My father was never physically violent to me. Sadly, I often wished one day he would lose his temper just enough to hit me, just so I would have that proof to save me. He never did. In heated arguments I would scream at him to hurt me, but the reply would be,
“You’d love that wouldn’t you? I’ll never hit you”.
Yet there has still been times I have feared for my life.
These times have always taken place in the car.
I hated travelling anywhere with him. If I refused, he would scream abuse and me followed by ignoring me for days. It was not worth disobeying him. Once inside the car, I immediately felt unsafe. I detested fastening my seatbelt and ultimately locking myself into this space with him. The radio would be my only sanctuary and turning it up as high as he would allow me to, gave me the opportunity to block out his words and get lost in the music.
The car was the perfect place for him to release all his judgements on me. I had no escape. On trips to the supermarket each week (trips I were forced to go on), he would run off a list of things in the house that needed to be done. He would warn me not to anger him in the supermarket as he was not in the mood to have a fight. He would tell me to calculate my food spending and keep to a budget. If it appeared I wasn’t listening he would scream at me. The list of demands would continue to the point where I would forget all that I had been told to do.
Once on a visit to a big brand hardware store, my father and I had an argument. I had upset him the day before because I hadn’t used the kitchen foil correctly (It wasn’t lacerated properly in his eyes). He was still very upset by my “insolence and ignorance”.
I had gone shopping with him, not out of choice, but to not agitate him any further. Once in the store, he totally ignored me, he only spoke to me if needed help from a shop assistant. He refused to speak to anyone or ever ask for help. It was a weakness to him so I had to do it.
As we left in the car he snapped.
“What’s your problem?” he said in a low tone.
“You are really disgusting aren’t you?” his voice began to grow as he spoke through gritted teeth.
I stared out of the window turning my entire body around to disguise the stream of tears falling down my cheeks.
“All you had to do was apologise. You just had to give me a genuine apology and it would all be forgotten. Trust you to make something into a drama. You are horrible. You are so disgusting”.
I was not surprised that this was his reaction to the previous day’s event. It never took much to anger him. I had apologised but he was unwilling to hear me. Of course when I disputed this statement he accused me of lying. I watched as passer bys stared at me, a grown woman in her twenties, crying. We hadn’t even left the car park and he had launched into this tirade. He carried on talking and moaning about my character as he slowly drove out. My silence was clearly irritating him and I could feel his anger becoming more heightened. He let out what felt like a roar and slammed his hands on the wheel. The exit to the store led out onto the motorway and cars were shooting past us. Our car braked hard in the road and a van had to quickly swerve past just missing us by centimetres. I jumped and screamed.
“You nearly killed us!!” he howled at me, “you imbecile!”
I gazed at him in shock.
He ignored me for the rest of the week.
[uh-byooz; uh-byoos] Show IPA verb, a·bused, a·bus·ing, noun.