Twelve years ago, my Dad left my Mom for another woman. The divorce was a huge blow to my Mom’s self-esteem despite how successful and independent she was in life. After 3 years of moping around the house and feeling sorry for herself, Mom finally mustered the courage to get back into the dating world. I was really happy for her when she met Daniel, a handsome man who displayed an assertive, yet caring personality who made my Mom laugh again. During the first year of their relationship, Mom became happier and went back to her confident old self. When I moved out for college, I thought that I didn’t have to worry about her anymore and that Daniel would maintain her happiness.
During the second of year of college, Mom started to delay my monthly visits. I didn’t think any of it at the time and just thought that she was busy with the new man in her life. She used to call me 3 times a week to chat and see how things were going. We had a very close relationship and have always spoken our minds openly to each other. However, the calls became less frequent and whenever I asked how she and Daniel were doing, her answers became short and distanced. Sometimes I would receive random hang-up calls from her or tearful “I miss you” messages. Every time I asked how things were going with her, she’d assure me that she was fine. I figured that she probably just missed having her favourite son around the house.
One day, I stopped by Mom’s house without calling first since I was in the area and needed to pick up an item from my bedroom. As I approached the house, I saw Daniel screech his car out of the driveway, speeding away in the opposite direction. Entering the house, I saw a huge mess in the dining room with turned over chairs and broken plates shattered across the floor. Sobbing in the corner of the kitchen was Mom, curled up in a tight ball with bruises and cuts on her head and arms. I tried to bring her to the hospital but she wouldn’t let me. Mom told me that it was the first time that she and Daniel had an argument like this and that it was her fault. She convinced me that there was nothing to worry about and it wouldn’t happen again.
Once in a while, I would try to have heart-to-heart talks with my Mom but every time I asked her about Daniel, she would change the subject or shutdown completely. Mom continued to defend Daniel for their fights and believed that she was at fault for irritating him or instigating arguments. A few times, she tried to end the relationship but she would falter and believed he would change every time he apologized. I didn’t want her to stop confiding in me so I tried to comfort her and listened anytime she wanted to bring up her relationship with Daniel.
Another year passed and my Mom became increasingly anxious, insecure and unhappy. She also became clumsier and often had cuts or bruises on her body from tripping or falling. I had to wait for her calls rather than calling her myself because Daniel didn’t like her talking to people often. She seemed nervous around Daniel and was overly accommodating to him during my visits. A few times, I witnessed her on the phone with Daniel, apologizing and pleading him not to leave her. It made me suddenly realize how drastically her personality had changed; from a charming, confident person to a fearful and insecure woman. I began to suspect that her bruises and cuts were not solely due to her clumsiness.
I decided to confront Daniel about their relationship. He denied all of my accusations and stormed out of the room. I tried to convince Mom to leave him, thinking that Daniel had left the house. Instead, Daniel came back, pushed me to the ground and began pounding my face. I heard Mom screaming and begging him to stop but I blacked out soon after.
When I regained consciousness, I was laying on a hospital bed with bandages covering half my face. Mom was sitting beside me with her hands clasped over mine. She apologized for not listening to me earlier and explained that after watching Daniel beat me, she finally “woke up” to what was happening to her and dialed 911 for help.
During my relationship with Daniel, I tried to cope by telling myself that I was the one who needed to change. The divorce with my ex-husband made me lose my self-confidence and I didn’t want to lose another man in my life because I was undesirable for whatever reason. Daniel constantly blamed me for our fights and I knew deep down that his behaviour was wrong but I couldn’t bring myself to end the relationship. I’ve always been a proud and successful woman who rarely needed the help of others. Ironically, to ask for help would be another blow to my self-esteem. I finally realized that having the support of others was not a weakness on my part after watching Daniel beat my son up.
If others find themselves in my type of situation, I would tell them this: Always follow your gut instinct and believe that you deserve better. No matter how hard things get, no one deserves to live in terror. Never believe the abuser that you are at fault.
If you know or are someone who is in an abusive relationship, please contact Tri-City Transitions at 604-941-7111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org