To be a part of a family where domestic violence is as commonplace as brushing your teeth, is no easy task. You wake up in the morning dreading opening your door, wondering what you’re going to find downstairs. It’s an unlucky dip, a game of hide and seek that you never want to finish. But somebody has to do it, and if you happen to be the eldest child; you’re doomed to pick up the pieces’ every time.
When it comes to domestic violence, alcohol addiction tends to go hand in hand with it. If you’re unlucky enough to have both present in your household, you have to pretend to be strong on a daily basis. Not just for the sake of any siblings you may have, but for your own sake. You think that maybe if you pretend to be strong for long enough; you’ll actually become what you’re pretending to be.
Though as difficult as it may be, having to essentially treat your siblings as if they were your own children, it is almost a comfort. They come to rely and depend on you as they would an actual parent. It is hard because you have your own life, but you’re their entire world. You’re their comfort blanket in the horrible life you’ve all been dragged into, and all you have is each other.
A common question us older siblings get asked is “why don’t you just call the police?” the simple answer is – they can’t do anything if the victim doesn’t want to press charges. And in a lot of cases, they are too madly in love with their partner to even risk losing them. Yes, it’s deluded and yes they should put their kids first. But will they do so willingly? Hell no.
It’s not as simple as those on the outside may think, they are in love with their abuser and drinking the pain away daily. If you are hopelessly devoted to a person you will justify every single one of their actions, one way or another. Even if it puts you and your loved ones at risk, so what if your eldest child gets in the middle of a fight trying to stop it. So what if they get dragged out of their bed in the middle of the night and hit, because they told another family member what was happening or left food out.
The fact of the matter is even if you do try and get it out in the open that your parent is being abused, there is nothing you can do. Because when a persons’ entire world is threatened, they will do anything to protect it. Whether it means denying the entire thing or blaming every single aspect of it on your children, saying that they goaded him/her into doing it in the first place. God forbid your younger siblings speak out and confirm it too, you’re to blame for all of it – even the alcohol addiction that supposedly doesn’t exist.
Parents conveniently forget everything you do for them in situations like this, when they are confronted with the issues at hand. Never mind that you had to pick them up from the floor and clean the blood off their face whilst waiting for the ambulance. They forget that you’re trying to help when you call social services on them, trying in vain to get your siblings out of the hell house you call home. They don’t care that you’ve had to put your sibling in your bedroom with the TV on full volume so they don’t hear their parent screaming downstairs.
You can escape, if you try hard enough. You can go and stay with friends, a second family who gave you a second chance at life. But what about who gets left behind? What about those who you’ve fought to protect with every fibre in your being over the last 4 years? You have to be ruthless, you have to call the police. You have to let your parent learn their lesson the hard way, abandon them and leave them to fester. Rescue your siblings and send them somewhere safe as soon as you can. Because there is no such thing as an alcoholic who feels remorse for their actions, or at least not until it’s too late.