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Domestic Violence in Childhood: How the Devil is Reproduced and Repeated

My mother and I: she still teaches me how to behave in Japan

What do you do if you face a series of domestic violence as a child and later on see the similar patterns in your adulthood? Will you be able to disclose all that hurts? In the past, I tried to confide with my friends, but could not only because it was like taking risks—allowing myself exposed to rejections and judgment, and pain added to the pain already existed over the years--but also being a fragile and not equipped enough to defend myself.

At the age of 52, I finally start seeing some links between the experiences of domestic violence in childhood and that of adulthood—in short, the domestic violence in childhood have ruined most close relationships later on in my life. So what are the relations between the violence in the childhood and life in adulthood? How to overcome it? Repeated patterns of domestic violence may be boiled down to very basic questions: Were you (victim) protected when you were under attacks? Was there anyone in family who defended you when you were sick or defenseless? If you didn’t have anyone protecting you as a child, you are likely disabled to know how to defend yourself as well as defend others when you grow up. In sum, the end product of domestic violence in childhood is an emotional disability.

Let me outline my own experience as a victim of domestic violence. When I was seven-teen years old, one day my father introduced a new religion to the family. I did not join the religion while the rest of my family members accepted it. As a teen I felt that I should decide myself what religion is suitable for me. The reaction of my father, a scholar and a preacher who was known in Japan and U.S., and being fluent in Latin and translated numerous religious and linguistic books, was violent. The rest of the story was very painful. My father wanted me no longer stay home again because I refused to get involved in his religion; looking back, I still do not know his honest thoughts. What if I accepted it? I would have very different life now; probably my life would have been steady in Japan. Though I don’t know what my mental state would be. I knew the very bitter taste of intense criticism, anxiety, and frustration while I stayed with my father even long before.

My father was vigorous and diligent writer but made our home constant battle field where he frequently attacked us verbally and physically. Even the way the chopsticks arranged at the dinner table was good enough reason for bombast accusation that ruined family meal. Consequently, no one ever spoke against him at home, except for me. I was defiant at home. Mainly because his attacks continued whether I agree or disagree with him. It was as if nothing I did was good enough. But the rest of the family members—my mother and two sisters--did not speak out. They used to submit to him. The evils emerged through the preacher’s family of five, with constant mental battles like madness. I began developing serious stomachache daily vomiting after eating. Doctor said the cause of stomachache was “intense stress” but no one knew what to do. The low esteem developed seemed never to settle me comfortably with others. My father, being a respected in society, on the other hand, had easily dismissed my cry against his injustice. He used to claim that I was always “ineffective” and “irreverent”. It was significant that my sister, who is 2 years younger than me, developed schizophrenia only by being observant to the day to day battles. I say, it was a case of scape-goatism.

At the age of 18, I left home for Tokyo where I delivered newspaper and got scholarships to study at Tama Art University. Then I headed to California in the United States. Living in the United States without my family gave me a chance to forget the past and start personally developing myself—it was a time of healing. Interacting with people with different language and social background was not a gap to endure than the battles endured with my family. I landed on jobs as Japanese language teacher, food server and painter. I also enrolled and graduated Sociology and Communication courses at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Then I developed a company to paint interior/exterior murals at schools, restaurants, and private homes, as well as created training program for tourism and hotel customer services to assist international guests which lead me also to teach in community colleges and university extensions.

It was 24 years later finally I went back to see my family in Japan and spoke to my father. He was sick in bed. He was a thin man with a full gray hair hardly was recognizable from the day I left home at the age of 18. We had exchanged a few short conversations. He said “Sorry for what happened.” I said “That is OK.” It was neither hostile nor emotional. My mother used to tell me that “Your father was an orphan during the World War II and adopted by a German preacher, and used to be beaten brutally. He does not know how to express his emotions.” My father, who was then a university lecturer, lectured us at dinner table and even in bed with untouchable, exacting, and non-emotional manner. Soon he asked me to leave the house despite that I came back to see him from abroad after years of absence.

Then in 2006, I took the opportunity to a partnership of a non-profit organization in India and Nigeria. Meantime I was notified that my father passed away. I felt a relief—that the battle was over—and empty feeling for a loss, like a stranger. I could not cry. I felt guilty for feeling so numb because I never really was emotionally close to him. He was the very reason that I could not feel safe at home in Japan. He was the very reason I stayed in a foreign country for nearly 20 years.

Looking back, though the battle was not really over—I never seemed to express my emotion appropriately—like him. I had unexpressed anger within myself and equally strong fear for intimacy that kept my potential marriage partners away from me so that I won’t get hurt. My relationships usually went like this--times for awakening passion, prolonged heat of moments and unmistakable end—just like flowers blooming and withering during a season. And there were complaints that I did not love them. In case of the Nigerian fiancé, I took notice the continuous patterns that made me and my partner unhappy. Apart from the violence he committed against me, I could not tell the difference between abusive and loving expressions of my partner—and again the lack of my ability to be in touch with the very heart of the person. There were no “sharing,” “belongings” or “oneness”—while my heart was desperately seeking for it. The relation came to the dead-end where nothing can bring the relationship further than judging, and to be judged. I was always happy when my partner was away. My father was the same way. He did not want anyone around him. It was an invisible disability no one noticed and pointed out.

In 2012 I formed an organization called, Support Women and Children in Nigeria, or SWACIN Inc. This organization was created immediately after I returned to Japan. While operating non-profit organization, I love the every minute of work. Interestingly, I found those who go through similar pains I have gone through. When I accidentally helped Nigerians in prison, I found a common ground with them. Many Nigerians diaspora were criminalized in foreign countries without safety and comfort at home. In their own home land, the government continuously outwits the international community to get away with its loot reserved for the poor, creating the reasons to drive them away from home to the outside countries. I am very familiar with these phenomena in my own life. As I recall, my father continuously outwit the social norm with his elite identity to take away justice, which was reserved for me, and drove me away from home.

Thus, the passions—almost obsessive—to rescue Nigerians’ stigma is not my deliberate effort but the natural means to rescue myself. Take note that all this passion has nothing to do with the romantic endeavor, but the mental map that were built into me wrote such scenario unconsciously--The work I do is a personal resolution to repair my childhood.
After total 30 years of absence from my home in Japan, I now live with my mother at home peacefully at last--after my father’s death. I am blessed with numerous international friends, especially in Nigeria. Despite the police or government were incapable of rescuing me, those were the number of local women who helped me out of the violent Nigerian fiancé. I still have no intimate marriage partner, but I am just happy as I am no longer living on the verge of threats, fears, and endless criticism because the devil I fought internally and externally ceased to exist—at least for now. Those who encountered domestic violence as children need counseling in a non-judgmental setting, where they can talk about emotional issues freely. They need mental work-out to build trust with others, and need assurance that someone can defend them. Having someone who really care has the tremendous impact in one’s life. Such assurance helps them to do the same to others—and overcome oneself from an emotional wreck.

--As a Voices of Our Future Correspondent, I regret for those who expected me to depict all intricacy of taking leadership in Japanese community. Realistically speaking, I do not know how to represent people in Japan and help Japanese women. As a person driven away from home feeling unsafe at home and stayed in the United States many years, I am still trying to narrow down the gaps as I came back.

Though, having even one person understands my situation, gives me enormous comfort and empowerment. So do any persons. Thus, I suggest that we continue empowering and encouraging one another by sharing.

A small social gathering with the neighbor

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Comments

michellee's picture

thanks for sharing

Hi Hideko,

Thank you for sharing your powerful story. I am impressed with your insights into the patterns that emerged throughout your life as a result of your childhood trauma as well as your work to help others. It reminds me of these words from the poet Adrienne Rich:

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

I hope your story inspires others and I am glad you have finally found some sense of peace and home.

be well,

Michelle
World Pulse Technology Associate

Poet Adrienne Rich is very correct. Why is that we all strive to do something when we are helpless and vulnerable?
I cannot even increase the amount of hair or grow nails faster.

Yet his words touches the depth of your memory is powerful. The ability of words to also destroy but make persons alive is powerful. Let women to utter their pain and empower others.

Appreciate your resourceful comment and hope to hear from you again.

Hideko N.
Web site: http://www.swacin.com email: info@swacin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
Global Eco Talk Radio Show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swacin

Jennifer Faith's picture

You are strong

Dear Hideko,

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your story here. The insights that you have learned through your journey are invaluable and will help a lot of women. I can relate to your story because I also suffered abuse - mixed with religion. Nothing is more confusing than that. I was married to a religious man for 22 years who battered me the entire time. He is still serving at a local church - even though the church leadership knows I had to spend Mother's Day 2012 in a shelter for battered women. Through my journey out of the darkness I met a loving God who pursued me and told me that I was loved and accepted just the way I am. He gave me a message to share: "it is never God's will for you to be abused." An abuser like your father and my ex husband can preach all the sermons they want to, but God sees the heart. He knows the truth. He was there when you were being abused by your father and when I was being abused by my husband and I believe he was weeping with us. He knows our pain and he is the reason that we can be strong and healed. You are an inspiration and I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you very much, Jennifer

Unfortunately the story is not uncommon. This is the very good example that the religions can do real harm. Abusing and killing children is practiced in churches in Nigeria even today. So I founded non-profit organization and to help those victims.

If you like, you can visit our latest radio show we created on violence against children in Nigeria. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swacin/2014/04/14/global-eco-talk-show-gues...

Thank you again and very good knowing you.

Hideko N.
SWACIN Support Women & Children in Nigeria
Web site: http://www.swacin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
Radio Show on Global Eco Talk Show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swacin

EDIT REPLY

Dearest Hideko,

How grateful I am that you and I are in each other's 'orbits,' and that we continue to get to know each other as friends.

I am touched by your story and so glad that you have shared it; in sharing it you not only help others to come forward, but you also take another step toward self-healing, which you so sorely deserve.

You are so right that terrible cruelty is done and damage incurred in the name of religion. (And terrible damage is too often done to children by their parents.) So it has been for ages and so it will continue to be. Fortunately, the newest religious world of Interfaith or All Faiths is accepting of all paths while -- at least for me -- not accepting of any harmful or cruel or oppressive paths. As the Dalai Lama so famously said, "My religion is kindness." Amen to that! I hope mine is, too.

And so I send you ongoing love support, respect and admiration across the miles.

Talk to you soon,

- Sarah

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby

Hideko N.'s picture

Seriously YOU are welcome!

Sarah, the world God created seems never be predictable. When we think churches are the safest place, sometimes devils are there all over. When we think that only this church can understands me, they all turn against me and desert me while someone like yourself with different religious background reach out to give me warm support.

Yah, after all He knows the heart of the individuals, not outside, while we human beings constantly make wrong assumptions. Wouldn't that be great if we can just lean on Him and allow him to let things happen?

Hideko

jampa's picture

You nailed it

Dear Hideko,
This is truly a powerful story, thank you so much for sharing with us.
I am awe-inspired by your courage and brave soul for choosing to follow your heart even during the very hard condition and stayed in abroad and constantly involving with lots of great work. You deserve happiness and love. I can see that your radiant smiles while reuniting with your family, lots of blessings to you all !!
:)
Jampa

Hideko N.'s picture

Great to see you here!

Thank you Jampa! It has been sometime, hope all is well with you. I am still waiting for the right time to invite you to come to Japan. I was not constantly involved with lot of great works, Jampa. There were productive and unproductive times. We all go through times of difficulty in different ways. Let us stay in touch.

Love,
Hideko

Nusrat Ara's picture

Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your story. Loved your post. Keep writing.

Love

Nusrat

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you Nusrat, I read your

Thank you Nusrat, I read your "Education Delays Marriage for Dismayed Kashmiris Set on Wedding Young"--very intriguing--Thank you for sharing. I was in India for 2 years and saw the women's predicament. People have some prejudice against unmarried women around the world too but I am grateful for my present condition free from mental torture and global community frequently I engage in. Perhaps those women can learn to step into on-line community to know more about the world rather than sinking in the narrow social environment? Hideko N.

NTUGULO NABINTU's picture

THANKS

Thank you for sharing you story , god bless you my sister

IR NABINTU

Hideko N.'s picture

Merci pour la lecture et

Merci pour la lecture et l'écriture pour moi. J'espère que tout va bien avec vous. S'il vous plaît ne pas abandonner. Parfois, les choses sont difficiles et semblent impossibles. Dieu répond à ceux qui sont persistantes et obéissant. Hideko

trucker1's picture

domestic violence

Thank you for sharing

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you for your acceptance

As a victim of violence, acceptance in non-judgemental environment is very necessary in order to overcome fear for people. I guess I was generously accepted by the numerous people whether they know my past or not. That is why I can now come out so boldly talking about my terrible past. You are accepted genuinely because you accepted me--and wish to know more about you. Love, Hideko

trucker1's picture

thank you

Love Terri

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