards the road because it was downhill and I could run faster. If I could out run him and outlast him he usually gave up. That day he was relentless and fast on tail, cussing and screaming and I could hear his footsteps just a few strides back. This scenario happened so often in my childhood for any reason at any time of the day or night and during any kind of weather. There were only a few times that he actually caught me because I would trip and fall. That day, I tripped! This was one of the more vivid memories because he was psychotic by then with his failed attempts to get to me from underneath the bed that he just unleashed. Kicking, punching, slapping over and over; repeated blow after another until I could not move and he became too tired. After he was done this particular time I just laid there and cried and cried wishing I were dead. I could hardly move and I was exhausted from his game. That game I lost terribly that particular day.
I eventually, after many years of getting hit by it, got up the nerve to get rid of the belt. I remember taking it and throwing it out somewhere by the road far away never to be found again and it was no longer in the house. My father once accused Marie and I for taking the belt and we each got a beating for that, but I know the object that day was not going to be by the big brown belt.
Another object he used to inflict permanent emotional distress and absolute panic was his shot gun. When my Mother, Marie or I darted for that door and started running, sometimes the asshole was lazy and did not give chase. He would just grab the shotgun which was usually loaded by the front door and start shooting towards us. Of course your back was turned in the other direction so you only knew that you were the object of target practice when you heard the shots! I believe that is by far one of my most personal horrifying situations that I experienced as a child. A gut wrenching fear of utter helplessness and sense of death! There is no greater source for anxiety then having a gun pointed at you as he did to my mother on several occasion and me witnessing it or when you are running for your life with your back turned and hearing bullets whizzing past your ears and hitting those objects that you're passing by. Later after he calmed down he would always say, "I wasn't really trying to hit you, I was just shooting in your general direction." Like that made I or anyone else feel any better about the whole fucking situation.
Last but not least was his frigging truck. When the gun was not loaded and he did not feel like chasing after us because we had a substantial lead, he would just jump in his truck and try to run us down, revving his engine and only a few feet away from you! I cannot recall the countless times I would be down town and he would try to catch me and I would start running up the hill towards the house and he would be revving that damn engine again. He was only about 3 feet away from you, close enough where I could see the headlights out of the corner of my eye. I knew I could not slip or fall then, If I did he would not have the reaction time to slam on the brakes and I always feared he would run me over forcing me to run as fast I could out of fear and pure adrenaline after being utterly exhausted. I would dart left and then right, up embankments and through bushes and brush and he would be right behind me never taking me out of his sights. It was a mile run all uphill and by the time I reached a place where I could safely get out of his path where the truck could not go I would be hyper-ventilating, fall to the ground and lay there on the verge of passing out from sheer panic and exhaustion until I got my breath! A lot of these occurrences happened when he had been drinking or was drunk and in one of lunatic moods where he had no perception as to how close he was or how fast he was pushing you to run and I no reaction time if I had slipped and fallen. As I laid on the ground, I would be relieved that I had survived another one of his games, but I would cry out of panic and fear, and be so very alone, helpless to change my life.
These are the games I played with my Father while growing up. "Wanna play?"
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CW Seymore, read more at CW Seymore Shards of Glass.
Childabuse.com by Chase Enterprises © 1998- all rights reserved.