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Students of Groningen: ‘Forgive but never forget’

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‘When I was two years old, my mom got divorced from my dad. She started a new relationship with a man who became my stepfather. He used to beat her and she would forgive him after five minutes. He was all monkey business and carried a gun with him all the time. The mere idea that he could do something to us with it kept me frightened constantly. Only once was I brave enough to do something. I was eleven years old and he hit my mom so hard that she ended up in the hospital and needed a neck brace. I picked up a stick and started destroying his car. I was releasing all the rage I contained for years at that moment. I thought that was going to be the day that she finally would leave him but, as always, she forgave him.
‘I don’t understand how someone can stand a situation like this. Why, if she left my father for being an alcoholic, she wasn’t capable of leaving this man that mistreated her physically and emotionally? When I left the country, she cried and apologized for not being able to pay my studies or to give me more things. But I needed more than just material things. I needed her to stand by me and defend me when he was being mean to me. I needed her to believe me instead of him when he made things up about me just so she would scold me and beat me. I needed her to apologize for all the pain she caused me because of that man. But she never did, and that’s hard to forgive. And it’s even harder because it damaged my entire childhood. But she’s my mom, so I can forgive her. But I will never forget.’

Photo: Alejandra Barreto Cortés