May 24, 2024

My husband of 9 years just slapped me for the first time today in front of our son. Should I slap him back to show my husband that he will get the boomerang treatment if he hits me again and to show our son that his mother isn’t scared of his dad?

I thought long and hard about answering this. I am finally answering as a 58 year old woman who witnessed her father hitting her mother as far back as I can remember.

AS FAR BACK AS I CAN REMEMBER! Those are the relevant words. I have a few other hazy memories of when I was very young, But above all of them was that of my father hitting my mother. Not just a slap, but knocking her to the floor.

You see, my father drank. When he was sober, he was the nicest man alive. Get alcohol into him, and he turned into a monster. This went on for years, until I got to an age where I would try to get between them. Then I got it too! Some weeks I couldn’t go to school because the bruises were so bad.

One New Years Eve, when I was 15, they came home from a works party, and he started. For once my mother fought back, and I ran out of the house in my nightgown, looking for help, and was lucky enough to run into a passing police car. By the time I got back to the house with the police, there was blood all up the stairs, my kid brother and sister were awake and terrified, and both my mother and father were carted off to hospital, leaving me to deal both with two very scared little kids and to clean up all the mess.

Did it stop after that incident? No, of course not. My father still drank, my mother and I still got battered, until one day a couple of years later.

I was 17, had recently started work, and got home that day to find my mother, sister and brother hiding in the garage. All three of them had punch marks. Yes, my father had been drinking again. My mother begged me not to go into the house, but that day, something in me finally snapped. I marched into the house, and my father came at me. He landed a couple of punches, driving me back into the kitchen, until I backed into the cooker. Without even considering it, I grabbed the handle of a pressure cooker, a hefty bit of kit, and swung it at him as hard as I could. He hit the deck. Out cold. Turns out I’d broken his jaw in two places. What a shame!

I left him lying on the floor, and went to get my mother, brother and sister. My mother was shocked to see me, and couldn’t believe I’d walked out relatively unscathed, and when I told her what I’d done, she almost ran into the house to see for herself.

My father had started to come round, and was moaning that he needed to go to hospital. My mother said she’d take him, and he rather unsteadily got to his feet. He almost flinched when he looked at me, and that was when the last of my fear of him left me. He was a bully, just a drunken bully, and like all bullies he could be stood up to. I took a step towards him and said, quite calmly ‘If you ever hit any of us again, I will kill you in your sleep.’ He clearly believed I meant it, because he never again raised his fists to any of us.

Years later, talking about it with my mother, I remarked that he must have believed me. My mother gave a little smile and said ‘Not just him. I believed you!’

I guess what I’m saying with this story is, don’t make your child grow up with memories of his father hitting his mother, don’t put him into the position where he will try to defend you. Once a man starts hitting a woman, it’s a slippery slope. Leave Or make him leave.

By Lisa Wiltshire



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