Sue Cox

Sue Cox

Monday, 21 October 2013

"Sticks and stones"

Apparently this month is “Domestic violence awareness month” I “liked” it on my facebook page, I thought about it and of all the people who suffer violence, especially in their home, in what should be a place of safety.
Inevitably, and hopefully, without self pity, I thought about the times when I was beaten shitless by my cowardly first husband. I was beaten and kicked and I was terrified of him.
Worse than that he would do his worst when the children were in the house, and in my rather pathetic attempt to shield them from it, I would beg him to wait until they were asleep! 
Of course, they often heard it, and in later life my daughter told me how scared she was, hearing me being kicked under the stairs.
I was so damaged and full of self loathing that I thought I deserved the beatings I got, that self loathing was  another wonderful “gift” from my catholic upbringing and clergy abuse.
When he was at his worst, we lived in a house where I could see him coming from quite a distance, in those days he wore a black anorak with a yellow stripe on the sleeves. i used to se this “wasp like” vision coming closer and closer, and would get into a blind panic.
Now this man is no longer a part of my life, I don’t even know if he is alive or dead, and I care even less, and I rarely think about him.
But changing trains a while ago I was on a station and I suddenly got into a “blind panic” , most unusual for me, I am not given to anxiety attacks these days! 
But I turned my head, and just out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man in a black anorak with a yellow stripe down the sleeves. I hadn’t spotted it, but my brain, in it’s attempt to keep me alive, had registered the threat, and even after thirty five years,put me into “flight or fight” mode -  that image is still in there !
That is the power of damage to a human being, those kinds of experiences cause physical changes, that cannot be removed.
But worse than that, is the understanding I now have,  that witnessing domestic violence has a similar devastating effects on a child’s brain, and they will have a permanent change because of what they saw. I can hardly bear to think about it.
Even the words they hear and the language used affects them
When we sang  “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me “ We were SO wrong!
We cannot do very much about what happened in the past, but we can change the future.
That is why these public awareness campaigns are so important.
Each time we say something , or do something to another human being, we can set of such a negative chain of events which can last a liftetime, and even affect the next generation.
On the other hand, we can also set off a positive chain of events. In what time remains to me, I hope to try and do the latter.  

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