Writer wishes to remain anonymous.
My mother’s arms were where I felt safest.
The slightest embrace she offered me was a testament to her genuine love and affection. I had always known my mom to be kind at heart, gentle in speech, and slow in temper. She forgave, just as any mother would, for every mistake I would make in life and, as a growing woman, I made plenty.
“Momma knows best,” she would whisper to me. “You remember that.”
For many years, I had been spoiled by her unconditional love and etched onto my skin were many of my mother’s teachings. Patience was her mantra, and listening with intent was a job she fulfilled without effort.
I never saw my mother to be otherwise, until reality revealed itself.
It is unreal explaining how a woman whom I have held with high standards can suddenly become a complete stranger to me in just a matter of seconds.
“I’m in the E.R.,” my dad texted me. “Your mom should be home.”
There was no need to formulate an assumption. Without questioning it, I knew. Undoubtedly, I knew.
Abuse is not limited to just the physical. It comes in array of forms: emotional, verbal, psychological. And although it presents itself in different “extremes” (moderate to excessive), abuse can and will escalate if it is disregarded.
To dramatize the events in my household in a child-like manner would be awful, but my mother’s faults revealed her to be a monster in real form.
When fights between my parents would escalate to back-and-forth screams, impolite exchanges, and unrepeatable remarks, her anger formed fists, and her grip was inescapable.
I never witnessed my mother beat my father, but his bruises and broken ribs were proof enough. She confessed to her actions multiple times, but, with every apology she gave, an explanation treaded right behind it.
With tearful eyes, my mom would say, “I can’t help it. I have a short temper. I’m sorry.”
In the beginning, I pitied my mom and asked my father to understand. I would think to myself this is the last time. What I did not realize, however, was that it would not be and that his comprehension of her fault left him suffering in silence for years.
“You have to understand how sensitive your mom is,” he would say. “You have to be patient with her.”
The more I became aware of their disputes, the less I wanted to be at home. Daily visits turned into weekly visits, weekly visits turned into monthly visits, which slowly turned into none.
My dad forgave her each time. He made it true that you never see a man cry, regardless of how hurt he is. Selfless as my dad was for my mother, what he really needed was to be selfish for himself.
Men suffer the silence of abuse due to double standards and societal expectations of being deemed “tough.” A small percentage of men report their abuse in comparison to women and, because of that, we cannot doubt their existence as victims of domestic violence.
My dad is the strongest person I know, and, although in my heart I know that my parents love each other, the image of their perfect marriage ended a long time ago in my eyes.
If I could offer a piece of advice to my dad, along with other individuals facing domestic abuse, it would be this: love does not form fists and push you against closed spaces, and, if it does, it is not love. Be strong. Find your will. And welcome the happiness you so greatly deserve.