The youngest memory I have of my life is when my Grandmother and her husband was getting a divorce and he came after her with a shovel threatening to kill her — I was three years old. At such a young age, I had an idea how some men were. My biological father seemed to get off on the idea of hurting someone and I was one of them. He would trip me and make me fall, push the swing so high that it would come undone, and let go of the wagon on top of a hill. It’s amazing that I even survived my childhood.
Not only did my dad enjoy seeing someone go through pain but he also got off on putting fear in my life. When I was little, apparently I was hungry and I tried to eat a plant, so to keep me from doing it again, he told me that if I got near any more plants, that they would come back and strangle me in my sleep; now I was only four at the time, so I believed him. Well if I did anything wrong, he would put me in the truck, with the windows down, riding through the woods. Now the plants and weeds would come in the truck since the windows were down, so I thought that they were coming alive and that they were after me. I was so terrified and he did this all the time. He even got the kids at church to pretend that they were going to play with me, told me to cover my eyes, and when I opened them, the kids would shove leaves in my face…they all laughed while I was in fear.
I remember going to the home of my father’s buddy, dad usually put alcohol in my drink so that I would fall asleep. After a while I would wake up and there would be more guys there than when I went to sleep, which made me uncomfortable. One time he decided that we should go swimming at midnight, so we went to Smith Lake I think. The pool was closed…obviously…so I was the one that had to strip in front of him and his friend so that I could squeeze through the gate to open it. We stayed there until a cop showed up and we then had to sneak out without getting caught.
Another time we went to the apartments in Hanceville, and while waiting in the car for his buddy to get home dad passed out drunk. A cop came and knocked on my window and the next thing I remember dad was being hauled off to jail. It was the first time that I got to ride in a cop car at age eight.
It was around that age when dad and his buddies got me watching porn and I became addicted to it. I watched it pretty much every night. I had a crush on a boy before the porn addiction/obsession began. I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t afraid to ask for it, especially during recess when we were together. That next year, he never came back to school and that’s when the porn obsession started.
I didn’t have a childhood EXCEPT when Shane (stepfather) and Jimmy (Papa) were around. Shane made sure that we spent time as a family, and he always included me in everything. He took me to school, the park and if I did anything inappropriate, he let me know that I shouldn’t do that as a child. Papa was the only man I ever trusted 100%. To me, as a child, he was my superhero, my definition of perfect
At the age of ten, Papa passed away from a rare brain tumor. Mom then married Michael, who often took advantage of my vulnerability. He often read my diary, which consisted of fantasies and grief and he overstepped his boundaries. At first it started out as cuddling, because that’s what Papa did. There could definitely never be another Papa but it did make me feel better, eventually it turned into him wanting to be touched as well as him touching me. He told me that, that’s what people who love one another do. I felt very uncomfortable but I didn’t say anything.
There would even be times, when I would wake up in the middle of the night and Michael would be there with his hand in my pants. Not only would he do this to me, but he would also do it to any friends I had that would come over to spend the night. It got to the point where no one would come over to the house anymore, so he progressed to the final stage — the stage that took so much from me as a child. I don’t remember a lot of it, but I remember when it would happen, I would zone out, because after feeling it the first time and being in so much pain, I wanted to be in a different place — anywhere but there.
The last time he raped me, was in my car. He pulled out a gun and stuck it to my head. He told me that if I ever told anyone, he would kill me. That night was the first time I tried to kill myself. Eventually he and Mom got a divorce. On Valentine’s Day he brought me a teddy bear and a box of chocolate that had a note in it. The note said, “I love you and you should move in with me, I’ll take care of you.” Now I’m not going to lie, I continued having conversations with him because at the time, I didn’t know that what he had done was considered rape. I thought ALL of families were like that.
When he found out that I was going to continue staying with Mom, he wasn’t happy. At night for several months, he would come and bang on my window and try to get in the house. Mom did everything she could to keep him out of the house at the time, but there was one thing she couldn’t keep away from me, and that was fear! He terrified me. Mom didn’t believe that he’d done that to me though. She claimed that if it happened like I said it happened, then she would have taken him to court.
Having the one person who means so much to you not believe you, it really takes something out of you. I began to hate myself so I attempted suicide several more times. I didn’t succeed obviously, so I started cutting, smoking (cigarettes and the occasional pot), drinking and driving recklessly…basically I did everything to myself that was potentially harmful.
I had so much anger bottled up inside, and after planning out someone’s murder, I literally had to have a reminder that prison orange was NOT my color. Luckily I was in therapy and she really helped me not to go through with that plan.
Since the rape I was angry all the time, especially with Mom for not believing me. I didn’t really experience the PTSD fully until many years later since I was always taking something to make myself numb…flashbacks and triggers seem to come and go quite frequently now, especially since I am going on two years of being clean and sober.
While anger was the main emotion throughout my teen years, fear was right there with it. The extent to which I went to feel somewhat safe and comfortable; I could not sleep unless all blinds, doors (even my room) were locked and I checked obsessively. I could not shower unless someone was home with me. I could not stay at the house alone at night. If I went somewhere and returned home after dark and I knew Mom was asleep, I would run to the front door, and if I couldn’t get the door open fast enough, I would panic and cry hysterically, especially if my cats, or the neighbor’s cat was in the bushes. The fear I experienced was real and terrifying.
Since the rape, even though it’s been ten years, I have been unable to trust most people, especially men. I’m very hyper vigilant and I’m always preoccupied with thinking the worst in every situation. I can become very cynical sometimes. It’s been a very difficult healing journey with many self-destructive coping skills, and it seemed like once I would get rid of one, I would pick up another one. It was a never-ending cycle. After the rape, I began binge eating, of course I didn’t realize that that was considered an eating disorder at the time, but food was my outlet. Seven years later, I decided that I needed to have some control in my life so I began purging, even if I barely ate a small portion of food. I lost about seventy pounds and this lasted about nine months.
My Mom passed away during the tenth month and I began binging again. I went through a very dark phase, struggling with shame and guilt, as well as having suicidal thoughts on a daily basis rather than just occasionally, but thankfully I finally have some supportive people in my life, outside of therapy, and I finally felt like I was able to grow now.
I decided to start going back to church and began working on my faith again. I was saved on January 28, 2009. I went to this one church for a year but it was one of those churches where most of the people are judgmental. I couldn’t take it. I had already had struggles with religion, since my family was good at abusing people spiritually, making you feel like your condemned if you have struggles or addictions and that the devil is in you, if you have mental or emotional problems. But I have been blessed with an amazing church family now, who has shown me the truth. The thoughts still come into my head from time to time that I’m not worthy to be in church, but I know the truth now.
My life has gotten a lot better since I have started going back to church and Bible Study. Now I’m not going to say that it has gotten easier because it hasn’t, BUT I’ve gotten two things that have made it better; God and support from others. I’ve always had support from my therapist, who is literally my angel, but it feels wonderful to have others on my side now that I get to see more than once a month.