When I was little, I remember being woken up by nanny and grandad in the middle of the night. My father’s parents were distraught as we didn’t wake up, then we did. We were shuffled sleepily into our pajamas and down the stairs. The lights were on and pictures glinting as the concerned face of a police man or two stared back up at us. 

Stumbling out of the door, the night air hit us, refreshing us. The leaves of next door’s almond tree rustled. The lights were on in our neighbours’ windows, and the red-blues and twos from first responders reflected on the street outside. Bundled into the car, we went to grandm’as and slept out of our home for 6 months.

Our father had hit our mum over the head with a sledge hammer and given her life-changing injuries. She was fighting for her life in hospital, and he was finally in jail. We saw him again, once or twice, which was really too much for me. Then he was gone, finally removed from our family life forever. 

It left unhealable scars. My mum was in a coma, and we thought she would never wake up, and if she did would be a vegetable. But she wasn’t. She lived, and sadly her vivaciousness was replaced now with a deep fear that caused a premature death at 62.

I have been left with a deep fear of men, coupled with a kind of disintegrative disrespect of myself, because I was forced to be kind to a psychotic monster in my formative years, which has caused me to be misaligned in meeting my own needs. The kind of outlook that would be expected of the daughter of the sledge hammer attacker. Until I went to university and left home altogether, when I managed to do stuff, but I was isolated and too slow. It took 6 years to do a three-year course as I just didn’t get on.

My life has been off-key ever since. I’m now living (for 6 years) with an abusive man who isn’t as bad as I remember my father being, but he is trying to steal our child and take her back to Italy with him to live. I feel powerless to stop him. I feel people think that I’m the problem rather than him, that I’m no good, instead of undervalued.

According to the landmark CDC/Kaiser Permanente study on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), witnessing violence in the home can cause lifelong trauma for children. Learn more about the effects on children of witnessing the abuse of a parent hereYou can help make sure this never happens to another child. Learn how by subscribing to our newsletter and supporting our work. Read about the ten categories of ACEs by following our blog. Do you know your ACE score? Take the ACE test here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the long-term effects of ACEs, we encourage you to talk about it with your primary care physician so you can be connected to the mental and physical healing options that are right for you. You can also reach out to one of these national hotlines: 

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

(800) 422-4453

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

(800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline

(800) 662-4357

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To protect the privacy and safety of survivors and their families, we will sometimes post their stories anonymously. Thank you for your understanding of this policy. In this case, we do have permission to share that this survivor story was written by a woman.