Author's Note: This article has mature and somewhat disturbing content, so read with discretion. Younger Whyvillians may want to have their parents read it beforehand. I apologize for offending anyone if I have in the process of my article. Y-mail me with any questions or concerns.
Sitting on the deck, I look out from underneath the shaded tree to see a small girl hopping on a hopscotch board. Her blond ringlets move as she jumps. And all I can do is look down at my dark chestnut hair and see that dark night.
You see, I used to be like her, carefree. And blond. But when I was nine, something changed about me.
My father was never the kind you imagine or wish for, you never look for this in a potential husband. He was the kind of man you would run away from. But I was little, I didn't know any better. And I stayed with him through whatever, no matter what he he did. Because in my eyes, in my dreams, he was that kind of guy. The one who would come home one day and kiss my mom on the cheek and give her a big smile.
But he never did. He would stumble in, not from work but from the pub down the street. He smelled of the hard liquor they served and instead of kissing my mom on the cheek and smiling he'd just strike her flat across the face and bellow at us for something we didn't understand.
I never realized I was different from all of my classmates until I went to enough play dates to see that their dads would be home and just would kiss them and bring them up into their arms and hug them like they never wanted to let go. And I wondered what was wrong with their dads. My big blue eyes could never see that my father was not the normal one, that my life was not normal. I knew a little more than most innocent-looking blond-haired, blue-eyed girls my age. But I could never tell.
I had never seen it before until I was older, about nine on a dark night. Not the kind that you cuddle up with a blanket and wait for the storm to pass, but the kind that tears you apart and brings you down in a deep tornado and when you emerge, everything you knew is in ruins.
My father had been drinking a lot that night, he smelled stronger than I had ever remembered. He walked into the house and walked right up to my mom and slapped her to the floor. I stood there shocked as he began to fumble across the floor towards my motionless mother. I did not know what to do. I started toward him, not knowing what I was doing but my mom would not make it out if something did not distract him. So I just went behind him, begging him in the only way a small girl could by screeching and pleading with him. He wheeled around and hit me so hard that I hit the cabinets which used to be 5 feet away. Already I could see and feel blood on my face and head and a gash on my arm. Hot tears sprang to my ears and I had never felt this way before. I had always been hit like that but this time something felt different. Normally I had sat back and sobbed. but suddenly I was done with that. Somehow that one slap catapulted me into adulthood.
I had gotten up and my mom had too, she was already heading outside, trying to get away, or at least somewhere where other people were. He was beginning to follow her, but once I was starting to get up, his bloodshot eyes turned to me. He came back and snarled at me, and struck again. My head hit the cabinet again, with a harder force but somehow I didn't feel it. All I knew was that this person in front of me was not a father.
By the time the police officer had driven off with my "father" in the backseat and my mom and I had been rushed to the ER, I was feeling calm. Like something had been purged out of me and I could make a new beginning. The nurse said there was not a lot of blood loss and I would be fine, but I still felt dizzy. Sitting in the waiting room chair, my blond hair was stained a reddish brown in most parts. I looked at the mirror in front of me and did not see that carefree little girl, but an older and wiser girl. One who knew much beyond her years. And the dark locks that now surrounded my face suited this new mindset.
After all of the blood washed out a few days later, I asked to dye my hair dark. I returned to school with my new chestnut locks framing my no longer innocent face.
The dark color now matched my eyes that seemed a tad more knowledgeable and deeper. I had become a different person and my dark hair proved that. To me, it represented the loss of innocence I went through and how I finally understood what was happening in my life.
Six years later, and my hair had gone back to blond. But today I dyed it a dark reddish brown. Because I knew that again I had grown up a little bit and lot most of that little girl innocence.
My mom remarried a tall, muscular, bald man. He looks scary and is a far cry from my father. But they both made me realize that they are abusers. With my father, there was no doubt what he was doing. He hit me and I had every mark in the book to prove it. But with my new step father it is more subtle. He cuts deep inside me and leaves bruises not with his hands, but with his words. I never knew this kind of put-downs and ridicule was abuse, but it is. And I saw it one day. Just as the slap sent me into understanding, one time my step father's brutal verbal ridicules sent me reeling and curdled my blood. And then I knew that I did not have to go back. And that I wouldn't let my life be taken over by another monster yet again.
My dark brown hair suits me yet again.
"I'm not so naive, my sorry eyes can see . . . I put my faith in you, so much faith, and then you just threw it away . . . Why don't you stand up, be a man about it? Fight with your bare hands about it now" -Paramore
Editor's Note: I would like to thank Lyd1212 for sharing a deeply personal story and commend her for her courage. Domestic violence is a very serious subject. If you or someone you know is dealing with this issue, please contact someone you can trust such as a teacher, or a local police officer. Also, please take a minute to read the information on this website: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm. You might be able to save someone's life.