( Editors Note: The usual format for these posts is for the survivors to answer the three questions. In this case, the Warrior went with a little different format. I think you can pick out the answers from the story)
As humans, we all experience the pain of abuse, at one point or another in our lives. Whether it be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse or even abandonment. Unfortunately, it’s almost inevitable. It’s the nature of the beast…us. The human “beast” if you will. As for me, I can only speak of my own experiences- which by the way- I am ready to share. I state that I’m ready to share these experiences because the majority of my life I held them in. Held the memories of these shameful, embarrassing happenings that I would let fester within me..which would only , ( as I see now), dim my inner light. I know now that it’s not healthy to withhold things like this in…and also..it’s equally important to let it ‘all out’ for the process of healing to be able to begin. In sharing my abuse, I also realize that I am speaking out for those who cannot…I’m helping to put a voice into the atmosphere for those individuals and I am possibly giving them inspiration..to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel…and that they too, can grow from this. Lastly, it’s damn time to share.
I was born in 1980. Culver City (a city in western Los Angeles County). My parents are both from the East Coast. The BX (The Bronx) and The Bricks (Newark, New Jersey). My father and mother both left the east coast at different times- both with the intentions of starting a new life and making a fresh start for themselves. At the time my father was struggling with addiction and figured the change of scenery from New York City could help get him cleaned up. My mother was running from a severely abusive past in New Jersey. When my mother and father met by chance in Los Angeles, they fell in love for their own reasons with one another. It goes without saying: this is when yours truly, was conceived.
According to my mother, she was extremely naive to the world- being that she was raised in a controlling and abusive house- so she wasn’t “hip” to all the things that my father was at that time. She states that the first time she realized my father was an addict was when she was 8 months pregnant with me and she caught my father shooting up in the bedroom. This is where my story begins…..
I was born into a household where there was a lot of anger, angst, resentment, abuse, deception, abandonment, and poverty. I’ve heard the stories about my father being gone for weeks with no call. I’ve heard about how we had a mattress in a studio apartment with no food and just the clothes on our backs because my father was taking the little items we did own and was selling them to support his habit. My mother had her second child with my father in 1982. By then we had moved back to the East coast and was living in the Bronx; of course for another “fresh start”.
I was also told about how my mother didn’t have diapers for my sister, and was wrapping her up in my father’s boxers. My mother didn’t have money for milk to feed my infant sister, so she would give her rice water, and because of this my sister suffered from diarrhea and diaper rash. And because my mom wasn’t eating properly she couldn’t produce the milk to breastfeed my sister. I heard about the stories how my mom would have to walk blocks through the snow to the nearest church to beg for money from the priest so she can feed us. I also heard how, as a 3 year old, I would never complain about how hungry I was, or how cold I was, or how tired I was from having to walk all that way.
Somewhere around this time, my mother grew very angry and threatened my father with a divorce. So this is when we made another move …yep, you guessed it, for another fresh start. We moved to sunny Naples, Florida. Promises of sobriety from Daddy and a better life for all of us. This is when I started having my own memories of our life. When things were good…they were amazing! I remember as a child hearing my mother and father laugh together, and I remember thinking in my little 5 year old mind, how beautiful my mother looked when she smiled. I felt happy, I felt safe, I felt LOVED.
But…like they say..all good things must come to an end..and surely they did. I noticed that Daddy wasn’t home as much. I noticed the familiar look of worry on my mom’s face. And when my mom was worried…or sad…I felt it was my responsibility to be worried and sad with her. Though, I didn’t completely understand what was going on, I knew it had something to do with my Daddy. My mom was so wrapped up in the whereabouts of my father that she didn’t know, nor would I dare bother her with it, that at 5 years old, my older half brother- who was also a recovering addict ( briefly staying with my mom and dad until he could get back on his feet) was molesting me almost everyday. He was 19/20 years old around that time. I remember it feeling wrong, but I remember being told that this was my fault and if I told anyone, they would know that it was my fault. Not his. At one point, my half brother had held a gun to my head – this I actually don’t remember. I know I was being babysat on this particular day and he held a gun to my sitter and to my head. This is probably one of those repressed memories that I’m waiting to come out at some point. So, all in all, I kept the sexual abuse I endured inward until I reached my 20’s. As far as with my mom and dad, things became worse (again)- the fighting started. Screaming, banging, crying.
I remember this one instance where my mom put my sister and I into her Toyota. I could tell she was on a mission. I asked where we were going and she said: “I am going to find your father!”. I remember we drove to a very sketchy neighborhood in Naples called George Washington Carver Apartments. I knew from overhearing my mom, that this is where Daddy spent a lot of his time. When we arrived, before exiting the car, my mom told my sister and I to lay down in the backseat and not to get up for anything! I will never forget what I saw when she exited the car. In my child’s mind it looked like something out of a zombie movie. As soon as my mom had closed the car door behind her and locked us in, there were many people that looked like literal zombies that walked up to my mom’s car and looked in the windows down at us. I sat up slightly, because I was worried for my Mom. I saw her standing there with a gun in her hand pointing it at the “zombies”, “Where is LOUIS!!?? Get Louis here NOWWWW!!”
Moving forward, about a year later, my mom came to her senses and finally left my father. I was in the first grade. I worried for my father because he was alone, and because I knew he was very sad. I failed the first grade because all I did was cry and refuse to partake in school work. My mom struggled. She worked 3 jobs and was in and out of relationships with men that I hated. And in between relationships my mom was miserable, angry and would direct her blame on me. Yes, this wasn’t how I perceived it at the time. This is exactly what it was. Just about everything was Natasha’s fault. I was always screamed at, cussed at. I was beat, thrown and punched. I was called a whore before I even knew what the fucking word meant!
There was this one instance where I was playing outside our apartments, and my mom told me to stay within yelling distance. I was always and imaginative child. I loved being outdoors and looking at the clouds and trees, and imagining all the far away places I wanted to visit. I had seen a few beautiful peacocks outside- and I remember following them- anxiously waiting to see their tails open up into that beautiful display of colors I so much loved. I guess time had caught away with me- because when I finally made it back home I was greeted with an ass whooping of my life. Remember that game: Airplane? Some parents would lovingly play it with their children? For those that don’t know: You grab a hand and a foot…and the parent would turn round and round until the centrifugal force would build up enough to make a child’s body go upward in a flying motion..like an airplane. Well..in my mom’s rage- she played her own version. She grabbed me by my foot…and a fistful of hair…swung me around and around to build up that good ol’ centrifugal force…but she let me go airborne. I remember hitting the ground with such force…and the severe pain of all the air in my body being knocked out of me. This was common place when it came to punishing me. Especially on her bad days. Let me not excuse this behavior…it was horrific- but my mom was not healthy mentally. She grew up with abuse beyond most human comprehension. I’ll leave that up to her to tell her own story on that one. I believe in her mind, I was lucky I wasn’t getting beat like she use to.
My mom was so wrapped up on trying to find a boyfriend/husband that my sister and my emotional health were not priority. As much as that may sting, that is the truth. When you bring many men in and out of your children’s lives, only worrying to fulfill your own needs- despite how your daughters (children) may feel, it’s a selfish act. Many times, we witnessed full out fist fights between my mom and her boyfriends. When this would happen, I felt it was my duty to protect my mom and my little sister. I have kicked in doors, I have jumped on grown men’s backs and clawed at their faces and pulled their hair- all to protect my mother. Later in life, I was even arrested trying to stick up for her. For the majority of my life growing up, I had felt the need to Protect- despite how I may have been treated. Despite who I may have been exposed to. Despite how my feelings always seemed to be irrelevant. This treatment is what I grew to know as “normal”. And sadly, I took this into adulthood- but later retrained my brain and way of thinking.
Going back to my father, he on the other hand finally got his life together. We would spend weekends with him. It was like heaven! My father clean and he was absolutely amazing in so many ways. The memories were amazing…and we connected with him like daughters should with their father. We got to know him…and he got to know us. Three years of being clean and then he finds out he has Full Blown AIDS. He lived for 3 more years with Full Blown Aids, remained clean from using and made the most out of his time with us. He died in 1993.
My mom did remarry to a man that provided a good life for my sister and I. He fulfilled his promise to my father to protect and take care of my sister and I. But of course, that didn’t last too long either. Still, growing up into a woman without my father was excruciatingly hard. I had a rough start in life and not much self confidence or self love was instilled in me. I became deeply depressed because all that kept replaying in my mind was the unconditional love and affection from my father that only lasted a few short years. I wanted and needed that in my life so badly I started to seek it in men. My first marriage ended in physical violence. My second marriage, I stuck through the shitty times even more because I thought that is what you are supposed to do instead of just running. There was a lot of emotional abuse that I saw was affecting my first born from my first marriage. I had my second child in my second marriage, but things increasingly became worse, so I left that one after 5 years. Then years later finding out that my 2nd husband, while married to him, had been raping my first born child.
Our justice system is terrible, and he got away with it. I had to fight him in court for custody of our daughter…they gave us joint custody, but thank God he hasn’t tried to even see our daughter. My last relationship is where I had my last child. He couldn’t be monogamous and we physically fought. I did have a moment where I looked at myself in the mirror and I started to see my mother. I was repeating her life. I knew I loved my children more than life itself. I knew things had to change. I sought counseling on and off. Read many self help books, and started to learn to be thankful for the blessings in front of me. My three beautiful children. My three rainbows in my storm of life. I decided that they were more important than my want to be loved…or my want to have a husband to have that house and white picket fence fairy tale. I saw that I was enough for them…and that they were enough for me…and mostly…I was enough for myself.
I took you on a brief magic carpet ride through the hurricane of my life. All this shared to say this: The abuse that people endure have nothing to do with the abusee and everything to do with the abuser. Just like with my mother. She loved my sister and I , in her own way. But she was a damaged individual who never got proper help nor was able to have the insight enough to make her life better/ parenting skills better, (to put it lightly). She never had the self love to know she deserved better…and so did her children. I had taught myself, with the help of some great loving friends and some good counseling…and books…that I have the POWER! The power to make my life something GREAT or something SHITTY! And the so- called power we may think our abuser has…is given to them by US. I will repeat. We give the abuser the power…so when you take the power away…you GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE! Now, with innocent children in mind, such as myself and my own child- we were too young and didn’t understand what was happening. We were vulnerable to the abuse. Thank God we survived it. And in survival- as I taught myself- and am teaching my son as well…you do NOT claim the name of VICTIM!! NEVER THAT!! You claim the name of: KICK ASS SURVIVOR!!!!! And you take the pain…and you don’t EVER hide from it. You speak about it…until it becomes easier…until it doesn’t hurt as bad…and you turn it into a story of survival…and a story that could bring LIGHT into other’s lives…a story that could potentially SAVE THEIR LIFE!
Thank you for sharing your life with us. Stay blessed.
What a story of courage. She maps the cycle of abuse through generations. Thank God she is putting a stop to it in her family with love and such grace. I’d never have guessed, looking at the beautiful photographs of her here, the depth of her suffering. And at the hands of her loved ones and protectors! It’s a travesty. Blessings to this warrior and her children in their journey. Onward.
I thank God for giving you the courage and you for having the strength to share the story of your life! It is through your sharing that you help give others hope and healing as they/we look at your courage and strength to continue on, be better, and love despite what you’ve gone through. I can relate to a few of your experiences but can not fathom others. God bless you and your babies!! Keep being strong!!! I thank God that the best is yet to come for you!!!
May God bless you and your babies for the rest of your lives..You are awesome! Thank you for sharing your life with us!