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Written by Chua Jia Ying

 

You told me that I was the apple of your eye. You told me that I was all you needed. You told me that we only had each other. You told me that you would never abandon me. You told me that you loved me.

For years, we lived in relative happiness. There was not a hurdle in life that could cause us worry and not a surge of anger that could break us apart. Those moments, were the moments I truly believed in love.

Do you remember when you first took me swimming in the sea? We laughed and made waves in the salt water until the sun set over the horizon and we were forced to get up. You draped a beach blanket over me as we set up our little picnic spot by the sea. You held me in your arms and told me that the ocean water, coupled with the blinding sunlight, was so warm, so comforting. At that time, I thought, it wasn’t the water and the sun nor the blanket that kept me comforted, it was you. Oh, how I loved you so.

Do you remember when you and I took our first road trip together? We ended up penniless by the third day of our trip after accidentally leaving your wallet in the public toilet. We spent hours dialing the credit card companies to lodge reports and even more trying to communicate with the local authorities in broken Thai. We returned to our hotel room tired and hungry but one look at each other had us bursting with laughter. You hugged me tight and told me you were glad I was safe, and that as long as we had each other, everything would be okay. Oh, how I loved you so.

Do you remember when I bought you roses for Valentine’s and had it sent to your workplace? I saved up for months to surprise you. You told me that all your colleagues were jealous, and enveloped me into a tight hug with a whispered “thank you” in my ears. It was so genuine; so, so genuine. At that time, I thought that after weeks of skipping out on lunch, that all the hunger I felt was worth it because it made you happy. When you were happy, I was too. Oh, how I loved you so.

So why did you betray that love, that trust?

Why did you tell me that I was better off dead when my test scores were not on par with your standards? Why did you tell me that I was a mistake when I wasn’t able to win the competition you took ten minutes off your schedule to drive me to? Why did you tell me that I was an idiot when I told you that I could no longer keep up with both piano lessons and tuition classes?

Why did you tell me I could never do anything right when I forgot to switch off the lights in my room when I fell asleep after studying into the late night? Why did you call me empty-headed when I forgot to do a single chore off the list you left me? Why did you tell me that I was the reason for your downfall? Why did you tell me that all I ever did was make your life miserable? Why did you tell me that your life would be much better if I didn’t exist? Why did you strike me with the very same hands that held me since I was a kid, with every one of the mistakes that I made?

You told me that I was the apple of your eye. You told me that I was all you needed. You told me that we only had each other. You told me that you would never abandon me. You told me that you loved me.

You never did, mother.

Disclaimer: This work is purely fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons is coincidental.

At the thought of “abusive relationships”, more often than not, we find ourselves picturing an image of a person being emotionally and/or physically abused by their significant other. Rarely do we ever relate the term “abusive relationships” with the relationship between a parent and their child. If a parent is seen raising their voices with their child, it is admonition; and if a parent is seen hitting or striking their child, it is in the name of discipline.

Time after time, we never fall short of the ability to conjure a plethora of reasons for parents in instances of them ill-treating their children. We call it discipline, we call it teaching, training – anything to prevent our children from deviating onto the wrong path in life. There is a deeply-rooted idea in our culture that such an iron-fisted regime is imperative because our children have to grow up perfectly in line with our visions, that it falls upon us to steer them down the right path in life to become better people. It’s not untrue that parents have a duty to their children; but the line between proper parental guidance and abuse should not be one that is fallible either.

Globally, three of four children suffer physically or emotionally abusive violence: from corporal punishment to bullying, neglect, rape, even murder. In East Asia, this number is exacerbated: over 70 per cent of children endure corporal punishment at home, while 34 percent reported being bullied at school. Children who experience violence are also more likely to suffer from depression when they grow up, turn to drugs, endure poor health and take their own lives. (“Ending Violence in Childhood”, New Straits Time 2018)

Looking at these statistics reported, we can no longer deny nor overlook the actuality that child abuse has pervaded our present-day society. There is no uncertainty that the major response required of us is altering the ways we perceive this issue. It is easy to brush off an odd complaint here and there when there isn’t a physical wound visible to the naked eye, but the truth is that emotional abuse shouldn’t be regarded any less of an abuse than its physical counterpart. In fact, emotional abuse creates deep-rooted trauma within children, ultimately leading to low self-esteem and the deterioration of their mental health.

Children do not owe their parents their lives and therefore, should not be treated as properties of their parents. They are their own person, and no person deserves to be reduced to their parents’ punching bag, whether physically or mentally.

Fortunately, like a multitude of societal issues, child abuse is one that is also preventable. Child abuse is not a myth, and it’s seen devastating effects laid upon millions of children worldwide. It is crucial to destroy the root of this problem before it acquires the opportunity to rear its ugly head. To learn more about child abuse and how you can make a contribution in preventing them before they start, take a look at the following articles:

Ending Child Abuse: What You Can Do by UNICEF Malaysia.

7 Ways to Prevent Child Abuse by Kids First Child Abuse Treatment Center.

What Everyone Can Do To Prevent Child Abuse by Child Welfare.

Child Abuse Prevention Tips by the Washington Department of Social & Health Services.

 

Reference(s)

  1. “Ending Violence in Childhood”, New Straits Time (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/332846/ending-childhood-violence.

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