It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the leaves were changing color on the trees, and there was a crisp, fall breeze. Everything was normal. We had just finished a cross country meet and were returning to the bus when I jogged into the park to get something out of my car. As I was walking across the lot, everything changed.
When I turned the corner, I could hear someone screaming "get away from me" and "you can't do this." Assuming it was a child throwing a tantrum, I proceeded to my car until a sight I never expected made me stop short. I saw a man beating his girlfriend. He had her by the collar and kept forcing her onto the pavement. My heart was pounding out of my chest while I contemplated what to do. Then, she made eye contact with me. I was the only person around, so I began to go towards her to help. He hadn't seen me yet, so I continued at a brisk pace to make my presence known, hoping that he would stop.
I yelled "hey!" and he turned to face me. His eyes were dark and cold. I stopped, couldn't move, and couldn't think. This was probably the first time in my life I experienced genuine fear. My heart was pounding, my skin was burning, and I could not move. I broke his gaze and looked at the woman. Her eyes were pleading for help. I took another step towards her when the man began to approach me. I looked at him and felt a burning pain in my chest. In fear, I ran. I left and kept running. The next thing I remember, I was collapsed in my friend's arms yelling for help. He ran ahead to the parking lot and by the time we got there, the man and the woman were walking away together. Together, after all of that.
This was something I could not fathom at the time. I knew that she was walking right back into an abusive relationship. Looking back, she probably felt she was dependent on him and couldn't break away-relied on a toxic relationship because she felt there was no other way. Afterwards, I left my friend and sat in my car for hours. All I could think about was the look she had in her eyes. The look of fear and desperation. I was the only person around and I froze. I replayed the event over and over and could not forgive myself for freezing. "I could have helped her," I thought. A while later, the same friend called me and I burst into tears. In the month following, what happened that evening followed me everywhere.
I hated myself for getting scared and running away in fear. The word "coward" played over and over in my mind. Fear for my own safety stopped me from stepping in and helping her. I dreamt about it every night and woke up shaking uncontrollably. At school, I would be okay one second, and then I would remember what happened the next. Wherever I was, I would freeze and my heart would start pounding again. I would hide in a restroom or go to my car and cry, hating myself for what I wasn't able to do. One day, I was sitting with a friend after practice. We were having a normal conversation when I broke down and began to sob. That day, she brought me to a counselor to get help.
I sat in his office and told him my story through tears and anger. He asked me how I felt and I finally let it all go. What had been going on, the nightmares, my thoughts, and memories of that woman. After letting go, speaking out, and hearing my own story out loud, I felt a little weight come off of my shoulders. With every session, I began to feel like myself again. The counselor told me over and over that I was a teenager, alone in a park with a violent man approaching me. He repeated that it would have been more dangerous if I had gone any closer, It would take me a long time to forgive myself, but talking about everything truly saved me. Day by day, the nightmares began to go away and the episodes subsided. After about a month, I was given an opportunity to use my experience to enact change.
I was given a position on a board that interviewed and funded nonprofit organizations in my county. On my first day, I was sent to visit a women's shelter that was in need a funds for a new safe house. It seemed as if it was meant to be. Upon my arrival, I met with the board of directors and a few of the founders of the organization. Their goal was to give victims and their children a new life. I was truly inspired by the program and set out to get them the money they needed. For months, I prepared my presentation. At the time, 10 other organizations were being considered for a grant, but I wanted the board to understand the importance of advocating for abuse victims.
Finally, the time came for me to present. I stood up and began to point out statistics and logistics of funding a new safe house. I noticed people were zoning out, as they tend to do in meetings, so I took a deep breath and told my story and stressed the importance of a project like that one. This was the first time I had opened up to people other than my counselor. When I was finished, everyone agreed to give the grant to the shelter. Within a month, they were given the money they needed to complete their project.
On this day, I learned the importance of opening up to others and how powerful personal stories can be. At that moment in the park, I was petrified and angry, but months later, I was able to use that anger and hardship to do good. No matter how dark and alone you may feel, know there is someone out there who is experiencing hardship as you are. You are not alone. Speak out and use your personal experiences for good. You will be surprised what kind of a difference you can make. Stay strong, ask for help when you need it, and share your story.
My step mother had been in my life as long as I can remember. She was my mother. Then I started high school. I was going out with friends, getting good grades and being an all around good kid. Or so I thought. My step mom turned into a monster who would constantly scream at me because I wasn't her ideal kid. Soon after yelling escalated to hitting, which one day even escalated to me being yelled at for crying, and being ripped off my bed by my hair and chipping my tooth. I had no friends and I felt so alone. I wish I had a group, or someone who understood what I was going through. I thought I deserved the abuse and I didn't think I was worthy. I joined my high schools jrotc and they became my real family. Now I'm waiting until I'm eighteen so I can leave the house I'm in and actually find a home. If I could tell someone in a situation where a parent is abusing them in anyway, it would be that they are good enough. And they don't deserve the abuse. And that sometimes you can find the biggest heart in the least expected place. And to everyone else. Think before you do. One simple nice gesture saved my life. And you never know how you affect other people. Life is Precious And should always be treated as such. Stay strong. Life WILL get better.
Being hurt in life is very real thing for me.To begin this chapter we will begin with my Five year old self. It started when my parents had someone babysit me.I never really did have a clear mind as to why or where they were going because of the trauma that follows. I will not say names as to keep them private. My first encounter of depleting my self image and worth, began the day I was made to perform sexual acts with a sibling. We were made to watch pornography and do things a child should never have to do. This continued throughout my childhood until the age of about eleven. I was made to be touched all over made to take my clothes off. Countless times I was told I wasn't enough. I knew something was wrong with what was going on , I lived a super sheltered life and really didn't even know much of anything about the world.I despised the person I was. We grew up going to church twice on Sunday and on Wednesdays. Those days don't include youth functions. And private school, which meant I saw my molester pretty much daily. I felt angry at a young age. I felt very secluded and like I had no voice. I was told that if I were to speak up about this I would be spanked. Of course as a child your going to listen, because that was the way we lived. love didn't feel like a word in my life or verb in vocabulary. I would often be in such a fog I barely knew what was going on. Most of my childhood is a blur for me. There are moments I remember and all I can seem to recall is the trauma. There were a few moments that someone was guiding me which I will speak of in the chapters to come. Not only did the sexual abuse affect me. What went on at home was very frustrating. As a little girl going to church I held on to faith or at least tried. I thought I deserved what happened to me because I felt so dirty and like I was sinning. If your not saved at a young age it is impelled in you to receive God. I remember wondering if God was real? All I knew growing up was God shoved down my throat. Hurt was where i was drowning. I thought being baptized would wash away my "Sins" so to speak. When I got baptized at eight I thought all the hurt would change and my life would never be the same. I was so wrong. It never stopped. From as long as I was young we were home schooled. Some days were fun and my mom would have the neighbors over and church friends and we would all have school together. I lived in a very imaginary world as a girl. I questioned everything.had a vivid imagination. some days I was the meanest little girl to my playmates. Even in a skirt Id roller skate, bike ride,anything the boys were doing I was better at! I was so bossy. The Only times I felt happy was when I was imagining and playing in another world away from reality. I started feeling so sad every night when Id lay in bed crying. Never understood why I wasn't "Normal" Hurt was all I knew. for this time in my life, Id obsess over anything I was doing. Was I doing anything correct. It was like my childhood was just a panic. I couldn't connect to the kids my age I was so disconnected. In fact for the most part I would boss them around. Looking back I despised their happiness.I wanted approval from my parents. I never felt like they truly loved me just felt I was despised by them. I needed approval. coping for me was acting shy. When I was really little I was super outspoken. I started internally hurting , doing this by closing off people in my mind. Every thing I was told to do I just started doing. Not knowing when the next time my parents would discipline me over anything. My mom would break plastic spoons over my back. constantly most days I cant even remember what they were for. Being lectured for hours about one thing I may have done wrong. I would try to black out the whole thing. II started at a young age hating men. I honestly could barely even stand my dad. I felt rejected by him. Times he was at work I didn't want him to come home. My parents argued a lot. neighbors told me that they almost called the cops a couple of times. I was panicking and become hateful from the inside of my heart. Keep in mind this is around the age of five. All of me was sad and angry. I want to be able to remember the good moments. I know that sometimes there were. trauma plays so many tricks on the mind. Hurt made a residual wall in my life. And this carried on through young childhood friendships and my adult life. Until I began to heal was when I started to reflect. This book is mainly to help people who may have felt in my situation. I want to travel with you through my life and through my experiences on overcoming. Its not an easy process I have survived so many things while as an adult it lingers today. This part of my life I want to say hurt is real for so many people today. Healing from hurt isn't an overnight thing you cannot put a band- Aid over a wound and expect it to be healed in the morning. As young as I was I never knew how much hurt I had felt It kept building through time. Id brush it off an add one more bandage. The bandages trapped me in cages. Cages of denial and fear. these next couple of chapters I am going to be reflecting on so many issues. by the end we will talk about how we overcome issues and resolve these things in our lives. Our lives make up so many different outcomes and life lessons we may have never thought about or reflected on. I am grateful Of hurt. I do not condone what happened to me. or how it depleted my self worth. but hurt has made me stronger it has taught me so many things. It wasn't my fault I was molested, without knowing hurt ; I would have kept blaming myself. Without hurt I wouldn't have understood healing.
First off I am a father of two wonderful children I hold so dear and care for with all my heart, and soul. I grew up basically fatherless, and my childhood was filled with struggles, and poverty.
Reflecting on that experience I want the very best for my children as they grew up. The truth about, God, the bible and the right church. I had all good intentions, and strived to provide for family. I worked three to four jobs to pay bills and give them what they needed.
We went to church, served God and taught bible studies while my children were very young. We trusted a family in the church to babysit our children. We were so cautious, strict with them and we would not let them sleep over at anyone's home.
However, we made an exception for them to be watched by a family in the church with older children. So now jumping the timeline to five years later, one of children tells us the boy at their home they were baby sat lifted up her clothing. That's all we were told at the time. I was very angry, and wanted to to get to the bottom of this story ( not to mention beat him and maim him). However, vengeance belongs to the Lord. I have had to work through forgiveness, of others, myself, and healing over this.
The other party was extremely upset, in denial, and even threatened us in a way, so our trust level began to drop. Years following this situation, we were accused of picking on their son, and he told his mom that we bullied him in our Sunday school classes. My children would not talk anymore about what happened to my grief.
Years later, when my children were adults they told me some of what happened them, but not the full story. My heart is very broken and my trust in others has definitely plunged. My children were very confused, their innocence and trust stolen. You see this evil boy told them that we would spank them if they told, and that no one would believe them. I still do not know the whole story, and honestly I am at a loss as what to since it happened about 18 years ago.
I am angry with myself, and have so much regret for not knowing what happened to them. The hardest part is how I feel about not knowing the truth, because then it could've been dealt with, talked about, healed, and justice could've been brought to the table so to speak. My children are no longer minors, they are haunted by this abuse.
This predator, molester, evil man is still around. What he did has destroyed the relationship with my children. He destroyed their trust in their parents, church, God, and people that truly love them.
I don't know how to fix any of this in the past, but I want to apologize to my children, I was so ignorant, and stupid not knowing the horrors, pain, and broken self esteem they went through.
I pray daily for this to just pass, but the pain of it all is often overwhelming. As a father knowing how much my children hurt. I had no idea what was happening to them, and yet thinking back if I did. I would just be getting released from prison for a moment of blind insane rage.
I don't blame my church, God, or my children. My children were humiliated, and their precious trust they had for us and others is destroyed.
I am so sorry, children please forgive me...I really would have done more if I had known the whole truth, the whole story.
Both of my children are so traumatized, their memory is damaged, they have symptoms of PTSD, nightmares, and someone has convinced one of them that we (her parents) knew the whole story, and did nothing.
I have no idea what to do. I am not the victim...but this hurts me, because it hurts my children! I would have never of let this happen to them, and if I would've known. God help me!
One of my children told me they were molested when they turned 18, and my other child has not told me officially, but I found out from their sibling.
Pressed charges would've been the first thing to do.
However, its destroyed the relationship with I had with my kids, and I don't know if they will trust me again, because I was so ignorant, and blind.
How do I build trust again?
How can they get closure, or justices this late, so far after the fact?
Since the age of 8 I struggled with the way I looked. I was bullied for how I dressed, the way I did my hair, and how my body looked in a dance costume. I spent years hating myself. Wondering why I didn't fit in. Was I fat? Was I annoying? Was I not worthy enough to be alive? It was a constant stream of penetrating thoughts that swallowed me whole. I eventually just shut down. I didn't talk to anyone. I locked myself in my room. I cried going to dance. I cried going to school in the morning. Every waking minute I feared that someone would judge me for being me and I just wanted to disappear into a ball of nothing. I searched for answers to ways of not hating myself until I was offered a hand. I turned to food constantly bingeing and purging because I thought food would cure my problems but only after I felt guilty and needed to rid myself of the poison I had put in me( food). My dad noticed how I cried when I looked at myself in the mirror. How I locked myself away from society and how I became a vigorous bulimic he offered me an escape. He started to take me to the gym, to help me eat healthier, to take me to participate in social situations. He gave me a helping hand, that quickly turned evil. Little did he know he has unleashed the beast named Ana. Who almost took my life.
One late summer afternoon I made the decision to only eat healthy. Within one week I was down 3lbs. That wasn't good enough. I ate less the next week and was then down a total of 10. It wasn't good enough either. This viscous restriction cycle continued till I went to a weight of 140lbs to 108lbs in one month. I was hospitalized because my heart was giving up but that wasn't enough to stop me. I thought I was fine. I was getting attention. The smaller I got the better I felt. I finally had a sense of control in my life. I wasn't going to let it go. Towards the end of sophomore year I was participating in a dance show and my doctor didn't want to let me perform. I was at a shockingly low 82lbs for a 5ft. 3 16 year old girl. I was dying, but Ana didn't care. I fought to perform, willing myself through the pain and again of the room spinning around me. The cold air penetrating into my frail bones. I passed out a total of 3 times that week. But no matter how bad it got I still felt good. I was losing weight, so Didn't that make a better person? I was achieving what most teenage girls dream of, a miracle weight loss.
As the school year ended people were constantly voicing there concerns, from friends to teachers. All wanted me to get help. I went on a 2 1/2 month vacation to see if that would help me take my mind of this mental disease and I only came back 10lbs less and having thrown myself into the depths of my bulimia once again. It was only on the plane ride home I realized I needed help. The next week I was on a plane to a treatment center where I fought hard for over 6 months to get over this disease. I came back 30lbs heavier and 1000000x happier.
If I was to give advice to someone going through this I would say to NOT KEEP IT A SECRET!!! The strength of an Eating disorder comes from secrecy! Reach out for help! Tell a friend! Tell a parent! At least if one person knows the burden isn't all sitting on your shoulders! This is a serious disease, it almost took my life several times. Eating disorders have THE HIGHEST MORTALITY RATE OF ALL MENTAL ILLNESSES. They are not just an innocent diet. They are a illness. They affect millions of people of each year, and no time is a better time then now to get help
"A firey soul" I'm not your average girl. I didn't play soccer, I don't have blonde hair, I'm not model perfect, and I wasn't some insanely smart student. I was known as the girl who rode horses and likes to workout. I was severely bullied throughout high school and as a result I was diagnosed with severe depression and mild anxiety. For years girls would torment me for my hair being red, my curvy body, and for my interests. They would make up rumors about me, call me a slut, gang up on me, push me and do so many other awful things to me. I was constantly isolated and I only ever had a few true friends. I remember going into the bathroom calling my mom crying saying I couldn't do it anymore. I could feel my soul leaving my body as I tried to force myself to go to hell also known as "high school". It wasn't until the end of my junior year when I was told we were moving to another state and I remembered thinking that meant a fresh start for me. But that summer I had a tragic accident which changed my life forever... I was riding an off track thoroughbred when he and a loose horse had gotten into a fight whilst I was on the other one's back. My only memory was my skull impacting the ground and hearing my friend scream. Everything was black and peaceful. I was unconscious for 15 minutes until my dad and friend found my lifeless body in a pile of rocks and cacti. I woke up and I didn't know my name or anything. I was rushed to the walk in clinic where I had my blood drawn and some tests done. The nurse's face turned white as she asked to speak to my dad in another room privately. My dad came in a few short minutes after and told me that I had to be transported to the ICU trauma unit because my brain was bleeding. And that's when I blacked out again.. An ambulance was called and I remember waking up on the white board with a crowd of people taking pictures and gawking at my bloody face and torn up body. My dad carried my helmet and my riding gloves. I stared at my half chaps and boots which were brown from the dirt and rocks that I was thrown into to try and forget about the crowd of people pointing and staring at me. The EMS scowled at the crowd of people to go away as it was an emergency. They loaded me up and on went the lights. The EMS in the back tried to stabilize my head and keep me conscious but I blacked out once again. I remembered thinking I can finally die and just forget all the pain I've been put through. But then I could hear the EMS' voice. "I know you want to give up right now.. But your dad looks pretty scared to me. And I can tell you're a strong young woman with a firey soul. God really was watching over you and I know you can pull through this." I wasn't one to really think about God as I had religion shoved down my throat for 16+ years of my life making me shy away from it.. But this EMS had a point. I woke up in the ICU to meet a nurse who quickly stripped me down to my underware and dressed me in a gown since I could not move due to impacting the ground so hard. I had bright lights shown into my eyes every hour and needles prodding my arms. A machine watched my brainwaves and I was constantly being observed. I wasn't allowed to sleep or eat or drink. I hadn't had anything in over 15 hours and the pain killers they gave me made me throw up like a dog. The EMS held my hair back and talked me through the pain. He even let me sneak in a nap for 15 minutes. But what really stuck to me is that he prayed over me while i did. He asked for God to spare my life and to keep me alive. The next day I was pronounced a medical miracle. I had a subdural hematoma which is swelling and bleeding of your brain and only 20% of those who receive this injury survive it. I came out of the accident with a slight case of a PTSD as I had reoccurring night mares of my skull and face impacting the ground (and I still do to this day) and short term memory loss. I would attend my first public co-Ed school and I remembered how nervous I was because Of my accident and memory loss and I didn't know what to wear, say or how to make friends because I grew up wearing a strict uniform, going to catholic schools and eventually attending two Catholic all girls schools. Moving down south was definitely different from where I had grown up. Sports were everything and academics came last... Two things that were backwards to me. I grew up putting my academics first and my sports second because that was my school's rules. "You don't play unless you have A's and B's" I could hear the echo of my former coaches voices in my head. The grading scale was vastly lower than what I was used to and so was the work load. I remember meeting who I thought was my true love. He was tall, sweet and admitted to one of my new friends that he was interested in me. I came to realize we had two classes together and eventually we started talking. We went on a date and hung out on multiple occasions before he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was so happy! This guy was sweet, protective and everything I THOUGHT I could of wanted and needed. things were great between us! We held hands, talked everyday, he walked me to class, and everyone referred to us as "relationship goals". It wasn't until after we graduated that he would show his true colors. We decided on attending different colleges and at first I was hesitant but we swore to visit eachother and FaceTime so eventually I got over it.. I noticed that he didn't like me going out with the cheer team and he didn't like me wearing crop tops or short shorts. He didn't like that I had guy friends in my classes and he would constantly go through my phone and made me stop talking to any guy even if they weren't straight. He would constantly give my friends dirty looks and was constantly asking where I was or what I was doing. I wasn't happy anymore but how could I leave someone who I loved? Who helped me through my senior year of high school? Who helped me through my darkest times? I ignored all my friends who told me he was abusing me and he was toxic. I didn't want to believe them.. My heart told me that they were just trying to get the single part of me to party with while my mind told me they were right and it wasn't healthy anymore. It wasn't until October that our relationship crumbled. It was our anniversary and I had drove 3 hours to see him. His fraternity let him slip out of an event for me and we met up. As we were at dinner I saw his lab partner text him.. I thought it was odd she was texting him on a weekend but i told myself it could be for homework. I stared at the iPhone until I brought myself to unlock it and read the message. My heart sunk. My eyes began to water as I read through their conversations... He had been cheating on me. I got up and I left crying. I felt so embarrassed as I could feel my makeup pour down my face and I brushed my long straightend red hair out of my face. Other couples were whispering and gave me a sad look.. And that's when he saw me and ran after me. We argued for a good 45 minutes which resulted in us both crying and I told him to take me to my car and that we were over. I had seen his conversation with his lab partner. What made it worse was he didn't even try to say anything. He just stood there blankly staring at me because he knew i saw the flirting. "Why the fuck would you go through my phone?" He screamed at me and got in my face. I shoved him back and I told him it didn't matter that he was caught and that I was ending our relationship. He referred to me as a slut and bitch to his fraternity brothers and would try to make himself look better for a while to cover up the fact he cheated on his girlfriend of a year and a half. For months I fell back into that black hole that once swallowed me years ago. I could hear the demons in my head laugh at me and I could feel that light inside of me dim once more. I became thin as I once weighted a healthy and muscular 140 lbs to a skinny 120 lbs. my ribs showed, my face was thin, bags formed under my eyes, I stopped putting on makeup, I stopped dressing nice and I fell silent in my classes and I left my invite texts to events un-opened. It wasn't until some of my good friends noticed I wasn't myself and they talked me through that dark period and lead me out to the light once again. They would stay with me to make sure I was okay, force me to be social and make new friends, teach me to be strong on my own and teach me that I was going to be okay. Months went by and I was back to being myself. I wasn't super thin anymore, I was dressing up and doing my make up once again, I was confident and I was smiling! Genuinely smiling and laughing! and my close friend urged me to create a tinder. "Girl you'll be fine! You've been talking about getting back out there! Why not try this? If it doesn't go well you can always deactivate it!" Damn, my friends got me there....I felt stupid and a little embarrassed but I was ready to try and talk to someone again and I sure as hell wasn't going to be able to just walk up to someone on campus so I figured this was more in my comfort zone(thanks anxiety!) I remembered getting a lot of attention and messages on the app until one man was really appealing to me. We hit it off instantly and he soon asked for my number. I remembered feeling butterflies again but my mind told me to stop to protect myself from getting hurt again. We would text constantly and we told each other everything about us. Back stories and all! We had our first FaceTime date then eventually met each other. We found out we both had birthdays in November and a lot in common. He constantly made me feel safe and he always helped me through my anxiety and doubts because of my past. And now this wonderful man is my boyfriend and I'm proud to say that he will never harm me like my ex did. The one thing that will always get to me is how he looked me in the eyes and told me "your fiery soul is what keeps me going. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and i was supposed to meet you." Each and everyone of you who goes through some sort of trauma or abuse has that fire! It NEVER left! Don't ever let someone dim your shine! And please take the time to listen to your friends and your gut feeling about a toxic or un-healthy relationships! I was able to overcome so much and you can to. From the girl with a firey soul to you.
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