This is a video comprised from the nonprofit event I was honored to be the keynote speaker at last Summer. This was so hard for me. Preparing my speech was agonizing. To stand in front of hundreds of affluent people to share my story was hard as hell!!! I had to keep my speech in my hand to stay focused. I did it and the standing ovation was incredible!!! If you are interested in giving to a great nonprofit please give to this great one!! Intermountain is incredible. ￼
The Haunting Photo
This past June, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser benefiting an amazing organization in Montana that provided services for abused, neglected and at risk children, in the FlatHead Valley. This was the very first time I had ever told me story to a large crowd of people. These were not just regular people. These were very, very successful, wealthy people.
As I began to write the speech below, my insides began to get all tied up with emotions. I started going through the small amount of childhood photos I possess and called my mother to help with me with some timeline recall. As the day got closer, I wanted to back out so badly. I pushed through all the negative and embarrassing feelings to give the speech regardless.
This photo above gave me a gut punch of horrid memories……………………………
“Why does one child move through childhood abuse and flourish, while another is unable to break the cycle of abuse?
The Center for Youth Wellness states, high doses of adversity not only affect the child’s brain structure and function, developing immune systems, developing hormonal systems, but can also affect the way DNA is read and transcribed.
Imagine you’re walking in Glacier National Forest and you see a bear. (BAM!) Immediately, your hypothalamus sends a signal to your pituitary, which sends a signal to your adrenal gland that says” Hey, release stress hormones!” Adrenaline! Cortisol! These hormones cause your heart to start to pound, your pulse increases, your pupils dilate and in seconds, your mind and physical body are ready to either fight off the bear or run from the bear. If you are lucky enough to be with Jungle Jack Hanna, let him do the talking.
In all seriousness, those instant fight or flight reactions are wonderful if you’re in front of a bear. What happens though, if we are talking about a child and the bear comes home every day in the form of abuse, neglect, or trauma?
Their brains react the exact same way. When this response system is activated over and over, and over again, it goes from being adaptive or life-saving, to maladaptive, or health damaging. Children are especially sensitive to this repeated stress activation, because their brains and bodies are still developing.
What is the extent of damage on a child’s brain who lives through years of repeated trauma?
There are so many factors and variables. The bottom line is Children are unable to resolve their trauma. It is a complex and complicated task even most adults struggle to handle. Repeated trauma, affects the pleasure, reward center of the brain and literally changes the physiology of a child.
What is the likelihood you know an abused child?
* The CDC estimates that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
*93% of the time the child knows their abuser, and it is usually a family member or close friend.
Think of 4 young girls that you know. They may be friends of your children or grandchildren, on a school soccer team. Can you think of 6 boys in your extended family, or local school football team?
This beautiful state of Montana, is no exception to these statistics. In 2016 Montana had 17,311 total referrals for child abuse and neglect, which coincides with the rise in meth use. This has caused an overflow in the current foster care system which among other things, limits the counseling services needed for proper healing and recovery. Which is the reason I was asked to speak to you today.
It took a lifetime of adversity to get to where I am today, a happy and purposeful adult. What most people do not know about me is that I am a “one in four”. The terror, that was my childhood, began when I was 7 years old. On the evening after my 2nd brother was born, as my mom and new brother were in the hospital, my father woke me from my top bunk, carried me into my parent’s room, laid me on their bed, and did unspeakable things to me. That first introduction into child abuse was just one of the scariest encounters I had with my father. My young mind did the saving for me that day. My mind basically did a self, shut-down and I became detached from what was happening to me.
After my parents divorced, when I was 8, the abuse became a nightly ritual, unless my father was at sea with the Navy. This also became a punishment for everyday child behavior or slight infraction, like leaving a toy on the floor. This abuse continued for 5 years, until I was brave enough to run away at age 13. This is a brief recount of my experience.
It was the summer before I turned 9 and I still remember how excited I was. It was a sunny afternoon, as usual in southern California. By this time, I was well versed in caring for my younger siblings. I had recently gained two new step-siblings. While my father was at sea, and my step-mother was out shopping, I was left at home to care for my brothers. Sitting on the floor, with my 2-month-old brother cradled in my crossed legs, my two new brothers sat on either side of me on the floor. My 4th little brother was not where I could care for him.
Watching our favorite kids show, the sound of the house doorbell rang out. I answered and there stood a professionally, well-dressed woman with very beautiful, dark hair. She introduced herself as a social worker, who was making a new home visit to see my two-new step-brothers. Until that moment, I had never spoken to anyone outside of our church congregation. I never felt I had the ability or right to express my feelings to an adult ever! Yet, I questioned the purpose of a social worker. As she spoke to me about how she helps provide children with happy, safe homes, and families, her voice faded into a parental Charlie Brown sound. Her words became garbled as my heart began to beat out of my chest.
Then it happened. My first conscious brave moment. The words came flowing out of my nine-year-old lips. “I need to show you something.” I was shaking with fear, but knew in my heart what was happening to my 4th brother was not right. As I grabbed her warm hand, I walked her to the back, corner bedroom in the house. The room was cramped with three beds and a large dresser. I could see by the look on her face, she was confused at first. Nothing seemed to be wrong. The room was neat and clean.
I pointed to the, out of place, kitchen chair sitting up against the closet doors. “If you stand on the chair you can see my brother, living inside the cabinet.”, I said to her. It was actually, a high crawl space type attic about 8 feet from the floor. My brother was 5 years old and had been forced to live on bread and water for months, sleep on a crib mattress and relieve himself in a bucket, while never leaving the overhead closet of the boy’s bedroom.
That evening I found myself entering the child protective services system’s front door, for the first time. I still vividly remember my first day in the “system”. In the first 5 hours after arriving at the state group receiving home, I had been separated from all my siblings, had to shower in a bay type facility, was questioned, photographed and had to put on a uniform. After I was provided some food, I was taken to my room. As I sat on my new bed, I quietly cried for a while, but at some point, I began to feel relief. I thought to myself, I did it! I was brave and did the right thing. Sigh! Then the questions and panic began to build up inside me. Was it that easy to get away? Where will I go now? When will I see my brothers? Will I live here forever? Uhhh! Will I have to go back home?
Then suddenly, my room door flung open, as a dozen girls living in the dorm rushed into my room. Before I had time to react they pulled me off my bed, threw me to the ground and beat on me. My right hand stood on, my head pulled back by my hair, and my mouth covered by girl’s hand. Terrified does not even begin to describe how I felt. BAM!! Another traumatic experience, where I walked away feeling unsafe, alone and unable to express my feelings.
The first foster home I was sent to, took 3 of the 5 of us. I was so happy to be living with my blood related brothers again, but it was short lived. A couple of weeks after moving in, I was sent back to the state group home along with my 5-year-old brother. My infant brother stayed. You see the foster couple wanted to adopt a baby, we weren’t babies. I only saw my baby brother one more time after that day.
After some court hearings, my 5-year-old brother and I were sent across the US to live with our mother and her new husband. But this was also short lived, as several months later, at age 10, I was being sexually molested by my step-father. And by age 12, I found myself living back at my father’s home. The sexual abuse continued, as if I had never left. At this point in my life, nobody was aware that I had been abused. I had never told anyone. I really, didn’t even know that I was being abused, until I learned the word molestation from the Phil Donahue show. That was the first time in my life, I felt like killing myself. When I realized, what had been happening to me was not normal, was not what happened to every daughter, I felt embarrassed, disgusted, ashamed, and angry.
At the next evening church service, I confided in a trusted adult. I felt all those same feelings again, as I explained what I had been dealing with for four years. After I told those adults, my father was spoken to by our pastor, and for a couple of months the molesting stopped, the beatings however increased.
There was even a slide lock installed on the inside of my bedroom door. For the first time, I felt safe in my space, until that last night. The last night I ever lived under the same roof as my father, was the night before he went off to sea, for another 6-month ship tour. I will never forget that traumatic night.
Near the end of my father’s 6-months at sea, I snuck into my step-mother’s dresser drawer and read the last letter my father had sent to her. In this letter, I read that my father was very angry that I never responded to any of his letters. His words to her were, he is going to take care of Carrie when he gets home. Fear gripped every cell in my body as flashbacks of him killing our family dog in front of me, rushed through my memory. Several days later, while my step-mother was verbally abusing me, I snapped. I threatened to call the police and tell them about everything going on in the house. As I ran to the phone hanging on the wall, my step-mother pulled the phone right off and ran out of the house with it. Moments later, I was being escorted to a neighbor’s house where I was lectured for hours regarding the consequences of misbehavior and disrespecting adults. After being told to ask for forgiveness, I was ordered to walk back home. I never did. Instead, I kept walking. I kept walking, leaving all my siblings in that home. I decided to be brave that day, to save my life, and hopefully help my siblings. At 13, I walked through the night, along a busy highway for hours alone.
After I ran away, I told authorities about the molestation and abuse I had endured. For a couple years, I bounced from various foster homes and group homes without ever feeling like my issues from abuse were addressed. I didn’t even know what my issues were, I just knew I was different from most kids around me. I was left an introverted, damaged, yet hot tempered, emotionally numb child. I did not feel like a real person. I just felt like an object to be used by others for their own pleasures. I had no direction. No ability to handle my emotions. I had no aspirations, goals or dreams beyond just surviving another day.
Then I met Jo. Jo was brave enough to have been a foster mom for over 40 years and I will never forget her. After living in her home for several weeks, closed inside my emotionally numb safety shell, Jo took me to the San Diego Children’s Repertory Theater. At age 16 I found solace in the thespian world. During that year, through learning acting games, warm ups and being involved in playing other characters, I learned life-long skills that changed my life’s direction. In all my years in the system previously, nobody had made the choice to send me in a direction needed to deal with my very understandable insecurities, violent anger, learning disabilities, promiscuous behavior and phobias. The main concern just seemed to be food and lodging.
Jo made me feel safe in the way she spoke to me and in her expectations of my behavior. Jo showed me a different, more positive way to conduct my life. Jo introduced me to community volunteerism, taught me to set a formal table, took me to the opera and provided me with a window into options for my future. Unfortunately, her own life issues ended up cutting my time in her home short. From there, I ended up in three different foster homes, before I turned 18 and went on to my self-imposed train wreck of young adulthood.
However, Jo’s actions provided me an opportunity to experience the skills of acting, which helped me to learn and realize that I could put on different hats in different situations. That I could cope with my feelings by reigning in emotions and shifting my energy. This helped me greatly when I became a mother.
Over my life those acting skills have helped me to move through life as a damaged individual who could cope and seem normal amongst society. But I was and never will be “normal”.
I unfortunately, was never provided any of the amazingly powerful counseling and supportive services that Intermountain can provide to the children here in the Flathead Valley. It took 30 years of just making it the best I could to finally decide to be brave enough to get a degree in psychology. To help myself heal. During my education in psychology, I could analyze my pain and suffering. I was able to understand my broken self and eventually was able to let go and forgive. At age 50, I finally earned my degree and found myself.
Carl Jung said: “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” It was through my experiences with Jo, and other giving people in the theater, that I was able to choose to become a mother whose children did not know abuse, an Army veteran of 8 years, a first responder, an American Red Cross instructor, a college graduate, small business owner, community volunteer, and health and wellness coach. I believe though that I never met my full potential. I can stand before you today, not as a victim, but as a passionate advocate for the children who need help in this and in all communities.
I attended this event last year as a guest of the Hanna’s and eventually met some of the children from Intermountain at a barbeque event. Seeing myself in them, and being a member of this community, I want to do what I can to help them. Which is why I am standing in front of you today. I believe in the services that the Intermountain organization provides in helping to save children from horrible situations, but also in the skills they work to instill in the children they come across. Skills that could last a lifetime.
For instance, Providence Home, provides a family like group atmosphere while providing stabilization and in house professional treatment and care. Intermountain provides child and family therapy, co-occurring mental and substance abuse counseling, and emotional distress therapy. The Bigfork and Whitefish Day Treatment Programs offers emotional and behavioral counseling services for K-5th grade children. Collaboratively working with families, schools, and communities to build positive relationships – making a difference to help circumvent more restrictive and expensive care in the future.
It took courage to change my life, heart and spirit. I believe those in this room are courageous, and in fact I believe every single one of us can be a hero to the children in this community and we don’t even need a cape. We just need to be brave enough to have uncomfortable conversations, and to give of our gifts.
What happened to me was terrible. I’ve learned bad things do happen, but that doesn’t mean that they need to define me or destroy me. We all have things that happen to us and yes they shape us, they mold us, but they don’t have to define us, because in the end what defines us is how we react and the decisions we choose to make. Life provides us opportunities to overcome suffering and fear…opportunities to be brave. The abused, neglected and traumatized children in the Flathead community can be provided with not only that one adult that makes a difference, like Jo did for me, but a entire team. More than that, they can be provided guidance and a future young adulthood, not filled with the repercussions of their trauma, with the help of services provided by organizations like Intermountain.
I would like to thank you for your attention. The abused and unloved child in me, thanks you on behalf of all the children and families in the Flathead Valley that have been and will be helped by your generous donations and giving.”
…………………..The photo above was taken by my father the morning after he raped me for the first time. This was his “trophy” photo. Moments after this was taken, he packed me and my little bother in the van and we went on visit my newborn brother and my mother in the hospital.
I can still remember how angry, confused, and shocked I felt at that moment. You can see it on my face. Up until then, I was a happy, smiling child. He took that away from me for way too long!! I was angry at my mother because my father had told me to come sleep in their bed that night. He had told me that he was lonely because mommy was at the hospital. So after the rape, I blamed my mother for being gone. Crazy how a young mind deals with trauma. He kicked my mother out of the home several months later and moved our babysitter in, along with her two sons.
Even after reporting the abuse when I ran away at 13 years old, I received NO justice. The judge ruled that I did not have enough evidence. He wanted something in writing or an audio recording. #METOO
Several years later, my father was arrested and served 1 year in a work camp prison for molesting a 13 year old in his neighborhood. I know there were many others. #METOOVOTE Fighting to change laws/legislation to protect rape and molestation victims, more than the rapist, will make a difference!!!!
There are so many children in America that need loving, healing homes, foster parents and organizations like Intermountain. If you have the means, talents, love and skills to give, please do so!
These are two photos from that night, still make me smile. The moment I finished my speech EVERYONE stood up for a standing ovation. I was so moved to tears. I felt like I had completely laid my soul out to the venue. I felt an amazing sense of release and lightness. The rest of the evening, people came up to me and thanked me for enlightening them. Since most grew up in loving, nurturing homes, they could not fathom what I had been through. Most of the crowd had been longtime supporters of Intermountain’s and had attended the annual event for many years. Many speakers over the years gave amazing speeches, but this year was the first time a speaker spoke of their own child abuse story.
I am still so honored to know that my story helped to raise funds that will help others going through what I did. I hope to continue to share my story to benefit the abused youth in America.
If you would like to give to the Non-profit, Intermountain, here is their information:
500 S. Lamborn
Helena, Montana 59601
Religion Helped my Abusers
Growing up in my father’s house, church, religion, and private school were the norm. Ever Sunday in the morning and in the evening, my family was in attendance at the Southern Baptist church a few miles away. Every Wednesday night we were at night service. My younger brother and I attended the christian school the same church ran. On Saturdays, I was usually on the church campus for choir practice, ensemble practice, or sports. In all actuality, that church campus was my safe haven for many years.
When I was on my church campus, I was out of my father’s reach. I knew at least while I was involved at school or church, he could not molest or beat me. That being said, I was so confused by the constant conflicting messages coming at me. Being that I had been molested since the age of 5, I really didn’t know that the things happening in my home were not happening in every child’s home. I didn’t know it was wrong that my father came into my room every night at midnight and violated my body, then made me get up and go to the bathroom with him afterward, where he cleaned me up and gave me a douche. I did know I did not like it and it humiliated me. I had read through the bible or heard scriptures almost everyday for several years. These conflicting messages made me feel powerless for being a child and a female.
Ephesians 6: 1-4
Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck……………..
Those scriptures were preached not only at church and school, but by my father as he would open the bible up in our home and preach the same messages. Every sermon in church talked about obeying in some way. Women to obey their husbands. Children obey your parents. Obey god. Obey the words in the bible. Children obey your elders. Trust in god. God is all knowing, is peace, is love. Yet, in our home I would watch and listen to my step-mother being punched, kicked and blooded by my father. I would listen and watch my brothers being punched, kicked and thrown across the room. Of course, the horrific things happening to me by my father were even more conflicting to me.
1 Corinthians 7:36
If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.
1 Corinthians 7:1-40
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Timothy 2:15
But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
1 Timothy 2:11
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission
1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
…a woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.
1 Corinthians 14:33b-34
As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old – surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
1 Corinthians 14:35
If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything……………….
These were the messages being drilled into my young head almost 7 days a week. Children were to be seen not heard. In my home, being seen was a detriment. We were the outlet to the whims of the adults in the home. My step-mother was jealous of me, as she knew the molestation was happening. Her way of dealing with it was to treat me as an extra-marital affair, and my little brother suffered at her doing many times I believe because of her jealousy over me. There was no safe place in our home. Security only was present to me when I rode my bike or skateboard to the local beach. I would sit on the jetty for hours dreaming of a life where I had a voice and choice over what happened to my body.
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.
A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her………………..
Our church had many special services and events that brought hundreds to hear the word and repent. I can recall one service as we all sang Just As I Am………. At 12 years old the feeling of confusion filled every inch of my being. The sermon among other topics, was geared towards the sin of sex before marriage. Even at this age I really did not completely understand what sex was, but I did know that I was unclean because of what my father did to me nightly. Several weeks before this sermon something different had occured in my home. My father one weekend afternoon told me to come into the bathroom and take a bath with him. After he cleaned my area, he began to do unspeakable things and as I stood in the tub with him under me, I cried out in my head! I was so confused, embarrassed and now violated in a new way. This was the first time I wanted to die. I felt death, even in hell, was better than what I was living through in life. Of course, I felt I would go to hell, because I was clearly a sinful disobedient child.
The service ending song filled up the gigantic church and I felt a welling up inside to heed the song and request of the man speaking from the pulpit. Then my body moved from my pew and into the walkway. As I walked towards the steps under where my pastor stood, I heard the words “Thank you Jesus, for touching the heart of this child. Lord, forgive her for her sins and make her a vessel for your service.” As a female elder came to me and prayed with me, the pain and confusion became more entwined. I was 100% convinced that everything I was going through was my fault, due to my sins….not doing homework, not making my bed, cheating on school tests, not obeying adults, wearing shorts or a top that showed to much skin, and talking back. After the service, I got into my families van knowing that I was bad. I was 12 years old.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.”
But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel………………..
Before my 13th birthday, I was home alone with my younger siblings. It was normal for me to be put in charge of their care for hours at a time. As I switched through the channels on our t.v. one of my siblings began to cry. I went to provide care and returned to the t.v. When I returned to the t.v. to continue looking for a cartoon for my siblings to watch, the subject of conversation on the channel the t.v. was tuned to caught my attention. I sat on the floor in front of the cabinet t.v. and listened. To this day I don’t remember if the show was The Phil Donahue or The Merv Griffin show, but I know it was one of them…….what caught my attention was the guest’s story. The female guest was describing the inappropriate relationship her father had with her when she was a child. For the first time in my 12 years I heard the word molestation. My heart began to beat so loudly in my body that I could hear it inside of my head. The entire room seemed to close in around me and began to spin. Embarrassment, disgust, shame, anger, and the feeling of wanting to die filled the space. I couldn’t catch my breath. For the first time I had confirmation on the years of feeling what was happening in my home was wrong. Tears flowing down my face, every possible solution for ending my life began to move through my mind, like a fast forwarding movie.
Several days later, I got the bravery to tell a women in my church. I idealized her. She had hired me a few times to do dishes and clean her home for money I was earning to go to summer camp. I had never met a woman who was so soft spoken, beautiful and kind. At night service I pulled her aside and broke down, telling her that my father was doing things to me that were meant for mommies. She comforted me and for the first time I felt a huge weight had been lifted. My pastor’s wife was brought over and I repeated the story. I went home that night with my family and did not say a word about what I had done. The next day my father was called in to speak with the pastor. When he got home, I suffered greatly. He was angered by my telling, but also because he was fired as the sunday school bus driver. My soul was crushed. I was so hopeless. The molestation stopped for a short while and my father put a slide lock on the inside of my bedroom door. The beatings were kicked into high gear to compensate.
The night before my father was to ship out for his next Navy tour, I was abruptly awakened by the sound of a loud bang. Still groggy, I could tell that my father had used his 250lb body to force my bedroom door open. He did not come in at first. As the slide lock laid of the floor, he stood outside the door. The door was only open enough to see the light from the hallway and the shadow of my father’s large body could barely be seen. The only sounds that I could hear were the sounds of my father begging and whining. Like a child, he begged me to let him come in. “Just one more time, please, please.” “I will buy you a new bike.” “I will give you money.” I said nothing. Frozen stiff in my bed. It seemed like hours went by and then I must have fallen asleep. For the first time in all the years of molestation, I came out of my mental comatose state. (A defense mechanism my little brain took on early was to go somewhere else when it was happening). This time I woke up to find my father’s naked body on top of me. A superhuman strength took over my body and I was able to throw his huge body off of me. He flew up and over onto my 3 leveled bedside table. He hit the table back first then fell on all fours to the floor. Whining in pain he crawled out of my room like an injured dog. That was the last night I lived in the same home as my father…………………………..
More about my story, how I got out of that home, and came to be an atheist in future postings.
My goal is to help others by sharing my healing journey and mindset. I am all about total health and happiness. Please follow me on your favorite social media site @menopausemedic Thx
The blase’ Attitude Surrounding Sexual Assault
It has been awhile since my last posting. Sharing my story has turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be. I have decided today to talk about the issue surrounding the attitudes that still seem to be present today regarding sexual assault, sexual abuse, and molestation. If you have read my posting, you know I am not a “writer”. I am a survivor of molestation, sexual assault, rape and alike. My voice was ignored when I was younger. Due to some of the same ridiculous attitudes that seem to be present TODAY!!!
What fired me up today was a news article about Hania Aguilar detailing some findings in her autopsy report and the fact that two Robeson deputies were suspended for allowing a backlog of rape information and evidence just sit, which could have jailed her killer before she was attacked.
The fact that perpetrators seem to have more rights and are defended by just about all authorities more than the victim, just angers me to no end. The fact that victims regularly get no justice based on “lack” of evidence puts a light on the fact that the victims come second. As a child that was molested for 8 years by my father, told authorities after I ran away, then stood on the witness stand against my father, my self-worth was shattered when the judge dismissed the case stating I had no evidence. All those years of pain, fear and rape went unpunished. Not to mention my father raped others after me.
IT IS TIME TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! According to hrf (healthreasearchfunding.org):
- The number of registered sex offenders in the US is 747,000
- 33% are currently under correctional supervision
- The average age of a rapist is 31 and 52.2% are white males
- An estimated 24% of those serving time for rape and 19% of those serving for sexual assault had been on probation or parole at the time of a repeat assault
- Only 2% of the Catholic clergy sexual abusers ever served time, despite over 10,000 victims and over 4,300 victims
- Offenders with a previous sex offense conviction have 37% reoffense rate
- Rapists repeat at upto 35% rate
- Second offenses occur while the offender is living in a supervised community is 60%
- It costs $22,000 per year to house a sex offender
- 30% of children sexually abused with become offenders as adults
- Around 47% of victims are revictimized by their family and or extended family
- Only 10% of all sex crimes actually result in criminal conviction
- Only 33% of the sex offenses that occur to children between ages 12-19 are ever reported.Only 30% of rapes are ever reported.
That is just a small portion of the information, and it just makes me sick. It seems day after day there are cases where a rape, kidnapping, or sexual assault is perpetrated by someone that has a record or has been accused in the past. The mentality that it happened years ago, such as with people in powerful positions, is a disgrace. The idea that they have accomplished a great deal and are pillars in the community so therefore their word must be taken over the victim, is convenient for the unjust attitude towards victims.
Are there people that are evil and will make false claims…..um yes! That sickens me even more. That is a very small percentage, and those that have been traumatized and victimized are left with the unjust pain. There has to be a change in the way sexual assault and abuse is viewed in the justice system. I applaud the #metoo movement and #timesup for shining a light on the epidemic, but there is still so much that must be changed.
Medical and psychological technologies have come along way since my case back in 1980. I am certain that psychological testing, and deeper investigations could be done to provide validity to victims accounts. In addition determine the psyche of the accused. I think about Jaycee Dugard and her rapist/kidnapper. He had a record and was under a judicial eye. For the victims that are lucky enough to see justice, why isn’t the punishment more severe? I think of Steven Stayner. His rapist/kidnapper only received 7 years . The same amount of years that poor boy was held captive and repeatedly raped. Just ridiculous!!! The courts should allow and take into account any and all previous convictions or reports of rape, molestation, or sexual assault. That information should NEVER be inadmissible. Changes in the justice system must change now!
In my case, the judge stated that I needed something in writing or a recording of the molestation. WHAT? It was all I could do to run away with the clothes on my back when I was 13 years old. I can’t even imagine the amount of children my father raped and molested over the years, I’m positive it was hundreds. The only time he was convicted (that I know of) was around the time I was 18 years old. A 13 year old friend of my younger brother started to write the sexual encounters in her diary and her mother came across the information. Even with the proof in writing and her testimony, my father served 1 year in Chino (a work prison where he made a paycheck).
The photo above is one of my little brothers and me. I was already being molested at the time. Of course, I had NO idea that what was happening to me was not normal. I lived in a “Christian” home. The bible was shoved down our throats and as good “Christian” children we were told to obey our elders, not speak up or question. My father for a time used the molestation as a punishment. Just image being 7 years old and you forget to put your toys away, so you get raped for it. There is so much more to my story that I will continue to share in following postings. Today I just felt the need to vent. #victimsmatter
Well it has been a long while……….Living 5 1/2 months of the year in a cabin with no ability to have wifi, makes having and keeping a online presence difficult. I guess I should have looked at my last post before starting this one, but hell, I live off the cuff…so lets do this!
The LIVE televised hearings brought out SOOOOOO many emotions up from within me. A change needs to happen in the US and the segregated views present that many males seem to still have regarding females.
The comments rolling in during the hearings broke my heart. The idea that something that happened while in a person’s teens should be forgiven or forgotten 39 years later, boggles my sense of humanity.
To be perfectly honest, I have had 0 faith/trust (elders) in the justice system since age 5 and I’m 51 currently. The justice system has failed several of my siblings, other victims of my abusers, and me. Retrospectively, there were several opportunities when adults and or authorities could have saved me from more years of abuse, but they failed.
At the age of 8, I alerted a social worker that my 5 year old brother had been forced to live in a crawl space for months. given only bread a water once a day and having to relieve himself in a bucket. Police arrived at our home in Imperial Beach, California in what seemed like seconds. The whole thing must have just been a whirl wind for me, as I have only pieces of memory. Ms Katz was her name, the social worker. She was not even at the house to look in on me or my brother. My two new step-brothers had been abused by their birth father and Ms. Katz was on an unannounced visit that day.
My father was on a Navy ship tour in the Philippines and my step-mother had left the house only 30 minutes prior for some grocery shopping. As per usual I was charged with sibling care. At that time their were 5 children in the home, of course I was the eldest. The youngest was my little JoJo, only a few months old. The door bell rang and I prepared the scripted response beaten into my head by my father. Opening the door with my foot placed strategically to stop the door if pushed from the other side, I gazed at the well put together women in front of me.
I explained that my step-mom had gone down to the local store and would be back in moments. That of course was not the case. She had gone to the base to purchase food from the commissary and that would mean she would be gone for several hours. Ms. Katz had beautiful dark brown hair, that shined like glass. Behind her on the street curb sat her parked car. I imagined it was a fast car, because it was small with a sunroof (or moon roof) and the paint color was black or very dark blue.
At some point during our brief conversation the words she was speaking began to sound like the adults in the peanut’s cartoons. The only clear sounds I heard were the pounding of my heart and something telling me to show her Mikey. Fear of death or torture at my father’s hands, filled my mind. Before I could stop them the words spilled over my tongue, ” can I show you something?” I asked. The police arrived and took all my younger siblings away.
As I sat in the front seat of her car on the way to my first visit to the San Diego Children’s Receiving Home in HillCrest California. I felt like I was in a space ship, not a car. The seat was so deep, I could barely see out the window. So many controls and buttons. I had no idea what I was getting ready to endure, just as I thought I was safe………To Be Continued………..cjc
My goal is to help others by sharing my healing journey and mindset. I am all about total health and happiness. Please follow me on your favorite social media site @menopausemedic Thx
Point of No Return
A point of no return occurs when turning back or changing your mind is no longer an option. I believe everyone has had a heart-throbbing-what-am-I-doing moment or two in life. For me, the second I released my grip from the C-182 airplane wing and the moment I ran away from my father’s house were just two times in my life.
Running away from home and skydiving for the first time, may not seem to have much in common; they both are examples of reaching a point of no return. Although stress, fear, and danger were present during both events, the catalysts that led me to both points were very, very different.
“Where the hell is the smiley face?” Those were the first words I yelled as I released my grip from the wing of the plane. I was on a first date and neither of us had ever been skydiving. We arrived at the jump school before the sun rose and spent the entire morning going through the steps of a static line parachute jump. Over and over again we practiced each step of the process under the watchful eye of the instructor. By early afternoon, I found myself 3,500 feet above the Earth, with my feet dangling beneath me as I held onto a bar underneath the wing in a clinched death grip. Like clockwork, I went through the final step we had practiced on a grounded practice plane. Looking up at the underside of the wing above me, I arched my body into a backwards C position just as I released my death grip.
On the practice plane, there was a bright yellow happy face sticker. As I looked at the wing during my jump, there was no such sticker, and panic sunk in. Counting in my head, “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” The cord connected to the plane and my parachute pulled , causing my parachute to open with a violent jolt. My life flashed before my eyes like a movie on fast forward. I momentarily felt suffocated within my fear, as I realized that I had passed the point of no return. My heart, still pounding in my chest, was the only sound I could hear as I floated down to the Earth below. “I love my life, I love my family!” I screamed out into the open air. Suddenly, I was hit by emotion as I glanced down below and noticed the interstate. My mind flashed back to another moment in my life when I was still a child.
At five years of age, I believed that my daddy spun the Earth, as I’m sure most little girls do. Days away from my sixth birthday, my father’s voice woke me from my sleep. “Pumpkin, wake up”, he said. I could tell that it was still dark outside and all the lights in the house were off. “Was something wrong with my mommy and the new baby at the hospital?” I thought to myself. As my father carried me into the hallway, I heard his deep voice whisper. “Mommy is not here and daddy is so lonely.” “It’s alright daddy, don’t be scared”, I replied as he carried me into my parent’s bedroom.
Before 1980, I had never heard the word molestation. As I sat on the beige, shag carpet, watching the Phil Donoghue show, the word flew out of the T.V. and crushed my twelve year old soul. As the guest described the same life that I had lived for almost eight years of my life, a cold blackness enveloped my world. I was home with my younger siblings without parents, as my father was overseas and my step-mother was out shopping. For a moment, I was suffocated in anger, disgust, and embarrassment. Thoughts of killing myself flooded my young mind, as I began to scream. “I hate my life, I hate my family!” As the words left my mouth, my infant brother began to cry. His cry saved my life.
Several hours later, my step-mother walked into the house. Fists clenched, I yelled in her direction with all the volume I could muster. “I know what is going on in this house and I’m calling the police!” Without hesitation, my step-mother barked back. “You’re going to hell, young lady!” Suddenly the sting of her hand struck the left-side of my face with such force; it caused my head to turn towards the kitchen. As my eyes filled up with tears, I spotted the bright yellow phone hanging on the kitchen wall. My body took control, as I ran toward the phone on the wall. As I picked up the receiver, it was abruptly pulled off the wall and out of my hand. My step-mother ran through the kitchen and out of the house, with the only phone in the house tucked safely under her arm. This was way before cell phones. As she ran to our neighbors home, the pounding of my heart was the only sound I heard. I realized that I had passed the point of no return. If I didn’t start running away from my home, I knew my father would kill me, bury me in the backyard and tell everyone my estranged mother took me. No one would question. My pace was swift as I walked down our street towards the interstate. One step after the other, knowing that I could never return to the only home I had known. Frightened and unsure of what would happen or where I would go, I continued walking alongside the interstate in the dead of night.
Although, both of these moments in my life were so very different, some of the emotions were the same. I was the one who chose to go skydiving and put myself in a possible life or death situation. I did not have a master jumper strapped to my back to save me if I panicked or made a mistake. I was on my own and my actions would dictate the outcome. In my childhood, I did not choose to be abused and taken advantage of by the adults in my life. I did however, choose to save my own life by jumping into the unknown without assistance from anyone.
Suicide, worth it?
For the most part NO! Do I think murders, rapists or child-molesters should commit suicide, if they feel guilty enough to do so? hell yes! If you are not part of one of those categories or a horrible human being, then NO….SUICIDE is NOT worth it!
The sun was beating down from the sky and blazed in through the bedroom window, I shared with my foster sister. The black light wall paper created a soul draining darkness in the room, as I stood in the center of the room. My heart was pounding and my blood was still boiling, from the phone conversation I had just had with my boyfriend. The very same boyfriend that was in this photo next to me.
To this day I can’t even remember what the conversation and argument was about, but at the time it felt life crushing. My recollection of that day was that my high school boyfriend was going to go out with his friends or family, and I wanted him to spend time with me. Growing up as abused and neglected as I had, my emotions (or rather the inability to control them) were not rational to be certain! What ever was going on, I felt at the end of my rope. I felt helpless. I felt alone.
I did not want to be alive anymore. At that very moment, I was done! I was done being abused and taken advantage of. I was done with feeling disappointment and loss. As I stood in the middle of my room, thoughts of jumping from a high bridge crossed my mind, but how would I GET THERE?
Running in front of a fast moving car would be easier, I thought. Then I noticed the medication bottles on our night stand. I had heard about over-dosing on medication in health class, so it must work. As my breathing increased in rate I grabbed one of the bottles, removed the cap and poured the pills into my mouth. Grabbing a bottle of water I forcefully swallowed the remaining pills.
The memory is clouded, but I remember my foster sister was the person I told, after I consumed the pills. Like a whirlwind my foster mother had me in the car and we were in route to the ER. The ER was packed that day. The rooms were full and the hallways even had patients waiting for care. Only moments passed by before a nurse came over and forced me to drink some black crap (which turned out to be activated charcoal) . Gross is not even the correct word for the way it tasted going in. Horrific, is the best description for how it tasted and felt coming back out. Like a volcano, black sludge forcefully came out of my mouth. I could not make myself stop vomiting.
This happened during a holiday weekend (which ended up saving me) and since many of the mental health specialist were on vacation, I was to spend a week in the mental health ward before I would be seen by a practitioner. As a 16 year old, I had no true idea of what a mental ward was like, the reality hit me without prejudice or care.
Stripped of all my own clothes, I was made to shower with the door cracked open, so the attendant could make sure I did not try to hut myself. I was lucky this day that I had a medical assistant that was kind and not a scum bag. Luckily, I was provided a room to myself, but I had to leave the door ajar at all times. The only t.v. was in the main lobby, and meals had to be eaten in the cafeteria area.
The photo in this blog was taken around the time of my attempted suicide. Looking at it now, I can’t believe how ridiculous I was being that day.
Just like in a horror movie, there were people walking about mumbling or yelling at times. Some people had white helmets on, because they would bang their head on the walls… I was in CRAZY town and I was so afraid. The entire time I was admitted only my boyfriend came to visit me. My foster parents never came and none of my foster siblings.
This was back when Prince and Purple Rain was the talk of the town. My boyfriend snuck me a walk-man (young folk, google it) and the Purple Rain soundtrack tape. One of the attendants caught me with it, but told me to hide it in my pillow case, from the other patients. When ever I was not required to be out of my room, I would lay in my bed with the pillow over my head. Listening to the tape over and over again. Hundreds of times in the week. I knew every word of every song, and still do today.
The doctor assigned to my case came in for a quick visit, due to the fact he was going on vacation the next day for two weeks. After interviewing me and finding out about the years of abuse I lived through, he wanted to keep me for an extended amount of time. I freaked, in my head at least. Due to the fact that he was leaving, I got lucky and was released after a week or so.
So many things happened in my favor. I ended up taking a bunch of anti-biotics, and the doctor was going out of town. I was so lucky, although I did not see that back then.
Today I have 6 grown children and in a few weeks my 7th grandchild will be born. I have lived in many states and countries around the world. I have checked so many things off my list of things I want to do in my life, and still have so much more to do and see.
Back when I was 16 , I did not understand just how strong I was. To live through the horrific abuse in my father’s home, my step-father’s home, being raped as a teen, is just incredible. Nobody at the time was there to tell me I was strong, or that life will get better.
Has my adult life been easy? HELL NO! Life is not always easy and suffering is part of life. How we view and deal with the suffering is our choice and the true freedom of life. Even though PTSD and depression have followed me all of my years, the negative effects are minimal now.
Life is a choice. Choose life. Until my next blog, peace, love & happiness. Look for me on https://youtu.be/luPOhobVqO0.
Child Abuse, Self-concept, and PTSD
“With childhood sexual abuse, victims are often too young to know how to express what is happening and seek out help. When not properly treated, this can result in a lifetime of PTSD, depression and anxiety” (Babbel).
At the age of five, my mind dealt with the sexual abuse by shutting down my senses and cognition during the frequent rape by my birth father. He even began to refer to himself as the midnight raider, since the abuse usually occurred at midnight. I would lay in bed not fully asleep until I heard my bedroom door being open. As my basic defensive mechanism for dealing with the trauma was to black out mentally, it became a routine. Kessler and Bieschke (1999), discuss the that dissociative defenses interfere with cognitive capabilities, so that the sense of self and identity become fragmented. This was my consistent coping mechanism as I endured eight more years of sexual abuse by my birth father. Dissociation became my psychological life raft throughout my childhood and well into my adulthood. Even to this day, when life gets overwhelming or depression is thick, sleep or escape is my go to solution.
My mental safe place or blackout would be disrupted after my birth father would finish his act, because he would get me out of bed to walk me to the bathroom every time. In the bathroom he would douche out my vaginal area, clean me up and then would tell me to go back to bed. I have many clear memories of the waking and cleaning, but I gratefully still have no recollection of the feelings, sounds, and smells from the actual sexual abuse.
My shattered self-concept at the age of five set me up to have low-self-esteem and left me to view myself as an object instead of a living being. My birth-parents divorced when I was six years old. I was left to survive in my birth-father’s house where corporal, cruel and unusual punishments were a daily occurrence, unless he was out to sea on his Navy ship. During my early childhood and into the beginning years of middle childhood, my birth father would use the sexual abuse as a means of punishment. He would decide at any moment that my normal childhood behavior was bad behavior, and I would be given the choice to be beaten or molested.
I can’t recall ever actually asking for the molestation, but I can remember the moment when I realized I would rather be beaten. I began to ask for the beatings every time, until my birth father stopped giving me the choice. At this point in my young life my sense of self was completely distorted, in that my self-concept was concentrated on my current survival instead of my true, inner self. This type of self-concept is normal in sexually abused children, according to Chun and Hill (1993).
“Studies have shown that children who experience sexual abuse tend to recover quicker and with better results if they have a supportive, caring adult (ideally a parent) consistently in their life” (Babbel).
During my middle childhood years, I was taken out of my birth father’s home by the state due to the abuse and imprisonment of one of my younger brother’s…….(That story will be told another day). In my recollection, during the social worker interviews and the police interviews, the subject of molestation never came up. At this point, at eight years old, I was not even aware that what my birth father was doing to me was not a normal thing happening in every little girls life in the world.
At the age of nine, I found myself living with my birth mother, her new husband, and two of my younger brothers. I remember feeling so happy and excited to be living with my birth mother and my step-father. He seemed to be much kinder than my birth father had been. There wasn’t any violence, beatings or yelling in the home.
“By far the most common effect of sexual abuse is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms can extend far into adulthood and can include withdrawn behavior, reenactment of the traumatic event, avoidance of circumstances that remind one of the event, and physiological hyper-reactivity” (Babbel).
By the age of ten my step-father validated my shattered self-concept the day he had me come into my parent’s bed to nap with him one Sunday afternoon, while my birth mother was shopping. I recall laying there for the first few moments next to him feeling safe and secure, until I felt my underwear being taken off. I froze with fear as I heard his voice telling me not tell anybody. As my body began to be violated by my step-father, my young mind reverted back to the coping mechanism that had already worked for several years and I mentally blacked out. I came out of my coping black out when my birth mother opened the bedroom door to find us both under the blankets in their bed. Unfortunately, I can recall the feeling of my step-father abruptly taking his body part out of my little body, as my birth mother yelled that I was to never take a nap with him again. I said nothing as I was being scolded by her, as my self-concept of being just an object became more grounded in reality. I immediately felt ashamed and was afraid it was my fault.
Retrospectively, I understand that my birth mother was acting in a typical manner, in that she was unintentionally repeating the cycle of abuse in her relationships. The repeated cycle is a residual effect according to Kessler and Bieschke (1999).
During a family vacation to visit my step-father’s family at eleven years old, yet again, my shattered self-concept was validated. This time though, it was not a father figure, instead the two young men that were about to deepen my low self-concept were two of my step-fathers younger brothers. They were both college age, while they were left home watching me and my brothers I was summoned into their bedroom where they both molested me. As usual, my mind blacked out during the abuse and afterwards, I spent the rest of my time in that home trying to hide from everyone. This was a major point in my life when I became extremely introverted and withdrawn from life. My goal everyday was to not be seen and or heard by any adults. I felt that I was only good for one thing,
“Another legacy of sexual abuse is that children abused at any early age often become hyper-sexualized or sexually reactive. Issues with promiscuity and poor self-esteem are unfortunately common reactions to early sexual abuse” (Babbel).
During my adolescence, after moving through several foster homes and caregivers I found myself in a safe place. I was attending a public school, had begun to have friends or at least hang around other teens, and I had begun to feel that I was a living being. At the age of sixteen, I had a steady boyfriend, and had been having a sexual relationship with him for almost a year. This was not a negative relationship, we were the same age, and I felt safe whenever I was around him. During a sleepover party at another teen’s home, my terrible self-concept was again validated, but this time it was at the hand of another adolescent.
At the end of the party, several teens found a place to sleep in the basement room of the house. The house belonged to the parent’s of a senior at the high school I attended. He had also been a longtime friend of my boyfriend. Several single beds had been placed in the basement for the purpose of housing many of the party goers. As I slept on a single bed across the room from my boyfriend’s bed, a hand grabbed me, from what seemed like under my bed, abruptly bringing me to the floor next to my bed. As my eyes opened to focus on who had pulled me off the bed a hand covered my mouth. The teen held his hand over my mouth as he pulled my underwear off and forced himself into my body. I froze and went to my mental safe place.
Re-victimization is a common occurrence in sexual abuse victims according to Kessler and Bieschke (1999).
Reverting back to my well used coping mechanism, I blacked out until the act was done, and then I crawled back into my bed and never said a word. These events left me to continue surviving through life as an object instead of a person. I also developed a physical manifestation, due to the overflow of mental stress in my life. Rocking back and forth became a daily ritual for me for several years. I would seek out rocking chairs to sit in to hide the uncontrollable urge to self pacify when possible. During this developmental stage in my life I also had begun to have a great deal of stomach problems, these somatic symptoms are part of stress management after exposure to trauma according to Kugler (2012). All of the previous events, of course also set me up to find a future partner that would also abuse me and validate my self-concept.
At age eighteen I married my first husband, who turned out to be a drug addict and an abuser. The same re-victimization pattern that subjected me to abuse when I was in my middle and teen childhood phases, was now occurring in my young adult life, just as Kessler and Bieschke (1999) describe. After six months of marriage we were separated for three weeks before I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. Terrified, does not describe the emotion I felt when I heard the words that I was going to have a child. I had such low self-esteem at this point in my life, I did not feel like I was good for anything except being pretty to look at and have sex with. I had a temper that would be triggered with little provocation. I had never wanted to have children, because I did not want to bring a person into the horrible world that I had known. At age eighteen I did not realize that I had the choice and the power to not be like my birth parents. I had never had counseling or guidance through foster care and the transition to adulthood. One thing I did have was a sense of kindness and I realized that children were innocent.
I began to walk to the local public library to check out child development and child rearing books, so that I could educate myself of the normal development and behaviors of infants and toddlers. I also wanted to learn about alternate ways of teaching a child how to behave without hitting them, because I knew that I had a very hot temper. I understood that the pain and agony that I endured was not what a child should have to deal with, so I wanted to do what I could to give my baby a better life. As my first born grew and developed inside of me and as I continued to educate myself, I also began to feel that I was more than an object to be used and abused. I began to have a self-concept that included identifying models in my readings that I could follow.
The rocky journey that built the foundation for the person that I am today would have been very different had I been born only ten years later. I was born in 1966 and in my environment my lot in life was to begin learning how to cook, clean and care for others at the age of six, prepare for marriage in my early adulthood, then have children and care for my families needs. There was no thought of education or rights of females in my home environment. During my psychology education journey, I have wondered where the professionals were that had information and facts of my childhood. How did the system let me fall through the cracks. I understand that times were very different in the early eighties, and I hope that children are provided better care and counseling in today’s child welfare program’s.
My journey to healing will go on and I aspire to use my pain and knowledge to assist others down their own paths to recovery. The pieces of my shattered self-esteem can never be reassembled to appear perfectly normal, but the mosaic that the broken pieces have become illuminate beautiful light on my future.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
Until next time,
Peace, Love and Happiness
Babbel, S., PsychologyToday.com. https://www.illuminate.com/blog/somatic-psychology/201303/trauma-childhood-sexual-abuse.
Chung, M., & Hill, R. (1993). On describing the psychological struggle of child sexual abuse victims through Kierkegaard’s concept of self. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 24(2), 81-90.
Kessler, B. L., & Bieschke, K. J. (1999). A retrospective analysis of shame, dissociation, and adult victimization in survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 46(3), 335-341. doi:10.1037/0022-0188.8.131.525
Kugler, B. (2012). Somatic Symptoms in Traumatized Children and Adolescents. Child psychiatry & Human Development, 43 (5), 661-673.
Thinking about what to write in this blog; I kept coming ’round to the topic of adversity. Why do humans often have such a difficult time dealing with set backs in life? A common adversity that can throw us into a tailspin, is the state of mourning brought about by the sudden, unexpected death of a friend or family member. Obviously, adversity is not always associated with a sudden death.
Looking at this photo I think about the horrific abuse I was enduring, but did not even realize at the time. At the age of five the abuse began in my life and continued until I ran away at the age of thirteen. Adversity entered my life with a violation of my body’s innocence.
Memories have faded from the corners of my mind due to my psychological response to the trauma, yet the night my birth father woke me from my top bunk is crystal clear. “Come sleep in daddy’s and mommy’s bed, daddy is lonely with mommy gone”, he said. I loved my daddy at the age of five so why wouldn’t I go? Where was my birth mother? She was in the hospital recovering from delivering my 2nd brother, Robert. My 1st little brother, Edward, was asleep in the bottom bunk.
Before I knew it my body was in pain and as I cried out, Dick comforted me telling me it will not hurt long. How does a twenty-three year old man call his five year old daughter to come sleep with him and rape her? It is damn hard to comprehend, I have to confess. Nevertheless, that is my story.
Like most little girls I thought my birth father was superman, before that life changing event. I couldn’t wait for him to come home from work and did not like it when he was gone for extended periods of time. Let’s just refer to my birth father as Dick from here on out. Dick changed from a superhero to a villainess, predatory monster. I learned to pray for extended periods when Dick would be gone, even though life was still far from healthy with him away.
When Dick was away, many times Edward and I would be locked in our bedroom overnight. Jean would go out and usually came home the next morning. There was an exception, of course. One morning she did not return and as the day continued Edward and I began to get hungry. Minutes turned into hours and she never unlocked the bedroom door to let us out. Climbing up onto the top bunk was the only way that I could see outside. The windows in our room were small and were very high up on the wall. Looking out the window, I could see our side yard and the neighbors garage but no people were around.
Day turned into to night without anyone coming to get us. Edward had begun to cry a great deal and nothing I tried would take his mind off of crying. Once the sun set for the night, sleep seemed to be the only way to deal with being scared and hungry. In the early moments the next morning, just before the sun began to illuminate, I woke up to Edward screaming. The large lamp at the end of our room had a glowing base. Wrapped around the base was a pair of pantyhose and my brother thought it was a snake.
His screams and crying were too much for me to take and I had to do something. Up on my bunk I starting yelling for help as he continued to cry. At six years old I was experiencing adversity that I would not wish on anyone. After hours of crying and yelling, there was knocking on our window. Looking out from the top bunk, I could see two adults, maybe the next door neighbors……don’t remember. They ended up taking us out of the room through our window and down the ladder. Keeping us for another day until she finally returned home………….
Weeks after my birth mother, Jean, came home with Robert I sat on a brown leather ottoman looking out of our living room bay window, as Jean pushed Robert’s crib up our street. Robert was with her, of course and after that day I did not see either of them again for almost two years. Edward and I were left to live with the monster Dick………..
Just these few events set me up for a life of trauma and dysfunctional relationships, it set me up to have little to no regard for my body. PTSD from childhood trauma is known now, but not when I was a child or young adult. During my college education, I was able to retrospectively evaluate behaviors throughout my life and identified PTSD symptoms. Although one traumatic event can cause PTSD, years and years of abuse changes the brain as well. Sexual abuse instills a sense of shame in the victim according to PsychologyToday.com. That is an understatement!
I will end for today. After my first posting yesterday my mind has been racing with thoughts and memories. I think that I have needed an outlet for way too long and I am glad to have a chance to tell me story. I hope that I will help or at least inform someone about the life long effects of child abuse , but more importantly I hope to continue growing as a human.
Until later, Peace, Love & Happiness
Mema’s First Chat
This photo used to be hard for me to look at……..not just because of my hair! This was taken in the same year my birth father began molesting me. In my 50 years of life the damage created by the years of physical, mental, and sexual abuse I endured has had substantial effects in my life. Finding meaning in life when your brain has been rewired due to traumatic abuse, can be a daunting task.
I have decided to create this blog to openly discuss the negative and positive effects child abuse has caused in my own life, and to share my wisdom in healing. While gaining my degree in psychology, I went through some deep, dark months of depression. Having to look inside my own mind and cracked psyche was a frightening journey.
In my blog I will be open to discussing any and all topics. In doing so, I realize that I will be extremely vulnerable to other people’s opinions and judgment, but in the hopes of helping other…bring it. Are there events and decisions in my life that I regret? Yes, tons! I realize that I can do nothing about the past, but what I can do is share my story.
So to start I want to talk about some personal values. When I was a child I did not understand the concept of personal values. All I understood was that children are the property of their parents and adults can do as they wish with them. Growing up in a southern baptist home I understood that the words of elders were to be obeyed. I knew the 10 commandments, but could not relate to the message. When you grow up being raped by your father regularly, watching siblings being beat and family pets killed at the hands of the “elder” the bible says to obey, how is it possible to develop personal values beyond survival? Well, what are some of my personal values today?
Personal values are a core part of who a person is and who a person wants to be. Becoming more aware of personal values is an important factor in developing a happy life. Personal core values used to guide decisions can leave a person feeling satisfied with the choices and direction of life. Every human can be said to have different personal values. What would every parent say would be the personal values most desired in the development of children? Three personal values discussed in this blog are self-control, honesty, and consideration of others.
Self-control separates human beings from the animal kingdom and from ancient humans due to the development of the large prefrontal cortex. The development of the prefrontal cortex begins around the age of seven and continues into the early twenties, and is the last area to mature and is vital in controlling impulses and in decision-making (Guberti, 2016). Civilization requires self-control from all citizens for the world to be a harmonious melting pot of humans. In this day and age of fast information and social media, self-control has taken a back seat it seems more often than not. Under Societal Concerns (main GSS survey heading); desirable qualities for children (sub-heading-1) self-control (sub-heading-2) percentages over ten years: In 1983 only 13.6% of parents value self-control versus 18.2% in 1973. There is an obvious downward trend found in the data in parents’ value of self-control in children. The data and measures in the percentages were generated more than thirty years ago, given more up-to-date data would be eye opening.
Consideration of others is another personal value that is important and vital in creating a peaceful world. Being kind and respectful to others no matter the race, religion or creed can build cohesion in all communities. Alena Hall writes in 7 Habits of Considerate People (2014) that people thought as considerate in nature are found to practice empathy, smile often, are intuitive, are polite, are selfless, are patient, and are found to apologize easily. Under Societal Concerns (main GSS survey heading); desirable qualities for children (sub-heading-1) consideration of others (sub-heading2) percentages over seven years: In 1986 36.4% value consideration of others versus 28.7% in 1980. These data sets, yet again are from thirty years ago. It should be noted that even back then there was an upward trend in parents valuing consideration in children.
Honesty and integrity produce peace of mind and promotes relationships of trust. The opposite of honesty creates anxiety, distrust, conflict and corruption. Jeff Durham (2016) discusses the importance of honesty in life and relationships as vital in producing trust and confidence. Honesty is an important value that leads to the building of trust, loyalty, and respect in many of the vital areas in life, whether it be work, school, or personal relationships. Honesty seems to be a value that has been lost not only in the news media, but also within the government secure of the United States. Under Societal Concerns (main GSS survey heading); desirable qualities for children (sub-heading-1) honesty (sub-heading-2) percentages over seven years: In 1986 51.6% value honesty as compared to 64.5% in 1980. Even thirty years ago there was a downward trend in parents valuing honesty in children. It could be assumed that the downward trend continued and the children then are the adults of today.
Self-control, consideration of others, and honesty seem to be no brainer values that should be foundations for life, business and government. I lived portions of my life having only the personal value of survival. During those years I made choices that would not coincide with my current values. I could have been looked at as a bad kid or young adult to everyone on the outside, but I was a damaged human trying to stay alive. Today I realize that the horrific abuse at such a young age rewired my brain to live in survival mode.
Berkeley University Survey Documentation and Analysis Data. (2014) Sda.berkeley.edu, Retrieved from sdaweb/analysis/?dataset=gss14
Durham, J. (2016) Integrity and honesty: Important attributes. Lifecoachexpert.co.uk, Retrieved from integrityhonestyimportantattributes.html
Guberti, N. (2016) 5 Stages of human brain development. Nancyguberti.com, Retrieved from nancyguberti.com/5-stages-of-human-brain-development/
Hall, A. (2014) 7 Habits of considerate people. Huffingtonpost.com, Retrieved from habits-of-considerate-people_n_5710033.html
There it is, my first blog. As time goes on, I will dig into my past as a child and adult. I want to share my story to help others, including those in the field of helping abused children.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Peace, Love and Happiness