by Rosa Paula
As a daughter of an immigrant single mom in New York City, life was tragic. Maybe that's a stretch since I'm still standing, and as a child, I was never starved of food or deprived of shelter. Still, I've had to work through unfair circumstances, forgiving the same people who purposely and perpetually abused me for the sake of family.
In my Dominican family, one was not allowed an opinion or emotions. You behaved as expected and did as you were told because one wrong move will bring minor concussion-causing cocotazos or la correa.
These may have been the products of colonialism, especially during the Trujillo era. Still, I refuse to get past the barbaric behaviors we are not to speak about, even as adults. One is supposed to honor and respect our elders, especially parents, but what they truly seek is to be enabled. They want us to be responsible and obligated to them, yet they are unwilling to take accountability for their actions or at least engage in a healthy discussion.
Why, as adults, do the children have to do the work of nurturing themselves out of dysfunction? It's not okay; as children, we must find forgiveness and healing and continually honor and respect them, yet they remain unchanged.
If we can even fathom that possibility, we typically resort to vices for relief. Elders are too stubborn to admit they were wrong in their tactics and that they, too, need healing. Se entiende que it's the way they were raised, but that's no excuse, not anymore.
I think the fuck not! My childhood is not what requires healing; it's the present! I've dissected every possible angle of the emotional and sexual abuse I've endured.
My mother grew up in the Dominican Republic with her grandmother as her parents migrated to the US. Mom tells me the stories of how terrible and devious her grandmother was with her and her older brothers. Stories of beat downs, punishments, betrayals, and stealing money sent from the US.
I can comprehend why mom behaves a certain way and is incredibly docile in her relationships. I frequently ask how she tolerates her younger sister and her youngest daughter, with surface laughter on my face, of course. Although they're not the elders, they've become the abusers in the family, gaslighting and degrading others at every turn.
The conditioning mami received is deeply ingrained, yet she hasn't exploded in anger or rage. She squirms every time these women utter abusive commentary, vile and yet ironically comical, but she never speaks up. I do the same. Still, I acknowledge there is a tremendous issue with seemingly no solution. It's truly a mind fuck!
No one listens! Very few want to acknowledge that these problems exist. I want to heal and choose differently. It is vital for me to heal from these experiences, so I can one day help others recover instead of merely writing about it. How do I empower myself to move past this when I care so much about my family? A therapist might be a viable option.
One in four girls encounters sexual abuse, according to the CDC. There's no respect for the sanctity of the human body, especially the female one.
At the age of four, I was sexually abused. The never-ending sexual abuse started with two of my male cousins, who were at least seven years older than me. When caught, the adults whooped my ass every time! I don't even remember if the boys also were reprimanded. As a result, I ceased to speak up again!
My mother's baby daddy and his brother took turns molesting me. At some point, I came to like it. Despite that, I questioned, where was the protection from my mother or any other adult? Did they not see or suspect that this was happening to me? Did they not care?
I have a twelve-year-old daughter. I am vigilant with my little girl and anybody that comes near her. I refuse to have that bestowed onto her as I'm aware it can take children, particularly girls, years or even decades to speak up about said demoralizing acts.
I spoke up about sexual abuse for the first time at the age of 16 in school; needless to say, the state became involved. My mom convinced me to deny the allegations. She had four children and was dependent on this man. Of course, he renounced his actions; I was to blame since the age of four, apparently. I understand.
I'm admittedly resentful about it, fluctuating between depression, anger, and resentment, hurting others on my self-destructive journey. Because how was this considered love?
It's painful to confront these horrid events, but they should be confronted so true camaraderie can ensue. I've isolated myself from all others as the grief of witnessing continual abuse within my family has debilitated me. I do not want to leave my family in this condition, but as they say, not everyone can go.
Reflecting, analyzing, and digging through the rubbage, I face the reality that I must remove myself to allow for adequate healing.
The cynical elders hate us children because we choose to hold a mirror to their faces. Well, que se joda todo! The abusers are living freely and unbothered. It's time for accountability, meditation, and healing of these experiences and behaviors of disassociation used to survive at one time.
Breaking generational dysfunction is no easy feat, but there's no need to tolerate this any longer.
We need more warriors in the battle against family curses and toxicity. I encourage you not to bow out of yours. I am exhausted and debilitated, but I won't give up on myself. On us!
As I attempt to secure therapy, a desire that is quickly dissipating since the system is overloaded after covid, I realize that I must speak up and speak out on the abusive and debilitating tactics of Hispanic parenting.
I claim responsibility for breaking generational dysfunction, and if I could inspire one family, one person to join me in these battles, then it would be a worthy war. The cycle cannot continue to be passed down to future generations.
De esto si se tiene que hablar!
Rosa Paula is an aspiring author in NYC. She is keen on building family dynamics and relationships to build a better future for the upcoming generations. Look out for more content and watch as she builds a lasting empire.