My earliest memory of my mother and father being together was them actually fighting .
I don’t have any memories of them actually being together without physical violence or abuse taking place.
Whilst I knew it was not right by my physical reaction to events it was unfortunately my normal.
My father was not around much but when he did turn up he would be drunk and be violent to my mother.
My mother actually recounts how I saved both her life and his life on occasions as it escalated.
I was told when I was 7 I stood between my father, as he had abused my mother so badly she had decided to kill him with a Japanese sword we had attached to one of our walls. The only thing that stopped her striking him was I stood in front of him. I don’t have any memories of this - most probably blocked it out. However I do remember at around the same age saving my mothers life as my father attempted to strangle her on the bathroom floor. I remember my father had come back drunk from work. He was asked where he had been, the fight escalated and the next thing I remember was watching my father push my mother to ground in bathroom and start to strangle her. Her face was turning red - I remember punching my father back to make him stop but he wouldn’t and probably didn’t feel it. I was tiny 7 year old and he was over 6ft. I remember running out to another room and grabbing my baby brothers stroller or walking aid which was rectangular in shape and with all my might lifting it off the ground and placing it over my fathers head so it reached his neck and I pulled with all my weight backwards. This made him fall back as he was lying over my mum. I think I actually hit his Adam’s apple and it impacted his breathing. I remember him loosening his grip to take the stroller of his head and my mother grasping for air.
After this point I have no memory.
From the outside my parents were professionals. My father used to be a professional footballer and my mother worked in sales. They were respectable from the outside no one prob would have guessed what was taking place until they saw bruises etc.
How this impacted me was quite profound .. I remember in primary school just living with constant anxiety of my father coming home. Which in itself should be happy for any child, but I had extreme anxiety that a row would start. I also lived in denial and pretended that all was ok at home to teachers. I used to write about how happy my family were in my books.
Teachers of course didn’t ask what was going on at home - they had no reason to. I was expert at masking.
My father left as I started grammar school and I still didn’t reconcile most of what I witnessed at home. However the body has a strange way of grieving for all the trauma I had witnessed. On the outside I was resilient, however I remember being on bus going to school and just crying for no reason. It wasn’t hormonal it was just it was the only place I felt I could cry and no one would notice or be upset. I never wanted to cry at home because in my view my mum was sad enough and she didn’t need me making her sadder.
It took many years for me to crystallise what I had gone through as a child. It sad that schools don’t really acknowledge the problem even now. It’s probably the last thing they think about. Hoping that it is covered in a lesson by PSHE or citizenship teacher is really not enough in my view. I wish someone had been open and said ‘it’s not right and happens for lots of reasons - if you are suffering at home we have a system that will help you cope’.
They could even have a designated person for students to talk to in-confidence, I don’t think a lesson is a place I would have opened up. I hope schools take these comments on board and think of ways to help students who were like me - trapped in a cycle of abuse at home.