RAINN Gives Hope to a Survivor Named Alyssa Marie

Waking up every morning may seem like something automatic to do and possibly something that can even be taken for granted, but to the innocent people who have been sexually assaulted or/and raped, this can be very challenging and an on-going battle. Whether survivors have come forward or are still in silence, the feeling of being alone and helpless is constantly being reminded to them as their fears keep re-surfacing from deep within flashbacks and memories of their attack. However, by having an inspirational organization like RAINN ( Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) who specialize in encouraging survivors to get the right help from professionals, survivors can move forward and start to have hope in their lives.

“It is vital you get yourself help if you are in an unsafe situation. I cannot stress strongly enough to get support after you come forward as a process so gruelling, cannot be done alone. Dealing with triggers such as songs, smells etc can cause flashbacks, which is hard to cope with sometimes but then I have the support of my friends and other survivors who help me through it.” – Alyssa Marie

No matter how young or old anyone is, sexual assault and rape is wrong and it is never the survivors fault. As a survivor, they tend to feel guilty, shameful, and feel like they are to blame for putting themselves into these dangerous situations, but the only one at fault for being raped and/or sexually assaulted is the one who does it. Although this is something that a survivor is constantly always feeling and can be hard to fully understand and accept, with great help-lines and organizations like RAINN, they can help them to understand that these are normal feelings to have after a traumatic incident. With the help from RAINN, survivors are not only taking the first step, but a first positive step forward onto their journey of recovery, healing, and hope.

“After a traumatic event, it is also typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterwards. Victims also might avoid places, events, or objects that remind them of the experience. Emotions related to avoidance are numbness, guilt, and depression. Some have a decreased ability to feel certain emotions, like happiness. However, Understanding what you’re going through is the first step to recovery.” – RAINN

In the moment of the attack, the survivor’s power is taken off them and is transferred to their attacker because the feeling of watching some vulnerable gives them (the attacker) a sense of power. Unfortunately for sexual assault survivor Alyssa Marie, she was unable to defend herself to her attacker because she was too young and the vulnerably was sadly unavoidable. Alyssa’s loss of security was taken away from her at a very young age because of these traumatic episodes that surfaced throughout her childhood years (until he was reported a few years later), but sadly he was never convicted due to lack of evidence.

“It started when I was 3 and it didn’t stop until I was 5 or 6. It was my dad and he was never convicted because I was too young to testify and when I was old enough it wouldn’t hold up in court so he is still in NZ however I am safe and I have a protection/restraining order against him.” – Alyssa Marie

For survivors who have been through what Alyssa has, (especially when their attacker is out in the community unpunished for their crime) their instant reaction is to keep quiet because they fear that if they speak up, no one will believe them. Many survivors who have been assaulted in their childhood or adult life generally do not share or report their attack straight away (if at all) because of this and therefore stay silent. With supportive organizations like RAINN, they are always making it aware that as a survivor, there is constant share of love to help them report, reach out, and guide themselves to the right kind of help that will benefit the recovery process. RAINN however, do not force survivors to report their attacker (although it is strongly encouraged) but are there to 100% support the survivor and make sure that they feel safe and have a place to go to if not.

“RAINN is helpful because they offer hotlines and services that are available. In my opinion you definitely need to seek professional help and also definitely do things that make you happy or do things to take your mind off it.” – Alyssa Marie

To a survivor, having hope is hard to contain because when you lose all sense of security nothing positive, seems possible and you feel like you should always expect the worst to happen. But thanks to Gorjana and Hollywood Actress/RAINN advocate KaDee Strickland they have made this possible for survivors to have hope because their collaborated RAINN Hope Necklace certainly brings light out of something so horrific.

“The RAINN Hope Necklace is a meaningful symbol and reminds me of what it means to be a survivor and it’s a constant reminder of how far each individual survivor has come.” – Alyssa Marie

The RAINN Hope necklace not only reminds survivors that they all survived, but also that they can get through anything and they never have to be alone because it is never too late to get help. To everyone who is not a survivor, it is also another way for anyone to show their support and help encourage survivors to reach out and gain back their control.

“I am not a survivor by I bought a hope necklace as my way of showing support to survivors who have one through the worst of things and need help to get their voice back.” – Lacey Ives

No matter if you were sexual assaulted or raped that happened 20 years ago or last week, there is always hope for you and it is never too late to get help. Please contact RAINN by calling 1 800 656 HOPE or on their 24hr hotline at www.rainn.org because once you have taken that first step, you will be able to start to heal properly.

To buy a RAINN Hope Necklace, please go to Gorjana’s website direct link: www.gorjana.com/products/RAINN-Hope-Necklace.html and for every necklace you buy, 80% of all the proceedings go directly to RAINN.

My Stories: Marnie and IMPACT Personal Safety

“As a survivor of stranger rape, I never had an interest in taking a self-defense class.  I teach people that being aware of your surroundings is critical. We live in a world where women must be on high alert. We teach women to avoid certain places at specific times, buddy up, and be safe rather than sorry.  However we don’t have the physical tools to fight back.  While I wanted to have every tool available to protect myself, the possibility of learning something that could have changed the trajectory of my history made self defense feel like a place I did not belong -to learn what could have been seemed tragic.  It was for those who haven’t been attacked.

Having a strong sense that self-defense would be cathartic for me, my husband convinced me to attend his Arnis class. As I surveyed the room – six guys, an instructor and a red duffle bag filled with knives – I fled through the front door. I was terrified. This was not for me. I did not have one survivor friend who went to self defense as part of their healing. His instructor recommended IMPACT Personal Safety, a program for women that he had been involved with. I watched their videos online. I was impressed with the intensity and focus of the course. Good for them, I thought, but not good for me.

Then I read IMPACT’s mission: men and women dedicated to ending the cycle of violence, a goal of many anti-sexual assault organizations I work with.  More specifically the goals of IMPACT are ones that this activist should know. The mission of IMPACT Personal Safety is to end the cycle of violence in society by empowering women, children, and men with the self-esteem and the tools necessary to take control of their lives through self-defense, boundary setting and the understanding that your life is worth fighting for.

I reluctantly signed up for the eight weeks basics course.  At the first class, I met 13 other strong, smart women who had been attacked or feared it, along with four instructors – one instructor, two assists, and our male instructor – the mugger.  Three and a half hours later, I wished every woman knew what I had just learned.  I left feeling exhausted but forever changed. We were taught surprisingly simple but highly effective physical moves to protect ourselves in real life situations that we chose and fought out with our fully padded and protected male instructor. I watched my classmates elbow, strike, and kick their way out of every scenario. IMPACT is not just about learning how to fight but arming yourself with verbal skills to deescalate a situation – and if all else fails – we were prepared to fight.  These boundary setting skills crossover to the every day – from a difficult boss to a needy friend, IMPACT taught us to assess situations and apply the right tools.

Every week I felt a little wiser, a little stronger, a little safer.  This class was about protecting myself in the present, and adding these skills to my activist toolbox. I went from vehemently arguing why the class was not for me to encouraging every woman to take the basics class. If anything the class reinforced that I skillfully survived the attack.  For survivors, this is an empowering moment: taking the power back. You don’t need to practice it- it’s muscle memory. Instead of freezing, your body has been taught to fight back.

The class ends with graduation – a mighty send off with an opportunity to show friends and family what you’ve learned. My husband, friends, and even a client attended.  I watched thirteen strong women I met just eight weeks earlier confidently and instinctively handle every scenario they were confronted with.  We were also applauding each other’s transformations and successes, from walking fearlessly through a parking lot at night, to changing jobs, to feeling a whole lot safer.  How many things can you learn in eight classes will change you forever?  Self defense is not a mandatory class all children learn in school; we learn what we are taught by family or friends, and then when one becomes a victim of a crime, we blame. We blame ourselves, and criminals know this. So then, how could you not take this class?  You want to find the survivor in you? Want to kick that fear through a brick wall?  Invest in you and find peace, happiness and some serious strength with IMPACT Personal Safety.”

- Marnie Goodfriend

If you are interested in learning more about IMPACT Personal Safety’s programs and how you might use then as a part of your healing process, you can learn more on their website. I’m linking you straight to their chapter locator page so you can click the one in your area, as each location offers different services. Click here.

 

 

 

 

My Stories: Stacy M.

 

It seems that I can’t turn on a news program lately without hearing discussions about the Penn State University child sexual abuse scandal. Nor does it seem that I can browse the pages of this newspaper without finding several stories weekly about child pornography and pedophiles. It feels very much like we have reached a turning point as a society where we are beginning to become educated and speak openly about childhood sexual abuse, the perpetrators and victims and the psychology and complexity behind all of it. Sadly, the sexual abuse of children is far more common than most of us ever thought (I’ve read that one in four girls and one in five boys will be a victim of sexual assault by the time they are 18 years old) and by the time a child molester is caught, he has already victimized an average of 117 children. The good news is that these crimes are coming out of the shadows and hopefully as a society we will become less tolerant and more aware of how this happens and how to recognize and prevent it.

The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse accusations coincidentally have taken over the airwaves as I await the trial or sentencing of my daughter’s molester and the spotlight that has been put on these crimes has shown so many similarities between these two perpetrators, as well as others in the news. My daughter’s molester was her step-father for a little over a decade and if you would have asked me as recently as two years ago if he were capable of sexually abusing a child, I would have said absolutely not. He was educated, had helped in the raising of some of his younger siblings and his three biological children whose mother is a seemingly smart, professional woman, a doting and protective mother and certainly wouldn’t have knowingly raised children with a pedophile – nor would I. But we did. One of the detectives working on this case that specializes in helping child sex abuse victims worked with an officer for about eight years and was shocked when it was revealed that he was in possession of child pornography. Another detective specializing in internet child porn cases once had to arrest his next-door neighbor for these crimes – a person who had sat at his own dinner table and shared a meal with his family. That’s one of the scariest things about these predators – they are master manipulators and usually have everyone in their lives fooled. They are puppet masters, creating scenarios to get close to their prey and keeping others from unveiling their dark secrets. Jerry Sandusky started a charity for underage boys from dysfunctional families who were very easy prey for him. A recent local molestation story involved a man who ran a day care – a situation where parents literally handed his victims over to him. There was also a Pattee Canyon campground host who molested at least four little girls. Camping is a situation where kids run with a bit more freedom than usual and the opportunities were likely abundant for that predator. I remember my daughter’s molester telling me on more than one occasion that before being with me, he would often see young mothers and their children in grocery stores and always felt like that’s what he wanted for himself – a young woman with little kids. I had no idea that it was likely the children that appealed to him, not their mothers.

Watching an interview with the mother of one of Sandusky’s victims and hearing her talk about how her son told her that Jerry was a “weirdo” but she was unable to mentally make the leap and recognize that he was a molester was eerily similar to my situation. My daughter, at age seven or eight, told me one day that she didn’t want her step-father to give her a massage anymore. I asked her when he had given her a massage and if it hurt her or was uncomfortable. She said it was uncomfortable and, hearing our discussion, the step-father jumped in and said, “What? What is she saying to you?” I told him what she had said and my little girl looked at him and said, “I don’t want you to do that anymore”. He chuckled and said, “Ok. I’ve never been very good at giving massages.” That was it – a very defining moment because my little girl thought that she had communicated that something wasn’t right, I failed to make the mental leap that a bad massage meant that this man that I knew and trusted was a pedophile, and he took control. He had been starting the grooming process with her by increasingly expanding where and how he touched her, beginning with simply massaging her back but reaching just a bit further each time. I’ve recently learned that the next time he did that to her back then, he told her (in true pedophile fashion), “Don’t tell anyone, you almost got me in trouble last time.” For the next several years (until she was 14), my daughter lived in a cycle of bribery, confusion and blurry memories of waking up to this man fondling her. There’s no way of knowing what she, or other potential victims of his slept through or were too young to remember.

There were lots of arguments between him and me over the years because he favored my daughter over my son, giving her gifts and lots of extra attention. He claimed that it was because he had grown up with only brothers and always said, “Little girls are special – I always made sure my own daughter had nice things.” I struggled to figure out why my daughter had such a hard time concentrating in school and received average grades despite her obvious intelligence. He often blamed it on the absence of her biological father, though I’ve since learned that inability to focus in school is very common among sexual abuse victims. Over the years, I suffered from anxiety and a constant nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right, but allowed my spouse to convince me that those feelings were my fault and that I was insecure and paranoid.

This man, like Jerry Sandusky, had good long-time friends, worked full time and was loved by his own children. There were many good times over the years – camping trips with all of our kids, birthdays, graduations and lots of sporting events. Never in a million years would I have guessed that things would end the way they did. It was as if the man I trusted and loved had two identities living in one body. That seems to be the realization with which people who know a pedophile must come to terms – these people can compartmentalize their two halves in a way that seems impossible. This man was a co-worker to many, an employee to some, a good friend and confidant to others. He was a father, a son, a brother and the majority of people who knew him would have described him as a good guy. We all hate pedophiles and child molesters in theory, but it’s a difficult journey to wrap your mind around the fact that you already know and maybe even love one. I’ve learned from several experts that pedophiles develop their attraction to small children (some prefer boys, others prefer girls) in their teen years and a huge majority of them were sexually abused themselves.

The road to getting caught for most of these molesters is long and rocky, as they will do anything to protect their secret. I spent the final year and a half with my daughter’s molester getting into arguments and defending myself against his delusions. Reintroducing alcohol into his life after many years of sobriety made it very difficult for him to maintain his two separate identities and his façade crumbled. Fearing his secret coming out and knowing that I wanted out of the relationship due to his drinking, he went on the offensive attempting to preemptively discredit me in the event that I learned the truth. He accused me of cheating on him with one man, then four or five, then dozens. Ugly fights occurred in front of my children and when I left him, he spread his delusions and lies among his family members portraying himself as a victim who had been cheated on then abandoned. That’s when it began to click. I remembered how he had told me similar things about another woman long ago – tales of infidelity and abuse, painting a picture of himself as a victim. I remembered him ranting many years prior about the fact that he felt that he hadn’t had any privacy and always felt under suspicion – essentially laying the groundwork for me to give him space and not question his behavior. These were the same things he was saying about me now, that I cheated, was abusive to him and snooped into his private business.

On Thanksgiving 2010, he sent my daughter a text attacking my character and that was the final straw for her. She told me that night that she remembered several times waking up to him touching her over the years. She said that the last time he did it, she was 14 years old. I confronted him about it and he claimed that one time, in his sleep, something may have accidentally happened. My daughter insisted that it wasn’t one time and it wasn’t an accident – she remembered him molesting her on several occasions over many years. I discussed the situation with my therapist and, following his guidance, we discussed these things with child protective services and then the police. This is one of the things about childhood sexual abuse that many people don’t understand. Why didn’t she say something sooner? Why are so many of Jerry Sandusky’s victims coming forward now, many years after the crimes occurred and after others were victimized? That’s all a part of the complex psychology of this kind of crime. When kids are very little and they are being abused in this way, they often don’t know that it’s wrong. It doesn’t hurt and sometimes even feels good. By the time they understand how wrong the behavior is, they feel as if they have been a participant in something bad because they didn’t speak up sooner. Some fear the repercussions such as not being believed, anger from those who care about the pedophile and potential revenge from the abuser or his supporters. Most suffer guilt because they often have an otherwise close relationship with their abuser despite the pain and dysfunction he has caused. In Sandusky’s case, he spent many hours, days and even years mentoring his victims. Many of Sandusky’s victims are now speaking up because they know that they are not alone. My daughter finally felt safe speaking up after she was sure that I was not going back to her former step-father.

After my daughter came forward, her abuser’s home was raided and a huge amount of child pornography was found – videos and images of little girls from toddlers to teens being raped and sexually assaulted. Police told me that some of the girls could be heard crying in the videos while being raped. He had saved much of it to CDs and much more was found to have been downloaded on his computer. This all hit me like a ton of bricks and has taken many months to process. How could I not have known? I thought back to all of the times that I watched the Dateline “To Catch a Predator” shows on TV and my daughter’s molester acted appropriately disgusted by the adult men preying on underage girls. He even once told me that those guys should be shot. I remembered a time when I told him about a man who tried to sexually assault me when I was very young and he said that he wished he knew who that was because he’d kill him.  He seemed very protective of his own children and step-children. Many times, I told them that they were lucky to have such a good father figure in their lives. None of it fit or made sense but it was all true – the evidence was clear and abundant and was followed by his confession.

There are several people in this man’s life who are still struggling with pain and confusion, looking for someone else to blame (many of them choosing me or my daughter), and who have a long road of grieving and breaking through denial ahead of them. The initial reaction by some of his supporters was similar to the crowds of Penn State students who rioted, turned over a news van and loudly protested Paterno’s firing. We received an onslaught of text messages and emails, some calling my daughter a liar, one telling me I belong in prison with him, and several disowning both of us. I was accused of “thriving” on the terrible circumstances and of allowing the abuse to take place because the perpetrator helped pay my bills. In reality, I paid a large portion of our household expenses and a significant amount of his earnings, I now know, was spent on child pornography and a gambling addiction he was hiding. And, any mother who has been in my situation can attest to the fact that they would NEVER knowingly allow someone to molest their child. Whether such an accusation is made out of ignorance, denial or cruelty, the additional pain caused to a pedophile’s victims is the same. People that my daughter loved have been cut off from her life and people who she thought would love and protect her have failed to show concern about her recovery or to reach out to her in any way, instead, they are more concerned about the fate of her molester and spreading rumors that the molestation charges have been dropped (essentially still suggesting that the crimes never happened).

Again, the similarities have come to light with the Sandusky accusations. Once the veil had been lifted and the truth revealed, Jerry Sandusky minimized his behavior, claiming to have “horsed around in the shower” with young boys. The local day care provider recently convicted of molestation claimed that the little girl he sexually assaulted was “four going on forty” and very provocative. The Pattee Canyon campground host who has molested at least four young girls said that when he has one drink too many, his hands “start to wander”. During his confession to police, my daughter’s molester said in regard to her, that he had “crossed the line a few times,” as if all adults are somehow teetering on the edge, resisting the urge to molest children. Regarding all of the child pornography, police asked if he had any pictures or videos of my daughter and he replied that the stuff he had was just “generic kids”.  I suppose the perpetrators of these crimes have to minimize their actions in their own minds in order to live with themselves and maintain their false image on a daily basis.

As disturbing and frightening as it is that these crimes are so common and the perpetrators are so difficult to identify, I am pleased to see that we, as a society, are beginning to become educated about this subject. I am thankful that my daughter was brave enough to speak the truth, strong enough to deal with the re-victimization she has endured and has a great therapist and many supportive people who love her and will help her recover. I am proud to say that she is now on the high honor roll in school and on track to graduate a year early. If more people feel safe to speak up and more people understand how to properly respond, the cycle of sexual abuse can began to be broken. Victims will have a greater chance of recovering and perhaps pedophiles will find the courage to admit what they are, deal with what happened to them and seek the help they need rather than continuing to harm our children and their own families.

- Stacy M.

My Stories: Debbie O’Dowd Michard

Read Debbie O’Dowd Michard’s brave account of her brutal attack, prosecution attempts and survival.

I was brutally attacked and beaten in Aurora,Colorado on March 14,1985. in back of the Cooper movie theater by a guy Greg Gregerson I had met and danced with at the Iliff Park Saloon. He insisted on giving me a ride home. I lived not far away in the Countryside apartments. I was going back Home to Fla after breaking up with my boyfriend. He pulled in back of the movie theater locked the car doors and started beating me. I somehow unlocked the doors and RAN as fast as I could. He caught me, beat me intensely banging my head on the ground making me have oral sex with him – ripped my shirt and pulled my jeans down. I said please don’t kill me My Mother will never understand and for a minute he stopped and I kicked him with my boot then he beat me more and pulled my jeans off I ran again when i got free and a miracle happened a police car was in the parking lot. Naked and soaked in blood but ALIVE Officer Dana Hatfield saved My life. He was brand new to the Police force and this scum of the earth Evil Monster got away but I survived. At the hospital,the rape crisis people were horrible but when I was leaving Officer Hatfield came to check on me and promised me he would find Him. I was released later with a concussion and multiple abrasions,black and blue face and body but ALIVE. I remembered then how lucky I was. The next day the TERROR set in. I couldn’t even open the blinds and look outside I was so SCARED. I left for home a few days later and was contacted by the detective in charge soon after they had found him and wanted me to come back to prosecute him. The DA was great and when I saw the photos of me I cried I looked dead,She told me he was on parole for rape from Michigan and she thought he intended to rape and kill me. I went back to court reluctantly and reunited with my boyfriend. It was TRUE HORROR to have to identify him and be in a courtroom near this maniac! I left and moved ot of state before the next court date and never continued with the prosecution. He told me he was in my apartment before it happened and it HAUNTED ME! I regret so much I didn’t have the support I Needed. I kept what was left of my clothes I was wearing for years and threw them away before DNA was used. I just buried it all inside and thought it would go away but it never will! I got a strange phone message with music years ago and knew it was him. I contacted Officer Hatfield when my first Grand Daughter was born to thank him for saving my life and he told me he was a sergeant and specialized in Sexual Abuse and Crime because of me and trained new officers and talked about what happened to Me. I was 25 on that horrible night, I am 52 now, married to a great man I love, have two beautiful daughters and two little grand daughters and a new grand son that Nana loves so much! I am Truly One Of The Lucky Ones Who Survived! I do want to say I want my police report and evidence. I asked Officer Hatfield to send me it and contacted the Police Department who said it was in the archives and I had to request and pay for it. I still live in fear that little young terrified woman will be forever inside me and I want to know where this monster is and I urge all Survivors and Assaulted to PLEASE PROSECUTE THEM! THERE IS SUPPORT AND STRENGTH TOGETHER NOW. THANK YOU IT FEELS GOOD TO TELL THE TRUTH AND LET IT OUT!!

DEBBIE “O’DOWD” MICHARD

My Stories: Tauheedah Jabaar

Tauheedah shares her story of how she escaped domestic and sexual abuse and ultimately death against herself and her children at the hands of her husband by running away with her 8 children in this harrowing self produced short film. Hopefully this short but powerful film will inspire other people that are in turbulant relationships to leave their abusers and start over as well.

Click here to watch Domestic Violence: Dancing By Myself

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All Comments (12)

aagreen84

  • Praise God that you and your children escaped this horrible, hateful and evil excuse for a human being!! I shall share your video to try and help more women, children and even men to realize that they too can escape the violence. God bless you and your family!

  • I HOPE it gives many WOMAN the courage to do something about it ..

    and I understand that it’s not really easy to made..good story good clip

    is reality and reality is BAD..thanx to send me this video bro you a good men.

  • Sis, I watched this video again, and remembering what you had told me about your experience. Stay strong because you are Strength!

  • I’m so sorry that you had to experience that, and i hope that now you are all beginning to heal. Keep writing…!

  • Thank you so much for sharing. You are truly an inspiration!

  • Hello Love got here from Facebook just now.

  • These horrible abuser never, realize the damage they cause. In there sick minds they have done nothing wrong. My prayers are with this mother and her babies. God bless you my sister.

  • great story to share, looking to more from you

  • I know thats hard for a 13 yr. old to go through but I would do the same damn thing!

My Stories: Amy L.

I was 17 years old, scared to death, pregnant, unsure of anything and about to tell my friend that he was going to have another child. There is not a day that goes by where I do not recall the next few hours. Here he is just found out he is having another child and no emotion what so ever until I say that we need to go to the store for groceries. I had school the next day and I needed to pack my lunch. We are about to pull out of the drive when I pop him on the arm in a playful manner and he turned and before I knew it my head was against the window and his hands were around my neck. I recall the so sincere I am sorry over and over and it was never gonna happen again. 17 years old and pregnant, of course I believed Prince Charming.
Six months later and I took his son to the store to get some breakfast for the week. I allowed him to choose and he chose one that was not on sale. We were also in need of milk and a few other little items so I just went ahead and picked them up as well. His son runs into the house very excitedly because he got to choose his very own cereal. I walk inside with a smile because he was so very excited. My hands full of groceries and I catch a glimpse of him, fear that’s all I remember feeling. Moments later I am getting things thrown at me and thrown down and I am six months pregnant. His sister comes by and brings me in to the hospital where they try to get me to pursue charges against him. Oh if they had only gotten to me before him. He had already convinced me that I was not good enough for anyone else, he would never hit me again, he swore.
I got lucky, I had a beautiful, healthy little girl 3 months later. Little did I know she and his son would be his tool in keeping me. I was once again reminded by the doctor that I still could press charges and that next time I may not be so lucky. I of course did not listen and we went home as a family although they did keep me a couple extra days hoping I would change my mind. It was hopeless, I already bought into his mental abuse and I saw no way out. I was a child with a child and actually felt like I was not worth anything. I was the mother of his child and the way he thanked me was by making me feel worthless, what a man!
Two years later and things have certainly not improved but I have gotten much better at faking smiles. Today is our daughter’s birthday and we are having our friends and family over for a party. He gets a call for work and says that he will be gone just a little bit. I ask him to please take my now step son with him so the baby can take a nap before party. Apparently that was not a good idea. He grabbed me by my hair and slammed me into the kitchen wall. A few moments later he grabbed a knife and put it to my throat, “get the house ready” is all he said. By the time our company arrived I was ready to play the young, happy wife and mother I was expected to be. I will never forget how it felt that no one ever tried to help. I know people knew yet they did nothing. I was just a kid and I was in hell.
By now I had an entirely different reason for staying, my step son. His mom was a crack head and his dad was abusive, I was the only one in his life that ever showed him unconditional love. At this point I loved him as my own and there was not a chance in hell I was going to leave him so he could be the new target. All children deserve to be loved and he was no different so I endured the abuse at the hands of his father but in exchange I got the pleasure of loving and raising these children.
My step son has a new video game and he and his dad are playing it as I am in the kitchen starting dinner. My daughter hanging on my leg, another ear infection and she is fussy. I am easily frustrated these days as I am carrying my future all star, I am 7 1/2 months pregnant. I slightly raise my voice in attempt to get my husband’s help. After the 4th attempt I am extremely frustrated and my next move , I wish, well it changed my life forever. I walk into the room to see that they are about to start a new game, I ask again for help which I do not get. I do not ask again. Before thinking it through I unplug the video game and glance at my husband and immediately grab the kids and put them in the bedroom and shut the door. There was not a doubt in my mind that I was about to take a beating. I take off running down the hall and before I could get to the door I was kicked to the ground, I got up and was pushed back until I finally stopped trying. I recently found out that my step son watched this entire event happen. I started spotting but I could still feel him kicking so I tried to wait it out. By the next morning I was hemorrhaging and it was so severe that my shoes were covered in blood they were soaked. I was brought by the doctor himself to the hospital because I kept going in and out and he could not find a vein, they finally put the IV in my head. This doctor never question what happened, he was too busy trying to save our lives. As I delivered my son in attempt to save our lives I was still begging them to let me die, give my son a chance, let me die. I can still hear my voice from that day saying over and over please let me die save my son. A few moments later they show him to me and off they rush to put him on a veniltaor and now it is only me and the doctors as one of them says they will have to take it all if I am going to live. Take it all???? I am 22 years old, NO. At this point my husband still has not even taken the time to come see us. They finally think they have it all under control and just begin to give me transfusion after transfusion. I had lost over 70% of my blood but I still did not feel very lucky to be alive. My beautiful little boy later died leaving me shattered, empty, broken, I would never be the same.
I was asked why I made him do that. At that point I did indeed blame myself, I was his mother and it was indeed my job to protect him and he was gone. I battled major depression, lost weight, could not deal with it so I decided to go to the doctor. He put me on some medicine but I was also still hurting from what my body had been put through so he gave me pain medication. Ding, ding, ding jackpot, I now had something to numb me completely. Codine was my new best friend and how my friends and family did not see it was beyond me. If I was awake I was messed up, it was my way of not dealing. A few months later my step son woke me up, I was high and the look on his face, it ripped my heart out. I looked at my kids and later that day I flushed all of it. I was far from ready to blame my husband, I was still too busy blaming myself.
A few years later and I am indeed a much stronger person by this time, I have my angel to thank for that one. I am stronger and filing for divorce, one friend only one helped me get to this point. Most of my friends I had no contact with anymore but there was one that pretty much forced herself on me and that God she did. Divorce was the best word I had ever heard at this point but my brother was getting married the following week so I chose to wait and have him served after the wedding. It just did not seem fair to me if I had this hanging over our family at such a joyous time especially since it would only be another week. The wedding came and we stood as a family in what I believed our last family moment I would ever have to endure. He was cheating, lying, gambling, abusing, yep I had enough but…..
Before my day came he was diagnosed as TERMINAL. Here was this man that killed my son, almost killed me and I hated him but I still found compassion. Not to mention I was in no way ready to do this on my own I just knew that I did not need to be mentally and physically abused anymore. I was still believing that I was worthless, a whore, a bitch, not worthy of anyone, and that I would never get another man to tolerate me. Funny the way they can just make you feel like crap on a stick, I was merely his puppet. I decided that it would be wrong of me to take our children away from a dying man so I gave him a choice. Stop abusing and you can stay or keep it up and go live with your mom. In doing this I left myself very vulnerable to his attacks and his anger was certainly not about to improve. He did indeed stop hitting for the most part but the mental abuse steadily got worse, I would have much rathered be hit than that. At least when he hit it ended quickly, mental lasts forever. The mental abuse that I endured has been the hardest for me to get through.
He did indeed pass but it was not until 8 more years. I am pretty sure that no one could even imagine how a person becomes compassionate enough to take care of a dying man that has had you living in hell but somehow I did. The last two years were probably his worse, he was not strong and was very sick. I am ashamed to say that I felt I finally had the upper hand. If he looked at me I looked away, if he touched me, I moved, I would not allow him to touch me for two years. When he spoke to me I developed an attitude. I was so miserable and I tried desperately to make him miserable, turns out I have a heart though and I could not be mean. I wanted so bad to let him know I hated him and that yes, he killed my son but I just could not. His dying brought every single good, bad, violent, non violent action out and it was much more than what I ever expected.
When he collapsed my heart left, I sat there knowing that I needed to call 911 but I could not. I had prayed that he would die, I was dead on the inside and I wanted to take him down too. It finally hit me that I did love him, not sure what kind of love, my counselor says more like hostage love but whatever it was I did not want him dead. By the time the helicopter arrived at the hospital he was already gone. He was on life support and I felt like I was watching as I told the doctor to take him off. I did not drop one single tear telling him this. He informed me that he by law had to stay on support for 24hrs so I pulled the kids and told them that in 24 hours he would be gone. Now I cried, I could not see my children hurt like this. Now I finally had some sort of emotion but it was only for them. I had lived in hell for 14 years and he did not deserve my tears. I was not even capable of holding his hand at the time of his passing. I was weak, so very weak. As soon as they pronounced his death, I looked at my children and said “let’s go to Picadilly.” I was pretty cold hearted and this was only the beginning.
The first couple of months were a blur. I tried so hard to paint this perfect little portrait for the kids but to no avail. I decided I needed help, otherwise alcohol was becoming my best friend and I did not want that. First I just went to a counselor and a group and there was just too much rage, anger, hatred, guilt, I needed someone that could help me learn how to get through and be healthy about it. I got a Life Coach and all of a sudden I learned forgiveness. That was one thing I had not been able to do and the bad thing is that it was preventing me from having any real relationships. I did forgive and I have learned to move on though it has been very hard.
Most of us that are bruised, battered, torn apart peice by peice can eventually face our attacker, I can not. It was the hardest obstacle I faced. How do you get rid of anger and hatred so deep but you can not face the person that left you that way? It was an obstacle that left me frozen, it was as though I could not move. I would attempt a step forward and I would fall 5 back. This has not been an easy road, not by far.
I was once his victim, I am now MY SURVIVOR!! I know hell because I lived there. I know what it’s like to wonder how you will feed your children because the man that made me a victim and then died cleaned out our accounts before he died. He gambled my entire life away. I had to move my children from OUR home into an apartment and then to a trailer. I lost EVERYTHING, he took it. His family then broke into my home 5 times and stole every belonging we owned. To this day I still battle with guilt though I know it is not my fault. I have indeed forgiven him for the hell he put me through, I may never understand it but I forgive it. No not for him but for ME and for my son Jordan.
Today I have been a widow for 2 years and I am beyond proud of where I am. I am indeed a survivor. I have heard many people say that I had no choice but to get past it and to stand back up but they are very wrong. I had every choice to stay down and never go forward, I CHOSE TO GET UP! No one could make me get better, I had to do that. No one could make me forgive again I had to do it. I could have become bitter but I chose to be the one thing I have never been, HAPPY! I will always be scarred, I will always be extra careful, I will always wish that I had gotten my moment, my moment to say how I felt. I have heard that everything happens for a reason and to some extent I agree but not my son, he did not have to die.
My family sat back and watched as a man tore me down piece by piece and did nothing. My friends just turned their backs to it thinking that I could control it. Is this really a road that one should have to travel alone? Don’t be the one to wake up one day and see that your friend or family member is dead and you could have prevented it, be the one that steps up.
I am by no means rich, I still struggle on a daily basis trying to recover the life we once lived, the home we once had, the belongings. I have recovered my smile, laughter, some self esteem and I no longer believe I am worthless. It has taken a long time to get here but here I am and I am beyond proud of what I have recovered. He tried to win, tried to take me down in defeat but he COULD NOT! I win, I am here and I am fighting for every moment that  I get to SUCCEED!

My Stories: Jolene Loetscher

Hello PAVE Community,

my stories jolene

Jolene Loetscher speaking at TED

Please take 15 minutes out of your day to watch Jolene Loetscher share her story on TED. Thank you Jolene for your bravery and using your voice to help Shatter the Silence! You are an inspiration to survivors everywhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeDSFbZUn7I&feature=youtu.be