09 Aug What Happens when a child kills her father to stop the abuse
“If he finds us, I am 100 percent sure he will kill me and the children … My life is like living in a box he created for me, and if I stepped out of that box, he’s there to put me back in that box.”
Before her father could kill her, her mother and her siblings, 14-year old Bresha Meadows shot him in the head. You can read the story here.
It’s a tragic story. This young girl has to live with her conflicted decision to shoot her father in order to save herself and her family from death. She will not easily find peace dealing with that. And a family is broken. Arguably, their family has been broken for a long time but, however relieved they are to be safe, they are surely experiencing the conflicting emotions of wanting to be safe from harm and the grief of losing a loved one. However dangerous he was, they didn’t want him to die; they wanted him to stop abusing them. But, what’s even more tragic, is that this story isn’t uncommon. There aren’t many instances of a daughter shooting her father but there are many times that children feel compelled to protect themselves and their parent from the abuse. Feeling like home is anything but a refuge is something that all children in abusive households can relate to; no doubt, there are children who have run away from home, whose grades are slipping, who have stood by, helplessly, while their fathers severely beat their mothers.
As if she hasn’t experienced enough trauma in her short life, her life is now more interrupted than ever because she stepped up to be the hero in her family. I can only imagine that her father started in on her family again. He was drunk or high and it was happening again. He was threatening them. And this young girl knew he was serious. She felt like she had to do something. So, she went looking for a solution. She found the gun that he had threatened the family with so many times. She felt its weight in her hands, aimed the barrel at his head, and pulled hard on the trigger. She felt the recoil that meant it was real — that the gun had done its job. I imagine that she watched him fall hard to the ground. Maybe he had a shocked look on his face. And as she stood there with the gun in her hand, she might have looked down at her hands, at what she’d done and then glanced back over at him on the ground, bleeding profusely from the head. He probably died right in front of her eyes. And in front of the rest of the family. They surely couldn’t have known what to feel: shock, surprise, relief, sadness, anger. On top of all of the trauma of being the subject of his abuse for so long, none of them could have suspected that it would end with him dying right there in front of them.
Her mother calls her daughter a hero because the mother wasn’t “strong enough” to get out before it had come to this. I’d call her daughter a hero too. And not just to her mother and her siblings. She is a hero to everyone who reads this story and identifies with her circumstances. I hope that her story further illustrates how important it is for parents to understand the various effects of intimate partner abuse and violence on children. And how critical it is that the family members who knew about the abuse do as much as they can to support the family and encourage them to see the abuse for what it is so that they can make the decision to leave. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy a decision as so many think it should be, but it’s necessary. If this young girl hadn’t acted, the headline would be very different — and much more familiar. It would be about a family dying at the hands of an abusive father and husband. Even with her bravery, things could have gone horribly different. She could have missed or lost her nerve and only angered him further, endangering their family even more. That’s why it’s necessary to make the tough decision — to be “strong enough” to leave before it’s too late.