Rock and a Hard Place
My story is filled with sadness and triumph. My first recollection of physical abuse was when I was 3 years old. I wanted to watch Casper on TV and my mother did not want to stop chatting with her friends on the front stoop. Finally, she told me to go upstairs and turn the TV on myself. I went up and turned on the TV. There was no picture so I changed the channel several times. I called down and asked for help. I must have really nagged her because all 400 pounds of her came flying up the steps at break-neck speed. She saw that the TV had no picture and screamed at me for messing with the TV. She grabbed me by my hair and flung me around the room. I remember watching the living room spin past me. I finally landed on the floor where she either kicked or beat me. I was hysterical. She then grabbed me by my hair and flung me into the bathroom. I remember lying on the cool tiles and how good they felt on my battered body. I could not stop crying and when I realized I had been locked in the bathroom, I was pleading and crying to get out. Her words still ring in my ears today. "If you don't shut up, I will give you something to cry about." I responded with, "You just beat me up that is a reason to cry." That did not impress her and just seemed to anger her further. I remember lying on the floor until my father came home. You might think, “She at least had a nice dad to protect her from the abuse.” Well, that was definitely not a good thing.
My father used his "protection" from my mother's physical abuse to sexually abuse me. He started molesting me when I was 7 years old. This was the actual act. I am not including lying in bed with him naked and him talking about sex to me. His threat to keep me quiet was, "If you tell anyone what I am doing, your mother will have me thrown in jail and I won't be able to protect you from her." I responded with, "If you could go to jail, then we shouldn't do this." He continued anyway. The emotional abuse they both shared was horrific. My mother rejected me as her own child and would not hug or kiss me but would my siblings and other neighborhood children. She would call me "dog germs" and that I was ugly and disgusting. Every morning, before school, she would have me come into her room with my younger sister. She would hug and kiss my sister. When I protested that I did not have to come in every morning she told me, "I have to see what you are wearing so if you are found dead, I can identify your body."
My father would incite my mother's abuse if I did not comply sexually with him. I really tried to avoid his advances because I was so afraid he would be sent to jail and I would be stuck alone with my mother. I remember him being on my side one day and protecting me. The next day he would get my mother started on me then back her up. When I totally stopped complying with his sexual wishes, he refused to take me to the city for outings and he would leave me home alone with my mother. I had endured some severe physical abuse at the hands of my mother. I had been stabbed, had stitches, and many other brutalities done to me. The physical, emotional, and sexual abuse had lasted my entire childhood and I was finally free of them when I turned 18. They kicked me out into the streets a broken and damaged person. I am 42 now. I had my first and only child 14 years ago. I have been married 21 years. I made a choice when I was pregnant not to continue the abuse cycle onto my child. It was not easy. I can see how easy it could be to make other choices but I am glad I did not allow myself down that path. There are times as a parent that I don't know what to do or say. I love my little girl and she is the heart of my existence.
I live with PTSD as a result of my childhood. It is getting easier to deal with. The only thing I wish I could have is trust. I have learned that I have severe trust and attachment issues. I am afraid to let people in. This was horribly true when I had my daughter. I was so afraid to attach to her. I was sure she would be taken away or something worse. Thank GOD I was able to live through all of this and become a better person. Although I will always be damaged, I use it to help others. I will continue to talk about child abuse with others and share my story. The shame is gone now. I know I had no control. A wise friend told me, "You have two chances in life to have a positive parent-child relationship. The first time is when you are a child. You can't control that. But when you are a parent, you can shape it any way you like." To all of my fellow survivors out there, God bless you all! Please stay strong.