The very people who were supposed to protect Ann* have all failed her in some way. For one, the youngest of five children was not only neglected by her parents, but also physically abused by them.
“They never cared about me. And whenever they quarrelled, they’d take their frustrations out on me. My dad would slap me while my mum would pinch me,” says the 27-year-old.
When she was six, her father brought his mistress home to live with the family— a move that worsened the family dynamics and created a toxic home environment during the 10 years the woman stayed with them.
“When I was 13, he decided he wanted to have sex with his mistress every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, and that all of us would have to be out of the house during that time. My mum would tell me, ‘Don’t go home. Just go out.’ I’d ask her, ‘Go where?’ and she’d just shrug. There were times when I felt so abandoned that I wished I’d get knocked down by a car.”
Ann was also abused by her brother.
“When I was 15, he started touching me and would even initiate sex. I’d turn him down and threaten to tell our elder sister to make him stop, but that didn’t deter him from trying again and again.”
When she was 18, she got into a relationship with a guy a year younger than her because he made her feel loved and secure. But things took a turn when she became pregnant with his child a few months later.
“He’d frequently tell me I was out of shape. And whenever we took the stairs, he’d refuse to hold me,” she says. “Once, a fan blade dislodged and flew towards us. Instead of shielding me, he hid behind me.”
His abusive behaviour got worse after the birth of their baby.
“I looked after our son all by myself, but I’d ask for his help when I got too tired. He told me that he’d only lend a hand if I had sex with him or gave him some sort of sexual favour. I usually had no choice but to give in because I really needed to rest.”
He also started physically abusing her.
“He’d push and pinch me at random and tell our son, who was just over a year old, to do the same. When I asked him why he acted that way, he’d reply, ‘For fun.’”
At one point, Ann felt so miserable that she contemplated suicide. She eventually decided to move out of her then-boyfriend’s house as she hoped it would make him treat her better. It didn’t.
“I still saw him regularly and would stay over at his place with our son. He got even more abusive. He’d drag me out of bed in the middle of the night and lock me outside his house without my phone or wallet for no reason. I’d roam the area aimlessly until he came to tell me I could go back to bed.”
She adds that she had no contact with her parents during the first three years of her son’s life because they simply had no interest in her or their grandchild. And even though she was staying with one of her sisters, she received little to no support from her, so the only person she had was her child’s father.
Also read: She Endured Abuse By Her Husband For 9 Years
She eventually left him when she discovered he was cheating on her. The breakup was long and messy, and he disappeared from their lives for two years.
“I only met him for the first time again last year,” she says. “He’s engaged now, so I don’t want to create unnecessary trouble for him, but we’re currently trying to meet every two or three months for the sake of our son.”
Anyone who has walked even half a mile in Ann’s shoes might find themselves bitter and angry, but she tries not to let these emotions get to her. In fact, in spite of all the pain her loved ones have caused her, she’s working on forgiving them.
“I choose not to resent my ex-boyfriend. I choose to take responsibility and I blame myself for staying with him even though he treated me badly. I didn’t love myself enough. And in order to do that, I have to forgive myself.”
“I still have resentment towards my parents, but I’m continuously working on letting it go. Two wrongs don’t make a right and at the end of the day, I want to set the right example for my son.”
*Name has been changed.