When I was fourteen, my morning wake-up call was the sound of my dad screaming obscenities at my mom. His tirades were usually about money and the family business. After a while, the verbal abuse caused me to resent and disrespect my dad. It got so out of hand that finally one morning I went downstairs and yelled back. This was a bold move because my dad had a bit of a temper, but he stopped yelling at her for at least a few days afterwards.
Though the screaming didn’t start until my teen years, for as long as I can remember, my dad had always talked down to my mom. I remember asking my mom why she’d never divorced him. Her answer was simple: She stayed with him for my sister and me. She’s seen too many step-fathers mistreat their step-kids. She figured my real father beat the alternative.
I also suspect that her past marriage had a lot to do with it. Her first husband was abusive to the point that he’d broken her nose twice. He’d threatened to kill her if she ever left, but after eleven years of abuse, she finally escaped, telling no one where she was going, not even her mother and father. My dad never hit my mom, which is an improvement over physical abuse. While there are no visible scars with verbal abuse, the damage runs deep, especially with children who look to their parents for guidance.
My mom is an amazing and resilient woman who made many sacrifices for her children. I admire and appreciate her for it. At the same time I’ve come to realize that no woman should tolerate abuse in any form.
The summer before my freshman year in college, I fell for a boy who was cute, sweet and respectful of my feelings. We talked about a future together. I thought I’d found ‘The One.’ This harmony lasted for about a month.
Then he changed.
He quickly became verbally abusive, and I had a hard time reconciling this cruel boyfriend with the sweetheart I’d first met. I blamed myself, thinking I’d done something to offend him. I’m ashamed to say that the relationship went on like this for a few more weeks until he broke it off.
Looking back now, I wonder if I would have been strong enough to end the relationship if he hadn’t. I realize I’d been conditioned to think that abusive relationships were the norm.
It took a while, but I finally realized my own self-worth. The man I married is nothing like those others. He is kind and respectful and simply the best husband a woman could ever want. We have a very lucky little girl. She gets to witness
firsthand exactly how a woman should be treated by her spouse.
Sophie Sinora, the main character in the first book in my Whispers Series, has a similar self-esteem issue and falls for the wrong boy. Sophie is very much like I was as a teen. Luckily, she’s got two great friends who help her see the error of her ways. Sometimes, even the smartest girls can make unwise relationship decisions.
Recovering from the damage of growing up in an abusive household isn’t easy, but it can be done. The first step is realizing that when it comes to your future, you never have to settle.