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Damaged, Tortured, Torn, Hurt But Alive
I am not sure if this is a “manifesto” or a vain attempt at
justification for being. Humans are complicated beings,
shaped and molded by our experiences, how we are is
what we have been made. In the past I have told some
of this in bits and pieces, never as a chronological story
as I am doing here; and be aware, the following may be
shocking to readers.
I was sexually molested numerous times as a very young child by male family members that tapered off as I grew old enough to understand how wrong it was. Then when I was about seven years old, my grandfather, my mother’s father, came to visit us, he was with his brother and both were very drunk. My sister and I were outside playing, when he stepped out from behind the smoke house and called for me to come to him. As I got closer, he gestured for me to come nearer, when I did, he grabbed me and pulled me behind the building. He clamped onto my small slender frame, and kissed me, sticking his tongue in my mouth, moving it around, slobbering, and groaning. The smell of rank alcohol, the taste of it invading my being and the stubble on his face made me gag. After several minutes he finally pulled back, and I shook his hands off my shoulders and ran as fast as I could to get away.
At the age of 12 years old I fell and broke my arm playing on a trailer after school. Neither of my parents or any adults were around, and we lived way out in the country. My dad worked in the evenings, so my brothers kept calling the place where he worked. I laid in bed for hours with a broken arm while they kept calling and calling. Finally my dad answered the phone. He arrived home about the same time as my mother, who was demanding to know why he couldn’t be reached on the phone. My dad carried me to the pickup and drove me to the Emergency Room about 10 PM that night. On the way he fumed and cussed, he told me how stupid I was and how he should “whip” me for breaking my arm. We got back home about midnight, all the other kids were in bed, I laid on the couch because I had to keep my arm protected. My mother and father began fighting, I could hear them….. and it eventually came out the reason why he couldn’t be reached by phone was because he was having an affair with a high school girl. My mother got us kids up, packed us in the car and we went to her sister, my aunt’s home.
While living at my aunt’s, we were crowded and my sister and I shared a bed in a room with my little brothers. One night my uncle, my mother’s brother, came to the house drunk after everyone was in bed asleep. He came into our room and fell in the bed with my sister and I. He reached out with his hand and began feeling of my chest. As a 12 year old I was just beginning to bud, the biggest thing on my chest was my nipples. He took my nipple between his fingers and started twisting it. He twisted and twisted, and when I would push his hand away he would move to the other one. This seemed to go on for hours as he would alternate between my sister and me, twisting our nipples, pinching our little budding breasts. Finally he fell asleep, my sister and I held each other on a pallet on the floor. The next day we decided to tell my mother. It took a lot of courage to tell her, and then her response was, “you should have woke me up.” The end. No outrage, no promises that she would make it right, nothing. So we went on as if it hadn’t happened, except my nipples and breasts hurt so bad, for weeks it was agony to have any material even brush up against them.
By the time I turned fourteen my aunt had moved out and left the house to my mother. She began dating someone on a regular basis that drank alcohol often to excess. My mother’s boyfriend would bring a friend to our house to drink alcohol with him quite a bit. For over a year after my mom and her boyfriend went to bed, he would come in my bedroom and molest me. I would lay in bed terrified every time he came over, I knew eventually I would hear his footsteps coming down the hall to my room. He never took off my clothes or had sex with me, but French kissed me, gave me hickeys and rubbed his erection against me until he ejaculated. When I turned fifteen, my mother’s boyfriend came to my room and tried to touch me and hug me close. I somehow escaped his clutches. The second time he came to my room, I decided to tell my mother. She said, “he wouldn’t do that, I don’t believe you.” So to get away, I decided to go to an Indian boarding school, where I stayed until I graduated from high school.
I joined the military right out of high school. When I returned to my home state, I had an infant girl and soon engaged in a relationship with the son of our minister. The first time he hit me I was standing at the kitchen sink in University Housing, holding my baby in my arms, making her a bottle. I turned just as he threw his fist, landing a punch to my upper cheek bone. So began a seven year long nightmare of beatings and abuse, many times I threw him out, only to take him back. Some of my worst beatings came from me standing up to him to keep him from mistreating my daughter. When I became pregnant with twins, the abuse got even worse, mentally and physically. He hit me in the belly and stomped my stomach, and still I did not leave. I had the twins by caesarean and went back for my final semester of college the next week. When the twins were about 3 years old, I finally had enough and told him I would take him to his sister’s and drop him off. On the drive, he began drinking whisky that he got from somewhere, and halfway there, he began to cuss at me, telling me I was good for nothing, was nothing, eventually he started hitting me from the side. He cut my lip, my right cheek became swollen, and there was nothing I could do. When I got off the turnpike I took the first exit and went to a 7-11, where I ran in and asked the clerk to please call 911. He came in the store and chased me out, I tried to beat him to the car but didn’t make it, he jumped in the passenger seat. He was giggling and laughing like a madman, telling me I was never going to get away from him. I took off driving again, when I saw another convenience store I pulled in and again tried to go in to ask the clerk to call the police, once again my abuser followed me in and chased me out. But this time a police car pulled up. I jumped out, yelling for help, my abuser jumped out of the car and took off running. I was finally rid of him.
I dated and eventually married. It was not a happy marriage so I spent a lot of time out with friends and partying. In 2000 while out with friends, I went to an apartment with some young men to continue drinking beer after hours. When I got up to go to the bathroom, it was really dark and I could not see to lock the door behind me. As I was sitting on the toilet, the door opened and two of the men came in, before I could say anything, one put his hand over my mouth. One grabbed my legs and together they wrestled me to the floor, removing my jeans. They took turns holding me down and raping me. Then they just left me laying on the cold tile floor with no pants on. I eventually got up and went back into the living room. I was so angry, I yelled at the men, “why did you let them rape me?” They answered, “what do you mean?” “No one raped you.” It was obvious that they were going to stick together and deny what happened, so I didn’t report it. I was so angry with myself for putting myself in that situation. My thighs were bruised and the back of my head hurt from banging on the tile floor, these reminders stuck with me for a week and a half or two.
One of my twins was diagnosed with schizophrenia, up until that time she had spiraled downward for some time vacillating between using illegal drugs and alcohol. She talked to herself and heard things almost non-stop, she told me an angel had come to her and told her she was going to die before her 23rd birthday. But after a few years she was improving, she was finally stabilizing and began speaking about a future with children. Three weeks before her birthday, she was tragically killed in a one vehicle accident. I blamed myself for giving her a ride to a bar and dropping her off that night, only to never see her again.
I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2014 and was in therapy for over a year but could not continue when I lost my health insurance due to being laid off my job. I have depression, panic disorder, and social anxiety. I have no personal relationships, no close family ties. I stick to myself, in isolation. I know my faults of being quick tempered, lashing out, being outspoken, impatient, sometimes my tone of voice is angry or mean when I don’t intend it to be that way. But I also know my heart is good, my intent to serve others is strong, I love fiercely, am loyal to family and friends, will fight to the end for what is right and just, and I forgive easily.
According to statistics of those abused as a child, I should be dead, an abuser, suffering from an addiction, or in prison. But instead I am a professional woman, with a Bachelor’s and two Advanced Degrees.
I have told a few people I have experienced a lot of trauma. One person who is on the board of the National Indian Women’s Resource Center I told a little of this, said in response, “We Indian woman have it hard.” Some that I have told about some of my traumatic past, just nod their heads, mouth a few platitudes and go on about their business. Is this type traumatic history so accepted these days that it no longer shocks anyone? Is this really what Indian women experience across all walks of life? When people minimize my tragic past it makes me feel like it and I both are insignificant.
And I torture myself asking, “why me?” “What did I do to deserve all this garbage in my life?” I would like to help those who have also experienced similar or same type trauma by letting them know they are not alone. I am damaged, tortured, torn, hurt, but if I can find the will to overcome, to live, to thrive, they can too.