He had been drinking and my mother had provoked another fight. My sister and I had fled to the main bedroom, my brother hidden in his room. I had tried phoning my grandmother in a different town, but I didn’t know about dialling codes and my call never went through. The sound of the second telephone in the dining room had made my dad aware of what I was doing.
What I remember the most clearly was that his hand was soft and he didn’t hurt me. Too bad my mother kept on chirping him and the fist meant for her face hit my little sister who she was holding.
The reason I’m telling you this is not for sympathy, sensationalism or drumming up support to lynch all abusers. What I’d like to bring to your attention is the after effects.
The standing joke between us is that it’s a miracle we managed to end up so normal and sane. My little sister has turned into a career minded single mother after a teenage pregnancy. My brother has finally settled down with his family and is a recovering alcoholic. I got married and have several children.
Fear of conflict
My issues might not be very dramatic, but I can’t deal with conflict. The moment a voice gets raised in a heated argument and I’m that scared little girl again. My first reaction is always to run away.
It’s more than just not liking an argument. It is an incapacitating fear of the violence that follows the raising of voices. It is being scared of talking to your husband while he is angry or for that matter irritated, only waiting until he has cooled down before discussing anything. It is swallowing your beliefs, because you don’t know what the reaction will be. It is an inhibition so strong that it controls your actions for the rest of your life.
It is an unnecessary bequest to place on your children.
So dads, if you’ve got a short temper, remember that the effects of the fist you raise today might still be felt years down the line.
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The author's name has been removed to protect identities.