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Good Intentions Aren’t Enough For Children


Trigger Warning for Domestic Violence

Good Intentions aren't enough for Children

When I was in fourth grade, my dad had gotten drunk again. This time he tried to strangle my mom. My mom, my sister, and I spent the night behind a pizza place in our car. The next day I was tired and cranky and I started crying during class. My teacher took me out into the hall and I told her about what my father had done, and how we’d had to drive to the big city twenty miles from home. She told me that if I ever needed a place to stay, she had a guest room in her basement.

As a child I didn’t know what I needed, but a guest room wasn’t it.

I finally called the police on my father when I was in eleventh grade. It was a desperate call for help to an authority. He was arrested and went away to jail, where my grandparents bailed him out. My mom went and signed paperwork saying that we didn’t need a restraining order and that he could come back to live with us. All he got was a few anger management therapy sessions, where everyone told him that the reason he was violent was due to frustrations from living below poverty level.

He was the victim of society, not us.

When I was a senior in high school, I got the courage to ask my band teacher for help. I told her what was going on. I explained that I was afraid of what might happen when I was at school and couldn’t protect my family. I was seventeen. My teacher asked me why she was hearing about this for the first time, after seven years of knowing me. She told me she’d look into it. It was a cry for help, and I was counting on her.

We never spoke of the matter again.

That’s one of the bigger problems with this situation – people know that you’re supposed to do something, but nobody really has any idea what to do. But it’s always harder for the child asking for help, and not doing anything has a lasting impact.

It’s hard to open up and ask for help. I held on to those people to go to as a trump card, just in case it ever got too bad to handle alone. Then, after going through the embarrassment of trying to explain this situation to someone, nothing happened. It shut me up for a long time. If it didn’t help the first time, why bother asking again?

I think this experience changed me. I am even more independent than before. I worry about not appearing in control of any situation in front of anyone, including people I know. I am sensitive to negativity/criticism more than other people. I’ve grown up believing that everyone on the face of the earth is deep down a cruel, selfish, mouthy jackass.

I don’t even know if writing this will make a difference.

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