Lucy's Story

If telling my story can help just one person to break the cycle of violence it will have been worth it.

Lucy

I was treated like an ugly little girl and I believed I was
Lucy's Story - I thought I had come and abuse me written on my forehead

I thought I had “come and abuse me” written on my forehead

Illustrations by: Zoe Fannin

I have a scar across my nose and cheek from when my mother threw me out the door onto the concrete step when I was three years old. She said she did that because of the look I had on my face.

The number of times my mother grabbed me by my hair and banged me up against the wall or hit me with whatever she could find because of the look on my face! My little brother once said, “I used to wonder why you kept putting that look on your face when you knew you were going to get a hiding for it”. But I wasn’t pulling a face. It was just my face!

I was treated like an ugly little girl, and I believed I was. My mother used to say there weren’t any photos of me because I looked as if I’d been hit on the face with a shovel. But I’ve seen pictures of me, and I was a dear little girl. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I realised I looked like everybody else.

I’m fifty now, and looking back, I think my mother was a woman who should never have had children. I can only ever remember being afraid of her. I was literally terrified of the woman.

She mainly hit me with the kettle cord or a strap, but she used anything she could lay her hands on.

She once attacked one of my brothers with a fry pan.

There must have been bruises, but nobody said anything. Nearly every kid in our street was abused in some way. Our house would have been one of the worst, but the kid next door used to get a hiding with the dog chain and no one would bat an eyelid. That boy’s mother heard Mum beating me so badly and heard me crying so loud, that she did frequently come over and say “hey, leave her alone”. It never went anywhere though because she beat her kids too. It only made Mum beat me more.

The neighbour knew I was a good kid – unlike my older brother, who went around lighting fires and robbing people, and ended up in jail. He made my life a living hell. If my mother left the house he’d beat me and kick me, so I’d lock myself in the bathroom. I never told Mum because there was no point.

But he had it rough from Mum too. I had it worst, and our little brother had it pretty good. When he was born, my mother gave him to me as if I was his mother even though I was only four. I always tried to keep him out of trouble. If anything happened, I’d hide him.

I can track back the abuse in my family to my grandparents. My mother’s mother came from quite a wealthy family. She had an illegitimate child who was part Maori. Her mother was quite enlightened, and so she kept her child. But then she married my grandfather. His family were much harder people. His mother used to beat her 12 kids with a stock whip. My grandmother didn’t want that to happen to her child, so she adopted her out to a Maori part of the family up north.

Then she had my mother, who seemed to have an enchanted life because she was the eldest grandchild and everyone loved her and treated her like a little princess. But I suspect that my grandmother abused her emotionally, because she was emotionally detached, and in a way neglected her. She was a staunch Catholic and she spent the rest of her life grieving because she had given her first child away. Then she had a boy – and the world revolved round him.