Negatively Affected
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Today on 4 minutes 4 change Sharia tells her story, sharing aspects of her childhood. She recalls….

I remember the feeling well; the scene went like this. I am about to have a snack when I hear my father’s key enter the front door lock. My stomach feels full straight away; he’s home early, which means an even longer time in his presence – time which my mother, my siblings and I, would be happy spend without him.

When he is home, we never know what to expect; would he become angry over the slightest thing and take it out on my mother or one of us children? Whatever triggered his aggression was irrelevant; his presence always changed the mood of our home. That’s because my father is a ‘beat’ man. He likes to knock people. Not the people at his workplace or his drinking buddies though, just my mother and us children.

We are his family, and he should care for us and want to protect us the most, but we are not that lucky. Instead of love, we receive the brunt of his negative emotions. We are the ones who endure his alcoholic mood swings, and his ignorance to the fact that he is ill-treating us; and we are negatively affected.

One of my earliest memories is of me sitting playing with a toy while my parents were talking nearby, I must have been about four-years-old. The dialogue between them got heated, and my father slapped my mother into the corner of the room.

Over the years, I witnessed many such incidents. Mum shielded herself from the blows and begged him to stop, but he only stopped when he was ready.  My sibling and I got our fair share of slaps and beating too, but at the time, I failed to link this behaviour to violence. I knew I didn’t like it when it happened, but maybe, all fathers hit their wives and kids, I thought. In my innocent mind, I believed that all children feared their fathers.

When I was about eight years old, I spent two days at my friend’s house. There was no fear or tension when her father came home, and her father seemed happy to be around his wife and children. I noticed a twinkle in the parents’ eyes and natural ease between them and their children. They interacted with a bond of love and care and it was heart-warming to be among them. I had never noticed any twinkling eyes or felt ease between my family members, and I began to question the way we lived.

The fear I felt for my father turned into resentment over the following years.  It was beyond me, why a man would choose a wife and have children only to ill-treat them, and make their lives a misery? It didn’t make sense. Another factor was my mother and her tolerance towards his conduct. Year after year of abuse from a husband who is a bully; why she put up with his treatment, I could not understand. It is demeaning to be slapped and punched, pushed around and belittled by the person who supposed to love and cherish you -the husband who should protect and respect you, and yet that is what she suffered.

I am reasonably confident and level-headed about this situation now that I’m a teenager; I can talk about it without becoming anxious or getting a heavy feeling in my stomach. But it took me some time to reach here.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I was proactive enough to make enquiries about my situation, which led me to a place where I could talk about it to someone who would listen.

All problems can be solved when you take the time and patience to put them in perspective.  To work out where my family problems stemmed from, took time, but it was worth the effort. You see, my parents were raised in an environment where alcoholism and the random beating of wives and children are tolerated. Both my Grandfathers drank rum and mistreated their families, which meant my parents, the victims and witnesses of their behaviour, were negatively affected.

Successive generations in some families, repeat the same unhealthy, damaging actions that were part of their childhood. But I’ve broken that cycle in my family, by first seeking help from a counsellor- and by speaking out to my siblings, my mother and you. I wanted a family like my friend has; a family where I know, without a doubt, that I am loved and appreciated.  Although that could not happen, at least now, my family members are working towards understanding our past, present, and what we need to do for a better, more positive future.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at childcaregy@gmail.com

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY, MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY

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