Farewell My Friends.

I cannot believe I am waving a sad yet sweet goodbye to my fellow bloggers and supporters of freefromhim, my beloved blog for the last twenty months.

It was a difficult decision but as I am now looking forward and moving towards recovery, I feel that the blog has done the job it intended to do. Now, with the ever-progressing pregnancy and new changes in my life, I feel it is the right time to close the chapter on this blog.

I have decided on a date to say goodbye. I can only hazard a guess that baby will be born on it’s actual due date – the 10th November however it is more than likely that baby will be the only one to decide when it needs to come out! Thus, when it does and when I return home to show you all our little beauty, that will be the date I will post my last post.

For the next fourteen or so weeks, I will continue to blog current and old news. I will re-blog some of the most memorable, life-changing and poignant posts I have written especially the ones that gained the biggest reactions or the most support.

I am so grateful for what this blog has done.

I was hesitant to start it and sadly, was faced with many a negative comment along my journey, some highly derogatory and condescending. Others, just plain ignorant. I do not regret anything I have written about. It was my choice and my words of a past and truth that existed, it happened and as much as many haters will deny it, my father was my abuser.

Closure is what I set out to find and closure is what I have got.

No longer am I angry.
No longer am I hurt.

He is dead and long gone and has no way of hurting me now.
Although my family is no way repaired (the emotional bruises of the last thirty years are still incredibly apparent) and even though there are issues still to be resolved, I feel ten times more stronger than I did at the beginning of my journey.

Undoubtedly, that is due to the immense and loyal support from my friends and fellow bloggers. Your faith and compassion has surpassed my expectations.

So thank you.

Without you, my faith in humanity would have disappeared entirely.

Of course, I am not vanishing completely from WordPress. As I mentioned in ‘Biting the Bullet’ post of late, I will be setting up a lifestyle/fashion blog in the next few months (possibly on my maternity leave when moving around becomes limited!) so PLEASE follow me there and stay with me on my new journey.

Life is precious and my god does it fly by. He took thirty years of my life. He controlled, abused and manipulated all the time we had together. I do not plan to live the rest of my life with him in my thoughts. They do not deserve that. They do not deserve an ounce of our time or a second in our minds.

We must remain free.
Free from them.

Advertisements

Chapter 3, Part 2.

The second instalment of Chapter Three – Food and Waste.

He tormented me about waste. If there were any fragments of food left on my plate he would complain that I was childish, leaving such a small amount of food on my plate.To him, I should eat it. If I refused he’d call me an “animal” then take back his insult and say, “No, an animal appreciates their food, you’re worse than that”. Staring through me, he’d wait for my reaction. He take his place at the head of the dining table and wait. Patiently. Until there was no other choice.

I would eat the last remaining slivers of food. In front of him, under his watchful gaze. Feeling sick, I’d try to bring it back up moments later in the bathroom, but most of the time I’d go upstairs, lock myself in my room and cry.

Eventually he grew much, much worse. Bones from chicken or fish and crusts from bread had to be saved so he could throw them out to the birds (although they would only ever draw foxes and rats to the garden). If I forgot and just threw them in the bin he would scream at me and force me to retrieve them. Hovering beside me whilst his heavy breathing and powerful stance intimidated me, I’d crouch down to the kitchen dustbin. By now (having made his discovery later in the evening) the food was usually covered by his dirty tissues, cooking oil, old leftovers and vegetable peelings. Sickened, I’d reach in with my bare hands and pull out the rotten food, placing it on a plate ready to be thrown out the following morning. On the odd occasion where I refused, I would unlock his boiling rage. Insults would ensue, “You have no concern for others!” or “You’re a filthy pig!”

It was pointless to fight but the feeling of unbelievable degradation was also too much to bare. I was powerless with him.

My father’s waste fixation was incessant. If food grew old in the fridge and cupboards, he’d leave it there. Then he’d pick his moment (most certainly a time when I may have been in a good mood) and pile the items on the kitchen worktop ready for me to see. A confrontation would follow. I’d receive a lecture on my “immature” behaviour and my longing to squander his money and treat him with disrespect. He’d tell me how shallow I was, how I only cared about myself. Truthfully – I despised myself.

His obsession reached a peak in my mid-twenties. As he still paid for my food and he still had that control he would use this as his tool. If I left any food in the fridge that went past its sell-by-date he would once again place it for me to see. He told me that I would have to pay for my wastage. So if I ate half a packet of salad and had left the rest, I would have to pay half the cost of that salad.

One day I came home to find bottles of sauces (that were several years old), a shrivelled up cucumber, a small chunk of cheese and some meals I had put in the freezer, laid out on the dining table. He wasn’t home so I knew they’d been out all day. I also knew what was coming later. Once he returned I was summoned downstairs.

“What is all this?!” he screamed. I remained silent; it was the best way to be.

“You disgust me, do you know that?” Of course I knew it. He’d been saying it for years.

“I’ve worked it out. You need to pay me six pounds. I’ve rounded it up. Come on then!” He shouted, holding out his palm, “You need to learn!” His sick satisfaction was beaming as he let out a side smile.

More and more the same thing would happen. Occasionally I would wonder if he planted some of them. Perhaps they were his wastage and he would just blame it on me. Of course I never had any proof of this. For three years I allowed him to do this until one day I began paying for my own food. He reluctantly let me do this for a while but it soon failed as he began ranting that I was yet again being disrespectful for not letting my father ‘look after me’. That I was “foolishly choosing” to waste my own money or that I should be saving up all the tiny dregs that I get. I could do no right. He forever droned on about me being independent but when I attempt to be I’m apparently disrespecting him.

Chapter 3, Part 1.

THREE

FOOD AND WASTE

Food was the symbol of many different things through the past, comfort and control being the main. I had always been a healthy child growing up on fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. My mother was a fantastic cook and fed the family well. We understood where food came from and the benefits of it from a young age. I enjoyed cooking and helping her in the kitchen. If anything, it was more time to spend with her.

As I headed towards my teenage years my father took my sister and me to restaurants as a treat. He often left my mother behind. I began seeing this as a regular way of life. Sweets and chocolate began to appear in the house and I revelled in it like most young teens would. My mother still encouraged us to eat well and usually I did but if I wanted anything ‘naughty’ my Dad would never refuse it. Not because he couldn’t say no to me. He just treated this as a way to point score with his wife. The children were a competition to him and food was the start of his game playing.

In later years (as the trouble grew worse between me and my father) food became a source of genuine comfort to me. I would regularly binge eat at dinner. My father and I never sat at the table together and enjoyed a meal. Instead I was forced to eat in my bedroom to avoid conflict with him. He knew what I put in my mouth as we always went food shopping together every week. Something I almost looked forward to.

However the supermarket was a place he would frequently choose to humiliate me. If I wanted to get something I may not have finished before he would begin a rant on my ‘addiction to wastage’. He’d tell me I had no consideration for starving children all over the world and no concern about money. He’d continue to insult me and if I argued that it had happened only the one time, he’d accuse me of attempting to deliberately agitate him. Again, his voice would change and all this would be said through gritted teeth and glaring eyes. Often he would behave like this in public places where the normal reaction of strangers was to stop and stare over at the strange ‘couple’ having an argument. He enjoyed my humiliation but never saw how he humiliated himself, after all at this time I was a grown woman.

On one occasion,  my father began a petty fight as we loaded our items onto the conveyor belt. I remember the cashier and the customer ahead of us watching curiously. The customer, a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties, couldn’t stop herself from watching. Her judging eyes buried themselves in me. I know how we looked. I get it. It sickens me. My father’s rant was not subsiding, it only grew worse as I tried to pacify him. To him, I was patronising. He stormed off. I panicked. I had no money on me to pay for the shopping. I could see him leave the supermarket in a powerful rage. I stood there, shocked watching our shopping edge towards the cashier. The stranger’s eyes were still burning through me when suddenly, she spoke.

“Don’t worry, my husband is a lot older than me too. Older men are like that”.

I was horrified and immediately repulsed.

Her face automatically dropped when I responded,

“He’s not my husband; he’s my father”.

The brute returned within moments and began ordering me to “MOVE!”. The stranger looked appalled and full of regret. I imagined she wished she never spoke to me. I did to.

After we returned home I ran upstairs in a fit of tears. He couldn’t take my crying, it was a weakness to him and he’d use it as a chance to insult and criticise me, saying, “Oh here come the waterworks!”

This was such a regular incident. Something would happen every week. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of the food I would get to eat when we returned. I was dependant on it to make me happy. Upstairs, I’d take: one plastic bag of shopping, filled with a high calorie sandwich, an energy drink, doughnuts, chocolate and two or three bags of crisps. With the TV on high, I’d sit and gorge on my selection to the point of feeling sick (although, back then I never actually did throw up). It satisfied me. Immediately I felt ashamed of what I had done, often shoving the remnants under my bed or frantically stuffing it in the bin.

Guilt would encompass me and I would dramatically berate and condemn myself. That’s when self-harm began to find a place in my life.

© Roshni Bhattacharya 2013

Chapter 2, Part 2.

We sandwiched the holiday with the road trip and after two weeks we headed back to his brother’s place. I was a different girl to the one who set off at the start. My relatives picked up on this and my father blamed it on my ‘typical teenage ways’ and lack of good attitude. Nobody doubted him as he was the second eldest brother of a large family and a reliable, intelligent man. His word was the truth. I spent the last week as a shadow of my former, confident self. It was a relief to return to London and back to my safe haven. I had naively hoped things would be normal again and my father’s character would restore back to a loving nature.

My idealistic view was shattered immediately. This behaviour was to stay and his treatment towards me was about to become progressively worse.

Having started at a new school to do my A-Levels I was excited to have some distance from him. I tried hard at my studies but could never live up to his expectations. My sister was an academic and had embarked on a clear career path. I on the other hand was more creative using Drama as an outlet for expression. He never encouraged this as he believed I’d never succeed in such a competitive market. My grades began to slip just as my life began to dissolve. I found it difficult to concentrate and drifted off into day dreams. My father left me to it, only voicing criticism if a tutor got in touch with him. Still he offered no help. This was a shock to me as my school work and high achievement was once so vital to him.

As I lacked so much confidence I found it a struggle to make friends especially in the first year. I felt like I had no escape and nothing to feel good about. Over my sixteenth and seventeenth year I gradually began putting on weight. Having been slim as a young child I was not use to being on the chubbier side. I turned to food for comfort. My father would indulge this, taking me to a fast food restaurant almost every Saturday. Food would become a recurring enemy over the next fourteen years.

At the end of my first year I managed to land a part in the sixth form play. I was a lead character and immensely proud of myself (having been an unknown at school I knew it had been based on my acting skills and not popularity).

My relationship with my mother was slowly improving too. A point had been made that I needed to change to be accepted back into ‘her’ side of the family. As I missed my mother and desperately longed for her, I willingly acted on the advice. At that moment I had lost myself. With my mother and sister I was struggling to build a character worthy of their love. Their closeness was apparent and every time I saw them laughing and talking privately, the old feeling of exclusion hurried back. I felt we would never have the same relationship and no matter what I did, I would be second best. After all I decided to stand by my father and not my mother. With my Dad, I was trying to be the perfect daughter. Not talking back, being polite, doing exactly as he said and giving the impression to the rest of the world how lucky I was to have a father like him.

Turning eighteen brought about a surge of independence in me. I had climbed the social ladder at school. I had more friends and my self-belief had come back. I started going out and spending more time away from home. He didn’t care. My safety had never been high on his list. He continued to spend money, allowing me to go to Europe twice on a school trip. He enjoyed looking wealthy. My friends that met him adored him. He drove us everywhere, paid for lunch, gave me hand-outs and acted like the perfect Dad. This wonderful image of him vanished when we were on our own. He instantly turned into the monster I knew he was. If I ever confided in a friend they would question how I could ever accuse my father of anything. I hated them for it but they never knew any different. For a while I convinced myself they were right.

I left school with poor results. Even in subjects I was certain I’d succeed in. My home environment had made a huge impact on the woman I was shaping out to be. With my studies I had almost resigned myself to the fact that I was likely to fail. Relationships and friendships made me feel the same way. Failure was not an option with my father but I was never given any direction from him. It became obvious that he had been waiting for me to destroy my future so that I would have to rely on him. My confidence and self belief had slowly slipped again. I had put on a stone in weight over two years and now being a young woman, felt the lowest I had felt for a long time.

Luckily I had something positive to look forward to. I had decided to continue with Drama and study it for the next few years. Once again I was left to do as I pleased so I grabbed the chance in front of me and used it to excel myself in any way possible. I still lived at home however. Although I was busier now, my life had not changed. If he saw less of me surely he’d want to appreciate the time we spent? But no, he carefully used this rare time to break me down even more.

Insults became a regular occurrence. Labels such as evil, filthy, heartless and moron became a normal thing to hear. Every day I’d be called a name. I tried to be strong and gave as much back as I could muster but he was a big man who terrified me.  He would shout straight through me with so much aggression it made me tremble like a frightened little animal. I often backed down and accepted hearing such nasty words but I never felt they were true. Although I lacked in self-belief, I knew I was not the bad person the family had made me out to be for all those years. Nevertheless, there is only so much a person can take.

We began having blazing rows. Violence was never an issue. My father was shrewd enough to know I’d have blatant proof of my suffering if any scars appeared. Therefore he was never violent to me. Our fights escalated over time but back then I was shocked to see my father acting that way. When I verbally retaliated and attempted to defend myself, he would launch into his attack. It was most likely to be the smallest thing that caused the upset but that didn’t stop him from exploding.

His face would be the first thing to change. His eyes would swell and bulge as he stared right through me. He’d clench his teeth together (a typical yet terrifying pose I never got used to). Then his body would straighten and stiffen. Sometimes he would clench his fists by his side. Occasionally out of complete frustration the door would be slammed or hit. The majority of the time he raised his right hand sharply, inches from my face as if to slap me and swore in another language. The word he always used (Bodmarsh) rings in my ear to this very day. I recently found out it translates into “pervert”.

I managed to save myself for a year having moved in with friends while studying. Unfortunately he still had control (I longed for freedom however could not fund myself) as he paid my rent and fees. Something he would frequently use in arguments to come.

Thankfully studying Drama gave me a perfect escape. I could slip away and create different characters, parallels of myself. I was doing well in my studies again and felt like I was really achieving something. I thought I had made some lasting friendships but once again I was mistaken. They all judged me, assuming as I was in Drama I must be dramatic in nature. They met my father as he would habitually show up unannounced at my flat. He’d enter and be as charming as ever. As soon as he’d leave I’d be visibly relieved, much to their confusion. They questioned everything I said, telling me I was overreacting and “lucky” to have him as my Dad. I was fighting a losing battle.

When the year was up and my studies had finished I returned home. For two years I had been dreading the day. He seemed pleased to have me back, but almost as soon as I had arrived, my life went back to the sorry state it was before. Fearing every move I made it dawned on me that I had no way out.

The next twelve years of my life became a horror story of intimidation, abuse and defamation.

Chapter 2. Part 1 – America and Late Teenage Years.

To be brief and before I post this, I need you to understand that I am posting something that only my mother and husband know about. I want to do this to show him for what he was. His early signs of emotional abuse and emotional incest, need to be exposed. He spent the majority of my teenage years exposing and humiliating me as this chapter will show you all. To reveal the entire truth about that holiday is a massive step for me as I am still hiding a lot of painful moments we shared together, torment that he flung on me and boundaries that he broke. I hope one day, I will not fear the judgement.

Part 1:

The first summer arrived so quickly. I had just finished my GCSE exams and my father had booked a long holiday in the U.S. I had been once before with my sister and that was a very revealing trip for her. She saw him in his true light. However, he spent the whole of the last holiday showering me with attention. I could not wait to return. I was desperate to get away. Things had been left on bad terms with my mother and we barely had a relationship. This felt like a much deserved break.

The memory of the America trip is a painful one. Still to this day I find it difficult to talk about, having only shared the hardest part with my mother in recent years. It was the first time the real character of my father shone clearly. After building up an almost God-like image of him throughout my childhood I was about to have the biggest revelation.

The holiday started out fine. We stayed with relatives on the West Coast then set off on a road trip across California. Money was an important part of his life. Although for years he showered me with gifts, he would often scrimp and save in other ways. Frequently with food as he hated being ripped off. If anything was expensive it was “over-priced” and we would only ever visit restaurants that had clear offers displayed.  However, he was very concerned about external appearance. He liked to look affluent. This was apparent by his choice of car. A white Cadillac with a red leather interior hardly gave off the image of a poverty stricken man. He dressed very smartly for someone on a relaxing holiday and spent plenty of money buying clothes in well known American stores. To the outside world he must’ve appeared so generous and well turned-out. However a new and different side of him was slowly unravelling in front of my eyes.

He lost his temper very quickly and became easily provoked. If someone was tail-gating him or driving slowly on the freeway he would steadily get agitated. He regularly vented his frustration in the car, telling me how un-cultured these people were or that they must be women drivers.  Often he’d swear through gritted teeth, it sent shivers down my spine as his face changed to a threatening appearance (it would be a familiar expression I’d relive over the following twelve years).

It wasn’t only strangers that annoyed him, eventually after a week of the trip I became a giant nuisance too. I had never really been bullied before. I was unaware what bullying felt like so didn’t notice what was happening to me at the time. He began nitpicking about things I said and did. He constantly corrected my grammar and if I dropped a‘t’ off the end of a word he’d cut me off mid-sentence and force me to pronounce it correctly. The way I walked was an issue. If I was too slow he’d tell me to stop lagging behind but if I bounced ahead, he’d criticise me for not waiting as he couldn’t keep up.

Gradually I became aware that it was difficult to put a foot right. This resulted in me being extremely cautious and worried of disappointing him or getting an earful about my “juvenile” behaviour.

Day to day activities was a chore. He had changed personality overnight. He continued to be cowardly, refusing to ask for anything himself, it was my job as usual. If we were out for dinner and he needed the bathroom, he would insist that I should ask the waitress where the toilets were, more specifically the male toilets. If I mentioned that it was an odd thing to do, he would instantly accuse me of being a selfish daughter not wanting to look after her elderly father (at the time he was 59, hardly elderly). He most certainly wouldn’t approach another woman to ask that kind of question. I quickly learnt there was no reasoning with him as when I tried to, I was bombarded with demeaning names.

If we needed directions he made me roll down my window and talk to a passing stranger or get out and run to the nearest shop to ask. He didn’t worry about my safety in these circumstances (I was only sixteen at the time), just as long as he wasn’t coming across as needy or weak.

I felt humiliated for the entire trip on the road. The worst thing (and the most difficult to talk about) is the memory I only recently revealed to my mother.

We often stayed in nice hotels in the cities but when travelling through smaller towns we resided in motels each night. Not wanting to waste money, my father would only book one room. The first time this occurred was our first night away. I was horrified. I was a sixteen year old girl; I knew how inappropriate this was. Praying that he’d have thought this through and asked for twin beds I was mortified to find instead a large double. I didn’t question him. (Although I now wish I had). He thought nothing wrong in his decision. He wanted to keep his costs down. His argument would’ve been clear. Why would I need another room if we were only staying one night? And more importantly, why would I want to waste so much money for no reason? So every night for the next two weeks, we shared a bed.

I remember each night running into the bathroom to get changed, panicking at the thought of seeing him undress in front of me which he had done previously without a care. I never slept in pyjamas, only a long t-shirt. I berated myself for not planning properly, for not having trousers to wear. Tugging my shirt down, I would quickly leap into the bed. My father undressed in plain view of me, stripping down to his boxers and then putting on pyjama pants and a vest. Why did he not go into the bathroom after me? We had never been this open as a family; everyone seemed to enjoy their privacy. Except him. Thankfully, the motels beds in America were huge so I pushed myself as far to the edge as possible. I barely slept the entire holiday.

One morning, towards the end of the road trip we stayed in a small motel in Fresno. As we checked out I caught the hotels clerk’s eye. He was staring at me, confused. He asked my father our room number and if he had the key. My father handed it back to which the clerk inquired,

“Was it just one room?”

I bolted out of that reception and headed straight to the car park, humiliated and ashamed that someone else knew how wrong it all was.

My father had no idea of how other people perceive things and if I dared to suggest the obvious, he would call me ‘evil’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘perverted’. Me, perverted?!

Chapter 1, Part 2.

My relationship with my mother and sister only worsened as I grew older. I became as they described a “spoilt, selfish brat”. I was not a rebel; I never acted “wild” although they often accused me of it. I just wasn’t my sister. She was my mother’s confidante, she listened to her. She was quiet, academic, intelligent and dependable. I, on the other hand, was a loose cannon. My mood swings fluctuated daily, I was irritable and wound up by their presence. I seemed to love drama and allowed it to follow me around. At least in some way I was still a part of their life, I wasn’t shut out completely. I just wanted her to notice me.

During these years my father did the unthinkable. He spent all his energy convincing me I was unloved by my mother and sister. He would tell me openly if he heard them criticise or insult me, every day there was something new to tell me. As I walked in from school, he would beckon me to his room to discuss the events of his day and what he had heard. The door would be locked of course.

I didn’t realise the signs but my mother always had deep concerns. In her eyes he showed evidence of abuse very early on.

He always crossed boundaries and saw nothing wrong in doing so. Not just with me but also with my sister. His touch, his kiss, nothing felt right, it was always too affectionate. I always felt uncomfortable and that he was crossing a forbidden line. But I could never voice this, not back then anyway.

My mother moved out when I was fourteen as she could no longer cope. She tried to take me with her but his grip was too tight and by then I was too brainwashed. My sister left as well and the two teams grew stronger with hate. On a rare holiday to visit her family, I was constantly bombarded with commands to stay loyal to her and see my father for the evil creature he was. Of course at that moment my loyalties were firmly with my Dad and I was left distraught by their abhorrence towards him. They were just worried for my safety as they had been with my mother for years but I was blind to it. I made false promises to them out of fear saying that I would stand by her, I still loved her and I longed for the past when we were once happy.

The moments we laughed together, where I watched her cooking up my favourite meals in the kitchen following her every move. The times when I cuddled up to her as she had her afternoon nap and painted her face with make up as she slept.

Nothing stands out to me more than those memories. The fighting and arguing are almost a blur, those moments just blend into one another. But the flashes of our happiness remain completely clear.

I can’t wait to taste it. My mother has been promising to do this for months. My sister doesn’t seem as excited as me probably because she has tasted it before. It’s a long wait. I go into the garden, the sun is beating down on me. The smell is different out here too. I retreat back inside as the oven timer rings; it’s ready!

My mother tells us to wait as it’s very hot. “Wait”? I can’t wait. I’m not patient. I want it now. She is hovering over the cooker but I can’t see what she is looking at. Her face seems confused.

“What is it Ma?” asks my sister.

“I think we may have gone wrong,” Ma replies.

I stand on a stool and see a glass dish filled with rock hard toffee.

“Where are the flapjacks?” I am puzzled.

“It doesn’t matter, we can eat this instead,” Ma swiftly states.

She takes the dish to the sink and chips away at the toffee. Chunks are flying everywhere. My sister is clearly put off as she walks away. I plan to stay; I like toffee. My mum hands me (what I think is) a very small piece. I put the hot toffee in my mouth.

The top layer begins to melt and I’m left with all the crunchy bits. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to eat. I can’t chew, I’m trying with all my strength but I can’t. Little nuggets are stuck in my teeth. My fingers are pulling at them, I am not enjoying this.

My mum is proudly watching me devour her bizarre creation that I so excitedly popped into my mouth a few minutes ago. My tongue is rooting around trying to pull every last bit from my teeth. It’s not working.  I eventually manage to dislodge a chunk and consider whether to swallow it whole or to do the unthinkable and spit it out.

 

This happiness saved me. The dark moments in my life made me return to these memories and through my adult years I have visited them plenty of times.

After the holiday we returned to England. I flitted between both of my parents but predominantly stayed with my father in the family home. It wasn’t ideal, my mother knows now that she should have used all of her force to take me out of that house as ultimately this was the time where he “worked” on me the most.

I dreaded the time I had to spend with Mum. Not because I didn’t want to see her but I knew of the interrogation I was about to face from her and my sister. Each would take it in turns to find out his plans. I clammed up, refusing to answer their questions, feeling more and more left out of their partnership. Their desperation, their anger was immense, it suffocated me. The only person left to turn to was my father, his plan was having the desired effect. I started to resent them.

My parents underwent a prolonged and painful divorce. My father contested it at first. He was incredible stubborn and my mother had insulted his masculinity. Divorce was frowned upon in his homeland; it was not a choice that entered his mind no matter how unhealthy and destructive the environment was.

I made the decision at this moment that would change my future forever and chose to live with my father. For months I did not speak to my mother and sister, they both cut my Dad out of their life, effectively cutting me out too. I know my mother sent my sister’s boyfriend to find me at home. That day my father and I had been out somewhere. On our way home we noticed someone at the front door peeking through the letterbox. My father parked away from the house. We watched as the young man eventually gave up and left. My father said nothing. I was frightened and he did nothing to reassure me. I kept my distance from them partly out of fear but mostly out of shame.

The pampering and lavish gifts continued for three months until it all suddenly stopped. My father had what he wanted; me. The conditioning had also ended. He had reached the point he wanted, he had the five bedroom house all to himself. He was the king of his palace.

Summer was near and I was living in a dream world. But what was coming around the corner was about to shatter everything I thought to be true and real.

© Roshni Bhattacharya 2013

Chapter 1, Part 1.

As many have asked, here are the first three chapters of my autobiography. I hope this gives you further insight into my past and allows you to understand the effect of emotional abuse. This chapter highlights the beginning and where my childhood became tainted with lies, hate and anger. My story is the truth about what happened through my eyes. Abuse comes in many forms, sometimes you are witness to it but mostly, it is well hidden, among families you’d think were perfect. That’s why it’s so clever, so frightening, so sad.

THE EARLY YEARS

He just couldn’t take it anymore. The screams of abuse and hatred bounced off the walls and I watched as my father removed himself from the anger. Calmly, he walked into the living room. The barrage of screaming continued from the kitchen but it could not be seen. The stairs were my haven, just safe enough to not be noticed but somewhere I could witness everything. I should have been sheltered from it, but instead, I was consumed by it.

I followed him in but with much more haste. I was frightened of them both. They were wild animals at times, ready to rip my father apart. It was terrifying. I closed the hallway door first then the living room door (putting up these obstacles was my only way to keep them out).

He was sat on the sofa with his head lowered. There was no emotion; he was silent. I did what any daughter would do, I comforted my father. Patting my gentle palm on his back I spoke,

“Don’t worry Daddy, I’m here. Don’t be upset, it’s okay Daddy, you’ll be okay”.

My reassuring, almost parental words began the break in his boundaries.

“What would I do without you? You are such a good daughter. You always know how to make me feel better darling”.

The first sign of emotion was let out since the whole drama began. I had made my father cry. My mother’s violent words and my sister’s vicious screams had not provoked the slightest amount of feeling from him but I, a fourteen year old girl, did.

It was his first mistake. I now felt indebted to my father’s happiness.

It was once very different.

My early childhood was filled with moments like this, moments that merge into one. My parents’ hate for each other was consuming. Looking back, all I can see was anger. Occasionally there would be flickers of a normal life and I would convince myself that we were just a typical, ‘normal’ family. Nobody goes through life without problems, no marriage is smooth; I would find any excuse to justify our lives were normal.

Although I never actually saw any violence between them, I knew it existed.

I never saw what love was. They never touched.

Once, on a Mother’s day just after my eighth birthday, I remember dragging my father into my mother’s bedroom (they’d been sleeping in separate rooms since I was born) and physically making him hold her. He may’ve given her a small peck but I can’t be sure I didn’t imagine it. My mother cried. I didn’t understand that. But I do now; she was crying out of hope, a non-existent hope that he might change.

I certainly saw what hate was. My mother detested my father and as I thought he was a hero, I resented her. She and my sister had the closest of bonds. I could not see how a mother could favour one daughter over another or how she could open her heart to my sister but leave it closed to me. I never knew how my mother truly felt about my father until later. She never spoke to me. She had my sister. I craved her love and attention but never received what I ached for. Instead my father was there, smothering me with all the attention I could want. I regularly vented my frustrations to him about them. He should have taken this as an opportunity to piece the family back together but to him this was the crucial time to tear it apart.

We became two sides of a very unhealthy team, each ganging up on the other when all I wanted was to be united. In my eyes my mother did not love me. I gradually became hypnotised by my father’s abundant lifestyle and deluded version of love. Slowly my mother and I drifted further apart. She could not break the barrier he had enclosed around me. I had trapped myself in his love, believing he was true to his promises and trusting him as any daughter would trust their father.

My relationship with my mother and sister only worsened as I grew older. I became as they described a “spoilt, selfish brat”. I was not a rebel; I never acted “wild” although they often accused me of it. I just wasn’t my sister. She was my mother’s confidante, she listened to her. She was quiet, academic, intelligent and dependable. I, on the other hand, was a loose cannon. My mood swings fluctuated daily, I was irritable and wound up by their presence. I seemed to love drama and allowed it to follow me around. At least in some way I was still a part of their life, I wasn’t shut out completely. I just wanted her to notice me.

During these years my father did the unthinkable. He spent all his energy convincing me I was unloved by my mother and sister. He would tell me openly if he heard them criticise or insult me, every day there was something new to tell me. As I walked in from school, he would beckon me to his room to discuss the events of his day and what he had heard. The door would be locked of course.

I didn’t realise the signs but my mother always had deep concerns. In her eyes he showed evidence of abuse very early on.

He always crossed boundaries and saw nothing wrong in doing so. Not just with me but also with my sister. His touch, his kiss, nothing felt right, it was always too affectionate. I always felt uncomfortable and that he was crossing a forbidden line. But I could never voice this, not back then anyway.