People often come to me asking me why they don't see me at parties on campus. I don't come because I don't like drinking. I have a dark personal background about why I don't drink. I still hear after I tell people a little about why, how that my past shouldn't affect my decisions now. That I'm letting my past control me. Maybe I am. I'd rather let it control me, though, than let it haunt me. Even then, I still get a drink shoved into my face telling me to let go and have fun to "be young". I refuse and if they won't let it go, I walk away. Walking away is one of the easiest things I learned to do. People think it's hard when someone keeps coming at you, whether it's an ex or some drunk girl/guy at a party being rude, to walk away but it's so easy for me. I don't like confrontation, I even shy from it. I try to be the best person I can be, while still making myself happy - but that's not the point of this article.

Often times, the dangers of drinking are ignored. People drive drunk or use someone's intoxication against them. People even become violent. My stepdad did. I remember when I was about 11, it was the first time things turned south. He and my mom had just gotten married two weeks before. I was home sick from school and my mom and stepdad were fighting. I could hear it from my bed upstairs. The fighting lasted all day and night. My brother came home and was with me, protecting me, from a threat I had yet to perceive. My stepdad was drinking and was getting louder and angrier. My brother had disappeared down into the fighting, and I was scared. I was so very scared and my stomach hurt. I started to walk downstairs when I heard a loud bang and my mom screaming, then utter silence. I'll never forget that silence or the dread that slid through my body causing my heart to stop then start at an accelerated rate. I remember it was almost as if everything was happening in a dream-like state, my brother came running out of the kitchen yelling for me to call the police but I didn't move. He grabbed the phone and called them since I stood frozen on the steps. I knew something terrible had happened but when my brother went back and carried my mom to the couch, it all became so much more real. My stepdad had hit my mom so hard he broke her eardrum. The pain must have been just horrible because she was crying and moaning.

Finally, my muscles came back on and I went to cuddle with my mom. She held me and told me she would be fine. "Don't be scared," she said. "Everything will be okay." Two days later, my mom called me downstairs and sitting on the couch was my stepdad. He said he was sorry and that he loved us. My mom told me it was okay, that it wouldn't happen again. She told me to hug him and so I did. The sad thing was, this wasn't the last time he hit her, nor was hitting the worst thing he did. Every time, without fail, I could guess when something bad was going to happen. How? Because he was always drinking when he went crazy. The fear is still embedded into me. The nights of hiding in my room when I'd hear the yelling start, the nights of holding my brother back so he wouldn't fight him and begging him to please stop, and the nights where I thought he was going to kill my mom all come back to me in nightmares. I would go to school terrified that I'd come home to my dead mom. I would go to school hiding the pain and the terror that happened in my home, covering anything on myself for fear of discovery.

My mom got us away but then her third husband was worse. It wasn't that he hit me but he did hit my mom. That's not what made him worse, though. What made him worse is that he changed her. My mom became violent and unpredictable. My first stepdad damaged her but my second stepdad broke her. All of this happened because of alcohol. There were many other factors but I will never forget the damage alcohol left on my family and my life. When people are drunk or tipsy I feel fear rise to the surface and everything comes back in flashes. My anxiety runs rampant and I can barely tell reality from memory.

People often don't think about their kids and how fighting affects them. They don't understand that fighting and yelling ruins them. It makes them think that that is what relationships should look like. It teaches them that abuse and fighting are normal. Their personal relationships will suffer. I promise you that. When voices get raised in a household, kids get scared. It stays with them. Hitting is worse. When mommy or daddy hit each other or even a stepparent, it begins to leave mental and emotional marks. Most parents think the kids can't hear because they go outside or they don't know about the hitting. Kids are much more intelligent than people give them credit for and they know. You think you are hiding it but you aren't. Take it from me, you aren't, even a little. Hurting the kid's other parent, whether it be physical or emotional, will hurt the kids more than the other person. Leave them and be done with it. Take it from me, everyone will be better off. After all, I lived through domestic abuse.