My late mother divorced my father when I was just six years old, leaving me to live with my father. So mother couldn't save me from the abusive family life like she saved herself. Since the divorce, my father constantly badmouthed my mother, claiming that the divorce was her attempt to be single again without me in her life. I was, he implied, an unwanted child for her. My father also constantly told me that I was a punishment sent by God for him – though he would later deny that he had said that.
The mental abuse went on for so long. I was blamed for things I didn’t precisely know some of the time. Once I had a cough for more than a month and instead of taking me to the doctor, he blamed me for falling ill. He hated spending money on things outside of food and education.
At 21, I had a breast tumor surgery in Yogyakarta. My father, who lived in Malang, didn’t visit me to avoid extra spending. He paid for my hospital bill, but not my housing rent, which is slightly more expensive than my hospital bill, because he didn’t want to spend extra money. I ended up paying for the rent myself using my scholarship money. Was he poor? No. His current asset is worth for more than Rp 3 billion.
Besides being neglected and blamed many times, I was also treated as his extension. He wanted me to be well educated so I could be a lecturer at a university in Malang, which he had dropped out of as a student. He dismisses my long interest in investment as well as my strong intuition in the field of property and asset management.
I made numerous efforts to reach a compromise between his wish and my dream. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t compromise. He insisted that I became whoever he wanted me to be. When I disagreed with him, he accused me of causing a scandal, while reminding me of his big sacrifice in raising me. In short, he was the best at playing victim.
I was trained to please him all the time. He would praise my achievements in front of his friends, but in private, he told me I needed to achieve more. He never complimented me personally.
I was deeply traumatized by men because of my relationship with him. I used to think every men would abuse me like my father did and I was devastated and insecure. At the same time, I kept thinking that I wouldn’t be able to survive without my father, and that I deserved to be abused by him. It took some counselling sessions before I could get over the trauma of having been raised by him.
Now, I have a happy and healthy marriage with one little daughter. My life is so much better without my father’s constant abuse, although he still tries to interfere in my marriage.
Do I hate my father? No. I know that he was abused as a child and that his only reference on child rearing is that it is done by being abusive. Besides, sometimes he showed his loving side by permitting me to make some mistakes. I still love him, but I also love myself. I know that I deserve respect as a human.
Nobody deserves to be abused. If you feel you are in a situation that I was in, please talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Get help. If you are still unsure about what you are experiencing, please read about domestic abuse. Just type the words and you’ll find numerous references about abuse in Google.
Abuse should not be part of education or child rearing. Abuse is a wound that has to be cured.
Nuki Mayasari is a graduate of the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies at Gadjah Mada University. She is now managing Waqia Foundation, a private organization aiming to provide bachelor scholarship for children in orphanages in Yogyakarta. For further information on Waqia Foundation, please visit www.facebook.com/waqiafoundation.