As a child, I did not know my birth father. My mother married my stepfather when I was eight years old. I was excited to finally have a man to call my father. From the start of their new marriage, there was a lot of tension. Fears of my new father quickly developed. He considered himself a church goer and immediately had me memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, the Twenty Third Psalm and a few other scriptures and prayers. We even had a plaque hanging in our home that read, “What does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord your God.” Micah 6:8
Even though that sounds very commendable, there was a lot of evil going on behind closed doors.
My step father began abusing me physically and sexually at the age of 8 until the age of 18. As the years passed, the physical and sexual abuse increased. My mother did nothing to intervene but actually took part in it.
I don’t want to go into too much detail but I want you to understand the severity of my abuse.
I was always an honor roll student in school and a very compliant child. I was compliant at home and at school. I wanted to make everyone happy and I learned how to be a very good people pleaser. Unfortunately there was never anything I could do to please my step father. I learned at an early age that to have any worth, I had to maintain an ideal body weight and look well put together. I lost a lot of weight within the first few months of their marriage. As early as 8 years of age I began obsessing about what I looked like. I wanted so badly to please my stepfather. Unfortunately, I was falling apart emotionally and incurring many physical and emotional scars in the process. Two of my prominent physical scars are both of my ears that have been disfigured from chronic abuse. My stepfather would pull me around the house by my ears and punch me in the side of the head until they became permanently disfigured.
When I was 16, we moved from New Jersey to Ohio. My parents pulled me out of school and for the next two years I was locked in my bedroom with no outside contact. I had no TV, no radio, no phone contact with anyone. I did not know anyone in this new state. I was completely isolated and stripped of basic necessities. I was not allowed to wear clothes and was only allowed to eat bread and water which was given to me twice a day. I had to constantly remain in my room and in my bed. My step father and my mother shaved off my hair and my disfigured ears only stuck out more. I saw myself as hideous, there was nothing pretty about me in my own eyes.
My step father would come to me after my mother left for work at 3:00 PM and after he was good and drunk. He used me in sexual ways when he wasn’t beating me.
One day in a drunken rage, before my mother left for work, he stabbed me in the back three times with a steak knife missing my spine by a quarter of an inch. My mother dressed my wounds and sent me back into the prison of my room. I was never taken anywhere to receive medical help. I totally lost any hope of my mother’s concern for me on the day she was sexually violent with me. I felt alone, unloved, and loathed my existence. Too afraid to try and kill myself, I kept hoping and dreaming of the day that I might be freed.
Hope and eventual freedom came to me through a Bible that was on my bookshelf in my bedroom. It had been there the whole time I was locked in my bedroom but it wasn’t until after the stabbing that I began to feel drawn to it and read it. When I picked it up to read, I was not even sure I believed in God. If my step father believed in Him, I surely was leery of believing in a God who allowed such bad things to happen to me.
I began reading in Genesis and recognized many of the stories from Sunday School. I found parts of the Bible extremely boring but I was determined to read it word for word. Once I began reading in the Psalms, I realized that my emotions were being perfectly described. Their words echoed deeply within my soul. This person wrote about hopelessness, despair, and the fear of death. That is what I was experiencing! The only thing different about the author and myself was that He kept praying and crying out to God asking Him to rescue him from His enemies. He seemed to have a hope that I knew nothing about. I put God to the test one day and prayed, “God if you are real, get me out of here.”
God began answering my prayers through my mother’s and stepfather’s greed. They told me I could eat when I got a job. I was 18 at this time and I was told that the only thing that I could do was be a prostitute or an exotic dancer. They said I had no brains but since I had a good body that it could bring me in money. Against my desire, my mother took me to a bar to audition to be a dancer. She sat at the bar along with the other male patrons and watched me make a fool out of myself. I was so humiliated as I tried to entice those watching with my unskilled dance moves. Thank God my dancing skills were horrendous!! I did not get the job but I received a lot of ridicule and shaming from my parents for my inability to get the job.
In an attempt to get a different job, they continued throwing the newspaper in my room. Again I asked God to get me out of my prison and this time He answered with a job at a factory. The day I came home with my first paycheck, I packed a few things up in a duffle bag and left home. I have never been back or had a relationship with my mom or stepfather since that day.
God answered my prayers and I began my journey with Him, a journey that started out very darkly because of my choices. When a young woman has been abused sexually and physically as I had, she does not know how to make good choices.
The first night on my own, I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and quickly got caught up in a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. I lost my job within the second or third week and had to find a new place to live. My new found freedom became a prison in itself as I daily made unhealthy decisions to manage my emotional pain. I prostituted myself for a place to stay and in exchange for my drugs. I lived from day to day and did not care about much of anything. After a year of living like this, a friend who I had partied with and had stopped, invited me to go to church with her. I didn’t want to go but went anyway. A gentleman there asked me to pray with him and, being the people pleaser that I was, I could not say no. Little did I know that God was not done rescuing me. In the midst of me repeating the prayer after him, I broke down in sobs and I felt the presence of the Lord washing over me. God was calling me to be in a personal relationship with Him. I accepted His invitation and slowly my life began to take a different path. I experienced hope on an even deeper level.