I often found the same question would pop into my head after one of the normal daily beatings from my step dad. Do you feel more like a man when you beat helpless children? How could someone find it in them to beat a child repeatedly and torment them with nasty sayings like “Use your head for something other than a hat rack!”, “Stop playing the victim! You are always making yourself out to be a victim when you aren’t!” or “You’re nothing other than a bully! You’re going to spend your entire life locked up in jail you are such a terrible child!”. I heard these sayings daily, often times followed by the same question popping into my head, Does that make you feel like more of a man because you can torment a young girl?!
I often heard these saying when I had made a mistake, ya know something simple like, knocking over my glass of water at the dinner table. Normal mistakes all children make. Usually they were either preceded or followed up by a vicious hit to the back of the head or face. Followed by more tormenting telling me what a screw up I was or how I wouldn’t succeed at anything in my lifetime. If I was lucky my mom wouldn’t be home. If she were and I started crying he would take me away from wherever my mom was in the house, throw me into a couch or hold me against a wall with his hand covering my mouth and nose. I still remember the sheer terror running through my mind and I tried so hard to gasp for air, fighting against him as hard as I could. Nothing would get him to let up. His sweaty tense anger filled face would be right in my face often times I could feel the spit flying out of his mouth as he told me “You better shut up or I’ll make you sorry!” “Stop crying you have no reason to cry!”. These words were filled with such anger and hate I soon began to hate myself.
When I was in elementary school his mother’s house was a safe place, as with my mom’s parent’s house. I loved going there. He couldn’t beat me or yell at me. I was able to be a child at these places without the fear of him watching me waiting for the perfect time to beat me. One time at his mom’s house my younger brother had taken his shoes off and put them into a closet in one of the rooms my step dad would often use while we were there. The time had come to gather our shoes and coats and get ready to head home. My brother couldn’t find his shoes. My step dad’s face instantly turned red. I watched the red travel from his clenched jaw to the top of his flat top hair cut as he stared me down. I knew I was going to take the blame for this and I better help him find his shoes. We all began looking. What really was probably only half an hour seemed like hours. I had been looking in my step dad’s room and he followed me in there. Again he grabbed my arm, pulled me in so close I could feel the droplets of spit hitting my face as he talked through his clenched jaw telling me what a terrible sister I was and that I better just tell him where the shoes were. But I didn’t know where they were as I had not been the one to put them away. He didn’t care it was my fault, everything was always my fault. Finally, I can’t remember who, the shoes were found in the closet and man I was in for it because I had hid the shoes from my brother. He grabbed my arm and as hard as he could he through me into a corner. He then sat down in his office chair and found the biggest books he could find. I remember him telling me to put my hands above my head, I did what I was told. Then I felt the weight of 3 books, each about the size of an average dictionary, fall into my hands. There he was in my face with his finger pointing at me telling me so keep those books above my head until he said so. There I sat, arms shaking, and tears running down my face. I didn’t dare move or say a word. Time seemed to stand still, finally he got in my face again. He told me what a terrible sister I was and asked me if I would ever hide my brothers shoes again, to which I replied by shaking my head no trying to keep myself from crying. Through his clenched jaw he said “Good, now get your shoes and coat on NOW!”. Little did I know I would have this night thrown in my face every time I was in trouble, like people in the olden days getting stoned to death.
When I think back on what a sick man my step dad was the same question still taunts me. Did that make him feel more manly? He couldn’t boss my mom around and rule her so he had to have complete control over something I guess. As I look back that seems to be the only explanation I have for his despicable actions. My mom was strong willed and she had been controlled by my father so was determined not to be controlled by another man again, so he chose to prey on us kids.
I still wonder what his response would be if I asked him if he felt more like a man by beating children. Maybe someday after I have worked on myself and I no longer fear him I will be able to have a civil conversation with him about what he did to us and why he did what he did. For now I will continue to write my memories here in hopes that it will help my healing and might catch the eye of someone else needing to hear they are not alone.