It happened on Fridays for three years straight. I remember the kids in my fourth grade class being so happy for the weekend. From 7am to 3pm, all I would hear is them screaming “TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday).” But for me, this day was my worst nightmare.
I would do whatever I could to go home late. Sometimes I was the last one to leave, even after all the staff members. I would call home to inform my parents that I had extra schoolwork in order to delay my father picking me up.
Every Friday after getting back home from school, my father would lock me in his room and beat me up. I wasn’t allowed to cry. If I did, I would get hit harder.
My mother and sister would try to control my father by saying, “She’s just a kid”. It never worked. They would bang on the locked door as he took swings at me. After he was done, he would unlock the door, and my mother would rush in with tears in her eyes to find me on the floor. It was as though she felt the exact pain I did.
She would hug me, and I would ask, “Why is he doing this to me?” She never had an answer, but she always reassured me that it wasn’t my fault.
I would walk out the door limping, trying to get support from a table, the railing, or anything around me.
After getting thrashed, I would have two days for the bruises to heal before I could go back to school on Monday.
I would spend hours crying in my bed, refusing to speak to anyone. My mother would come to my room to check up on me, but I always pretended I was asleep so as to avoid any conversation. She would sit by me on the bed and trace the bruises with her fingers, as if that would make them magically heal.
At school, I would laugh and be normal with my friends, acting as if nothing had happened.
At first, my father apologised for what he was doing. I resisted, but I forgave him and even felt relieved as I thought he would not touch me again. Yet, the beatings didn’t stop. He apologised for a second time, and I forgave him again. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that it was becoming a pattern.
Soon, he started denying what was happening. As I tried to avoid him everytime he beat me, he would ask me why I wasn’t talking to him.
I was told that he had high blood pressure and needed to take his rage out somehow – as if it was right to do that by beating up a child. I also wondered why not my other siblings? Why just me?
Once, when I was in fifth grade, the bruises remained for longer than usual. I had school the next morning and didn’t have a choice but to wear a long sleeved shirt in 54°C.
My family warned me not to tell anyone about the abuse. When a classmate spotted the bruises and asked what happened, I told her that I was hit by a car.
I got away with it the first time, but as the beatings went on, it became difficult to hide the marks on my body. My classmates kept asking, and I confessed to one of the girls about it. She told me to go to the teacher, but I was afraid that my father would find out and things would get worse.
A few weeks later, my counsellor asked me if everything was okay at home. I nodded yes, but she could tell I was holding back my tears. I told her the truth, but I knew there was nothing she could do about it.
At the end of every school year, students would count down the days left until summer. As they would do that, I would just sit on my chair and cry.
My vacation would start very differently. As we would get home, my father would demand that I go straight to his room. Before going, I would try to hide the three-foot-long cane he used to beat me with. But if it wasn’t the cane, it was the metal or plastic hangers, or my mother’s heels. He would hit me right on the head with them.
But after three years, he suddenly stopped. I never knew how or why. Did he get tired of hitting me, or was there something else? I never found out.
It has been seven years since he last hit me, but my relationship with my father will forever be scarred. I still fear him and when he’s around me, I try not to say or do anything that will trigger those impulses in him again.
The bruises may have faded, but the pain still remains. He put his hands on someone who thought he loved her. And because of that, I am scared to let anyone love me again.