I was seven years old when I first met the devil. Standing about 5′ 4″ fair skin, dark brown hair, and beady eyes. He went by the nickname “Frank.” I instantly had one of those cold spine tingling chills run up my back. You know the kind that makes your hairs stand on end. I was surrounded in a joyful celebration for my cousin’s birthday and I could not shake the terror I felt meeting this person. When I got older I always thought it was ironic that I met him in October, which also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I was really hurt and didn’t understand why mom married him. Like I said before I was seven years old. She asked me “can I marry him? Is it okay that I’m marring him.” I told her no, I didn’t think he was a good person. They were married by the following March. My brother was born in July. Y’all can do the math. I didn’t know then she was already pregnant with my brother. So, of course she wanted to try to have a family with him.
My parents divorced when I was about three. I remember my dad was a little upset, but nothing crazy, they just grew apart. It was quick and we all moved forward. I thought that was going to be it. No big deal, because both my parents seemed really happy once they were separated. At least, until this deceitful demon came into our lives.
I would never wish the next eleven years of my life upon my worst enemy. I know there are people that are going through much worst all the time. So there’s probably not even a handful of people I’ve shared this with. At first, Frank, tried to be overly nice. He was still getting to know my mom, win her over, and test her limits. It didn’t take him long to realize she was still young, and naive. Heck, she was my age.
Their fighting started with little arguments, over keeping things in a certain way. He made it clear we had to do everything he wanted, there was no compromise. I had always been a very timid, shy, and obedient child. From my memory, I never did anything wrong that would require punishment. I remember him telling my mom I needed to learn responsibility. My first chore, was washing the dishes. Not too bad right? I learned very quickly to double check the dishes and make sure there wasn’t any residue. I’ll never forget the first time I was hit.
He was a police officer, of course he didn’t use just any belt. His work belt was about two inches thick, with other buckles and snaps all the way around. If I cried it made him smile. You know the monkeys in “Planet of the Apes?” Yeah, that’s what he looked like, big ears that put dumbo to shame, and an eerie grin. I would always try to fight back any tears. Usually, locking myself in the bathroom later and let tears quietly stream as I showered. I remember sometimes the water trickling down the red raised mark along my lower back would sting so bad.
He would find any excuse to hit me. Like most kids, sometimes, I didn’t want to keep my room clean or help clean the entire house. But I would get hit for things like taking to long to wash the dishes, or I interrupted and called him out on some exaggerated lie at a dinner party.
One day he asked me to go outside and feed the dog. I filled her bowl with food, tipped over her water bucket, and started to refill it. I don’t think even five minutes passed, when I heard the door open. Before I could even turn half way around, I heard the clank of his belt buckle and the first sting of being whipped went across my arm, then my lower back side, and my leg. I cried out “stop! Why?” With each word he replied in a hitting rage. “BECAUSE,” and another whip. “YOU,” and another whip. “TOOK,” and another whip. “TOO,” another whip. “LONG!”
Now, his joy or rush of hurting some might have been hereditary. From what I know, his father would beat or hit him and his siblings. I was told his father molested his own grandson. I don’t know if that’s true but I do know that family his has a very twisted and racist way of comprehending everything. If one child out of six did anything wrong, their dad would line all six of them up to be whipped. Starting with the youngest, and getting more intense as he worked his way across to the oldest. The oldest, would be punished the most.
Of course, I was considered the oldest. I was held responsible for my brother and sisters actions. At eight years old, I was left at home babysitting a newborn. By the time I was ten, I did a lot of the cooking and clean and taking care of my brother and newborn sister. Anything they did wrong, such as make a mess, like every toddler and infant do, they were punish, but I would still get punished worst. I would try my best to plea with them to be well behaved, but they were babies. They didn’t know any better.
You know how in middle school, students change in front of each other in the open locker rooms? I didn’t like to, I would usually change in a bathroom stall so friends wouldn’t see any markings and bruises I had. Once, he went into this rage as he hitting my sister and finally my mom jumped in and begged him to stop. When he was done, my poor sister had lacerations all over her lower body. It still makes me tear up remembering how much pain she was in. We couldn’t send her to school for a week. It’s painful and scary to remember this was only just the begging of his torment.
I bet you’re probably wondering why I never spoke out to anyone at school or my own father. Frank was a police officer. The police corruption I’ve seen is another chapter. He threaten me as child, that he was the law, and if I said anything he would find any reason he could to put my dad in jail. I was forced to live with this awful demon. I couldn’t complain, couldn’t run, couldn’t do anything. All I could do is hold back tears and pray. Pretend to have a stomach ache, lock myself in the bathroom, and silently let tears stream and pray. “Come to me, all you who labor and have been burdened, and I will refresh you.” -Matthew 11:28 was my saving grace.