Surviving a lifetime of abuse
Survival. It’s hard work, especially my definition: sustaining, overcoming and transforming deeply painful experiences into something positive.
I’m 43. I have survived incest, child abuse, domestic violence and child abuse of my son. I am now happily married and a grandmother five times over. I use my past on a daily basis for my profession. I have taken my history and crafted it as a tool to help prevent domestic and sexual violence and to help others take their experiences and become survivors.
I am the Peaceline Coordinator with the Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley in Radford, Va. I teach middle-school and high-school-aged youth that violence in relationships is wrong. I teach them about healthy relationships. I am approached on a regular basis by those who have been sexually assaulted. They disclose their situations to me, and I connect them with the resources they need to become a survivor.
The first child abuse I can remember was when I was 3. My mother pushed me down a flight of stairs that led to a concrete basement. A few weeks after that push, I had my first seizure, which led to a three-day coma. I remember being told my seizure was from a high fever because my mother covered me with too many blankets.
I yearned to be loved by my parents, but I never felt it from them. Growing up, I had pets. Each spare minute was savored with them, whether it was my German shepherd, cats, rabbits or horses. This is where I learned unconditional love. When I was 9, I began riding horses. We lived on a 15-acre parcel of land, which contained endless fields for me to gallop my dark brown quarter-horse, “Mama.” A gorgeous creek flowed at the end of our property. I would often find myself packing a lunch and riding “Mama” for the afternoon – away from my mother. I would take my horse to the river and it would be just the two of us. My horse and I had many conversations. No one argued. No voice was raised.
At age 14, my innocence was taken away from me – my favorite uncle raped me...
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