The Complexities of Domestic Violence

Parents-Fighting-Children-300x199From Digital Deconstruction

Domestic violence is a very painful topic for me because I spent most of my childhood in a very unstable and violent environment, as some of my close friends, other children I met at school and in the neighbourhood. When I was a child, there was not much support for people ‘stuck’ in such violent relationships.

The widespread impression is that women are the victims of domestic violence while males are the bastards who are inflicting all the pain on women.  In my experience most cases of domestic violence are much more complex than that.

I’ve spent years pulling my mum and dad apart to prevent them from killing each other. And I do mean that literally. I knew how easily domestic violence can spin out of control and turn into a murder as one of my neighbours died a few metres from my apartment’s door after he was stabbed in a domestic argument. And I heard a few times my mum shouting in an argument that she is getting close to using a kitchen knife..

I’ve spent decades thinking of everything that went wrong in my parents’ relationship and brought my parents to that hell. I came across a lot of other stories of domestic violence during my life. Only a few of them were as simple as the one described by Dostoevsky.

My parents did love each other when they got married. Neither of them denies that fact. Not much of that love was left between them by the time I went to school. My parents had different ideas on what marriage is about. My mum was full of myths about handsome princes from fairytales and was not well prepared for real family life. My dad was much more realistic – he simply wanted to have a good family with a few children and peace at home.

After my brother’s birth, my mum decided that having children was not much fun. The next one went down the drain – she did not even bother to tell my dad, that the next one was there, until the abortion was over. No luck – she got pregnant again. She let me live only because she realised from her previous abortion, that aborting babies was not much fun either. I was given a very clear impression, however, that I was not the wanted one. I was a ‘daddy’s child’ as she used to call me with contempt in her voice.


From Domestic Violence… Against Men

There is not much love in my childhood memories. All I can remember is toxic oppressive environment at home with my mum constantly bossing everyone around. She was particularly toxic with my dad verbally abusing him and putting him down all the time. It looked like everything he was doing was wrong in her eyes: the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he breathed, the way he sneezed. It looked like she wanted to change everything in him. Everything was supposed to be her way or no way. Supported by her mother, who lived in the same apartment with us, she gave my dad no moment of peace for more than a decade. My dad had no one to support him – his family was thousands of kilometres away…

My dad was a man of a few words, but I always knew that he loved his children – especially me, and could not imagine his life without us. He did not want to break our family. He did not want to be kicked out of the family and out of his children’s lives. Unfortunately, at that time children were always left in mother’s care after divorce. Father’s rights were rarely acknowledged in court cases. Dad tried to be strong, dad tried to placate my mother, dad tried everything he could – nothing worked, so he started drinking in despair. And that’s when he started getting violent towards my mother.

I don’t remember my dad ever being violent towards anyone else and I was always struck by the fact, that no matter how drunk and angry he was, he never ever hurt me, even though I was the only ‘shield’ stuck between him and my mum. I was the only one dragging him away and putting him to sleep before things would spin out of control. And that was not easy with my 40 kg against his 80kg and my mum still hysterically shouting abuse at him provoking him further and further. I wished so much she would just shut up…

My mum…  Actually, for decades I found it hard to call that woman ‘my mum’. She always seemed to be a total stranger to me. I could never understand her – her behaviour and way of thinking always seemed to me so bizarre, so illogical and so different to mine.

“Your dad loved me so much when we were young. He was so caring with me,” my mother once said to me.
“What were you always nagging and grumping about then? Why were you constantly putting him down? Why were you constantly unhappy with him?”
“Well, but that’s what all women did.”…

When I had kids of my own, she told me about her abortion.
“How do you think it made my dad feel?” I asked.
I got a blank stare and total silence in response. I don’t think she ever asked herself this question…

I came across a lot of stories of domestic violence during my life and most of them were as complex as my parents’ one. Unfortunately, most approaches to domestic violence deny that complexity. Most approaches deny the fact that males can be victims of domestic violence.  Most approaches deny the fact that some women can be very aggressive, manipulative and abusive. Such women might not leave visible bruises on their victim’s bodies, but they can leave plenty of scars and painful sores in their victim’s souls.

Not surprisingly, when Erin Pizzey founded the first refuge for abused women and their children in Chiswick in 1971, she discovered that “the women who came to these shelters were equally as violent as the men they were escaping from. They were also violent towards their own children!”

I firmly believe that the issues related to domestic violence can’t be successfully resolved unless we:

  • overcome all gender-based prejudices and take non-sexist approach to domestic violence
  • recognise the complex nature of domestic violence and its triggers
  • provide all parties involved with appropriate communication, conflict resolution and anger management skills
  • provide real-life examples of how relationships can be built and sustained in a positive way
  • recognise father’s special role in his children’s lives and ensure that men are treated fairly when it comes to divorce and child custody.

fathers day from we are one first blog


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22 thoughts on “The Complexities of Domestic Violence

  1. i can empathise, both my parents (mum n stepdad) were from strange upbringings and were still getting over it while us kids were growing up, so we felt their pain.
    sometimes i think that parents forget that one day the child will become a parent with memories of their own.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      It is so unfair when parents ‘dump’ their issues/pain onto their children (even though often they probably do not mean that). I tried very hard to provide my children with a peaceful, harmonious and stable environment at home and make sure that whatever I’ve experienced in my life would never negatively affect them. That’s not easy as children pick up their parents’ emotions very well, even when parents are trying to hide them…

      Love your poetry. You have such a sensitive soul. Sorry to hear that you’ve lost a lot of your old material 😦 .

  2. This is a powerful and important post. I appreciate your honesty. I grew up in a family where almost everyone had something nasty to say about someone else. I found it immature and sickening. Glad you were able to survive!

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks for your comment, broadsideblog. It was not easy for me to write this post, as it brought up too many painful memories. I hoped that this post might help other people who went or are going through similar pain in their families. I think I survived only because I moved over 10,000 km away and established my own family – my only real family for the last 14 years. I made new friends, I had my own children, I saw lots of good families where people were treating each other with respect. That allowed me to look back and re-evaluate my childhood experience.

      Glad you were able to survive too 🙂

  3. ridicuryder says:


    Excellent post…..makes me wonder about the merits of matchmakers and cultural evolution where birth parents have better support when they aren’t up to raising children effectively.


  4. shellakers says:

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for sharing this with me today when I told you a little about my own mother.

    My mother is not like your mother. I don’t know how to describe her. Abuse is abuse though. What strikes me when I read your story is how this is almost word for word what my mother has 2 of my daughters believing about me. My mother despised her own children when we were born but when I had my girls, she felt like it was her second chance to do something right. SOoooo she proceeded to criticize everything I did as a mother. I was so abused verbally and emotionally that I believed her. I was only used to hearing bad things from my mothers mouth and I thought there was no mother worse than me and I needed HER to help me with my children. I gave her WAY too much power over my children. When my children were in their teens, she’d convinced them that they’d be better off with her as their mother. I’m still scratching my head over that. They went, of course, because she had more money AND she had no rules. My home had rules that they had to follow. Now, they are both drug addicts and she excuses their behavior. I loved my children SO much and they knew that. They can’t face me now, knowing that they’ve hurt me so badly. Although all they’d have to do is walk through my door and I’d welcome them with open arms.

    My mother and yours are very different but equally destructive. My dad is a sociopath, diagnosed. He was terribly physically abusive and tried to actually kill us. However, my mother threw us to him and made up things that we did wrong in order that he wouldn’t beat her. She tells us, to this day, that she was more interested in self preservation than in saving her children from the devil. How does a mother do that? How do some women NOT have mothering instincts? I just don’t understand because I would lay down my life for children that aren’t EVEN my own. Their happiness is my priority, if possible. Their integrity as human beings is important to me. IDK… I just don’t get it. What I CAN tell you though is that no matter what my dad has done, he couldn’t hurt me as much as my mom did. Somehow her lack of protection was worse. Somehow her verbal abuse and neglect was worse. You don’t expect it from your mother.

    I believe that people like you and I are here to help other people. I’ve always wanted to open up an abused women and children’s shelter before I die and mark my word, I WILL do that. I could go on and on but I’ve already taken too much space up in your blog. lol Sorry 😉

    Just know that your kindness and knowledge has helped and inspired me to write again, about all my crap. It’s just hard.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      The space you took for your comment was very well used. I don’t mind it at all. Sorry to hear about your mother, father and your children. I hope so much that you children will be able to overcome their drug addiction, re-unite with you and build a good life for themselves.

      • shellakers says:

        Thank you so much. That is my prayer. They’ll have to learn their own lessons. I just pray that they live through it. My mother is and has been a cancer who’s destroyed generations of people. I hope and pray she doesn’t permanently destroy my girls.

  5. Ajaytao2010 says:

    Beautiful so beautifully put and so sad it touched my heart Otrazhenie
    you somehow put things in such a perspective that I have no words but I want to hug you dear.

    Irresponsible parents some tend to unconsciously dump their own problems on their children, unintended though they do it, which culminates into a deep effect on psyche of their innocent children, and sometimes they suffer that effect for a life time,

    god bless every child like you

    you are an absolutely beautiful soul

    remain that way

  6. Otrazhenie says:

    Thanks for your warm words, Ajay. Much appreciated. It was not an easy post to write, but I’m glad I did as as I believe it is very important to raise the awereness of complexity around the issue of domestic violence and how it affects children.

  7. whydoicry says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and I’m so sorry you were brought into the middle of such violence as a child. I like how you ended the entry with the response to domestic violence and how to prevent such issues. Appropriate conflict resolution is huge. I wonder how couples struggling with domestic violence could possibly get those resources they need? Should the police be trained? Just a curiosity. Thanks again for opening up.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Very good questions. I think, all members of the society should learn to respond appropriately when they come across domestic violence, including relatives, neighbours, teachers, doctors and nurses, police. Appropriate conflict resolution strategies should be taught at schools and at workplaces, shown in movies and all mass media channels. Even just talking about it and sharing our stories is a good start. When I was a child, no one was ever talking about that. Everyone was just turning away and closing their eyes. Therefore such issues went unnoticed with no support available in the community.

  8. I read this article, I think i was married to your mother.

  9. […] fixed. Some relationships are way too toxic and can’t be fixed at all – unfortunately, the relationship between my own parents was in that category. Sometimes I wish they never met each other – that would have been so much […]

  10. […] This post is not meant to encourage those struggling in a weakened marriage to pull the plug. If there are children in the family, personally I would do my best to avoid divorce unless marriage gets to a state, when divorce is the only way of bringing peace and resolving ongoing conflicts. If marriage gets to that state, divorce can not only start a new chapter in life, but can also heal ‘old’ wounds. I have experienced that with my own parents, who got divorced when I was in my teens after almost a decade of constant fights. […]

  11. […] violence often features in such tragic stories, often shapes such tragic lives… I had my personal experience with domestic violence. In my experience domestic violence is much more complex than historical example described by […]

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