"Courage" - A Spirit Unbroken

So my story begins as a young girl who played with dolls, loved riding her horse, and loved the color pink. I was smart, bubbly, eager to please, and always had a smile for everyone. What people couldn't see was the sad and lonely little girl who was trapped by the lies, secrets and shame that I carried within.  

My parents divorced when I was young and my mom quickly remarried. At a very young age, I started saying and doing things that would indicate to others something was wrong in my family.  Soon, the authorities were brought in for an investigation but due to my age and lack of communication the case closed as quickly as it had opened and I was placed back into the home where things just weren't right.

By age seven the abuse, mind games, and control became overwhelming. My step dad would use the threat of harming or killing my family (mom and little brother) as a way to keep me silent.  This went on for many years as did the sleepwalking and nightmares of trying to escape.  I was in and out of the doctor's office and took many trips to emergency room with aches, fevers, and complaints of being ill.  Test after test were run with no findings of anything wrong with me.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, my own mother began with the abuse. It seemed as though she found it amusing as she would laugh about my looks and the expression on my face during the torment.  I felt sad and dirty but held back the tears doing my best to put on a happy face as they would drive me to church with my hair curled pretty and a fake smile on for my youth group friends.

In the fifth grade the beatings became so severe that I remember being punched, kicked and thrown into walls and put into the shower until he was finished screaming at me then tossed me out the door and sent to school with bruises, tear-filled eyes, and my clothes all wet. Although we only lived a block and half away from the school I walked as slow as possible in hopes that my clothes would dry and my red splotchy face from crying would be clear. But when I arrived at school I couldn't contain my tears as they streamed down my face. Embarrassed, I quietly went and sat in the corner of the classroom and continued to cry.  My teachers would sometimes ask me what was wrong and when I tried to explain I would just receive a hug and told sorry but we couldn't tell because it would destroy my family. So again my story fell on deaf ears, and I felt so alone and helpless in this world.

I pushed through the next couple years and as I reached puberty and started middle school the sexual abuse became more frequent and kept me home from school many times. The house would be empty with my little brother at school and mom at work as he took the freedoms to do whatever he wanted to me. Somehow deep within me on occasion I would find inner strength to try to fight back but he would quickly gain control again with the beatings and threats of physical harm to my family. That first year in middle school finally came to an end and summer began.

 On one particular early summer morning, the last day I ever had to be in the home, there was a strange turn of events. This extremely violent day, my mom decided to finally stand up and take action for the family. After what seemed like hours of driving around in circles, she finally stopped at the police station to file a domestic abuse case against my step dad.  After my mom finished the paperwork she grabbed my brother's hand and headed for the door. I trailed behind as I got half way to the door I stopped and looked over my right shoulder to the police behind the counter, and then back to the door as I watched them walk out. In that moment I decided to turn around walk back up to the counter and as the officers approached me I took a deep breath.  In a very soft spoken voice I began to tell my story again and again and again until somebody listened and believed me.

My brother and I were placed into a group home that very night.  As time went by I flourished in school and became a leader in the Girls Wings. As the investigation continued my brother and I moved in with my grandparents. That summer continued with love and support from my family.  When fall and school approached so did the court hearings.  The feeling of that hurt, sad lonely little girl came out again as I was made to believe that I destroyed my family and it was my entire fault. But this time I didn't back down. As I told my story, my inner strength grew each time. After months of testimony it came to an end. My step dad was found guilty and I was finally free from his abuse.

Maybe you are asking why I would want to share a story that's so private. Stories of abuse are too often kept as a deep, dark family secret.  It makes families and society feel uncomfortable to discuss or hear. But remember, it is not your burden or shame to carry. It is for those that sweep it under a rug as to ignore or make it go away. I am the voice for those who can't speak out for whatever reason. I want to be an encouragement for those who haven't found a way to their freedom.  Using this forum to share my own story that has been silent for so many years I hope will help others.  I know it helps me.