To be a part of a family where domestic violence is as commonplace as brushing your teeth is no easy task. You wake up in the morning dreading opening your door, wondering what you’re going to find downstairs. It’s an unlucky dip, a game of hide and seek that you never want to finish. But somebody has to do it, and if you happen to be the eldest child, you’re doomed to pick up the pieces every time
Domestic violence tends to come hand in hand with alcohol addiction. If you’re unlucky enough to have both present in your household, you have to pretend to be strong on a daily basis. Not just for the sake of any siblings you may have, but for your own sake. You think that maybe if you pretend to be strong for long enough, someday you’ll actually become what you’re pretending to be. I did believe it –it’s how I made it to hell and back.
Having to treat my siblings as if they were my own children was a comfort, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They came to rely on me like they used to rely on our mother; I was their comfort blanket in the horrible life we’d all been dragged into. Essentially having two parallel lives was mentally draining, and maintaining relationships was impossible; actually having friends who weren’t scared by my home life was near implausible.
A common question us older siblings get asked is “why don’t you just call the police?” The simple answer is – they can’t do anything if the victim doesn’t want to press charges. And in a lot of cases, they are too madly in love with their partner to even risk losing them. Yes, it’s deluded and yes, they should put their kids first. But will they do so willingly? Hell no.
It’s not as simple as those on the outside may think; they are in love with their abuser, and in the case of my mum they were drinking the pain away daily. If you are hopelessly devoted to a person you will justify every single one of their actions, one way or another, even if it puts you and your loved ones at risk. I’ve been in the middle of fights trying to stop them. I’ve been dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and hit for no reason other than I tried to help my mum, or even for petty things such as getting food at the wrong time.
In my opinion, alcoholics are incapable of empathy. They are too busy being the centre of their own narcissistic universe, they’re just plain selfish. The fact of the matter is even if you do try and get it out in the open that your parent is being abused, there is nothing you can do. Because when a persons’ entire world is threatened, they will do anything to protect it. Whether it means denying the entire thing or blaming every single aspect of it on every single person they’re close to – in the case of my mum, it was the whole family’s fault.
Apparently I was the alcoholic in the house, the drug addict. Admittedly I smoked cannabis at the time and drank occasionally. She overlooked the fact that she woke up at 8AM every morning without fail to go down to the shop and pick up a bottle of wine. Whilst most mums would go out at this time to get a pint of milk, mine got wasted before 9AM.
I was a ‘manipulative little bitch’, who supposedly turned my sister against my mother, because I was ‘high on bath salts’ and drugs I’d never heard of. The addiction was my fault, but that can’t be right – apparently there was no addiction to speak of, no problems that needed addressing. Every sentence contradicted another and the poison that came out of her mouth made me break down daily. At 17 I went into therapy and got prescribed my first bout of anti-depressants. I have been on and off them ever since.
Every situation she got herself into over those 8 years, everything I did for her, has been conveniently forgotten. Even the nights where I went downstairs to find her unconscious on the floor or the sofa, or the time I had to call an ambulance for her because she was barely conscious, with blood running down her face. I’ll never forget it, but she forgot years ago. I’m stuck with the terrifying memories and flashbacks.
She still doesn’t know to this day that I called social services on her. I tried to get my brother and sister out of that hell hole we called home. I couldn’t have my 10-year- old sister crying herself to sleep any more; I couldn’t comfort her anymore, when I was doing the exact same thing. You don’t know heartbreak until you have a sibling begging you to get them away from their own mother, having panic attacks at such a young age. I had to call the police and I had to report her. I had to learn to be ruthless.
To anyone currently in this situation, or who has been in this situation in the past: always remember that there is a way out. Your time will come; it may not be right now, but you’ll be rewarded for all the things you’ve dealt with. This life can make or break a child, every single person I know who’s been through this turmoil has come out 10 times stronger on the other side.
If you’re experiencing anything similar to this then always remember that YOU can do this. YOU will live your life. Through this experience I learned not to take shit from anyone. To never trust or depend on another person, it’s how you survive a life like that. There’s no such thing as an alcoholic who feels remorse for their actions, or at least not until it’s too late. So why should I, and why should you?
Words by guest writer Daisy Cooper.
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