I had a sister. An infuriating, teasing, short-tempered, volatile, vibrant, funny, caring, strong-minded, red-headed sister. Four and a half years older, she found me irritating for most of our lives. And endearing for some of our lives.
Dear God, he finally has killed her.
My sister could drive a saint to drink. She was demanding, stubborn, outspoken, and could rage like a volcano. Sorta like me, I guess. My mother, Wise Woman, always said I didn't have a temper until the merciless teasing of years and years finally broke my sweetness and I began to bite back. I don't know how accurate that was, maybe my snark was just a little slow in emerging, but by hell, when it did it was equal to anything the flame-haired one could toss my way.
I could tell many tales of my childhood, but beneath it all we were a family. We loved, supported, laughed, fought, cried, and loved some more.
When my sister was not quite 15 she met W. He was a child of the streets, brought up in foster homes, smart, witty, good-looking. He was not the first of her serious boyfriends, my sister had developed a taste for love quite young, and he was not to be the last.
He was the first to beat her. I do not know what part of her thought it was okay. The bruises, broken ribs, black eyes all followed quickly by the lies and excuses. My strong, vibrant, opinionated sister beaten into submission. I listened to my mother's tears and my father's anger. I was sent to my room whilst they argued, demanded, pleaded with my sister to tell them the truth, to let him go, to lay charges. She was FIFTEEN years old!
At Fifteen and Nine Months she moved out of home and in with him. Now she could hide until the wounds healed, she need not let us in.
Finally, FINALLY, she was free! She was not yet eighteen.
She was living with S, who was no longer prince charming but the evil villian. Except this time there were no hysterical phone calls, no tears and raging against him only to reconcile, this time there was silence.
She quit her job when she found out what her wonderful, caring boss had done. He rang us once more to apologise, to express his regrets, for if "he had not spoken out of turn they would still have been able to keep an eye on her and help if necessary." We found out later S had turned up at reception uttering all sorts of threats against this family. He was probably pissed because her well-paid situation had ceased. I dread to think what price my sister paid that day.
Once more we were on this horror ride, with her tied to the front of the rollercoaster like some willing sacrifice.
Two more years followed, two years of keeping up the facade, sweetness and light, all surface conversations. My mother and father were very aware of the control S had over my sister. Tentative questioning led to communication being severed for months. And so they stopped asking.
Once more I do not know what finally gave her the strength to move out, or even if S kicked her out, but move she did. For the final six months of her life she rented a unit of her own. She and S were still together but not living together.
Dear God, he finally has killed her.
My sister was 5 foot nothing tall and a size 6. There was no such thing as a size 6 in Australia back then, so she shopped in the children's department or made her own clothes. She was a talented seamstress, she loved to sew. S was 6 foot. After her death many spoke out about the recurrent hospital admissions, the attempts to talk to her, the offers of help she refused.
All we could do was tell them, "We know, we know..." and pat their hands and wipe their tears. Asthma took my sister. Her life was cut short, her death was a loss unequalled.
I kicked him out, calmly, rationally, no further justification for the violence to escalate... I locked the door and never let him back.
Go to Wanderlust, today is "Speak OUT" day: November 18th. Break the silence, break the cycle, break the acceptance of DV in today's society.
Lifeline Phone: 13 11 14