I have been wanting to talk about domestic violence The NSPCC have recently published a study exploring the types of support given to children, young people and their mothers living with domestic violence in London. I tried to generate some discussion about personal experience of domestic violence on my Facebook page. To date I have received no responses. The interest was there. The request was RT'd but zilch response. This reflects in my opinion the secretive nature of this insidious practice.
Let me tell you about my experience. I grew up in the 50's in a working class family. I'm not sure how prevalent domestic violence was then. It was called a bust up or a row in our family. It was Dad being difficult after he'd had a drink? It was the boys defending Mam who was in fact probably in little danger? My Dad usually came off the worst because, not only was he attacked by my brothers but he was ostracised by everyone afterwards for causing the row? I can remember being witness to these commonplace conflagrations on a regular basis. I wasn't considered harmed by these incidents it was part of life. It was normal.
Was I affected by them. Well of course I must have been. Though I wasn't aware of being affected at the time. I can remember being about 6 years old. I would have stayed on my own in the house perhaps for 2 or 3 hours until my 16 year old brother returned from his night out. It wouldn't have been late there we're no nightclubs then. We would then perhaps be listening to the radio when the others returned home and then metaphorically speaking 'the fat was in the fire'. I remember one time standing on a chair in the corner of the room screaming in terror but don't remember what the outcome was. It could have been that my Mam would announce she was leaving. She'd perhaps take me round to the next door neighbours to stay. Goodness know what they thought. They probably thought the same as we did that my Dad was a drunken shit. Then Mam would walk around Sheffield City Centre until the early hours. The following morning I would be redeemed like a parcel from a pawnshop and my father would be ignored until it was time for him to return to the pub. After which peace would reign until the next time.
I remember being told that this had gone on for years in fact it had started happening after she gave birth to my eldest brother who was 16 years older than me. That her escape had been putting the baby in the pram and walking the night. When I think of that in context of today it seems horrendous. Now she would be deemed in danger outside whereas then she saw it as safety and freedom. I don't know if my father hit her then. He seemed to lose his temper out of frustration. I can only tell you that my mother seemed to have the locus of power. It was a little like a Sons & Lovers situation. Yes he was scary but he was scary because he shouted and I was told about all his shortcomings. Whereas Mam was strong, she had the answers, she was there to make things right and she did some of the time.
I know there are much worse incidents of domestic violence than I experienced where real physical and emotional injury occurs. I thought I'd share how violence was minimised and normalised in the then average working class family.
I have just read this out to OH who queried me publishing it. He 'would keep it in the family as they say'. How many bells does that ring? Keep the secret. To tell is disloyal. I wonder how many have been injured by that particular edict!