When I was just 7 years old I was molested and sexually abused by an adult cousin of mine. I really don't know how old he was at the time and frankly, I don't care. The fact remains that he knew better and still chose to alter my life forever.
I had just passed 1st grade and he told my parents that he wanted to take me to dinner to celebrate my achievement, they allowed him to take me. I was very excited! What kid wouldn't be? Little did I know, I would never make it to have dinner. In a sense I would be the one devoured and all my innocence lost.
I won't go into all the horrific details of what he actually did to me because I know I would never bring myself to post this if I did. On our way to "dinner" he says that he forgot something back at his house and that we will need to stop by there first. I am sure I was rambling on, anxious, as most 7 year old children do when they are excited about doing something. His apartment was on the top floor. We walked in his door and he locked the bolt, which at the time I didn't notice but I would realize later, was way higher than I could reach without something to stand on. I sometimes wonder if he had the entire thing set up this way or was this something he decided to do after he picked me up.
We walked up the long flight of stairs and into his living space. I was wearing a dress and he looked at it and said I had gotten something on it and I needed to take it off. Of course I got that "uh oh" feeling and I don't remember even having something on my dress. I was scared and started to cry. Eventually he got his way and took my dress off. After he ravaged my pure, little body all I could think about was running! I quickly found my clothes, crying, and ran to the bathroom. As I was dressing he spouted off things to try to convince me that I was to tell no one and tried to make sure to cover his hide. Once dressed I tried running out of the house but then realized, the door was locked.
I stood at the door crying waiting for him to unlock the door. He refused to unlock it until I made my promise, never to tell anyone what he had done. I promised and he unlocked the door. All I wanted to do was run home. I can remember the panic that I felt, I wanted to run but didn't know where to go! Didn't know how to get home...I remember him making me hold his hand as we crossed streets.
We finally were back at my house and he walked me up the stairs to our apartment. Both of my parents were there and I can't even remember them asking about the time I had just spent with this sicko! Did they know how sick he really was? Time went on and I didn't say a word to anyone about what happened to me on his apartment floor.
This person was part of my life on almost a daily basis, I think. He moved in to an apartment above our aunt's house and he would also come to our house with her. I am not really sure how long it took but there came a day when I did tell my parents what he had done to me.
Our aunt was watching me and my brother while my parents were working and she had to take me and my brother home. I begged to sit in the front seat because I did not want to sit next to him. Every time he got a chance to be near me without someone's watchful eye he would touch me. I did not want to be anywhere near him. I didn't win the battle and she loaded my brother in the front seat and I got to take the back seat with the psycho. GREAT!
The entire ride home he was touching my body, very careful to keep his hands low so our aunt didn't see what he was doing. I get nauseous with the thought of his hands on me to this day. As soon as we pulled up to my house I ran out of the car, up the stairs, and into our apartment. Breathing heavily and trying to spout out the words that this freak has been touching me, trying to get it out before he and our aunt got up the stairs with my brother. I did! Finally!
My parents, I guess, were in shock about what I was telling them. Then enters the aunt and cousin. My aunt screams that I am a lying little, well you know. Psycho then, of course, says I am a liar. My parents, still looking confused and I guess somewhat shocked, look at me as if to question me. I begin crying and my dad looks over at him and starts out toward him and psycho starts running. My dad chases him down the stairs and into the street. I am assuming that he told him never to come back around....I really don't know. I can't remember what happened after this, I don't even know if my parents tried to console me. I would like to think that they did but since I remember everything so vividly, I can only assume that they did not. What happens next is probably even more shocking....
Time goes on and guess who starts making an appearance around our house again. My dad of course threatened to kill him if he ever touched me again but frankly I would think more highly of him if he actually kept the freak away from me entirely. Didn't happen. He was back at our house and spending time around me at different family gatherings. No charges ever pressed. No jail time. Nothing!
I remember laying on my stomach one time with my brother watching tv, in my nightgown, and him coming up behind me and lifting it up to look under my nightgown. When I shot him a "don't touch me" look he says to me, "You shouldn't be such a tease." I was probably all of 8 or 9 years old at the time.
Around 10 years old I started becoming rebellious. I didn't listen to anyone. I remember having a friend who was being raised by a single mother who kept a well stocked liquor cabinet. We would walk to school together in the mornings and I would meet her at her front door. We would take a few drinks of Vodka and then head off to school. There were a couple of times I ran away from home, only to end up right back at home and getting my tail tore up by my father's white leather belt.
Nothing that I did ever took the ache away. When I was 11 years old my parents decided to send me to Georgia to live with my Aunt and Uncle. I had just attempted to run away again and I guess they were pretty sick of my shenanigans. By the way, psycho was still coming around me. I got one more beating by that white leather belt and then was sent on my way to live in Georgia with my Aunt and Uncle.
Georgia! A new place, and a new beginning for me! I was so excited to be with my Aunt and Uncle. We lived in a small house in Ludowici and I made an instant friend with a girl down the street. We were inseparable and it seemed like I was, for the first time, allowed to be a kid! I had chores, was given allowance, and my Aunt and Uncle payed for me to go to the Christian school in town. I was made to do homework, that was new, and also had help with my studying, also very new! If I did something wrong I was not allowed to go to my friend's and I had to go to bed early.
My life was pretty much a normal kid's life with boundaries and responsibilities. I felt loved and protected, again something new. I continued to live with my Aunt and Uncle for a little over a year. Spending as much time with my "other family" that was just down the road. I went everywhere with my friend and her mama and daddy, were my mama and daddy!
They were Christians and took me to church with them most Sundays. I loved going to church with them. They sang at church and I just loved to sit in the pews and listen to them sing. Often times during the week they would practice at home and I would listen to them and eventually sing with them. I am pretty sure I was horrible but they never said a word about that. They encouraged me and I loved feeling like a part of their family sing-a-longs. Around October of 1989 I accepted Christ into my heart. This family was full of the love of Christ and I wanted it, too. I wanted to be just like them. They were kind, helpful, and gracious. One of the saddest times of my life was when I had to move away from my down the street family.
Eventually, the time came when my parents moved down to Georgia. Gone were the times of strict bedtimes, chores, and homework. I was on my own once again and eventually withdrawn from the Christian school and put back in to public school. I went to church less and less and eventually not at all. I was back in a destructive phase and I didn't listen to anyone. Me and my parents fought constantly and soon I would find myself moving back in to my Aunt and Uncle's house. Since I had moved in with my parents, they had bought a house in Jesup. At age 13, I was off to another new city.
I wasn't quite sure about this new city. Aunt and Uncle were determined to get me back to some sort normalcy and set up chores for me to do and also phone limitations. I was allowed to talk on the phone for 15 minutes. Gosh! I hated those phone restrictions! That was a teenagers way of life back then, kind of like texting is now. Imagine only being able to send out 15 texts a day! Yeah! Crazy, I know!
I was enrolled at Wayne County Junior High School, which is now James E. Bacon. I was never very outgoing in school, not a social butterfly in the least! I managed to make a few new friends but pretty much stayed to myself. I exchanged phone numbers with a few people and we talked on the phone but that was about it.
Once my parents moved over to Jesup I was back living with them. They had just bought a house and it was close to Christmas time. I really wanted to live with them and I spent my first night over there setting up the Christmas tree. Once I was living with them I had no limit on phone calls since they were pretty much gone to work most of the time. Me and my brother got our selves up for school and by the time we got home they were back to work again.
I had plenty of time to get to know people better and soon I had several close friends. One particular friend I spent a lot of time with. I came to have an interest in her brother. I spent every opportunity I could at her house. She was a sweet friend, still is, and we always had so much fun together! We would stay awake late at night singing in her room, her step-dad yelling at us to be quiet and go to sleep. We never did stop, just lowered our voices and tried not to laugh so hard he could hear us again!
Her family became my family. Her mama became my mama. I could tell Mama anything and she always seemed to know the answer. To this day I love her mama like she is mine...well, because she is! If you ask her, she will tell you herself! I know she loves me, one of her many adopted kids. I found another family that was kind, gracious, and loving. The kind of love I needed in my heart that had been broken so many times. The kind of family I craved. They spent time together just talking and laughing together. Oh and Mama made us do chores, too! Me and my friend would help her in the kitchen and do dishes after everyone ate. It was nice being a part of their family. I spent holidays with them, even a very memorable Mother's Day that none of us will ever forget and still laugh about to this day!
My friend's brother and I dated for quite some time about 2 years, give or take. During our time dating my parents took me and my brother up to New York to visit family. They allowed my boyfriend to come with us since I begged and really wanted him to see where I came from. People who have never been usually think of New York as all city but this girl is from farm country New York. Yep! There are rednecks in New York, too :) We took the long 18+ hour ride up to my home town and where do you think the first place we stopped was? If you guessed the psycho's house, you guessed right!
Can you believe it? Did these people lose their minds? The last place I wanted to be is at his house! We were informed he wanted to feed us dinner...Really? How ironic! No freakin' way did I want to eat food at this point, let alone at his house! Something that he potentially cooked! No way! I was furious! My boyfriend knew a little about what had happened to me as a child and he was pretty mad to be stuck going over there, too. We had no choice, we went to his house. I can still hear sicko and my parents joking and laughing while I, with my boyfriend, sat in the living room as close to the door as possible. Ready to hit the door running as soon as we could!
Needless to say, the rest of the trip was pretty awful. I wanted nothing to do with my parents and I just wanted to get back home. Back to Georgia, away from the creep! Things went from bad to worse when we got back home. If I had any respect left for my parents it was gone now. I was in full rebellious mode. I stayed away as much as I could. Spent the night with as many friends as I could. When I was home we were fighting. I made destructive decision after destructive decision. Most things I did, no one even knew about. Things that if they turned out for the worse could have ended my life. It is by the grace of God that nothing horrible ever happened to me! I found my stupid little self in some pretty disastrous situations.
Which brings me full circle to the remainder of this story...
In January 2011 I was informed that my cousin was dieing and I rushed to New York as quickly as I could to be by her side. She eventually passed away after I was there for a few days. When the family arrived at the funeral home, guess who my parents are talking to up near my cousins casket? Oh you are on a roll!! That's right!
They are talking to the creep. I had not seen him since that day at his house when I was a meek little 15 year old girl. Now...Now, look at me! I am a woman! Not only am I a woman but I am a married woman! A woman who has had the same husband for, at the time, 15 years. Me and this man have 4 beautiful children together! I am no longer a scared little girl who depends on her parents for protection that I could never seem to get! Since my oldest son was 14 at this time he knew a little bit about the crime this person had committed against me.
I had a brief thought to myself that he might show up. I was just praying that he wouldn't. I didn't want to see him, much less want him to be anywhere near my children that were with me. The thought of it made me sick! His predatory thoughts going through his sick mind while looking at my children...SICK! To much of my disappointment there he was. I would not be a coward and run, hiding. I had nothing to be ashamed of. I did nothing wrong! I had more right to be here than this psycho!
I walked up to my parents to ask them what in the, excuse my lack for better expression, HELL where they doing talking to HIM!? As I approached them he turned and looked at me. He is short! Almost a foot shorter than me, and I am short! The most appalling words come out of his mouth! He says, "Is this, Beth? Wow! You gained weight!" I looked at him and said, "You really don't want me to say what I have to say about you, here. Don't you DARE talk to me!" I walked away and took just a couple of steps and there was my husband meeting me.
I could not believe the audacity of this creep, saying something like that to me! Truly sick is a very generous word to describe this animal. As we headed toward the back of the funeral parlor and into the foyer I started telling my husband what the sicko had said to me. Our son, Christian, met us out there and listened in as I told his dad. They were so mad and wanted to go beat the crap out of him. Today, I kinda wish I would have let them, after all I am being honest here. I had more respect for my cousin's death than that. It wasn't me to behave that way or to let my family behave that way. I was very humbled by the way my guys were so protective over me. This is the way family is supposed to be! You mess with mama you get to deal with the men in my life! Yeah!
I am not sure if psycho took my tone as a hint to stay away or if at a time of being separated from my husband he had some words for him. I am not really sure but I do know he kept his distance! Me and my family made our way to sit at the front of the room for the service and psycho was all the way in the back away from me but not far enough for my taste! I was ready to lay my cousin to rest and get as far away as I possibly could!
It was great closer for me. That creepy little weasel that had hurt me over and over as a child now having to look at me through the protection of my husband and my oldest son. Both of them standing taller than me so therefore standing much taller than him! They wrapped their arms around my back and just stood watching him, daring him to try to come near me. I have never felt more safe or more love than I did at that very moment. I don't know if I could ever express to my guys what that did for me. I was free of him! At that moment he could not hurt me.
God allowed me that moment. I believe that my destructive phase in life was brought on by the horrible things that he did to me. God did not allow the things I did to bring me any harm. Sure, I went through some awful experiences but God was there making sure that nothing ever hurt me. He knew the life he had planned for me and he knew that there would be a time that I would be able to stand up to this person with 2, out of 5, of the most important people in my life on either side of me.
God placed my Aunt and Uncle, my family down the road, and my Mama in my life to show me love, kindness, and how to be gracious. All these struggles made me the person I am today. I love with everything in me and show kindness and compassion. Even if I am having a horrible day, I find a way to give some one a smile. It has taken me quite some time to get to this point in my life where I can actually see the work God was doing in my life...even way back then.
God put a need in me to feel loved and now I have no problem telling people and showing them that I love them. So many years I spent feeling unlovable. Even after I got married I sat waiting for the bottom to drop out just knowing that this man couldn't possibly love me. Today I can say with all of my heart that I know my husband loves me. For many years I also felt that my parents never loved me. You know that phrase, "You got a funny way of showing it!" I know they love me. It might not be the way I want to be shown, but I know they do. We can always find ways to change other people but we need to begin with ourselves. We have to look at our lives and see the work that God has done and is still doing!
I am still very much a work in progress, as I said at the beginning of this story, I still have feelings of shame. In the past couple of years God has revealed several things to me. I stand in awe of what He has done for me through these years. I pray that I am always a vessel that He uses for His works to be done. I thank God that He freed me from the bondage of sexual abuse. I pray that through this testimony you become free of anything that might have you bound, too. <3
As I sat and read through this one last time before publishing it,
this song came to mind.