Dad Psychologically, Emotionally, Physically Abusing Son and Other Family Members

by Patrick
(Washingtonville, NY)

Hello. My name's Patrick. I'm submitting a poem.

I was born in Nyack, New York. I currently am living in Washingtonville, New York with my aunt. I'm 24 years old. I'm currently attending a four-year university school. I'm majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a double minor in Black Studies and Philosophy. I'm working to earn my BFA in Creative Writing. Afterwards, I'll be furthering my education in grad school to someday find a career in being a Creative Writing Professor.

Here's the backstory on the piece:

This piece is a narrative poem that talks about the mental, physical, and emotional abuse I've dealt with from living with my father. He and I have a vague relationship, and for years I've been caused trauma, and prolonged depression because of him. The trauma within me very much still exists, and if I'm in the same household as him, I've been told by police on two or more occasions to keep my distance from him, but whether or not I'm in the distance from him, I'm still subject to abuse. There have been times where I'd spend extra time outside away from him, or just my mother and father in general so that I wouldn't have to deal with their constant bickering and them making it seem like they're trying to bring me into their conflict.

I've sought treatment in and out from a neuropsychologist who practiced neurofeedback; however, she retired two years ago while I was in the process of convalescing myself from my second attempt at seeing her. Things have gotten better, but a lot of my earlier, negative programming continually resurfaces because the factor (my father) which caused me this pain, doesn't believe he's mentally ill. He's full-blown psychotic. All the times my mother or I was able to distinguish that he was overly paranoid, and he denied it, I strangely feel like my father is conscious that he is paranoid, but he's somehow distorted, the disorganized train of thought.

I've technically run away from my home because I wasn't safe there. I'm still not. I don't believe it's a home anymore. I haven't for a while. I don't see my father as a father. I love him, but I'm not going to reconcile myself to think he's going to change. I firmly believe he's going to let his mind deteriorate until he dies. The only way I feel I'd be safe is if I just don't see him and don't live in proximity to him. That way, if I ever get help again, I'm likely to feel better a lot quicker. Knowing he refuses to ever get help for himself leads me to believe that my self-improvement/treatment is impossible.

I've worked too hard to get where I am now. For me to be in a constant state of panic, worry, and trauma, though the last time he's abused me, it was about two years ago, I still feel the pain and trauma are just as recent as if he attacked me this year.


"Re(member) Dad?"

By Patrick J. Derilus

remember that time,
when we lived in West Haverstraw,
that time I was about a teenage boy in middle school,
and my mom was outside doing something,
you came out of the shower,
humming some kind of a
moribund song.
I walked out of my room,
and you snatched me by the neck
and demanded I give you your key.

I didn’t know what you were talking about,
but you insisted I did.
My bones shriveled up the first time you
attacked me like that.
I didn’t understand or
know what was going on.
It just happened all so very fast.

I thought you were just having a bad day.

then in the next two or three days,
you’d approach me, accusing me, of doing
some other random,
sinister thing
to hurt you.
I scratched your car, apparently.

I remember that day, too.
I looked outside my window,
a little perturbed to see you
using a knife to flatten the tires off my bike.

your unorthodox tirades continued.

Hey, dad, remember,

my 17th birthday?
I was at my mother’s cousin’s house,
at around 7:00 PM,
and you were drunk, and a bit frazzled.
You thought I cut your phone charger.

There I was sitting across
the living room from you
and all of my mother’s sister’s guests,
and you had a look of distrust,
and fictitious retaliation
in your eyes.
Like, you’d very much like for me to die.

My mother saw that, too.
She nimbly pulled me out of
her cousin’s apartment,
and tried to get me to
“safe” place.

We took the elevator.
When the door opened,
you lurched your hands out at me
without hesitation,

while my mother held you back,
you got a jab on me:

On my 17th birthday.
On my 17th...birthday.
On my 17th….birthday.

And when mother’s friends and
her cousin saw how he reacted
against me,
they didn’t understand.
They chose not to understand.
They justified your attack, Dad.
They demanded I respect you, and
they invalidated my being attacked.

Hey, Dad, remember?

a few months ago,
when you accused me of mistreating the car
my mother lent me to use to go to school and work?

I was supposed to
stay as far away from you as possible.

I was supposed to “stay calm.”
i supposed to “get over it.”
I was supposed to “let it go,”

but I couldn’t take it anymore.

I refused to allow myself
to compromise
my well-being
to your unmethodical,
psychotic whims, but

Dad, I was still afraid to face you,
because you always perceived
me as an adversary,
as you did to my mother,
to my sister, to my aunts,
and to my cousin,
even people who you’ve never met.

“they all hate me,” you’d angrily, and blindly claim.

In that instant, I lost it.
I rhetorically asked you
to repeat yourself.
I hurriedly approached you,
and you rushed back at me like an angry bull,
grabbed the nearest object you could find,
while my mother pushed
you and I away from each other,
and you shouted,

“if your mother wasn’t here,
this would be a different story”

I was trying to do good for myself
but the fact you never would,
made it impossible for me to live
with you and mom
in that
decomposing house—

that house, with its unending,
impending accusations and threats,

and you.
I can’t forget you.

and two plus times,
those times I called the police,
were foolish mistakes
because no policemen values my Black life.

All they would say is for me to
keep my distance from you in the house.
It was okay, but I was living in a purgatory
with this so-called “Dad” of mine.

You were no Dad. You are no Dad. You cannot be a Dad.


I am delusional to think that you would not kill me if
I stepped another foot in that house with you and mom.

I am lucky to be alive,
but I am sad to be soul-deprived
of a beautiful being who can’t be a Dad,
all because he didn’t have one.

just a broken wise man, whose eyes look at me
and see me not as his son
but a faceless stranger in the street,
he’d love to thrash with his boulder-like fists;
his first…son

Dad, remember, when I told you
those nightmares
of when you were chasing
me down a highway,
with a sawed-off shotgun, making it
seem like it was your obligation to get rid of me?

remember, Dad?

I remember.

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