The year was 2002, the Christmas decorations hung on the ceiling, the tinsel glittered around the mirror and as the Christmas tree was thrown across the room, the piercing screams from the children could be heard.
“Go to your room” shouted the mother. The children despite being so young had already learned that those words meant run and stay in your bedroom, till she came up to get you. The children ran and the mother blocked the pathway of their father.
“Santa isn’t coming, Christmas is cancelled” he screamed with menace. With that he pulled on his boots and grabbed his coat and the forceful slam of the door echoed as he left.
Watching through the gap of the curtains, she watched, patiently, making sure the care lights had disappeared into the night. Then she locked the door and attached the chain, only then did she go to collect her frightened children from their bedrooms.
The four of them decorated the Christmas tree again, only this time half-heartedly, there was nothing to stop daddy throwing it over again, but is a risk they took.
The mother chocked back the tears as she watched her three children aged 2, 3 and 8 hanging decorations on the branches, all she wished for that Christmas was for her children to be kept safe. Each year she would make a promise to herself that this year would be the last.
Christmas time was family time, it’s the time of year when families should be together, she never had the heart to tear her family apart, so she kept quiet and walked on egg shells, trying to keep him happy, anything she had to do to ensure her children had a fun and happy Christmas she did.
The Christmas Eve of 2003 he came home late, intoxicated and fuelled with rage, as was the case most nights. He left the tree intact; instead he took his vile temper out on the neatly wrapped Christmas presents that lay under the tree, his children’s gifts from Santa Clause. He kicked them and threw them and then turned to spit in the face of his wife. She didn’t move, didn’t react, she knew better.
That mother did keep to her promise that Christmas, a few months after the Christmas of 2003 she did tear her family apart and walk away from eleven years of domestic violence.
How does that mother spend her Christmas now? Well I still love Christmas time and I cry silent tears each year when I see how Christmas should be. The tree stands in the corner with pride within a safe and happy family home. The only tears shed are those of pride and happiness, not fear and shame.
Domestic violence does not stop at Christmas time and if you’re making the same promise I did then please make sure you keep to it this year. Don’t live a life full of regrets like I once did. Make this Christmas the time to speak out, get out and stay out.