I have a secret. A secret that I have kept to myself for all these years.
My secret is my father used to beat me, my sisters and my mother. As the oldest, I would try to protect my mom and sisters as much as I could. I would try to intervene and take the blows my father meant for them. That would only make him angrier and he would beat us more.
I would pray for him to die or for my mom to finally leave him. I hated him so much and even now as I write this I can feel the pain and hate begin to boil and flow through me.
Any little thing would set him off. If one of us brought home a bad grade (anything less than a B) then all of us would be yelled at and beaten. If we did not return the remote to the exact location he had left it, he would know that we had watched TV when he was not there and we would be beaten.
When I was in about third grade, I remember my mother was using a hot comb through my hair and then my sister’s hair before school. It was a painful process where she would put the comb onto the stove to heat it, once it was heated she would comb our hair with it and it caused our hair to become straight. We would cry as she straightened our hair but it was necessary. My father was sleeping at the time and he woke up so angry, yelling and screaming about us disturbing his sleep. So he solved our crying issue by getting his hair trimmer and completely shaving our hair until we were bald as he hit us and yelled at us to stop crying. Then I had to walk to school and go to class bald. I hid my bald head in a baseball cap and tried to disappear in class. Of course, my teacher noticed and made me remove my cap. I slowly removed it as I watched every head in my class turn and look at me. I was already different from all the other students because I was a dark skinned, African tall girl and now bald was added. A boy started laughing at me and I told him to shut up because I had cancer. ( I did not have cancer.)
There were many a time I would walk to school limping and then throughout the school day I would have to stop limping so that no one would know. I was always on the verge of tears and I would pray to be strong and not cry. I made a game for myself after noticing the pleasure my father took when he saw us cry as he beat us. I would try to stay as silent as possible for as long as possible as he beat me. When he would strike me down to the ground, I would keep getting back up, square my shoulders and wait for the next blow. I would keep doing this until my body was no longer able to stand. Then I would stare at him with all the hatred I had wanting God to strike him dead at that moment. My father would respond by slapping my face over and over and over again. I was determined to no longer cry as I was beaten. I took great pleasure in making him angrier because I did not cry and sometimes I would start laughing and pay for it with even more blows to my body.
There was one time I remember where we were all getting our usual beating and a neighbor must have called the police because in the middle of our beating there was a knock at the door. My mother told me to answer the door and to keep quiet about what was going on, she was really scared. I carefully got up from where I had landed after my father’s last blow and I opened the door. I was face to face with a police officer. He told me that a neighbor called because there was noise coming from our apartment. I wanted to tell the police officer that my father was hurting us and I wanted him to stop. But I knew that getting the police involved was wrong and no one would believe me. So I told him that we were fine and the noise was not coming from our apartment. But inside me I wanted the police officer to save us. He seemed to believe me and left. I closed the door having learnt that no one was coming to save us.
The beatings stopped when I was in college but they probably only stopped because my father left the country.
My mother still talks to him on the phone and at times she tries to get me to say hello to him. I really try and limit my contact with him. I do give my mom money to send to him every other month because I feel it is my duty to take care of him but I want no direct contact with him.
A little while ago I watched the movie called I Can Only Imagine (2018) and in that movie I watched the main character, Bart Millard and his mother get beaten and verbally abused by his father. Throughout the movie I started to see it from the father’s point of view of how the father was a failure in life and took out that frustration out on his family. I started to think of my father as not the monster who beat me but as maybe someone who had issues and should not have started a family. After the movie, I felt like God wanted me to forgive my father. To forgive my father for all the pain he caused me, for the shame I felt growing up, and for not loving me.
So if you are a person who prays, please pray for me, pray for God to help me forgive my father. Because I’m having a really hard time forgiving him and I need God’s help. Thank you.