Posted by Dear Skin at 01:57

Nastavno na temu STOP nasilju u obitelji, večeras Vam My Cup of Beauty ima puno toga za ispričati i poručiti...

It was incredibly hard for me to write this post. But abusive mothers rarely get the credit they deserve. The subject is hard to think about, as I still feel so infuriated and tremendously sad that most people didn’t believe me, or tried to dismiss or diminish (odbaciti ili umanjiti) what I was going through at the time.

Why should I write anything? It’s not as if it’s going to help me now. Or my loved ones to whom it matters; or the dead ones who were powerless to stop it at the time it was happening. But I hope my words will make a difference to maybe just one single person out there. I’m writing in memory of my father and as a thank you to those who helped me to come out of it alive and sane - not just existing.


My MOTHER was my abuser. There, I said it. Just as I said it so many times in the past in so many different ways to so many people. Only to have my heart broken every time and my hope die a little. “There is nothing we can do.”  Or: “You shouldn’t say these things about your mother. She’s a single mother and doing the best she can.” (Pedagogue woman at school told me this!) If that was the best, I’d hate to see the worst! In other words, I was labelled as a very ungrateful and unhelpful daughter at least.

She was a single mother because Dad left to save his sanity, his future and himself, when his red fog cleared and he realised what she’d reduced him to. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad trying to defend himself (I wasn’t more than two years old at the time). He left so he wouldn’t kill her. He tried to get me out of it, too: he had a boxful of papers to prove it to me 20 years later, because he knew I would ask him: “Why!!! didn’t you get me out of that hell!??!?” It still wasn’t enough to get me out of there. Because the state and laws protected and preferred mothers as custodians of children. And because of unbelievably un-educated professionals and the unhealthy attitude of ordinary people who wouldn’t or couldn’t believe that mothers would be capable of beating and verbally abusing their child. Personally, I found the Balkans of my youth to be a place where it was “normal” to slap a bit. Shout a bit. Call your loved ones names and tell them they are stupid imbeciles. Because, maybe some of our parents were raised in such situations. And they don’t know anything else. Or any better. They learnt it from their parents. That is my opinion, based on my experience and the mentality of the people around me when I was growing up. You don’t have to share it.

Jer Bozja zapovijed kaze: Postuj oca i majku da dugo zivis i dobro ti bude na Zemlji. (Because the Lord said: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.)

I’ve heard those words very often from my mother. Mother is supposed to love you no matter what. She’s supposed to be your safe haven. Your comfort and your support. A lot of mothers are, but mine wasn’t. And weirdly, sometimes she was ok. But her behaviour was very inconsistent - something incredibly damaging for a child. Or anyone, for that matter, but especially a child whose personality is forming, as they learn how to socialise and how to think. There should be safe routines, definite rules and loving: some consistency. But they aren’t always there.

Here are some of the things that may sound very familiar. From: http://www.understanding-child-abuse.com/abusive-mother.html

“…The Characteristics of Abusive Mothers
  • Constant criticism
  • Labeling (name calling and insults)
  • Always dominating the conversation
  • The need to have the last word
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Using force as an act of degrading
  • Threats of rejection
  • Threats of abandonment
  • Placing guilt on to the child (emotional blackmail)
  • Incapable of feeling guilt
  • Blaming the child (it’s your fault, if it weren’t for you…)
  • Using rewards and punishment as a tool of manipulation
  • Use gifts as a tool of manipulation
  • Invading privacy
  • Refusing to give privacy appropriate for the child’s age and development
  • Silent treatment (ignoring)
  • Underestimating their child’s talents skills and abilities
  • Refusing to acknowledge any accomplishment such as sport or academic achievements
  • Refusing to apologize
  • ‘You own me’ mentality….I feed you, clothe you, put a roof over your head
  • Say negative things to relatives and friends about the child
  • Embarrass their children
  • Demand unconditional love
  • Demand respect
  • “I’m always right” (and never wrong) mentally
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Treat other siblings or other children kindly to reinforce that you don’t deserve to be loved, treated kindly or respected …”

I could give you so many examples of every single point here. But, I won’t. Use your imagination instead.

Signs of abuse to watch out for have been given by Martina in her post (link). I would like to add one or two more:

  • stuttering = mucanje,
  • twitching = (grčevito) trzanje
  • body posture (pognuta ramena i spustena glava)
  • irregular breathing (extreme cases)
  • aggressiveness towards other people (maybe) weaker than themselves
  • inability to make decisions and always questioning themselves because of a lack of self-confidence.

Look for combinations of all those signs we wrote about. And listen, for crying out loud, listen and help those people in any small way you can! You just might save their life.


So how did I persevere and survive after the police told me and my father that they couldn’t do anything because there were no witnesses when my mother beat me? My half-dressed body full of bruises, my hugely distressed state of mind, my lack of glasses and wristwatch were not enough evidence. I had ran out of the flat in desperation, at around 10.30pm, to save my life, because I could see in her eyes that she was going to beat me to death if I didn’t. My uncontrollable shaking, teeth-chattering and soul-wrenching sobs were not enough. NONE OF IT WAS ENOUGH. I was 18 then. I’m 37 now. It happened just about 19 years ago. It was the night before my Biology test. Wednesday night.

The lady doctor wrote a little note of what she’d seen and what she’d treated me for that god-awful Wednesday night. Dad kept the note and tried to use it as leverage to stop my mother beating me again. I don’t know or remember what. I wasn’t there when he talked to her.


I knew then that I was entirely on my own. That ‘nobody cared’. That NO HELP will ever come. That I had to help MYSELF, because nobody else will do it for me or with me. I knew then that it was entirely up to me to fight for myself and survive each day.

I realised that I had to pick my battles carefully, to win my war for survival. That I had to keep my mouth shut, if there was no benefit for me in talking back to her. Keep secrets from my mother and lie to protect myself. To try to keep close to the truth, because she’d beat me for lying, of course and it was easier to keep track of fewer lies (I had undiagnosed thyroid problems then, so had bad short-term memory).
I tried not reveal too much, so as not to give her weapons to use against me.

I was switching off and ‘travelling’, making plans inside my head to escape the depressing life I was trapped in. Daydreaming about the future and a better life. One day it would happen. I took comfort from kind people and small positive things wherever I could. I spent a lot of the time at the local library reading anything useful (popular and proper science and psychology stuff) – plus any half-decent romance story in books or magazines. That’s how I learned how, ideally, people are supposed to treat each other. Mother taught me how they shouldn’t J.

My humour is darker than a Black Hole. I listened to the music to stop crying and keep myself going. Queen was always brilliant, just the sheer energy of Freddy’s voice was incredibly uplifting. And of course The Animals: We gotta get out of this place. I didn’t care about the other words: I just had to get out of that place! J

And I eventually started fighting back. I would hit her back if she hit me. I would try to prevent her from hitting me by grabbing her arms or hands with all the strength/adrenaline I could muster. (If you do that, mind your legs, especially if your mother wears clogs [klompe]!) I stayed away from home as much as I could, by being at university or the library. The local vicar had a room where I could study in peace and sleep off the stress because I was incredibly exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically. She wouldn’t let me sleep and have a rest, like the rest of the normal teenage population.

I listened to my instincts, my common sense and logic (thank you, Dad!) and tried to rationalise what and why and how I should do things, or what to say. I tried to predict her words and behaviour and adjust mine accordingly ahead of time, to ‘reduce the impact’. And I trusted nobody but myself. Sad, but true. I knew I could only rely on myself.


In 2000 she came home one day and said I was going to meet a woman from an au-pair agency that she spoke to and some weeks later I was put on a plane from Zagreb with around £250 in my shoe, a suitcase I didn’t like (very awkward to carry, but chosen by my mother despite my instructions, because she KNOWS BEST what I need). She said to go and make something of myself and not to come back because there’s nothing for me ‘here’ to come back to. I had addresses and phone numbers from some of my mother’s friends and my father’s friends from high school days. They had been very close as a class. So they must’ve heard things. They were wonderful to me. I suppose they were my new role models (on top of my mentor with whom I share birthdays, my lovely dentist and my godmother who I did not yet know well).

I landed at Heathrow on a cold February morning in 2000. I CAME HOME to England, UK. I knew better than to go back to Croatia any time soon. I fought tooth and nail to stay away from her. I still only go back if I really need to. And when I do go back, I don’t necessarily tell what’s left of the family. My husband insists that I always have him there with me for support (which I am more than happy withJ). I have learnt to say NO. And F**K NO! It took quite a few years and a lot of hard work. But it feels great. I still keep in touch with the people who have helped me survive, such as two lovely friends, one of whose letter from long ago helped me not to end it all and leave this world at the tender age of 18. I haven’t spoken Croatian much, or followed the news from ‘home’. I moved on and healed myself with the loving help of new and old friends and some family members old and new (in-laws). I live in the UK. I speak English. And I have just started thinking that there are some nice things about the country and the system that I was born in, but that failed to protect me, that let me down. I paid my dues dearly. Most of my battles are OVER. And I am OUT of it.

Thank you to both Martina - Dear skin and Martina- AlterEgo Style and my lost friend Milena S-W for bringing some Croatian beauty back into my life. I shall treasure it always.

 My Cup of Beauty

22 komentari:

  1. Draga My Cup of Beauty, šaljem ljubav i support iz Ljubljane! <3 Bravo.

  2. I found the Balkans of my youth to be a place where it was “normal” to slap a bit. Shout a bit. Call your loved ones names and tell them they are stupid imbeciles. SO TRUE :(

  3. Draga Anonimna,
    Nazalost, tako je bilo, pretpostavljam da je I danas tako, nazalost. I dok se misli da je to normalno, u redu I prihvatljivo, tesko da ce se sto promijeniti.

    1. Dear Ana Karim,
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have some lovely memories from Slovenija :-)

  4. Draga My Coup of Beauty, obzirom na moj loš engleski odgovorit ću na hrvatskom. Ponosna sam što si otvorila svoje srce i podijelila svoju priču upravo na ovom blogu, hvala ti :* Žao mi je za sve što si prošla i doživjela, nitko ne zaslužuje biti nesretan niti zlostavljan. Znam koliko ti je bilo teško progovoriti o ovome, stoga ovaj post za mene ima posebnu težinu . Hvala ti :*

  5. Draga moja Martina, you are very welcome. I hope it helps at least one person. :-)

  6. Dearest My Cup of Beauty, thank you so much for these deep meaningful words. I'm sending you all my love! I feel for every written word. ♥

    1. Dear Alter Ego Style, Thank you for your lovely comment. Thank you for your great blog and for bringing the light into my memories together with Dear Skin.
      I hope to meet you soon. Much love :-)

  7. My Cup of Beauty you are very brave to share this to the whole world but the world needs to know. I wish you the best of luck in the future

    1. Thank you, Gospodjica Marijica. I was planning to get out of the 'abuse closet' at least a year later. But, Martina is very brave and inspirational herself, which helped me write this. So Martina Dear Skin should get part of that thanks.

  8. U ovom pismu sam prepoznala meni jako dragu osobu i stvarno se nadam da to nije ona....
    Ne mogu vam opisati koliko me ovo pismo potreslo a istodobno sam jako sretna jer se izvukla iz tog pakla.
    Ja sam majka dvije predivne cure i nakon svega ovdje pročitanog svoju djecu sam počela gledati na potpuno novi način,mislim da će biti više onoga -što ti želiš napraviti umjesto-trebaš napraviti to i to !!! Tko god ovo napisao veliko Hvala i zaista se nadam da nije T.

    1. Dear Valentina Vale,

      thank you for your comment. And I am glad that it touched you. It's up to people like yourself who know somebody like that to think carefully and educate their children and their friends and hopefully bring some (small) changes. Your girls are very lucky to have you.

      I find it hard to keep in touch with many people I knew, because everybody wants to tell me how strong I am and was, and talk about those days. But I don't want to anymore. I've moved on. And I can't explain it to them without revealing the horrors I don't want to expose any more. They might get offended or might not. But I want to live 'normally' and am trying to find some good memories from those days, which are most of the time not from where I used to live. I also don't want their pity and questions. I had enough of that to last me a lifetime and it was absolutely useless then as it is now. I don't want to put those people in an awkward situation where they would need to lie to my mother or avoid her.

      The people who go through these horrors often don't like others to tell their stories and utterly expose the shame, the pain and the vulnerability they feel. It takes away what little power and control they have over their 'safe environment'. And they don't want their embarrassing moments of abuse being witnessed and then then commented on by friends who didn't stop to help. Because sometimes people just want to be normal like friends of their age. And have some happy moments to treasure, remember and look forward to when there's not much else. And it takes a lot of energy for them to put a brave face on things and make a joke of it all, when they know that the whole town has witnessed their horrors.

    2. You just breaking my heart!!
      My soul is empty now and I'm feel so dissatisfaction because I can't hugg you but I want to do for all those children who suffering.

  9. I don't know what to write...words just don't come out, because there are no words which can help. I'm glad you are out of this situation and although it marked you and your life, you have probably become a very strong person. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Sometimes, unfortunately.

    1. So true, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger and changes our world and life forever. Thank you for your lovely blog, it's a joy following it as much as the others (both Martinas').

  10. Dear My Cup of Beauty,

    thank you. thank you for this post. I can't say I know how it feels - because I don't. My situation is different, actually much easier than yours. My aunt took and raised me and my grandparents raised my brother. And I am grateful to them all, I am grateful they are still there for us and doing everything they can, but yet again they have their flaws which can sometimes be as annoying and difficult to cope with. Still it's painful enough as it goes on and on, always the same, her getting drunk or overdosing with pills and doing stuff around it keeps influencing my ability on university, leaving me shattered again every couple of months just right after I finally find some strength to get back on my feet again. Other members of the family are influenced as well but they consider themselves the worst victims. They are, but not as directly as children, so they don't actually ask us how we feel.
    What I am most frustrated about, is that we finally decided to go "legal", to do everything in a legal way, in order to help her as a sick, addicted person who needs care and should get care, and yet to give us the freedom of her and relief without doing what is first on your mind when things like these happen (a need for killing her or throwing her out on the streets, leaving her homeless). And after 2 years and over 10 000 kn, everything on the court just lies cold. The judge "feels like he should see her", as over 10 hospitalizations weren't enough and the social workers keep rejecting the request for removal of business capacity. Institutions and the system failed.

    Thank you for giving me strength to deal with myself first, and my own mind and take my life and my way in my hands. I will always feel regret and pity and a desire of having a mother and a functional family. It always feels terrible.

    I will read your post whenever I feel down again. :) Kisses from a southern Croatian island.

    " Mother is supposed to love you no matter what. She’s supposed to be your safe haven. Your comfort and your support. A lot of mothers are, but mine wasn’t. " I feel for it.

    1. You can't imagine how happy it makes me to read your words: "thank you. thank you for this post. ... Thank you for giving me strength to deal with myself first, and my own mind and take my life and my way in my hands. I will always feel regret and pity and a desire of having a mother and a functional family. It always feels terrible. I will read your post whenever I feel down again. :) ..." .

      I am glad you read my post. And I am so glad that you will read it again whenever you feel the need to and I hope it helps you, inspires you, gives you hope and strength to pull away.

      As far as having a mother part... I find that I look and wish for mothers in other women in my life who are old enough to be my mother. But i somehow can't accept them as such, even in my wishful thinking. I am always sad to see them happy with their families and proud of their grown up children because it always reminds me of something I never had and never will. And that is something that I have to live with and not let it get too overwhelming. If I ever have a child or children, I wouldn't know how to be a proper 'mother', the way I think a mother should be. I am more likely to be something between a mentor and a feminine version of my father and a combination of my role models.

      And lastly, seeing the film with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts "August: Osage County", made me very happy and positive. I actually turned out great, considering. :-D

      I wish you all the luck and best in this world and I'm glad you're not in as bad situation as i was. <3

  11. Dear My cup of beauty, I am glad you wrote about your childhood because I feel that maybe there is a chance for me to get out of the very similar situation (my father is the abuser and my mother doesn't care). I am very happy for you because you found your piece. This life story was very inspirational. Btw you are not missing a thing, England is a much better place then this s***hole :). And everything is the same, nobody cares and nobody helps. Take care :)

    1. Dear Glitter Bat,

      I am glad that you find my story inspiring. But you care. And that will get you through. I hope you come out of it all well and are able to have a (somewhat) normal life. I wish you the best of luck <3

  12. Thank you so much for your post. It must have been very difficult to write, to share so publicly with the rest of the world, but I am so glad you did because others going through similarly horrific experiences will feel, at least for a moment, a little less alone. I am glad you got out, that you survived and moved on and have built a new life for yourself far from Croatia. At the same time I am a bit sad that in your mind it is connected with such an awful time in your life, because there are so many beautiful places and beautiful people here...I hope perhaps one day you will be able to visit without feeling resentment and you will see some of that beauty :)

    1. My Cup of Beauty4. travnja 2014. u 23:14

      Dear Mikkasmakeupbox, thank you for your comment. It was very hard to write this, yes. There are places that remain lovely memories and I hope to visit them one day with my husband and in-laws. I know there are lovely people there, of course there are. I just didn't have enough of them and their company while I was there. Reading your blogs helps me realise that there might be people and places out there that I might want to and enjoy coming back to. :-)

  13. there's still a light at the end of the tunnel :D
    glad you made it and overcome this situation, stay safe and sound :D