The Parable of My Dad and My Computer

This is a story about dealing with an abusive authority figure. Bear with me.

When I was a teen, my parents offered to buy me a computer. This was a one-time deal, so I waited until the last few months before college, so I’d have the most advanced computer possible for college.

I also waited for the last few months, so I’d have time to set it up… and as little time as possible for my dad to mess with it.

I set my computer up on the floor behind my bed, arranging my room like a fortress protecting it — a computer my dad was not allowed to touch.

Mere days before I left for college, there was a problem with my dad’s tiny hobby tech company. He was a tenured professor. This company was a money-losing hobby.

Dad wanted to use my computer to trouble-shoot the problem and told me he was going to take it from my room.

I put my sixteen-year-old body between my 6’3” dad and this computer that was my lifeline to the outside world.

I refused to let him take it. I stood my ground.

He got so angry.

So angry that I wouldn’t back down.

Then he hit me.

That’s when I knew I’d won.

See, my mom was watching us, and we both knew it. When my dad hit me, he lost, because that was the line that no one could ignore.

Can you boss around a 16-year-old? Maybe. Can you take her property? Maybe.

Can you hit her?


I like to think of this event as the time when “I made him lose his temper and hit me.”

It took me decades to realize that I like to frame it that way, because it gives me a sense of power in a situation where, truly, I was powerless.

Writing about this is making me shake.

Because I grew up with a man like my dad, I’m very sensitive to the tell-tale signs of abusers, and I do not put up with them. I have no patience or tolerance for the budding beginnings of abusive behavior, and that has made the last four years really goddamned hard.

I wish others would push back against the budding of abusive behavior when it’s still small and easier to stop. But clearly, they haven’t. Not at a large enough scale.

But when an abuser crosses a clear line — that’s the moment to scream to the hills: NO!!!!!

Should the other lines that the far right has been crossing for the last four years (and more) have been enough?


But I guess some people couldn’t see that. Now that the far right has crossed a line that apparently more people can see… NEVER LET THEM FORGET IT.

My parents began the process of getting divorced two weeks later.

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