I grew up in Marine Park, Brooklyn I am the youngest of five children My father, Joseph, was a New York City police officer. When I was growing up, my father was a bully. My mother faced verbal and physical abuse from my father. If he didn’t like the food mom made, he would throw it against the wall. He used to make her get up in the middle of the night to cook for friends he brought home.
Although I did not get physically abused myself, I grew up in fear because my mom did. I was shy and dad would make fun of me. Whenever I saw his car in the driveway, I didn’t want to go home. One winter, when I was 12, my older brother Frank (20) said to my father, “We want you out of the house. We don’t want anything other than the house we live in. We don’t want anything from you. Just leave.” And he left.
Growing up in a home where there was domestic violence was very difficult and left lasting scars. Although I didn’t realize it then, I used to feel like the abuse was my fault. I felt helpless and alone. For many years, I felt ashamed and worthless.
In those days, no one in my neighborhood knew what was happening in my home, or if they did, nobody talked about it. I did not talk about it because I was afraid. I didn’t know who to turn to for help.
But today, things are different and there is help for you. The way we can conquer and stop domestic violence is to form a team. If we grow up respecting one another, we will eventually end domestic violence. The more we talk about it, the more we’ll be likely to pick up a phone and tell a relative, a teacher or a counselor.