A Note from Jackie
As with all the survivor’s stories, I am always humbled and moved at the story of courage and perseverance that is shared. When I think of little children going through such trauma, I am so touched at how strong these children were…and how amazing these adults are now! I think we sometimes neglect honoring the amazing inner strength these survivors have displayed in their lives – especially when they do not always feel strong.
This story is no different! Here is a survivor’s story that once again illustrates the pain of abuse. What moves me so about this story is how this survivor found God – in spite of the pain and trauma of the abuse which was endured. Here, the survivor shares what touches me as “The Peace that passes all understanding.” A peace that this survivor tries to hold on to even when life gets heavy once again in adulthood. What a glorious testimony of God’s love. Please join me in praising God for his gift of strength during a young child’s life and the willingness of this survivor to share the story of bravery, perseverance , survival and God’s grace.
I come from a large family with 5 siblings. My father was in the Air Force and my mother worked as a waitress. I had a very hard childhood. My father was an alcoholic and abuser. My mother was abusive verbally, physically and emotionally.
My childhood memories are few as my mind has blocked a lot of bad memories. One that I do remember is a night when my father came home drunk and asked each one of us girls if we wanted to go with him into the bedroom. All of us said no. However, since I was the oldest, I had to go with my dad to his bedroom. Little did I know, that my father would sexually assault me. I was only eight years old.
I don’t remember much of the assault but I do remember after the assault being placed in a tub of water to clean me up. My dad had me put my sister’s pajamas on. The next day my mother asked me why I was wearing my sister’s pajamas and not my own. I told her that it was because there was blood on my pajamas. I have always felt that my mother covered up the sexual assault. I was never taken to a doctor to make sure I was okay.
It was a short time later that my father locked all of us children out of the house. While we were outside, he shot and killed himself. My mother had a nervous breakdown shortly after his death and had to be hospitalized. We all had to stay with neighbors until my mother was released from the hospital. I don’t remember that much about my dad’s funeral for it was a blur.
We moved a short time later. My mother soon remarried. My stepfather was just like my father – an alcoholic. I remember being locked in our room and my sister and I had to sit on our hands all day. My mother would put us in our room and keep us there even when she took the other children out somewhere. She would put tape on the door to make sure that we did not leave the bedroom. It was a very depressing time for us to be locked up in a room for so long.
My mother did not allow me enough time to get to school and get home from school. We had a time limit on how long it should take us to get there and get home again. And we were constantly running home and running to school to make it in time. If we didn’t make it in time, we would get in trouble.
My mother was a rejecting and neglectful mother. She did not care about my sister or me. When I was about 10 years old I remember being so hungry I stole from my teacher’s purse. I thought they were M & M’s and I ate them. Come to find out they were vitamins or some kind of medicine. My mother did not take me to the hospital. She just called the doctors office to find out want she needed to do to take care of the problem. I almost died from the accidental overdose. When my mother would leave the house on errands my brothers would make us perform sexual acts on them and they would molest us. This activity went on for a few years.
When I was eleven and half years old my mother put me in a state mental hospital. Most children of this age would be homesick and wanting to go home. Not me! I was so happy to be there to work on “my problems.” This was the reality about how rejecting my home was.
It was while I was in the state hospital that I found out just how far behind in school I was. I was at a 4th grade level in reading, math and science. During my year at the state hospital, I grew as a girl should grow and I was able to catch up to where I should have been in school – 7th grade. During my stay there I tried on several occasions to either talk to or go home to visit my mother. My mother would continue to reject me by not talking to me on the phone. The only way I got to go home was if the staff members took me home.
After a year in the mental state hospital, all of sudden my mother withdrew me from the hospital. This was done against medical advice. Things at first went fine. Then after a while we again would be locked in our bedroom for days on end with nothing to do. By now we had grown older and I decided at the age of fourteen that I had enough. So I ran away from home.
When I ran away, it was the first time I felt free. Free from all abuse and rejection. After I ran away, my sister and I were placed in foster homes. The foster home did not work out for me as I needed more structure. So I was placed in a group home for girls. When I was 15 or 16 I transferred to another group home. This home was where I began to go to church and hear about God. This did some wonders for me. Knowing that God would care for a soul like me was amazing. As I got older, I had to be placed with another group home. It was at this home that I was able to be on my own and still live at the group home.
I finally made it to High School graduation and God was leading me to Bible College. So I went to Bible College to search what He would have me to do. In December of my sophomore year of college I accepted Christ as my personal Savior … Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” God did change my life. He blessed me with a wonderful husband and three wonderful daughters. I wish I could say it was a happily after story but I cannot. I would face even more challenges.
In her teens, my youngest daughter began to self-harm. She would cut on her arms and hide them from us by wearing long sleeve shirts. We finally did find out that she was cutting herself. One time she had cut herself so badly that it required over 40 stitches. Then she tried committing suicide on two different occasions. This would turn into a two-year battle to keep her safe.
During this time I began to struggle with depression and question why my daughter was experiencing these problems. Even through my worry and concern for her safety, I managed to keep things together while my daughter was going through the cutting and the suicide attempts. It was when my daughter moved out of the house and on her own that I crashed. I went into a deep depression and tried to commit suicide on five different occasions. I was hospitalized on several occasions in addition to these attempts. It was during one of those hospital visits that it was discovered that I had Graves Disease, a thyroid disease. It took about a year for the doctors to get medicine in correct doses to manage the disease. Now my body is responding to the medicine and my thyroid is now normal and my depression is getting better. I know that I will struggle with depression the rest of my life. But, I fight for the hope that my struggle will continue to get easier.
To this day I do not have a relationship with my mother. It is not because of my choice, the ball is in her court. She will have to make the decision to be in a relationship.
I am in therapy and this is helping me understand my past and to get a hold of not letting it control me. I know that God is not finished with me. My life verse is “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3: 5 – 6. I know that God will be with me every step of the way – even if He is carrying me some of the time.