Usually in any form of autobiography, you would explain everything in a chronological and precise way. That would be pretty difficult here, especially as there are so many storylines and characters that overlap so intensely. Emotions run high when telling a story such as this one and you feel as if you are completely exposing yourself to the world. I always thought my story would begin with ‘Can you understand me now?’. It fits me perfectly and I'm never getting a good enough answer, but this question won’t make sense to you yet. A lot has happened in my 21 years on this earth. A lot more has probably happened than what I care to remember, but that’s trauma for you. When people are traumatised they tend to block out a lot of the memories, and as I have done this most of my life, some of these stories may not make sense; but it is what my mental health and a little bit of time will allow me to remember, hence the name.
I will start my unforgettable story with the two most unmistakable words. Domestic. Violence.
It’s a big starting point in a lot of people’s stories and unfortunately has to be my starting point too. Many people nowadays know what it’s like to have an absent father figure. What they don't talk about is why the father is absent. Blame is usually put on the mother, for not trying hard enough to ‘keep her man’ or not being attentive enough. They emphasise that he was a young parent and couldn't handle the stress of a new family. Children often assume that it was somehow their fault. It's disturbing and hard to have conversation about what actually went down, so nobody does it.
My father wasn't young. My mother wasn't a ‘Ball Buster’ or a ‘slag’ and it couldn't have been my fault as I wasn't even born yet. It was the nineties, he was in his thirties, with a long term girlfriend, surrounded by the support of his seemingly normal family, along with my mother's family. He had no reason to become the man he became. He was just a very callous man.
I didn't learn much about my father until I was around eight years old, and even that was my young inquisitive mind finally getting the guts to ask my sister about him when my mother wasn’t around. You see, I was made to make fathers day cards covered in glitter, pasta and glue in primary school. I was asked whether my mother or father would be attending my tedious parents evenings. Same answer. They got slightly better at realising a single parented child as it got to the end of my primary school years, but I never fully understood why all the other little girls and boys had two parents and I only had one. I wondered what it would be like to see my dad one day picking me up outside the school gates. We would go play catch in a nearby park, go for ice cream or see a movie. This never happened. Not once. I didn't realise it at the time, but I was the luckiest child on earth for it.
I knew I always had at least one person to love and care for me. My mother. Jane, a tall tom-boyish woman who was born in Harrow, London. With a slim waist, next to no chest and medium length brown hair, she was raised in a divorced household by my loving and adoring grandma Edith. My grandma had always been a plump woman, with the face that made you know she was a stunning woman, with short curly blonde hair, in her younger days. My mother had a seemingly normal childhood, she went to school, she was in the Brownies,she finished school with good grades,she worked in a few meaningless places and she had a good and easy life.
Obviously I wouldn't know all the details of her upbringing,but from the pictures that my mother would often show me and my sister, she and her sister, Emma, were brought up with the utmost simplicity and discipline. Raised correctly, polite and with a high importance put on manners, my mother could never have expected her life would turn out the way it did. She would end up being pregnant by the most disgustingly evil man that ever lived, twice.
They met through a mutual friend, Katey. Katey was my mother's best friend from her early twenties, and still is to this day. She was very common, like my mother. She was very short and slightly larger in size and my mother would always joke that Katey was a dwarf as she was only five foot half an inch. She was like an auntie to me and my sister, always having the awkward talks our mother wouldn't want to have with us. She watched us grow up. Katey’s daughter Matilda and I are of a similar age with almost exactly 6 months difference in our birthdays, and have grown up basically as sisters.
Katey introduced my mother and father at the local pub one evening as she had worked with him previously. They hit it off pretty well. Again I don't know all the details, but my mother's initial description of him was ‘he was charming, charismatic and seemed very keen’. It wasn't long after that they started dating. He had been nothing but courteous and had somehow manipulated my grandmother into giving her approval on him after only a matter of months. After a while of doing normal couple things, they found out they were expecting their first child. My sister Jasmine. My mother always said both of them were extremely happy and excited for the new arrival. They would spend hours looking around shops and in catalogues for the essential baby items. From the outside, they looked like the perfect couple and soon to be, the perfect little family.
Together, they opened up a business, a taxi cab company. My father was in charge of the radios and paperwork, and my mother, grandmother and auntie Katey were the actual cab drivers. It was a family business. What better way to secure a good income for the new baby than a family business that the baby could eventually join itself? Then my sister Jasmine was born. 22nd of April 1992, and this, in my mother’s common tongue ‘is when it all went royally tits up’.
For what my mother had not managed to realise in the years they had been together,was that he was, and still is today, (again in her words) ‘a massive fucking coke head’. She managed to air all this dirty laundry and found out he was one of the biggest cocaine dealers in the Datchet area at the time, notorious for his violent ways. There were rumours that he had been owed a large sum of money by a group of travellers that were passing through. Two weeks later, one of the gypsy men was found hanging in the woods near to their campsite. It was ruled as suicide but personally, it could have been my father. Everyone was afraid of him and they definitely had a right to be.
I should also point out his grotesque appearance. He was bald, as a style choice as he would say, with a terrifying cumbersome stature. He also only had one eye. The eye that was injured was just red veins, like what you see when you pull down your bottom eyelid. Classic villain scar right? As a young child, I found a picture of him holding my sister just after birth, and it literally sent a chill down my spine and gave me nightmares for weeks. Granted, I was five at the time. It was also said that the reason he only had one eye was because he had gotten in a bar fight and someone stabbed his eye out with a fork. The fork fight story was probably falsified but still, I would not have messed with that man if I ever met him in a darkened alley.
Ignoring his cocaine habits, his criminal record, his serial killer looks and his violent outbursts in public, he decided this wasn’t enough for him. He decided to become domestically violent as well, and that is an understatement. My mother described him as the devil incarnate during this time, a horror to live with. As i wasn't alive or even conceived yet, i can't even imagine what it was actually like living with that monstrous, drug-fuelled sack of muscle. Life was already hard enough for her having to raise a small infant, and working full-time, but three main stories stick in my brain and probably will until the day I die.
The first one was recalled to me by my sister, who did so very begrudgingly. She was around four or five years old, and she remembers coming down the stairs, in what can only be described as a little better than a crack den flat in Harrow. It was three AM and she described the scene as horrific, as all her innocent eyes could see was our father screaming and viciously beating our mother. She depicted him as that of a super villain, with super fists because he hit our mother so quickly that Jasmine couldn't actually see him hit her, just the blood dripping from our mother's blackened face and her lifeless body hitting the ground several times. She said she had wanted to go and interfere but her eyes locked with our mothers and she knew that she was being told to stay put. She said she watched for what felt like an eternity, but ended up going back to her bedroom and cried all night long. This particular story always sticks in my head because of the way my sister would always emphasise the fact that, no matter what, my mother would always get back up and try and defend herself even if Jasmine begged her silently to stay down. Every time, my father would get further enraged at her will to live and go back harder and more viciously. When he would get angry at Jasmine and go crazy with her ‘necessary discipline’, my mother would always shove her aside and take the beating. I always sit and wonder if I had been in Jasmine’s position would I have had the guts to intervene. I don’t think I would have.
Another of the stories involved my grandma Edith. I am unsure of what argument was taking place, but my dubious father had kicked off at some sort of family event and had struck my grandmother across the face with one of those old and wired home telephones. My mother had said that it was this climactic event that made her realise that he did not just have anger issues,but yet ‘he was the devil incarnate’, one of her favourite phrases to interpret this man. It was a massive eruption of swearing and fumbling over my grandmother, which ended in him being banned from the hosts house, which I believe was his own brother, Charles. For a relatively old woman, she held her ground quite well and yelled a lot of precarious words his way, ones that I wouldn't just be grounded for, I think I would have been disowned if they ever came upon my tongue. I know I am biased, but for a, somewhat healthy, young man, to strike an, at the time, 50 odd year old defenseless woman, the mother of his girlfriend, the grandmother of his only child, he is a psychopath and will burn in hell.
By the time my sister was about 6, my mother had given up with him. She wanted to leave before her or little Jasmine got seriously injured. He had broken a few of her bones already but nothing to be worried about, whatever that meant. She knew she was struggling, trying to even gain the strength to go home every night or to watch him snort white powder up his nose in front of his infant daughter every night. I'm not sure of her reasons for staying with him for that long in the first place, but I amend her strength in finally leaving the bastard. She knew that she had strength within herself, just enough to fight him. She filed for a restraining order and wished for all contact with Jasmine and herself to be banned. It was temporarily granted. She moved to a small house in a neighbouring town and told everyone to keep the location a secret from him. She tried to move on with her life with minimal stress and kickback from him, which obviously didn't go down too well. She didn't enter her home town for a long while in fear that he had spies watching for her atrociously purple car. Eventually he found her. Somehow. Somebody had told him. He had many attempts at trying to enter her new property forcefully from when he found her. He was as infuriated as ever at her for alluding his capture. He tried to abduct Jasmine from school and take her to America without telling my mother. If it wasn't for my mother being fastidious with Jasmine's safety, by telling the school everything, he might just have gotten away with it. He just went out of his way to make their lives a living hell and it seemed like the nightmare would never end.
After a few months passed, everything seemed to be settling. Relief. My mother hadn’t locked the doors and windows in about a week, and wasn’t jumping at every sound outside the house. She decided to leave Jessica at our grandmother's house for the night, and go out and have a well deserved and long awaited drink down the local pub with Katey. The night started well, but she didn't realise that my father had watched her go into the pub and waited outside for a very long time. He decided to go into the pub. He decided to sit next to her at the bar. He decided to buy her a drink, and the alcohol she had already consumed had decided to amplify the idea of change within the dick of a man sitting next to her. So, as gossipy girls at a brunch meeting say, one thing led to another and he took full advantage of her, as usual. This brings us to the part of the story that involves me. That fateful 73 seconds that vile man was sloshing around on top of my mother’s limp and intoxicated body, resulted in me. She was pregnant once again. I need to point out that I was only a fetus at this time, warm and unexpected in my mother’s womb, so I don’t know every detail of what happened, but this was always how it was recalled to me.
Abortion. That was the first word out of my loving father’s mouth when he found out. I should interject here that Jasmine was born with a lazy eye, and had quite a few surgeries on it during her childhood to correct it. Going back and forth for most of her childhood to Great Ormond Street Hospital, she was eventually told that she would have to wear glasses for the remainder of her life. My father was disgraced at the idea. For a man with one eye, he hated any physical differences in anyone and everyone. The idea of possibly having to have another ‘Freak’ as an offspring, meaning me, he was outraged. He pushed and pushed my mother, causing several public arguments about it, to get an abortion with me, but she held her ground saying, if he felt that strongly, he did not need be involved with the newest child, like he wasn't supposed to be with Jasmine. This only made him angrier, and she got the beating of her life, and I got my first ever one. My mother was 5 months pregnant. He was a two hundred and fifty pound coke dealer. I didn't stand a chance. He battered her black and blue, left her lifeless body cowering on the floor of her house, with Jasmine crying on the stairs, and left the house.
Thinking i was dead, he didn't bother my mother or sister for a while. He thought he had won. He could forget about the ‘fucking whore of a woman, the freak child and the unborn mess’ he had already concieved, but I clung to my mother's uterus lining as if my life depended on it, because it did and obviously, I grew to full term. My mother gave birth to me at Watford Hospital, on June 6th 1999 at 10.03 am. The only reason she used my father's surname was because he had demanded that my sister be lumbered with it when she was born, and my mother didn't want my sister to feel like she was the only ‘Vanhorn’ in the family left. The day of my birth, Jasmine had said it was the happiest day of her life with tears in her prepubescent eyes. Being 7 years old, there wasn't much she could have compared me to, but she promised to protect me from all things evil, and I believed her. I'm not too sure what happened around my birth, obviously I was too young to remember if we ever saw our father during this time. The next story of this twisted guy i heard was that my mum had spent years, up until I myself was around 6 years old, going back and forth to courts making sure our father would never come close to us again.
I have a vague memory of being five or six, sitting in a long cold hallway for about an hour. I remember being sat with Jasmine and my grandma on a dark wooden bench, surrounded by statues of wild animals and paintings of old looking men in suits. I think it was the hallway outside of a courtroom. I remember my grandma shaking. Sobbing. I remember my mother coming out, dressed in a black pantsuit with an imperative look on her face. When I told my mother about this memory, she said it was the final day of court. The last paper was signed and it was all official. It was over. We could live a normal life now and in the eyes of the law, we could be happy again. In 2007, Jane DeLuca was granted the pleasure of having an eleven year injunction put against Marcus Allen Vanhorn, that protected herself and both Amelia Vanhorn and Jasmine Lousie Vanhorn from his absurd violence and perversity.
We all wish this would have been the last time we saw him. But that’s not how sod's law works apparently.