The 90’s for me was a time of the best music, film, and all around popular culture. It also has significance to me because that was the time I was born.
Born into a broken family, with a brother from another father and a young single mother who spent all of her weekdays either at work or in community college. Most nights we would come home and be greeted by a pot of cooked food or $20 with a note signed “eat/use this for dinner. Take care of each other. Love mommy.”
Greeted with a note instead of a hug and ask about how school was, which was the norm for most kids. My brother and I apparently were not the norm, but more like the exception to the rule.
During the rare weekday or weekend nights that my mother was home, a male “friend” could always be found at her side like a purse. As a kid I never noticed how late those nights were and how maybe my mother would return late to ensure us kids would be sleeping; and not fully experiencing the traumatic realization of what adulthood could be like.
For her adulthood meant coming home after a long week at work and school, trying to socialize and have fun – but end up being beaten black and blue, with police guarding the door.
At first my older brother and I would hear the sounds of voices being raised, topped off with mild use of swear words that eventually erupted into full-blown cussing and shouts of pain, including “stop” and “ah!”
Our hushed giggles would soon turn into a fearful silence and we would connect eyes filled with horror. Then begin an action plan on how to intervene our mother from being physically harmed by a romantic partner she labelled, a “friend.”
With me creeping closely behind my brother, we would both cry out for her and the response was always a soft, crackling voice that said to go back into the bedroom and wait. My brother and I knew that meant police officers would be guarding the bedroom door soon.
Thinking back on this, I can still hear the echoes of her screaming “ouch,” and “you’re hurting me.” Those devilish grins on all of those men’s faces, their fake sweetness towards us kids and what their actions truly said about them begin haunting me.
We were almost never allowed to leave the bedroom. The front door would bang, the arguing and violence come to a dead stop and then the loud bang of the door would continue. Police entered, following the sounds of someone being wrestled and hand cuffed.
Waiting seemed like an eternity. Not knowing if your own parent was okay, what they were getting themselves involved in and if they were still in the house ran aggravating.
As a little girl, I got paranoid that maybe the police took our mother away instead of her violent “friend” because almost every weekend the police visited. My brother and I dubbed it as visits due to the nature it developed under.
This was not the case of police shocking us once, it was the case of feeling numb and anticipating their return almost every weekend – to the point it just felt like a normal routine.
Unfortunately for us, our mother never opened discussion or even some form of supportive dialogue on the events that took place on those brutal nights. I guess for her explaining abuse to her children from a man who was no father to us but just a boyfriend, was never apart of her parenting program.
I believe that in all of her desperation, confusion and ultimately hurt – she could only cope best by doing what she knew, and still knows best: partying.
On partying nights, as kids we would sit in front of the bathroom and watch her get ready. Handing her a lipstick or those glittery black pumps from the closet, were taken as moments to cherish by my brother and I. For we knew at least she was happy and going out with friends who were not going to beat her at home.
I also like to believe that it makes your heart glue back together a little bit when you see black and blue eye shadow on your mother’s face, instead of bruises. So we forgave her for that. For not talking about domestic violence and partying in lieu of.
Domestic violence seemed like something our mother might have accepted for herself, in the sense where two weekends of every month, police officers would visit.
Home is a place where family should feel secure, safe and sheltered from harm. Under those circumstances, I don’t believe I ever grew up in a home. Domestic violence from multiple romantic partners takes on a more sinister twist.
For me and my brother, domestic violence did not get its start from our own fathers or family members, where maybe forgiveness is in sight somewhere along the road. This form of violence literally came like a stranger in the night.
With both of our fathers already gone by the time I was four years old, meant living with a single mother for more than 2 years. We knew she was doing her best, and that maybe her best was not enough to always protect us.
A stranger can be welcomed into your home and destroy that one safe place, stopping you from walking into the living room without fearfully being told to go back into the bedroom.
The All In All
In Canada, experiencing domestic violence in your family as a youth is probably as common as seeing Tim Hortons in your neighborhood. A lot of us can relate to my story directly or indirectly through memories of loved ones and friends.
I know for me it was something I suppressed for over 15 years. As long as I didn’t think about it, those dark memories did not exist. Putting words to the face of those memories right now feels like being forced to dress the Chucky doll that haunts you as a kid.
But as long as those emotions about growing up with domestic violence feels like you’re living in that moment, it could be time to open up and talk about it. Sort of like how I finally did today, so thank you so much for reading.
About Lakeisha Angelika
Based in Toronto, Ontario -- Lakeisha Angelika is mental health & wellness freelance blogger, with a background in Psychology. She shares informative and helpful articles on ways to boost quality of life, manage mental illness and issues surrounding the psychological community. Lakeisha Angelika also designs illustrations and posters that compliment her written text.