TW: Psychological violence and toxic relationships in a family. Contacts at the end of the article.
An article for the letter T (Toxic relationships) of the project “Feminism from A to Z” presented by Feminist Chapter
On paper, you are my stepdad, but if someone just looks at how we interact with each other, they can easily guess that we have no relationship at all. We never talk or look at each other even if we used to live in the same house for 15 years.
So how can I better describe my feelings about this? First, I would talk about fear, as you have played on that feeling since I was a little girl. You were coming to my room at night, mom probably charged you to wish me good night but instead, you kept the light off, and you did the sound of a wolf under the full moon. I felt like you were a werewolf about to kill me, I was terrified. I also remember when you threw all our crockery on the floor because you were upset. I can think about how much you made my mother cry with your sharpened words and your “do not start with me, it could get really ugly”. You also threatened to kill the dog with a rock as it was barking at you because you scared it. You are like that, you love to attack, to bully the ones that cannot defend themselves.
Coming along with fear I was also feeling anger. How many times I just wished you were dead, unable to hurt anyone anymore, I really thought about it, erasing you from our lives, you were only a parasite. I also thought of getting revenge when I’ll be older, patiently waiting for the time when you will be weakened by age, waiting for that moment, when I could hurt you back without fearing any response.
You hated me so much that I felt alone and unloved, sad, and stressed. I felt like I did not belong like I was not a part of the family. I had no place to call “home” since my mother stayed with you ignoring the damage you were doing to us. One day, when I asked her why she did not protect us, protect me, she just responded “I am not a fighter”. At that point, my anger had transformed into sorriness: she was the one trapped with him, not me. Soon I would be away, living my own life filled with the people I wanted in.
Growing up in that dirt made me an “autonomous person”, as they like to call/qualify me. This still hurts, they don’t see how much I wish to have been less obliged to care for myself from an early age. And even if I am resilient, I am still afraid of making the same mistakes as my mother. I may say that “I will never be in that kind of relationship with a man, I will never let it happen” but we are not always able to identify a toxic relationship when we are trapped in it.
This year, I started to build my own life, I got rid of my old demons, my stepdad is therefore nothing else than an empty word written on a marriage contract.
Thanks for reading this testimony. If you have experienced or are currently experiencing similar psychological, physical, and/or sexual violence, know that you are not alone, it’s not your fault and we believe you. You can also talk to someone about it. You can call at anytime the 3919 national number, for free, some professionals will help and redirect you to answer your needs. In Le Havre, you can also call these phone numbers to get help: 02.35.21.76.76 or 06.85.04.35.62 (association AVRE 76, from Monday to Saturday until 8pm or Sunday morning). Finally, on campus, you can talk to the psychologist or the nurse/GP about it, they won’t repeat anything, because of the medical secret.
There is of course no obligatory path to follow as a survivor of violence, here are just numbers that you can contact if you feel the need to.