Anyone who has been in the same shoes I was in as a kid, has to at some point in their lives, wonder why so many people knew what they were being subjected to - but chose to do nothing.
The fact that not only did family members know, they often times witnessed a lot of what happened to myself and my younger siblings.
Other people would comment on how well "behaved" we were. Little did they know, we were in genuine fear for our lives. I don't know for sure if my dad would've gotten to that point, but when a person is raging on a small child, who the hell knows what could happen. We see this a LOT today. A three year old dies at the hands of his step dad - a little baby died because he was shaken to death.
I sincerely believe that if someone would have tried to help us kids, my dad would have THEN gotten the help he so desperately needed. I really have to believe that my father was repeating the same discipline principles on us, that were used on him as a kid. I also believe his own demons from the military haunted him and probably still do. As far as I know, he's never received help for either of these things.
There was an instance where my best friend from high school witnessed my father beating the living hell out of me and it was then that I started to wonder if what happened in my house, didn't happen everywhere. I came to this conclusion after the total fear and shock on her face after the fact.
There was no food or beverage allowed in our rooms - and as a mother myself - I can totally understand why. Kids' rooms get messy enough without the added 'gross' of having dead food left in a room or dirty dishes for that matter.
Anyway.. my best friend came over one day after school and she had stopped and gotten herself a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's. I let her in and we went to my room.
She got out her food and ate it all, then proceeded to go into the hall bathroom and throw her bag with the trash inside, away in the trashcan.
It was shortly after that, I heard thumping up the stairs and my heart stopped. I knew what was coming and my friend sat there, oblivious to what was about to transpire.
My door was kicked off its hinges and my dad is sceaming that he "smells french fries!" and "goddamnit, there had better not be ANY food in this goddamned room!" He was weilding a razor strap and was storming around my room, dumping over my stereo, pulled my mattress off my box springs and then got in my face. My friend stood up like a bolt when the door came flying in, and stood with her back pressed against the wall with a 'what the hell!' look on her face followed by a look of flat fear.
I told him through tears that the food wasn't mine, that it was *****'* and that she'd finished and had thrown the trash into the trashcan in the bathroom. He wheeled around to her and then started yelling at her, asking her what she had eaten. She was so terrified.. she was rattling off the contents of her lunch, her voice shaking, very close to tears.
I wasn't crying for any other reason than I was so humiliated.. seeing my friend over my dad's shoulder as he sprayed spittle onto my face... his nose pressed against mine. His eyes bloodshot and his veins popping out....
He then threw me onto my box springs and proceeded to whip me with that razor strap. I actually fought him on this occasion, not so much that I cared (sad as that is to say) that he was beating me, but that he was doing it in front of one of my friends. My best friend, in fact. I kept trying to flip over onto my back, so I could get up and run, but he was too strong and it didn't take long for me to realize that I was only making it worse.. so I just laid there and let him beat me.
After it was over, I was bawling like a loon, my friend was crying and he just left the room. He went back downstairs to finish watching television.
My friend wanted me to pack my things and leave.. that this "isn't right!" But how could I leave? My brother and sister were there and what would happen to them? She wound up going home and she told her parents. While they were appalled... they did nothing.
It seems we've come to a point in our society where any child discipline is reported and to that effect, we have children running households instead of parents. I don't believe that children shouldn't be disciplined.. but beat? No.
It's just too bad that true abuse isn't acted upon and the regular upbringing of children by responsible parents, is.
I really let my son have it at the grocery store one time because he started whining about wanting some candy and wouldn't stop. I got in his face and said in a forced whisper, "If you don't knock it off, you will be sorry" and just gave him that "look". Some lady gave me the evil eye of disgust because I reprimanded my then 7 year old and wasn't going to give in to him. To bad that lady wasn't around when we were getting our bones broken.. she'da had a freakin' HEYDAY.
What I did that day was wrong, I don't deny that. I knew the rules and while my friend didn't live there, I did and so did my parents. Their house, their rules. I would have even taken a regular spanking or grounding. But not that. That went down wrong and unfortunately, there were many more times like this where the punishment went above and beyond anything that any child should have to endure.
Hey.. I was a kid and kids fuck up. As a parent, I make mistakes and yes, my kids can be butts as well.... but a little perspective is needed sometimes and if that takes a person stepping in to say, "Hey.. what the hell do you think you're doing?!", then so be it.
Trouble is, that line seems to have gotten blurred.