Everyone has that friend that growing up is very quiet. He has friends and is very social, but no one knows what his personal life is like. Allow me to tell you the story of my childhood friend. To tell the whole copious story I have to start from the beginning. His name is John. He was a normal kid. He had friends; he played sports and studied hard in school. He was very outgoing and always needed something to do. John as a kid was barely home; it almost appeared like he was raising himself. We would always ask him questions about his family but all he would say was he is the only child and he lives with his mother and father.
No one knew he was battling his own demons. One Friday after school I decided to go John’s house to pick him up to go to the movies and just hang out. It was a normal just like any other day I go there. I was never allowed inside the house so I just stood in the hallway waiting for John to meet me. I always found it weird that I was so close to his house and could only use my imagination to figure out what goes on inside. But this day was different. As I was waiting in the hallway a grumpy mysterious man with an upset look on his face approached the door and began staring at me sitting on the staircase.
The look he gave me was cold almost as if he was punching me with his eyes. He then goes in his pocket and pulls out a set of keys and unlocks the door and walks in. Almost instantaneously a yell occurs. It is the man yelling where is my food. That was nothing compared to what came next. I heard the most degrading and upsetting things ever imaginable. “You good for nothing Bit**, you been here all day and you couldn’t even make dinner. ” Followed by more insults and then a big loud bang. At this point I thought John is not coming out he just got a beat down.
All of the sudden in between loud noises I hear. ” Ok I’m sorry, I’ll make you some thing now in ten minutes. To my surprise I hear “see you later dad, I love you. ” A minute later John comes out and says, “Hey man how you doing? What movie are we watching today? I was speechless and asked if everything was ok and he replied, “Yeah, why, what do you mean? ” I know I heard noise and arguing, but John was not worried at all. In fact he said, “Oh that, that is nothing it happens all the time. ” His reaction to an altercation between his parents was confusing. It was almost as if it was really normal.
I was sure that what I heard was not safe or normal. I guess that was the normal milieu of which he grew up watching every day. John came out of his house one minute after an incident occurred between his parents with a smile and excited about our adventure. There was clearly a lack of emotional development. His parent’s actions did not impact him at all nor did he try to place himself in his mother shoes showing no empathy. Eventually I decided that if it didn’t affect him considering it was his mom, then why should I care. Time went by and I never noticed anything else.
John got a girlfriend that he really seemed to like. They spent nearly every day together. As a friend at times I got a little jealous that he no longer had time to play basketball with me. One day I saw his girl friend with another guy. I called John and told him he came right away and personally caught them in the act. We were on our way to my house to talk about it, and things got a little weird on the way. He began to sob and rage began to build up inside him. Suddenly he stopped and said he was going to his house, and we said goodbye. A few years pass, now we were in college.
John hasn’t had many girl friends since the last one. Not because he couldn’t, but because he didn’t want to. He was independent, responsible and very focused on school. Out of nowhere showed up John’s high school crush. She was brave and very determines to go on a date with John. Eventually they did and they both fell in love soon after. They were in a relationship for about 3 (three) years. I remember him telling me that they would be together forever and that what he likes about her is that she does whatever he says. I found that weird so I said, “You mean whatever you ask her to? He said, “No whatever I tell her to. ” I would ask him if I could go to his house and hang out, but he would reply no.
This is where I began to notice a pattern. He was replicating what he saw growing up. I would see his partner and ask her if everything was ok, but she would say yeah and walk away. One day I saw her with a black eye. I was worried and asked her to have some coffee with me and explain what happen or I would report it to the police. Fearfully she agreed. She explained that she loves him and it was an accident. That she is afraid of what might happen if John see’s her with me.
So I quickly said goodbye after I told her how special she is and how every man should value a woman. I tried to give her motivation to change. I distantly followed her to her house. I waited a bit, then went upstairs and stood in the hallway, dejavu. Tragically the fear of possibly getting caught in a lie made her confess to meeting with me. The idea that his good friend might see him different and the betrayal of his girl friend enraged John. I pull out my phone and start the recorder app. This is what I catch, “I’m sorry, BANG! ” instant silence. I call 9-1-1. The hardest thing I ever had to do.
It appears that for this situation watching how his father treated his mom, and being ok with it rubbed on and became acceptable behavior. This could have been studied through cause and effect. Witnessing domestic violence at a young age being the cause and John growing up and imitating what he saw being the effect. By John experiencing and being exposed to domestic violence his personality development took off. It became the norm; he must have believed that all men were like his father and himself. He lacked a male role models’ imprinting on how to treat a woman, more specifically the woman you love.
Joyce Slayton Mitchell, College to Career (New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1986) 194.