I had been dating my boyfriend Matt for over a year. We didn’t talk much about the discipline in our homes, but I had some idea of how Matt’s parents handled disobedience.
Although Matt rarely mentioned the subject, I knew his father had taken a belt to him on a few occasions when he was younger, while his younger sister Kelly’s discipline was left up to their mother. Matt was 21 at the time, I was 20, and Kelly had just turned 17.
One Saturday afternoon, Matt and I had just arrived at his house to find his mother in a state of fury. Apparently Kelly had failed to come home the night before. She had obviously broken her midnight curfew, as well as worrying her mother immensely.
Matt tried to reason with his mother and calm her down, but Mrs Murphy didn’t want to hear it. When Kelly finally came home, her mother was waiting at the door with a black leather belt in her hand. Kelly’s face paled.
“Mom, I’m sorry,” she pleaded. “It just got late. I didn’t mean…” “I don’t want to hear a word out of you,” Mrs Murphy snapped, grabbing Kelly’s arm and smacking her behind hard. “Get in here.” Matt sighed. “She’s gonna get it.”
His mother was unusually strict with Kelly; much more so than she had been with Matt. But Kelly was usually asking for trouble, too. She had a smart mouth, a fiery Irish temper and a definite attitude. Her brother, although known to pull a few reckless acts every now and then, was much more easy-going and relaxed. He was a good guy.
Mrs Murphy dragged Kelly into the kitchen and set a chair in the middle of the room. Kelly was looking panicky and begging her mother not to use the belt. Her voice was desperate. “Bend over that chair, young lady,” Mrs Murphy ordered. “I’ll teach you not to come home.”
“Come on, Matt,” I said quietly, taking his hand. “Let’s go outside.” I was embarrassed for Kelly and really didn’t want to be around for her punishment. But Matt shook his head. “My mom’s really mad, Col – I want to make sure Kelly’s okay.” I thought that was so sweet, although I still didn’t want to be in that house while Kelly got it.
“Mom, no!” we could hear Kelly protesting. “Really, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” Mrs Murphy’s hand cracked Kelly’s bottom again. “Shut up!” she barked. “Get those jeans and panties down or you will be even sorrier.” Tears welled in Kelly’s eyes. Silently, she obeyed and bent over the chair.
Her mom began whipping the belt down on bare skin. It wasn’t long before Kelly’s screams and cries filled the house. “Arrgh!” she howled. “Mom, stop – stop!” Never had her mother punished her this harshly. Matt looked tortured as he listened to the sounds of the belt cracking against Kelly’s poor unprotected rear. He visibly flinched as he heard each stroke and Kelly’s pained cries that followed.
I kept my hand on his arm and watched him fidget. He was very close to Kelly and he had always looked out for her, in the same way he always looked out for me.
Finally, after Kelly’s howls became too much for him to bear, Matt shook my hand off and bravely entered the kitchen where his baby sister was getting the worst punishment of her life. Mrs Murphy was strapping Kelly’s behind relentlessly. She ignored Kelly’s screams and pleas. The poor girl’s bottom was flaming red with painful looking welts swelling.
“Get out of here,” Mrs Murphy ordered Matt without looking up. “Mom,” Matt started, his voice choking a little as he looked at his sister. Kelly’s eyes met her brother’s, pleading with him desperately. Her cheeks blushed. She was totally mortified to have her brother see her like this, with her bottom striped and flaming.
Mrs Murphy grabbed Kelly’s hair and forced her back into position. She brought the belt down again, even harder this time. Kelly’s entire face contorted in pain. “Oh! Oh! Mom!” she begged, tears streaming down her face.
Matt stepped forward. “Mom, that’s enough,” he said firmly. “Get out, Matthew!” Mr. Murphy yelled, pointing the belt at Matt. “You’ll just make it worse for Kelly.” “Mom, she’s had enough! Look at her – she’s not going to be able to sit for a week.”
Mrs Murphy ignored her son and continued to slap the belt down on Kelly’s bare bottom. Her pretty face was streaked with tears. “Not feeling so cocky now, are you Kel?” her mother snapped, aiming the belt at Kelly’s thighs. Kelly’s fair Irish skin was glowing red, like a terrible sunburn.
Matt finally found his strength. He was 6ft 4in and had strong, broad shoulders. He grabbed at the belt just as his mother was swinging it down at full force. A huge crack echoed through the air. “Shit!” Matt swore as a bright red stripe immediately welled on his palm.
He shook his hand out quickly, then grabbed for the belt again. This time he got it. Mr. Murphy was furious. She slapped at Matt harmlessly, but he would never hit her back. He just held the belt over her head and said: “You’re done – Kelly’s learned her lesson.”
Mrs Murphy might have been tempted to agree if Kelly had not made the ultimate mistake in judgement. “Oh, you bitch,” she moaned, cradling her throbbing backside. “What did you say to me?” her mother shouted.
She reached for the belt but Matt held it out of her reach. Angrily, Mrs Murphy grabbed the first weapon she could find – a wooden spoon on the kitchen counter. Kelly got about another good 40 whacks with the spoon. She was bawling and screaming, and even Matt didn’t help her out this time. He would never think of swearing at his mother. But looking at Kelly’s bottom, he did feel some sympathy for his sister.
Finally, Mrs Murphy decided that Kelly’s punishment was sufficient. “All right, young lady – in the corner!” she ordered, marching her along, smacking her bottom on the way.
“Keep those panties down, and so help me God, if you so much as touch that backside, you’ll be over that chair again faster than you can blink.” She aimed three more smacks at Kelly’s bottom with the spoon, sending Kelly into fresh new tears. It must have hurt so bad. Kelly just wanted to rub her aching bottom. “Get your hands on your head!” Mrs Murphy ordered.
Matt left the room and came over to me. I had been waiting at the door, not even able to imagine what it would be like to be Kelly. Matt and I went upstairs. We had to pass through the kitchen on the way. Kelly stood facing the wall, trying to diminish the heat in her bottom by moving back and forth. Her shaking sobs eventually turned to pitiful moans and whimpers.
“How can your mom do that?” I breathed once we were in Matt’s room. Matt sighed. “Kelly’s always been a handful. I think Mom just finally had it. But I don’t think even I ever got anything like that before.”
I had never been hit in my life. “Poor Kelly,” I said sympathetically. Then I saw his hand. It was still bright red and looked painful. “Oh Matt!” I cried. He jerked it away from me, looking embarrassed. “Does it hurt?” I asked. “Not as much as I bet Kelly’s ass does,” he said flatly.
An hour later, we went back downstairs. Mrs Murphy had just told Kelly she could pull her jeans back on and go to her room. Then she left to pick up Jimmy, Matt’s little seven-year-old brother.
“Are you OK?” Matt asked Kelly as she struggled with her jeans. Kelly’s eyes were still red and puffy. “It hurts so bad, Matt.” Matt gave his sister a hug and she fell into his arms crying.
“I hate her, Matt.” Matt gave her a stern look. “Kelly,” he warned. “You asked for it. I know Mom took this lesson to the extreme but you are 17. You have no business not coming home at night. And if you ever call Mom a bitch again, I am going to hand her that belt – do you hear me?” Sniffing back the tears, Kelly nodded.
“Good,” Matt said sharply. “Now, you better get to your room.” Kelly scurried off.
Little did I know that just a few weeks later, I would be the next one to feel Mrs Murphy’s rage and no-nonsense methods of discipline…