Personal Writing

To Learn of Domestic Abuse: A Conversation With My Mother

Content Warning: description of domestic abuse

At a certain age you are no longer a child but something more. Far from adulthood, caught in a nebulous space of puberty and mental development. But the weight of responsibility is ever so slightly pressed upon you. To be trusted with a conversation about the past is one such responsibility.

I remember being 16 years-old and my mother telling me the story of what happened between her and my father. The violence and the abuse. The way it stole her self belief and confidence. Of course, she didn’t need to do anything wrong, simply existing within the same space as him was enough to attract his ire. Didn’t cook his meal exactly the way he wanted it? He would destroy whatever was in front of him, and steal another piece of her being. A cut here, a bruise there. It was a slow, unrelenting build-up of trauma.

She once said: “I never knew which way was up, and that’s how he liked to keep it. Though, afterwards, he’d always return to that whimpering, apologetic mess…”

She told me that my birth was the catalyst to finally leave him. But you could see the scars, more mental than physical, that he had left on her. Yet she would still say she loved him and refused to put him down for the sake of it. She had the choice to not put him on my birth certificate but she did anyway. That would be the closest he ever got to being a “father”. Her reasoning for making such a choice was that one day, as I came of age, I may independent from her try to seek him out (this didn’t happen). Regardless of the suffering he had inflicted upon her.

I think that strength, her complete selflessness is one of the things I never quite understood about mum until later in my own life. She took on the weight of responsibility to her child and the uncertain future that lay ahead. A single parent who with the help of her own parents gave me a life free of the violence she had so often faced.

I wish I could have thanked her more. Last week was 2 years since she passed away. Everyday I try to emulate her strength and move forward. And I undoubtedly know that without her I would never had made it this far.


I’ve listed a couple of resources for anyone affected by domestic violence in the U.K. for the rest of the world please visit a more comprehensive list on Wikipedia.

Refuge/National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Their helpline offers advice and support to women experiencing domestic violence.

Refuge also provide safe, emergency accommodation through a network of refuges throughout the UK, including culturally-specific services for women from minority ethnic communities and cultures.

Their website also includes some information for men who are either being abused or who are abusers.

You can call, for free and in confidence, 24-hours a day.

0808 2000 247

You can call, for free and in confidence, 24-hours a day.

Website: www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

Respect – Men’s Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for all men experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner. They provide emotional support and practical advice, and can give you details of specialist services that can give you advice on legal, housing, child contact, mental health and other issues.

Tel: 0808 8010327


Monday–Friday

9am-8pm

Website: www.mensadviceline.org.uk/

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline


Galop provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.

Tel: 0800 999 5428


Monday to Friday

10:00am – 5:00pm

Wednesday to Thursday

10:00am – 8:00pm

Website: www.galop.org.uk/domesticabuse/

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