Written by Belinda – Angels by Grace Pub. March 1997
My abuse started around the age of eight or nine, by one of my closest Uncles. This Uncle was everybody’s dream father. He helped with homework, played sports, went swimming, fishing, and so on.
My Aunt treated me as if I were her own. She took me shopping and bought me things, helped me with homework, took me to church with all its activities, and she was teaching me about believing in God. I got Baptized, too.
Because my parents always fought, would separate and then get back together, I felt my Aunt and Uncle’s home was my safe haven. There was no fighting or hitting taking place. They ate dinner together, it was like a dream home where people were family. Then my Uncle started molesting me and that’s when everything went wrong.
My relationship changed with my Aunt, it wasn’t as strong any more. I was afraid she would figure out what my Uncle was doing. I feared going to their house and was afraid to go to sleep while there, or even go to the bathroom alone.
I seemed to be afraid of a lot of things, afraid someone would look in the window, afraid my Aunt would be angry at me and not love me any more. And my Uncle seemed like he didn’t care if he was caught. Yet I felt like I was the guilty one. Knowing the abuse was wrong but being scared people would blame me.
For a year and a half my Uncle grabbed, touched me in places he shouldn’t, as well as making sexual remarks. Then my father began abusing me and that lasted until I was fourteen years old. My father seemed like he’d turned into this evil man. I couldn’t reason with him, no amount of crying or begging helped. It was like he had no feelings.
Some of my father’s abuse took place on his boat. Hundreds of happy people walking just feet from where he was abusing me and I’d think, “Why doesn’t someone stop! Somebody come in here and help me.” When it was over I hated walking outside because I felt like everyone knew what had just happened and I felt so embarrassed.
What I really can’t understand and what really hurts me is that my mother had caught him abusing me on two separate occasions. My grandmother had also caught him and merely said, “He’ll quit.” But he didn’t. That’s when I lost all hope and faith that he would ever be stopped. He did finally stop abusing me when he and my mother divorced, but then I guess I was in “shut down.” All my survivor skills kicked in and I no longer cried, no more begging, nothing mattered. I had been an A and B student, but I no longer cared for school. I hung out with older crowds, drank, stayed out all night. I thought there was only one way for the boys to like you.
I met the man I married and I suddenly felt loved. Of course I depended on him to make me happy because I didn’t know how to be happy. Some years into the marriage I suddenly didn’t want to be left alone, not even for him to go to work. I started remembering some of the things from the past and I was so unhappy. It was like nothing could make me happy!
I refused to face the past, thinking, “All that’s in the past, it isn’t happening now.” I was in big denial that the abuse was the cause of so many of my problems. I did start seeing a counselor but I continued to feel un-loved, out of place, unhappy, and that no-one cared for me.
I couldn’t make decisions, I felt like I was just floating through life with no purpose, just waiting for it all to end. I couldn’t accept that I was going to have to face my pain and it was almost un-thinkable that I would have to do just that.
I’d tell my counselor, “I’m not angry, I’m not hurt. I feel sorry for my abusers.” Recognizing my anger was real hard for me. I felt like it was betraying my family. My family didn’t deserve any anger from me! I’ve worked on many areas of hurt in counseling. One being, I couldn’t talk about this part of my life with my husband. I didn’t want to share or for him to know I had been abused. I fought with my feelings about not telling him, yet I felt my reasons were justified. What I really felt was that he wouldn’t love me any more if he knew.
My counselor told me many times, “Go home and talk with your husband about this.” My reply was always the same, “I can’t! I’d rather jump off a bridge!” But somehow she got us to go to family counseling and its been going well. My husband is my number one supporter.
For so long I fought the feelings that would rise up in me and felt there was no hope of ever getting past the abusive past. I felt there was just too much damage done, but I was wrong. Therapy has been very helpful.
After a while I started noticing that I paid attention when God was mentioned. I’d even catch myself praying for His help and guidance. You see, I always said, “There can’t be a God. Why would He let it happen to little girls?” Then I’d think, “Okay, He let it happen, but why make me suffer and not them?” It seemed like I was the one being punished. But then one day I realized I was angry at God. I won’t say I’m completely happy with where I am with Him now, but I’m on the right road and still learning.
I met a lady during the time I was in the hospital and she and I became very good friends. We sat up and talked all night and once when I was really upset she said, “Belinda, you know Someone has been watching over you. Because if not you probably wouldn’t be around today.” That really sticks out to me. Now when things get tough and I don’t think I can go on I ask God to please help me and guide me. Then, somehow, I get through it and the next day is a little brighter.
I feel my accomplishments have been numerous. I no longer deny my feelings (most of the time.) I can at least identify them and can put some of the shame where it belongs. My relationship with my husband and children is much better. I try to listen to myself and believe my pain does exist and it’s okay to hurt. I have hope and I’m trying to find out who “me” is.
The most difficult part of healing for me right now is my relationship with my mother. I loved her so much and I just needed her to say, “Its going to be okay.” Instead, she refuses to accept that I didn’t want the abuse or the damage that the abuse has caused. That’s very hurtful for me. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen so I struggle with feelings of guilt, fearing I’m hurting my family. They believe, “It’s all in the past, so let it go.” That makes me feel alone and that my family doesn’t love me.
I try to remember that my husband and children do care and want me to heal. I have them. I’m working on issues of my family and those losses. Letting go of that fantasy family and childhood, yet realizing “normal family” can’t be.
If someone called me on the phone and asked for my advice, I’d tell them, “Don’t deny your feelings. Things will get better and easier. Follow your heart, you deserve healing.” And I would cry for them and just let them talk until they couldn’t talk any more. And I’d let them know Someone is watching over them.
My work has been hard and I know I have only one way to go. I would choose to heal again if I had to because I’m just getting a glimpse of who I really am. I know when I am through healing I’m finally free from my childhood and its pain. My husband, children, and I can truly be happy.
I’m working very hard on my relationship with God. I am forever grateful for the people who have helped me. My husband, for standing by me and not giving up. My best friend ____, who listened and pulled the truth from me. ____for all those encouraging talks, and the work that my counselor has done. For my angels, Sue and Kay, who took the time to help and understand. I look at them and think, “It does get better. They can laugh and smile and be themselves.” So they are a big inspiration.
I’ve always thought about angels and to me it seems kind of strange that I landed at Angels Group Support Group for help, and I’m receiving it. I’m hoping for everyone to receive the healing we all deserve. Keep me in your prayers as I’ll keep you in mine.
Note: With Belinda’s counselor and our support Belinda pressed charges against her abuser. He pled guilty and was sent to prison.
Blessings to you.