a guest post by Tamara Wright
Life has its twists and turns and sometimes you don’t know whether you are coming or going. There are those whose life seems somewhat blissful. There may be moments in their lives when things seem out of sorts but for the most part everything seems to go their way. Others just slide by with little care to what goes on around them. Then there are those whose lives seem like something out of a horror flick. They live in a state of fear, anger, loneliness, and despair.
Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” First and foremost I give God the glory. He has brought me through many storms. He has always been there for me even when I thought he wasn’t.
Although abuse is against the law in the United States there are so many cases where the abuse is either not reported or slip through the cracks of our legal system. I am one of those cases and this is my story.
The old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” is so true. To look at me today you would never know that I had lived a large portion of my early life a victim of abuse. Though I bare few physical scars from my abuse most of my scars lie deep within. Although my early life was hard, I have discovered that life as I knew it then is what has made me who I am today.
I am one of sixteen children. I was the sixth child first girl born. I have four half-brothers two of which I did not grow up with. Besides my step-brothers my parents together had six boys and six girls. The relationship between me and my order brother was much like any other brother and sister relationship. We fought and bickered with one another on a regular basis. However, the relationship between me and my stepbrothers had a much darker side to it.
I might have been about five years old when my step brothers started abusing me. Some nights I would be awaken as I was carried to another bed where I was forced to engage in sexual acts. After the act I would be told not to say anything that it was our little secret. The abuse intensified as I got older. The sexual abuse continued till I was in my early teens. The youngest of my step brothers not only abused me sexually and mentally but he took great pleasure in torturing and tormenting me. Many times I would wake up to a pillow being put over my face. I can remember struggling trying to push it off me and screaming for help but help never came. Sometimes out of nowhere he would yank me up and hang me upside down by my feet and submerge my head into water. Me being as small as I was I couldn’t fight back. He told me he would kill me if I ever said anything to mom or dad. I had no one to turn to. I was utterly alone. I lived most of my childhood in fear of when the next attack would come. Many nights I would take my blanket or sheet depending on the season and sneak town the hall to the living room where I would slip behind the couch. Carefully watching the hall, I’d wrap myself up and curl up into a bundle. I watched from under the couch waiting and listening for any movement. Every sound startled me as I looked back and forth searching for the sources. My body shook from the thought of hearing someone coming down the hall to find me in my hiding place. I’d lie watching and listening till my eyes could no longer stay open. When daylight came I’d sneak back to my bedroom so no one would see me. I’d get back into bed and lay there waiting for everyone to get up.
I remember when my family lived in a little trailer park in Texas. There were maybe twenty trailers there. My family lived in the first trailer. Three trailers down from us lived my best friend, Buffy. Buffy’s mom, Dianne was my mom’s best friend. One day while mom was at Dianne’s house Jimmy grabbed me and put me on top of a dresser which was in front of a window. He liked to grab my feet and swing me around just to listen to me scream. He was taunting me by grabbing at my feet. I stood there begging him to stop. He stopped for a moment and turned to leave the room but before he went through the doorway he turned and told me to stay where I was. He left me on the dresser shaking from head to toe. I looked around trying to figure out what to do when I looked at the window. I opened the window and crawled out but before I could jump down Jimmy had me by my hair trying to pull me back into the window. He reached down with his left hand to grab my arm and I bit him as hard as I could. He let go and I fell to the ground. I took off running toward Dianne’s trailer. I could hear his footsteps behind me, I knew if he caught me it was over. I flew through the gate and up the steps, grabbed the doorknob and started to turn it when Jimmy caught me by my shirt. I started screaming and my mother swung open the door and saw Jimmy trying to take me home. She looked down at me and told Jimmy to let me go. I ran into my mother’s arms. I begged her not to make me go home with him. She held me and hugged me then told Jimmy to go home. We walked into the trailer as my mother tried to calm me. I didn’t want to let her go. I was safe at least for now. When my mother was done visiting Diane she and I walked home. I never told her what had happened I was too scared of what Jimmy would do to me. So, I kept my secrets hidden away.
Back then I was a very quiet little girl who kept to herself. I was always in my own little world. I guess maybe that was normal. At least it was for me. In the little world I created no one hurt me and everyone loved me. When I went to school my teachers always had to put my hair up because my hair would hide my eyes. It was my way of hiding from the world. I didn’t want anyone’s attention. I didn’t want anyone to see me because I was afraid they would find out my secrets. I just wanted to be invisible.
A few years later my step brothers moved out but the damage done would affect me for the rest of my life. Around 1985 my family moved to Oklahoma. I was sixteen at the time and I spent most of my time in my room away from the world. I felt alone, unloved, and unwanted. I just existed that’s it, nothing more nothing less. I felt like my being born was just a mistake that I didn’t belong there. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep asking, “why me?” I just couldn’t understand why God would let this happen to me. I started keeping a diary and wrote my feelings down in it and kept it underneath my bed. At one point I started contemplating suicide. There were a few times I had gone and locked myself in my room, sat in the corner and just cried. I even resorted to cutting myself a few times. I thought if I just slit my wrist and died no one would miss me. They wouldn’t even know I was gone. All I wanted was the pain to end that’s it; I wanted freedom from the prison I was in. I kept a handful of pills on top of my diary thinking one of these days I’ll get up enough nerve to just take them all at once and end my misery. One day I reached underneath my bed to get my diary but it wasn’t there. I got down on my knees and bent down to look under the bed but there was nothing. My heart sank. My mother found the diary and the pills and told my father. My father was so mad at me. I just stood there and let him say what he had to say. I never said a word just stood there.
A day or so later my mother asked me to take a ride with her. We rode around for a bit and she started talking to me. She ask me what was wrong. I didn’t answer I just kept my eyes on the floor or looking out the window. She told me there had to be a reason I would feel like I needed to end my life. The tears started rolling down my face. I didn’t know how to tell her. In my mind I believed if I told her she would blame me. She begged me to tell her what was wrong. It took some time but I finally opened up to her about what happened. I never told her everything just that I was molested by my stepbrothers. I expected her to scream at me or something but she didn’t. She looked at me and told me she understood everything I was going through. I didn’t really understand but I was relieved she wasn’t mad at me. We rode around for a long time just talking. I found out a few things about my mother I didn’t know. She too had been abused by a family member. What she told me took me off guard I couldn’t believe it. The time I spent with my mother that day didn’t fix my depression but it did give me a time of venting. I felt closer to my mom and the void between us closed a little. For many years after I struggled with the scars left by my step brothers. In school I made descent grades but had very few friends. I couldn’t wait till it was time to go home so I could go back to the safety of my room where I lost myself in my music and my daydreaming of a better life.
I was about twenty years old when I met my now ex-husband, Tracy who was an ex-boxer. When our relationship started everything seemed great. He was a perfect gentleman who opened doors for me, was kind and loving towards me. He was my knight and shining armor or so I thought. We dated for a few months before I decided to move in with him. Soon he started changing and becoming abusive towards me. I didn’t have to say or do anything to trigger his anger. He’d come home drunk and I became the person he took all his frustrations out on. It started with name calling. He would call me fat and ugly or say things like, “No one will have you!” or “You’re worthless!” among other hurtful things to degrade me. I felt like I was back in that cold, dark dungeon again. I was alone and there was no one who could save me.
I had my son in March of 1991. He was my joy. During one of Tracy’s drunken fits he walked over and picked Tray up and handed him to me. It didn’t register what he was up to till it was too late. His fist came out of nowhere. I didn’t even have time to react before Tracy had punched me in the eye. Instantly I saw white. I let out a scream and swung around to prevent Tracy from hitting Tray while at the same time trying to shield my face. He yelled for me to shut up before he hit me again and I tried to muffle my crying but my eye hurt so much. Tracy left me standing there crying and cowering against the wall. My body shook violently from fear. Tracy informed me that if I left him he would not only kill me he would kill my mother and my father as well. I was absolutely terrified! He then turned around and stormed out of the door.
Soon Tracy started isolating me from my family and friends. I wasn’t allowed to go to my mom’s house to visit or to go the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. If we were in public together I would have to really watch myself. I had to take care not to engage in conversations with another man for any reason be it direction or a simple hello because if Tracy seen it, he would take it as cheating and I would be beaten.
I became pregnant with my daughter in 1992. When Tracy found out I was having a girl he wanted me to have an abortion. I didn’t believe in abortions so I told him no. Tracy didn’t treat her the same way he treated my son. My son could do no wrong but my daughter on the other hand was a different story. In Tracy’s eyes women were beneath men therefore they were nothing other than someone who could produce babies.
The turning point in my life came after Tracy made the mistake of showing me how to throw the “proper punch” so he called it. I didn’t think I would ever use it but I was wrong. I suppose once you learn something like that you just do it instinctively when needed. Tracy came in one evening drunk as usual and came walking toward me. I knew I was about to get hit. Without even thinking I hit Tracy just like he taught me. He hit the floor and my mouth dropped. He just laid there staring at me with disbelief in his eyes. That was the moment I decided I’d had enough! I left Tracy but later made the mistake of letting him back in. Although this time was different because I wasn’t taking any more beatings. We fought but mostly words but soon after he started going after Samantha. He would verbally abuse her by calling her names. One day I just snapped. I told him it was time to leave and that I wanted a divorce. The last words he said to me were, “you will never be able to raise these kids on your own”, and “you will never amount to anything!” I was about twenty seven years old when I left Tracy.
During the next few years I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I eventually moved in with someone I met and he introduced me to meth. I started drinking and doing meth mainly just to fit in and it made me feel better about myself. Pretty soon one of our friends who made meth moved in with us. Now, I had my own supplier and the best thing about it was I didn’t have to pay for it! Doing meth began to be the center of my life. I didn’t care about anything else. All I cared about was meth. My children suffered because most of my attention was on my addiction. Yeah they were fed and taken care of but I wasn’t a good mother to them. I was a very mean person. I didn’t see it then but I do now. I am not proud of how I was to my kids. I missed out on two years of their lives. Two years I can’t get back.
My life took a major turn in late 1999 when one day I was washing dishes and I happened to look out the kitchen window just in time to see DEA agents coming down my driveway. I was arrested for possession with the intent to deliver and spent five days in jail. During the booking process I was so humiliated not that I didn’t deserve it because I feel I did. So many questions were going through my head as I was being fingerprinted and my mug shot taken. What will my family think of me? Will I ever see my children again? How could I have let it get this far? My head was reeling from all the questions I was asking myself. I had no answer to any of them.
On the first day of my stay in the Adult Detention Center I noticed a Bible sitting next to me. I’d never been in jail before and wondered why there was a Bible in the cell. I sat there for a while then looked over and picked up the Bible started to read. Before I knew it I found myself praying to God. I asked him to get me out of the situation I was in and that if he did I would never do it again. My family members came to see me and it was so heartbreaking that I couldn’t touch or hug any of them. I wanted to go home so bad and I would cry myself to sleep every night. When the time came to go to court to stand in front of the judge I was so scared I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been in trouble like this before and I was terrified I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison. I stood there waiting for the judge to tell me my fate was. By God’s grace I was given ten years suspended sentence and six years probation. When I got out I went home accompanied by a few of my family members. They stayed with me as I detoxed which for me seemed like an eternity. I even checked myself into Harbor View as an outpatient to quit. It wasn’t easy. I had to turn my back on the old life and that included my so called friends. After many months of therapy, many AA/NA meetings (which by the way didn’t do much for me), and a lot of hard work I was finally ready to be on my own again.
My mother convinced me to move to the same apartments she was living at. I packed everything up and I moved me and my children into a two bedroom very small apartment not too far from my parents.
I eventually started going to college where I earned two degrees in Computer Science and Computer Information. I now work at that same college and making it. I am an independent women who can take care of herself. I am happy to say both of my children are grown, graduated from high school, and both are going to college. I have a great relationship with them both. God has blessed me in so many ways.
I have forgiven those who hurt me so long ago. I am a new person though I still struggle with the scars still left behind. I have been alone for a long time because of what I have suffered. I think it will take time for me to come to a point where I can trust again. I have come so far and I owe it all to God. I have learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Good people fall too, but there is a solution and although every day is somewhat of a struggle for me I am comforted to know God is still by my side holding my hand assuring me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
If there is someone reading this who is a survivor or abuse or are going through it please know you are not alone. There is help and you deserve to have security, happiness, and to be loved. We have stayed silent for much too long. Stand tall, speak out, and be free! God bless you all!