My 6 1/2-year-old daughter is the most precious person in my life. This Father’s Day it will be four years since my daughter’s mother left me. I came home one day and they were gone. They were hiding in a battered women’s shelter. I had made my girlfriend’s life miserable. There was nothing she could do right. I’d yell and call her degrading names. I also got physical with her. I was a jerk.
I’d like to say that my daughter has not witnessed any of my controlling and abusive behavior toward her mom but I’m sure she has. Kids are smart. They are aware of what’s going on even if you don’t think they are.
A permanent protection order prevents me from communicating with her mother. My daughter sees that mom and dad can’t talk with each other. It’s confusing to her. She asks, “Why can’t you and mommy live together?” I’ve told her it’s because I was not very nice to her mother. She gets defensive and says, “Yes, you were.” I say, “No, mommy and I are in agreement. I was mean to your mother. She has good reason to stay away.”
My ex-partner is an excellent mother. Because of my violence, I can’t share with her the concerns and joys I experience about our little girl. We don’t go to our daughter’s events together. We talk through an intermediary. She is terrified of me and rightly so. I have created this mess and I have to respect her wish to have no contact with me. Why should she? I have hurt and terrified her.
I get involved with my daughter. I even play Barbie with her. Some people think it is goofy, but I love it. My favorite times are playing with her, coloring, using Play-Doh. It makes me feel like a kid again. I feel like we are connecting on the same level. It’s wonderful. It’s hard to explain.I have been in a Men’s Domestic Violence Batterers Group for two years. I just grew up figuring that the beliefs I had about being entitled to control and abuse women was the way it was supposed to be. Maybe this article will help others.
Now, as I try to change my attitudes and beliefs, it’s a frustrating situation to see my friends acting like jerks to women. I tell them that I go to a domestic violence class and give examples of myself but I’m not too successful. No one has yet said, “Yeah, I do that too.” What I am really proud of is that I can now be a better example for my daughter on how a dad and husband ought to act. I can be a better role model for guys. I don’t want my little girl to grow up and marry some asshole.