Stigma Fighters: Tony Spagnoli

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Stigma Fighters: Tony Spagnoli

As far back as I can remember, my life has always been one big bucket of shit. About the age of four or five is when I begin remembering abuse. In my home yelling, beatings, degradation and humiliation were the norm. I hate holidays now, because then, every holiday was a fucking mess because of my father.
My first recollection was about 4-5 years old. I was beaten under the dining room table with a belt. I scurried left to right trying to avoid that belt. My mother was crying and asking him to “stop,” but he just pushed her away.

He finally turned the table on the side and grabbed me. I remember being scared for my mother. I woke up once late at night and heard her crying. I left the room and called for her, the door opened, she tried to reach for me but he dragged her back and slammed the door. I always had the sense that my mother was constantly trying to stay out of his way. I know I was. But, who the fuck wants to live that way? There were so many instances like this. I remember my mother asking me if I would like to live in South Carolina with her family and her. I said sure. I was ready to be anywhere but near him. We never went of course but, we wanted too.

About the age of seven he chased me under his queen bed. As I crawled out the opposite side, he turned the bed onto it’s side and pinned me on my chest. He forced his weight down on it choking the air out of me. I figured I was going to die since I couldn’t breathe, but he righted the bed and beat the shit out of me. He kept shoving my mother out of the way when she tried to stop him. I don’t know what I hated him for more, my beatings or hers.

Two years later, when I was nine, my mother died. It was the single worst day of my life to date. I knew then that I was fucked. It was me and him, and he was going to kill me if he could. I hated touching him. If he hugged me I couldn’t fucking stand it, because I knew it was a lie!

Hell started around that time. Not quite a year later, I was at the bus stop one morning. This kid kept pushing me and punching me. I smacked him and pushed him down. The kid’s mother stuck her head out of the window and yelled at me. I tried to explain from across the street but she kept yelling. So, I said “shut up”. When I got home from school that afternoon, My father was on the phone with this kid’s mother. He called me into his bedroom and said to the woman, “would you repeat what he said to you” and he held the phone up to my ear. He said thank you and hung up. He punched me in the chest so hard it knocked the wind out of me. He picked me up and threw me across the room. I tried crawling away, but he planted his foot into my rib cage and I couldn’t move. He grabbed me off the floor by my throat and held my against the wall and proceeded to gut punch me until I passed out. Next thing I know is he is sitting next to me on the bed calling my name. He asked if I was ok. I should have said no, but I didn’t. He pulled his belt off and beat the shit out of me. The next day, I was black and blue. I was in my last class of the day when I was called to the principal’s office. I went in and sitting there was the kids mother. She was crying. She grabbed my arm and asked me to forgive her. If she had known what was going to happen to me she never would have told my father. I just shook my head and asked to leave. But first I said, “ Don’t tell him you were here”.

Anyway, I was a little boy. I took those beatings. I learned to take that pain without uttering a sound. I wanted to show him that no matter what you do to me I can take it. Right now if I was beaten like that I would not utter one fucking syllable. Along with that, came rage. No one was there to help me. So when I reminisce about my life, it’s been one bucket of shit from then until now. That’s 54 years. That’s a lot of shit! It’s an uphill battle daily. I’ve been through 20+ years of therapy and I’m still traumatized. I could fill a book with my story. And I might damn well do that at some point. I’m a father and a grandfather. I ended the cycle of violence in my family. I never beat or abused my child and in turn he has never abused or beat his children. If all anyone can ever say about me is that I stopped the violence and abuse, well, that’s enough for me.

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Tony is a Chef, father and grandfather with four grandkids in the DC metro area. He works fast, talks fast and loves to drive fast. He’s spent an entire lifetime trying to repair the damage done by nine abusers. It is a work in progress.
By | 2015-02-17T11:34:33+00:00 January 15th, 2015|Categories: Brave People, Uncategorized|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Helen White January 15, 2015 at 1:55 am - Reply

    That is extremely intense to read and it’s great to know that you are continually working to undo this damage, not to repeat the cycle. Amazing.

  2. Rachel Thompson January 15, 2015 at 3:21 am - Reply

    You are a beautiful person Tony. Braver and stronger than most anyone I’ve ever known — I don’t know you in person, but I KNOW you. I’ve seen the abuse your family gives you online for speaking your truth — continues to give you and it breaks my heart…as you treat them with care and love, more than they deserve IMHO.

    You give me hope that people can live through horrible violence and help others. Hugs and respect, man.

  3. Trauma Dad January 20, 2015 at 8:18 am - Reply

    You ended the cycle Tony, and that makes you a god damn hero! I know how hard that is. And you know what? If bad people don’t like you, that’s good. So fuck them. You don’t owe them anything, and I’m behind you on telling the story 100%. Thank you for saying it, for stopping it in your family, and for refusing to give in even though smells and sounds can make us a little wonky sometimes.

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