Growing up on partner violence

I remember packing a loaf of buttered bread so that me and my sister could run away to an old warehouse a couple blocks down the road but when we reached the corner we froze because we were terrified that we would cross the street, get caught, and get our asses whooped. That was back in the day that domestic violence was brushed aside and ignored, that cops would laugh off a wife beating.
America in the seventies was kind of like that though, world weary and still somehow naive. There remained a nineteen-fifties kind of feeling of male invincibility, an expected respect of authority, while at the same time people began questioning authority on a regular basis, cussing it out, telling it off, eventually ignoring it or scoffing at it altogether. The sixties fixed that wagon but authority tried to re-right the ship early in the seventies.

But as a kid in the seventies you were still taught with fear. It was still accepted and widely practiced. Domestic violence was preached like it was the bible and partner violence was accepted. Hell, in some circles partner violence was implored. ‘Keep her in line.’ It's not allowed these days and rightly so, but back then you were still kept in line and partner violence was a house to house problem, same with child abuse. Any and everything could be scary, ghost stories, dad coming home, the bogeyman, those dope fiends on the news that could whisk you away in a black car if you talked to strangers, lumps of coal in place of toys.

I actually loved getting scared really, particularly by the horror movies. Then one day, I guess I was seven or eight, I remember my dad beat the living holy hell out of my mom. A wire frying pan right upside the face because a dish was dirty or his team had lost or something horrible had happened to upset his universe. Her blood splashed on my face and I jumped as if I'd been hit, a little taste of partner violence from the front row and my innocence was ruined. He proceeded to beat her down and stomp her into the ground with a vengeance. It was real bad. I've been involved in a few good altercations since then, and this was a hellish beating. I froze. My siblings, a girl who was slightly older and a boy who was slightly younger, froze too.

We were powerless. Fear is one hell of a tool. I loved my mom, but I couldn’t help her. I remember thinking that I wanted to grab a hockey stick from the corner and beat him to death with it but he was so big and so mad and I was so scared I couldn't swallow or even save myself let alone her.

He got up, went in the other room once he was satisfied, a smug grimace on his face like he'd just completed some nasty chore that needed to be done. After a few minutes of whimpering she got up, spat blood, called us over and we huddled.

Weeks went by and nothing ever happened to him. He came and went with no retributions. The beatings got more frequent for awhile, and then they slowed down. For some reason after that day I've never been afraid of anything, and certainly never been able to draw any joy from anything scary. Instead I just feel hollow. If something happens that should make me nervous I just see it from the outside of my body. It's a sickening feeling because I know I should care at times but I can't. I feel empty and bleak. It leads to bad depressions sometimes, and has made people on occasion think I'm brave, but it’s never been bravery at all, it’s just a very unhealthy lack of fear. None of us are right to this day. We all have problems, but what are you going to do, you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it and I did, I’ve never raised a hand to my wife or kids. I don’t care what they say, you can break the string, but the fact is, I’d like to hang my old man with that string.
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