I'm sitting in the back of the ambulance watching as a sixteen year old girl cries while explaining to the policeman why her father beat her.

Her tears are falling onto her clothes leaving small salty circles.

While she is in pain, this isn't the reason why she is crying.

She uses up the last of our tissues.

Her jaw and chest are hurt where he used his fists and feet to beat her. I'd say that she has at least one broken rib.

I sit there listening to a long list of abuses her father has visited upon the whole family, from the seven year old up to his wife.

She didn't deserve this.

Her tears only stop once we reach the hospital.

52 thoughts on “Beaten”

  1. For months I listened to my neighbour beating up his pregnant girlfriend and their constant fights, screaming, thrown kitchenware etc. The police could do nothing as I'd not actually *seen* anything. They did manage to ring him up, though, and said that I'd heard what was going on and did he have anything to say.Which was nice.

    Cue him and four of his mates surrounding the car when I got home and asking why I'd told the police that he had been “doing domestic violence”. His girlfriend, by the way, defended him and said nothing had happened.

    Hitting kids, hitting partners, hitting pregnant women (which has been covered in this blog before). It's all beyond reprehensible, yet unless it's done in public the authorities' hands seem to be tied. And if Joe Public does anything about it, guess who gets in trouble?

    Yet people ask why I'm looking at moving to another country.

  2. I'd agree. Although alcohol and functional alcoholism was a part of my childhood abuse, it wasn't the whole trigger for the abuse, though it certainly didn't help. In fact, I'd say that the alcoholism was another symptom of the dysfunctional nature of my childhood family rather than a cause of it. It certainly wasn't a part of my first relationship.What makes people abusive? If it were that easy to tell, then it wouldn't be difficult to find/deal with them. In some cases, they've previously been abused themselves. Certainly a lot of them are typical bullies, using the abuse to deal with their own feelings of inferiority and so on. Sometimes there are other psychological issues like depression or whatever, and they're lashing out at the person nearest to them. However, there isn't just one simple cause. After all, what causes schoolyard bullying? Lots of complex factors.

    Like batsgirl says, you can't simply blame X for triggering the abuse, although the abuser would certainly do so (where x also includes the person Doing Something To Deserve It). Not every person suffering depression or who drinks or is abused becomes an abuser and each individual case needs to be looked at to discover why it's happened. But sadly, it appears that in a lot of cases the abuser cannot or will not accept that they have a problem, and will simply move onto the next target. Personally I think the idea that without X the abuse wouldn't happen is the wrong way to go, in this respect, because there'll always be another X to explain the abuse away (on the abuser's part).

  3. I am constantly stunned by the things the kids I work with have had to endure….Makes me wonder what the hell kind of world we are living in….

  4. That behavior is truly disgusting. I hope the father gets what he deserves.What sort of man would resort to beating his own wife and kids, the people who trust him…

  5. One of my son's friends was persistently beaten and abused as a child by his stepfather – a man who clearly failed to realise that little boys grow into big men. The stepfather crossed the stepson's path at the wrong moment a few months ago. (The stepson is now aged 27). The court remanded the stepson for background reports, deciding that a custodial sentence was not merited. In fact, he was simply warned to be “of good behaviour”. The wheel turns.

  6. As the product of an abusive childhood I find it very hard to deal with these calls. My preferred response would be a lightweight O2 cylinder inserted rectally, but I have to make do with vulnerable child referrals. The positive responses I get to these make up for my frustration.

  7. It constantly boggles the mind the ways in which human beings can inflict cruelty on each other. A child should never have to endure such abuse.

  8. Hard to take that without getting angry.. Bad timing at work for me as it coincided with playing Gabriel's “Don't Give Up” Caused a normally unemotional man to shed a tear.

  9. Must be so difficult to see it, day after day in your line of work. Sadly, I find myself unsurprised. There are too many abuses occurring in this world, and many have been perpetrated for many decades or more. I only hope that this 16 year old can find the strength inside to walk away and hold her head high one day, rather than having to fight the demons for the rest of her life. It's hard though.I know it can be hard to understand why those in abusive situations put up with it. I've heard so many people speak with frustration and even disgust about “stupidity” or “weakness” but stepping out of an abusive situation is often the hardest thing you can do. Abusers work hard to ensure the victims have no self-esteem or self-worth left, and the victim truly believes that it is their fault, that they provoked it, that they deserved it and that if they were a better person, then the abuser wouldn't lose their temper. Even those people who swear they would never put up with that kind of manipulation and abuse can find themselves trapped. Once they get away from an abusive relationship, they end up going one of two ways. With luck, they become stronger and more confident. Sadly, in many cases, they still feel worthless and end up repeating the cycle with another abusive situation of one kind or another. It's frustrating all round, but until the abused person can accept that they're worth more than that, it will keep on happening.

    Thank you, Tom (and everyone else), for taking care of her and others like her.

  10. Having been where that child has been – albeit at a different time in my life – I know how much courage it actually took for her to come “clean” and tell exactly what was going on at home.I hope she found the help, compassion, and hope she needed and that her days are brighter from here on out. It's a long road ahead.Thank you for taking care of her, thanks to the cops for being mindful… and hopefully she won't be one of those who falls through the cracks of the system.

  11. I agree with your comments about the reasons why people fail to leave abusive situations. In many ways, a long-term abusive situation (especially the familial kind) is much like torture in its effects. Captives, POWs, and battered children and women have a lot of the same psychological scars.One of torture's key effects is the disruption of normal cognitive processes. If you live under these kinds of conditions long enough, you can start losing all sense of personal boundaries. You can't tell friend from foe. You can't make sense of basic human emotions like fear and safety, love and hate, trust and distrust. Your personality and identity get destroyed – not just damaged, but pretty much shattered from the foundation up. You become totally objectified, so you lose the sense of identity you once had. You lost all sense of individuation. All the sense of self, self-determination, individuality you once had get transfered to the perpetrator.

    And poof – Stockholm syndrome, anyone? This, in many ways, explains why women and children alike back away from litigation, go back to their abusers, over and over and over again.

    It's an issue close to my heart.

    The more people like Tom and others speak out, the more victims will come forward, the more people will be able to prevent their return to abusive conditions, the more there is hope for the next generation.

  12. I totally agree with Ratchick and Elenfair. I have a friend trying to break free from an abusive relationship right now. The thing is, if the abuser was like that from the start of the relationship then the victim wouldn't stay 5 minutes. But the abuse starts gradually. The abuser gains the victims trust first and then over a period of years they gradually wear down the victims self confidence, leaving them to believe that the only person in the world who would want to be with them is their abuser. Often the victim has no other friends either, so they start to lose touch with what is “normal” in a relationship and what isn't. It's about complete control.I've been totally stunned at how confused my friend has been over what is normal behaviour and what isn't. She doubts herself constantly, and doesn't seem to know herself at all. Unfortunately people sense this in her, and she ends up being treated badly by everyone.

  13. I'm very sorry about your friend, Mr Mans Wife. I've been on both sides of the problem, and know how frustrating it is to feel like there's nothing you can really do. It's a true “damned if you do, damned if you don't” kind of situation. If you try to convince her to leave, he may find out and take it out on her (i.e. the “make it worse” scenario). If you don't, who knows what can happen…The only thing you can do is let her know you don't think it's right, that she does deserve better, and that you're there to help her if she decides to leave. Most women in these situations feel completely alone – abusers make sure to sever our friendships and our ties to family. It's an effective way to make sure we don't leave.

    I wish I had a solution for your friend. I know those who were close to me did everything they could to convince me to leave. It took a trip to the hospital, months of rehabilitation and a really determined crown's attorney to get me out of that mess. I was thankful to have friends who were still around to help me pick up the pieces and find myself again.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  14. quite a lot of men, actually.And in public they generally say things like “what sort of man would beat his wife and kids, the scum” and keep the whole thing of how they send their kids flying across the room and rape their wives as their little power-trip secret.

  15. I think you put your finger on a huge part of the problem. It's hard to recognize an abuser, out in the general public. Often, they seem to be lovely, upstanding gentlemen (*cough*) who are heard saying things like “people who do that are scum!” and turn around and do it themselves. Because, see, the “scum” label does not apply to them… because their wife/child/partner is responsible for his outbursts.Statistics, in North America, currently estimate that 1 in 4 women will have faced and survived abuse in their lifetime… often before the age of 25. We're talking physical, serious psychological and sexual abuse and assault. I'm sure it's not much different in the UK…

    What does that say about society as a whole…

  16. absolutely.Be There. It's all you can do.

    Setting ultimatums doesn't work (“if you don't leave him soon I'm going to stop covering for you at work”) and insults don't work (“you stupid cow, putting up with that”) and you've got to be really careful about sounding superior too (the difference between “I don't think he should treat you like that” and “I'd never let anyone treat me like that”). Trying to persuade or force someone to leave their abuser, much less report them, is a bad idea… you can only let them know that there IS an escape route if they want it.

  17. Bingo. “If you decide you want to leave, you can. And I will help. And you can be safe.”No one ever got suddenly confident through the “Get Confident, Stupid!” approach.

  18. Yeah – they're not “scum”, because their situation is different. Okay, so they hit (wife/child), but they didn't use a weapon so it's not that bad. And there were mitigating circumstances, I mean, it's not asking much to expect dinner cooked when you get in/all the shoes to be neatly lined up/the kids to not have their homework spread all over the table/other so-called Reason For Excessive Violence, is it? And it's been a really long day, (wife/child) doesn't know how good they have it, stupid ungrateful….etc etc blah blah.

  19. How sad..At least Tom was able to do something to help an individual who needed it, rather than having to scrape this week's piss-artist quota off the pavement.

    But jesus, how do you NOT “get involved”..? I think in that situation I'd have to fight against my natural instincts which would be to make sure the care doesn't stop at A&E. I know I'd find it hard to just leave it at that, but I guess you have to.

  20. For every physical abuser there a a dozen mental abusers. This type are 'Mr Nice Guy' to anyone outside the family. Who will do anything for a neighbour and nothing for their own family. In public they ridicule and humiliate the wife and children. In private they slag off their neighbours to their family.As always, either physical or mental abusers, they have one face the family sees and another the world sees.

  21. It kind of does if you move to NZ. If domestic violence is reported, and there is some kind of proof, ie a witness (who doesn't have to *see* anything, for god's sake) or the victim has obviously been assaulted and/or is distressed, the police WILL visit, and WILL make an arrest if there is sufficient grounds (“disturbing the peace” is often a good fallback). The victim does not need to make a complaint – the law now acknowleges that they are often the last people to do so. The system still isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than the old way.

  22. Not sure what the answer if but one thing's for sure, poverty creates domestic abuse, wealth creates domestic abuse, probably everything other than living in one-person cells night and day creates domestic abuse.People tend to be complete bastards given half a chance, and our biggest mistake is to think we can hand over to “authority” – also people, also complete bastards, only this time with a mandate and unimpeachable authority to shut us up and beat us down – and expect them to do better.

    I like the NZ example, the victims are almost always the last to complain.

  23. This is truly a horrid thing for anyone to have thrust upon them, but at least now she has told the Police about it, and in some small way you have done your bit in helping her down the long road to escaping the life she's in!

  24. Thanks for your replies. I try to be there for her as much as I can, but what was said earlier about not knowing who is friend and who is foe is definitely true of her. I have never told her to leave him (otherwise I am only trying to control her the same as he has), but when she tells me what goes on I try to tell her that it isn't “normal”, and sometimes she is genuinely surprised and confused. She was young when he got his claws in, and for many years has had no friends, only him, so she doesn't even know what is normal. (We were best friends at junior school and got back in touch after about 18 years, but while she was with him it was very difficult to see her. We met maybe once every 4 or 5 months, whereas now it's at least once a week.)When I say “trying to break free” I mean she has actually left him, but she is really struggling to “find herself” and like most of these types there is actually a nice side to him that she really misses. Added to that he is the father of her child so she still has contact with him. He still abuses her in his own way, treating her in ways that I wouldn't treat a dog. I've lost count of how many therapy classes, and counselling sessions she has gone to. It seems she is so lost and so desperate to even find out who she is. You really can't imagine the effects of this kind of relationship unless you see it first hand. (And by “you” I obviously don't mean Elenfair or Ratchick)

    It is never as simple as “You should just leave him”.

  25. Definitely. My friends abuse (who I mention above) was very mental and emotional, but also physical in violent and sexual ways.

  26. Yeah, poverty doesn't help – boy, do I know that one, treat people like rats and they act like rats – but you get domestic abuse all the way up the totem pole. Until we get to the point where it's not acceptable to treat people like shit because they're “weaker” than you (physically, economically, socially…), the same old thing will keep happening.Still, it's better than it was. At least domestic assault is considered to be a crime now, despite the often lax policies in pursuing it.

  27. Agreed. I think it's a matter of degree, too. I think you can have emotional abuse without physical or sexual abuse. I don't think you can have either (or both) physical or sexual abuse without the mental/psychological abuse as well.Sometimes, I want to nuke half of humanity… 😉

  28. What you describe is what is the most frustrating bit of working with survivors of domestic violence. It's so hard to imagine what it's like, from the inside… and so hard for anyone who has not really been through something like that to understand just how deeply it shaters the victim's identity and sense of self.It's so hard to understand WHY someone would return to an abuser! I think it's important to understand that there is actually comfort in what is “familiar”, even if that is a dangerous, violent situation.

    Something has to be done. I wish I knew what COULD be done…

  29. Glad you are there Tom.Shame that girl has to endure that.

    Shame that the abuser has no clue about what he's doing to her or himself.

    Shame for our society we live in.

    Glad you are there Tom.


  30. I think, on the whole, the psychological abuse is worse than the physical in some ways. The bruises and breaks heal, the scars (usually) fade, but the emotional issues keep on lingering. Having spent the past 29 years dealing with the ramifications of first an abusive childhood and later making the same mistakes in my first longterm relationship, it certainly seems that way anyhow.I also agree that you can't have the physical/sexual without the psychological, but the psychological alone can be just as harmful. After all, you don't need to be beaten or raped to find yourself suicidal because you feel so damn useless and worthless as a result of the abuse.

    It's definitely insidious, slow to start, difficult to recognise and hard to leave. The comment above, about not realising how wrong things are, struck a chord for me… In my case, though the abuse started when I was a toddler and continued for many years, I didn't realise that other families weren't like mine until I was 8, and even then the question I asked was “What's wrong with me?” rather than “What's wrong with the abuser?”.

  31. Have read all the sad comments about all the abuse and its terrible effects. Was thinking more what the causes are, however. What causes people to actually begin to carry out this abuse? Where and why does it start? and what can we do to remove the abuse at its earliest point?Guess the answers will be depressing to read. I personally believe that, if you look at abuse as an equation (ie abuser + x = abused victim) then x will very often turn out be “alcohol” . In other words, alcohol is not the cause of abuse but a very common “requirement” in order for the abuse to take place.

    Anyone agree with this or is it too simple a view on an immensly complicated subject?

  32. A lot of it is being convinced that if you try that bit harder, if you don't give them any reason to get upset with you, then things could get back to the nice way they were once upon a whenever.Sometimes it's thinking that if you take the abuse, you're protecting someone else from getting it.

    Or one person desperately wants to get away, but their child/sibling/parent/whoever is too terrified to leave the house because of what the abuser might do to them when he/she catches up with them. “I couldn't leave them there alone.”

    Threats like “if you try and leave/don't come back, if you tell anyone, I will hunt you down and I will hurt you so badly this will seem like a day at the park, and then I'll start on your family” can be very effective.

    Not having any money of your own and thinking “well, (abuser) does this this and this, but their money pays for that that and that, can I subject my kids to a life on benefits?”

    There's more but I'll stop now.

  33. very simplistic… I have been badly abused by two men. One of them was what you might call a “functional alcoholic”, he held down a good job and so on but couldn't go more than a few hours without a drink (not necessarily “getting drunk” but having a pint or two), and certainly not a day. He got more physical the more he'd had to drink, but the ongoing abuse was not tied to a level of drunken-ness or a time of day.The other was a teenager (same age as me at the time), didn't drink, didn't do drugs, didn't even smoke. And to be honest, he was scarier, and perpetrated more extreme abuse on a more regular basis. In my inexpert opinion he was just psychotic.

    The trouble with terms like “alcoholic” and “psychotic” is that it implies an illness and “it's not his fault”-ness and a sense of it being involuntary on his part and that I should feel sorry for him and he should get a group hug and all sorts of niceness to make him feel better while I get Jack Schitt.

    I think part of it is a potential victim who is already a little bit isolated and doesn't have amazingly high self esteem. It's then easier for the potential abuser to take control, flex his power, feel like a Big Man (or woman) and move into full-blown abuse. But I don't believe that just anybody becomes an abusive git – I reckon it's in there and it's just a question of when and how it comes out.

  34. sorry batsgirl to hear your story and also sorry for my admittedly simplistic comment. As your story proves, alcohol is not a “factor” for abuse, it should never be used as an excuse for abuse and it should never used to imply an illness on tha abuser`s side etc.I have been a heavy drinker the last 20 years, hiding from my appalling low self esteem. Now that i have stopped drinking , i see that this low esteem was a major reason i tolerated psychological abuse from many who were close to me. Easy to say with hindsight, but i wonder why i never had the strength to walk away.

    On the other side of the coin, however, surely alcohol gives these pathetic abusers more “courage” to abuse? Alcohol breaks down our inhibitions and erodes our “values” ? Like batsgirl said “to take control, to flex his power”

    Thats what i meant in my previous post, an abuser is an abuser : no excuses, hope you abusers go to jail like you deserve, but somewhere in the complex equation of abuse, alcohol plays a part. Not in all cases, of course!

    I hope i dont offend anyone, this is just me trying to understand a complicated topic thats close to my heart.

  35. no, don't worry at all 🙂 There's no question that alcohol plays a part, often a large part, in a lot of abuse and domestic violence cases. But I would describe alcohol use as more of a symptom or, as you seem to be saying, a catalyst, than a cause.Certainly the first man I describe, well, he wouldn't have sought treatment for alcoholism as he didn't see himself as an alcoholic and would only admit to being dependent on alcohol in a “jokey” way. But even if somehow the alcoholism had been taken care of or had never existed… my belief is that he still would have been a git.

    (at this point I should say, I have absolute and total respect for anyone who manages to identify a problem and get on the wagon)

    Every so often someone tells me “well, if he was an alcoholic, it wasn't his fault…” the trouble I have with this is that IF I had gathered my strength and had him prosecuted and IF he had been found guilty, then within the system he would have been offered SO much help immediately and every day, therapy, group sessions, individual counselling, monitoring, suicide watch, god knows what else… while I and the rest of my family, the victims, who wanted, needed, were willing to engage with, and dare I say it deserved some serious psychological help, would be trying to cope with everyday outside life with no support past “well you're on a waiting list to recieve six sessions of counselling at some point later this year”.

  36. Agreed. My father was the mental abuse type. Grovelling and creeping to everyone outside the family, agreeing with anything anyone said. Then at home slagging them off to us and humiliating us in public. I never grieved when he died 20 years ago. Wonder why…

  37. No worries. :)First off, let me say that I'm glad to hear that you've taken steps to control the drink – it's not easy. Alcohol can reduce inhibitions and therefore become a crutch for both poor self esteem, as well as opening the “floodgates” to release certain abusive tempers. But not all those who commit abuse are using the person as an outlet for their temper. Some people will continually have at the victim, regardless. While drugs and alcohol can both be a catalyst, removing them won't “fix” someone who is abusive unless they also put the effort in to resolve their own issues. Sadly, that doesn't happen very often.

  38. My dad beat us-not that badly though. It drove me one day to stop some bastard from putting a beatdown on his teen daughter-and I had no control over my actions.My friend and her daughter and I were driving around the Skagit Valley area north of Seattle and we were sitting outside a seed store in my car. In the parking lot below us, this guy was winding up in a manner I'd seen my dad do. I said to my friend something like “Shit!” and she said “Let's get outta here!” (this was someone who had been thoroughly thrashed as a kid).

    Before I knew it I was out of my car. Somehow I'd opened the door and leapt out. Some huge noise had left me. I didn't hear it-but I could feel I'd done it.

    Both the man and the little girl (about 12-16) looked at me, big-eyed and mouths agape. So did my friend and here daughter. I was ready to swing for him. I was standing with my legs slightly apart, my arms tensed and straight down with my fists clenched. I have no recollection of getting into that stance from behind the steering wheel.

    I'm only 5'2″, and he was small but wiry. I'm glad he backed down-I'dve killed him.

  39. Depends which country : France still has conjugal rights enshrined in law, therefore no such thing as marital rape, or sexual assault by anyone one has had a date with.

  40. Managed to persuade partner to come to RELATE, as the brown stuff was hitting the fan. Marriage guidance counsellor stated that the alcohol problem had to be dealt with before the relationship problems. Trouble is that relationship was shi** BECAUSE partner refused to accept they had a drink problem. Subsequently had to put up with a few years of “It's all in your head, the lady from RELATE told you I don't have a problem, you're crazy etc…” Yes, could have left, but things are WAY better now and I'm not perfect either..

  41. My brother's first wife was an abusive drunk. Their first Thanksgiving with the family, they both showed up wearing sunglasses to hide black eyes! My brother felt bad about hitting her back, and soon he had all sorts of injuries, bruises, gashes, etc, for which he invented plausible excuses. He did not hit her back, and she really went nuts on him. She'd keep him up all night with endless interrogations and acusations of infidelities. She'd give him “the look” if she thought he so much as glanced at another woman, and he knew he'd be in for it later. Happily, he's now married to someone else, who is secure in the relationship, is not a jealous freak, and would never ever hit him. He felt embarrassed about his years of being abused by a woman. He finally came clean about that whole period of his life. (Like, we didn't suspect something!!!)

  42. I work with women, some of whom will be experiencing domestic abuse. We actually have great services for women in this position, where I work- advocacy services who can help them leave, or help them stay if that is what they want.Having been through an abusive relationship myself I know exactly WHY they stay and I think that this is about the only thing that I feel having it as a personal experience helps my practice, because I don't feel frustrated that they don't leave, because I totally get it, why they can't. So for me, it's never an issue.

    I didn't leave my abuser, he left me, and for years I worried that he'd do it to someone else, then figured that actually he won't change but I can't do anything about it as if I brought a rape charge against him, it woudl be my word against his and it would be thrown out for lack of evidence anyway.

  43. Batsgirl: If it helps, some are just psychopaths. You don't say, “Oh, poor little psychopath raped and killed all those women.” You think, “Sick bastard. I hope he rots in hell.”My abuser was that type. From the time I was 12 he controlled everything in my life, which of course included my self-esteem. He was full of deluded thoughts about how he was a 'Good Catholic' and I was some horrible dirty sinner and that he was 'teaching me how to become a woman' and that what he was doing was 'right with God.'

    The trouble with a guy like this is that they somehow have a way of CONVINCING YOU that YOU'RE THE ONE THAT'S CRAZY. He had a way of sucking you in to making you think that his point of view MADE SENSE.

    I'm obviously being very, very brief in my description of our relationship. Suffice it to say that that aspect of his personality made it very easy for him to control me. I didn't even realise what he was doing until many years later, when I read a story of a child psychologist who was abusing his patients. It suddenly dawned on me how he controlled me, why it made me fear that he would convince the police (should I ever be brave enough to tell someone) that I was the messed up one (after all, he did a VERY good job of that on me) and how he somehow convinced his fiancee (a third-grade teacher, BTW) that everything about our little relationship was normal.

    Every day I have to keep telling myself over and over like a mantra that under no circumstances is it normal for grown men to touch little girls. FULL-STOP.

    It wasn't normal. It wasn't right. It wasn't my fault.

  44. From reading alot of these commets it is obvious to me that everyone is assuming that abusers are always male – this isnt the case – the worse cases I have personally seen have been women – ie the mothers of these kids – this to me as a mother is in some ways worse and the confusion it cuases is dreadful.It really bugs me as out of people I know who have been abused it has been mostly the mothers – though I have only know one person in an adult relationship to have been being abused who is contempary with me in age and that was a same sex relationship and so happened to be a man.

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