For quite a small country, New Zealand has quite a high domestic violence statistic. Of the reported incidents, anyway, because let’s face it, only a very small percentage of incidents are reported. Just the sheer number of children who have died in the last couple of decades alone in New Zealand as a result of domestic violence is shocking to think of.
But when you think of domestic violence only two incidents tend to come to mind to most people. The violence from one partner, usually male but occasionally female, to the other. Or from a parent (be it biological or step or even a guardian type) to child. And let’s face it, the thought that just those situations on their own occurring is unthinkable let alone trying to wrap your head around anything else. But there is.
Did you know that sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes the domestic violence isn’t caused by the adults in the family, but by the child?
I’m not talking about the usual annoying torture that siblings put each other through, of cause. The hitting and fighting and the “Mum, he hit me!” “She hit me first!” situation. That’s normal. Most siblings go through that and usually can be found to have given as good as they have gotten. What I’m referring to is a very selected and targeted bullying situation from one particular sibling to another, or even towards a parent.
I wrote last year about the domestic violence that my mother received at the hands of my father before he left. At the time of his leaving, my second brother was 9 and Mum was pregnant with me. My second brother was our father’s favourite child at the time and took his leaving and subsequent neglect rather badly. By the time I was born he had focused all the blame of our father’s leaving on me. I became a target.
I remember very little of my early years and that’s probably for the best. I do know that his violent focus of me was a big concern to Mum at that she tried to have him admitted to a psychiatric hospital when he was 12 or 13. I was only a toddler at the time. However while they agreed from their observations of his interactions with me that he clearly needed help, they refused to take him because HE didn’t want it. My childhood would have been much better if they had.
I do remember things like sitting in a chair and him tipping me out of it because he wanted to sit there. I remember gathering ripe feijoas that had fallen from under our trees and him coming up from behind, yelling at me, and then kicking my backside with his boot so hard I landed on my face. I remember numerous times of having his hands around my neck trying to strangle me and sometimes smacking my head hard against the wall or mirror. Even now I can’t stand anything touching my neck. I barely tolerate choker necklaces and avoid turtleneck tops like they’re the plague. Even a stray hair curling around my neck can panick me if caught off guard.
I remember sitting in the lounge with my best friend and her brother listening to a copy of Mrs Doubtfire that my friend had recorded on a cassette tape. We had watched the movie so many times together that we could picture it in our minds as we listened. At one point I was laughing so hard at this cassette recording that my brother coming in the door at the time thought I was laughing at him and came at me. He didn’t care that my friends were there and watching.
I remember getting a yellow bike for Christmas when I was 10 from my Mum and her, at the time, fiance. One day, my brother asked to borrow my bike and I said no. He flew into a rage and tried to take my bike from me. I ended up hiding myself and my bike in my room and having to brace myself to keep the door shut. Mum had to stand in front of my bedroom door and try to physically prevent him from breaking my door down. Instead he smashed my organ keyboard, that lived in the hallway because there was no room in my bedroom to put it, to pieces in his anger.
I learnt at a very early age to start screaming for Mum whenever my brother started on me. It was the only defence I had to protect myself. Sometimes Mum wasn’t enough and we had to call my oldest brother to deal with the situation. It didn’t stop when he became an adult either.
I remember walking home from high school one day and him driving his car up onto the footpath I was on, to try and run me over. He wasn’t driving very fast, but you don’t need to be very fast to hurt someone with a car. I had to almost jump someone’s fence to avoid him.
There are so many more memories I have of his violence towards me, Mum, even towards his own wife (now ex) and children and even others. There was one time that he crashed his car into someone else’s purely because they gave him the middle finger when he cut them off at a roundabout. It only took the word “no” to set him off. Didn’t matter what about.
Sometimes the police were called in but he has such silver tongue that they never did much good. It got to the stage that he wasn’t allowed on Mum’s property while I still lived there. He threatened the lives of my future children when that happened. I was 21 at the time.
When I moved out of home to move in with my now Husband at the age of 23, he moved back in with Mum. He turned his abuse onto her then. It took a trespass notice, selling Mum’s house, moving her in with us and moving out of the city to get away from him.
I’m not quite sure where I wanted to go with this. Maybe I just needed to talk about it. Just to get it out there. Just to be heard. Who knows. I do know that I’ve had this post pressing on my mind for the last couple of days. So much so that the words have almost tumbled onto the keyboard before I’ve even thought them through. I don’t often get posts that act like this. So do with it what you will.
I do know that my experiences have affected me deeply. As Mum would say, I was a very quiet child. Content to stick my nose in a book and in an out of the way corner than bring attention to myself. Ironic that I now blog and vlog. But long time followers would probably notice that I also very rarely talk about myself on this kind of level. It’s one thing to take cute footage of my children or show myself doing housework or baking, and a complete other to actually talk into the camera.
But anyway, it’s out there now. Hopefully I’ve opened someone’s eyes as to what life is like as the target of domestic violence particularly at the hands of not a parent or lover but by a sibling.