After listening to Mary’s story, I felt compelled to do something about her abuse. I followed her home with the aim of taking her and the children to my house; and then reporting Larri to the police. Larri was home when we got there. He sensed that Mary had disclosed something to me, maybe my body language was revealing. He became enraged and without any prompt, shouted:
“I love my wife and I do my best for her. I provide everything she needs; I pay the bills and I buy her clothes! All I demand is respect. When she fails, I beat lessons into her. She wants to be one of those so called strong wives, and I’m not having it. It is not acceptable in our culture for a woman to even argue with her husband. She has to be totally submissive. And you stay out of our bloody business or else…!”
He was so enraged that Larri Jr suddenly screamed “I’m scared!!” The haunting vulnerability in his voice was chilling. Even Larri stopped shouting. For me, Larri Jr unintentionally told me his version of the story. Sometimes it is the omission of words that makes the loudest noise. He didn’t say anything more, but being a nurse and an advocate for children, I will give a voice to his thoughts based on evidence. I will say what Larri Jr couldn’t say…
Dad, from our foetal days, your fights and arguments with mum affected Rebecca and I. The anguish mum felt in both pregnancies increased her stress hormones (cortisol). Cortisol is neurotoxic and high levels of it can have damaging effects on our brains. You have inadvertently put Rebecca and I at risk of future mental health problems, social issues, and other morbidities. We could have been dead or born prematurely. We were born with only 25% of our brains, just like other babies. Our neurological development depends on what you put in. The first five years of our lives are important to our mental and physical growth. If you fill them with disorganisation and trauma, how do you expect us to turn out in future?
I’m worried about Rebecca’s growth. I’m not even sure about mine because my friends at school say I’m too “childish” and “angry”. No child would play with me. The other day, I beat a boy up at school and I couldn’t understand why the teachers were angry. After all, that’s the solution to everything at home, isn’t it dad? When you beat mummy because I couldn’t stop crying, she cried so much that she missed my feeding cues. Do you realise that the brain function that teaches empathy develops from simple acts such as, lovingly responding to a baby’s cries? Any time you beat or verbally abused her, she missed singing and talking to me when I woke up from crying myself to sleep. This contributed to my delayed speech. I see the same thing happening to Rebecca. I see her startle reflex more than I see her smile. I’m sure you don’t realise that she grows more when she sleeps. Have you noticed that she cries all the time? (More Info)
Mum, I hear you say that grandad beat grandma up, so dad must have picked up his abusive behaviour from him. What you are telling me is that I’ll be like him. You are saying that abuse is intergenerational, so I’m doomed to abuse my future wife, and pass my pain to my children. Rebecca is more likely to attract abusive men, and like you, she will accept it. In defending my sister, I may end up in jail. I wonder why you haven’t left. Once, I heard you tell your friends that “luckily the children didn’t witness the incident”. I wasn’t in the room but I heard it all. I experienced the same fear I felt when I saw dad punch you in the kitchen. Rebecca cries every time you row. She hears you too. Why do you think I have nightmares? I’m angry and I’m scared. Rob in school said that dad will kill you if you don’t leave. Please mum, save Rebecca and I. We are lost without you. Tell your family and friends to stop asking you questions about why dad abuses you. Tell them that there is no excuse for abuse. No one has the right to abuse anyone. You are doing more damage to us than good. Tell them you are not staying for our sake.
What happened next…
I rang the police (I should have done that before going to the Daju’s home). Larri was arrested and is currently awaiting trial. Mary lives alone with her children and is taking one day at a time. Larri Jr and Rebecca are thriving. The last time I saw Larri Jr, he couldn’t shut up. He now verbalises paragraphs of thoughts, a far cry from those words: “I’m scared”.
Domestic abuse has a cradle to grave impact on victims, especially children. It occurs in every ethnic setting. It has no age or gender boundaries, as men and the elderly also suffer from it. It is not cultural and it is a crime. Please speak to someone if you are a victim. Ring the police, health visitors, social services, GPs. Even a neighbour can help. Open those doors and walk. To others, it’s best to lose a friendship than lose a life; #reportabuse. #saynotodomesticabuse