I Saw My Dad Hit All The Women He 'Loved' — And I'm Emotionally Scarred From It

Photo: Kiarra Sylvester
young Kiarra

It was just normal to me ... until now.

I've always known my father was abusive, and I always knew that my life and my happiness were a casualty of his physical abuse.

But what I didn't know is that I wasn't just an innocent bystander watching abuse, I too had been emotionally abused.

I've talked about him many times before and even then, I still didn't realize that the abuse that my mother (and one too many women) faced at his hands was emotionally and mentally devastating for me. 

Not until I recently found myself jumping out of fear every time I thought my very generic iPhone ringtone was my father (that's a lot of jumping). It reminded me of the way I once jumped as he would shout at me while helping with homework, but worse. More serious than that. 

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Early one morning, I woke up to one thread in a group chat with him and my mother (whom he divorced nearly 19 years ago) that read: "Your dumb ass decision is going to get [your mother] and her husband f*cked up."

He continued, "I don't give a f*ck about driving to beat that hoes ass."

From there, my day spiraled into this huge "thing."

And all of this was just the outcome of a small gesture: my stepsister driving me to the airport in my father's girlfriend's car.

How did my mother get dragged into it? I don't have the slightest clue. But it's very typical of my father to lash out in this manner and take everyone in his path with him. 

So, not only did I spend my day frightened that there were more verbal threats coming, but I spent it in tears, wishing my father was anybody but this monster. 

I spent that whole day asking myself what kind of father would speak this way to his child and her mother.

I realize now that he practically gave every man that walks into my life license to call me these horrible words because as he put it, he "can call a b*tch a b*tch" whenever he pleases. 

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I spent my day, yet again, dreaming of escaping the reality that all the men I date are the very essence of the monster that lives within my father.

They're emotionally and mentally draining; they too, are abusers. They find me and they take all that they can until I'm too exhausted for myself. While none of them has yet to blatantly disrespect me (not since high school), they are all him.

They are abusers. 

Emotional abuse is characterized by intimidation, threats, blaming, and shaming. Emotional abuse is subjecting one to behavior that may result in psychological trauma ranging from anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Emotional abuse is my father.

And of course I've always known that watching and hearing all that my father's done has impacted me deeply. I guess I never thought of it as abuse until this incident. For years, I'd be sure to emphasize that my father was abusive, but not toward me.

All the while, I was lying to myself and those I've opened up to.

For so many years, I've been forced to hear him refer to the women in his life as b*tches and dumbasses; I've watched as he's choked them and forced them to protect themselves with knives. My father subjected me to all of this, and I watched him do it.

I've opened up about how that has affected my love life and my concerns as a big sister, but I don't think I ever really considered how it f*cked me up mentally.

This wasn't an isolated incident — it never has been and never will be — this is my life. 

I'll never be sure when I'll have to sit quietly through his threats toward my mother or have to decide whether to call the police when my stepsister yells for me to do so because my dad is out of control.

I have no idea how long I will have to continue to uncover the damage that he leaves behind after each incident. 

That has always been my life, but now it's time for me to decide if it still has to be. 

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It's time to change my life.