Ask me. Ask me. Ask me.
Broken nose. Loose teeth. Cracked ribs. Broken finger. Black eyes. I don’t know how many; I once had two at the same time, one fading, the other new. Shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists. Stitches in my mouth. Stitches on my chin. A ruptured eardrum. Burns. Cigarettes on my arms and legs. Thumped me, kicked me, pushed me, burned me. He butted me with his head. He held me still and butted me; I couldn’t believe it. He dragged me around the house by my clothes and by my hair. He kicked me up and he kicked me down the stairs. Bruised me, scalded me, threatened me. For seventeen years. Hit me, thumped me, raped me. Seventeen years. He threw me into the garden. He threw me out of the attic. Fists, boots, knee, head. Bread, knife, saucepan, brush. He tore out clumps of my hair. Cigarettes, lighter, ashtray. He set fire to my clothes. He locked me out and he locked me in. He hurt me and hurt me and hurt me. He killed parts of me. He killed most of me. He killed all of me. Bruised, burnt and broken. Bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Seventeen years of it. He never gave up. Months went by and nothing happened, but it was always there – the promise of it.
Leave me alone!
Don’t hit my mammy!
For seventeen years. There wasn’t one minute when I wasn’t afraid, when I wasn’t waiting. Waiting for him to go, waiting for him to come. Waiting for the fist, waiting for the smile. I was brainwashed and brain-dead, a zombie for hours, afraid to think, afraid to stop, completely alone. I sat at home and waited. I mopped up my own blood. I lost all my friends, and most of my teeth. He gave me a choice, left or right; I chose left and he broke the little finger on my left hand. Because I scorched one of his shirts. Because his egg was too hard. Because the toilet seat was wet. Because because because. He demolished me. He destroyed me. And I never stopped loving him. I adored him when he stopped. I was grateful, so grateful, I’d have done anything for him. I loved him. And he loved me.
Don’t hit my mammy!
Roddy Doyle (1998). the woman who walked into doors.
London: Vintage. pp. 175-177.
Amnesty International page on Gender Violence: http://www.amnesty.org/en/