#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, gas lighting, healing, Hope, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Jessica’s Story

A small piece of my story:

As a child I grew up in a home full of abuse. My dad was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive to my mom. I remember waking up to the sound of their fighting and sneaking out of my room to watch, to make sure he didn’t kill her. He also threatened to kill my mom, brother, and me. The most fear I had ever experienced was when my mom finally left him. I keep my eyes open, looking over my shoulder every time I was outside, wondering when he was going to shoot me. I was six years old.
As an adult, I repeated the cycle in my own home. My ex-husband started with psychological abuse, slowing killing my spirit, and taking any self-worth I had left away. He used my past to hold my hostage. The words turned physical for the first time when I was pregnant with my daughter. As I held my 20-month son, he put his hands around my neck and as he squeezed, he told us he was going to kill me and cut up my body and dump it in the river, saying, “No one would even notice you were missing.” Still holding my son, he pushed us to the ground and would not let us leave. He tried to get my son out of my arms, but my son would not let go of me as he screamed. This happened because he found out I was planning on leaving him. After this event, I felt that if I tried to leave again, we would have been killed.
He said no one else would ever love me, and I was lucky he did. He took control of the finances, even though I earned the money, and made sure I did not have access to the things that I needed. He opened up credit cards in my name and maxed them out, so not only did I not have access to my money, I also did not have credit. He created a situation where I had to depend on him, and reminded me that I was nothing without him. As my self-esteem made its way to the surface, he would find ways to push it away. I had no real support system, and did not dare tell people what was happening. I was scared what else would happen if I told anyone.
Through all of the abuse, I never called the police, not until he did. He called the police one afternoon and told them to arrest me for being a “whore.” When he did that, the police saw how dangerous he was. It was then that I knew they would believe me, and help me. The next time he put his hands on me, I called the police. He was arrested, and I was granted a protection order. He did violate that, and bullied me into dropping the order, telling me it was just a piece of paper and it wouldn’t protect me. I did what he told me, and suffered his abuse, control and manipulation even while the divorce proceeded on.
We did not break free from his abuse fully until my youngest daughter disclosed to me that he had been sexually abusing her. Learning this made me fear for our lives. I was convinced he would kill me for trying to protect my daughter. We now have a protection order keeping him away from us, and allowing us to heal the years of abuse.
I am happy to say I am happily married to a sweet, gentle man. Who, after six years together, has never called me a name other than Jessica. I know I am worth love and safety. I am teaching my children what love looks like, and what a healthy relationship is. I will do everything in my power to make the cycle of domestic violence end with me. I wrote a detailed, honest account of the abuse I survived in my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy, to try to help others see that they are not alone. The link to my book is: http://a.co/72mQ7KJ

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: :”Jane’s” Story

Thank you “Jane” for sharing your story. Jane did not want to share anymore than what was written on the paper. I appreciate her willingness to share what she was comfortable sharing. Sometimes it is just the act of being heard that gives a person the strength to heal.

As a survivor, I think it is important to know you are in control of your story, and your healing. While the abuse was happening, often, we felt out of control. People took advantage of us, hurt us, used us. Now, as we step into our power, we have the right to tell the story how we want it heard. We have the power to take our life back, and rewrite our story. It just starts with a sentence. And, as we are ready to share, we are able to go at our own pace.

Some of us are not ready yet, and that is OK. Some of us just benefit from reading or hearing what others went through, and how they survived, and what life looks like for them now. Some of us have a story, but are not yet able to be identified due to fear, or shame. We are each different, and there is not one way that is the right way.

Your story is not less important because you cannot release it. Your story is not less tragic because someone else suffered more.

You own what happened to you.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are not alone.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Priscilla’s Story

A four-year-old girl tries to understand her parents’ abuse; especially her father’s manhandling. Throughout grammar school, her abuse grows more frightening. Meanwhile, the mother offers no secure support. As a sheltered teenager, anxiety grows while she tries to escape the hostile sexual advances by her father.
Coming of age at twenty-one, she provokes a bold move to distance herself from him. Consequently soon after the incident, he dies. Feeling guilty, ashamed and overwhelmed, she could not explain her withdrawal from life. It finally costs her a marriage of twenty-five years.
Following an announcement by her second husband, “She is a very strong woman,” strength of character moves her onward to a patient, caring therapist. Ten years of weekly therapy finally bring answers to many painful questions. However, the next family tragedy she encounters leaves her twisting in the wind.

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

Priscilla has a lot more to her story, and it can be read in her memoir, The First Day of the Rest of My Life.

Thank you, Priscilla for being brave enough for sharing your story, and for wanting to be the voice for others in similar situations. You are brave. You are strong. You are powerful.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, Sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Becky’s Story

My “step-dad” story…

“My mom met him when I was 14. He came to her as her knight in shining armor. He was kind and sweet. We went on vacations and had fun. He played music and was a “good guy” fast forward 2 years. My mother got cancer. Fast moving life changing, kill you in 1.5 years cancer. While she was sick he began to drink. He would bring the woman home from his band and they would “talk” on the couch while my mother lay in her bed mere feet away. One night I guess the friend did not want to “talk” I don’t know. I do know I woke up with him sitting on the edge of my bed with his hand under the blanket. When I woke up it startled him. He said he was just checking on me to make sure I was sleeping ok. He got up and left. I remember laying there wondering what had just happened. Every night after that I moved my bed so the door couldn’t be opened. Let’s hit the fast forward button to 3 months. My mother is now dead. His drinking is out of control. I come home to the house where I grew up to find him and his girlfriend in my mother’s kitchen. I was 16 and in a horrible state. He beat the crap out of me that night. He hit me so hard in the face I saw stars. When I yelled if he was just pissed I blocked the door to my room so he couldn’t get in he hit me harder. He picked me up off the floor and slammed me into the counter. I ran for the back door. I left that night. Barefoot in the snow. I slept in my mom’s car. The next few days I packed all I could and moved into an apartment. He told me I would never be anything. Today I am strong. Today I own my own home. Today I help people live the best lives they can.

Today I am something.

Today I am me.

Today I am a survivor.”

Domestic Violence Survivor

Thank you, Becky for sharing your story. Becky’s story reminds me that you never know what someone is holding on to. The memories stay with us, long after the events take place. When you look at someone walking down the street, you never know what they have been through, or what they will go through.

Imagine meeting this sixteen year old girl, who just lost her mom, and wasn’t given time to grieve, but forced to become an adult, almost overnight. You might have seen her, and thought she had no place having her own apartment, or her strong-will might have made you think she was just a difficult teenager. Without taking the time to put yourself in her shoes, you would not have been able to offer the compassion or love that she needed. We all have the choice to be kind, no matter what we have been through.

Becky’s story reminds us to treat people with compassion, and illustrates again, that everyone has a story. Our stories make a difference. As our words are shared, they lose some of the power they hold when we hang on to them. We should all strive to be the kind of person that builds people up, and not tear them down.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#WhyIDidntReport, Rape, Sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized

There Were Seven

lrg_dsc01009-1There were seven. Seven people who sexually assaulted me throughout my life. Not all were men. None were strangers. Not one of them was ever held accountable. Some have never been reported, not even to my closest friends –and probably never will be. Some happened decades ago. The first happened before I was a year old.

Just because they were not reported, does not mean they did not happen. It does not mean they did not alter my life. It does not mean that things were not stolen from me. It does not mean that I am a liar. Every survivor of sexual assault has a right to their story. Every survivor has a right to report when they are ready, or not at all.

Every survivor matters. 

You matter.

You are believed.

You are trusted.

You are strong.

You are not alone.

You are loved.

#MeToo, #WhyIDidntReport, Rape, Sexual abuse, sexual assault

#WhyIDidntReport

#WhyIDidntReport

I was 15 and a virgin when he raped me. I told him no, but he didn’t listen. I cried. I cried while he was inside me. I cried when he left, as shame held me hostage in my bed. I wanted to shower, to get it off me, but I couldn’t move.

My world went dark, as depression took over. Suicide was the only way out. It was the only way I knew to stop the pain. When my obituary was found, my plan was foiled. I couldn’t end the pain, I had to learn to live with it, with the secret of that night.

When my mom found out I had sex, she called me a dirty whore. When my social worker from the Department of Child Services found out, he made me go on the pill –because I was promiscuous.

No one would have believed me.

I was too afraid to go to court to testify against him. I didn’t want to look at him. I was already in court with my stepfather for sexually abusing me. I just couldn’t go through another trial.

I was 15.

I was afraid.

I was ashamed.

I didn’t even tell my best friend.

I couldn’t tell anyone.

I thought it was my fault.

I thought I asked for it.

I thought I could have made him stop.

I was 15.

#WhyIDidntReport

#TeamKimandJessica, Child abuse, Depression, mental illness, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

An Adventure Awaits

29791873_2099241556973342_2347749688020566016_n
Going on an adventure!

In January, I reached out to a producer at The Dr. Phil show. Within hours she emailed me back, and in seven days my sister and I were flying to Hollywood. We had a story to tell, and hoped that what we went through would help others. Similar motivation is what led me to write my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy.

Bad things happened to us. One of the worst aspects was having to keep quiet about it all. We couldn’t talk. We were the perpetrators’ prisoners in more ways than one. They hurt us, changed us, and then stole our voice. We did not want to keep the secrets any longer, so we shouted them for the world to hear.

(My sister’s story stops here. We are on our own separate healing journeys, and she is the narrator of her story. )

I did not think past that. I did not know what preparing to go on the show, and being on the show would do for me. In preparation for the show we went through old family pictures and old court documents. Dust was brushed off of the things I had packed away. During our search, my sister found a college paper my mom had written about me. (I wrote an earlier blog about it, The Devil Inside). After reading my mom’s words things began to shift inside me, at that point, only to a small degree.

When we arrived in Hollywood it all became real. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. We kept ourselves busy between the demands of the show and touring the city, and sitting by Tom Petty’s star on the Walk of Fame. Anxiety pulsed through my body as I thought about what was ahead of me. Excitement that my book would be talked about on the show filled the spaces that fear left empty. When I wrote my memoir, I hoped my story would get to the people who needed it most, and this was going to possibly make that happen. Our story that was being discussed would also help others who have been sexually abused.

The mix of emotions filled my body with adrenaline. Excited and terrified. But this was our chance to change things. It wasn’t until the morning of the show that we were told that there was going to be a twist. My sister and her dad would be on stage first, while I sat back stage and watched. I was relived that I had some more time before I would have to be on stage with my stepfather. As I watched my sister talk with Dr. Phil, and then her dad my body began to tremble. I was not sure if it was from being cold or nervous –most likely a combination of both.

As my stepfather talked about the abuse he had done to my sister I became enraged…and felt the guilt creep in. As I tried to push the guilt out of my mind a photograph of our mom flashed on screen. The mom I remembered, the mom I longed to love me, the mom I desperately wanted to protect me. I was no longer able to hold back the tears.

Angry.

Guilty.

Sad.

Enraged.

The emotions switched back and forth inside me. It was time for me to join them. As I waited to enter the stage I heard my stepfather say the words I had read in my mom’s college paper. Jessica is severely mentally ill. She has no grasp of reality. She is a paranoid schizophrenic. I never touched her. She is a liar. His words bounced off me as my body trembled with rage and fear.

Even after thirty years, he still denied he ever sexually abused me. When asked how I could have accused him before he began the abuse on my sister, he said it was “convenient.” My accusations came, were denied, and then he admittedly sexually abused his own daughter, although he stated it wasn’t abuse. There was no way to make him understand how ludicrous it all sounded. There was no point in fighting. He didn’t get it. He never would. My rage switched to pity.

I felt sorry for him. For him not seeing the truth. For being so sick that he doesn’t understand what he did. For being old and lonely. For not having a family. For so many reasons.

When he left stage, he fell into my lap. I could either catch him, or let him fall. As the old man fell, I had to catch him. How could I hurt him? His head brushed against my breasts and he looked up at me and his pathetic eyes were thankful. I saved my abuser, while he continues to harm me. Thankfully they edited this part out of the show, so only the audience saw.

After he left the stage, Dr. Phil offered my sister and I the opportunity to travel to Onsite –the worldwide leader in therapeutic and personal growth workshops, where he said we could work on healing our past trauma. Onsite is located in Tennessee. It would mean more travel, more time away from the kids, and George, and work. Before he was even finished talking, I had already came up with a hundred reasons why it wouldn’t work for me, why I couldn’t go, and how it wouldn’t help. I am healed. I had already worked on so much of my healing, and writing my book did tremendous amounts of healing my past trauma. How could it help?

The show ended –no mention of my book. The familiar taste of rejection filled my mouth. As I left the stage, I could feel tears running down my cheeks. Maybe my book wasn’t good enough to be mentioned. What if he hated it? What if it was trash, rubbish, pure junk? What if everything I believed was false. What if I wasn’t an author after all? My book and I were no good. There was the proof.

So, what was the I said earlier? I am healed…yeah…think again.

Self-hating thoughts would not leave my head for the first few days back home. As with many other events in my life, what I expected and what happened were totally different. Disappointment lingered. I researched Onsite. I wanted to know more. I reached out to the admissions department and was interviewed. The program that would best help me was believed to be Healing Trauma. I completed an application and sent it to be looked over. I was told they would let me know if I was accepted into the program.

Suddenly, this place I had no interest in going to was now some place I had to go. They had to let me in, right? I checked my email every few seconds…still nothing…what if I was too messed up to go? What if the stuff that happened to me really wasn’t that bad and I was just overreacting my whole entire life? The thoughts returned…your book is no good…who wants to read about boring stuff anyway? Maybe you are crazy. Maybe you need more help than they can give you. Maybe…fill in the blank…you get the idea.

The email from Onsite arrived in my inbox…now I was too nervous to open it. As I clicked it open I read that I had been approved for the program in April. All the desire I had before to go turned in to uncertainty. For six days I would not be able to talk to my kids or George. I would not be able to be online, use email, watch the news, look at the weather, listen to Tom Petty. I would be gone from home for seven days. A prisoner of sorts, forced to work on all the past trauma. What was I thinking? Why did this sound like a good idea before?

It was too late, the plane tickets were purchased, the date was set. I was going to Onsite to heal decades of past trauma.

Continued on: Healing Trauma