John has always been a person who loves technology. He is employed as a software engineer at a very reputable company. At a young age he learned how to program computers and ended up making that hobby into a side job in which he earned additional income. He had visions of fully automating the house and liked to collect gadgets.
When we moved into our new house the one thing he wanted to purchase was a new television. He researched and ended up purchasing a Smart television and really enjoyed all of the little “extras” that he could do on the TV. It was undoubtedly his favorite part of owning a new house. Many of the hours he spent in the house were spent in front of the new television.
James had been taught not to go near his father’s television. It was , after all, his prize possession. At times I joked with John that he likes his television more than he liked the rest of us.
Quinn, on the other hand, was very young and had yet to learn some of the limits that we set in the house. I’m not sure if you have ever touched an LCD screen on a television, but if you were to do so you would learn that it kind of blends the colors together and creates a very fun visual experience. One day when I was making lunches, 15 month old Quinn discovered this when she touched her fathers television screen.
I wasn’t sure what had happened when I first heard John scream, “Quinn! No!” but when I turned to face them I saw her touch the television screen a second time. And then my heart stopped. John grabbed my tiny little baby girl by each of her wrists, pulled her towards his face and started screaming. His nose was almost touching her nose. The hands that were holding her wrists were pulling her back and forth.
My instincts kicked in. Ignoring the flash of fear that was engulfing me, I ran over to them yelling, “Stop! What are you doing?! Get your hands off of her!!” I scooped her up off the ground and yelled, “What are you thinking?!” John looked at me in shock. He looked as if he had no idea why I was so upset. “She needs to learn not to touch the TV”.
I took both of the kids into the other room and made sure I didn’t leave them alone with John for the rest of the day. I was distraught that he had lost his cool with her. I was terrified that he didn’t see anything wrong with his behavior. There had been plenty of moments by this time in our relationship that I wondered if he’d cross the line and purposefully hurt me. This was the first time it occurred to me that he might purposefully do something to my children.
Years later when I was having an argument with John and explaining to him the reasons I wanted a divorce, I brought up this incident. I reminded him how he showed me he was capable of losing his cool and hurting our children. He screamed at me, “I didn’t lose my cool! I did that on purpose so she wouldn’t do it again!”. On purpose. He grabbed my fragile 15 month old daughter’s wrists…. shook her… screamed in her face…. on purpose…. because she touched his television. How could a television hold more value to him than his daughter? The way he said it was like he was defending his actions. As if it was so much better that it was a purposeful choice rather than him losing his cool. ABUSE IS A PURPOSEFUL CHOICE. It’s a choice. If you are reading this please take that message away from this entry. There are no excuses…. there is no way to shift the blame…. because it is a choice, and you deserve better.