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…