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Wife-Beating Can Give A Child House Of Horrors

I had been away from home for six months when I awoke in the middle of the night, terrified. Several seconds later I remembered that I was no longer at home, and I no longer had anything to fear.

When I was in high school my primary goal was to earn a college scholarship so I could get as far away from my stepfather’s house as fast as possible. I strove to be a model student, but unfortunately I had to go home every night.

Once or twice a month my stepfather would come home, screaming and cursing at everything that lived. I would nod my head as he invented insulting ways to describe my mother and me.

The screaming was unpleasant, but I knew how to deal with it. I could not, however, deal with the physical violence.

He rarely hit me, but he put my mother in the hospital twice. My greatest fear was that one day I would waken to find my mother killed. I realized my dream of escaping the house, but as I found out that first year, the memories followed me.

In most cases of severe wife-beating there are children who witness either the act or the aftermath. During discussions of domestic violence we, the children, are usually ignored, and we usually do not join the discussion.

I rarely talk about wife-beating with people outside my family. The subject is so personal that I cannot keep an emotional distance. Also, many organized discussions are laced with an anti-male rhetoric designed to make all men uncomfortable. More important is the fact that I am trying to lead my own life, and I hate to relive painful memories.

Domestic violence is a complicated problem without an easy answer. Nobody understands why an otherwise charming man can violently attack the woman he loves.

I used to blame the problem on alcohol, until I found out that men who don’t drink are capable of the same behavior. My mother managed to blame my stepfather’s behavior on phases of the moon. My stepfather blamed his own behavior on imaginary infidelities of my mother. Domestic violence activists meanwhile like to blame men as a group.

The truth about wife-beating may be too horrific for most people to contemplate. Rather than being good or evil, each person is both good and evil, and each one of us must understand and control the evil within us.


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