For student, dad’s abuse of mom left deep scars


Her hands still get clammy, her mouth becomes dry and her eyes remain closed.

The flashbacks feel as vivid as that day.

The screams of her mom. The loud sounds of objects breaking.

On that day, she ran from her room to the kitchen.

Her father’s drunken words of hate filled the air, and all she could do was watch and yell, “Stop! Stop!”

But that was not enough.

Her father’s anger kept building.

Years passed before she realizes that what was occurring in her home was domestic abuse.

Brenda-Felicia Norwood, not her real name, is a senior at Detroit Mercy.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Month, which was October, Norwood recalled these dark moments for her family and how it has affected her.

“I was stuck between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “With telling my story, I have to live in my truth.”

It seemed like a regular argument over bills and raising the kids.

Then suddenly it turned violent. A loud slap was heard from the kitchen to the bedroom.

Norwood dashed towards the kitchen.

Tears filled her eyes as she watched her father pin her mom to the floor as if it were a wrestling match.

“My heart stopped,” she said. “The only word I could scream was ‘stop’ and it felt like I was yelling in silence.”

Growing up Norwood knew that her dad’s drinking was a problem.

She could remember the drinking at family parties filled, at first, with fun and laughter.

Once the party ended, though, it would all turn dark.

Only the family was at home.

She can remember the mean words he would say to her and her mom and the anger she felt.

She always felt, even at a young age, that drunk words were sober thoughts.

All of that anger towards her father turned into anger towards her mother.

She was mad at her mom for choosing to stay in that hard situation and allow the cycle to keep going.

She heard her mother’s prayers to keep them safe and to help her husband change his ways.

To Norwood it seemed like prayer was not enough.

But she prayed her heart out.

Prayer, after prayer, after prayer left her empty with nothing to hold.

As aged, her prayer for him changed to a prayer for her and her life.

“I prayed that one day when it is time for me to start a family, my husband would respect me and love me unconditionally,” said Norwood, tears in her eyes.

“My parents’ relationship had always been the what-not-to-do for mine,” she said. “Growing up I was so angry with both of my parents. I was so angry.”

And it left a significant impact on her.

“I wish I had the blueprint for what I should look for or what I should have when forming relationships. I never did,” said Norwood. “I had to learn the hard way.”

One lesson was this: “Don’t deal with anything mediocre in life – whether that’s mediocre family, mediocre friends. And definitely do not accept mediocre love,” she said.

Those are words she tries to live by.