This post deals with abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
It was a quiet December morning when I saw my mum for the last time. I was happy and content in my little flat with my little family. I was newly married and newly a parent, not to my own child but to my younger sister, Lucy. It was a little strange becoming a parental figure to a teenager, but I was happy that we were all safe.
I had escaped my abusive mother’s clutches first and prayed Lucy would see sense and follow suit. It took time but finally, the phone call came:
"Laura I need you to come and get me."
I recognised the tone in her voice. It’s the tone I would have used if I had a big sister to call to rescue me. My husband and I drove to my parents' house and collected Lucy. My mother attempted to intimidate us and gaslight Lucy into thinking she was imagining the whole thing.
I was terrified but somehow, I found the courage to stand between my mother and Lucy and tell her, "I only care about my sister. I’m only here for my sister."
Watch: We lose one woman every week in Australia to domestic violence, but that's just the tip of a very grim iceberg. Post continues below.
My bravery was short-lived because my mother gave me a familiar look. It made me feel sick. I got Lucy in the car and we drove back to my flat. I couldn’t get my mother’s expression out of my head. It was an expression that said, "I’m going to get you back."
On that December morning, the time came for my mother to attempt to regain control. The intercom sounded, and I looked at the screen. My throat constricted. The rise and fall of my chest stopped as I held my breath. My legs felt like lead and I couldn’t move them. The only movement in my body was my heart beating so hard I could feel my pulse in my head.
It was her. And she looked furious.
I don’t know why I did it, but I let her in. Maybe a part of me hoped she was going to apologise and decide to love us. Maybe it was because I was afraid of her. I have spent years trying to understand why I did it, and I don’t have the answer. I sat on the sofa beside Lucy, making sure I sat in a spot that would allow me to be between my mother and her.
My mother marched into my flat and looked at me as if I had deeply wounded her. I realised at that moment she genuinely thought she had been wronged. She sat across from me, staring at me as if I should be begging for her forgiveness.