I don’t know how it started, or why it happened to me. At what point does a person decide that they are going to abuse their child? None of my friends were abused, so why was I?
I was young when it began. It didn’t start out as physical abuse, he simply wouldn’t take me out of my crib when I cried, wouldn’t feed me, wouldn’t change my diaper. But as I grew older, it got worse.
When I was three, my mother died. Records say that she had killed herself. I wouldn’t doubt that, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that someone else had been involved.
On my fifth birthday, I was coloring in my room when he came in. I asked him what he thought of my picture. He snatched the paper out of my hand and ripped it in half. He grabbed my wrist and squeezed tightly until I gasped and let go of the crayon in my hand. He pushed me to the ground and left my room silently.
The first time he hit me, I was seven years old. I was sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal and watching Spongebob after school. He came in and started making himself a sandwich. I stood up to put my bowl in the sink and accidentally ran into him. The plate fell out of his hands and onto the floor. He stood still for a few seconds, staring at his plate clattering on the floor. I slowly walked around him and put my bowl and spoon into the sink. I kept my eyes on him the whole time. I started walking toward the door and turned around. I was a few steps from the door when he grabbed my arm and pulled me sharply back toward him. He twisted my arm up behind my back and pulled, not quite hard enough to dislocate my shoulder, but hard enough to make me cry out in pain. He let go and smacked the back of my head as I scampered out of the room, crying.
It grew progressively worse over the years. It was as if he felt that once he had done something, it was okay to do it again, and go beyond it. I learned that it was best to spend as much time as possible shut up in my room, alone. He never abused me sexually; it was all mental and physical. However, who’s to say that he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gotten away from him when I did?
I was fourteen at the time. He had gotten angry at me for playing music too loudly, and I knew that he was going to start hurting me, so I picked up a pair of scissors that were lying on my desk, waited for him to come at me, and stabbed him. My first stab got him in his stomach, my second in his thigh, my third and final one in his chest. He fell to the ground, so I ran out of my room, locking the door behind me. I called 9-1-1 and waited for the cops to show up.
Within ten minutes there was an ambulance and two police cars outside and a flurry of people at my house. A young policeman took me out and sat me on the passenger seat of his cruiser. He crouched outside the car and talked to me while the ambulance took the man to the hospital and out of my life.
Officer Michael took me to the police station to talk to me about what happened. I matter-of-factly told him my life story. When I was done, he left and came back a few minutes later with another man. I immediately knew that this man was a psychiatrist. He asked me to repeat what I had told Officer Michael. I did and both men left the room after. A woman officer came in and asked me to show her where I had been hurt. I showed her the bruises on my arms, stomach, back, and legs. She took photos of the wounds and told me that I had acted in self-defense and would not be punished for my actions. Afterwards, I was taken to Social Services and I became a typical foster child, going from home to home, trying not to let myself get close to anyone. My father had ruined my life, and I was never going to be able to forget what he did to me. It was going to be with me for the rest of my existence…
“Roxanne, may I please see you at my desk?”
I stopped at the door of the classroom and rolled my eyes. I turned to face the room. Mr. Davis was sitting at his desk, shuffling papers around. About half of the class was still in the room, looking between Mr. Davis and me. I stayed standing at the door, raising my eyebrow at my young English teacher.
He looked up at me and sighed.
“The rest of you can go,” Mr. Davis said. No one moved. “It’s lunchtime. Leave!” he said, more sharply. The class scrambled to leave the room quickly, rushing around me like a river flowing past a rock.
I stood silently as the door shut behind me. Mr. Davis was staring at me, an intrigued look in his eyes.
“Roxanne, can you come here, please?”
I clenched my teeth and took slow, deliberate steps towards his desk. When I was a few feet away, I stopped. He sighed again and leaned back in his chair.
“What am I going to do with you?” He paused, waiting for a reply that didn’t come. “You’re a smart girl, and you know it! You’ve already read all of the novels we will be covering this year, you have never gotten below a 93 on a test, and you are a fantastic writer!” He paused again and looked at me. I raised my eyebrow to indicate that I wasn’t going to say anything and he should continue. “But what I can’t figure out is why you never do your homework or participate in class. Your attitude is deplorable, and I can’t figure out what to do!” He breathed heavily in the silence that followed.
“Is that all?” I asked sarcastically.
“Don’t you have anything to say?” He asked. I paused again.
“No. No I don’t.” I turned to leave the room, but stopped when he put a hand on my shoulder.
“Look I’m not angry at you—”
“I never said you were.”
“Let me finish, please! I’m not angry; I just want to know how we can make the rest of this year better. You aren’t participating, and I’m feeling like a failure of an educator.” Mr. Davis’ voice had grown much calmer and kinder. I still hadn’t turned to face him.
“I don’t think there’s anything you can do,” I said quietly. I shrugged his hand off and took a few more steps toward the door, when I turned back to him.
“Have you heard my story?”
“No,” he said, looking confused.
“Ask around the Teacher’s Lounge. Someone will know it.”
With that, I left the room. Mr. Davis slowly sat back down as the door closed behind me.
I ran to the bathroom and faced my reflection. My dark brown hair fell in waves to my shoulder blades, my bangs hitting just below my eyebrows and framing my face. I pulled out my mascara and added another coat to my already spider’s-leg-like eyelashes. I put the mascara back into my bag and looked sadly into my own violet eyes.
This happened every time I had a new teacher. Nothing ever changed. They always acted so concerned about me. I was already living with strangers, I was already a charity case, I didn’t need my teachers to tell me how to live my life. I sniffed back the last few tears that were burning my eyes, itching to get out. I looked into the mirror and took a deep breath before turning and leaving the bathroom, hoping to continue my life without being bothered ever again…