It’s a bittersweet day.
Well, it is for me anyways. You see, when your family is broken it always is. A little over a year ago my father shattered my trust for the final time. Trust that he might never regain, I honestly don’t know at this point in my life.
It all started during the presidential campaigning for the 2016 election. That’s when the rift between us started to form. Fights started frequently. In his house, the term “liberal” was comparable to calling someone a “c*nt.” You see, liberal views, or feminist views were seen as stupid and radical. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, domestic abuse from previous boyfriends, and emotional abuse from family members I leaned more towards core feminism. The belief that men and women should be, in all ways, loved and equated in their strengths, emotions, and needs. There were quite a few arguments started around this premise. One of which ended in tears on my part due to my father saying, “Half the guys are on the sex offender registry because they kissed their cousins, and they got the wrong idea.” Stating this, and invalidating the years I’d spent building up the confidence to tell him what had happened to me were broken. I had told him what had happened prior to this argument, and he still didn’t see how hurtful it could be.
Then, in December, during another fight he slapped me in the face.
In March his mother passed away. Seventeen years to the day after his father. I tried to comfort him or fix the rift in any way I could. Hugging him randomly. Going out of my way to make him comfortable. Then, in May my life changed. My boyfriend proposed to me and we decided to get married sooner rather than later. I got married April 8th, 2016. I ended up having to quit my job because the commute from our new city of residence would be too long to handle financially. We wouldn’t be able to afford the gas. It wasn’t a great situation management wise and I was already trying to move forward and find my career path. My father, however strongly disagreed with my resignation.
On April 19th I woke up just like any other day, made myself breakfast and kept quiet to let dad sleep in. He was working graveyard shifts so I’d gotten used to either going to the gym or just keeping the TV low while he slept down the hall. It wasn’t a regular day though. He woke up grumpy. As soon as he walked down the hall he started yelling. Picking a fight about me having quit my job, and not moving out quickly enough. (Our BAH hadn’t kicked in yet, I was living with him for a week or two until it did so we could move to a hotel until we got housing.) The things I said to try and calm him fell on deaf ears. I realized after about ten minutes of him yelling at me, that he wasn’t wanting to have a conversation. He just wanted to yell. So I got up, to go back to my room and wait it out. I’d come back after he’d calmed a bit to talk to him about it and explain our plan. But as I walked to the hall he blocked my path. He started yelling louder…and then he lifted his right hand. As a force of habit, I put my hands in front of my face. He must’ve thought I was going to hit him, and he punched me in the left ear. He didn’t stop though. He pushed me to the ground and kept punching me. I was screaming for him to stop. I was crying hysterically. Finally, after sustaining about three blows I unfroze and tried to push him off me. I smacked his glasses off by accident. As he went to grab them I ran to my room. I keep a baseball bat by my bed on the nights I hear neighbor’s stories about break ins and solicitors lingering at night. The night prior had been one of them. He chased me down the hall and into my room. I grabbed the bat, and with tears in my eyes I screamed “Stay the hell away from me.” I wasn’t going to hit him. My head was already watery. My vision was blurring and for some reason the sun was too bright when it had just been dimmer a few minutes prior. He skulked off. I threw myself on my bed and wept. I called my husband and counselor who had been working with me through overcoming the rape. I was already starting to blame myself. Was it me? What had I done?
Twenty or so minutes later I hear his sandals sloshing down the hall. I took the phone in my hand and started filming. I’d left the bat on the bed behind me. When he got into view, I loudly said “This is being recorded, I’ve informed my husband and counselor what has happened. Please just leave me be.” But he didn’t.
“Give me that f*ck*ng phone,” he snarled as he charged me. He grabbed my hair and the phone and threw me against the wall. My back broke the shoe organizer and my head connected with the wall with a crack. The sweatshirt I was wearing had torn open from a screw that became exposed when the organizer broke underneath the force of my body. I could feel it boring into my back. For a second, it was all I could feel. After a long moment my vision returned and i started to stir trying to get up. I reached for the phone as I stood. He wasn’t going to let me anywhere near it. With both hands he grabbed me and pinned me to my bed, hitting my head repeatedly. My body and mind weren’t in synchronization any longer. My mind was slow by a good few seconds, like a buffering loading screen. I felt the cool touch of the aluminum bat, which my husband had bought me on our first date. I swung, flailing to get air as the blows kept coming. I connected with his hand. He released the phone, with a gasp of pain. I grabbed it and ran with the rest of the strength I had, and stumbled as quickly as I could to the bathroom, locking the door behind me. My dog, Atlas, was cowering behind the toilet. My poor pup had witnessed all of it. I collapsed in a heap on the floor. Bile rising in my mouth. Tears flooded what vision I had left. I couldn’t breathe still. There was a sharp pain going down my back. I fainted.
I came to a few minutes later to the sound of his voice. he was on the phone with someone. “She doesn’t trust me, I don’t know what to do about her. The other girls weren’t like this.” Who, me? Trust him with what? My safety? I had until that moment. I texted my husband the video and asked him to come get me. I didn’t want to be here any longer. His unit wouldn’t let him leave though, he was being reprimanded as my head spun and my head swelled. I waited until I heard my father settle into the chair with Fox News on. I took my dog and ran to my room. I grabbed all the bags I had, tearing through my belongings, stuffing everything I could fit into them. I then took my keys and ran to my car with Atlas in tow. I started it and secured him in. Then, with a hesitation I ran back in and grabbed my bat, in case dad followed me, and grabbed Atlas’ food. With my head swimming in circles I drove myself to the beach at 5 mph, two blocks away. I backed into a spot, so I could watch the traffic, and I cried as I tried to stay conscious as I waited for Matthew to come get me. It was two hours before they finally let him come get me.
Matthew dropped Atlas and I off at a friends house, he was required to return to work. Then, he’d take me to the hospital. I faded in and out of consciousness cuddling my dog of their couch. It was 5 PM by the time we got to the Army hospital. They checked me in, put me in a wheelchair and neck brace and made me wait five more hours. They tried to take an MRI without letting me take my daith jewelry out, and then immediately pulled me out of the machine when it messed up the readings. Another five hour wait. I played on my phone, laughing sloppily at the snap-chat filters as I waited nervously. I felt so alone. I wanted to talk to someone, anyone in my family…but were they family anymore? What had just happened? Did he already start telling them lies about what had happened? He couldn’t have, could he? I had video evidence. I waited, scared out of my mind. My dad, the man who had been my best friend until September had almost killed me. I thought I was going to die. I thought he was going to kill me. I thought as soon as I heard that crack when my head hit that it was going to be it. My head kept spinning as they took me, finally, and placed me in an E.R. bed. A photographer came in and took pictures of the bruises and scrapes. And then the fresh pink and bright purple swelling around my right ear. A bald spot around my ear had formed. The hair just gone, torn out in the altercation. My back hurt so bad, but they didn’t listen. Just kept checking my vitals and asking me to follow them with my eyes. At 11 PM they discharged me. “Contusion,” they said. That was it? But when I followed up the next Monday with a doctor outside of the military he confirmed it was a concussion. Then, a month later i couldn’t walk. We didn’t know why. Then, after an emergency physical therapist visit we discovered my hip had been dislocated at the sacrum and the femur. It took another month to put it back in place. In September we found out my cranial plates had been ever so slightly shifted, causing debilitating migraines.
My sister had excommunicated me. I was dead to her. It was my fault, at least in her eyes. She, along with the majority of my family, sided with my father.
I logged off Facebook, lurking never talking to anyone from April to August.
While in the hospital that night, my husband begged me to file a police report. After this and the fist fights I’d witnessed as a child, he might do it again. I eventually folded. I couldn’t bear to see my nieces or nephews hurt the same way I was. A week later I called the detective assigned to my case and asked him if it was possible for me to drop the charges. Apparently Hawaii is a zero tolerance state for domestic violence, because they took the case from me. I wasn’t pressing charges, they were. I wasn’t even given a subpoena to attend to testify. I filed for a restraining order, but the day of the hearing, knowing he’d be there I threw up non stop, and couldn’t bring myself out of the panic attack to drive there.
Months of flashbacks, panic attacks, not being able to leave my house without clinging to my husband, obsessively locking doors, panicking when I saw the same model car all followed after the incident. Seven months of PTSD intervention therapy, and a new prescription later, I’m still living in the shadow of his actions.
I don’t know if I’ll ever speak to him again. Or my sisters for that matter. Are they really family if the abandon you like that? When you need them the most?
I still remember the daddy-daughter dates. The road trips. Our trip to Disney World. Being foodies together. I remember the best parts of my father. I remember his guffaw. How much he loves Arnold Palmers. His enthusiasm for new technology, Law and Order, and NCIS. I love my father. I understand his actions. That his actions came from a deeply rooted depression and fear of abandonment. However, understanding is not the same thing as acceptance. Under no circumstance is a victim ever expected to accept the abuse.
I love my father, I miss him, and I think about him everyday. I’ve forgiven him, but whether or not I let him back into my life is still to be determined. One day, maybe he’ll understand what he’s done to me. How his actions have altered my life completely.
Until then, familial love will be from afar. Mostly in my distant memories and passing thoughts. I will never forget. I will never forget the feeling of his hands on my head, neck, and the anger they moved with. The hatred in his eyes as he spat expletives in my face. They will never be forgotten. He will never be forgotten, with the good and the bad in him.
Thank you for listening to one of the hardest true stories I’ve ever had to live through.