Amongst the many factors that have been identified with regard to children’s violence to parents, the experience of living with domestic violence has been found to have significant prominence. Yet the way this influences children’s behaviour is itself multi-layered and will vary from family to family.
The normalising of violence, anger and disdain for the parent who failed to protect themself or the children, “stepping up to the plate” once the abusive adult is no longer in the household – these are the links commonly cited, but we hear less of the child who fights back at the time in attempts to protect one parent from the other. A book, which I was sent this week, opens up this aspect of parent abuse, in what the Yorkshire Post described as “an intensely moving account” of domestic violence through the eyes of a child.
Silent Cries, by R. Ryrie, tells the story of a child who understood from a young age that her role in the family was to protect her mother – from her father and even from herself. This included, for her, verbal and physical abuse towards her father, as she saw it, to save her mother’s life.
When Nan died it hit Mum hard, they had always been together, the drinking and clubbing was a few times a week now so Mum was getting beaten more and I was getting more violent towards my Dad because Mum was in no state to handle him as well. (page 13)
Three things struck me in particular:
* The consistency with which the author speaks of her continuing love for her Dad – but not for “the hulk” that he became when violent,
I was glad he was my Dad because I thought some of my friends’ Dads were really scary.” (page 15)
* Her sense of personal failure because although she had kept everything else going she was unable to stop her mother being beaten,
* Her reasoning for never seeking help,
You don’t keep things secret it’s just that there is no point in saying anything so you just deal with it…. why would I ask for help when it wasn’t me that needed it. (page 57)
The way in which abusive family members continue to speak of love for each other is often a puzzle to those outside the situation. This book gives useful insights into the thinking and watchfulness of a child growing up with violence, and the value she placed on her own life. It explains the difficulties faced by children in school, or in making their own relationships. At the end the author surprises even herself as she learns to live with acceptance and love.
If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so by emailing this address. The book costs £5.99 + p and p
If anyone else has books they would like to share, I would be very interested to hear about them and post links as appropriate.