I was 13 and it was almost summer in Florida. It was a sunny day and my best friend and I were walking to my house after school. When I got home, the atmosphere suddenly shifted from bright and lively to dark and gloomy.
My mom immediately asked me for my phone, so I gave it to her. My hands were sweating and shaking because I was scared she would find out I was sending nude photos of myself on KIK, a messaging app.
“Why are you nervous?” she asked. “Are you hiding something?”
She started to go through my phone and opened KIK and went through my chats. I walked away knowing I was in trouble.
After a few minutes, she called me to the laundry room and started to whisper-yell at me since my best friend was still there: “You know why I called you in here. Why the f-ck are you doing this, huh?”
I stayed quiet because whenever I spoke up it just made my mom more upset.
She slapped my face more than once and said, “Go tell your friend to leave.”
After my friend left, my mom grabbed a belt and told me to go into my room and lie on my stomach. When I did, she hit me until she got tired.
“You act like we don’t talk to you and since you think that, don’t ever come back and talk to me,” she said. “Don’t tell me anything anymore.”
All I wanted was for her to talk to me. Those words scarred me. I will never forget them.
Then she told me to get in the tub and leave the door open since I “like showing my body.” I cried the whole time and continued as I got out of the tub and sat in my room.
Falling Into a Dark Place
The next day I didn’t feel like myself. When I got home from school, my parents said they wanted to talk to me in their room. I stood in front of the doorway looking at my parents while they sat on the bed. But my mom didn’t even let me talk. It seemed like she didn’t even want to look at me.
As soon as I tried to speak about my feelings, she jumped in and said, “Don’t say you’re depressed because you’re not.” She called me a b-tch. It felt like she was pushing me away for good. “OK,” I said, as I slowly turned around and walked away.
I knew I was falling into a dark place where I thought no one could help me. My sister was there to listen to me but she couldn’t replace the love and support I needed from my parents.
My mom had beaten me before, but the way she acted after this incident was different; she was angry, like there was steam coming from the top of her head. I saw that level of anger before only when she learned my sister had been sending nudes on KIK.
My dad knew my mom beat me but never told her to stop. I knew he was disappointed in me.
My Mom’s Relentless Anger
I got grounded for the entire summer. My attitude got worse. I didn’t talk to anyone but my family members.
But during that summer I did a lot of thinking. I realized I had sent nudes so freely at a young age because I needed to feel loved. My parents didn’t pay attention to me and they pushed me away when I tried to talk to them. My parents were mostly at work but even when they were home, they wouldn’t want to be bothered with me and would tell me to leave the room.
That fall when I went back to school, I stopped reaching out to strangers. I deleted the apps and started focusing on myself. Still, it felt like my mom’s anger toward me was relentless.
She said, “I can’t trust you no more. I need to know what you’re doing at all times.”
“You can’t do that just because I made one big mistake. I tried to talk to you about it and you didn’t want to hear it,” I said.
This conversation happened over and over and never got anywhere. She put a supervision app on my phone so she could keep tabs on me, which was a real invasion of my privacy.
Over the next few years, I felt depressed. I asked to go to therapy. Mom wouldn’t believe I felt depressed.
Deciding to Move
Once I was in 10th grade, I reached out to my godmother. I told her what life was like for me, that I couldn’t communicate with my mom anymore. My godmother asked me if I wanted to move to New York. I asked my mom and at first she said no. Then she changed her mind and said I could go only if I got good grades and kept them up even in New York.
Over the next few months I did my work and kept my grades up. Having a goal of getting out of the house and starting over calmed me. I knew moving in with my godmother would allow me to rest my mind and think clearly without having to walk on eggshells around my mother.
But when it was time to move at the end of the summer, Mom changed her mind. She had come home from work. We were standing in the kitchen when she asked me, “Did you make up your mind?”
I looked at her and said, “I still want to go to New York.”
She said, “F-ck you and f-ck your godmother. You are both b-tches. Since you want to, go and do what you want in New York.”
When she cursed at me, I only said “OK” and let her continue; her yelling didn’t faze me anymore.
We didn’t talk much in the days leading up to my leaving. But we had never communicated well to begin with.
“You know I don’t want you to leave, but if this is the best for you I accept it. I’m just asking why you want to,” she said.
“I told you already it’s for school and I want to go to college out there,” I said. There was no point in telling her the truth.
At the airport, my mom walked me to security. I gave my mom a hug and a kiss and then said goodbye.
I just wanted to go to school and come home to someone who actually wants to be around me.
Determined to Break the Cycle of Violence
Neither of my parents understood or even thought to consider that what my sister and I were doing was looking for attention, because we were not getting it from them.
Maybe both my parents are OK with beating us because they have both been victims of abuse from relatives, so violence within the family has become part of an endless cycle. I learned this in several conversations I had with my parents as I got older, after my mom beat me. I want to break that cycle.
My mother was raped by her uncle. When she told her mother, her mother didn’t do anything about it. My grandmother is a horrible parent who never protected my mother when she needed her the most. Not only was my mother scarred for years from the sexual abuse, she also had to deal with the fact that her mother did not acknowledge her pain.
My father told us he was sexually assaulted by a male family member, although nobody knows who it was. I don’t mention it to my parents, but I think they should be honest with themselves about what happened to them. These incidents shouldn’t go unexamined. They might consider that my mother hits me and my sister because she is re-enacting the violence that was inflicted on her.
Now I Live in a Peaceful Home
Recently I have been able to acknowledge this difficult period and let it go. I decided I was ready to write about it as a way of healing and moving on. So I was happy to be accepted to write for this magazine.
When I speak to my mom on the phone these days, she still finds a reason to get mad at me. When I told her about my interest in writing about mental and emotional abuse, she asked if I was ever abused by her or my father. I said no because I didn’t want her to know I wanted to write about that.
But I guess she figured it out. Soon after that talk on the phone, she called me in the middle of the day while I was at school. She apologized. It was brief, but it was still an apology.
“I didn’t know how to parent and there’s not a book on being a perfect parent,” she said.
“I just want you and your sister to stop talking about the past,” she said.
“We don’t, unless one of you brings it up.”
“No, you guys bring the past up,” she said.
This was just like her. To say one nice thing and then scold or criticize me for something else.
I live with my godmother now, which is a lot better. But life with my godmother also has its flaws. She gets mad over the littlest things like the beds not being made up, or dishes not being done. She often has her boyfriend come into conversations that have nothing to do with him; he acts like I’m his child. Then again, this is nothing that I can’t handle. When it comes to my emotional health at my godmother’s house, I just keep a mellow or joyful attitude depending on the day. It’s really peaceful living there.