This is one of many true story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Kate and how her family was forced to take out a restraining order against her abusive father.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello hello! I’m Kate, 18 going on 24 from a little village in the South of England. I work as a waitress, have just started a Psychology course, am in the process of writing my first book and have just opened up my first Etsy shop.
Tell us about your family.
My immediate family consists of myself, my mum and my twin brother, followed by five other half brothers and sisters from previous relationships. My mother is one of the loveliest people you could ever meet; I’ve never known a single person to dislike her. My father, on the other hand, tends to be described with words not appropriate for public blogs.
My parents met through a mutual friend after they both divorced. Before my brother and I came along they actually had a son who died after he was born prematurely. My dad didn’t want another child so my mum left the country. As soon as she left, my dad told her he wanted to try for another child. Late into my teens, I realized the only reason he wanted my brother and I was to trap my mum into staying with him.
Do you remember when your dad began to become abusive?
The first time I saw any kind of abuse was when I was about 8-years-old and sitting with my mum in bed late at night. Looking back, it’s obvious he’d been drinking, but at 8, I was oblivious to the effects of alcohol. All I can really remember was my mum trying to close the door on him; she closed the door on his arm but he could still reach through and punch her. I’ll never forget the sound of his fist hitting her jaw.
The next morning I came downstairs to see the glass doors downstairs smashed to pieces, but my mum never told me why. It was years later that I realized he’d pushed her into them.
He became noticeably worse. He was jealous and paranoid that mum was seeing someone else. He’d follow her, have her followed, have suspected boyfriends of hers followed. He’d lock her out of the house, bug the house, steal her handbag, check her phone at every chance he got.It wasn’t until I was 13 and that I realized being terrified of your dad wasn’t normal. He started turning on my brother and me because he couldn’t stand that we would defend my mum. When he was drunk he would tell me that I was a f**king bitch and shout abuse towards me in front of friends or boyfriends.
How did the rest of your family react to his abuse?
Eventually it just became part of daily life. We’d be more concerned if he was being nice than if he was shouting abuse. My mum remained extremely strong through the entire thing, although I’ll never understand how she managed it. For a few years I shut myself off from the world out of frustration. I wouldn’t go out unless I had to, I couldn’t concentrate in school. Later, My mum told me she noticed things weren’t right when I’d say I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed for the day. I hated everyone and everything.
Thankfully, my mum, my brother and I were very good at keeping each other going.
Was there a specific ‘breaking point’?
My dad hadn’t been living at home for about four months when he started coming back and letting himself in. He’d start drinking bottles of wine and vodka at 8:00 am and abuse us all day and night. When he wasn’t at home he send us countless texts and follow us. I spent most of my days sitting at my window waiting for his car to come round the corner.
Can you tell us about the process of getting a restraining order?
It took a lot of time, a lot of money and many court visits. My mum and I both wrote several letters to the court and kept a diary of everything that happened leading up to the restraining order. The order went through two days after my sixteenth birthday.
How did your father react when the order was approved?
When you’re given a restraining order, the papers have to be physically given to you. The person ordering it had to find him and the easiest way to do that was to sit outside my house and wait for him to turn up.I watched the whole thing from my bedroom window. Bizarrely, it was the guiltiest feeling I think I’ve ever felt. I really think that in his head, he thought he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Unfortunately after all the effort, a restraining order only lasts for a year, unless he causes us trouble again – then it’ll become life long. I’m not as worried as I once was but I’m still concerned he’ll just turn up again one day.
How is your relationship with your father now?
I haven’t had any contact with my dad for over two years now and I don’t plan on getting in touch with him.
What advice would you give to someone having a similar experience?
It’s worth doing anything you can to get out – even if it means having to move or spend a lot of money. I’m an entirely different person two years down the line; if you met me now you wouldn’t know I ever went three years in a constantly miserable state.
And it really, really helps to keep a record of everything happening. For me it helped to get the restraining order and it’s also helping when it comes to writing my first book!Thanks for sharing your story, Kate. Do any of you guys have questions? Have you ever had to take out a restraining order?