A woman has revealed how she grew up in terror of her mother, who appeared completely normal to the outside world, but subjected her to years of abuse in a harrowing new memoir.
She reveals how she only realized the extent of her mother’s issues as she entered adulthood. Olivia, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, recalls how her mother, Josephine, would lock her in the bathroom all night from the age of three as punishment for waking her up by crying.
Josephine’s behaviour was unpredictable and she could switch from being overly loving and generous to violent, beating Olivia, ripping her hair out, strangling her and telling her she was ‘ashamed to be her mother’.
I’m better now, it’s true, but the damage done can never be undone. It’s still there, itching quietly beneath the surface, like a sharp metal wire cutting into me for too long
As a child, Olivia went through stages of being ignored by her mum, who frequently left her alone both emotionally and physically. With few people to talk to, she sought conversation in her teddies or turned to her diary to scribble make-believe stories.
Despite keeping herself out of the way, Olivia tells how she was often screamed at and called ‘ungrateful’ for the smallest of things.
At first she would cry and shake uncontrollably, but as she grew older she learned to stop giving her mother the reaction she so desperately wanted – and that’s when the violence started.
Olivia was hit hard and repeatedly on the bottom or arms, even though Josephine kept promising it would never happen again.
When Olivia turned eight, she recalls being thrown an incredible birthday party. Her mother made decorations and banners for the garden and gifted her a precious silver necklace, but as soon as the last guest had left, her demeanor changed.
Dragging her by the arm, Josephine yanked her upstairs and told her she was ashamed to be her mother. She then ripped the silver jewellery from around her neck.
On another occasion, they spent a cheerful morning together strawberry picking but after arriving home, Jospehine dragged Olivia downstairs to the basement – her back crashing on the cold, hard slabs.
On this occasion, it was punishment for squishing the berries in the basket at the strawberry farm and not treating the fruit with enough respect.
When Olivia reached 12 her mother was diagnosed with leukaemia – but the bullying continued.
During one frightening altercation, Josephine rammed soap in her mouth, put her fingers around her neck and ripped her hair out, until she tasted blood in her mouth.
Fearing for her life, Olivia ran away – but with nowhere to go she had no choice but to return – and apologise.
As time passed, the youngster both hated her mother and loved her, especially when she was taken out for mother and daughter bonding time.
But aged 16, Olivia decided to take a trip to Canada to attend a summer camp.