Tag Archives: Child Abuse

A Bite for a Bite

The Original Clippy

My brother and I used to try to kill each other on a regular basis. My mother decided it might be a good idea to put a stop to it, and she came up with unique ways of doing so. The least drastic punishment she came up with was to force my brother and me to hug for five minutes. That one was always a fun one. We would whisper exactly how we were going to murder each other as soon as the time was right.

I used to bite my brother in retaliation for punching, kicking, or trying to suffocate me. He would run to my mom and tell her I’d bit him. She would force me to stretch out my arm, and she would bite it. Sometimes, it was hard enough to draw blood, but she knew how much pressure it took to break the skin, and tried not to go beyond that.

I eventually stopped biting, and I discovered my fingernails could be used as a weapon. My brother would start in with “torture little sister time,” and the second he turned his back I would dig my fingernails into him. This resulted in scenes that looked like something from a Freddy Kruger nightmare. My mother, being the problem solver she was, continuously clipped my fingernails short enough to make them bleed.

Eye for an eye punishment was my mom’s specialty. I know these punishments affected me, but I don’t know if the effect was good or bad.

Roaches Make Strange Bedfellows

Rusted and RuinedMy mom tried to kill herself, and was consequently deemed an unfit parent. Children services took my brother and me away and introduced us to the wonderful horrors of foster care. Luckily, our grandparents decided to take custody of us shortly thereafter, but forms and proceedings had to happen before they could take us “home,” so we were stuck in the system.

Children services decided to put us both into a group home for boys. They knew the situation was temporary, so they gave in when we begged them not to separate us. That’s how I, a girl, ended up sleeping on a couch in a group home for boys. They only let me stay there because I promised not to go upstairs where the the boys slept. I stayed downstairs, where the bathroom had no shower or bathtub, and I went without a shower for a week. But, all this was fine by me because my brother said the roaches were worse up there.

It was hard to imagine an infestation larger than the one downstairs. Roaches where everywhere. I hardly slept the entire time I was in that house. I knew the roaches would crawl all over me the second I drifted off to sleep. When the house was dark, they crawled out from their hiding places, frolicking on the counters and cabinets, tables and chairs, walls and ceilings, curtains and rugs.

I fought the urge to burn my clothes and tear off my skin every morning. I knew, I just knew the filthy creatures laid eggs under my skin while I slept. The disgusting things had crawled in my mouth while I snored. They went into my ears, ate the wax, then shit it back out. The dirt of their little bodies covered every part of me, but I couldn’t take a shower because it was upstairs with the boys’ rooms. I washed myself in the bathroom sink downstairs as well as I could, but I didn’t feel clean again until after I had taken four or five showers at my grandparent’s house.

People seem to think that foster homes are safe and clean. They think that the places are regularly inspected, the foster parents thoroughly checked. They think the system works, that it protects children. They’re wrong.

Frozen Fish Sticks Aren’t Funny

Tasty Apples

My stomach was trying to eat itself, my legs wobbled, my head spun. My parents were asleep, and I wasn’t allowed to use the stove. No cereal. No bread. No peanut butter, leftovers, nothing that didn’t require cooking, and there wasn’t much of that either. I found a box of frozen fish sticks, sat on the kitchen floor, and ate them one by one. They tasted awful, shards of ice mixed with frosted breading, but I was so hungry I kept eating them.

When my parents found out about my fish stick feast, they laughed and laughed. They told my grandparents who also laughed. My goodness, it was so funny that a little child would up and eat half a box of fish sticks straight out of the freezer. They didn’t realize that I never got enough to eat. They didn’t know that my little body ached from the lack of food. They didn’t know that the tomato soup they’d fed me a few days ago was the last thing I ate.

I told my grandma there wasn’t any food at our house. She went over and looked through are kitchen. Sure enough, hardly any food. She yelled at my dad about not providing for his children. She called my mom names. When she left, my dad beat me. He screamed that I would get far worse if I ever told anyone else about things that happened in our house. I kept my mouth shut for many years after that.

Hell, Roads, and Intentions

Building Fences

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, there wasn’t as much awareness about domestic violence as there is now. Back then, people thought what they did was discipline, not abuse. They repeated behaviors they witnessed when they were children. If a woman talks back, hit her. If your kids don’t behave, hit them. Throw in some anger issues and you get someone like my dad. He’s a good person, but his behavior wasn’t so good.

I don’t blame him for the past. I know what it’s like to make terrible mistakes, and I certainly know what it’s like to lose control of your emotions. Some may call me a fool for forgiving him, but there is nothing to even forgive. He became the person that his genetics and environment made him, and he did what he thought he was supposed to do.

If he thought what he did was wrong, he wouldn’t have done it. There was no glee in our fear and pain. He didn’t take pleasure in what he did. He did what he thought was best for all of us. Unfortunately for everyone, his thoughts were warped by his own traumas.

Pills Aren’t Popcorn

Light Goes On Light Goes Off

My mom took epic amounts of pills. A few here, a few there, and sometimes great handfuls at once. Empty pill bottles rolled across the floor like tumbleweeds. Little orange bottles with little white lids and little white labels hid in every space of the house.

When she took her heaping handfuls of pills, she left reality behind. She spoke gibberish while stumbling around the house like a drunk three year old. She put food on the stove and forgot about it. She swallowed a quarter. She spoke to things only she could see. She got lost in her own house. When she came to the next day, she would laugh and laugh as my brother and I recounted the tales of her drugged up antics. She was a barrel of laughs, my mom.

The Cat Pee Sauna

What Smells Like Windex

The smell of cat piss was awe-inspiring. It wasn’t just a hint of ammonia in the air. It wasn’t just a smell coming from the litter box. No, this was a smell that made you question reality. It was a living smell, a sticky ooze moving over your skin. It greeted you the second you walked within five feet of the house. If you ventured inside, it jumped on you like an excited puppy. It licked your face and rubbed against your clothes, leaving its scent behind.

When the weather turned hot and humid, the house became a piss fueled sauna. The only escape was my mom’s bedroom, where a small air conditioner sat in the window. It supplied us with fresh, cool air while we slept and ate. It was an oasis where we hid ourselves away from the foul world we lived in.

Belt Buckles Hurt People

I was regularly beaten with a thick leather belt as a child. I was slapped and kicked and scratched and punched and even bitten. I went hungry more times than I can count. I watched my father punch and slap and scream at my mother and my brother. He broke her things. He broke our things. He terrorized us. We escaped him, but we never escaped the damage he caused.

Belt Buckles Hurt People