Physical and verbal abuse against parents by their own children is increasing. This is becoming a more recognised form of domestic abuse and has been the subject of TV documentaries and newspaper articles.
It was one of those TV documentaries that inspired me to write this story. I hadn’t realised how common this is and one that parents must feel much shame and guilt about. Many incidents go unreported and families become isolated as their children’s behaviour becomes more damaging, which is why it is important to talk about it.
Mum, I’m Sorry
I had grown up with it being just my mum and me.
On the same day she met my stepdad, I met Saul. After a month of dating Saul, I knew I was in love. Telling him was nerve wracking; but thankfully he felt the same way and for five years our relationship continued to develop.
Then I discovered I was expecting.
Our first born was a boy and we named him Luke. Two years later we had a second son and we named him Jeremy. Our family felt complete. Jeremy and Luke were aged 6 and 7 when it began.
I was stooped, scooping the top of the bin bag in my fist and tugging it from the bin, hauling its full weight. My back twinged. I remained stooped as I turned to see who had entered the toilets to join me.
It was my colleague, Lisa, and she gasped, touching the bruise that had blackened my eye. ‘How did you get that this time?’ she asked, her brow bent.
‘I walked into a cupboard-‘ I stopped. She has heard this excuse; it was last week.
‘You have so many bruises lately. Has Saul started to hit you?’
‘Lisa…’ I drag the bag from inside the bin, holding them both between us. ‘He hasn’t, he wouldn’t-‘
Saul sat in his striped wee Willie shorts, his football scarf wound around his neck, when I arrive home at 9 o’clock. I watch him in the hall mirror, absorbing him, and as I prod myself to move I notice the lighting is dim. Glancing up I see Luke’s Fireman Sam pyjama’s in the lamp shade, my stomach drops and I quietly close the door. I shut the curtains in the living room. Luke is on the carpet. His legs, arms and body are bare. Saul is observing him closely and Luke had his back to him.
‘Luke…’ I say, hesitantly.
‘Fuck off, you bitch!’ He spits.
Oh, another night of this.
How to go on?
‘Luke, you need to put on your pyjamas and go to bed.’
‘He hasn’t cleaned his teeth yet,’ Saul said.
I look at him, tears already choking my voice. His eyes are bloodshot and I know immediately; Luke has threatened Saul and attempted to poke out his eyes with the toothbrush.
‘I don’t fucking want to, do I?’
‘I’m going to bed,’ Saul responds.
‘Don’t leave me!’ I shout, trying to catch his arm as he passes. He shrugs me off and I slump.
When I turn, Luke is standing and his face seems to be his entire strength. The hate in his eyes and the scowl of his mouth. He is so tiny in stature.
‘Want a burger.’ He kicks me in the ankle. Then head-butts me in the groin. I steady myself, gripping the sofa and holding my arm out, keeping him at a distance and his fingers take mine, bending them. They feel they will break.
Oh how I wish this was Saul, not Luke, hurting me. It would be so normal.
When Luke is 12, Saul has left by the time I arrive home from work and Luke is pounding holes in the wall. Blood is drying in their dent. I need to hug him, to hold him. That is what the therapist lady told me to do but I cannot get near enough. He will thump me.
I lock the doors, aware that someday he will leave and cause trouble outside of the house. I wish my mum was still alive to give me advice.
I keep my eyes on the ground as I pass Luke. I take with me a takeaway meal to my bedroom, which I heat over the stove. I lock my door as I wait for it to cool. As I eat I try to find some peace.
When Luke is 16, he is expelled from school for telling his therapist to fuck off, that he will rape her. He set alight a girl’s hair in the playground and continually disrupted lessons and influenced the other students.
He has scared off Saul and Jeremy; went to live with him not long after.
Luke bit his brother repeatedly.
I break, sobbing. Luke is towering over me, with a knife in his hand. The block of knives is in his other hand. He is kicking me and bringing down the block on my head. Eventually I lose consciousness.
I wake, my own mum by my bedside and she is explaining that Luke has been arrested and will receive the help he needs. And I am glad.
Katie Lewington likes to review the books she reads, listen to music, daydream, watch Cary Grant films, help The Pithead Chapel journal and Transcending Shadows review and Punks Write Poems Press sift through their submissions, sniff 50 year old poetry tomes and enjoy the atheistic display of many literary magazines (She has been published in some of these) Contact her through Twitter @idontwearahat and her blog https://katiecreativewriterblog.wordpress.com
*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*