I cuddle into mummy, my eyes slowly closing
Daddy's arms come around me, lifting me up
"Time for bed, sweetheart."
"I'm not sleepy."
I feel his deep laugh in his chest as I fight to open my eyes
"It's late darling, time for bed."
"But I'm a big girl, I'm five!"
He laughs again
"Even big girls need their sleep."
I grumble as daddy holds he in his arms
Mummy kisses me goodnight, then daddy takes me upstairs
I won't look at daddy, he's sending me to bed
He lays me down and tickles me until I smile
I'm not mad anymore
He sits down beside me and reads me my favorite book
I'm asleep before the final page
I feel him kiss my cheek
Then he leaves, leaving my door open a little
The light is on in the hall, clever daddy
He remembers I'm scared of the dark
I wake up to the screaming
Mummy and daddy are still downstairs
Someone is crying
Is it mummy? Why is she so sad?
There is more yelling, then something breaks
Mummy's crying gets louder
I want to go to her
"Everything's OK mummy."
But I'm scared
There is so much noise
I hear daddy use words I don't understand
Some I know, but they are bad words
Mummy says that I should never say them
Is daddy saying them to her?
Why is he so mad?
I want to tell daddy to stop yelling at mummy
But I can't move
There is a loud slapping noise, then nothing
Mummy has stopped crying
Daddy is coming up the stairs
I see him through the gap in the door
Why are his hands red?
Daddy scares me now
Mummy comes into my room to wake me
I cry when I see her face
She looks horrible, cuts on her lip and above her eye
Her cheek; purple-blue and swollen
Five small bruises on her neck
"Mummy, what happened?"
"Mummy fell downstairs last night, honey."
I know she is lying, but I don't say so
Mummy says its only OK to lie if it's really important
But I see, she knows I know
She pulls me close and hugs me
"Our little secret."
I nod, I understand
Daddy comes home late tonight
He has presents for mummy and me
He gives me a new teddy-bear, she's pink and smells of roses
He gives mummy flowers and hugs her, saying he loves her
Mummy smiles and hugs him back
I know she is happy again
We sit together and watch movies all night
It is Saturday, so I can stay up
After the movie, I pretend to go to bed by myself
I stand at the doorway and watch them
They can't see me
Daddy cries as he hugs mummy
"I'm sorry, I'm just so sorry. I love you"
Mummy cries too, but she is smiling
She knows daddy is telling the truth
"I love you too."
I go upstairs to bed knowing everything is going to be OK.
Dad lied to us
He promised he would not hurt mum anymore
Every night, I hear her crying while dad yells at her
I hear as he hits her
He always told me hitting was wrong
Dad is a bad man, mum says so
But why is dad being so mean to mum?
What did she do wrong?
I can't say anything to stop him
I'm not supposed to know
I can't listen to her cry anymore
It scares me
I run to my door, yanking it open
I run to help her
I stop at the top of the stairs, frightened by what I see
Dad towers over mum, screaming down at her
Mum kneels in the corner, her face smeared with blood and tears
Someone screams as Dad raises his hand again
Is it mum, or me?
Dad turns and sees me, his eyes wide with surprise
Mum tries to run to me, to stop me seeing more
She trips and falls, Dad tries to catch her
He misses, and she crashes to the floor
There's a loud bang as her head strikes the table
Then she lays still
Dad calls her name, over and over
He starts to cry
But she just lies there
She doesn't answer
Her eyes are open, they look at me
But she doesn't move
A bright red pool forms on the carpet around her face
I was ten years old when my mother died
Then my father turned on me
He'd never hit me before tonight
He had threatened, but it had only ever been words
He was angry all the time now
But he was worse when he was drunk
I knew when he came home that tonight was going to be bad
Sometimes he sings when he drinks, these nights are good
But most of the time, he swears
Tonight, no songs as he comes home
Only drunken curses
He asks if I've had dinner, was there some for him?
He'd only left out enough for one
He usually eats when he is out
"I thought I left enough for two."
"You'd remember if you weren't so drunk!"
I didn't mean to say it, I couldn't control myself
The next thing I know, I'm on the ground
My lip is sore and wet
I taste blood inside my mouth
He hits me again, harder
His fists come raining down on me
The more I scream, the harder he strikes out
The attack stops as suddenly as it began
Dad throws himself away from me
His entire body is shaking
He sees my blood on his hands
As he looks at me, his eyes become clear
Tears roll down his cheeks
He steps towards me, stopping as I flinch away
Afraid of him
He holds his arms out to me
Slowly, I go to him
He holds me tight, kissing my bruised and bleeding face
"What have I done to you?"
I shake with his arms around me
I've seen this all before
He whispers he's sorry, stroking my hair
He sounds so sincere, I almost believe him
But then I remember mum
He said all of this to her, promising he would never hurt her again
Just as he promises me
I nod that I believe him, but I know he is lying
I would speak, but it hurts too much
"I'll never hurt you again."
He vows, gently wipes the blood from my face
But that was just the beginning
Tonight he had been brutal, I thought it would not end
I cry as I look in the mirror, at the damage he has done
Where there is no cut, there is a bruise
No space is left untouched
But that is not why tears now stream from my eyes
It is not my face I see
It is mum's
I see her now, from that night, years ago
He had started with her, but why?
He had always said he loved us
Was this the way he showed it?
He was her loving husband by day, and always did right by her
But at night, the monster came, and took my father's place
When mum died, my father did too
And the monster took over for good
It has been four years since he first hit me,
Since then, it's never stopped
How was I to know, as I wiped the blood and tears away
That tonight had only just begun?
He wasn't finished yet.
I had not been asleep long, when my door began to open
I shake beneath my covers
What more could he do to me now?
He calls my name; I can smell the alcohol on his breath from here
I don't answer
A voice whispers inside my head:
Pretend you're asleep, and you'll be safe
My door closes again, and I hear his footsteps
I start to breathe a sigh of relief
Until I realize, his footsteps aren't fading; they grow louder
He is in the room with me!
I hold my breath, terrified, waiting for what's to come
He curses as he kicks my desk; he's forgotten that I've moved things
But now he finds what he is looking for
The mattress groans under his added weight
He moves the covers down to my waist
The lower still, flinging them from the bed entirely
Now I start to panic
The voice inside my head is screaming:
GET OUT NOW!
He grabs a hold of me and throws me back down
Before I can move again, he is on top of me
Pinning my arms above my head, he traps me under him
Dear God, help me! Make him stop!
I struggle beneath him with all my strength
He shouts something at me, I can't hear it
I'm screaming and crying, begging him to stop
He shifts his position above me, trapping both my wrists in one hand
With the other, he tries to silence me
His hand goes over my mouth, it covers my nose as well
I stop screaming; I cannot breathe!
His grip grows tighter, my struggles grow weak
Soon, darkness takes me
I open my eyes, my head pounding
Sunlight pours into my room
I look down at my bare legs, covered in blood
The horrors of the night come flooding back
In an instant I am sobbing so hard I cannot stop
How could he have done that?
My father, the man who was supposed to love me,
The man who was supposed to protect me
Had hurt me in ways I could never imagine
My father...Dear God, my own father!
He had raped me.
It has been two years since that night
At first, I thought it wouldn't happen again
I promised God anything he wanted to make it so
But only two months had past before he came for me again
As time went on, he came to my room more frequently
Now, he comes for me almost every night
I quickly learned not to fight him
It only makes things worse
Last night was the worst it had ever been
He was not content with pinning me to the mattress
He wanted use of his hands too
Last night...he had tied me down
The ropes cut so tight
My wrists bled as I struggled against them
I was no longer his daughter
No longer his sixteen year old little girl
I had become no better than a common whore
An object on which he could vent his frustrations
Last night, he continued to beat me as well
Every inch of me; nothing was spared
I knew there would be new bruises tomorrow
Joining the old ones
Refusing to fade away
This morning when he left me
He left me tied to the bed
Not a stitch covered me
I was left bound, no better than an animal
I screamed for him for hours,
Begging him to let me go
I never felt so helpless
Or so worthless
I found myself wishing with all my heart
Let him break, let him kill me!
I didn't want to live anymore
It was just a few hours ago
I had screamed myself hoarse
That he came to me
It was late afternoon when he came running into my room
Was this he same man?
His clothes were washed, his face shaved
His hair a glossy black
This was not the form of the monster,
Bringer of torment and insufferable pain
No...this was the man who once loved his daughter
This was my father
The regret and sorrow in his eyes seemed so real
Does he really mean it?
He unties my hands, his touch gentle and loving
He wraps me in a sheet and carries me to the bathroom
The strength in his arms...
Used every day to deliver blow after painful blow
Hold me tight as I tremble against him
"It's OK sweetheart, I swear. Everything is going to be OK from now on."
I want to believe him
Could it really be true?
After so long, had my father finally come back to me?
He gently wipes the blood away
Rubs cream into my skin, soothing the bruises
"I'm so sorry sweetheart. But I promise you, I'll never hurt you again."
He turns the water on in the shower for me
Then leaves me alone
I could not believe it.
How could this have happened?
All these years, had they just been a horrible nightmare?
I glance in the mirror, and find my answer
Once again, I see mum's face reflected there
Staring back at me
Her words come floating back
Daddy is a bad man
Whatever this was, it would not last
Soon, my father wold disappear,
And the monster would return
The creature had taken my father from me
It would not stop until I was dead, like her
Why else would it hurt me so?
I step into the shower
The water causing both comfort and pain
From downstairs, Dad calls my name
I hear voices that are not his
He has guests
I step from the shower, wincing as the towel scratches over old wounds
Dressed in long sleeves and pants
I answer my father's call
Men i don't know crowd the lounge room
"Good God girl, your face!"
My eyes dart to my father's face in an instant
The monster's eyes flash dangerously
His face a mask, revealing nothing
But those eyes promised much
I shrug my shoulders, attempting to smile
"I fell down the stairs."
The smile returns to my father's face
He places a hand on my shoulder
I knew he'd make me pay,
But I couldn't help myself
I flinch as he raises his arm
His hand on my shoulder tightens
Just for a second
Warning me of the oncoming storm
I have to get out of there
Before I make it worse for myself
"Father, I'm not feeling well. May I go to bed?"
The monster grins down at me, nodding
"I'll be up soon."
I shake with fear at the promise
I cannot stop
I know what is coming, what he plans to do
Tonight I am ready
At last, the last guest leaves
Now, it comes. It is time
The monster charges into my room
I can't say I am not frightened
I am terrified
But tonight is it
Tonight, it all ends
He grabs me by the hair
Throwing me to the ground
His feet stomp and kick
I cannot help myself
The blows fall all over
Wilder than ever before
It is not long before I taste blood
My legs can no longer hold me
A broken, sobbing, bleeding mess
Laying weak and defeated at his feet
He drags me to my feet by my hair, then throws me aside
My head strikes the desk
Blood pours from the wound
Still, he is not done
He grabs me again, throwing me onto the bed
He comes at me again
This time I am ready
My hand closes around his straight razor
Surprise flashes in his eyes
He laughs and tries to take it from me
I am too fast
At once, the blade is deep in his chest
Again and again
The blade gleams red
At last, he falls to the floor
The blade falls from my hand
I kneel to meet his gaze
One last time
"I swear father, you will never hurt me again."
He tries to speak
The blood catches in his throat
Until at last, the light dims in his eyes
The monster's breath stills
His heart beats its last
I look up and catch sight of a face in the mirror
My beautiful mother, the horrors of our past gone from her face
She smiles out at me, waiting
I know I will soon be with her again
I am dying, but I don't care
I have won
At last, it is over
At long last
"Mum, we are free."