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Photo illustration by Mira Jang, L.A. Youth Archives

When L.A. Youth published essays about students who had suffered through domestic violence, many readers wrote in about their own experiences. We publish their stories here, without revealing names, to draw attention to this common problem.

When I was between 4 and 10 years old, my father used to argue with my mother and sometimes beat her up. It was such an awful feeling because there was nothing that you could have done to prevent them from fighting. This was occurring just about every day. I was getting very tired and I was even afraid to cry. This just got really bad as time passed, until I decided to call the police. I understand the kid that couldn’t call the police, because it’s hard to grab the phone and condemn your own father, but there is another part of you that sees what that father is doing, and a time comes when you automatically call for help.

I received help (counseling) for about six months. I just want to let those kids that wrote the articles know that there are people out in the world that understand what they went through, or what they are going through.
—Name withheld

It started with a party. My mom and my stepdad were outside having a good time with their friends, while I was inside watching my sister. My drunken stepdad stormed in the house, grabbed his coat and was grunting. A couple of hours later I put my sister to sleep and then slowly drifted off myself.

I remember in the middle of the night I heard something on my way to the bathroom. I peered into my mom’s room and I saw two figures standing. I thought nothing of it. While I was using the bathroom I heard another noise, and then when I walked past my mom’s bedroom again I saw two figures laying on top of each other. Then I heard a familiar voice say, "If I can’t have you, no one can."

I ran to my room and pulled the covers over my head and prayed. I woke up to my mom covered in blood and a whole bunch of cops and people going through my house. Then I saw my stepdad being carried off on a stretcher. The next morning my mom explained that the night before at the party she had been dancing with another man and my stepdad got mad and left.

He came back that night and woke her up by putting a knife to her throat. He was telling her she was his while he was slitting both of their wrists. He was putting all sorts of drugs and medication into both of their mouths and then started to cut my mom’s face and neck. He told my mom that after he was done with her, my sister and me were next. But before he could do any damage he passed out from all the drugs.

A dead body was found and was identified as the man my mom had been dancing with. My step dad is in prison for life.
—Name withheld

My dad used to get drunk and beat my mom for no reason and he hit me for no reason, too. I know what that girl was feeling in that moment. I have been there so I know. I used to think that I was the only one with that problem.
—Name withheld

It all began in his room underneath his covers. He slept every night but couldn’t sleep deep in a magical world called "dream." There was always a sloppy, blood-eyed monster that barged in through the front door and beat his mother until she cried and desperately begged for mercy. This drunken man had not pity or mercy and it seemed like the cries made him powerful and mischievous, like a king from Hell. The only person that can help this desperate mother is her only son who is terrified of confronting his worst nightmare. He is tiny compared to his father and his father would squish him like a roach.

He dialed three numbers and soon everything came to an end.

My mother has told me similar experiences. Just the thought of it makes me angry and ready to take revenge. I want to cry when my mother tells me how close she was to death and how many times she wished she were dead. Before she can finish she nearly chokes on her own tears. I hold my sorrow and tears inside, stay strong and solid like a rock.
"Someone has to stay strong in every story. Not everyone can be weak," I always say to myself.

I guess the young boy is the hero of the story, in mine, my mother is. She saved herself and her children from the villain and his family who praised him like slaves.
—Name withheld

I have been abused, mostly physically. The only one was my mom. She would abuse my dad and threaten to kick him out and it was my job to beg him to stay. It was my mom who wanted him to leave; he never wanted to leave me behind.

When I was 11 years old, he died of cancer. That’s when the abuse started. One day while getting my hair combed my mom found my wet hairbrush. She hit me in the nose with a closed fist and dragged me to my room. Minutes later my nose was bleeding really badly, but she didn’t care. She still sent me to school.

She also hit me in the face and broke my glasses, just because I was resting my head on my boyfriend. I’m not the only child, but she only abuses me. I have an older brother and younger sister. She doesn’t do anything to them, but when it comes to me she takes it too far. I don’t want to live a life where I am the victim, but it seems that’s what’s going on.
—Name withheld

I myself have had a couple of experiences with violence, though none really compare with the girl’s experience in the essay. The one that affected me the most was when my father was assaulted and battered by five men. He was hospitalized for a couple of weeks and it took him a couple more to recuperate. From then on, I never left the house without at least one kind of weapon with which to defend myself. To this day, I always carry something and I know that one day I will regret it.
—Name withheld

Domestic violence affects many families from all different backgrounds. If you are in trouble or know someone who is, you don’t have to deal with it alone.

Call for help
Break the Cycle: (888) 988-TEEN

Teen Line:
(310) 423-4673
Call between 6 and 10 p.m. to speak with
a teen counselor.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE