Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

May 07, 2010

stuck in daddy’s car

Norma is 29 and every year when it's time to renew her vehicle registration and insurance she remembers an incident that happened to her when she was three years old that psychologically damaged her.

"I was a perfectly normal and beautiful baby," says Norma, "but I developed a terrible fear of my father - and men generally - that remains with me today because of what he did to me when I was little."

"I was only three years old when it happened," explains Norma.

"I remember my father taking me to town with him and leaving me alone in the car while he did some business," says Normal

"I was alone in that car for most of the day," says Norma, "and I remember feeling scared and lonely and hungry and thirsty and cold - and I desperately wanted to use the toilet, too."

"My dad had warned me not to get out of the car because he won't come looking for me if I'm not there when he comes back," says Norma, "so I stayed put like a good girl."

"My dad had parked the car in a deserted alley and nobody passed by."

"When I couldn't hold myself any longer I tried to get out of the car to go to the toilet in the alley," says Norma, "but I couldn't open the doors."

"I had to wet myself and I remember crying with shame and wondering what my mother will say when I come home with wet pants."

"After that I got terribly bored and started looking around for something to play with."

"All my dad had in the car was a lot of papers so in my innocence - not knowing how important they were - I started drawing on them and then I tore my pictures out and put them in a row on daddy's seat so he would see them when he got back."

"It was dark by the time dad got back and I was asleep," says Norma

"He woke me up with a shout and a slap to my face that was so hard I thought my head had fallen off."

"He was raving on about his papers and what an idiot kid I was to tear them up."

"I was terrified."

"All the way back home he shouted and swore at me."

"The more I cried the more he shouted at me."

"When we got home my mother took one look at me and screamed at my father - 'what have you done to her'!'"

"Apparently my face was covered in blood and I was shivering with fear even though it was summer."

"Mom took me to hospital and I can't remember much after that," says Norma, "but there was no damage - just a cut and a big bruise where dad had slapped my face."

"When mom and I got home my father was working in the shed," says Norma. "I think he stayed there all night."

"He always slinks away to the shed when he can't bear to face family life."

"I suppose he is lucky not to have been charged with child abuse."

"I am OK," says Norma, "it's all over and in the past now but my face actually stings when I think about it."

"These days it is a crime to leave a small child alone in a car - let alone hit them," says Norma, "and a good thing too!"

"There were lots of other incidents during my childhood when my dad lost his temper," says Norma, "but nothing was a bad as the day he put me through hell in the car when I was only three."

"I guess I am stuck with the legacy of my father's anger for the rest of my life."

"Funny thing," laughs Norma, "I found out much later in life what the papers were that I had destroyed - they were the car's registration and insurance papers."

"Dad wasn't drunk when he hit me - he wasn't a drinker - so what I experienced was his pure anger," says Norma, "and while I saw him angry lots of times after that experience, it was never as bad as that day in the car. I suppose it was just an outburst he couldn't control."

"Mom must have known about dad's bad temper and I sometimes wonder why she allowed him to take me to town with him that day - especially without packing something for me to eat and drink and play with."

"I've remained close with mom - even though I hate visiting and seeing my dad," says Norma, "but I haven't asked her any questions about the incident and told her how much it still affects me."

"I suppose they both think I was too young to remember it."

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