May 11, 2017
These are the words of an incredible 45 year old woman named Trish. This is her story of survival and how she has come to a place of self-love. Trish now owns her own business and even through all the adversity in her life has remained a woman with a genuine heart, compassionate soul, continuous love for humanity and animals, strength and courage, and a beauty so deep that when you meet her she inspires you to be a better version of yourself. I hope that Trish’s voice helps give you hope and strength to keep moving forward and that you never feel alone.
This is real talk from survivors of abuse. Inspiration from one survivor to another.
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From as young as seven I have memories of tension and anger in our home. Tension that most often accompanied alcohol that might have begun with laughs and friend’s over but mostly ended with my dad mad about something we did. It would be over something either my mom or brother did, but mostly me and the older I got the more it happened. It was so confusing as we could go long periods where things seemed “normal” but in the back of my mind I knew the craziness and anger were just around the corner. For a long time it was emotional abuse, unkind words, threats and fear with no physical actions. As I got stronger and louder and he became more and more unhappy in his life those words were sometimes followed by things being broken or shoving and intimidation. Over the course of my 17 years living at home I was choked until I passed out, thrown down stairs, grabbed and shaken to the point of full hand bruises on my arms, or bruises where I landed from being pushed against something like a wall or furniture. Once I reached high school I was staying away from home as often as possible to avoid whatever mood may cause an explosion at home. Even at that age I felt guilt for leaving my younger brother (4 years younger) and my mom home to potentially have to deal with him without me there to redirect or step in. Yet I still did stay away purely to survive. I grew up being called ugly, stupid, selfish and told over and over that I was making things up – this has led to a life of me still not fully trusting my own thoughts; I often second guess what I know to be true, especially if it points out the wrong others have done.
Both of my parents had bad relationships with alcohol and it affected them each differently – my dad became angry and out of control while my mom became overcome with sadness and would fall down, pass out, slur, etc. It was sad to witness their struggles both with alcohol and the internal battles within themselves. Their moods and emotions were directly affected by each other so if one was down it usually meant it wasn’t long before the other was too. They brought out the worst in each other, but regardless my mom loved my dad even in his worst moments and in spite of how he treated his children. She mostly sided with him out of pure dedication to him, which felt like the worst betrayal as a child and even as an adult.
My mom died of cancer but she went quicker than she needed to because her liver barely functioned so chemo took her down. She actually died from liver failure, yellow and bloated, and at the tender age of 64. I always think of the Beatle song When I’m 64.
I fell for an older boy when I was just 13 years old, he was 16 years old. We flirted, kissed, touched and when he was 18 years old and graduating high school he stopped seeing me. I was 15 years old and I started dating a boy who lived a few towns over and ended up out past the time the last bus came so I called the older boy to see if he could come help me and take me home. When he picked me up he seemed annoyed which I understood, it was late and we hadn’t spoken in a while. I had no idea he would be physical with me – he drove a Z28 which I found so grown up and fancy and in that car he attacked me. He forced himself on me as I fought back, but he fought me enough to be still so he could get my clothes down and put his fingers inside me and than his penis. It was violent and painful and I screamed and cried the entire time. It was down some dark dead end road where no one could hear my cries for help. Once he was done he belittled me and told me to never ask him for help again – like he didn’t even comprehend that I would never want to see or hear from him ever again! He drove me home and dropped me in front of my house. One of the many twisted parts of this is that I turned to him to keep me safe as I knew that the roads weren’t safe late at night. I thought he would make sure I made it home safe. As I walked up the stairs to my house where my family was still up watching TV no one even acknowledged I was home late, they didn’t even look at me or say a word. In fairness I didn’t say anything to them either…I went right into the shower and sat in the tub and cried unable to take in what had just happened and why. What pulled me out of it was my dad banging on the door, telling me I had used enough water and to get out and go to bed. I never told anyone, not for years and years.
The next year at the age of 16 years old I had a new boyfriend. We worked together and his best friend often stayed over with his girlfriend as my boyfriend’s parents were often away on the weekends. The four of us spent lots of time together and shared many laughs and adventures. We did drink lots, but that wasn’t unusual for kids our age. We thought we were so grown up. My boyfriend’s best friend was always a little flirty but I never paid much attention to it as it was just who he was and I knew I would never do anything with him. Then one Sunday morning both my boyfriend and the other girl had to work the early shift, so I was left in the house with his best friend. He came into the room I was in and was causally talking to me and then sat on the bed (I was still under the covers but had no clothes on). He finally laid down beside me and wanted to see me so he pulled the covers back and I told him that he needed to leave and that I wasn’t interested but he continued anyways and took his pajama’s off. We were both naked and then he took the liberty to start touching and pulling at me, and eventually penetrating me even though I told him numerous times I wasn’t interested and he should leave. I never yelled and I never pushed him off, instead I just cried as I lay there frozen by what was happening and wondering why I allowed this boy to do what he was doing. The hard part was that he told his girlfriend that we had sex and she told my boyfriend and they all blamed me. I lived for years wondering if it was my fault, yet another trick my damaged trust in my own thoughts from being told I was wrong so often as a child.
I went on to meet a boy at 17 years old who I dated until I was 28 years old. We had vanilla sex and on the day I thought he was finally going to ask me to marry him, he told me he was gay and very much in love with a man. While that broke me into a million pieces I think I would have died if he hadn’t come into my life because at age 15 and again at 16 I tried to kill myself. Both times taking pills, the first time probably only 50 or so, a mix of what was in the medicine cabinet at home but the second time it was probably closer to 300/400 pills that had me in a coma for days. I am very lucky that I was found by friends both times, the second time it was actually the boy I dated for those 11 years. I was taken by ambulance both times to the hospital and kept there for about a week. My friend’s parents signed me out both times as my parents were away and neither of them came home when that happened. So crazy to even say. That was the beginning of me closing my heart and becoming a pretty angry person. Not trusting anyone, not needing anyone, believing I was alone, and had to take care of myself. The boyfriend was a blessing, he and I had what I would now describe as a brother sister relationship, except for the sex, which wasn’t often and was never passionate. But at that point in my life I didn’t want that from him. We did break up a few times in those years and each of those times I was very active sexually and ended up pregnant twice, getting abortions both times, mostly because I didn’t trust myself not to be my parents and I wouldn’t allow that to happen.
I never really started to peel back the parts of me that were sad and angry until after my mom died, when I was 34 years old. It was only then that I was so sad that I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life pretending I was fine. Two therapists and hundreds of hours later I feel mostly ok, still damaged by the traumas I lived through but stronger and more able to be open about who I am and what has shaped me into the person I am today.
I don’t know if I would use the word survivor, but I think I am a fighter, stronger for the things I’ve been through and now stronger for acknowledging how it has affected me.
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