The Daughter of a Psychopath
by Amber Dailey
(Tulsa, OK, U.S)
Unlike most of you visiting this website, I’m not a direct survivor of domestic violence. The aggressor directed the abuse mostly toward my mother, but I still feel the impact of my traumatic childhood to this day.
My mom told me that when she first met my father, she thought he was terrific. He was funny, handsome, and charismatic. It wasn’t until after she married him that he slowly began to reveal the darkness and pure evil that was inside of him. It started with little incidents and escalated into horrible abuse.
When I was born, my dad was heavily addicted to heroin. So much so that he would pawn things from around the house to buy it when we didn’t have any money. One day, my mom came home, and I was in my crib with a full diaper and tears streaming down my cheeks while my dad was in the living room with junkies shooting up heroin. A few weeks later, we had no food and were completely broke. My mom found a stash of $40 hidden under the couch cushion. She knew he would be angry if she took it, but she cared more about me having food. She strolled me down to the supermarket, and we picked up some groceries. I asked her what he did when he found out the money was gone and she just said, “what do you think?”
Fast forward a few years, and I can remember living with my grandmother and my parents while my mom is in nursing school. The only thing I remember from this house is that it had a pool and my dad dragged my mom by her hair and shoved her face into a dog’s water bowl because her blood sugar went low.
Fast forward some more, and I now have a little brother. We’re living in the house where my father held us hostage for a week. He nailed blankets on the windows, fastened the doors shut, parked our car in the Walmart parking lot, and hid all the phones. I remember my mother holding a butcher knife to her arm and threatening to kill herself because she couldn’t do this anymore and my father telling her to “go ahead and do it.” I remember the police saying it was the worst case of domestic violence they’d ever seen. I left with my father after he held us, hostage, he was trying to avoid the police. I was in the car with him while he spent over a week driving through different apartment complexes until he finally found my mom's car sitting outside of one. He made contact with her and invited her to lunch so they could talk. She said she had to grab her purse. Next thing I know, my dad is in handcuffs in the back of a police car for violating the protective order my mom had placed against him.
I was back with my mom, and he was in jail for a whopping 24 hours. I honestly don’t remember that much about my life at all until after my father died in a car accident when I was 15.
After his death, I was sad for some reason. I don’t know how I could care for someone that hurt me, my brother, and most of all, my mother so much. The more years that passed after his death, the more I hated him. I began to realize just how horrible my childhood was.
I now struggle with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I can’t keep a job, I’m not the mother I want to be to my children, and I don’t have any friends. I’m scared of everything, all the time. If a door slams, a truck pulls into my apartment parking lot, or someone yells, my heart beats out of my chest, and it’s hard to breathe. I believe everyone has a hidden agenda and nobody is genuinely kind.
I don’t know how to discipline my children properly because I don’t want to damage them as they have hurt me. I have trouble sleeping. I overeat or don’t eat enough. I put off making phone calls because talking to a stranger on the phone is scary. I’m continually looking for things that could go wrong. The worst part of it all is that nobody understands through what I’m going. My mother somewhat gets it, because she went through it too, but because she was already an adult when it began it didn’t affect her in the same ways. My little brother was still pretty young when we got out of that situation, so he still had a good chunk of his childhood left to enjoy.
I need so badly to heal. I chase happiness and stumble over the debilitating symptoms of my PTSD, anxiety, and depression every step of the way. I hope one day I wake up and feel healthy. When did I last feel normal? I can’t remember. I still avoid looking in mirrors because when I do, I don’t know the girl that I see in the reflection. I hope to one day be able to heal so I can help the children that are affected by domestic violence. Although the violence ends, the suffering doesn’t; it has not for me.
Over my parents fourteen years of marriage, my mother had her nose broken several times, her leg broken, her eyes blacked, a gun held to her head and cocked, and my father raped her. And those are only the things I know. My mother is riddled with many problems now, directly resulting from abuse. But she is the strongest person I know. I regret every time I ever chose him over her in any way. I wish I knew better back then.
I hope that everyone currently in this situation finds the strength and support to get out and I hope you all one day find peace.