Can you still be a victim of child abuse at 32?

For the past nine years, well most of my life really, I’ve been dealing with my mother and her various addictions.  When I was a kid it was just pot, by the time I was a teenager she’d added pills into the mix.  At 14 I can remember checking to make sure she was still breathing.  When I moved out, into an apartment with my boyfriend, it moved into crack and heroin.  She kept those things secret from me for a long time, or maybe I just didn’t want to see it.  Sometimes I wish I could have stayed blind.

I got married at 23 and pregnant two months later.  During my pregnancy, my mother’s house was raided by the police, my stepfather was in jail, and we were battling to keep my mother out of jail and get her clean.  It was a futile battle of course, because you can’t force someone to stop using drugs.  Take it from me, you’ll make yourself crazy and run yourself down in the process.  I tried to detox my mother at home, cold turkey, from 10 bags of heroin a day.  I will talk more about that another time, I’m just not up for the emotional beating rehashing that would bring me.  Let it suffice to say that it took almost two years for her to get away from the needle and the catalyst was the death of my cousin.  My cousin was my age and killed in a car accident.  I think the shock of how she was throwing her life away as opposed to how someone who’s life had barely started had been stolen really shook her up.

She made it about a year, maybe 18 months.  She didn’t start using heroin again.  She started drinking.  Now you might think that this is an improvement.  And honestly, for a little while, it was.  But my mother is not a good drunk.  In fact, she’s a mean drunk.  She is a blackout drunk.

She ended up with a man just a few years older than me who fed her alcoholism.  Once he’d found his way in, he became abusive.  But only when they were drunk and only when no one that cared about her was around to see it.  She ended up with brain surgery because he’d beat her so badly she had bleeding on her brain and clots.  We just found out recently that all of her back pain is being caused by three fractures that didn’t heal properly.  He ended up spending time in jail for violating a PFA (protection from abuse) order against him.  The PFA was filed because after my mom threw him out of her house he kept breaking in.  He held her hostage (and we didn’t know it) for almost 36 hours at one point.  Smashing phones, disabling them, keeping her from leaving…that was all part of his MO.  But after this stint in jail, he was released in June, she managed to stay away from him and keep him away from her (at least that we were aware of).  That is, until this weekend.

I got a call on Sunday from my grandmother.  No one had heard from my mother or seen her car since early Saturday morning.  I, myself, had talked to her Saturday around 10 am.  That was the last contact anyone had had with her.  I went to the house and the dog and cat had not been fed, the place was a wreck, the mail had not been collected, and the back door left unlocked.  This was so out of character for my mother, even in during the worst points of her addictions, that we all very, very concerned.  After over an hour of called everyone on her caller ID and getting no results, my grandmother and I decided it was time to call the police.

We filed a missing persons report on Sunday at approximately 6 pm.  Then we waited.  We were worried that this ex-boyfriend had gotten her and hurt or killed her.  A very valid fear considering his past abuse and his family history.  At around 8:30 we, my husband and I, decided to get her dog and take her home with us.  My husband, my aunt, and I went back to her house.  A news crew was there and I did a quick interview in hopes that someone would know were she was or what had happened.  When we went into the house, it was obvious that someone had been there since we were there earlier.  Things were moved around, lights were off, the deadbolt had been locked, and the mess in the kitchen had been cleaned up.  Very disturbing since no one else has a key and my mother is still nowhere in sight.

We returned to my grandmother’s, called the police again, and waited.  Shortly after 10 pm my husband and I decided we needed to head home.  Our kids were here with a babysitter and I needed to get things ready for school the next day.  We gathered up the dog and went to the car.  As we were getting ready to pull out, didn’t my mother’s car pass us going down the hill.  We did a three-point turn in the middle of the hill and took off after it.  The car pulled in at my mother’s house and as soon as our car was stopped, I jumped out and ran to the driver’s side.

It was my mother.  She saw me coming and tried to back up and take off.  My husband jumped behind the car so she couldn’t go anywhere.  She refused to roll down the window and it only took a minute to realize why.  HE was with her.  I grabbed the door handle and yanked it open and began screaming at her.  She was so drunk I can’t imagine how she was able to drive.  After a few minutes of screaming, I let her go.  I was hysterical and completely out of control of my emotions.  She took off down the street without a backwards glance.  We put the dog in the house and went back to my gram’s.

We were able to stop the new report, thank God.  And after a call to the police to tell them what happened, they were on the lookout and ready to arrest both of them.  You see, even though the PFA was against him, because she was with him willingly she was also violating it.  Also, if they’d have caught her driving she would have been arrested for a DUI.  Somehow, though, she managed to get home before the police ever caught up with her.

So I have to ask myself, the roller coaster I was on…the fear, the worry, the anger, the hysteria…can that be considered child abuse?  I’m not a child anymore, but when faced with the possibility that your mother has been kidnapped or murdered you certainly feel like one.  There is obviously no doubt that she put our entire family through hell and all she had to say for herself was, well I was drunk and I thought it was still Saturday and then finally I thought I’d get away with it.

The excuses are getting old.  I’m getting tired.  I told her the next time I got a call about her drama, it would be when they called me because she was in the morgue.  Is that wrong?  I don’t know how much more I can take before her problems break me.  My own problems, mental and physical, from the abuse I’ve suffered at the hands of my father and my grandfather are debilitating enough.  I don’t think I can spend the next nine years as I have spent the last nine years–cleaning up her messes.

I don’t know.  The whole situation is fucked up.  Add yet another scar to my already damaged soul.


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