What I want you to know about surviving child abuse

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.

I'm different because they were different... As a child and early teen I knew my life circumstances and my family was different than other kids. I had to keep it a secret of course. Dad was violent, abusive to mother, and controlled us with fear and rage. Mom was unpredictable. She was fun sometimes, hateful and cruel to me at others. Round and round the chaos went. I suffered from Mom's physical abuse, neglect, and her wicked hateful tongue. I still recall the full impact of her hate when she once told me "you look like a dirty little thrown away [n-word]." I couldn't have been much older than three then. I had gotten a small stain on my outfit after she dressed me. Tears filled my eyes and I left her sight to cry about it. I still want to cry about it now. The pure rage and evilness of those words wounded my little heart like nothing else ever has. Years went by and the hate in our home raged on. Dad beat Mom, tried to kill her, and she beat me. I was locked out in the freezing cold one night with no coat, she had attempted to drown me in the bath tub, and had made me go hungry at times. I never knew what to expect after a day at school. I might very well find Mom shot to death by Dad. Or Dad might be in a could mood and punish me by making me work really really hard. I was the house servant already. But he might add to my duties because "life can't be all fun and games." As the years went by a divorce came and with it poverty ensued. I learned how to cope with hunger and keep quite about it. I learned never to ask my parents for anything. I learned to do the best I could with what I had and like it. I eventually left home at 14 years old to go live with a distant aunt. I'd love to say my childhood was saved but my aunt married and I was returned to my mother's home. The punishment was severe now. I had left and abandoned her. I'd pay a very high price for it too. She had me incarcerated in juvenile jail for "being a whore and out of control." Even though I was a virgin and followed almost all all the rules of man and God, I was locked up at the whim of my mentally ill Mother. I recall talking to an officer in the detention facility once. I described my life to him and he listened kindly. He looked me in the eyes and said "try not to upset her at all costs. Then when you turn 18, you get out of there and don't ever look back." I was only 17 at the time so I had another painful year to go. She told the court to let me come home after about 4 months and so I returned to her home. The year went by, but painfully and slowly. She only physically attacked me once and I carried the bruises and cuts for two weeks. Independence day came on my 18th birthday. I left and rarely saw my family again until my 30's. I worked my way through college and married a loving young medical doctor after graduating nursing school. We had a lovely baby girl and life has been sweet. I'll never fully recover, but I have an excellent trauma therapist who is helping. My life was filled with pain and heartache. I'll remember, but not always hurt. I am different because they were different. Now it's my duty to forge on and make something good with my experiences.

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