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From Victim to Survivor:   Part I

I was four years old, and I dreaded the day because I had to visit my biological mother, Leah. Leah was only allowed legal visitation rights because of her history of violence towards me since birth. She also shared a tiny dilapidated apartment with a creepy, monstrous man named Barry. I was sitting in the kitchen by myself when Leah calmly called me into the other room.

Alarmed, I noticed that the room was staged; three chairs were perfectly arranged in the middle. It had never looked like that before and I felt confused. Leah told me to take off all of my clothes. I remember that I was wearing my favorite pair of denim overalls. I did what I was told, but I felt so exposed, especially in front of Bruce. As I sat in the third chair, I felt perplexed and nervous.

As Leah started to speak in a normal tone, I figured everything out. She told me to stand up in front of them. I so desperately wanted to cover up my body. Then, she asked the question that will haunt me forever. Leah casually asked Barry for his belt, and he took it off and handed it to her. I knew the torment was about to begin. Leah calmly looked at me and asked, “Who do you love?” I instinctively knew that she wanted me to say that I loved her. I also knew that I was never going to deny my own truth to fulfill her sick and demented reality. I calmly said, “I love Dad, Grandpa, and Grandma.” So, she started wailing me with the belt everywhere, repeating the question over and over.

I didn’t waver as I answered the question the same way. Each time I spoke the truth she hit me harder and harder, all over my body. As physically painful as it was, I kept telling myself, “Don’t give her the satisfaction of winning.” I also told myself that I was strong and I would never give in to her deranged game, no matter what she did to me. I noticed Barry watching and smiling in a disturbing and satisfying way. I felt exposed as he watched me being beaten. Finally, I broke down and started crying because the pain was unbearable. I kept telling myself that she could beat me down as much as she wanted, but she would never make me give in to her sick and demented game. As it progressed, I just could not take it anymore.

From the beginning, I knew it would only take three words to make her stop, although I wasn’t going to give her what she wanted without putting up a fight. And when my body was in too much pain and I was black and blue and bleeding everywhere, I knew I had to do it. I had to put an end to the torture. I reminded myself that I was just lying to her and the truth would always remain with me. So, I said the three words that she so desperately wanted to hear, “I love you!” She stopped hitting me immediately. I’m still not sure if I felt more ashamed of being naked in front of Bruce or guilty for abandoning myself. I remember thinking: She can break my body, but never my spirit.

When my father came to pick me up, he could see I was severely hurt and rushed me to the hospital. Pictures were taken and everything was documented. I vaguely remember talking to a professional, but I do remember trying to protect my mother because as much as I hated her I didn’t want her to get in trouble. Then began my lifetime of protecting my abusers and everybody else but myself. I kept convincing my dad that I was fine. He didn’t mind; he wanted peace at all costs and turned a blind eye to the abuse. The courts took away Leah’s parental rights and she was never allowed to see me again. However, none of that stopped her.

To be continued…

Liz2.png Liz Hope

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Self-Care Is Critical for Thriving

Self-care. Self-love. Selfishness.

 

I used to believe that these three words were related because I didn’t understand why caring for yourself and loving yourself were important. I spent many years neglecting and harming my body, hating myself, and being miserable as a result. However, through my journey of healing I have found self-care and self-love to be vital not only for existing, but for thriving.

 

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety about five years ago. My psychiatrist worked with me to find the right medication to treat them both. Since then, I have been in and out of counseling and this year, I was diagnosed with PTSD due to the abuse and rape I suffered from my ex-fiancé. PTSD has come with its own new challenges apart from my anxiety and depression. It has taken all I am to fight against its persistent symptoms every day. Self-love and self-care have played a huge part in my healing process.

 

For me, self-care has been a trial and error process. I am still learning the best ways to care for myself with grace and love. People don’t come with “How To” manuals like toys do. Everyone was created in a specific way with different personality types, different trauma, and different experiences. Self-care isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of thing. It takes time and patience.

 

I have found several ways to care for myself so that I feel safe, recharged, and ready to face a new day or situation. Some of them include:

 

  1. Taking a nap
  2. Reading my Bible
  3. Praying
  4. Coloring in my coloring book with brightly colored markers
  5. Listening to music
  6. Taking time on my makeup in the morning
  7. Painting my nails
  8. Taking a relaxing bath
  9. Buying ice cream when I get a craving for it
  10. Calling my mom and telling her about my day

 

These are just a few of my favorite ways to care for myself. I am very self-aware and usually know what I need, when I need it. If I have a panic attack or can’t seem to calm down, I try these things until one works. Sometimes it takes time and that can be frustrating, which is why self-care requires so much patience and grace. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to hurt and okay to feel my feelings. I remind myself that my feelings are valid and I am allowed to feel them. I am allowed to be angry with the man who abused and raped me. Sometimes self-care is just letting myself cry about what happened, and sometimes it’s reminding myself that I am worthy of love.

 

The best advice I can give anyone trying to learn how to love and care for themselves is this: be patient and celebrate little victories. Healing takes time. Reprogramming your brain to think loving thoughts about yourself takes time. So be patient. When you start to put self-care into practice- even in little ways- celebrate that! Do not sell yourself short! You are taking steps and moving forward and doing your best to win over your past. You are a survivor. You are a warrior. You are brave. You survived one of the most painful and damaging things, so cut yourself some slack, you’re doing just fine.

blogger   Skyler Fuller

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The Alana James Story

Written by Alana James.

I was exposed to sex at a young age, and I’ve gone through a lot of different forms of abuse my entire life. But, I believe that it’s not what you go through that defines you, it’s who you choose to become as result of the pain!

When I was young my father was abusive sexually, physically, and emotionally. My mother protected me when she could but she was an alcoholic and could also be abusive at times, especially when I became a teenager. At times, it was as if she became jealous of me and stopped caring. The physical abuse got so bad I would run away into unsafe environments. Finally, I told on my father for the sexual abuse because I did not want my younger siblings to go through what I went through. Really, I just wanted my father to get help, not receive punishment. As a result, I was put in the system and became a child of the state. I’ve been on my own since the age of 14, and now I’m in my twenties.

Sexual trauma has threatened to run my life. I can only think of sex, even when I am trying to do and think of non-sexual things. Growing up, I was so promiscuous that I would use sex to survive and eventually became an escort. The escorting world is a different kind of hell not a lot of woman will ever know, fortunately. I tried modeling and acting but got scammed a lot by sleaze balls. I am tired of manipulative people and can see right through them. Every day I work as an escort I am in danger but I don’t want to struggle or go back to my abusive ex-boyfriend who was my only family for so long.

I have had three boyfriends and they have all been severely abusive. Moving around so much all my life has caused me to cross paths with bad people as well. I got caught up in the drug scene, attacked by men, robbed four times (including two times at gun point), witnessed a shooting, and was raped multiple times. I suppose having a boyfriend makes me feel safe, but it’s not a good reason to have one. My last relationship lasted for nine years, and I still visit him because we went through so much history even though he is abusive. I hope one day my past will not alter how people – especially men – treat me in the future, but for now I am surviving. I am working so I can have a better life. I am not proud of what I am doing, but I need and deserve a better life. I have been through too much to stop now.

Sometimes I do wonder if sexual trauma will haunt me forever, but then I remember that I just have to learn to make a lot of good, new memories to overpower the nightmares. I do believe that from the ugliness and darkness, beauty can overpower all of that and shine bright. I hope to one day let my past go; the memories may always be there, but there are more positive opportunities and adventures waiting in the future. Everything I’ve been through has made me who I am today. I have a big heart, I’m strong, and I have a magical spirit that refuses to break regardless of the many who have tried to break it.

 

I look forward, not in my past, and I’m excited for what’s to come: The unknown.

If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, please visit Peaceful Hearts Foundation.
For help regarding domestic violence, please visit The Hotline
For help regarding how to get out of escorting, please visit Women’s Law

If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape, please visit RAINN