It was 2 am. I woke up to the sound of objects hitting the wall and people yelling. Half asleep, I rubbed my eyes and tore the knitted blanket away from my body. The yelling and banging continued as I searched the wall for my light switch, finally finding it and flipping it on. I opened my bedroom door and peered out into the hallway to see my younger brother sitting at the top of the steps alone, bouncing his leg aggressively. I took a seat next to him and asked what was going on and why he was awake. His leg stopped bouncing and he told me that our mom’s boyfriend had just gotten home and that they were arguing. Again.
We sat there, silently listening to the arguing two stories below us. After minutes passed, we soon realized that this was no ordinary argument. I pushed myself up from the ground and hurried to my youngest brother’s room to see if he had been disturbed by the chaos. I opened his door and there he was, peacefully sleeping under the covers and the fan blowing his light, blonde curls. I placed a kiss on his temple and returned to my other brother who was now crying. I held his hand as we made our way down the creaky stairs and that’s when we heard what sounded like a fist impacting skin and bone. My heart thumped inside my chest as I jumped down the last flight of stairs, throwing their bedroom door open, and seeing my own mother on the ground crying, with a knot on her forehead and marks along her arms and neck.
At this moment and time I felt so many emotions. Anger. Fear. Sadness. I contemplated what to do and most people would say, “call the police,” but my whole body was stiff, frozen. I had absolutely no idea what to do. The obvious became the unrecognizable. Hours passed and many words were exchanged. Yelling back and forth, and by the end of the night my throat was sore like I had been screaming among a crowd at a concert.
Sitting on the steps with my brother as he sobbed into cotton t-shirt, which soaked up his tears like a sponge, broke my heart. We had both witnessed something no 13 or 15 year old should see. I promised him he would be okay and that he needed to sleep. Slowly making our way up to his room, I tucked him into bed, got him a glass of water, and left him to sleep. After that I checked on my other brother to make sure he was still asleep. Thankfully, he was.
That night, I didn’t sleep. Hours flew by and by the time it was morning, my eyes were bloodshot and keeping them open was a battle. I began packing my belongings. Tearing through my room and throwing everything in sight into a bag. That day, we moved back to my grandparents house and I told myself that I would never allow my brothers or myself back into an environment like that again. An environment that hurt us emotionally and if we were there any longer, it could have physically. This night made me realize many things. That you may see someone as something completely different than what they actually are. I saw a different side of my mom’s boyfriend that night. The anger and fury in his eyes made my hands tremble. I held onto the railing of the stairs till my palms ached and my knuckles turned white that night, in fear. I also realized that no one should ever go through anything like that in their lifetime. Experiencing it and feeling it, or just witnessing it. Yet, in a way it has made me stronger. Yes, it was a traumatizing experience, but it also showed me that my brothers and I deserve better. That we should never allow ourselves to end up in the position my mother did and is still in. I remember telling myself over and over again that I never would have imagined that I’d be in that situation. Comtemplating whether or not to call 911 for my own safety. I can say that it made me aware of physical and verbal abuse in relationships and families. It helped me make the strong decision to leave the repulsive environment I experienced it in and become aware that our experiences in life build us and make us who we are today, even though they may hurt us in the beginning.