Zena's Story - Child Abuse and Domestic Violence
Within the first few years of her life, Zena experienced both child abuse and domestic violence, as well as witnessing domestic violence between her mother and her partner. This is Zena's amazing story of all that happend, the emotional and physical harm she experienced as a consequence and finally her couragous journey towards healing:
I'm 15; and still to this day, I haven't had the courage to tell anyone about the horrific experiences I've been through. My own dad, grandad and two past relationships that have been hell. I'll start with my own grandad. From the age of being able to walk, until I was 5, when he passed away. I'd dread the days when my mum and dad would take me to see my nanna and grandad. I knew what was in store. The very first time I must of been around 2 and my mum was at a friend's house so it was just me, my dad, my nanna and my grandad. My nanna was out in the back garden seeing to the plants and I remember my dad saying to me "why don't you go upstairs and see your grandad while I help nanna out?" So I didn't think anything of it, and went upstairs into his bedroom. He was laid on the bed watching TV, I walked in the room and he turned and gave me a smile. "come and sit on the bed with me and give your grandad a cuddle" he said. I did, oblivious to what I was getting myself into. I was 2, what child that age would of known? I eventually got onto the bed and I had my head rested on his chest area. He started stroking me down the sides of my stomach and on my legs. I looked up at him and smiled and giggled, I was really ticklish. He smirked at me and said "does that tickle Zena?" I giggled once again. This is when it happened. He laughed back, and then stroked my hair out the way of my face, and that's when he kissed me. I thought it was normal at first, that he was just a loving grandad giving his granddaughter a kiss. Then he got more 'passionate' when he kissed me again, he lifted my top up and started stroking my stomach. He carried on kissing me, this time using his tongue. I didn't know what to do, I still thought it was normal. He then started kissing my neck, and because I was ticklish, I started giggling again. And because my nanna had got back into the house, she heard my laughter. Thank god she did. As soon as grandad heard her walking up the stairs he quickly pulled my T-shirt down, sat back up and started watching tv like nothing had happened. My nanna came into the room. "teasing her again the poor girl, let her breath I can hear her laughter from down there." They bother laughed like it was just all fun. I cant remember what happened then but I walked downstairs to my dad.
Some research indicates an overlap between domestic violence between adults and the sexual and physical abuse of children, with some studies putting the comorbidity rates as high as 40 per cent. (Saltzman, K.M., Holden, G.W. and Holahan, C.J. (2005) ‘The psychobiology of children exposed to marital violence’)
Another time I was there, I remember I was around the age of 4. I was sleeping over that night, them nights were the worst. It was pitch black and I remember the bedroom door opening and my grandad walking in. He was completely naked. He sat at the side of me on the bed and said "hello" and smirked. I was half asleep but I knew what was happening. He grabbed my hand and started touching his private parts with my hand. He let go of my hand and told me to carry on doing it myself. He told me to stroke it. I did. He told me to kiss it. I did. I remember his facial expressions, he looked like he'd got some kind of buzz over it or something. After he'd finished asking me to do stuff. He pulled the quilt off of me pulled my knickers down and started touching my genital part. He rubbed his genital part against it. He then started touching it with his fingers again. He told me to put my knickers back on when he'd done. He told me that I was a "good girl" for doing what he's asked. He kissed me on the lips and walked out of the bedroom and shut the door, as if it was completely normal to do that. I cant remember what happened from then on. I remember another time when he took my top off, laid me on the bed and started kissing my stomach. He then took my knickers off, and that's when he unzipped his jeans and took his pants off. That is then when he raped me. I was 5. I couldn't breath properly, having a man that big over me. He was 62. After he'd done he got dressed, told me to get dressed so I did. He then kissed me again and told me I'd been a good girl. He walked out the bedroom. That's when I finally started to think that things weren't right what he was doing. A month later, he passed away due to lung cancer. I hate to say it but I was so glad when he died. I had gotten away from it all. Well, that's what I thought. If only I'd of known his son, my own dad, was going to turn out like him.
It was a couple of years later and I was 7. My little brother was now in this world. My mum was pregnant with my little sister. It was one night and I slept on my mum and dad's bedroom floor, with quilts and a pillow obviously. My mum was stuck in her bed. My dad came up to bed, he was so drunk. He couldn't even get in to bed so he decided to get on the floor with me. I woke up to a sudden smell of his breath. Jack Daniels, vodka, whatever he drank. And then all I remember was him slipping his fingers down my knickers and into my genital part. I was gob smacked. But still half asleep, I think he was too drunk to realise it was me. He thought it was my mum. When he realised it was me his hand shot out, he looked just as gob smacked as I was. He went into the bathroom, washed his hands and he slept downstairs that night. I think he's either been too ashamed to mention it all these years, or just totally forgot by the next morning because he was off his face. But I didn't forget. My own dad. My dad wasn't the best dad over all, either. My mum and dad weren't together at first when they conceived me. When I was 1 to about 2, my mum would go out on Friday nights sometimes and I'd have to stop at my dad's. He hated it. He'd just lock me in his bedroom which was surrounded by all his drugs, while he was downstairs getting hammered and off his face with cocaine, etc. He didn't feed or change me. He slept downstairs. My mum noticed a few times and his excuse was "he had changed me but I just kept weeing." Ha. I know that's not true. Them memories stay with me. Then when I was 3, my mum and dad got together and we moved into my dad's. I wish she never did.
From then on, for the next 9 years, it was hell. For me, my brother, sister and my mum. Every Friday and Saturday he would get hammered and off his face again. He'd cause arguments with my mum on purpose. He didn't do it as much for the first few years, it's when it got to the last 4 years they were together. He'd do drugs in front of me and my brother and sister, who were only 4/5 and 2/3. He'd say horrible things to my mum. My brother and sister would be asleep and I'd sit at the top of the stairs for hours on end, listening to the shouting. Being the eldest, I had to keep my brother and sister from witnessing it too. I hated it. I've witnessed him throw a glass at her which just missed her head. I've witnessed him hit her in the nose, smack her round her face, pin her up against a wall several times and try to strangle her. I don't know how she did it, but my mum would get the strength to push him off and he'd give up then. Then he'd start shouting abuse at her, calling her a "mardy bitch" all sorts. I've been in the same room before when they were arguing and he kicked her in the stomach and she went flying into the computer desk and her mouth was bleeding. I've had to run in the middle of them before when he's gone to attack her. I used to plead to her for years for her to leave him. But she wanted to stay for me, my brother and sister. Until it got to January 2012, when she decided enough was enough. She finally bought a house still in the area but away from him. We moved and she left him. Me, my brother and sister went to his house obviously every other weekend. Until the other week recently when he decided to disown me. Told me I'm dead to him. I hate him. He put me and my mum through so much. I thought then that finally the horror in my life had stopped. No way ...
Importantly, it is now recognised that violent men may continue to abuse women and children after they are separated. If there is ongoing contact with the child this can lead to the further abuse or even death of women and children. (Saunders, H. (2004)Twenty-nine child homicides: lessons still to be learnt on domestic violence and child protection, Bristol: Women’s Aid Federation)
It was october 2013, and I had only just turned 14. I was going out with my boyfriend who I'd been with since October that previous year, so we'd been together a year. I did love him. It might sound mad because I was only 13 and 14, but I did. Anyway in the october 2013, his mate was stopping at his, and he asked me to bring my best friend and stop at his house. Me being stupid in love that I was, agreed to it and so did my best friend, Tiffany. I lied to my mum, said there was a Halloween party because it was the night before Halloween. I said we're stopping at the girl's house after. She believed me. Tiffany and I got to my boyfriend, Bobby's house. His mate, Jay was with him in Bobby's bedroom. We were all sat upstairs talking until it got to around 1am. Bobby told Jay and Tiffany to go downstairs and sleep on the sofa bed he had. He said it was because he wanted to spend the night with me, just me and him. I found it cute obviously.
We were laid in bed in pitch black, I was resting my head on his shoulder and he was stroking my head. I felt loved. I felt special. He told me he loved me and we cuddled and kissed for a bit more. That's when I noticed he was going a bit too far when he started moving his hand up my T-shirt. He then started taking my leggings off. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he loved me and that he wanted to prove it to me. I told him sex wasn't the only thing to prove that he loves me. He said "well to me it is" and he sounded a bit aggressive so I shut up and just let him carry on taking off my leggings. We started kissing again, I noticed him take off his boxers. I knew what was about to happen. I was 14 - I obviously knew what sex was by then. The next thing I know, he's on top of me and I'm having sex with him. I lost my virginity to a lad who, in the end, said he was using me. I felt so ashamed after. Even more when we split up two months after. I asked him why he wants to throw away a year and 2 months over nothing. He replied with "because I'd finally got what I wanted out of you. You were nothing special to me really, have you seen the state of you?" He'd used me. The boy I loved so much. It took me ages to get over him. I had some sort of attachment to him and I couldn't let go. I cried for days. A couple of weeks later is when a lad popped up to me on Facebook. I truly regret this one, too.
His name was Daniel. He mailed me just to see if we could have a general conversation. So we did. I found out he was a year older than me, he only lived about half hour from me, he seemed a really down to earth boy. I thought this was my chance to get over my ex, move on from everything. I told him what my ex, Bobby, had put me through. Daniel was so angry by the sounds of it. I didn't tell him that he forced me to have sex with him. I just told him how I'd found out he'd cheated a numerous amount of times. Daniel started saying how no girl should be treat like I have. I felt so special at that point. He promised me if I was to start talking to him then nothing would happen. He wouldn't let anyone hurt me. I was so stupid, I believed him and agreed to start talking to him. Even though I was far from over Bobby. A couple of months passed and it was now 16th of February 2014, and I met Daniel for the first time. The second he saw me his eyes lit up, which made me feel special again. He hugged me and held me so tight, I got butterflies in my stomach. I felt like someone loved me again. We instantly clicked, even though I had low confidence at that point, I wasn't shy talking to him at all. I was with him for about 4 hours. We went on walks, spoke about whatever we could think of, I enjoyed it so much. I walked him to the bus stop when he had to go home, that's when he asked me to officially be his girlfriend. I hate to say I still wasn't properly over Bobby, but I still said yes. Because I finally felt loved again. He knew I wasn't over Bobby and he said he will accept that until I'm finally over him and he's going to make me happy. That reassured me. I was happy. For now ...
It was 6 months into the relationship, August. It was my first time seeing him in two weeks because I'd come back off my holiday. We spent the day at mine watching films and going on walks because it was boiling hot summer weather. We got back to mine and my mum, brother and sister were out at a barbecue. We were having a laugh and a cuddle. And then he started kissing me and putting his hand down my knickers. I thought to myself "not again no way" so I shouted at him, told him no. I told him in not being used again. And if even if he wasn't using me, that I wouldn't do it anyway. He started trying to reassure me that it will all be okay. That he thinks we should take the relationship to a new level. I felt too weak to say no, so I just let him do what he wanted. And then I let him have sex with me. I just stayed still while he did everything. I was froze and shocked. Why was I getting myself into this again? Me and Daniel had already been through a lot before this day. He'd cheated 4 times, treat me like crap. Lied to me. Called me a slag, fat, worthless, pathetic, a dog. All sorts. I kept on taking him back when he'd come running back. But this time I thought to myself it's the final straw. But what do I do a couple of days after? Take him back. Just for him to cheat and lie and call me abusive names for another month, September. That's when I put my foot down, even with no self confidence by this point, at all. But I still told him no. I'm done and I'm never going back. I told him to go home and at first he wouldn't take no for an answer, then he finally did. I haven't spoke to him ever since. I blocked him off Facebook, every single social networking site. I blocked his number. I blocked him off my mum's Facebook so he couldn't message her to try and get through to me.
By all that, I was drained, exhausted, tired, depressed, on the verge of breaking down. I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety and anorexia and an eating disorder. I wouldn't eat. I cried every day. Never opened up to anyone. I hated P. E. in school. I had no confidence whatsoever. I'd lost so much weight. I'd been in hospital several times for nearly killing myself from cutting my arms and wrists too deep. Because of all that, and suffering from bullying at school for which is over a year now. I couldn't cope anymore. I didn't want to be alive. I then opened up to my mum, I've always been close to her. She's like a best friend to me too. She helped me get through it, took me counselling.
It is now January 2015, and I'm a 15 year old girl who has overcome all that. I've still got scars on my arms and wrists. I still suffer from depression and anxiety and the eating disorder. I still self harm when the bullying gets too much. But I'm slowly, very slowly, coping. And that's thanks to my amazing mum, brother, sister, family and my 10 closest friends who I wouldn't change for the world. I've finally met a lad. He is honestly the most down-to-earth, genuine lad I've ever met. All my family and friends agree. He treats me like a princess. He tells me all the time he loves me, that hell never leave me. He tells me I'm his world. And that's all I've ever wanted to be honest. But after going through everything that I did, and being so close to actually committing suicide, I've got through it.
Anyone who can relate to any of that, just remember that there IS hope. That it WILL be okay in the end! You're all beautiful. Keep strong. X
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Stories
In another of Lundy Bancroft fantastic books, The Batterer as Parent takes the reader inside of homes affected by domestic violence, imparting an understanding of the atmosphere that battering men create for the children who live with them. It show how partner abuse affects each relationship in a family, and explains how children’s emotional recovery is inextricably linked to the healing and empowerment of their mothers. Also cover the important but often-overlooked area of the post-separation parenting behaviours of men who batter, including their use of custody litigation as a tool of abuse:
To order in the US: The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics (Sage Series on Violence Against Women)
A growing body of research points to a definite link between adult domestic violence and child abuse. These connections are pervasive. Forty-five to seventy percent of battered women in shelters report that their batterers have also committed some form of child abuse. Even using the more conservative figure, child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in households where adult domestic violence is also present. Women who have been beaten by their spouses are, in turn, reportedly twice as likely as other women to abuse a child. It is also estimated that 3.3. million to 10 million children witness domestic violence each year. Many child witnesses of domestic violence experience increased problems themselves.
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When Dad Hurts Mom. This is a must-read for any woman with children still in or finally out of an abusive marriage. He covers the myriad of ways in which children witnessing domestic violence are affected, the prejudice in the legal establishments and the patriartic world has made the life of female and child victims of abuse difficult. And then he gives you tips on how to conquer this situation and help heal our kids from the trauma of witnessing abuse:
To order in the US: When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse
To order in the UK: When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse
The long-awaited book from our very own Steve from the Hidden Hurt Message Forum as finally arrived!
THE JERK RADAR
Have you ever gone out with someone who seemed perfect at first, but ended
up being a nightmare? Do you find yourself falling in love but ending up feeling
disrespected and used? Would you like to make sure that something like that
never happens to you (or someone you care about) again? If so, this book is
written for you. There are lots of books about how to tell if you're in an
abusive relationship. This is book will keep you from getting into one in
the first place. Jerk Radar will help you see how a Jerk takes advantage of
common cultural expectations and romantic myths to blind you to his true intentions.
It will give you concrete ways to test out his intentions in the course of
a normal conversation. And the Jerk Radar Quiz provides an effective tool
to screen every partner for Jerky tendencies well before obviously selfish
behavior emerges. Full of true stories from abuse survivors, Jerk Radar pulls
no punches in exposing what Jerks do and why we fall for it. This is a useful,
down-to-earth, practical guide to avoiding a bad relationship instead of recovering
from one. Read it today - it just may change your life!
To order in the US: Jerk Radar: How to Stop an Abusive Relationship Before It Starts
To order in the UK:Jerk Radar: How to Stop an Abusive Relationship Before It Starts
Steve McCrea, MS, has worked for over 20 years with survivors
of domestic abuse and their children. He has participated in many local collaboartive
projects on domestic abuse, and has provided community trainings on working
effectively with domestic abuse survivors. He currently works as an advocate
for children in the foster care system. He has volunteered for the past 9
years as facilitator for an on-line abuse survivor community, whose members
contributed most of the stories in the book.
In Love and in Danger is one of the only books available on dating violence and abusive relationships that addresses young adults directly. Includes facts about dating violence, tips for how to tell if your relationship is abusive, information on why dating abuse happens, and what you can do if you are being abused by (or are abusing) someone you love.
To order in the US: In Love and In Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships
To order in the UK: In Love and in Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships
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