Almost losing a child to domestic abuse
Watching your son or daughter being abused by their partner is a gut-wrenching, helpless experience. If the partner is physically violent, the threat that the domestic abuse could become fatal causes intense anxiety. For parents, almost losing a child to domestic abuse is a deeply traumatic experience, even if the worst does not happen.
The following true domestic abuse story is from one of our brave volunteers, and contains events that may be upsetting to some people:
Tucked up in bed at my home in Devon, I was awoken by the phone ringing. It was about two in the morning. My daughter, who had been living in London with her boyfriend at the time, was on the other end.
“It’s alright Mummy, he has been arrested. Just thought you might like to know he tried to kill me.”
I listened in disbelief as the story unfolded – how he had abused her, tried to strangle her. A strange, cold calmness came over me as if it was not really happening. I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do to help her. I told her to get out of their flat in case he was released and came back to finish her off. I then filled with terror at the thought of him trying to kill my beautiful daughter.
She assured me her friend was going round to the flat in the morning to help her move. I then immediately phoned the police station where he had been taken. I was told that they would keep him in overnight and he would not be let him out until he had been interviewed properly. They said they would let my daughter know when he was being released.
After I put the phone down, I was immediately aware of the most excruciating pain on my chest – I felt pain for all those parents who have lost their children. I was physically sick.
The next morning my daughter promised me that she was okay, and brushed off my pleas to get on the train and come home. I remembered that getting cuts and bruising documented could be used as evidence, so tried to get her to go to the doctors the next morning. She didn’t. The police apparently took photos after the incident but they were over-exposed, so no use in court.
I remember the helplessness that I felt and the pain in my heart – I had no idea who to turn to for help. I just wanted to hold her and never let her go. She is an ardent traveller, which has always been a constant worry to me – a beautiful young woman back-packing around the world on her own. When she met this chap, I told her not long after I had met him and witnessed his bizarre behaviour that he would kill her if she didn’t get out. How right a mother’s instinct can be.
She hadn’t listened to me back then. From the very first date, he manipulated her. We have always been extremely close but I could not reach her anymore – he had such a strong influence over her. She lost weight as he kept telling her she was fat (she was extremely slim). She had a lucky escape from the violence, but not without mental scars, which can be worse.
After she moved out, she spent months and months on tranquillizers. She suffered (and still does I think) from PTSD. The crash teams helped, but only short-term. I would cry to myself at the very thought of losing her – and the pain is still there.
It’s our mission at The Empowerment Network UK to make sure parents (both mothers and fathers) do not have to go through these awful experiences alone.