What happened

I never thought that I had grown up in a violent house. My dad never hit my mother or my brothers or sisters, he never beat us and we never had to hide bruises under school uniforms. I never thought that there was anything wrong with the way my father acted. I never knew that it was different to other families.

My father never controlled us with violence, but we knew there was an always something to be scared of. We had samurai swords and knives all over the house, on display, to demonstrate my dad’s strength.

We grew up with stories about how our dad had beaten up others, that he knew how to kill and hurt people. A gun safe stood in our basement, and whenever we played too loudly, or interrupted their conversation we knew we were powerless to our dad.

My father crushed any different opinion. Every person outside of our family was “an idiot” according to him. Our teachers were idiots; no one else could be trusted.

So when my dad called his daughters ‘sluts’ and other horrible names, when he would kick out family dogs and cats and throw furniture around our home, we knew there was nowhere else to turn. I could name a thousand insults he yelled at us, how we were bullied and scared us while blaming my mum for everything.

When I was young I used to pray that he would hit me, so I had proof. It wouldn’t hurt as much as the years of bullying and intimidation and name calling, and that way I could go to the police to make him stop.

How I survived

I spent a lot of time inside my imagination, away from what was happening by reading and writing stories. My imagination gave me a place to escape.

I am still surviving it, and every day I learn new words to help me understand what happened. Language gave me power and the ability to voice my struggles.

My advice

There is always someone to talk to. You don’t have to deal with this on your own. Paint in pictures what you want your life to be like, so when you are ready, you can turn those colours into a reality.