Monday, January 18, 2010

April 25, 2008...My Awakening

I just ran across this blog I wrote back on that day. Sometimes I still have trouble listening to my own mind and body. This is the reason my head is so jumbled and crazy lately. More Junk has surfaced and I haven't taken the time to deal with it or even acknowledge it. I cried as I reread this. It felt as if I was in that court room again. Feeling the dread and sick stomach. Feeling the anger and sadness. Feeling the strength and power of my own words.

Well, today was the long awaited & dreaded day. It was scheduled for 10am but we didn't get in til 12:20. So, I had all that time to pace and sweat. I had practiced in my support group last night, so I was feeling ok about it. The prosecuting attorney asked me if I'd like to sit by him or on the witness stand. I told him I want to sit where I can't see my dad because I knew it would mess me up. I also was able to sit up there before my dad was brought in so I wouldn't have to see him until it was over. The judge told me to take my time and say what I needed to say. I broke down before I even spoke one word. But I made it thru the entire statement. I was so proud of myself. The judge recessed for 5 minutes so the court could "get their emotions in check and recompose themselves". The clerk, court reporter and the bailiff all had teary eyes. The attorney sitting next to me even sniffled and it took him a few minutes to find his voice when he spoke. My dad stood and told me how very sorry he was and if he could turn back time, he would change it and he was taking full responsibility for what he had done and he loves me. I didn't really hear much after that. The attorney had a file folder that had "CONTACT VICTIM" on it. It was a triumphant moment for me when he grabbed that file, scribbled out "victim" and wrote "SURVIVOR" in its place. I felt as though I had crossed a bridge and started a new chapter in my life....the path to healing. Real & lasting healing. And it felt SO good. Below is a copy of my victim impact statement:

This statement was very difficult for me to write. I will never be able to convey in a few short minutes the impact this crime has had on my life. If you’ve never lived in my shoes, you can never fully understand. I have to do what’s best for me and that is to use my voice and speak my mind.

I forgave my dad a few years ago for what he did to me. At that time, I thought I had dealt with the abuse and put it out of my life. Since September when I was first interviewed by the police, I have come to realize that I was wrong. All I was doing was avoiding it. I’ve learned that it will take the rest of my life to deal with it, relearn my ways of thinking and come to a place in my life where I feel that it doesn’t control me anymore.

This whole ordeal has caused me a lot of humiliation, embarrassment, pain and anger. When I was a child, I was forced to keep it a secret. I was threatened by my dad that I wouldn’t be believed, that I was at fault, and that I would never see my brother and sister again. I dealt with it the best way a child knows how. Now I have spoken and the secret is out. I have to deal with it all again but this time publicly. I am looked at with different eyes by people who feel sorry for me and are horrified by my story. There are those who treat me differently or avoid me all together as if I have leprosy. As if I am the one who is guilty. I am now defined by the abuse that was done to me.

As a child growing up, I felt like a freak. I felt very alone in the world because I had an awful secret I had to keep hidden. I felt so ugly and worthless, never believing I deserved anything good, I grew up constantly watching my back, never letting my guard down. I was terrified of men because I thought they only wanted to abuse me. I took on the responsibility of protecting my brother and sister to make sure nobody touched them. I never had any close friends because I didn’t trust anybody. I grew up believing that somehow I deserved the abuse because I had been bad and God was punishing me. I cried and prayed every night asking God to forgive me for whatever I had done and to please make me a good girl so I could stop being hurt. The abuse formed and molded who I’ve become. I still carry all of those feelings around today.

I’ve begun therapy and also a women’s support group for survivors of sexual violence. My doctor has put me on anxiety medication and sleeping pills.

I have flashbacks and memories that are so paralyzing at times that I shake and cry and can’t function the rest of the day. I’ll end up spending hours and often days in bed because I can’t face life. I have intense panic and anxiety to the point that it’s difficult to run to the store or even order a pizza over the phone. I’m constantly on high alert, looking over my shoulder, feeling as though I’m being watched. I have no energy and no tolerance for anything. There are often times that I go for days without any sleep because when I do sleep, I have nightmares where I awake screaming and panicked. My world no longer feels safe for me on any level.

It has affected my work life, my relationship of 8 years and most importantly, my role as a mom. Small tasks such as helping with homework or playing a game with my children are so overwhelming for me. Even though I try to hide my pain from them, my children have told me they see it and they hear me cry at night. They’ve told me they’re afraid for me and they miss me and wish this would all go away so they can have their mom back. I am so angry that my babies that I’ve protected from birth have now become victims of his actions. My children should never have had to deal with any of this. Their world has been turned upside down.

What I need my dad to understand is that his pain, humiliation and confinement have been NOTHING compared to what he did to me. He destroyed an innocent child. He stole my childhood and my teenage years and basically, my entire life. The abuse started when I was 10. I turned 38 last weekend. I have dealt with this almost my whole life while he has gone on to live his as if nothing ever happened. He used me and then left me alone to pick up the pieces. What he needs to know is that I will have to deal with the abuse in some aspect of my life everyday until I die. It will never go away for me. There is no where I can turn where it’s not looking me in the face.

I have been asked by several people what I want the outcome of this situation to be. I can honestly say that I have already gotten what I wanted. My dad spoke the word “Guilty” when asked how he wanted to plead to this crime. This isn’t about revenge or even justice. It’s about my dad taking responsibility for his actions, for telling the world and my family what he has done.

I don’t want my dad to go to prison but I also don’t think he deserves to get off with just pleading guilty. My dad needs help and he needs to know he doesn’t have the right to hurt any more little girls. He needs to understand the full extent of the damage he’s caused not only to me but to our entire family.

Throughout this ordeal, I have been called a “victim”. A victim is one that has been used, injured, destroyed or tricked. I have lived this role since I was ten years old. The abuse has controlled every aspect of my life, determining how I react to people and situations, how I view the world and myself, how I live and breathe.

I will no longer fill those shoes. I will no longer be silent about the abuse. I will no longer hide from it. I am angry and I’m going to stand up, strong and tall, and talk about it every chance I get with the hope that I can help prevent other children from being hurt and destroyed by such heinous acts. It was my dad’s God-given responsibility to protect and love me as a child. He chose not to. I will no longer be silent and protect him. This is my God-given right. From this day forward~ I’m a Survivor.

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