Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

The Well Read New Englander: The Monster That Ate My Mommy By Jessica Aiken-Hall

Source: The Well Read New Englander: The Monster That Ate My Mommy By Jessica Aiken-Hall 

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Review by Carla Charter

What I first noticed about this book was the main character, Jessica.  She struck me as a Phoenix. Despite the horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she survived as a child, with each negative she still rose again, like the fabled bird determined to rise above her circumstances.

An important theme of the book which is highlighted again and again is the importance of having an anchor. A family member, a grandmother, a friend, who will stand up and say no more. Even if the abuse continues despite the pleas and the lies of survival, these anchors provided a respite of sanity, when the childhood world around was nothing but chaos for her.

The repercussions of Jessica’s childhood abuse can be seen clearly as she grows, feeling unloved and unwelcome, she enters her adult world looking for the love she never received, through whomever will give it. Thus her abusive childhood ripples and transforms into abusive relationships and eventually even affects her children.

Still despite it all, despite her mother’s drinking and depression, despite her horrific life of abuse and neglect she still finds her way to peace and a resolution with her mother and thus becoming a shining beacon to survival.   Her life while fractured by others, in the end Jessica herself builds into a beautiful mosaic of hope for the future.

The book is a must read for those looking to understand the complexities of abuse and the long-term effects abuse can have.

For anyone who may leaving or reporting abuse, the following agencies may be able to help

Domestic Violence Hotline

www.thehotline.org

1-800-799-7233

Child Abuse Hotline

1-800-4-A-CHILD

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Domestic Violence, Uncategorized

My Hope for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

lrg_dsc00968There are only two days left in Domestic Violence Awareness Month. October has come and gone, like it does every year. Maybe the thirty-one days in the month helped people stop and think about what really goes on behind closed doors, or maybe it brought courage and freedom to a silent victim. Maybe it opened up a friend’s eyes, so questions started to be asked. Maybe it helped an abuser realize just what they had been doing.

My hope is that the last twenty-nine days brought at least a spark of change with them. I hope that at least one person now knows that they are not alone. I hope that a child living in the middle of the abuse knows they do not have to live like this forever. I hope that the stigma attached to domestic violence is a little less.

I hope schools allowed conversations about domestic violence, so teenagers know what a healthy relationship looks like, and what it doesn’t. I hope awareness and education continue, not just in October, but always.

I hope all of the lives lost to domestic violence were remembered. I hope all of the parents that lost children to domestic violence were able to mourn the life that was stolen. I hope all of the friends who keep living every day without their love and light are able to keep their memory alive. I hope all of the children who lost a mom, a dad, or both to domestic violence were hugged a little tighter, and know it was not their fault. It was never their fault.

I hope that each and every life lost to domestic violence, by the hands of another, or by suicide, are not lost in vain. I hope each one carries a lesson to the world that there is a problem, and we need to offer love, support, and understanding. Every small step we each take is multiplied, and ripples out as we go.

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Never stop speaking up. Never give up. Keep strong. And, always, remember: You Are Not Alone.

The Domestic Violence Hotline

www.thehotline.org

1-800-799-7233

Domestic Violence, Hope, Uncategorized

Why I Didn’t Leave

Why I didn’t leave. That is the question that haunts me, and increases the anxiety that was left behind. Why didn’t I just go? I didn’t even love him, so why would I stay? I wrestle with these thoughts, some days more than others. And, recently, I learned that it wasn’t my fault.  

I did try to leave on a couple of occasions, and each time ended with some of the worst physical violence that I had ever experienced. And my children witnessed it. As babies, and with eyes of innocence. They saw and heard as their mommy was beaten. They heard their daddy threaten to kill mommy, while he told me they didn’t love me. At two and four years old they had to defend me. They had to save me. lrg_dsc00994

When I replay those times in my mind, I wish I had the strength to call his bluff. I wish that I would have taken my babies, and saved them, instead of them saving me. I wish that I could have made their memories happy, and not be haunted with the thoughts that not even adults should have to carry.

Knowing what they went through and what they saw make it hard not to blame myself.  Those thoughts made me feel like a bad mother. They made it hard to see that I was not part of the problem. We were all surviving, and I truly believed that if I left, I would have been killed.

Before my first child was even born, he told me he would take my baby from me, and never allow me to see him. I believed him. He told me his family had money, and they would take me to court to prove I was unfit. I believed him. I did not have family to turn to. I did not have money to hire a lawyer. I believed him. I believed him when he said he was going to kill me. I believed him when he said no one would miss me. I believed him when he said I was worthless. I believed he would kill me, and my children would be left in his care.

It was all part of the power and control that abusers use. I didn’t know it was all a part of his plan, to make me so weak that I couldn’t fight back. I didn’t know that with every hateful, hurtful word, he was crushing my spirit. I didn’t know how much power the fear held over me. It was just life. It was all I knew, in turn, becoming all my children knew.

I apologized to my children for not leaving sooner. They told me it wasn’t my fault. Each one of them, at different times. I didn’t want them to save me any longer. I didn’t want them to take the guilt away.  They told me, each in their own way, that it wasn’t my fault. That they didn’t blame me for what happened, or for staying longer than we should have. They blame him.

“Mom, he was the one that hurt us.”

“Mommy, he was the one that was so mean.”

“He hurt you. And us. He was bigger, and stronger.”

“Mom, you got us out. You are the reason we are safe now.”

“You are my protector.”

“Thank you for never leaving us.”

“Thank you for loving us.”

Their words bring me comfort. Hearing how they are able to process the past, and learn from the fear, and pain lets me see I am doing something right. I am a good mom. They love me, and trust me. And, I am their protector. I will have their backs no matter what. Day by day, we each heal a little more. The broken parts become smoothed over, and we are stronger for it.

lrg_dsc00983 The next time you say, “Why won’t she just leave?” Please remember you don’t know the whole story. You do not know all of the details. If she leaves, he might kill her. If she leaves, he may hurt her children, or pets, or family. If she leaves, she may not have anywhere to go. If she leaves him, she may not have any money for the things she or the children need. If she leaves him, she still may not be safe. You cannot judge a person when you have not been in their situation.

Please remember, she is doing her best. She is trying harder than most, just to survive. Every. Single. Day.

Be patient.

Be kind.

She is stronger than she knows.

 

 

Child abuse, Depression, Domestic Violence, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Although, I am aware every single day. I am on edge from the PTSD at times I least expect it. A loud noise, people yelling, an angry expression can be the trigger. A feeling comes over me, and I fear for my safety. I scan parking lots as I walk to my car, waiting for death that was promised.

It is not something that just goes away. Good days can be stolen in an instant when a memory pops up. Anxiety creeps in, and there is nothing that can quiet the mind. My heart races, as I wonder why I wasn’t one of the statistics…but I know there is still time. When an unpredictable abuser, who was never held accountable for his actions roams the streets, his death wish for me could be a when, and not if.

Thoughts like this, make Domestic Violence part of what shaped me into who I am. Fear from childhood, wondering when my dad was going to kill my mom, and I continued to be fed by threats from my ex husband. I have expected my murder since I was four years old. Before I even knew what death was. It is a miracle that I am still alive, and I am determined to be the change. The change for my children. The change for others who want to be free. The change for me.

Alone, the world is a scary place. Together, we can get through anything.

You are not alone.

From The Monster That Ate My Mommy:

Chapter 29

A couple of years into the job, I found out I was pregnant with baby number three. Chuck and I continued to fight, but that was the norm now. We couldn’t have a conversation without calling each other names or yelling. Ian was four and Emerson was two. Chuck only occasionally put his hands on me now. Most of the abuse was emotional.

Until I was nine months pregnant. Chuck spent the day belittling me. “You’re a fat whore. No one has ever loved you. Your own mother hates you. You’re just a piece of shit.”

After hours of listening, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had the cordless phone in my hand from my daily call to Gram, and without thinking, I threw it at Chuck’s bare back. I wanted him to stop talking. I was nine months pregnant, my husband was verbally abusing me, and my hormones were raging. I wanted him to leave me alone.

He spun around and yelled, “You’re gonna pay for that, you stupid, fat whore!”

Ian and Emerson were in the living room, and they stopped playing as he ran to me. I ran past him into the living room to get the kids to a safe spot, but as I got into the living room, Chuck pushed me into the changing table. When I didn’t fall, he pushed me again, harder. I stumbled and landed on the floor in the kids’ playroom as Ian yelled, “Daddy, no! Stop, Daddy!”

On the floor, I held my stomach. Chuck came over and kicked me over and over again in the back. He kicked me harder each time his foot made contact. Ian ran over to try to make him stop. I fought back the tears because I didn’t want Ian to be afraid. Emerson stood in the corner of the living room, crying as she watched her father continue to yell at me. I needed help. I managed to get to my feet and walked to the phone. When Chuck saw what I was doing, he ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it. “What the fuck do you think you are doing? You’re not calling anyone.” He pushed me into the doorway to the upstairs, pushing me so hard my body broke the door. The kids both watched and cried. We were all at his mercy.

Chuck pulled me up out from the broken door and dragged me into the kitchen by my hair. He tried to smash my head onto the hot wood stove. I couldn’t let my face hit the stove. I somehow managed to brace myself in the door frame of the bathroom that was in front of the wood stove. He took my head, bounced it off the door jam, and yelled, “I am going to kill you!”

The kids followed us into the kitchen. Their screams filled the house. Ian yelled, “Let her go! Let Mommy go!”

Chuck didn’t let me go. He grabbed me by the neck and pushed me into the wall as he yelled, “You are dead! I am going to kill you and hide your body.”

“Daddy! Please don’t kill Mommy. Please, Daddy, please.” Ian’s pleas didn’t stop him.

Chuck continued to yell, “You are dead, you fucking whore. You are dead! The kids won’t care if you’re dead. They don’t even love you.”

“Daddy, no! Daddy, we love Mommy. Daddy, no.” Ian pleaded with him.

Chuck finally let go of me, and the kids ran over to me. Emerson hugged my legs, and Ian stood guard. Chuck was angry they were so upset. “Stop your fuckin’ crying. God damn it…make the little fuckers stop.”

I held them close to keep Chuck away from them. Chuck paced the kitchen as they continued to cry. “Get the fuck over it!”

My whole body hurt. The baby stopped moving. I was scared he had killed the baby inside of me. I sat in the living room with Ian and Emerson in my lap, and I cried with them. Chuck sat on the couch to watch us. “I need to go to the hospital…the baby isn’t moving.”

“You’re not going anywhere. You just want to get me in trouble.”

“No…I’m scared the baby’s hurt.”

“You’re fine, the baby’s fine.”

 My body was covered in bruises. It hurt to sit down. After a while, the baby did move, and Chuck reminded me he was right, there was nothing wrong. He told me again if I told anyone what happened he’d kill me and take the kids. He said he would cut the baby out of me and take it too. I couldn’t leave them. I couldn’t let him kill me and leave them with him.

At my doctor’s appointment, a nurse asked about the bruises. I said I had fallen down the stairs. I hoped they wouldn’t believe me, but they didn’t ask again. She told me it was selfish of me not to come in right after the fall. I felt like I’d failed this baby too, just like I failed at everything.

After that day, my dislike for Chuck grew to hate. I hated him for all he had done to me. I hated him for all he did to my kids. I hated him for all he pretended to be. I hated him for all the hope he stole from me. I hated him for everything. We’d been together for six years, and I still hadn’t told him I loved him. Now there was no way he’d ever hear me speak those words.