Cold caller triggers childhood memories of domestic violence
Unknown number comes up on my phone.
I hesitate to answer but decide it might be important.
There is a woman’s voice on the other end of the line.
She begins to ramble on to me. Repeat words jump out at me, words like, “Domestic violence!”
“Children in need…what a difference it will make to them all if only we can help them.”
The caller tells me that many people do not understand what it means to have clean bedding in a safe home, but before she continues l can feel the tightness in my chest hurting me.
I struggle to know what to do for a second, but then my words come out.
“I know about that!” I say.
The woman is rambling non-stop so I repeat, louder this time, “l know all about that!”
“I was that child once, l know what it is like to be the child experiencing domestic violence, l know what it is like!”
I know l am still here but now I am also back there
“I’m sorry,” she says, pausing…she has heard me. I have more to say to get my point across.
“You don’t have to tell me what it is like to suffer as a child and l feel for every single family and especially the children who suffer in their own home! The grownups forget about the children! And it affects them for the rest of their lives….”
I am on high alert.
I am not breathing in and out. I am stunned and don’t quite know what is happening in this moment.
The woman continues her “job”, undeterred. She is now asking for money.
I feel driven to break through her mantra. “I have always been passionate about standing up against domestic violence,” I say. l feel like l am shouting and can’t understand why this woman continues to babble.
“Three hundred dollars a month will do so much, or even $150….”
I interrupt her again and say, as loudly as I can, “l am also hearing impaired!”
But I don’t want her sorries. I want her to stop. She obviously has had no experience of domestic violence herself, of lived experience, to be so cold-hearted.
I am breathing so rapidly now that l am scared l will lose myself.
I quickly end the call in the middle of her jumble of words.
That phone call could have been so different
I sit for a while after this, feeling traumatised from one phone call that could have been so different.
I need to have a good cry, but the tears are not there. They are suppressed on the inside where they are pouring out like a tap that cannot be turned off, like a flood when the rain won’t stop and there is fear the overflow will cause much damage.
I think about how the outcome could have been different if only this woman had said, “Hi, how are you? I am raising money for families involved in domestic violence. Have you or anyone you know had this experience?”
Such an approach would have made such a difference.
I would have answered her in an adult way. I would have shared that l truly understood what she was talking about. I might have been able to tell her things she didn’t know.
Gold bars of wisdom in my mind
Lived experience is powerful.
Often there is no escape, for decades. There is much damage to the inner being.
Domestic violence is soul-destroying to the little ones who are forgotten and become invisible at the adults’ convenience.
There are always consequences.
I have experienced enough abuse to write chapters and chapters on what takes place behind closed doors in family homes, but l can’t do it because going back there, reliving those experiences, would be extremely painful. A reality way beyond imagination.
Of course l want to help others, of course l do! Don’t ask me for money because l have gold bars of wisdom collected in my mind and you can have them for free, if you just use a bit of empathy for people like me.
Unknown number … I won’t be answering again.
You hurt my brain and put me back in that abusive home all over again….