Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I saw myself in her

Today I got a call...

"Hey Dawn.  I have a little girl in my class whose dad is abusive... and they had to move into a safe house... Well... I know you had to do that as a kid... Do you think you could come and talk to her?"

Of course I didn't mind... but you see... I don't think of that part of my life very often.  In fact, unless someone else brings it up, I don't ever think about it.

My dad was physically abusive to my mom.  My brothers and I used to lay over her... trying to protect her. How does a 3, 5, and 6 year old protect their mom??  Any way we could.  We knew our dad wouldn't hit us... but somehow our 3 small little bodies didn't cover all of hers and he would find a spot we weren't covering... and he would grab that spot with all of his might yanking her out from under us... the whole time, we would be screaming, "Stop. Stop. Please Daddy, stop!"

Even though I hated that he did that... he was still my Daddy... and I loved him.  I felt as though I was betraying my mom for feeling that.  I even had a very vivid dream (that I thought was true until I questioned my mom about it years later.) where I thought I was given the choice of living with my mom or my dad.  I remembering in my dream crying while struggling with the decision.  (You see, I was a Daddy's girl.) But then I decided I couldn't leave my mom... knowing the struggle she went through to get us all out of that awful situation. So (in my dream) I kissed my dad good-bye and told him I was sorry and went running to my mom.

So, as I walked down the hall today, I didn't know what I was going to say.  When I got to the little girl's classroom, her teacher called her out.  I recognized her immediately! I had her in summer school.  She was always overly quiet.  There were a few times that I got her on a topic and it was like she was a changed child.  But mainly, she was quiet.  That was me as a kid.  I knew if I kept my mouth shut, no one would know of the horrible monster that lived inside my house. The horrible monster that I loved. If you were good and quiet, people didn't question you... they didn't wonder of bad things... because you were so good... and so quiet. A little piece of my heart broke that I didn't notice the reflection of myself in her this summer.

But I was glad I was being able to help now and so, her and I went and found a quiet spot to sit.  I asked her if she would like to tell me what was going on.  She told me her daddy would get drunk and mean and then hit them, and so her mom moved them to a safe house.

We talked about how scary people can be when they are like that.  We talked about how her and her family are in a better place because they don't have to worry about the scariness now. We talked about what things are the same at the safe house as at home... and what things are different... and what things she liked there. (She liked the comfy beds. - I told her I liked meeting lots of new friends.)  I assured her that it's okay to love her dad... just not love the scary situations he puts them in. I told her that her and her mom and her sister were very brave to get themselves out of a situation like that and move to a place where that won't happen anymore.

I filled her with things that I wish someone would have known to tell me all of those years ago.  Then I hugged her and told her that any time she needed to talk to come find me... because I know even those you are safe physically, your mind reminds you from time to time what you went through... and sometimes, it's just good to know you have someone to talk to.


  1. Ah Dawn,

    That is so said - both what you went through and what that little girl is going through - it is heart breaking.

    Your truly are an inspirational woman - as a teacher (you make me hold firm to my desire to become a teacher) and as a person - you never stop giving.

    Hope you're having a good day lovely. x

  2. What a blessing that she had you to talk this over with. You are a strong woman who has overcame much. You have touched that little girls life in many ways as you have done for others as well. Love you!

  3. Oh Dawn. I didn't know...all the years I've known you, and I didn't know.

  4. Thank you Natasha and Angela!

    Erin, That would be because THAT part of my life was FINALLY over... and I was glad. :)


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