I’ve been reading these stories of homeschool kids who were so scared of CPS. They were told that CPS were evil, would find any excuse to take them away, and that they would wind up in foster care situations where they would be horribly abused, physically and sexually, and where people hated them because they believed in God. They were told that the worst thing the foster care people would try to do was force you to reject Jesus and if you did, you would go to hell with them when you died. Sadly, that fearmongering anti-CPS indoctrination was my story too. I was told the same thing. I was also not allowed to go outside in the yard on weekdays until we saw the Catholic schoolgirls through the window, walking down the sidewalk in their matching skirts, signifying that “school hours” were over. My parents were careful to keep us hidden from truancy police even if they weren’t careful to have us do any actual schoolwork.
Given all these years of instilled fear and propaganda, and how much I honestly believed a lot of it back then, I ended up doing something surprising as a teen, something that is still to this day the bravest thing I’ve ever done, and I figured I’d share it here.
Just to give you the background, I was 14 years old, my grandparents had recently forced my parents to put all of us in public school (I went into 9th grade), and my Dad still regularly did things like hit us with belts; slap, kick, and body slam us; yank our hair; drag us out of bed or out of the shower; and repeatedly slap us in the face. Often it looked and sounded a lot like this. As we got older and he increasingly lost control of us, as we started to question and oppose things more, the abuse just seemed to escalate. It was bad enough that today I have a “bum knee” and a pinched nerve in my upper back, both developed in my mid teens and neither attributable to any other cause than getting physically abused by my Dad, as I did not play sports.
The worst part of it all was seeing my siblings get hit (I either “tuned out” or fought back when I got hit) and I was concerned that one of them might get maimed or killed, particularly my younger brother, the eldest son, who always got it the worst. At public school I had recently learned that most people figured you were supposed to call 911 if something real bad was happening. I decided to give it a shot.
“I’m gonna call the police!” I said, but nobody seemed to notice. Dad was too busy hitting and shoving my brother and calling him names, and my brother was too busy curled up on the livingroom floor, trying to make himself as small and unhittable as is possible for a nine year old to do. I don’t know where anyone else was. It was a small old house with all the rooms pretty much connected to all the other rooms, but people still seemed to find ways to quickly disappear at times like this, except for me. I never seemed able to pull off the escaping thing very well, and by now I was thoroughly sick of it. I had also been told I was responsible for my siblings often enough that I believed it. I had decided I was going to do something radical and crazy. Even if foster care got us it couldn’t be worse than this, right?
I shouted about calling the cops again and again no one paid me any attention. I went into my parents bedroom and picked up the phone. I pushed the 911 buttons quickly so I wouldn’t lose my nerve. I could barely hear the sound of the operator’s voice over my own heartbeat. I told her “my Dad’s hitting my brother and won’t stop.” She calmly asked for the address and said “ok, we’re sending someone out there right away.” She asked me if I wanted to stay on the phone until they got there and I said no and then thanked her. It seemed I only had a moment to wait and then suddenly there were sirens. The police arrived and then two young men in blue were standing in the living room. I came out and sat on the old gold-colored couch in the living room in my ratty nightgown, stifling sobs. I suddenly felt embarrassed as I hadn’t brushed my teeth or washed my hair since waking up, and my face was red and stained with tears. I felt ugly and by the looks on their faces they seemed to think I was ugly too. They looked at my brother, standing there, bug-eyed, and then let him go in the other room, which he was in a hurry to do. Dad turned on the charm and told them a story of how he was disciplining his son, who had misbehaved and that I had just lost it and interfered. He told them I was wayward, and willful, and disrespectful and had cursed at him.
One cop took my Dad outside to hear more of this yarn, and the other one stayed to look at me sternly and lecture me on how I needed to be respectful to my father, accept punishment for bad behavior, and not curse at adults. I sat there, seething, saying nothing. You just don’t talk back to a cop, especially when you’re a 14 year old girl and he’s obviously taken sides and ignored all evidence that didn’t fit with what he wanted the situation to be. They didn’t even check my brother for bruises or marks (which he had). The cop looked only a few years older than me, not much taller. He apparently knew nothing about this type of situation and obviously didn’t want to learn more.
Mom was standing there in her nightgown, nervous and sinewy, arms folded tightly, with purple lips and a crazy, almost baffled expression. Her usual look when fights happened. The policeman tried to include her in the conversation about what I should and shouldn’t do. I glared at her and said “you know what was going on, and you never do anything.” Now it was time for her to play the victim. She looked at the cop with big child eyes and said that she believed children should be disciplined in a Godly manner and her husband was the head of the household, blah blah blah, but that she didn’t like it when he slapped the kids in the face and when he would get mad she just didn’t know what to do. The cop then directed all of his attention at Mom, trying to ask her questions, probe deeper into this. He quickly discovered what everybody else already knew, that asking Mom any kind of yes or no question and expecting any kind of direct or conclusive answer was an exercise in futility. She gave him a few long, indirect run-on sentences about nothing. He became bored and joined the other cop outside with Dad. I looked out the window and saw them talking on the gravel driveway, just along the fence line. Dad was standing inside the gate and they were standing outside. His body language showed that he probably wanted to kick them off the property altogether but instead was being submissive and deferential and thinking he might be in trouble. I looked at my brother, who’d come back in the living room, still bug-eyed, to look out the window with me. He said “you shouldn’t have done that, Heather.” I turned away from him as my heart sank and I sobbed. I’d done this for him. I didn’t want him to get killed. I looked back out the window.
The two policemen looked comfortable, chatting with Dad easily. One of them came back up to the door to tell Mom that they’d spoken to him and told him that corporal punishment was ok, but that slapping your kids in the face is not included or allowed. They said they’d also told him that if they had to be called back out here, he’d be arrested. They were leaving now. That cop didn’t even look at me again, still sitting on the couch. I didn’t matter. I felt so alone, terrified. I figured I was probably going to end up dead. Dad would kill me and I would be buried in the ground somewhere and no one would ever find me! They were leaving and he was coming back inside and I knew he was furious, and…suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore. I was a ghost, floating up above my left side, looking down at the ugly gold couch with the ugly teen girl on it, saying “hmmm, I wonder what’s gonna happen to that girl, Heather?”
Dad walked into the house and I stopped dissociating. I wasn’t a ghost anymore. I was me and all I could hear was my heartbeat. I wasn’t afraid. I would meet death straight on and show no emotion. I would look expressionless. He would not get any begging for anything from me. He stepped into the kitchen and instead of showing anger, he looked over at me with the saddest betrayed eyes I had ever seen him look at me with. He seemed like a little child that someone had punched. He slowly looked at me again and then averted his eyes, seeming to not bear to even see me anymore. He spoke to Mom in a sad voice and said “I can’t believe you didn’t support me. I don’t even have a good Christian wife that supports me.” He brushed off her attempts at conversation and sadly shuffled into the bedroom to lay down. Mom tried to go in and talk to him but he said “just leave me alone,” in the same sad resentful voice, and she ended up coming out and cleaning the kitchen table instead. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t smacked or yelled at or killed! I was still on the couch and nothing had happened to me.
The next day at school I felt exhausted and mentioned to the boy I liked in computer science class that I’d called the cops on my Dad. He looked at me, shocked, and said “Wow, that’s terrible!” He didn’t ask any questions and kept playing Doom, so I kept playing Oregon Trail, feeling worse than usual every time my pioneer family drowned in a creek or starved to death. I felt guilty. Maybe it was terribly wrong to call the police on a parent. It sure felt wrong, but so did a lot of things. Was it more wrong to treat your own kids like that? Was it wrong to be a cop that’s stupid and doesn’t pay attention when it’s your job? What was I supposed to do? Accept that it was corporal punishment and it was ok, we deserved it? I just couldn’t. Getting hit had just always felt wrong, disrespectful. I decided I wouldn’t say anything else to people at school though. Apparently that just wasn’t a good idea. Still, the more I thought about what happened when I called the cops, the more I felt angry. I was still afraid and on guard the next few days, thinking there was a chance I might still have it coming from Dad.
All that week he didn’t speak to me or interact with me, except once to tell me “Grammy wants to talk to you,” and hand me the phone. I picked it up and she started yelling on the other end. She was attempting to tell me what a terrible child I was for calling the police on Dad. I tried to explain to her what was going on, because she’d listened and tried to help when I’d told her stuff before, but she just couldn’t hear me over all of her own yelling. I finally told her I knew I did the right thing and she just didn’t know. She got me to promise her that next time there was a problem, I’d call her, not the police. It was an easy promise to make because after what had happened and how those cops were, I didn’t plan on ever calling them again anyway.
After that everybody stopped mentioning that I’d called the cops on Dad. The only reminder was that he seemed to try and show more self control. He stopped getting the belt or the red stick, even if he still threatened to use them. If we did something he didn’t like, he would put us “on restriction,” his term for grounded, in back-to-back two week increments (which would usually end up being extended for months on end), and when he did lose it, he was more likely to only corner or intimidate us, and if he did hit us, only leave bruises where clothes or hair would cover them up. Also, now he had to be careful because every time he lost it on somebody, Mom would scream “I’m gonna call the police! I’m gonna call the police!” She never did call on him though.
The abuse ended for me when I moved out at age 17 after Dad knocked me over in a chair, chipping my front tooth. The abuse ended for my siblings two years later when Dad moved out and my parents divorced.
Two years ago my brother, now 25, and I finally talked about the time I called the police, our first time ever discussing it since it had happened. He said he was sorry for telling me I shouldn’t have called back then, that he had thought what was happening to him was just routine, normal, and that what I did was what was out of line, extreme. He said looking back he was glad that I called, that he felt it was a “wake up call” to Dad and while things still weren’t ok after that, they got better. I cried when he said that. There was certainly no need for him to say sorry for anything he’d said as a little boy, but his words now, as a grown man affirming that I’d done the right thing, meant so much to me. Nobody had ever told me that. Back then everyone had acted like I was very much in the wrong, a person who betrayed my family.
I look back and feel so very thankful that I somehow had the guts to fight that fight, that my siblings and I all survived it, and that the younger ones can just be kids and don’t have to go through any such stuff.
very inspiring story. i think you set the stage with this incident, for your future success in life. it is so important to be able not to silence ones inner voice even in the face of opposition.
this really makes me want to cry. police are so willing to accept whatever the older man says as the truth. they’re so ready to chum it up. it disgust me.
Very proud of you. I guess the part that was most poignant to me was your dad saying his wife doesn’t support him and curling up in bed. Second would be a little 9 year old boy trying to protect himself on the floor. Probably all involve were Christians. What a strange subculture we’re part of.
Help me understand how this blog is truly healing. It may be cathartic for you but help me see how these posts full of detail after detail with no healing or forgiveness. My heart breaks for what you have suffered yet so many others are being negatively affected by it since there is no solution or healing perspective….its as though you want to assume and then destroy everyone around you which continues the destruction. If all you say is true and your memory and perspective are perfect then what are the action steps you recommend. To go on and on condemning and criticizing and assuming more and more and communicating to all who read is spreading the poision….You judge and condemn others in an almost violent way but if anyone even calls into question any of your posts you are not open to correction. Your response to all that has happened will do more damage than the actual incidents. If your father was abusive he should be brought to authorities and actions taken. And if you, in how you are handling all this are also doing action are you, too, responsible. How are others being built up to handle the problems they face by these posts in honorable ways? You assume your perspective is automatically right and yet your own posts reveal the horrible infection of bitterness and scorn and hatred than may have prompted your father….I beg you for the sake of your readers and all your life touches to reconsider carefully what and how you write. You go on in post after post to hold your father and anyone you decide is a villain accountable before the internet world and by example turn young people more and more self focused and destructive….what will become of you and all who follow this method of addressing problems. It will be the French Revolution all over again..a bloody mess with lots of dead people. There are multitudes of writings on how to find healing in the midst of horror and I implore you to seek those out if you presume to instruct in this way… Read Animal Farm if you can and see how that while the oppression on the farm may have been real, once the animals took over they exchanged the sins of the farmers for their own and were even worse because of their self focus and short term view. If you want to do a true service for your readers I urge you to soberly look at how your response can foster healing…not rewriting history or overlooking sin or cloaking evil but bringing readers the inspiration to be the very people they wished had been their parents or teachers or role modes. Medicine helps heal wounds but picking at them keeps them infected….Please hear my heart…
Are you stupid or her dad
No one is obligated to heal in a way that you deem appropriate. No one is owed forgiveness after a hurt, regardless of what people say about being bitter. Saying what happened, how they felt, what they think about it now, is their right.
Also, I can’t believe that you had the temerity to suggest on a post about someone’s personal pain and past that they -read a book and get back to YOU-. You’re not their life coach, you’re not their anything.
What you are, right now is entitled.
I did want to send a comment but to begin a conversation with you you personally. Your experiences have been horrible..I want to help not start a string of responses and comments so please do not post this but rather respond personally to me. thanks
Thanks a lot for posting this story. 3 days ago, I went through the same trauma of calling cops on my dad. I’m 17 years old and my dad’s been cheating on my mom since I was born I guess. She only found out 7 years ago. I knew all this since I was just a little 10 year old girl. However I knew just cus your dad falls out of love with your mom, doesn’t mean they both don’t love you. Only to find out soon that he never loved me and my 16 year old sister.. He’s been abusive to my mom and us from the beginning. He’s a drunkard and a smoker and he’d always start a fight for no reason. He’d try to kill mom, and when I run for rescue, he’d stop, then try to hit me as well. I love my father very much, and he knows it more than anyone else. Though he’s never let me in, never gotten to know me. We’ve all been under severe depression, and since mom still cared about my dad who’s also a recognized man in the country with a powerful job, so if something were to happen to his marriage it would give him a reputation, never took an action against all this madness.
3 days ago, I really am not ready to talk about that night, however things were far worse. Mom was hiding in the garden and my sis and i had locked our doors. He was out to get us saying he’s gonna kill us. Was really drunk indeed. Mom kept calling us and whispering , we knew dad heard her when her phone rang. And I called the cops. Where I’m from, we dial 119, and guess what? We dialed more than 10 times and it said user busy! So then we called the police station, When I told them the situation, shivering and fast, they took it for a joke. Without even taking down my address, this young voice tried to make a fool out of me. As I was about to give up and go out there, die or live, save my mom, my sis handed me over her phone. 119 had finally answered. They said they’ll send two cops IMMEDIATELY, which turned out to be about 20 mins late from the closest police station that is 5 mins away. I paused when they asked me my name, and my dad’s. That moment I realized my dad’s gonna hate me forever, hate is a strong word but yeah he is capable of that. But my mom is innocent and she’s gone trough enough. And if she were to die that night, we’d lose the only parent we have and dad would go to jail, not that we’ll lose anything anyway.
When the police finally arrived, they called my name. Mom came out from hiding. However dad mentioned his job… That’s when the police bowed him and he started playing the victim. I’ve never talked to a cop before, except dad’s friends who weren’t in uniform at the time though. But since the police bought my dad’s story, and even let him scream saying he’s gonna kill us, and just stand there when my dad asked me to bend on my knees and worship the police, joining him when he went out for another drink, I HAD TO SPEAK UP. Calling the police was no help. Clearly they were on his side. When they were about to leave my dad said he promises he’s gonna kill us today. And the police just laughed and got on to the bike.!!!!!!!
I got into the car with mom and sis. Asked the police to wait till we leave. And left the house. Stayed on the road till 1AM. Slept at a cousin’s tiny place at night, though by slept I mean just laying on the bed. None of us have gotten any sleep for awhile now.
Things are still bad, but at least dad is no longer here to hurt us anymore. He left to live with his girlfriend, putting all that my mom did to protect his rep to waste. He called yesterday to mom and me to scold us in filth, saying he’s gonna kill us anyway. He wasn’t even that drunk. Whenever something goes wrong in his love life, he wants to take it out on us. After all he is 50. Mustn’t be easy out there.
I have forgiven him. For the childhood that I never had. Father I never had. When other fathers call their daughters, a princess, my dad would call me a slut. I am not gonna let what happens around me define me anymore. Gonna do my best in studies and take care of my family of two, and him no matter what.
I would like to thank you for saying this inspirational story now I have the guts to tell the police that my father and mother have been abusing my sister and I he has choked me previously when I was still a young boy because I didn’t eat his mother’s food Thanks, I am actually crying of how brave you were you have set a good example for all the kids that were like you and me.
Have had a very very similar experience.
My sister got hit in the face out of anger, but it stopped and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I would fight back always, and since I was the oldest and male I felt like I needed to do it.
I did it because I was honestly scared that when I left for college, no one would be there to protect my mom and sister’s. ( He mostly got mad at me since I was rebellious). Everyone told me I had done a bad thing, but at 18 I was stronger willed and hated my dad so I didn’t give two shits.
Nobody talks about it anymore and the physical abuse has stopped. He rarely yells at me and my siblings, and if he does it doesn’t last long. Same with my mom, it never gets out of hand anymore.
But I still would like for him to leave. He’s an insect. But he’s old and retired and we are immigrants, so it’d be very hard for him to live on his own and my mom feels obligated (culturally) to take care of him because she’s also a good person.
my dad beats me but nobody helps me will anyone help
Yes, here is what to do. Call the Childline and Abuse Registry in your state. Their number will be listed on the internet or in a local phone directory. They will send somewhat out to your house who can help.
You are cared for ((((Theo.)))
I didn’t realize this kinda thing was happening to other people too. My dad tried to kill my sister and was a drug addict and abusive in other ways. One of my sisters friends called cps and they sent police and someone to interview us in and I remember the hope we all felt like hey this is gonna be over and I remember the feeling when it all went away when I heard them laughing and saying ” next time you have to hit them where no one will see” My dad brings it up all the time but for me that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever heard and it’s totally made it hard to trust people in authority.