I have a violent teenager in my house.
There, I said it.
I keep getting told not to talk about it, not to shame him.
Now I know why no one talks about domestic violence.
Douglas punches me.
He smashes furniture, light fittings, walls, and terrorises the children and dogs, not to mention the knife throwing.
But he punches me.
And I take it, because then he isn't punching someone else.
And Steve would like to think that he's tough, that if he sees Douglas punching me, he'll throw him down the stairs.
But he won't. Because, at the heart of it, we know that Douglas is a good kid.
He wants to work harder at his school work this year.
And he's keen to find a job closer to home now he's tasted having his own money to spend over the Christmas break.
But under it all, he is violent.
Not all the time. He's worked hard over the last six months to restrain his violence.
But sometimes it builds up, and he hasn't quite figured out how to deal with it when it goes that one step too far.
I saw it happening yesterday. I always see it happening.
And I stand still when he punches me, because then he doesn't go after anyone else.
Look, I know you don't want to hear me say these things about my child (because I'm the only mother he has ever known. I chose him, just as if I'd adopted him.) but I have to say them.
We need to talk about these things.
Last Sunday, quite by chance, we had 60 minutes on. Not something we normally watch, but it was on. We had no idea what drivel they were selling this week, but quite randomly a story came on about a mum who was being beaten by her child.
I called Douglas out into the lounge to watch, and he did, then when it finished, he left the room without a word.
This story was one of violence. Mum had been beaten by dad, left him and found another partner who she later left. When she was then a single mum of 3 kids, her teenage son started beating her. The story was one of slight redemption, the child felt remorse and shame, but was working on reestablishing a relationship with mum. (He had stayed away from the home, been through counselling and was now working a job, no other details were given.) This then segued into an interview with a Queensland counsellor who said these were quite common behaviours from boys in teenage years because that's how they've seen their fathers behave.
But that isn't the house Douglas is growing up in. Sure, Steve drinks. But he isn't a violent drunk, he just falls asleep on the couch. If anything, I hit Steve to provoke a response from him not the other way around.
Douglas is choosing this behaviour.
Riley was so scared last night, he vomited on himself. The dogs were so scared they hid under the bed.
This is no way to live our lives.
But we don't know what the solution is.
There are plenty of places where women can report domestic violence.
But is that the path we want to head down?
I know I say I'm not shaming Douglas by putting this out to my friends, but if we report these behaviours as domestic violence, are we tarnishing him? He's only 15. Is this a stigma that sits with him for the rest of his life, punching his mum? Scaring his siblings?
Or, do we just grow some balls, and take this step? Call the police next time it happens? As one friend pointed out to me this morning, she's just divorced her husband of 20 years because she finally realised that for all his words the violence was never going to stop. Because his parents never dealt with it when he was a teenager.
I keep telling the psychiatrist at Headspace that I don't want to get a phone call when he's 19 to say he's beaten someone and is in jail. But I don't want to have to tell my family that he stabbed one of the kids, either.
I know what I'll be doing next time it happens.
But, please, can we talk about this?