The first time he hit my Mother…

Last year, the NSPCC received the highest number of calls from adults who were concerned about children witnessing violent & abusive behaviour with a shocking 4,749 calls being made. This has risen by three quarters – three quarters! – since 2012/13.

A scary 85% of those calls were serious enough to be referred to the police and social services. There has also been 86 domestic violence referrals made in Northern Ireland in the past two years.

To you, 86 may not sound like a big number, but those 86 calls were made by those brave enough to speak up. To those who wanted to be heard. To those who want free of the darkness they’ve found themselves in. There are so many more cases of domestic violence happening behind closed doors that aren’t spoken about. That are not heard. They’re suffering in silence & they are so fearful {including their children} to make a phone call for help & advice. 

Back when I was little, there as only one person I knew to call when I was in trouble and that was the police. Sadly, they knew me by my first name – they were at my house regularly. Sadly, I was one of those children affected by domestic violence…and this story is of the first time I witnessed him hitting my Mother. 

It was July 12th, 1991 – it was just after 9pm at night and as I held the hand of my little brother who was just 5 years old at the time my Mum gave me money to get a taxi home. And the house keys to get through the door. After the 12th July Orange march {that happens annually here in Belfast} she had decided to keep the party going and to send us home. I was eleven years old. 

I remember getting us home, turning on all of the lights which was my thing to do when my Mum wasn’t home at night {which, sadly happened often}. I tucked my little Brother into bed and pulled his Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles duvet cover up to his neck and wished him a good night. I went to bed myself and due to being in alert mode {which was my thing when my Mum wasn’t home}, I heard keys opening the front door, it was around midnight. It wasn’t my Mother. It was her boyfriend at the time and I listened as he stumbled through the house clearly looking for my Mum. 

He came into my room, turned on my light and asked me where my Mother was. I said I didn’t know. The question was asked over & over but my answer was always the same. I didn’t know. He randomly asked me if I wanted some sausage rolls cooked – I said no thank you and he left. At around 2am my Mum finally came home. She clearly found her way into bed and I could finally sleep. Or at least I thought I could.

I heard my Mum & her boyfriend arguing. It got louder & louder and I heard something hit her bedroom door. I pulled away my duvet and went to check on my Brother. The noise, which was in the bedroom next to his had woken him. Which didn’t surprise me – they were very loud. He looked scared – in fairness, so was I. But I told him to stay right where he was. Pull his duvet up over his head, put his hands over his ears and to not come out until I come back for him. Which, looking back at it makes me sad that I ever had to say those words to him. 

I went into my Mothers bedroom check on my Mum – she was crying and screaming and he was screaming at her. It was a scary thing for any child to witness. I then saw him hit her. He hit her hard – she almost fell but he grabbed her, raised her up and continued hitting her. I remember instinctively spinning on my heels, running down the stars and with what felt like forever, having to dial 999 on a rotary phone! The clicks as the dial spun back to its point of origin were so loud in the wee hours of the morning and I was so sure I’d never make the call in time before my Mums boyfriend came for me. 

As soon as someone picked up I remember, as clear as day, blurting the words “He’s hitting my Mum, please send someone quick!” – I gave her our address and hung up the phone. I remember sitting on the stairs – fear coursing through every inch of me and all the while listening to him beating the hell out of my Mother upstairs. All I could do was wish that my Brother was staying put like he was told. 

I think it was about ten minutes before there was a knock on my front door – I answered and two policemen asked me where my Mum was, I said upstairs and they told me to stay put. I watched them both run up the stairs two at a time and into my Mums bedroom. After hearing my Mothers whimpers I had to see if she was alright, so I followed. 

As the police entered my Mums bedroom they saw him in position to strike her again {this was the sole reason they took him away, because they saw him about to strike her}. Words were exchanged – orders for him to come quietly with them were denied – he went to strike one of the policemen and with what followed next looked like something out of a police drama or a movie. 

One of the policemen grabbed him by the throat and forced him onto the floor, my Mums boyfriend was yelling, kicking & screaming and he was literally trailed down the stairs on his back, by the throat. Looking back it was pretty damn cool but also very scary. I noticed squashed sausage rolls on the floor {that must have been what hit the door earlier} then I looked back to my Mum. She was in bad shape. She was pretty banged up – thankfully alcohol still high in her system so the pain she should’ve felt wouldn’t kick in until morning. 

Her face was puffy and bruised, she had a few lacerations which thankfully weren’t too deep and would be alright with a plaster over them rather than needing to go to A&E. My Mum crawled into bed and went to sleep while a policemen told me, not my Mother, that they would be back to take a statement tomorrow.

I was eleven years old. This was my first experience with witnessing domestic violence. Sadly it wasn’t to be my last – but this was my first. I’m not going to lie and say that I still don’t think about some of the horrible things I saw because I do. Those memories will never leave me. 

I was brave enough, as a child, to call for help. If you have any concerns about anything you may have seen or heard, then please do call it in. If a woman is being hit by a man, or a man is being abused by a woman – if you feel the children are in danger of domestic abuse – or if you’re a child or even an adult and just need to chat to get a few haunted memories off your chest – The NSPCC helpline is free – open 24hrs a day. The number to call is: 0808 800 5000. Children & adults who are worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on: 0800 11 11.

Please, please pick up that phone. You could be saving someone’s life and someones childhood.

You could even be saving yourself. 

*This is an awareness post with NSPCC. 

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21 Comments

  1. 27/09/2017 / 6:13 PM

    Reading this post gave me chills. No child should ever have to witness what you had to witness. No human should ever have to witness that. No human should ever have to go through what your mother went through. Unfortunately, in the world we live, that will not be the case though. You are so right though. We have to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves, or are too scared to. We have the ability to make a difference and change someone’s life for the better. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure that could not have been easy!

  2. 27/09/2017 / 7:03 PM

    This was a very brave post,Deborah and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write. But you aren’t alone…I saw my fair share of domestic abuse as well and its a terrible thing to experience.

  3. 27/09/2017 / 9:01 PM

    This is heartbreaking. I hope my children never have to witness something like that. I worry about what they have already witnessed. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  4. 27/09/2017 / 9:08 PM

    Oh my goodness what a thing to witness as a child, no child should have to witness that or even experience it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. 27/09/2017 / 9:13 PM

    This hit me in the feels (sorry for the pun). I was six when my parents divorced, but that was long enough to hide behind the couch while my mom’s face consistently went blue against the wall in a foreign country (Americans living in West Germany, 1988-1990). Vowing to never live like that, I grew up, and ended up spending a large deal of my 20’s in a verbally abusive relationship. His pet names for me and instances where he threw things still haunt me. After years, I left while he was at work and never looked back…there was no way I was putting future children through those eggshells. It was interesting reading about domestic abuse overseas from me, to be honest. Great, brave post, I can imagine your tears as you wrote it.

  6. 27/09/2017 / 9:14 PM

    What an emotional post that has takencourage to write. Love that you have raised awareness through your own experiences x

  7. Wave to Mummy
    27/09/2017 / 9:21 PM

    What a horrendous thing to witness as a child. You were brave back then for taking action and calling the police and you are brave now for publishing this post. It must have taken a lot of strength to publish something so personal and raw.

  8. trinimamabebe
    27/09/2017 / 10:34 PM

    So brave and heart breaking people need to know domestic violence is not okay and help is available

  9. Heather
    28/09/2017 / 1:54 AM

    Thank you for sharing this.

  10. Priyadarshini Rajendran
    28/09/2017 / 8:03 AM

    Such a terrible situation you had to face as a child. And you were so brave. Hope more people find the courage to report such things and that the world is much better because of that.

  11. 28/09/2017 / 11:12 AM

    I can’t believe you had to go through that and see someone you loved being hurt. You were so brave calling out for help and I am so glad that you did x

  12. 28/09/2017 / 11:49 AM

    This is awful and something no one should have to go through. I’m glad you called for help that was the right thing to do. Hopefully more people who are victims of violence will do to

  13. Corinne @ HappinessInHomemaking.com
    28/09/2017 / 2:44 PM

    I held my breath reading this – how terrible. I’m so sorry you had to go through that as a child – thank you for sharing your story.

  14. Joscelyn
    28/09/2017 / 6:31 PM

    What a sad situation for a child to be in, but honestly it’s too common. It’s a good thing you knew to call the police and luckily they were there in time to help.

  15. M E L I S S A ✖️ (@fruity_flamingo)
    29/09/2017 / 10:23 AM

    my goodness what a heartbreaking situation, you were very brave telling the police

  16. Danielle Vedmore
    29/09/2017 / 5:04 PM

    Im so sorry you and your family had to go through this. Its posts like this that hopefully makes people realise that its not the norm and that there is help out there. Sending a massive hug x

  17. Lilinha Espindula
    30/09/2017 / 2:09 AM

    It is so heartbreaking when children have to experience their parents abusing each other. Luckily there are organisations out there to help them deal with it!

  18. 02/10/2017 / 9:27 AM

    I was brought up in a home where domestic violence was the norm and repeatedly had to call an ambulance or the police. I was taken into care at the age of 14 but what frustrates me more is that my mother is still with this violent bully and won’t leave despite us all trying to get us help.
    I wish someone had intervened with us earlier

    • 02/10/2017 / 9:39 AM

      Gosh, Kara – I’m so sorry. But I know the feeling of them never leaving those violent partners. My Mother didn’t leave hers for a long, long time and the beatings continued. He even put her head through a double glazed wire mese window once. Shocking memories, really. I’m also so sorry to hear that you went into care, but at least you were safe! x

  19. 02/10/2017 / 9:50 AM

    It’s heartbreaking and not something a child should ever have to see. What worries me is how many cases go unreported.

  20. laurahartleyy
    03/10/2017 / 7:54 AM

    Oh my goodness I’m so sorry you went through something like this at such a young age! You were so brave to call the police and get help for your mum, I’m sure many children don’t know what to do or how to react in situations like these.

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