I Never Meant to Hurt Them

I thought I saw him coming through the door of the thrift shop. Carefully I inched closer wanting to see if it was really him. He looked about the right age, but it was hard to tell since many years had passed. I wondered if he’d recognize me.

I had changed to be sure. Being discarded ages one prematurely, but it’s hard to tell when you’re a belt. My leather face was well worn, and my buckle somewhat tarnished. Shame had taken its toll on me. Quietly, I wondered if he ever thought back years ago, as I often felt compelled to do.

It always started the same. Apprehension filled the air. The noise level heightened, as did my anxiety. Though I felt hidden, safe from the impending crime, still I was afraid; afraid for the little ones who ran in every direction when the yelling started. Terror filled their young eyes; terror mingled with confusion. And then there was the shame. Little children wear shame as well as they are taught. Guilt was another jacket they easily slipped into. 

I especially felt sorry for the girls who lacked softness and longed for peace.

Somehow, it would have been easier to understand if the smell of liquor permeated the room with the chaos, but there was no drinking to blame. Rage would rear its ugly head unannounced.

I watched for years as the children tried appeasing the monster of anger unleashed, each attempt unsuccessful. I don’t know what bothered me more, the sound of tender flesh being hit, the childish screams begging him to stop, or the muffled sobs coming from their respective bedrooms. Their sobs required an occasional gasp to keep them going. 

No wonder the children grew up afraid of any sudden movement, hating surprises of any kind. Noise became their warning sign. When noise increased their adrenaline started pumping. They knew what was about to happen. Hide and seek started as they all scattered in different directions.

Their abuser was a large man, to them huge. His powerful hands had learned how to hit and he was a master. I remember the first time I was drawn into it all. Innocently I hung on a hook waiting to be slipped around his large waist to hold oversized trousers; that’s what I was made for. But sometimes I was pulled out of those loops so fast, against my will to be part of his hideous crime. The children grew up hating even the sight of me, but I don’t blame them.

At times they hid me, but I didn’t take it personally. It was for their self-preservation. Sometimes I wanted to reveal my hiding place because I knew what would happen if they didn’t hand me over. Harsh hands would hit impressionable skin.

I hated being part of that house. I loved the kids; I just felt so sad. And when the stresses of life overcame their mom, she too fell into the habit of releasing anger by striking out. I felt sorry I was ever made. My purpose was never to invoke fear. My leather was not made strong to mark little weak ones. One day I was discarded with old clothes and a truck escorted me to freedom. Though I would miss the kids, I was relieved to be out of there. I didn’t care if I ever got used again. I just wanted to be out of that house.

I never meant to hurt them.

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