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child abuse

Child Abuse~ Surviving Childhood

by Deborah Cruz

Child Abuse~ Not sure what’s going on lately. I thought that I had escaped my 39th birthday unscathed but something has happened. But here I am pouring my heart out again.

In the month since my birthday, I have been compelled to reveal more of myself to you. It was not intentional. It started with my diagnosis which I was sure I would never share with anyone for fear that it would label me like a scarlet letter upon my chest but I did and I am relieved. I feel free. I feel transparent. But now, something else has happened, something I could not have anticipated and I am sorry if it seems like I have been inundating you with confessions lately but circumstances have brought things to the surface and I need to release them, so that I can be free of them. For the first time in my life, I am owning my story…all of it. Thank you for your support and if you are growing tired of my “serious” stories ( I know many of you expect funny at The TRUTH about Motherhood), I promise I won’t be offended if you stop reading now. Last week’s Throat Punch Thursday video has effected me in a very visceral way that I could not have ever imagined. I watched the video once and I was speechless and I was sad, I was compelled to share it with you. Then I watched it again, as I was showing it to my husband, and that’s when it happened. I broke down or maybe I broke through, finally.

child abuse

This is what Child Abuse looks like

I broke down because I could relate to everything the girl in the video was going through and when I shared it with my husband, even though he didn’t know it, I felt as if I were sharing a secret with him that I had forgotten I even had. Of course, I know what I survived as a child but I had put it away in a closet of my mind. It’s not a secret. I don’t honestly know if my father remembers the brutality and frequency with which he delivered his punishment, because in those days he was barely coherent, but I do. I have said the words to my husband “My Dad used to beat me with a belt” BUT the words don’t sound like much without either having experienced it or seeing it first hand. My husband has never known this version of my father. My father was an alcoholic most of my life but is not anymore. My husband has seen glimpses of that person but has never known the man that I speak of from my childhood. I’ve never dwelled on it because for me to survive it and move passed it…I had to compartmentalize it and push it down…way, way down or the weight of it might have crushed me.

To say it now, mostly feels like I am talking about someone else other than myself. It is not who I am. It is who I was when I was small and scared and unprotected before I had a voice; before I could stand up for myself or for anyone else. It was me when I would lie quietly in bed at night, afraid of the dark having to pee so badly that my kidneys hurt but more afraid of having to face him. My little brother and I would lie there, side by side, trying not to stir as we heard him pick endless fights with our mother. She never argued back and still, we heard the flipping of a table, the thud of her falling to the ground or into a wall. We heard her tears and cries to stop, but we were too small to do anything. Then we’d hear him eventually stagger off into another room and pass out. Our mother, tiny and frail, emotionally was no longer present, she was a million miles away. This was when I was 5, by the time I was 7…I was no longer just a bystander. Seeing his treatment of my mother, I lost respect for him. I would try to stand up to him but I was too small.

Not changing the channel fast enough or fighting with a sibling was enough to earn me a lashing with a belt or a switch. Back then, corporal punishment was tolerated by everyone. It was expected. He was angry, always angry when he drank or needed to drink or wanted to drink. He was mean. He scared me. He was big and strong and we were small and scared. Scared to live, scared to breathe, scared to stay, scared to run away. My mom wanted to leave but there were threats. Serious threats. She was too afraid to test these threats. I hated him in those days. I prayed for car accidents and natural disasters. I prayed for death, his or mine, I didn’t care. I only wanted it to be over. We were all miserable.

child abuse

Child Abuse is a Silent Killer

Then he would be sober and he was different. He was my Daddy and I was his little girl but that never lasted very long. You never knew who was going to walk through the door; the doting Daddy or the mean, moody alcoholic who only cared about satisfying his own needs and wants. No one ever protected us. We were on our own and we were alone and helpless against him. Then one day, over 10 years ago after everyone else went to bed, he was drunk and picked a fight with me. I was no longer that helpless little girl, I stood up to him and unleashed all the hurt and pain he had ever inflicted on me back to him and then he stopped. He’s been sober for over 10 years. I love who my Dad has become,I am proud of him. But I hate many of the memories of my childhood and the man he used to be.

*In the US and Canada you can call 1-800-4-A-CHILD if you are being abused or know a child who is being abused. Anyone can call. Woman, child, man..someone will pick up and listen and HELP YOU get the help you need and stop the abuse!

If you know a child being abused, help them. If you know a woman being abused, be her friend. Help Her. If you are a woman who’s being abused. Help yourself before he kills you.If you are a child being abused, tell someone. Anyone.Someone will listen. If you are a mother who’s child is being abused, do whatever it takes to spare them. They may survive the physical, emotional and verbal abuse but they will be scarred forever. Child Abuse scars your soul and shadows everything you will do from that point on. You can even almost forget the sickness, but the scar is there to remind you when you least expect it. Child abuse is not okay for any reason.

Child Abuse Hurts Forever

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Venus 2011/11/07 - 3:07 pm

Thank-you so much for posting this. I have not yet been brave enough to post my own version of this story, but reading yours has helped me to believe that it’s something I need to do.

I’m so proud of you for being able to see and love your Dad for the person he is now, I think that speaks very highly of your emotional strength.

But I know that even though he’s changed, those memories NEVER EVER go away, and they pop up at the worst times, don’t they? I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the video you mentioned – a friend told me about it and I cried on the spot.

Anyway, enough about me. Thanks again for sharing this and spreading the message that child abuse hurts forever.

Truthful Mommy 2011/11/09 - 10:30 am

Thank you fro being brave enough to share a piece of your story with me. It is hard to face that demon and don’t rush to tell your story. Tell it when you are ready. You can;t tell your story before you are ready any more than you can make an alcoholic stop drinking before he is ready. When you are ready, please send me the link. I would love to support you. I did a lot of crying writing this post. I thought a lot about how it would effect the way people viewed me, I pride myself on being strong and I felt that admitting I allowed myself to be abused would somehow make me look weak. BUt then I realized, I was a victim. I was a child. I was not the one who should be ashamed, if anyone should be..it should be the person who did the abusing, not the abused. I wrote it because I needed to release it to the world, to admit. There is a sense of freedom that comes with being transparent. I pushed my childhood down so far that I hid it even from myself. But it was there, right below the surface..ready to bubble over. I think this may also explain why I can;t remember a big part of the day to day memories of my childhood…I packed them up and put them away. I hid them from the world, from myself. THe hurt was too much to shoulder when I was a child but I am a woman and now I can handle it, save for the rogue break down prompted by that damn video:)
Child abuse does hurt forever and it scars deeply. I would love to spare every child that scar on their soul, their heart and in some cases, their body. When you are ready to share your story, I will be there to support you. XO

Tracy @nystoopmama 2011/11/07 - 3:49 pm

This is an incredibly moving, intensely personal and honest post. Kudos for being brave and strong enough to put it out there in the world in the hopes that it may help others.

Truthful Mommy 2011/11/09 - 10:21 am

I hope that it makes people realize that if they know anyone who is being abused they need to help them. Most times,I think that when you are the one being abused, your judgement is clouded by fear and an intense of feeling of helplessness.. It’s hard to run away when you are being beaten into submission. It takes time to gain the perspective and rational to know that you can survive without this abuser. It is not love that make someone abuse, it is rage mixed with a need to make others submissive to them. It’s a cowards way of dealing with their own issues. I know as an outsider, it’s hard to understand or be willing to help. People don;t want to get involved but they could be saving someone’s life ( literally) and at the very least saving their quality of life.

KalleyC 2011/11/07 - 8:35 pm

This was Such an emotionally charged post; you are very brave indeed to share this with us. I am amazed at how you can see your father for what his is now and not who he was then–that takes strength.

I agree with you that if you know someone who is being abused, you MUST speak up. No one can feel lonelier than an abused person.

I’ve known people in my family who were in abusive relationships and abuse of any kind affects everyone who knows. I’m glad my family members borrowed our strength and left their abusers.

Thank you so much for sharing this story with us.

Truthful Mommy 2011/11/09 - 10:16 am

THank you of course, it was not an easy road to forgiving:) It was a long and gradual journey to repairing our relationship and growing past the relationship we had when I was a child. We are now friends and I am learning things about him that I never knew. It is no excuse fro his actions but he had a lot of baggage. He was parenting the way he had been parented. He was dealing with his emotions the only way he had been taught, to hold them in until he could no longer and then exploding. There were no calm conversations or time outs and when you add alcohol to any situation, chances are usually pretty high that things will only get worse. He is sober now and I thank God for that every single day. I thank God that I have a father, and my daughters have a doting, loving grandfather who would go through hell and/or high water to make us happy…now:)

Mommy2¢ 2011/11/08 - 11:06 am

Oh sweetie I am so so sorry you went through that. I’m so happy to hear your father took the initiative to clean himself up. We can forgive, but it’s impossible to forget. You are a very strong woman and I think it’s says a lot about your character that you’ve found it in your heart to forgive him. I’m sure the father you know today wishes those dark days never happened.

Truthful Mommy 2011/11/09 - 10:11 am

Thank you for your kind words and you are right, he is very remorseful for those days. He is so completely changed and our relationship has never been better than it is now. He is also an amazing grandfather who my daughters adore. He has taken red eyes across nations to make it to their birthday parties, that speaks volumes to me. His love for them is a testament to the love he has for me and the metamorphosis that he has gone through. He was very absent in my childhood but is here for everything my daughters do. This makes my heart happy.

Bee 2011/11/08 - 8:14 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I know it was hard to write. I can feel and picture every emotion. I’ve bern there. I too was that little girl too. My story isn’t the same but there are a lot of similarities. I cried while I read this. My dad too has changed for the better and for that I an grateful. However, the memories, pain and scars will always be buried deep inside of me.

Truthful Mommy 2011/11/09 - 9:54 am

Bee,I am so sorry that one of the things we have in common is being that little girl. We also share that we are strong women who have overcome our childhood, in spite of it. I am so happy that your father has changed. It was a miracle when my dad went to AA and got sober. He is a completely different man. He is the man that I had glimpses of when I was a child, that man is the only reason that we still have a relationship at all. If he would have continued drinking, I don;t think I could have ever brought my children around him. He was cantankerous and moody and mean spirited. I would never have subjected my children to that.
Now, he is awesome. He is a fabulous father to me and we have become friends. He has apologized and it is obvious when we ever speak of my childhood he is remorseful and it makes him sad that he ever did those things, though I am certain that he does not remember a great deal of it nor dos he realize that I knew what was happening to my mother. Through his sobriety, we have grown closer than either ever though possible. He is one of my closest friends now. I think that comes from him taking responsibility and apologizing. It doesn’t undo what happened but it does help me to move past it and talking about it,helps us to understand where each of us are coming from. It hurts to relive it but it is the only way to truly move past it. Obviously, pushing it down didn’t work, as evidenced by my rogue break down and hyperventilation last Thursday night. I needed to mourn for my child self and weep for what I had to survive. I think it hurt even more knowing how much I love my daughters and how I could never imagine doing something so hurtful and damaging to them. I am proud of my father today and I love him very much. I am lucky that I can say those words and mean them. Thank you for sharing , my friend. I know how hard it is to admit and to accept. I am realizing with each hurt I can let go of, it gives me a sense of freedom. I have been shackled by the past too long. I have been silent too long. *HUGS* to you.

Galit Breen 2011/11/08 - 11:14 pm

Oh my dear friend. You could;t write or share or tell anything that would turn me away. I love your voice, and I;m glad that you’re using it. So much love to you.

Truthful Mommy 2011/11/09 - 9:41 am

Thank you. I just feel like I have been “confessing” a lot lately. I don’t know what happened, I shared my diagnosis and now it’s like things have transpired to compel me to share other skeletons in my closet. I saw that video I included in my Throat PUnch and something just rose to the surface that I had forgotten I even felt. I was transported back to the moment that I was in the situation and my heart broke into a million pieces for the child I was; the child who needed protecting and no one ever came to the rescue. I know these posts have been downers compared to the usual jovial antics that I usually employ here on my blog but there is always two sides to every story,so I am sharing the other side of mine. Thanks for your always kind words, love and support. I can’t wait to meet you in person and give you a great big hug:) XO

Shell 2011/11/09 - 6:49 pm

I’m so sorry you had to go through this. What a strong woman you are.

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