To Believe or Not To Believe… It’s About More Than That Though.

Oh, so you don’t believe me?

I think one of the hardest parts of being a survivor of any or all the horrific and traumatic abuse I endured is the fact that most of the people that I share my story with rarely believe me.  Sure, they give me the usual head nod, “omg” … but then it just turns into a sarcastic disbelief.  Most times they say they believe you 100%, but soon you find out they thought you had to be making it up all along.  Then, to top off calling me a liar in so many words – they say something else so infuriating; “Well, it couldn’t have been that bad – look at you now..”  Oh, so because I found resilience and strength it is no longer possible to have gone through any or all of it? How is that fair? And then because I am living my life the best I can – although I am still struggling every day – just because I am not in jail, a junkie or worse then someone can not imagine how that is possible… sometimes they say that they could never survive an ounce of what I had to bare.  In which I always respond – it is incredible what our bodies and soul can actually heal from, and I am forever blessed to have been given the balls to do so.

I have 8 large boxes that are full of my life story – provided by the Ministry of Children and Families, and then all the extra research that was done by my lawyer who took on my case against the Ministry.  It is full of doctors reports, social worker notes/reports, court documents, police incidents and so much more that took place in my life dating back to when I was nearly six months old.  Those files are so important to me because of the fact that they provide solid tangible proof of my history.  Regardless of what anyone thinks – I have proof.  Regardless of what ever I may tell myself sometimes – I know that I can go into my closet and pull out my files and see for my own eyes that it was all true.  And, regardless of what anybody thinks there is a reason I continue to talk about what happened.
I did survive it…it was not ever just a sad story I would share to get sympathy or attention.  Or as my mother has been telling me and anyone else that will let it slip through her lips that I have been lying all this time just so I could get put into the system in order to get “things”.  She says I wanted toys, new clothes and all the things I must have seen other people get.  So I came up with this elaborate story to be able to find a parent who would buy me things.
I guess one question I have for her story – and so many others who think I am flat out liar; how the fuck does a 6 year old know about sex?  Sorry for the anger in my tone…but really… Do you know a six year old fluent in blow job techniques?  How did I end up with so many bruises, lacerations, rips and tares that were shown in pictures and doctor exam forms?  Did I make those up?  All for toys?? All for a fucking haircut??
I know this is an old issue, and at my age why should it matter what people believe or not.  However recently it came up in a very real painful way and it’s left me feeling freshly wounded, raw and angry even.  Let me explain…
A few months ago I was in the middle of an argument between my husband and his Aunt.  It was a silly argument, but at the time it was very heated.  During this argument I said that she was flat out lying about something she had JUST said moments before – which is when she blurted out that I was a liar too.  I said tell me what I lie about, because I knew there was nothing I had ever said to this women that was a lie.  This is when she said it.  Her next statement to me would rip open every half healed trauma that lived in my body, soul and mind.  And she was so sure of herself…smug even.
She said, “We all know you lied about what happened to you in your childhood, we know that couldn’t have happened to you!”
After being a part of this family for nearly 17 years, I can honestly say her statement shocked me to my core.  I felt like the whole world just dropped all around me, that I was left standing there all by myself.  I could hear my husband asking her how she could say such a thing, after all we had been through.  I heard him bringing up the fact that I had been to court, been on the news – evidence heard and seen to prove I was not lying…  Yes, I thought.  Exactly.  How could she say such a hurtful and cruel blanket statement like that?
Truth is … she still has no idea how painful her words were to me.  I know they are just words.  But I thought they knew me, really knew me.  My husbands family are incredibly important to me.  And I can honestly say I thought they believed in me, and my story.  It was a different kind of heartbreak for me this time.  And the aftermath of the fight just solidified how I feel about myself and my role in my “family”.
Unfortunately, I responded poorly to my aunt-in-law after her comment to me.  I called her a fucking bitch.  And, even though she tried to take back her comment once she saw how much destruction it ultimately caused, the damage was done.  And, even worse – once the rest of the family heard of the fight, it was clear they only heard that I had called our Aunt a fucking bitch.  Her damaging words seemed to go unnoticed besides for my husband and myself.  Sure, a couple members said they understood how upset I would be, but then I was told several times over that they couldn’t and or wouldn’t get themselves involved.  I was even told that because I was not real family, not blood family – that they would not be able to stick up for me either.  Another stab in my heart.  Not that they could see that.  All they wanted from me was to kiss and make up with her so the “family” could get back to normal.  But for me, nothing was ever going to be the same – even with some kiss and make up bullshit.  I now knew what they really thought of me. It made me feel kinda foolish having so much faith in their faith in me.
The thing is I have evidence.  I have photos, police reports, social worker notes, court documents – even video.  But, it’s not enough.  Mostly because ignorant people rarely want to be educated about what they believe they know about.  My in laws don’t want me to talk about my past or my struggles.  They tell me to forget about it, don’t talk about it – it only makes it worse they say.  I say, no it only makes it uncomfortable for them.  People would rather not hear about it, not know the truths – stay ignorant in their safe bubbles.  People like myself make them uncomfortable.  So – they call me a liar.  They whisper among themselves instead of talking to the one person that could clear up any questions they may have.  I have always been an open book – but rarely am I picked up and truly read and understood.
So this question of believing or not believing is a very sensitive one.  I ask – what is it that I have said that would make you not believe me?  Usually it’s just that it’s so unbelievable one could treat another human being so poorly, especially one they love, or a child.  Of course, it’s that I apparently look like I have all my shit together – so it’s couldn’t have been that bad..right? I ask, what gain do I get from sharing these stories?  Clearly I don’t get pity, or money or sympathy.  I’ll tell you why.
I share my stories because that helps me heal.  Simple.  If I am quiet, and secretive about my struggles then they become too hard to manage.  My past eats away at my soul when I stuff them down.   But, when I am able to talk about it I am free’d of shame, disbelief and guilt.  When I share my really scary stuff – the shame is taken off of me and put where it truly belongs; on the abuser.  It helps me feel less alone, less crazy, less afraid to talk about it.  Talking about it can remind me of how far I have come.  It can sometimes me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment to share my story, that feeling of “see I did it, I survived when no one thought it possible!”  I have to say too…just because it was years ago doesn’t mean it’s over.  It’s never truly over.  I am still having flashbacks, anxiety, and depression.  The scars I carry on the inside also spill over to the outside of my body, and seeing those can sometimes send me into a PTSD downward spiral. It seems impossible, but some memories come as though I was remembering them for the very first time.
I also share my life stories because I know it helps others who may have gone through the same or similar experiences themselves.  Those who are not able to talk about it, or are afraid to talk about it.  Those who have been told like myself to be silent.  Those who hold all that shame inside when they should never feel one ounce of it – I tell them my story as to support them to unleash that burden.  When people ask me how I have survived, how I have ultimately flourished even – I tell them “I talk, I talk and talk and talk… ” When I talk about it I am healing myself.  I know it hurts sometimes to talk about it, but in the end it makes me stronger.  It allows me to be bigger than all that horror.  I want the same for others, I want people too feel OK, even brave for sharing their stories.  As they should be.  Even writing this blog I feel better, I feel proud.  I feel like if even one person gets it – I am on the right track, I am fulfilling my purpose.  I didn’t survive all that horror just to keep quiet and fit in where I can.  It’s impossible.  The moment you can no longer hear me is the moment I have let myself give up, and I wont.
I will not allow the fact that people refuse to listen or believe me change the belief I have that knowledge is power.  The more people that know exactly what has and or is still happening in our world will help others to escape from it, or survive it.  They will see the signs they need to see in order to help others.  They will know that even when it seems to unbelievable – it’s not.  It takes courage to share your story, especially the unbelievable ones.  Be courageous and brave.  Most of all have yourself be heard!  Keep talking – I know I will.

“How did she get to leave, but not me?”

Remembering my sisters escape…and what it felt like afterwards…

It was like she was in a constant state of punishment. Some mornings my father would come in and laugh and make a joke with us…but she would still not leave her post in the corner. Other days he would come in angry and pull Teresa out of the room, into their room. The screams and cries would soon be heard.

When Teresa was locked in the closet – my parents locked the door with a pad-lock. They used to keep the key on top of their dresser.

One day my parents had company over – they we occupied in the living room, drinking and laughing with their friends. I was coloring in my bedroom alone, when for some reason I went into my parents room to talk with my sister. I remember that it was sunny that day.  In my flashbacks – I’m always surrounded by the light of sunshine.

I don’t know why I went in there, maybe she called me in – or maybe it was our plan all along. I can’t remember what made me go in there. It was absolutely forbidden, I knew I would receive a beating if I was caught.  I usually tried not to do anything that was going to cause violence.

I can remember reaching up to grab the key from the top of my parents dresser – listening carefully for my parents to be sure they weren’t coming down the hall. I unlocked the door…

Next I remember she was standing in front of me asking me if I wanted to go with her? I see myself looking down at my feet.   I was four – to me that was too scary of a thought.  I said no by shaking my head.   I remember thinking how much trouble I would be in if I were to get caught, and where would we go?

Before Teresa left she asked me to go into mom and dad’s room again (right across the hall) and grab her something to wear. Teresa was naked, that’s how my parents kept her in the closet. They used to say it was easier to beat the shit out of her if she didn’t have the clothes on. In fact, each time we received a beating we usually had to be undressed. It was almost a part of the ritual.

When my sister and I reunited years later she was so full of anger towards me.  She had told me once she left it was easy for me. Apparently she was under the delusion that once she left my parents learned their lesson and stopped beating, neglecting and torturing us.   Easy is not the way I would have described it though.. Who the hell does she think got it next? And, why was she so blind to our mothers deception after her first hand knowledge.  And we both knew our brother would not receive the same fate as us.  He was treated differently from us.  He was still considered a human, a person…someone worth putting their love and effort into.  My brother rarely received corporal punishment.  Although, he was still a victim of my parents.  He was tortured in other ways.   However, even my brother was welcome to eat at the table for dinner.  Even he was allowed to eat food and eat with mom and dad.

My sisters belief that I had it easy when she left; is just simply not true.  I had to stay. She got too leave, too what I thought at the time was going to be a safe, loving home.  I could never have imagined what was in store for her.  In my eyes – she was saved.  She got out!  Having my sister gone just meant it was now my turn.

Just think – at the age of four I already knew that I was going to have to fight to survive.  I knew what was happening and I believed there was only a slim chance that I too could be saved.  If people let me stay after what they saw happen to my seven year old sister – them knowing just how bad it was for her… and still returning my brother and I back?  How bad did it have to get? This was a terrifying truth that I had to face for many years ahead.

Before my dad would start the beating phase – he would torture the crap out of us by asking us millions of questions, over and over about the bad thing we had done. He would ask us why? Why did we do that? And, we would answer. At least I know in the beginning with me I would always tell my dad the truth, even if it meant I was going to get a beating over it. At least it was the truth, and I think I believed my dad would some how catch me a break if I told the truth. Not the case. Even though it was the truth – there had to be more to it. This is what my father would say.

Once Teresa left us and was permantly removed – the police and Ministry of Children and Families decided to allow my parents to continue caring for Jason and I. In fact – my mom was charged with the abuse on Teresa but the court system gave her weekend jail time, that way she could still care for us. Oh – and they said my parents had to go to Parenting classes. Guess those didn’t pan out.

I don’t remember what happened – or exactly where we went from there. We were in Prince George I believe when Teresa was removed. Either way this is when we I’m sure this is when we moved down to Mission, BC. We stayed at a friends house; we slept a couple of nights on her living room floor. I remember one morning before my mom and dad were awake, Jason started poking me…teasing me. It went like this; Dad, Mom, Jason, then me. All laying on the floor. All of a sudden I saw my fathers fist come down on my face. My dad was just reaching over my mom AND my brother to get to me a beat my face in. He beat the whole left side of my face for what seemed hours – couldn’t have been more than a few moments though – otherwise I guess he would have killed me. While he punched me he kept saying – “Yah, you fucking like that, you fucking loud mouth…” My mom and brother didn’t say a word.

What I remember the most about that beating was actually post-attack.  My dad always thought of me as a rat.  He called me a “fucking rat” daily for years. The thing is – I guess technically I was a rat.  I could understand even then that every time I would tell someone about what was happening to me at home and anywhere else something awful did occur; I told the first person I felt remotely safe to do so.  But this day I was making my dad proud.  My father said that he would be proud of me if I made sure no one could see my face.

We ended up moving up to Kamloops after this – and while we were moving there was this moment when I was inside the trailer that we were moving into – and my father was outside. When I went to talk to him out the window I made sure that my bruised side of my face was not showing. My dad was so proud of me. He even called me “boo-boo” that day.

See, now Teresa always said that once she left it was easy for me. Easy is not the word. Who the hell does she think got it next? Certainly was not going to be Jason; he was the golden boy. Even Jason was allowed to eat food with mom and dad.

Once Teresa left – it was my turn.  All the rage was aimed at me.  And, honestly it wasn’t because my parents found out that I was the one that helped my sister escape – in fact I don’t even know if they know that I did at all…they were just angry at me for being alive.

So…how did she get too leave, but not me?  How could the Ministry of Children and Families drop the ball so badly?

My Sister’s Apprehension: Actual Social Worker Notes from Ministry File, Dated in 1983

July 22, 1983
This worker was on weekend duty this date.  About 7:00pm, I recieved a
call from Constable Mike Hawkes of the R.C.M.P.  He said they had a
seven year old at the police station.  The child, Tereasa Bush,
apeared to be badly beaten.  Hawkes requested I attend the family
residence with him when he returned Tereasa and confronted the
parents.
Because my house was close to the Bush residence, Constable Hawkes
brought Teresa over.  When they arrived Teresa was sitting in the
front seat of the police car drinking a soft drink.  She has on a very
short flannelette nightie, panties and Constable Hawke’s sweater.  She
smelled strongly of urine.  As chatting was difficult (the car motor
was running) we went into my house.  Once inside the following was
noted: Teresa was bruised on her forehead, the area around her eyes was
quite blue (lack of sleep?), her hand and foot were bruised.  I
checked her back, there was bruising from the waistline to mid back
with an obviously belt mark mid-rib cage under her arm, also a
distinct bruise mid-back.  I pulled Teresa’s panties down, her behind
was black, blue and red with some distinctive bruises.  Teresa said
she was very stiff and sore.  She was also very dirty and smelled
strongly and urine.
At this point the decision was made to have Teresa medically examined.
Constable Hawkes phoned the hospital to advise them of our arrival
then contacted the R.C.M.P  Identification Officer to have him meet us
at the hospital for photos.
I took Teresa in my car to the hospital.  As we parked in a gravel
section of the parking lot, I carried Teresa over the gravel to the
blacktop (Teresa was barefoot).  One of my arms was under he back, and
the other behind her knees.  Teresa cried out that my hand was hurting
her back so I adjusted my arm to higher on her back where there were
no bruises.
Once in the hospital, we were taken to the admitting clerk’s office.
The clerk asked Tersa where she lived to which Teresa replied;
“I don’t have a home anymore, my parents don’t want me”.
A few more questions were asked then Tersa abruptly asked if she could
use the bathroom.  The admitting clerk ran and brought back a jar for
urine specimen.  I accompanied Teresa into the bathroom.  After a few
moments of what I thought was peeing, I asked Teresa to wait and would
help her collect a urine sample.
“I’m not peeing, I have diarrhea”. Teresa replied.
The diarrhea went on for some time and Teresa was in obvious
discomfort.  I went and brought a nurse who checked and said there did
not appear to be any blood. Teresa said she had diarrhea for two to
three days.  By the time she had finished the diarrhea nearly filled
the toilet.
We went to the emergency ward and were shown into a small room off the
ward.  Dr. Fike arrived and began a detailed examination of Teresa.
He the began a stick man type of drawing illustrating the injuries.
Teresa was fascinated by the art work and made comments about Dr.
Fike’s artistry (or lack the of).  A short time later the R.C.M.P
identification officer came into the room.  Teresa was naked under a
hospital sheet.  The officer told Teresa he wanted to take some
pictures of her.  It was at this point Teresa showed the first real
sign of fear.  We talked for awhile.  The constable assured Teresa
that he had seen little girls naked before as he was a father of three
lettle girls and often helped them bathe.  Teresa became more relaxed
so the officer took some flash pictures.  He then started a game with
Teresa about how many stars Tersesa saw everytime the flash went off.
After the Identify Officer’s departure Tersa had to use the bathroom
again.  This time she did urinate and we were able to collect a urine
sample.  While we were waiting got Dr. Fike who was busy on another
part of the emergency ward, Teresa and I talked.  This is when I got
her version of events as follows:
Over a period of a few days, Teresa was beaten and belted by her
mother, booted by her father and picked on by her brother Jason and
Carrie.  During the afternoon of July 21, 1983 she had gone to Mc
Donald Park without permission.  Jason told his mother and Tersa was
beaten again upon her return home.  During that night (or early hours
of the next morning) she left the house by the door.  It was dark so
she had gone to McDonald Park and slept near one of the buildings.  It
was cold (she had on only a short nightie and panties) so she walked
around and found a yard with shrubbery where she slept until morning.
tersa said the shrubbery was warmer than a tree in McDonald Park.
Early friday morning she walked to a store on Tranquille road.  She
met some other children who gave her money.  She went into the store
and bough a drink and some candy.
She wandered around all day and then went back to the yard where she
slept.  There she knocked on the door of the residence and asked the
lady who answered if she could come in and live forever.   The lady
took Teresa into the house, washed her hands, fed her supper and then
called R.C.M.P.
During the wait for Dr. Fike some x-rays were taken.  Later when I
spoke with Dr. Fike he indicated that Teresa would be admitted to the
hospital for observation.  he was pretty sure there were no broken
bones or internal bleeding but he wanted to be sure.  I asked dr. Fike
to make it standing orders on the ward that no one visit Teresa except
myself or andother MHR personal, or the R.C.M.P  I left Teresa about
10:00pm as she was waiting to be taken up to the pediatric ward.

I went to the R.C.M.P Station afterwards.  I accompanied Constable
MIke Hawkes and Corporal Wilf Bells to the Bush residence in my
vehicle.  Before our departure, Constable Hawkes advised me that he
and another member had been over earlier while I was still at the
hospital and had both Carrie and Jason strip down to check for
bruises.  Both children appeared ok.
When we arrived at the Bush residence, I advised Carla that teresa had
been apprehended by myself due to what appeared to be parental abuse.
Carla then refused to discuss the matter further with the police
officers present.  She asked them to wait outside, which they did.
While the officers waited outside Carla admitted having slepped and
spanked Teresa, saying the child was a problem and always had been.
Carla said she was gald we had Teresa as she was going to phone MHR
and have Teresa taken.  Carla said Teresa was always getting into
trouble with lying, that Carla had to go to school every other day as
Teresa had told the teacher some great tale.  I advised Carla that
neither she nor Blackie were to visit Teresa on the ward at Royal
Inland Hospital.  Carla then made some confusing remarks about Blackie
not really living there but she told the police he did for bail
purposes.  I asked Carla to contact me Saturday afternoon if she
wanted to enquire about Teresa or discuss the apprenhension further.

July 23, 1983
During the afternoon the 911 operator contacted me on behalf of Carla
Bush.  As I was on my way to the hospital at the time, I asked Carla
to contact me around 5:00pm.
When I visited Teresa on the ward she appeared rested and in better
spirits.  She indicated that she had had a bath and lots to eat.
Again, Teresa told me her parents didn’t want her anymore.  I then
went to a store downtown and bought Teresa some activity books and
crayons.  I had also given her some of my old costume jewelry.  She
was particularly pleased with this and wanted to wear most of it at
once.  We visited with another patient on the ward and then I left,
promising to visit Teresa again the next day.
Later that day, around 5:30 pm I received a 911 operator on behalf of
Carla.  I returned the call (payphone).  Carla inquired about Teresa
and I assured her Teresa was better but still stiff and sore.  I asked
Carla to bring a change of clothes to the office as Teresa would need
something to wear upon her discharge.  Carla agreed then asked if she
would be stared at by the office staff when she came in.   I replied
that I had no idea but I had doubted it.  She then asked how many
would know about the apprehension.  This type of questioning went on for
sometime, until I told Carla to put the clothes into a bag with my
name on it and have a friend deliver it to the office.  Carla the
inquired about court and what happened next.  Would she be charged?  I
indicated that I did not know if she would or would not be charged, it
was up to the R.C.M.P and Crown Counsel.  I advised Carla to phone me
Monday at the office and we could arrange a time to meet, probably on
Tuesday, and she could then discuss proceedings with the social worker
assigned to the case.

July 24, 1983

I visited Teresa today in the hospital.  I took her garden flowers for
her bedside table.  She was pleased as everone else seemed to have
flowers except herself.  We chatted and visited around the ward before
I left.  Carla had asked me on the phone the night before to give
Teresa a hug and kiss for her.  When I told Teresa of this, she put
her arms around me and waited to be kissed.  I left the ward promising to visit the next day.

July 25, 1983

Upon arrival at my office, I advised the District Supervisor of the
happenings on the weekend.  Marty Lovick was immediately assigned to
the case.  As we were discussing the case we were interrupted by a
phone call from the R.C.M.P advising us that they were on their way to
arrest both parents.  The District Supervisor instructed Marty and I
to attend with the R.C.M.P and apprehend Carrie and Jason.
We did this, and returned to the office to arrange foster placements.
The children were dirty and obviously hungry, it was noon and the
children had said they had not yet had breakfast.  Both children were
very talkative and gobbled candies left in the staff room.
Jason and Carrie were later placed in the Larson Foster home on Stardust St.

Later that day, I visited Teresa in the hospital.  the nurses advised
me that Dr. Burkell of the Burris Clinic had taken over the case and
wanted me to call him regarding some additional tests for Teresa.  I
advised Teresa that her mom and dad had been picked up be the R.C.M.P
and were now in jail.
Teresa said, “I think I am going to cry”.
I gave her a hug and cuddled her and assured her everything would be
okay.  She bounced back quickly and asked about seeing Carrie and
Jason and the home she would be going to when she is discharged.

July 25, 1983

I spoke with Dr. Burkell.  he wanted me to run a few more tests on
Teresa before her discharge.  Dr. Burkell indicated that he had copies
of all the hospital charts and was prepared to follow up with Teresa
as a patient.  Apparently, when Dr. Mabee had visited Teresa in the
hospital over the weekend, Teresa had told him she was afraid to go
home.  Dr. Burkell commented that Teresa appeared to be a bright,
cheery little girl but he recommended a psychological assessment.  I
made the appointment with Dr. Burkell for full examination of Jason and
Carrie for July 27, 1983.
Jason and Carrie were apprehended.  All three Bush children were
ordered retained by Ministry of Human resources pending a hearing on
August 29, 1983.

Carrie and Jason originally apprehended after Carla and Walter were
charged regarding abuse of Teresa.  All three children have gone on vacation with their respective foster parents.

Plans are now:
Provide supervised visits with Carrie and Jason after August 8, 1983
Complete court documentation including notices
Plan with Lawyer Carter as to how we will proceed and what we will ask for
Keep contact with the R.C.M.P regarding charges

July 28, 1983
Conforming with Judge Blair’s order, there is to be no parental access
or visitation with Teresa and only supervised access with Jason and
Carrie.  A previous order restricted Carla and Walter from entering an
MHR Officce for harassing MHR Workers.
File now opened and assigned to Social Worker, Marty Lovick.

-Marilyn Brooks, Social Worker

August 29, 1983

Court was held today regarding the custody of the 3 Bush children.
Evidence was heard, with our lawyer calling all Ministry of Human
Resources, witnesses etc.  Judge Simpson adjourned the proceedings
until September 12, 1983, 9:30am.

-Marty Lovick, Social Worker

September 12, 1983

Judge Simpson’s order regarding the Bush family is as follows:
Jason and Carrie to be returned to their parents and their C.I.C files
to be closed.
Teresa was made a permanent ward by consent of the parents and will
remain in the current foster home while further plans are made
I will return Carrie and Jason the afternoon, September 13, 1983.  I
will keep a F.S file open while planning for Teresa.
-Marty Lovick, Social Worker

So from here onward my sister would never return to my parents, but
they saw fit to return my brother and I.  This is where the nightmare
would really begin for me.  Now that my sister was gone it was me that
was in their way.

Fight, Flight or Freeze

 

Fight, Flight or Freeze… these are our natural coping mechanisms that happen to us when we are faced with extreme fear.  So, lets just say that someone comes up behind you with a gun saying that they are going to rob you.  What would you do? Or a stranger comes at you to try and take you away from your safe existence?  Or, if someone you may love, and trust makes inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances towards you, aggressive or not – what would you do?

Most everyone I have ever talked about this topic with has said they are sure they are “Fight”.  My favorite is when they start it with; “Obviously! I would fight!”

Most people, including my children firmly believe that they would have the wits about themselves to over power an attacker, say even to kick them in the balls and run away.  That’ s my eight year old speaking there.  When we talk about stranger danger with our children I always stress yelling as loud as possible and run, run, run.  But with each attempt to talk about some of the “evils” in the world – my son especially is more and more convinced of his strength and speed being his ticket out of a situation.  Inside my brain I am screaming – it’s not like that, it’s never like that!  At least not for everyone, and definitely was not for me.

I’m a freezer.  I totally freeze, not just physically but mentally.  I even find myself regressing to a much younger age rapidly.  My body has the same physical reaction it did when I was little.  One thing I notice is that my bum will shake, then my legs…and I feel as though I am literally seconds away from peeing myself.  I will find myself trying to get small, often ending up in a fetal position rocking back and forth to self soothe.  I more so freeze mentally now than physically as an adult.  Even when I don’t want to do something that will make me feel horrible, dirty, worthless, and ashamed I have extreme difficulty saying that. I feel bad for saying no.  Since I was just six years of age I can remember sexual abuse being not just a part of my life – but for years and years it felt like that was all my life was about.  I was groomed very young, and by many different abusers.  I was groomed to not say no.  To not question, or refuse.

At the age of 8 I was in a clinic in Mission, BC with my mother.  I have a very clear memory of that day.  I was getting my first PAP.  Most girls would not have a need for a PAP until at least they had started their menstrual period or had become sexually active – and that was for sure not before their teens I would hope.  But I was getting one because I had recently reported that my brother was raping me.  For some reason I was in the dr’s office room with only the male doctor and my mother.  I can remember being terrified.  I remember how tightly I was trying to hold my legs together while my mother and the doctor talked frankly and it seemed annoyed at the whole situation.

My mother said something to me that day that stayed with me through all the abuse that my body would take in my lifetime… While the doctor was examining my private parts, and talking about my hymen – I squeezed my legs together again.  My mother took her hands and pulled my knees apart angrily and said, “Carrie, what is your problem?  It’s not like it hurts, pussy’s are meant to be fucked!” That statement is what told me it was ok.  Why was I crying?  I would say that statement many times over the years to myself, and others when they might try to harp on how sad it was that I had been or was being sexually abused.  And, I would think back to that day in that fucking doctors office.  Too me, it made sense.  Yes it hurt, but I was young and small.  People told me it would get easier, one day I would get to liking it too maybe even. That stuff got easier on my body physically than all those beatings.  I just told myself it was apart of my identity.  This is what my body was for.  At least, most times I wasn’t getting my faced pounded in.

I did finally get it that what my mother said too me that day was dead wrong.  But it took until I had my first daughter.  Up until then I still thought that all the sexual abuse that I endured wasn’t really that serious, that I didn’t really have any right to cry about it.  That I deserved to feel dirty for the rest of my life, because I was a dirty slut – and I thought I had been that way since I was very young. Even during my lawsuit against the Ministry of Children and Families back in 2005 I still had a hard time acknowledging the effects it has had – and still continues to have in my everyday life.

But, when I saw my beautiful daughter, so innocent and full of life – I almost couldn’t catch my breath one day.  I was aghast at what I was telling myself.  Could I ever tell my daughter that her pussy was meant to be fucked?  Never.  No.  I remember feeling sick to my stomach and running to the bathroom to throw up. Flashes of horrible memories came flooding back to me… I was done with denial.  I knew that I would do anything to never have my children go through anything like what I and millions out there endure.

So, I freeze.  I don’t fight, or run.  I get through the moment and just try to fucking survive.  Even though I know – even when the moment is over I will have to relive it for the rest of my life.  I don’t have a day where I don’t find myself sicken by what I have had to do – what I wasn’t able to fight or run from.  But I survived dammit.

a memory…

We may not have had a lot of money, friends or status…but my parents had their crazy things  they made sure we did in case anyone else saw us. I say that it was crazy because it wasn’t whether or not my siblings and I had shelter, or food … but it was whether we had combed our hair and brushed our teeth properly enough each morning before we produced ourselves in front of the world.

My mom and dad made a big deal about his ritual. Sometimes my father would make a joke about it, when asking me if I had combed my hair…and I replied yes – he would always joke and ask “which one?”… Dad… I would say. Of course all of it. Which, of course I had. I would NEVER not do it. Why would I risk the back lash that would occur…that was just about to occur.

I was sitting in the back seat of our Nova, with my brother Jason. We were parked in the gas station; my dad was positioned to get gas. My dad had his arm stretched out behind my mom’s back, as she sat in the front seat, listening to my father. “Did you brush your fucking teeth Carrie?, cuz it sure as fuck doesn’t look like you have brushed it in days!”
“Yes Dad, I did. This morning when I woke up…” I replied terrified. Of course I did, and he knew I did. There was a hair brush beside my pillow for when I woke up, and I knew that right after that – I would go across the hall and brush my teeth. Why would I ever take the chance that this would happen?
I’m not sure how long this conversation went on. However, at some point my dad explained to me and Jason how the next while was going to play out.  Dad was going to drive Jason and I home right after he finished at the pump, at that point Jason would time me for exactly 15 minutes. At which time I was to brush my fucking filthy teeth until they were fucking bleeding. I had only 15 minutes, and that’s fucking it. My brother was to watch me, and make sure I didn’t get a second longer than the fifteen minutes my father so generously was giving me. If my teeth weren’t fucking white when my parents go home my dad was going to kick my fucking teeth to the back of my fucking head.
I can remember standing in my bathroom brushing my teeth franticly. My brother was standing at the door staring at his watch the entire time, all the while giving me the count down. Whether my father was home or not he was going ot make sure I only got the 15 min I was allotted.

Usually when my brother was left alone with me he took the time to hurt me in a more intimate way, but this day he knew our parents would be returning very soon… he just didn’t have the time. I remember looking in the mirror and asking Jason over and over if they looked white enough to him. Jason never reassured me…and made sure the water was off and brush put down at the 15 minute mark.
I waited for my parents return, shaking and terrified. When my father returned he was already upset about something completely different. He never brought up my teeth again that day.

True Heartbreak

It feels as though my heart is truly broken.  Like all those things people have said in the saddest of love songs – a heart can break. I’m not speaking of a  romantic heartbreak, too be honest I have been blessed in that way.  It’s a deeper heartbreak.  A much darker kind of break stemming from years of abuse and neglect. From the dozens of times that my belongings and self were left at the end of a driveway for someone else to have me.  From the age of six months I was being tossed about as though I were trash on consignment.   Nothing broke my heart more than losing my mom; my foster mom Ang that I lived with since the age of 12 years.  Not even the “loss” of my biological mother did the damage that was done when Ang walked out of my life. 

You see, I had to walk out on my biological mother’s life for the sake of my mine and my family’s safety.  My real mother, Carla, she is not a good person.  Honestly, she terrifies me to my core even today.  Ultimately, I didn’t want my children to ever meet the real her.  I would never trust her with my children, so how could it work? It’s a choice I will never regret making, but I do still struggle with missing the idea of having a relationship with my real mother.  I miss the fantasy of it – because it was never real. My mother always has an underlying disgust for me.  She has hated me since I was in her womb, she has told me that herself.

Technically I lost my mom the moment I came into this world. I have just been fighting to be whatever it was that she needed me to be as to attain her love.  Someone that would be worthy of protecting.   This just never happened.  Until I met Ang.  This little brown lady with a heart of gold – well she saved my life.  She always said that it was me that saved my life, I was the one that made the choice to stop the cycle.  She said I did the work – I have fought for my own life.  Ang is the one that tought me about my resilience.  She is right that I was never given a silver spoon throughout my childhood – but I could never, ever have done it though without finding shelter from my storm.  Ang gave me shelter.  She gave me peace.  She NEVER hit me.  And she NEVER sexually exploited me.  Really, that’s all I needed.  Actually, she also gave me love.  Ang made me feel safe.  She allowed me to have a voice.  She believed in me – and eventually got me to believe in me too.

She promised me year after year that she wasn’t ever leaving me.  That I would always be her daughter, nothing could change that.  It took me till I was in late teens to completely let my guard down and believe her.  I thought out of everyone in my life that the earth would have to swallow us whole in order for her to stop being my mom.  But, I was wrong.  It’s been almost three years now that she is pretty much out of my life, yet the ache in my heart is as raw and heavy as the first realization of what was happening.  I was losing my mom.  I have lost my mom.  Sometimes, when she see’s me on the street she doesn’t even recognize me.  She will refer to me as her old foster kid.  Not her daughter as she ALWAYS did in all situations.  We used to talk every day, especially each evening before bed.  Now we can go months witSometimes I Wonderhout speaking to each other.   The worst heart break for me is the fact that she didn’t just walk away from me…but also my three beautiful children that loved her dearly.  She would be their first heart break as well.

I always thought nothing can make me from living with my full heart; may it be crumbling – I can always rebuild.  Now I am coming to the realization that I may have been wrong…and that breaks it just a little bit more.  Now what’s left? How do I find the key to living the life I always dreamed of? I was dreaming of it in the middle of a tragic storm that practically swallowed me whole, leaving me exposed like a raw wound in the salty sea.  

But I fought.  The only way I knew. I dreamed of what could be.  Sometimes I wasn’t sure that there would be a future longer than hours – but I dreamed there would be.  That I would find whatever strength I needed to get me through each traumatic moment to the next.  I just believed.  I knew from very young the only way I could survive was to find faith in something.  Even if it looks impossible- believe that you can survive anything, one moment at a time.  I’ve always said – and I used to believe it wholeheartedly; NO DREAM IS TOO BIG! I just had to keep believing in the good -even when it would take nearly all the courage and strength my little body could take.  And, I never relied on just one thing or most definitely never just one person. 

Growing up the only constant I could count on was knowing that peangine and I 2ople leave.  Everybody leaves… I did receive a reprieve from that belief being with Ang for over 14 years, but just as I was no longer waiting for my bags to be on the edge of the driveway it happened again.  I have to believe that I have some ownership in the fact that I have lost the love of two mothers in my lifetime.  In the past year I was in a fight with what I thought was a very close friend at the time.  One of the last things she said to me before the end of our friendship has really stuck with me.  I hate too admit that I let it take up so much space in my heart – but I think what she said to me had a lot of validity… She said “Don’t you get it Carrie? Both your mothers didn’t even want you – doesn’t that tell you something?” 

Growing up various people in my life have explained all the heartache and trauma that I went through as simple anomalies.  It wasn’t normal what I had endured, in fact most say my story of survival is rare. It’s unbelievable, and it couldn’t possibly happen more than once, especially not to one person. Right?  People tell me over and over again that all that heartbreak is in the past.  That I should let it all go, move on.  But, the heart breaks that I suffered as a young child – well those weren’t just anomalies like I thought.  I kind of think I must have really fucked up in a past life – and that all this is for punishment.  I’m supposed to learn something from all this, I’m supposed to become a better human being.  I don’t know that the heartache will ever go away. I’m beginning to believe that pain is going to be my cross to bare for years and years too come, if not forever. 

 

FEAR – Living With It Each Day

There are many unfortunate, sad and difficult consequences left for a victim for the rest of their lives after a traumatic event.  I know from my experience I was able to find moments of peace…though far and few in between – with little time to work through the trauma that my parents had started exposing me to as early as when I was still in the womb. I was forced to face a string of various types of abuse ranging from but not limiting it to;  physical, sexual, spiritual, neglect – and the perpetrators were the hands of the people with a duty to keep me safe, protect me – someone that I was supposed to trust.   I can not remember a time in my life  that I was NOT afraid, or  time that I felt totally and completely safe. That reality is heartbreaking .

I have to imagine that even from the womb I have had a fairly intense level of fear running through my little body…afraid of the unforeseen strikes coming my way.  Sometimes it was the things my parents would yell at me that could leave bigger bruises than a whole day of whips, strikes, and blows to my body.  Those words have left invisible catastrophic scarring.   My mother told me stories of when she was pregnant with me and my father would beat her belly with his belt – buckle end hitting her baby bump.  Shit, I probably didn’t know what I was more afraid of; staying in there – or coming out!

My mother also shared her opinions of what she thought of me from the moment I was born often throughout my childhood. “You were ugly honestly, and we really didn’t want you, your father really didn’t want you…he hated girls.”  I would always ask her why he hated girls, what was it that made us so horrible in his eyes.  Why did he think we were such bad girls?  She would never have an answer for me.  She was usually quite flippant about it, acting as though she was just caught off guard for a moment… My mom was the queen of manipulation.  “Oh, I don’t know… who knows Carrie.”  My mom did know why my father hated girls and women in general. She would rather we believed he was just evil, and a sick man.  However eventually truth seeps out of the cracks.   So, years later as an adult I wanted to learn more about my fathers upbringing and the more I did learn – it was very easy to understand where his anger was coming from.  You see, my father lived in fear for his entire life as well.  It was all he knew.  Soon it was all our whole family knew.

I can’t imagine that even to this day, that either my mother, brother or sister feel safe.  I don’t.  The terrorizing anxiety and fear that lives inside me is the worst symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I face every single day.  It is not unusual for me to afraid in my own home, car or work place.  I am most afraid of course when I am alone.  I hate closed windows, drawn curtains, dark rooms, and hedges that cover a home.  It reminds me of things my parents made sure existed in our lives. They made sure we were afraid of them, always.  There was ALWAYS a consequence, there was no room for error or stupidity as he called it on our parts. And most importantly, it was stressed that we needed to keep our family matters private at all times – my Mom or Dad would say “So Carrie, that means you shut your fucking big mouth!  You understand me?”  We were never to talk about what happened behind our doors.

So my dad would try to seal the sounds of screams in with those little tricks…and now I can’t have the windows closed, or drapes drawn…and don’t even think of having a large tree or hedges surrounding our home!  Most of my husbands family think I am crazy to have everything always wide open – where everyone can see me.  “That’s the point.” I would say.  Exactly.  I am always trying to be sure it’s at least possible to have someone see me if I was being hurt – and this time save me.

I think about this scenario practically daily really.  I feel better in numbers.  I like crowds, I like downtown… I don’t like being in my home alone.  I am almost always incredibly scared, and I know realistically I am more than safe.  But, I don’t believe that. I know better.  I know better than to ever think I am safe.  I know not to start feeling sure I won’t ever have to face unspeakable hurt again.  Too me, that is just baiting the devil to come show off one more time with me.  I am so afraid I will not have the resilience and strength to live through another attack again.  And now, that I have been blessed with three beautiful, innocent children that fear has only been escalated too massive proportions.

The very thought of my kids having to live like I did makes me feel sick to my stomach.  I never really thought of it this way before the kids, for some reason I was able to compartmentalize the stories from the actual realization of how horrible it really was for us young children.  Now I can see for myself how innocent, tiny and helpless we really were.  As a child I really felt like I was at fault – I had obviously been so out of control, so ungrateful, spoiled… I felt that I had pushed them into hitting me, hurting me…  Most of my abusers had me sure that it was my fault that they were sexually attracted to me. That even as young as six – I was just slutty.  I was the one that brought the bad, dirty and wrong doings from these individuals.  There was something in me bringing out the evil in them, causing them to hurt me.

There was a court hearing once that involved one of my foster fathers; Wayne Haydamack where he was being charged with historical sexual abuse.  One of his arguments about why Wayne may have been sexually inappropriate with me – IF – he did – it was simply because I was teasing him, flirting, and seducing him into it.  He was a victim of my seductive ways.  This makes me fucking sick each and every time I think about it. Even if I was displaying sexual behaviors towards him – that is NEVER ok or normal. I have too feel sick when I think of how I was so comfortable being taken advantage of that young.  I remember too that although I found it terrifying each and every time – I also found it too be a normal part of my life, like one of my duties of growing up.  I remember how awful it made me feel too, how dirty I thought I was, and how incredibly afraid I really was.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have flashbacks or get triggered by a smell or sound that takes me right back into those moments that still cause me to be afraid.  I don’t have many memories of restful sleeps, or being able to close my eyes and feel  my body completely relax…and just letting go … Usually I am trying to shut my brain down from all the scared thoughts I am having; can anyone get in? Are my kids safe? What if someone tried to take them?  I find myself sometimes going through the entire scenario, getting myself all worked up thinking of the worst things possible – I fight hard to leave those thoughts and fall asleep.  I think of when I was a young child, how strangers would come into my bedrooms while I  was asleep and hurt me. Ripping me from my dreams – leaving me in a nightmare for the rest of my life.

Each and every abuser that took liberty with my body in unspeakable and disgusting ways; ultimately took a piece of my innocence with them when they finished. They all had a part in making me be so afraid and unsure of myself and my worth.  They all hurt me in different degrees – but still leaving me with a lifetime of fear, anxiety, and an ongoing battle with self-loathing and self-worth.  No matter how many times I can tell myself that it was not my fault – some shit has a hard time sticking. The fact that I felt responsible and dirty for being apart of it is something my abusers were counting on.  They groomed me, some more than others.

I have to believe a huge source of my fear comes from the fact that I have dozens of my abusers out there, free to roam the world, free to hurt again.  I am afraid of running into any of them.  I am very afraid of my immediate family; especially my mother and brother.  I have seen their form of evil and I am sure I have not seen the last of it.  My brother grew up to be a convicted rapist and murderer.  My brother is free now – having served his time fully.  He is on the sex offender registry, but is not required to report to a parole officer.  On one the reports I received from the Prison staff before his release after serving ten years for the murder stated that he was at a high risk to reoffend. There was also a note in the report that my brother had made a statement of how much he hated me, and if he were to see me again he would slit my neck from ear to ear.  I am afraid of my brother. I have a very clear memory of my brothers eyes, they were always empty – scary.  He had the same smiling eyes when he was hurting me or an animal sometimes when we were younger.  My dad worked hard making him tough.  He inevitably made his son a killer and a man that like his father – had a special hate for women.

You know, I am mostly afraid this feeling is really never going to ease up.  I am so tired from being in that constant state of acute awareness to all the bad in the world.  I wish I didn’t know that it was real and that it always is lurking and waiting for it’s opportunity to take advantage and hurt me or someone I love.  I do though. I am really clear that the monsters that most people are afraid of look nothing like a monster at all.  They are blending into our communities, developing relationships with us – earning our trust so that we will let our guards down and forget to be afraid just long enough that they can hurt us again.  it s a terrifying reality that I worry, fear and at times unreasonably obsess over every day of my life.

People see me as tough.  They say that I am so strong and resilient, and that they believe I can survive anything.  And with each tragedy or trauma I have survived it seems they feel their points have been proven. I’m fine.  Its over, it’s all in the past.  They sometimes try to push me towards just forgetting everything – telling me that if I just let it all go I will be better.  I agree with one thing.  That “event of trauma” may be over – but that’s about all that makes any sense too me because there is no magical let it go button.  I don’t try to think about it each day – it is like someone slamming a pie in my face out of no where when the memories come.  more like a smack in the face. A lot of my wounds may have years of skin regrowth, scars have faded – years and years have passed – but my mind and or body can’t forget it sometimes.  I still have pain, physical and psychological… emotional pain.

I can still hear the hardwired messages of disgust, hatred, and disappointment that I heard throughout my childhood.  And, I am still fear the bad monsters will come back into my room one night and try taking another piece of my soul – testing my strength and ability to stay a good person.  So far – regardless of what has come against me – I am still here, working on it…but for now I live with fear every single day of my life only hoping something will ease up in my subconscious and let me be in that paralyzing reality less and less as time goes by.