George's Story

Looking back over my life and telling my story for this book, I saw that I had decided wrongly, that’s why I was never at peace. I'd made the decision myself...but in time I learned to decide otherwise, I willed myself to decide otherwise...because I wanted peace. So I eventually chose otherwise...and this allowed peace to enter my life.

George

Her violence was extreme and sometimes really cruel
George's Story - We Do Choose Our Behaviours

We do choose our behaviours

Illustrations by: Vanessa Morrison

Most of the violence in our household came from my mother. I decided when I was very young that she was a wicked, evil person. I remember thinking from about the age of seven that I would get out of home as soon as I could. By the time I was 14, I was actively plotting to kill her.

She was a very angry person and she needed an outlet for her anger. My eldest sister, who was not my father’s daughter, copped most of the violence, but much of it was taken out on the five boys, of whom I was the eldest. My other sister escaped most of it because she was my Dad’s favourite, and my mother lived in fear of his retribution, so there was a kind of force field round her.

The tiniest thing would set my mother off – losing her keys, the towels not being folded properly, the bench not being perfect according to her standards, or a biscuit missing. She was meticulous in counting the biscuits. If there was one missing, she would fly into an absolute rage. But she’d let you wait, maybe all day. It was like a little game. She’d ask everybody “who took the biscuit?” We would be in absolute fear waiting for what we knew was coming.

The dog always got out the door first; he knew what was coming. She’d line us all up and get the jug cord out. She’d strip us all naked – she’d even take the babies’ nappies off – and then make us wait for about 15 minutes. Then she’d come in and start whipping us with the jug cord or the vacuum cleaner cord doubled over.

Her violence was extreme and sometimes really cruel. If you’d touched electric plugs or put your hand near the stove, she’d hold your hands over the element. We all had to stand around and watch while she made an example of one of us.

Once we reached puberty and adolescence it was humiliation. She’d strip us naked and send us outside to get a stick from the hedge. She’d tell us the dimensions of the stick she wanted, and we’d have to go outside in full view of the street and our friends and get one from the hedge in front of the house.

There was no discussion in our house. You learnt never to speak your feelings because that created more violence. You didn’t answer back. Even a look could get you double the hidings.

My mother would say “you’re going to get 10 hits with the cord” for whatever you’d done wrong, but if you gave her a look that in any way challenged her, it doubled. So you would keep a neutral face.

Mum used to work as an agricultural labourer, and if any of us weren’t home when she got home, my eldest sister would cop a real hiding – and she was only about 10. As I grew older I realised she was being unfairly treated and I started to admit to things she was being targeted for. My next brother did that too, and we shared it between the three of us. We felt a need to protect our three youngest brothers; we used to call them ‘the three babies’ as there was only a year between each of them.