My name is Danielle. I am 16 years old and a
student in Minnesota. I moved to another town also in MN on July 3rd, 2011 due to the things that occurred throughout my life living in that previous town. I grew up living with my mother
Stephanie, dad (Anonymous), older sister Samantha, and my younger brother Nicholas. My family was never functional. Before I was even conceived there were things wrong; my parents argued
consistently and were "off and on" in their relationship. Although I loved my family, as I grew older I began to notice something wasn't right about my parents' relationship. I was young and
vulnerable. I didn't understand what abuse was.
The first time that my younger brother and I
really got the concept of it was on a night that we walked into our living room after playing with our toys and saw our parents fighting. Their voices grew a lot louder and eventually they looked
like they were about to strangle one another. It was all so overwhelming and frightening that we were shocked to see that as our mom walked away from that disagreement, our dad threw a toolbox at
her back... hard. She was strong and even though she was hurt, she kept walking and left to go sit in her car that was parked in the garage. Nick and I became furious and hurt and we both cried and
yelled at him saying, "how could you do that to our mom?!?!" We also, left our house and sat in the car with our mom. That was a rough night. It's hard seeing a loved one hurt another person you
love. We were too young to see that kind of anger and violence.
We didn't experience any more violent
activity until a few years later. We had finally finished building our new house about 10 miles away from our original home. It was big, beautiful, and each of us kids had our own room. It was
wonderful until just months after the move, a lot more bickering began. I was in 5th grade when I understood things a lot more clear. I now knew what verbal, mental, emotional, and physical abuse
were. Night after night we would wake up to yelling in the middle of the night. My brother would come in my room and we would then both go into my sister's room. She was our saving grace. She
comforted us and tried to let us know that God would make things better soon. I prayed every single night. I relied on God to help us. But as the fighting got worse, I lost faith. I lost sight of
him. I felt like he was punishing me me for the littlest things such as, saying no to people when they ask me to help with a project, or having the TV too loud; unrealistic things to be punished
for. I became very OCD and had to have my room arranged perfectly, every volume level had to be on an even number, and I even had to shower in a certain order. It was tiring to think about
everything I did and made sure I did it right. Because if I didn't I felt like God was going to punish me and my parent's would fight. I feel silly looking back on it now. But it was a serious
matter to me at the time. It never helped though.
The yelling suddenly became things being
thrown and broken. My sister and brother were always a lot more courageous then me. They would get involved and risk their safety to break up the fights. Soon after, my dad began to resent my
sister. He put her on a tight leash and would hardly talk to her unless it was about something she did wrong. She took her frustration with him out on all of us by blocking us all out of her
personal life. My brother and I no longer had our saving grace. She couldn't have done that at a worse time. There was now a lot more abuse of all sorts going on daily between my parents and also
between my dad and sister. The physical abuse was the scariest. By the summer after 5th grade we had seen my dad hit my mom, smack her around, pull her hair, and threaten her. It consumed most of
my thoughts. "What was I going to deal with when dad gets home tonight?", I had asked myself on a daily basis. On a summer day I went to play with my cousin at her house. She lived about a block
away from me so we were always finding new hobbies to take up. Our favorite thing to do was jump on her trampoline. We played Avatar the Last Airbender on the trampoline a lot. We would jump high
and pretend like we could move things with our minds like they do on the cartoon. One of the neighbor boys our age came over and told me I should go home because "there's bad things going on
there". I was embarrassed and scared. I didn't want to go home because I had a feeling I knew what was going on . But I did anyway. He rode his bike along side of me while I walked. He gave me a
preview of what I was headed into. He said, " Your parents were fighting, your grandparents came over, and your sister got involved with the fight. Your dad got really angry and grabbed her hair
and held her halfway out of a two-story window by it". I was sickened and felt nauseous. My grandma was waiting for me on the driveway and brought me inside to give me the details of what happened.
The house was quiet that night. The summer continued being full of tension at home. And the more abuse we saw, the more we grew scared of our own father.
My 6th grade year started off friendless; my
best friend moved to Florida during summer break. I had to make new ones but the ones I made lied to me and deceived me. The only positive thing about that year what my teacher. She always knew
when something was going on. She pulled me out of class during quiet work time and asked what was wrong. We would talk about my home life but not a lot because I knew she was a mandated reporter
and I could've gotten taken away from my family if I would've gotten too detailed. It was hard going to school and hate it because I was alone. But it was harder to go home, not have anyone to talk
to, and not know how bad it would be that night. I feared for my life sometimes. My brother did too. So we would have "sleepovers" in my room and I would be nice and let him sleep on my bed while I
slept on the floor. One night after my mom got done fighting on the phone with our dad, she came into my room to say goodnight. She kept saying how much she loved us and never wanted us to be
unhappy. She told us how strong we were and how sorry she was for everything that had happened. She told me I was beautiful and that Nick was handsome and that she wanted us to have a happy future.
We were so confused why she was getting this emotional. She kissed us goodnight and went to watch TV with my sister. Our dad was working the late shift so we were glad that we'd get some good
sleep. We talked for a half hour or so. But then we heard my sister screaming so we jumped up and ran to the living room where she was crying and saying, "Mom wont wake up!!!! We need to call 911!"
While she was on the phone, I went over to where my mom was laying on the couch. As tears poured down my face, I shook her vigorously, trying to wake her. I thought she was gone forever. It was one
of the scariest and most heart-breaking moments of my life. The ambulance rushed my mom to the ER. She was going to live but she had overdosed on sleeping pills, trying to commit suicide. She felt
like her life didn't matter anymore. But after all, that's what she was being told by this person who was supposed to love her. Once she arrived at home again, things were a little better with our
On a Friday night, mid-school-year, my
sister was going to a movie with her friends. She got home later that night and my dad asked what what the movie was about. She told him that they were late to the movie so they went bowling
instead. He started to accuse her of lieing to him about their plans and tried to grab her purse from her hands. As as reaction, she pulled away and he got angry. He slammed her head into our front
door window and it shattered all over her head. My mom, brother, and I were all drenched in tears by the end of it all. I was baffled. My life was falling apart. My sister moved out the next day to
go live with her best friend. At 17 Sam was on her own and we saw her about 3 times throughout 2 years of not being allowed to see her. Now my brother and I were truly on our own. My parents'
fights were so much worse after that. We woke up in the middle of the night to my mom screaming and then a lot of yelling. Nick would try to break it up as often as he could. By the time 7th grade
approached me, our dad had called our mom every bad name in the book, emphasized that she was worth nothing, cut off all contact to her side of the family for all of us, hit her, choked her, ripped
hair out of her head, pushed her, kicked her, held weapons up to her, and my brother and I saw it all. It was official, we were traumatized. My mom left by herself for a
When she came back we thought things would be better but they weren't. The same stuff continued day in, day
out. I finally made some good friends that year. My best friend, Emily lived 2 and 1/2 blocks away from me. We always were hanging out. Her parents knew mine from a long time ago. Her family was,
and still is, like a second family to me. 8th grade crept up on me and my family was dysfunctional as always. The abuse continued and things were rough. But we pulled through the year and made it
to the summer after 8th grade. Another huge fight happened and my mom, brother, and I moved into a shelter for abused women and their children. It was our second time being there; the first time my
sister was with too. They teach you about abuse and share a lot of stories about abused women. They try to keep the kids as happy as possible through the tough times. Later in the summer, my mom
went back to my dad even though we begged her not to. My life was a cycle. My parents fought, fought on a worse level, broke up, made up, and then repeated.
Emily was very generous and let me stay there whenever things got bad. Throughout those 3 months of break I was
seeing an off and on boyfriend that had cheated on me. But I was so desperate to not be alone that I still wanted to date him. My parents hated him after they found out he cheated on me. I didn't
care and snuck around to hang out with him. We went to a skate park one day and no one was there. It was fun until he started pulling moves on me. I told him to stop and said I didn't want to kiss
him. He got angry and grabbed my wrists, lifted them above my head, and slammed them on the fence behind me. He held them there while he told me through his teeth, "Shut up and don't ever back talk
to me again!" It hurt and he wouldn't stop so I kicked him where it hurt most. I ran to where my brother and cousin were hanging out. That was the end of that relationship. I learned what I was
worth and gave myself standards for guys.
My freshman year at the big high school began and I already had a bad reputation. A group of boys decided to
spread rumors about me. It definitely knocked my self-esteem down a point or two. Everyone thought I was someone I wasn't. It was difficult to get through but I did. My parents argued on a
consistent every other week for a week straight basis. I kept track. A night in March of 2010, my dad had been drinking heavily and I awoke to my mom screaming. I heard my brother run downstairs
and they were all yelling and my mom and brother slammed the door on their way outside and drove off as fast as possible. I was still there. They left me inside this house with my drunk, enraged
father. I knew it was really unsafe for me to be inside that house and so I used my common sense. I quietly got out of my bed, grabbed my purse, cell phone, phone charger, and any other
necessities. I stuck everything in my purse and went in my closet. I shut the door tightly but silently. My closet was the size of a small room so I wasn't smashed in a small space or anything. But
it was still uncomfortable and I was scared. I sat in there for about 25 minutes figuring out what I should do. I was calling and texting people that lived near me to see if I could run over there
and go inside because it was cold. I stopped everything I was doing because I heard him coming upstairs. The closer he got to my room, the faster my heart beat. He opened my bedroom door and looked
around for a while. He walked out, shut the door behind him, and went downstairs again. Once I was sure he was down there again, I continued calling people. It was worthless... I was screwed. No
one was answering. Neither my mom nor brother had cell phones so I had no way to contact them.
After 55 minutes of sitting in the closet, a miracle happened, my mom called me off of a hotel room's phone.
She told me I had to grab whatever I needed, and to run out of the house and keep running until I got over by Emily's house where she would pick me up. I was scared to death to even step foot out
my room. But I gained the courage and I did it. I slept in the hard hotel bed listening to "Pursuit of Happiness" by Kid Cudi all night long. That song was on repeat for weeks. After a few nights
in the hotel, we moved into the shelter again. Where I was unhappy and wanting my own house with my own bed. My mom searched for apartments in the area. I knew this was for real this time. I would
never have to go back there, except to get all of my belongings. She found a really nice apartment close to my school and we moved in shortly after. It took a while to get our stuff from our dad's
house because we had to find a time that would work for my mom, dad, and a police officer to mediate the situation. We got a lot of harassing and threatening phone calls from him after that. He
even directed a lot of it at me. He called me terrible names. I chose to not see him or speak to him after that. My brother still would talk to him and even would go spend the night there
During my 10th grade year I saw 3 therapists that helped me deal with everything that happened. I appreciate
how much they helped me to grow and better as a person. They really helped me learn how to stop holding grudges over the past. It truly made a difference in myself and the way I saw life. A year
after moving into our apartment we decided it wasn't far enough from my dad because he still was finding ways to harass us. So we moved to a small town about 47 miles from there. Nicholas chose to
stay there and live with his dad where his friends were. It was hard to leave him behind not knowing how his life with our dad would be but as far as my mom and I, we are much happier and a lot
stronger. We are now nearing the 2 year anniversary of our departure and start to our better life. We still get texts and phone calls from my father that make us uneasy, especially since he found
out our adress somehow. It make us want to move even further away so we don't have to worry about him showing up here and making a big mistake. But overall we're free of the negative.
And now I want to turn my terrible experience into a great thing. I want to start a charity/organization to
help end abuse for women, children, and even the few men that are abused. I've been homeless, I've been in the place of having only one outfit to wear for a week straight, I've been scared to go
home, I've felt the pain of being in an abusive environment; I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did. I don't want any other child seeing what I saw. I want to make this world a better
place and stop domestic and child abuse. If you feel you want to help, the best thing you can do is spread the word! Get this story to well known people who are very involved in charities like
Ellen DeGeneres, the Kardashians and Jenners, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith, George Clooney, Lady Gaga,
& more! It would help so much if even just one or two of them got involved. We CAN make this world a place that's easier to live in. Nothing is impossible. Thanks for reading everyone!
© Copyright 2016 DanielleSarff. All rights reserved.