One Victim’s Transformation to Survivor

“According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 1 out of 4 girls will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. It also states that most cases go unreported. You made me one of those statistics. For 5 years, this went unreported. For 5 years, I was one out of four girls.”

As my daughter stood before the judge and a courtroom full of strangers I listened as her nervous tension squeaked past her vocal cords. There, with her back to me, just a foot away I listened as she addressed her perpetrator. I knew she needed a reminder that I was there, but I feared touching her; I didn’t want my anger to override her emotions through my touch.

At the suggestion of another I did reach out, and something amazing happened. As my hand touched her back and began to rub (as is customary of our interaction during tense moments) her voice grew loud, she was angry and she let it be known. My little caterpillar that spent most of her life hidden away in a cocoon of secrecy suddenly emerged a beautiful butterfly … it was that instant that the room turned into the color of tears, not only for what she has had to endure, but for the empowering strength and inspiration she has become.

Prior to my daughter reading her impact statement the prosecuting attorney said, “Now you are very soft spoken, but you need to speak up so that the court can hear you.” However, I’m pretty sure that the prosecutor thought that her booming voice of anger was going to smack him in the back of the head!

She stood there reading the details of his years of abuse, she stated her hatred for him, she spat out memories that have become nightmares, and she yelled at him as she told him that she has been diagnosed with Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder! All the while she watched him, hoping to see some reaction from him, but as is his trait, he was completely emotionally removed from the reality that the rest of us are facing. He could not look at her, or anyone. She completely owned the courtroom as she told the truth, all eyes were on him, including those of other inmates. He could not look at here, could not make eye contact with a single soul in the room. His shame moved around the courtroom like a bouncy ball on speed! She flipped the switch today, she let him know that he can no longer intimidate her.

Per the plea agreement my ex-husband was supposed to be released today with credit for time served (159 days) and the order to register as a sex offender. Yes, this is merely a slap on the wrist, but as long as the victim remains informed the prosecutor is free to reach any deal that he (or she) wants in an effort to save money on trials. However, the judge has a heart … he added 91 days discretionary jail time (if he violates probation), 5 years of probation and registration as a sex offender.

In my victim’s impact statement that represented all five of my children I had requested an addition of the five years of probation, never did I think we would actually get it! Yes, he was released late this afternoon, and our lives are back to checking over our shoulders, but even if the sentence came out to be exactly what it was supposed to be there is nothing more empowering, satisfying, or inspirational as seeing your child transform from victim to survivor, caterpillar to butterfly in an instant right before your eyes!

For further information: CSC Victim Scolds Perpetrator

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Battle of the Body

She lay upon her bed, the only sound is the gasps of air as she sobs. Praying for sleep, she found none. She just wanted to make sense of the emotional pain that she had been feeling for as long as she can remember.

Freak, Fatty, Nerd, Worthless. The words rang repeatedly in her mind. No, she wasn’t being bullied, or maybe she was, but if she was, she was the bully and the bullied.

Her mind began to race, she was inundated with ideas, and it was just an impulse when she went to the kitchen, took the knife, and wildly slashed at her arms. In a flurry of activity and pain she felt the great release that comes with self-harm.

She had managed to turn the emotional pain that she couldn’t understand into physical damage that she could see and make sense of.  The endorphin rush was short, and the blood stains told her that she better hide the damage. She ran to her room to hide the knife as she cried for the stinging of the of the cuts.

Little did she know that her mind was hiding the knife for future use. She swore out loud that she would never do this again, as she placed the blade in her night stand drawer.

Washing up the evidence she had placed upon her body she allowed the tears of pain to turn to continued sobs.

As you read this, maybe you imagine a broken family, a victim of sexual assault or some other sort of crime, maybe even a mental patient.

Not once did you consider that maybe she’s just a normal girl, with normal emotional growth. Not once did you consider that her scars are caused by inappropriate coping skills. Not once did you consider how you might help her.

The Disposable Individual

For two weeks I have been dealing with some sort of break down in communication between my doctor’s office, my pharmacy, and myself. This has led to an absence of refills for several much needed medications … and a drastic toss into the life of understanding sudden, unintended withdrawal symptoms. Until yesterday I was doing a damn good job of hiding the physical withdrawal symptoms. I did tell someone about the physical aches that I was feeling, but they chalked it up to “Getting old really sucks!” so I stuffed my physical pain so that no one could diagnose me with stupid things like old age or the flu.

Yesterday I got home from work in an exaggerated elevation of mood. I was laughing about everything, probably much more than was necessary, but it felt good. That is until reality hit, my life is not where I want to be right now. I worked my ass off last week, with Friday being the toughest day of all. I was exhausted when I got home and asked my teenage daughters if they felt like cooking dinner. I know better than to use a question to motivate a child to action, but I did and it was a failure, of course no one feels like cooking dinner.

I realized my mistake as I spoke the words, but rather than getting upset I recognized that no one felt like doing much of anything. Although my girls had the day off from school, I guess they are entitled to a day of rest as well.

Sometime later I requested one of the children make me a cup of coffee, and I was told, “Get up and get yourself a glass of water!”

I couldn’t hold it in anymore! “I did not work my ass off all fucking day so that I could come home and serve myself a glass of fucking water for dinner!” I knew this was the emotional side of my withdrawal rearing its ugly head, but the words were out, it was to late to stop the train wreck that was happening! The child that suffered my words sent me three text messages in response to my outburst, but I could see from the preview that I shouldn’t bother reading those until I pulled myself together. Instead, I turtlized everything (yes, that is a new word that I am coining)!

I starting stuffing everything that I was feeling for fear of the repercussions of sharing what I was feeling. In the past I have been accused of dragging others down to my level and through my shit when I feel like this. As a helper by trade and a human by birth I work really hard to be sure that I don’t do that, which often leads to me shutting down for fear of hurting others as much as I hurt.

After many hours of quiet I decided I was in the clear and comfortable enough to talk to someone. It was quite obvious that I wasn’t being my usual funny, avoidant self, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the other person merely said good night to my attempts at conversation.

This morning I was still feeling pretty raw emotionally, and physically, I can’t even describe my level of pain; I just know that withdraw sucks. I didn’t smile when I finally convinced myself it was time to get out of bed. I found nothing to laugh about, and by about 1 or 2 in the afternoon I realized that I had barely spoken a dozen words all day … and that no one had bothered to reach out and see how I was.

This catapulted me into a place I don’t want to be, but reality sucks, and this is what I’m facing. If I am not being the funny one, the life of the party, the smiley one, the helping one, the let me kiss your ass one; then there is not a single individual in my life that wants to be around me. No one seems to know how to handle the “family mascot” when s/he isn’t able to use humor to deflect the layers upon layers of pain hidden behind the smile.

So, today, while everyone was outside, enjoying the lovely weather and doing all sorts of cool stuff that we have waited all winter long for … this mascot was lying in her bed, trying to come to terms with the fact that her pain has made her a disposable individual.

Remembering Pay It Forward

It is quickly approaching the one year anniversary of the day my children and I realized that we were living a lie. Nearly a year since we dropped everything and ran away from the devastation of the secret life of my now ex-husband. In that time we have been wronged in so many ways. It has taken over five months for the divorce settlement to actually go through, and even now, I have nothing … yet. I’ve been waiting for tomorrow since August 2, 2016 for that. We don’t have a child support order yet, although the first notice of request for our income was sent out on March 24, 2016. We haven’t had the criminal trial yet, even though he was arrested on March 30, 2016, and soon after released on bail. Everything along the way has been stalled or halted in one way or another, it all started when he had a massive heart attack in the courthouse on one of our many court dates. Then, he fled, he dropped his great job, a home, our family pets, everything and he headed for the hills of the Pacific Coast, we learned of this the day before his trial was to begin.

His parental rights were supposed to be terminated, but the delay for the criminal trial left the courts waiting too long and they were forced to dismiss the case with a warning to me: “If anyone tells you, even a judge, that he is to see the children you are to contact Children’s Protective Services immediately and defy all court orders, we will take care of you.”

In all of the we have felt lost in a legal process that seems to never end. We often see the light at the end of the tunnel, but every time it ends up being a train headed right for us! We squeeze ourselves between the wall of the tunnel and the train and pray, and every time, God gets us through, every single time!

In all of this, there is one memory that we hold near and dear to us! We had left our home in the darkness with nothing more than the clothes on our backs and any prescription medications that we had. We stayed a couple of nights at a relatives before being given a room in a shelter in Mason County, Michigan. We were about a week into what would become a six week stay when we woke up at 4:30am. Each of us showered and ate breakfast. Our day would include driving one of the children to school in Newaygo County, then the other to the doctor in Kent County. We would return to Newaygo County where my daughter and I would hunker down at the library so that she could do her online schooling and the other daughter would meet us to complete the evenings homework. The girls would then go to drama practice at the school in Newaygo County and finally we would return to Mason County to sleep and do it all over again. Our schedule was beyond demanding, and this was five days a week, but there were other obligations that left us travel weary and gasless the other two days of the week as well.

On one particular day we were eating breakfast and going over any changes in our normal routine when the girls and I decided we wanted to stop at McDonald’s for some bevarages before leaving Mason County. I emptied every pocket I had and counted out $4 in change, mostly pennies, but enough to get a coffee and two sodas. It was the last of my money for the forseeable future, but it was something that we could do that wasn’t a necessity.

We left a few minutes early and pulled into the drive thru at McDonald’s, right behind a Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy. He or she pulled up to the window to pay and it appeared the cashier and deputy were engaging in small talk, I watched the clock getting aggravated that the few minutes I had allowed for this were ticking away and we were going to be late. Finally the vehicle pulled away and I sadly took the change from my daughter and cupping it in two hands leaned out to pay the person. “Oh no!” she said.

“I’m sorry, this is all that we have,” I responded as a way of excusing the massive amount of pennies she would have to count.

“No,” she said, as I felt the embarrassment burning my cheeks, “the deputy paid for your order.”

I eyed her skeptically, “Really?” I felt the tears slipping down my reddened cheeks and my throat swelled to the point of making swallowing an amazing task.

“Yes,” she said, “it’s paid for, you can pull forward to get your order.”

By the time it sank in that the deputy had absolutely no way of knowing our story it was too late, he or she had long ago gotten their food and moved on with their day. My daughters, ages 15 and 12 at the time, joined me in an emotional display of private gratitude. We had just walked away from the man that had promised us everything, we only recently learned of the capacity of his destruction, we had been devastated, stunned, beyond sad. Yet, here was a total stranger, paying it forward, with no knowledge of our story, effectively restoring our faith in humanity in a single transaction.

IDK What to Call This

My stress level is through the roof, I feel like my head is going to explode and it is making me want to puke.

I know, I know, I should be giving this to God, and I am, but it is coming at me quicker than I can pass it to Him. It isn’t all my stress either, I learned a long time ago that everyone has their own problems, and it seems that everyone is dumping those on me.

I am in a cycle today, take some medicine to get rid of my headache, lie down, wake up to a ringing phone with someone else’s problems. It’s not that I don’t care either, maybe that’s the problem, I care too much.

My current priorities are:

  • Grocery Money
  • Gas Money
  • Laundry Money
  • Money to get my car legal
  • Money to get my daughter’s medicine
  • Prayers for all of this and a friend that  I really care about going through some things.

The priorities aren’t necessarily in that order, that’s just the order that I thought of them in.

I just need to get through today, I’ll face tomorrow then, but just get me through today.

I’m Losing my Grip on Life

Making decisions that you think will better your life is probably the most difficult task of free will. Lately I’ve been trying to align my life’s goals and ambitions with my priorities, but it seems like I’m making bad choices.

These choices are not devastating, but they are overwhelming just the same. Some of them are simply me grasping at what I think is best and really setting myself up to fail. When I do fail I feel like I’ve let my children and God down.

I have this thing with my children, I raised them with this: “Do your personal best, not everyone else’s.” To me this consists of being true to yourself … being honest with yourself. Yet, I don’t feel like I’m heeding those words. I’m just grasping for the baton, running without looking, and dropping the ball all at once.

I’ve come to some truly insightful conclusions about my life, the path I’m on, and the places I’m going. I know that I deserve a lot of things in life; love, respect, honesty, and encouragement. I’m getting this from some people, but I struggle to pay back that which has been gifted to me. Of course, I can offer as much as humanly possible, but in the end it seems like few people are in my life as true friends. Most people want to know what I can do for them. The answer right now is nothing. I am so burnt out with exhaustion and failure that I no longer have energy to give others the precious gifts that I’ve been given.

Lately I’ve been seeing God’s hand in much of my life, just a day and a half ago I felt true peace at the way things were going. I was astonished as I watched things fall into place, it was as if someone put in a special request to Heaven to watch over my family and me. Now, I feel like Satan is working really hard to destroy the very decisions that have the potential to help me keep my grip on life.

Things will be changing for me over the next few months, and I’m half tempted to strip myself clean of those that will suddenly have time for me when things are going well. Some think I’m just in this life to “drag others down to my level.” The truth is that I’m human, some days, hidden behind my smiling face is pain and turmoil. When I reach out for some sort of support or encouragement I’m not reaching out to drag anyone down, I’m just grasping for some sort of logic to my situation, an unbiased third party viewpoint of what I’m doing and where I’m going.

The reality is that I can’t always be strong … some days I need to cry, I need to vent, and I need to feel like someone cares enough to give me constructive critisism. Sometimes that might mean some more pain will be headed my way, but without that pain I don’t see how I can find the positives in others.

Destined for Greatness

What if I told you that each of us is born destined for some sort of greatness? That God created YOU to be an amazing individual, but from the moment that you were born your environment has catapulted trauma onto you, thus resulting in your lack of luster?

I’m asking you to consider the above, I’m not trying to shove my beliefs on you, I’m just asking you to consider it as you read this post.

In my last post I briefly discussed the death of my brother over eight years before my birth. I also discussed how my siblings often consider me lucky, because I didn’t have to try to survive during the horrific time in the lives of my parents and family. Or, did I? Did I in some way endure the consequences poured upon their souls by society?

Some will have an easier time imagining this than others, but for a moment … imagine that you have had to bury a child, specifically an infant; imagine the torture, pain, and questioning your faith in God.

Now, you find out that you are going to have another child. What if this one passes away? What if there is another investigation? Or if the children are removed out of fear that I’m not a good parent? What if … a million other things run through your mind?

In the midst of all of the chaos your father says, “You’re pregnant.”

You respond with, “Oh, Dad, I am not.”

“Don’t tell me, I know when one of my girls is expecting!”

With in a couple of weeks of this conversation your dad, your hero, passes away. You grieve, you deny, you hide and five months in you find out that Dad was right, you are pregnant. Three months later the baby is born a full month early.

Every stressor that you endure during this time is flooding your infant with cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland during times of stress. Stress, upon stress, and yup, more stress, and your baby is fighting this intense hormone that is being directed right to him or her.

The child’s environment is already changing the child before birth, the infant is ultimately fighting a war in utero. The destiny for greatness suffers, the child is born not knowing who s/he is, just a baby, already tainted by society.

I hope that you were born to achieve greatness, but the truth is … I was not. If you were, you have a fighting chance to find you, your true destiny, yourself. However, there are many just like me, born lost and fighting a war that no one knows about, we can reach greatness, we just have to put up a bigger fight.

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