Bite your Tongue.

There are many times where one will need to put this into practice. Often with total strangers, sometimes with friends and colleagues. Usually it’s with the people closest to you – family.

The people that supposedly know you the best seem to be the ones that overstep the mark on a regular basis.

I’ve talked many times on here about boundaries. My family overstepped every boundary I set for myself; they themselves rarely kept any.

From telling me every intricate detail about their private lives to offloading their problems at work on me or irritating friendship issues at every opportunity to the sicker elements of boundary crossing where they’d expose details of their bowel movements while I ate my breakfast or moaned about the constant itching they felt ‘down there’. How is that appropriate? Just because I am here doesn’t mean you can use me as your confidante, your doctor, your therapist.

I cannot give anyone medical advice and even if I could, it would be fairer on your child to see a professional.

As adults and parents ourselves, we too have everyday stresses and problems. I especially know that you need to find time to work through those sorts of stresses in order to get some happiness. You set personal boundaries to protect yourself, to assert your personal rights.

You can be close to a parent without overstepping these personal boundaries. You can share, talk and listen to each other but each of you know where to stop. You know when it becomes suffocating or stressful or inappropriate. Who would want their child feeling stressed out or worried to talk to them?

Not having a proper social interaction and taking a real interest in your children can massively affect them. My family on greeting me, never asked me how I was or what I had been up to – they only used the time they had to talk about themselves. If I dared to mention something to do with me I’d either be accused of and berated for being insensitive or selfish. This would only prevent me from ever offering any information up about my life so when things went wrong in relationships, work or home – it would solely be my fault for not opening up to them sooner.

How could I? It was an impossible vicious circle. If I revealed it all they’d use it against me or feel it was their right to delve as far as they could. Rarely did I receive anything helpful or thoughtful. Usually it was anger and criticism – probably why I don’t deal so well with it now.

I have bitten my tongue for many years and continue to do so now.

My father was a racist, homophobic chauvinist. He hated people from Africa, women drivers, lesbians, politicians, the police. He was critical, opinionated, angry, spiteful, dangerous and very tricky. Talking to him about anything was a risk. Sometimes it was a risk I had to take for my own sanity. In the weeks where he was ignoring me over some “mistake” I’d made, the silence was almost excruciating. If I attempted to make conversation with him he’d either leave the room or stay and utter nothing. He would not even look at me. He’d only break his stubbornness – his rancour – his belligerence if I weakened myself and asked his advice on some other mistake I’d made.

Power is everything to people like that.

When I do not speak of myself is when my family talk to me the most. When I show an interest in their lives, I am heard but only for an opinion on their matters and they’ll be pretty miffed if that opinion is anything other than supportive.

Conversation never flows with my family. Therefore I go through life biting my tongue.

Would be nice if others did the same (!)

 

The Never-Ending Story.

Nothing to do with the film but everything to do with the story of my life.

A few months ago, I made a conscious decision to stop blogging about past, to focus on the happier things occurring in my life. Blessed with the news of the pregnancy, it seemed like a new start. A chance where I could finally look to the future. My father is no longer a problem physically yet his ever-controlling presence sadly still exists.
I am yet to see a penny of my inheritance as I approach the two year anniversary of his death. To make matters worse as I am still residing with my mother, I still have to endure the daily torture of passing my old abuser’s home every day to work and back.

This is something sadly I have grown accustomed to this past year however it annoys me slightly that the new owners have already moved in and re-decorated, moving forward with their lives and I am stuck waiting, without news, on a chance to move forward with mine.

Surprisingly, that I can deal with.

The real upset is my sister.

I have always said to David, to my friends, that one day soon she would begin to etch herself back into my mother’s life and today we discover she is continuing her journey back to our mum.

It all began last year on Boxing Day when my mother received a card from her. Slowly, over the year, she has found new ways to find an avenue to return. It is never consistent. Instead, every few months she re-appears and toys with her mother’s emotions. An opportunity allowed itself in April. A chance appeared by natural where she could have easily re-entered the family ‘fold’. However, it was her choice to reject that chance when I attempted to call her and inform my only sister that I was pregnant.

She would not allow it. She just would not speak to me and the sweet, innocent news was broken to her by email. Yes, I did not hold back either. I felt at that point, it was within my right to tell her a few home truths about her. Many, many times over many many years have I listened to her tell me my faults and I have always bitten my tongue in reference to her. Mostly out of fear to awaken the beast inside. Her anger has always been terrifying (at times worse than his). However, I am a thirty two year old woman and she is forty for crying out loud. Perhaps it is time to reflect on the reasons why you are so estranged from your family? We NEVER walked away from you.

Many would ask why it bothers me that my sister is back in contact?

Let me make it clear – she is not back in contact with me. Only my mother. Cards on her birthday only. Letters only addressed to her. Did she congratulate me on my good news? No. Has she mentioned the baby when writing to our mother? No. Her intentions are very clear. She wants my mother back only. NOT me.

Well let me make my intentions clear.

I will not go through it again. I will not participate in any mind games. I refuse to be controlled. You may think your trusted strategy will bring you great success again, after all it worked so well with our father. I cannot speak for our mother. I do not know what you intend to use for your advantage this time. Will it be the tried and tested emotional tactic of using the grandchildren? Or perhaps the fact that you’ve suddenly realised you ‘need’ a mother figure in your life again? Just hurry up and make up your mind.

To be honest, if you really wanted to move forward you would not be pushing me aside. Hurt does not even cover it. You abandoned both your parents yet offered your love back to them like nothing had happened. Yet that love has never been offered to me.

Just say it. You wish I’d never come along don’t you?

I look at my friends and people on Facebook sharing photos of their sisters and I’m jealous. After all these years, I’m still jealous.

At least it proves one thing.

I have a heart.

Self-indulgent Bullshit.

Luckily on WordPress there are filters. Thankfully – there are filters. Unfortunately, you may attract some haters, people that are looking to make a point, to insult and patronise. People who believe they know what counts as “abuse”, that it is as black and white as being slapped across the face. Well it isn’t. I may have not suffered physical violence. I may not have been slapped across the face. However, unless you yourself has suffered from abuse, you cannot dare to comment on what I have been through. To the rude man who decided to comment on my last post, my life, my past is just that. It is mine. If you do not agree with it then do not read it. I am not playing a victim. I do not want that label. I set out on my own journey last year and I do not have to justify it to you – a total stranger. You clearly have no idea what emotional abuse is.

My photos are only a small element of my past. I am not ungrateful for having a life. Everyone is ‘allowed’ to look back. I do not compare myself to anyone else. I am not belittling other’s abuse nor am I expecting anyone’s sympathy or “pity” as you so kindly say. Other survivors on WordPress have been incredibly supportive. They (having experienced it themselves) understand. They can see through the darkness. YOU however, will remain hidden from the light in your miserable little world, looking for someone to attack and criticise for your own personal gain.

Perhaps you have been abused yourself. I hope not. I do not wish that on anyone.

My photos are a part of my old life. My “basic human right” was to eat, not to have a cooker. Clearly that needed to be spelled out to you. Of course food is a human right and obviously there are many people in this world who cannot access that. I am not comparing myself to them. I am born and bred in the Western world. My life would always have been different to theirs abuse or no abuse.

My father had a history of abuse. He terrorised my mother for thirty years. He was a very generous man, so generous that not only did he emotionally abuse her, he battered her too! The man was clever, he learnt his lessons, he never touched me. How lucky for me (!) You are a weak human being. A troll. You do not know me yet you feel free to, behind your computer shielded from view, manipulate my words and condemn my truth. Good luck on your quest to break someone. You haven’t succeeded here.

Now tell me WordPress readers, from the rudeness of this stranger:

Am I “undermining the voices of the real victims of abuse”?

Oh and cheers for your bright and breezy comment that my life is “self-indulgent bullshit”. You really are a pleasant man.

We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence.
Andre Maurois

2013: A review January – March.

Ten more days to go until the first day of 2014. Once again, another year of my life has flown by and I am looking back on quite a year. This time however, I get to look back and share it with a new group of people: my WordPress followers, readers and fellow bloggers. What a year it has been. Lets look back together.

JANUARY

On the 6th of January, I decided to begin a blog on WordPress. It was a dangerous and risky decision. It would expose a life I had hidden from many people for over fifteen years. It would reveal truths some people would rather not know. It would portray a man (who many trusted) to be an evil, ruthless, callous and hurtful father who destroyed his daughter’s soul. It would be my story, a story that provoked people I had not seen for years. People who felt it was necessary to “warn” me and give their advice. They made it clear that I should keep my personal life “private” and that I might “hurt people”. I made it clear back that I had not set out to hurt anyone. It was much more than that. It was closure. It was freedom. It was truth. It would be a chance to speak and finally be heard. It would be the best decision I had ever made (bar leaving him of course).

FEBRUARY

On the 4th of February I celebrated five years together with David. We set our anniversary from our first kiss. It was a moment that changed my life. Gone were the men who used me and took advantage of my loyal nature. A new man had walked into my life. Little did I know that day he would make me as happy as he does now.

During this month, I received an abundance of support from old school friends and past colleagues about the blog over Facebook. I was taken aback from their kind words and blown away by their words of encouragement. It meant so much to know that there was no judgement, that people could see into my past and believe it, acknowledge it and most of all – accept it.

MARCH

I celebrated my 31st birthday on the 2nd. David took me to a South African restaurant in Central London for dinner. It was decadent and adventurous. I felt a little out of my comfort zone but enjoyed it nonetheless. Unfortunately, the food didn’t sit well within me and after a day I began to have horrific stomach pains. Within moments I was nauseous and lying over the bathroom toilet. I thought I had food poisoning but it was a severe case of gastric flu. The week after my birthday was spent at home ill. To top it off, my virus passed onto David who joined me for most of the week holed up in bed. Well Happy Birthday to me!

On WordPress I recounted the triggers that remind me of my father and his abuse. Fruit, movies, plastic knives and forks, making beds and self-help books were the entries I made in March, they continued into April with Furniture stores and Toothpicks and table manners. These triggers still happen. If I see certain objects or hear a particular piece of music, if I visit a particular place or even hear a phrase he might have said; it propels me back to a specific time where life was frightening and upsetting every day. I become emotional very quickly and find it difficult to calm down. A panic attack can be the worst reaction to one of my triggers.

March was the month where a colleague questioned my “motives” for writing this blog. She accused me of taking “revenge” on my dead father. That it was unkind and unfair to do so. It surprised me that she could not empathise with my situation nor could she understand my reasons for revealing my truths. I was annoyed by it. I did not feel I should have to justify my choices and actions to her. She did not know my father. She had not met him. She only had her morals and principles and values to go on. I have morals. I have principles and values too. That is an important part of why I decided to do this, because of my values and principles. I would not be following them if I hid away and “forgave” him for all the hurt and pain he caused.

Dead or not, the truth will always shine through.

The struggles of being back home.

As much I love being back home with my mum, there is no doubt that I have changed over the years and more importantly matured. Since living solely with David, my husband, for the last three years, I have my own ways and habits. Of course, changes have to be made when you live in someone else’s environment but currently, I have to say I am struggling. It’s amazing having her back from India but my mother seems to have taken several steps back from when she initially left.

Arguments have begun and annoyances are raw. It is almost as though we hadn’t lived together for two months before her holiday. David and I cleaned the entire house, top to bottom, over the weekend before she arrived. Yet when she returned she immediately found fault in almost every room. I wish we hadn’t bothered! I know and understand that she has the right to want things her way, it is her house but a little bit of appreciation would have gone a long way especially when she knows the amount of stress I have been under recently.

It is hard to be open with her without fear of her becoming upset or worse: defensive. I cannot stand having to justify every word that leaves my mouth if I ever need to show criticism. Yet when it comes to criticising me, it comes so natural to her. If I do ever answer back then I am being provocative or dramatic and anger her further.

I’m not sure why my family expect me to be so passive?

Perhaps it is easier for them to have a robotic daughter/sister with no emotions or brain.

Don’t get me wrong. I love her very much and I know that this is a bit of a rant. I just need to vent. After all, I cannot tell her how I feel right now, I just don’t want the tension.

Socially Inept.

When I looked this up on Wiki, I was presented with many different examples and explanations. A term called Avoidance Personality Disorder appeared. I looked further into it. Socially inept was a term I could easily use to describe my father. I had never heard of this disorder before but nowadays there is a name for everything. It describes as similar to social inhibition, something my father often displayed in my company. However, around others, my father reveled in social situations. At his church, he appeared as a confident and friendly man. He never gave the impression that he was really a nervous and frightened little man, incapable of talking to a stranger or asking for help. These tasks were impossible to him. He hated doing them and when possible he would avoid it at all costs.

That’s where I came in handy.

Enduring his endless abuse and insults were the least of my problems, I also had to contend with his incapacity to talk to anyone unknown. I became his voice. I fought hard not to but resistance was pointless. He could argue all night if he had to. He had these problems for as long as I could remember.

The worst social situations that he just couldn’t handle were:

  • talking to women: Women were below him. He had no respect for them even when he liked them. So how could he talk to them?
  • Speaking to the authorities: A genuine fear I think of his. He hated the police yet he never explained why. Doctors were all “idiots” who “didn’t know anything”, dentists were “imbeciles with no qualifications”.
  • Restaurant staff: He never asked for help. In restaurants with me, well it was my “job” to order the food even at the age of sixteen. Worse off – it was my job to find the male toilets for him also at the age of sixteen.
  • Neighbours: The worst social situation for my father.

Many a problem occurred as did many an argument about talking to the neighbours. My abuser would not even give our next door neighbour (a woman he had known for pushing thirty years) her Christmas present! The neighbours that bordered our back garden were the bane of my father’s life. Their garden was incredibly unkempt. Weeds grew freely as did the ivy at the bottom of the garden. The dreaded ivy had made it’s way up the side wall of our house much to my father’s anger. He ranted for months about the “morons next door” unwilling to actually speak to them about his worry. The more he left it, the more it incensed him and the more furious he became. Eventually, enough was enough. My father was at the end of his tether. It was time to face the neighbours. Not him of course but me. He handed me a letter one day to post through their letterbox. It was only two doors down but he was refusing to do it himself.

“If they open the door and see me then they will harass me, they are probably racists you know”.

What do you say to something like that?

“You are young. You are not threatening”.

His arguments never made sense which made it harder to refute him. He lavished in his utter nonsense. He was the only one who understood his madness. I often questioned him, encouraging him to speak to them but he saw it as patronising. I was not the parent. I was not allowed to reprimand him or tell him what to do whatever intention was behind it.

I was forced to approach these neighbours that I had never met to demand that they remove the ivy from our house. Thankfully, they were never at home. I wanted to just pretend I had seen them and lie to my Dad but the cynical and ruthless abuser would wait at the bottom of their driveway to ensure that I was doing “exactly” what was asked of me.

When the letters did not work, my father wanted to move onto the next step. A phone call. He knew the landlord of the property already so spoke directly to him. I was relieved that this was something he was willing to do. The landlord reassured him that he would take care of it.

Months went by and still the careless ivy grew.

My father was seething by this time. Insults would fly out of his mouth towards our thoughtless neighbours. It was time to take action himself. Armed with a large garden tool used for cutting branches, my father decided he would cut them off himself. He would climb over the fence and clean the bottom of their garden too so no more weeds would encroach on us. Excessive? Just a bit. Obsessive? Definitely. That summed him up.

I was horrified at the prospect of being a part of his madness. Again, it was my duty as a daughter to talk to the neighbours.

Every few years, the ivy would grow again and every few years the same arduous procedure would take place.

Even when I left home in 2010, my father would call me up to come back to tackle this unwanted problem. I became sick of it. I did not want this role he had thrown over me. I stood up for myself.

Big mistake.

“You disgusting, piece of scum!” screeched from his mouth. I had broken rule number one. I had dared to disobey him. I had the audacity to say “stop” “enough” or worse still, “no”.

I learnt quickly to always be “busy” when he needed me to save him from his social ineptitude.

The Good Samaritan.

After my fleeting moment with the lady on the train a month ago, I decided that I would no longer ignore people in times of need. Of course, in certain situations, it is sensible to think of my own safety but sometimes it is necessary to take those little extra steps to make it easier or better for others. Today was one of those days.

As I waited for the bus home from work, I caught the eye of two girls that live on my road. We have never spoken but they have always been friendly and smile at me each time we get on the same bus. They became even more excited when they discovered that we live on the same road. I am polite and smile back. Children are judged too quickly these days. People seem to fear them but why should they be condemned before they have done anything? We wouldn’t do that to anyone else yet why is it okay to judge teenagers like that?

Our bus home arrived and quickly became packed with passengers. I sat down as the two girls got on. The driver suddenly got louder and seemed to telling one girl off. I took my headphones out as they seemed to be arguing. I did not want to pry but it was very crowded and the driver was making a scene. He began shouting at the girl about her ticket, telling her that she cannot ride the bus for free and that she “needs to pay like everybody else”. She wasn’t trying to trick the system, she was waiting for her new Oyster card to be delivered and kept telling the driver it was coming in eight days.

It was pitch black out now the nights are longer and so cold; to send her out and throw her off the bus not only seemed unreasonable but totally unjust. He continued to rant at her and some exasperated groans left the mouths of the other passengers. Enough was enough, she did not need a lecture she just wanted to get home and out of the cold. We do not live in a dangerous part of London however even here, have I recently been followed by some rather dodgy men on a Friday night. It was only 6.30 in the evening but the darkness had become their cover. Thankfully, they did not harass me too much and my bus arrived to save me in time but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t petrified.

I know that girls alone, in the dark, are an easy target.

I got up from my seat and without hesitation paid the driver the extortionate £2.40 he demanded from the twelve year old girl. Both sisters kept telling me not to worry as they would just leave, but I came to their defence and plainly told the driver,

“They are children and you are very happy to throw them off the bus in the cold and in the dark. We as adults should be looking out for their safety whether we know them or not. They aren’t trying to cheat the system. They are very sensible girls”.

Okay. I didn’t know if that last part was true as we had never talked but two young teenage girls who stand up to let the elderly sit down or smile at their new neighbours, seem pretty sensible to me. They are innocents and we, in a world like this today, should be celebrating that.

In  the background while the driver began barking obscenities at me, an elderly lady said as other passengers murmured in agreement,

“She’s a good Samaritan that one”.

The young girls seemed grateful and began speaking to each other in their own language as they sat down, The younger sister blurted out,

“I’ll pay you back, I’ll go straight home and pay you back!”

I said not to worry. What’s £2? They get to go home safely, that’s all that matters. The elderly woman had her feathers ruffled as she was appalled by the driver’s attitude and manner. I just reiterated the point that they are young girls being thrown off a bus and how inappropriate and unkind that would be.

As we drove further, another older man began rummaging through an envelope and started counting some loose change. He caught my attention and handed it to me. I immediately refused and smiled telling him to put his money away. I was shocked that so many people were now coming to my need. That was so lovely to see.

The young girl did repay me later.

I told you she was sensible.

Friday 4th February 2005.

Since my father died, I have an abundance of old notes made about his incessant nitpicking and abuse. On February the 4th 2005, my father picked an argument with me over the smallest thing. The note highlights how trapped I was in his company, the fear that encroached me and the endless demands he made.

It reads,

He has guests coming in the evening. His routine of obsessive cleaning is taking place. I’ve locked myself in my bedroom. I’m too scared to come out and be forced to be a part of his army drills. I can hear him coughing loudly downstairs. What’s wrong? Something’s wrong.

(Written later)

I went downstairs, he called me there. He was waiting. There was a mark on the floor. My make up. He found it while he was hoovering. He saw it a while ago but it’s not his job to clean it. It’s mine. He needs to prove a point. I made the mess. That one little mark on the floor. A quick wipe is all it needs but I have to do it. Me. He told me to mop it up today before his friends come. I’m fed up. I want to retreat back to safer ground – my bedroom. I went upstairs mumbling something under my breath. He heard.

“What??” he shouted.

“Nothing” I replied.

He bounded up the stairs behind me. I quickened my pace.

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

I shut my bedroom door. I was safe again, “Nothing!” I shouted back.

“If you are nasty then I will be nasty. If you are good then I will be good”.

I’m 23 in under a month. What kind of a father days that? He has never treated me like a daughter, never. He never lets me feel anything, I’m not allowed emotion. I have to be a robot at all times. I cannot cry, that’s wrong. I cannot get angry, that’s wrong too. I can’t even act like a child sometimes. I’m not allowed ‘bad moments’. I have to be perfect. I have no free will. He keeps using money as a threat. If he ever gives me anything he has accounts for how much, when and where. I can’t breathe! Let me breathe.

This was how my father behaved nine years ago. Yet right up until his death he never changed. He had the same attitude towards me till the very end. He held all the power. Not any more.

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Through the eyes of a teenager.

I have been doing some Sunday reading today. Mostly my old diaries from 1999 onwards. A blast from the past? Not really, more like a painful hit of memories. I did spend most of my morning cringing however after reading my “boy troubles” and the desperate want for a boyfriend. Thankfully, those issues do not exist any more. A few pages in each diary caught my eye. In my first journal, I wrote something on the 22 December 1999, aged seventeen,

It’s 2.40 something in the morning. This is now noted down in history as the worst Christmas ever. I’ve had a major argument with my bastard father which resulted in him telling me that he will no longer pay my drama school tuition fees and that I won’t “get a penny”, that I am to move out the following morning and that he never wants to see me again. Well Merry Christmas to you too.

I hate my father. No, I despise him. He doesn’t have a clue how to be a parent. I miss my mum. I can’t even stay at hers, my shitty sister is too “stressed” she says. Well bollocks to her. All I know is that I can’t handle this shit any more. I don’t know what I’ll do. 

Another entry said,

My dad is the devil. I HATE him with passion. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I asked for a trip away with my friends. Then, he proceeded to tell me how irresponsible and untrustworthy I am. Why did you ask me what I wanted if you are going to put me down for the rest of the night because of it? Bastard. 

In a different entry in November 2003 I speak about my mother:

My mum’s gone to India. She flew out last week. I REALLY miss her. She doesn’t know that I am ill right now. I won’t tell her. I’ll call her when I’m better, otherwise she’ll start to panic and worry when she hears me. Anyway, I’m not wheezing so I can’t be that ill. She had loads of trouble getting there so I’m glad she’s okay now. She comes back in February. I cannot believe how long that is!

On the 12th December that same year I wrote,

I spoke to Ma. I miss her. I hate being here with the ‘devil’. He’s making me hoover the entire house tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll be checking if I’m doing it right too. He is constantly telling me I do nothing around the house and he does everything. He’s driving me crazy. I feel so angry and I have absolutely no way of venting it. All this anger and bitterness is building up inside of me and all I want to do is scream. I’ve not been allowed to get angry for the last six years. I’m like a volcano waiting to erupt. When I finally do get angry, I usually end up taking it out on Ma which is so wrong as it is nothing to do with her. HE doesn’t let me get angry. HE wants me to be emotionless. ME. The girl who cries all the time! It’s depressing. I hate this so much right now.

It is quite hard to look back on the past. One thing I have discovered is the way I have always felt about my mother. It has never changed. Although my sister convinced her otherwise, my love for my mum has never faltered. Even during the worst of times, when my loyalty was to my father, I thought about her every day. During the abuse, she was constantly in my mind. I am thankful for that love I felt. I think it saw me through. Without her love, I would’ve been totally alone.

Physical abuse – a new insight.

I have always said that my father did not physically abuse me. However, after delving further into the term “physical abuse” and all that it stands for, I am shocked to see that my claim is not true. He was physically abusive. I just don’t have any visible scars. In my quest to research the different aspects and consequences of abuse, I have fallen on new information. I have always believed that physical abuse was to be violent. The person on the receiving end would have scars and visuals to prove their abuse.

Research has led me to realise that there are many other appearances of this kind of abuse. My abuser was extremely threatening. If he did not get his way or I was disobedient, his threatening behaviour would follow. His deep, bellowing voice would resonate through the house or in public and the way in which he ordered me closer and breathed down my neck, talking at me through gritted teeth, all added to his aggressive demeanour. His physical stance and how he towered over me, making sure he had all the power as I cowered into the shadows. The way he would lure me into believing I was safe, even making a joke or choosing a lighter topic of conversation first before launching into his fit of rage and sudden burst of apocalyptic anger. The constant threats of harm against me that he made, telling me that I needed a punch – that it would “sort” me out or to go and kill myself to make his life easier. I never thought of it as physical abuse at the time but telling your own child to commit suicide must be classed as that. Oh and it’s abhorrent too.

His reckless driving and aggressive behaviour in the car all adds up to physical abuse. He put my life at risk every day I spent in that car with him. Every day I anticipated his anger and waited for another explosion. He deliberately chose the car as a place to shout and rant at me as I (in his words) had “no escape”. I wanted to release my seatbelt and fling myself out onto the open road many a time. The thought seemed better than enduring his continuous barrage of contempt.

A key part of physical abuse that I never recognised was how my abuser prevented me from seeking medical help or care. If I needed a doctor, he had to know the reasons why. When I refused, he exploded. The moment that stands out the most is the day of my massive Asthma attack in 2009* where my father refused point blank to call an Ambulance in the night for me, implying that I was seeking attention and being dramatic. The other option was that he drive me to a hospital at 1.am. He refused that too. He never felt worry for me, or fear for my life.

The way he would sharply raise his hand to my face holding it suspended, mid air, inches from my skin – surely that was physical? Yes, he never released it and let it slap my across my cheek but how can what he was doing be classified as anything else?

My father was an abusive man.

In every way.

* See post Notes.