Monday, February 23, 2015

Struggling

Today is only an update.

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to post more recently. I have been struggling and while I think being transparent is a noble thing, lately I've wanted to hide my struggles from everyone. I have been experiencing quite a bit of anxiety since receiving the trial dates. It begins 3 weeks from today, Monday, March 16. For any of you who know Jesus, please think of me and lift my name up in prayer as much as you think of me. I ask, no I beg, for your help. I can't make it through this on my own. Jesus has this, but I beg that all of you would lift me up even if in a 3-4 word phrase, "Show her peace," "surround her with love," "hold her close," anything! I feel overwhelmed and out of control. I became violently ill throughout the night last night after I called in to work. Unbelievable pain took over my body. This morning I made it to my primary care physician (PCP) Dr. Jackson and he listened to my symptoms, did an exam, and explained that he thought the culprit to be stress and anxiety -- as I did also. I have been prescribed something to ease the anxiety at least until the trial is over. As we were finishing up he turned around and took both of my hands in his hands and prayed to Jesus for me and on my behalf. It was such a beautiful thing that I will cherish. I have never had a man take both of my hands and pray for me in that way. I felt Jesus' presence right there with us. At this time I'm not fully in control of my emotions and that part is difficult to deal with. I have felt proud of myself in the steps that I've taken over the past 4 years to deal with my emotional state in a more positive manner with the help of counseling, my relationship with Jesus, my husband, my mother, my sister Nikki, etc. Its been an excruciatingly long road, but I made so much change for the good. That's why this part is so difficult to swallow, that for a temporary time I've lost that part again.

While others continue to call me strong and brave, I feel like a small child that can't deal with the reality of what I've started. I am fighting against the desire to crawl under a rock and hide where I can cry, be afraid, and distance myself from everything and everyone. This is probably the most difficult part of it all. The desire to disappear is growing stronger each day, each hour on a bad day. Then I say to myself.... what's 1 month? what's 4 weeks? in 4 weeks this shit will be over! If I've made it through this hell and back for the past 23 of my 26 years, what's 1 month? Right? It sounds stupid when I say it out loud. Because I think to myself NO it's 1 month of HELL. I literally feel like I'm poisoning my body with the overabundance of cortisol and other stress hormones coursing through my veins. Am I causing more damage to my already damaged reproductive system? Will my uterus and ovaries ever have a chance at allowing a child to live and grow inside of me?

I need to stop. This is the direction of my thoughts and if I don't stop them at this point it just goes spiraling down into a whole different issue that has been plaguing me for years now. Thought stopping works if you are strong enough to implement it. Meditation, yoga, sleep, eating well, mindfulness. It's all good stuff and I need to get back to it. I'm going to go to my living room now and lay on the couch maybe start my favorite comedy, The Golden Girls, and possibly drift off into a nice relaxing nap. Then I hope to wake up rejuvenated and to spend some time with Jesus. I need each and everyone's prayers, regularly, through the end of the week that begins Monday, March 16. THANKS IN ADVANCE TO ANY WHO CHOOSE TO HELP!




The following photos are a way of expressing a couple of key things that I'm feeling.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Life After Abuse

I was asked to be the leader of a breakout session as I talked about in my previous post. After lots of time, scripture reading, prayer, and writing I decided to "publish" my spill. Some of this is redundant for anyone who has been reading so far, but it's a nice overall synopsis. It also shows how God's Word helped me through some tough times. 


My name is Kayla Nicole Christopher Simpson. I am 26 years old. I have been married for 6 years and have been an RN at Spartanburg Regional for about 1.5 years. The topic that we are discussing, Life After Abuse, is often times deeply personal and overwhelming. If that’s you, that’s okay. I will not be calling anyone out or asking you to share anything that you aren’t comfortable with. I do want to say, though, if at any point during our time together you feel led to share something please do so without fear. This is a safe space with no judgments. We are all here to discover how much common ground we share and to know that we are not alone. I hope to encourage everyone here by sharing what Jesus has done in my life through the healing of my own abuse. It’s a long process that requires a loving Father, therapy for many, time, love, understanding, compassion, and support. My hope is that one day we can break the cycle of abuse by ending the silence and shame surrounding the subject. I intend to start by sharing my own story. There are many types of abuse, however, the one I suffered through most was sexual abuse for my first 10ish years of life. Sexual abuse is what I will be discussing today, though, there are many parallels between the emotions, ways of healing, and need to share of different types of abuse.



I am going to keep this part brief. I was sexually abused by a much older relative. He was the one person that was thought to love children (but not too obviously since he was smart enough not to pay too close attention to any one child), he was a deacon in his church, he went on mission trips each year, helped many people in his family whether it was in a financial way or a place to live. He was your model citizen. I don’t remember how it started or how old I was, but I do have memories of events where I could not have been much over toddler-preschool age. He was gentle with me, he never caused me physical pain. This only made the manipulation that much worse. He gave me anything that I asked for and even taught me to drive before I turned 8 years old. I couldn’t understand that what was happening was entirely his fault and wrong. I internalized the guilt and shame before I even started school. I lived with this secret for years until I saw him making the first major step towards abusing my baby cousin – whom I adored and considered my own child. He must have been around 3 years old. I knew what had to happen next… it was time to tell. I experienced so much fear, dread, disgust, and grief. I grieved because my family unit as I knew it was going to end. So on a Wednesday night in January of 2000 I got up the courage to tell my mom what had been going on almost my entire life. I really didn’t even understand that it wasn’t normal until sometime around 7-8 years old. She never questioned the validity of my story. She believed me. I remember going to the doctor then to the children’s advocacy center where I sat across from a police officer holding my ears feeling as if I might explode. I couldn’t say to another person what had happened nor could I hear it being said out loud. It was disgusting and embarrassing. It was worse than anything I could have even imagined at that time in my life. We did not press criminal charges at that time for the simple fact that I would never have made it through a trial and the wife of my abuser and head of the family threatened suicide. My mother and father made contact with the family as a whole to discuss the allegations only to find out that my uncle (mom’s brother) and great-aunt had experienced a one-time event of abuse by him as. My great-aunt told, but was called a liar and sent to boarding school. My uncle never told. I was the first (that we know of) to have endured years of abuse and the first to tell who and what had happened. I did not do it for my own sake. Let me be clear. If it were for me, I would have chosen to say nothing. It would have made my life much easier. I wouldn’t have lost half of my family who chose to side with my abuser and his wife. I wouldn’t have had to be beyond embarrassed and humiliated at such a young age. I would still have my Christmas and other holiday traditions intact. I would still have aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents. It was for that precious baby boy. I did not want him to feel the same feelings of guilt and disgust. I desperately wanted to spare him that torture. Maybe I did though I may never know. As years went by, I suffered with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, control issues, cutting, and suicidal ideation (including 1 attempt). Even though this family member is a pedophile, he and his wife were the first people to take me to church. By age 4 I started asking my mother to take me to church. She did and she became a Christian not long afterwards. It’s interesting to me that even through all of the bad, God had already began working on me. I was in and out of counseling throughout my teenage years. One person I saw was a Christian counselor who took me through the life of Joseph. He is still to this day one of my favorite characters in the Bible. We talked about how his own brothers sold him into slavery and then told his father that he had been killed, how he spent so much of his life in “the pit” before God delivered him to be a King ruling over his brothers. However, God showed favor to him in every instance. I see many metaphorical parallels between Joseph’s life and my own. My family basically turned their backs on me when I was only a child. Thank God for my mother, I would not have made it without her. My Savior knew that and provided me with exactly what I needed.

Romans 8:26-28 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.

That last part Romans 8:28 was a life verse for me. It was specific God-inspired words that I held onto tightly. I would quote this scripture over and over in my head when I felt like the world was collapsing on me. Then in 7th grade He put my now best friend into my life strategically. She was my literal, tangible, on earth protector hand picked by God. She was the strength I didn’t have and the love I needed. He is so good. He knew who and what I needed and He provided!

There was another dark time when I tried to give up at 16. I attempted suicide, but God said “No, this is only the beginning.”

Psalm 34: 18 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

The next time you (or someone you know) finds yourself in a dark place and feel like there’s no hope, I encourage you to remember the following verses:

Lamentations 3: 23-24 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore, I will hope in him.””

Later, my husband came into the picture at 18. I could not have asked for someone more perfect for me. At that time I considered myself to be permanently broken, so I used drinking and partying to dull the pain and to keep my mind busy. Over time that life became less appealing and Jesus was drawing me back to Himself. Jesus looked down on me with love, understanding, compassion and forgiveness and welcomed me back into his loving arms just like the parable of the prodigal son.



I had been fighting physical illness from age 3-19. Then, over the next 2 years my body began to heal. Jesus used my patient husband to show me love and kindness when I thought I deserved none. One day I made the decision that I knew God had been telling me to make, to go to nursing school. There were 2 years of classes and earning the best grades in order to apply. One day I was driving down highway 101 about to get onto interstate 85 S towards Greenville when I was sobbing and repeating “I’m drowning here,” so worried about how I would be able to financially make it through another 2 years of school when I would be going 4-5 days/week. God gave me an instant vision of Noah’s ark and the rainbow. He was telling me almost literally, “I will not let you drown.” I experienced peace and have held onto that promise for the past 5 years.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I got better grades in college than I had ever had before. My GPA was like 3.85. I got into nursing school the first time I applied. I made it through nursing school with only one hiccup that had nothing to do with grades. It was like I was born to be a nurse. My teachers said that I had a calming presence and that I was going to be a great nurse. All of these great things aside, I had a lot of issues with anxiety. One day I was having a full-blown panic attack when I had to do an assessment on a teacher’s body. She asked me if I needed to take a few minutes to myself and I said, “No, I can do this.” God literally had to push me through it. I relied on His strength because there was nothing left in me that could push myself harder. My teacher told me after that skill check off that I was tenacious. Since, I have held onto that word as a reminder that with God’s help I can do anything.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

At the end of nursing school I really wanted L&D as my final preceptorship. My teacher, in an attempt to place me at least with a gynecological floor placed me on 4T. Wrong! I showed up and it was a GI floor. THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I WANTED! NO!!! Here’s the funny part. Gina, the nurse manager, was instantly drawn to me. It was obvious that God placed me in front of her and granted me unbelievable favor in her eyes from the beginning. Gina basically chased me down through the end of school, kept in touch with me after I graduated, pushed me to take boards as soon as possible, and set up my interview before I had even received my passing result. It was like God handed me this job on a silver platter. Other people that I graduated with searched for months before finding a job. Finally, it was my time to experience some sunshine through all of the rain. Before long, it was just the right time to do something big. I decided in November 2013 to go back to the police and file charges against my abuser. So on Nov 22, 2013 I went to Spartanburg county where they informed me that I had to go back to the city where the crime occurred to file charges. I remember crying and telling the officer, please don’t make me go back there (the police station there was maybe 1.5 miles from their house). I went and God showed me favor once again. Though I was scared out of my mind, I was greeted by the police chief and a victim’s advocate. They were wonderful and took the crime seriously. They kept me informed every step of the way.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Now, over a year later, the preliminary court appearances are completed and I am currently waiting for a final trial date. God has taught me many things through this process, to name only a couple – patience and endurance.

Romans 5:3-5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I had hopes during the beginning of this process that God would convict my abuser’s heart and that he would plead guilty so we could end this mess without a formal trial where I would have to testify. That has not happened and I do not believe it will. At first I felt dread and severe anxiety.

Isaiah 35:3-4 Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”

Now, I am counting this opportunity to testify in open court as gain.



Romans 8:18 “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”


I discovered how God is blessing me with a voice. I have not only started a blog, but I am here today speaking to you all, starting the process to volunteering with a group to fight sex trafficking in my community, testifying in this trial soon, speaking out on social media regarding sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and hopefully starting sexual assault nurse examiner training in August. WOW! I could not even have imagined doing so much or even taking a first step to any of this 2 years ago. So cheers to the future and everything God uses me to accomplish! Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

His Plan and His Purpose

Today I am reflecting on my healing journey as I prepare to lead a break out session at a women's conference on Saturday, January 24, 2015. I've been trying to piece together some of the things that helped me survive and heal as well as some of the blessings that came from my suffering.

One thing I discovered was the unbelievable role my best friend/sister played in my healing. God strategically placed her in my life at a critical point. There was nobody else that could have gone through all of that with me aside from her. I needed a protector, diffuser, and someone to love me unconditionally. Nikki did all of those things perfectly. She was my protector in that she had the badass attitude throughout our middle and high school years that I desperately needed. The two of us were a force to be reckoned with. She was the diffuser of many situations with teachers, other students, my parents, myself, etc. I lacked control of my anger for a period of time and she was the one that brought me back to reality. And most importantly, she loved me unconditionally. I wasn't sure until recently that that was even possible when talking about humans. Both experience and trauma teach children to trust no one as well as the fact that love is something that it isn't. However, God used Nikki to prove His love for me. In a time when I could not understand His love from reading His Word, He provided a person to meet my concrete needs. I didn't even know that's what I needed or how to ask for it. God loves me so much and knows me so well that He already had a plan. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Nikki has always said that if it weren't for my mom and me that she wouldn't be where she is, but that's only half of the story. I didn't know how to voice it, but Nikki has been my rock on this earth! She is so much the reason why I not only survived, but prospered! I owe so much to her! That's why she's more than my best friend, she's my sister. Practically inseparable since 7th grade, God made us for each other!

Another thing I discovered is how much God is blessing me with a voice. I have not only started this blog, but I am speaking at a women's conference leading a breakout session, starting the process to volunteering with a group to fight sex trafficking in my community, testifying in this trial soon, speaking out on social media regarding sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and hopefully starting sexual assault nurse examiner training in August. WOW! I could not even have imagined doing so much or even taking a first step to any of this 2 years ago. So cheers to the future and everything God uses me to accomplish! Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Cry For Help

I wish to preface this post with a trigger warning to anyone who has daddy issues, attempted suicide, and/or participated in self-harm.

Thinking back, I remember the night that I attempted suicide. My mother, due to the advice of therapists, cut off my ties with the group of people that my abuser belonged to. In hindsight, of course, she did the right thing. However, at the time it felt like my heart was being ripped in half. I was on antidepressants. I had been in counseling intermittently, though I'm not sure if I was at this time.

Backing up...
At 15 1/2, the day I received my restricted license, I asked my mom to give me the address that I would find my biological father at. I started asking questions about him around age 14. My mom kept a shoebox full of pictures of him, their wedding day, me as a baby, and such. I treasured those pictures and kept them safe. She never said anything bad about him or their split or his lack of being in my life. I reserved those questions for him. Anyways, that day she gave me the address of his mother, my grandmother, whom I had visited with a few times over my short life. My mom said either I would find him there or my grandmother would be able to tell me where to go. I pulled up in the driveway, shocked at how relatively close I had lived to him my whole life. I went inside and there he was. He was sitting on the couch smoking. I recognized him immediately as he really did look like the pictures my mother had given me. There was little conversation that day and I don't remember much.

I remember talking to him on the phone after that and him making me promises to the extent of calling me every day, going to lunch/dinner together, etc. I think we talked on the phone 2-3 days in a row before that stopped. We did go to lunch one day at The Golden Corral. I had to drive because he has rheumatoid arthritis. That was his reasoning and maybe that's true, but now I believe that to be only part of the reason. The other part due to all of the DUI's he has had. I remember that lunch date where I got up the courage to ask some of the burning questions that I had. I asked why he never came to see me or called. He told me that he believed my mother would lock him up. -A funny side note to this... she knew where he was the whole time. If she wanted to have him locked up she would have done it.- Anyways as the lunch went on he basically couldn't answer any of my questions. His only responses were to some degree that my mom would have called the police. He never took responsibility once for being out of my life.

At some point in those crazy teenage years I found files in my mom's filing cabinet from the trial where my mom intended to take away my biological father's rights. The kicker... he never even showed up to the hearing. He surrendered his rights without even showing up to fight back. I remember the sadness that filled my heart when I saw that he didn't even try. Of course, as a teenager, I thought, "Why didn't he want me?" Thankfully, now that I'm an adult I have the understanding that the problem lies with him, not me.

That same year that I "met" him as it got close to my birthday I was very excited to have him back in my life. He wasn't perfect and was terrible at keeping promises, but he was my "dad." ~Another side note: my adoptive father chose to adopt me around age 5 when I also took his last name. We didn't get along well ESPECIALLY during those difficult teenage years!~ So here I am about to turn 16 and thinking, my life is finally getting better. So what if 1/2 of my family was stripped away because right now I have my "dad" back. Then a few days before my actual birthday, he leaves. He didn't say goodbye or where he was going or when he'd be back. He just left. Nobody on his side of the family had a clue where he was either. My birthday goes by, Christmas goes by, New Years goes by and nothing. Sometime more than a month later he shows back up at his mom's (my grandmother's) house again. I never found out a real story as to where he was. He said he was sorry. Blah blah blah. Me being the naive 16 year old that I was believed him and tried to keep a relationship up with him. That effort was futile to say the least.

A few months later, end of May into June if I remember correctly, I spiraled back out of control. My doctor tried me on a new antidepressant, Paxil. The effects were HORRENDOUS to say the least. I don't remember much, but I remember the overwhelming anger and rage that raced through my body constantly. I remember running to the backyard crying and so angry I couldn't see straight. I remember picking up clay pots that my mom used for plants and slamming them on the ground to break them and taking the broken pieces to cut my arms. I remember that being the only way to bring me back to a calm state. What I remember was so awful that words can not describe it. In hindsight, the rage that coursed through me was scary, unpredictable, and dangerous. My mom, in talking about this time period, said how I would yell at her that I hated her. Now that breaks my heart. Even when I have been angry, I've never hated her willingly. It was the medication. The following is not a picture of my own self harm, but this is what it looks like. I think it's more effective in telling my story to have some visuals.













Now back to that night...
We had my antidepressant switched to Lexapro at that point. It was a Sunday night. My mom and I had had a fight. I honestly don't remember what it was about, but I remember thinking at some point that it was a meaningless one. My mom left to go to church. I told her I wasn't going so she let me stay home. After she left I was sobbing, walking around aimlessly thinking to myself how badly I wanted to end all of the pain. I couldn't take one more day where I missed ****** (my abuser's wife), where I had to live with the guilt of being the one who had broken apart my entire family, where I would never just be me again (and not the disgusting sexual child that I had been my whole life), where I would not be so angry, so lost, so sad, so guilty.  My emotions and thoughts were running wild!
-Side note: It will make much more sense when I'm free to say who these people are as to why I would miss this person. Do your best to try to understand a teenager's desire to see/visit/talk to a person that she believed to be completely innocent of what happened and simply ended up being collateral damage. **I now understand that this is all false, but as a teenager, I couldn't.**-
I thought to myself, "This pain will never end." "I can't take anymore." "I'm a horrible person." "I want to die." So I walked into the kitchen and took out my antidepressant bottle, which was still mostly full. I had taken maybe 1 week of it. As well as my stimulant bottle (for ADD - which I now know was really treating a sleep disorder). I dumped them both out equaling somewhere around 40 pills and took them all with one drink. I remember immediately feeling overwhelmed and praying, "Oh God, what did I do? I'm sorry. I don't want to go to hell. Please forgive me so I don't have to go to hell." The next thing I remember is calling my biological dad's sister and talking to her on the phone until I became sleepy.

Apparently she knew I had taken something because I remember, as I was starting to knock out, her saying in a distant voice, "Call Reynalda now and tell her to get home." I remember telling her that I was going to sleep now. I think I remember her trying to tell me to stay awake. Next thing I remember I started shaking all over. My mom came in the front door and was angry. I looked at her and cried. She said, "What did you do?" I don't remember much except feeling like I was going to lose my mind. My heart was beating so hard and fast, I couldn't stop shaking. It was obviously the stimulant kicking in.

Once I got to the ER I remember them asking me how many pills I took and I am pretty sure I lied, told them maybe half of what I had actually taken. I was so afraid of being in trouble. At some point, my mom and biological dad were in the same room at the same time with me. My mom was on one side of my bed and he was on the other side. That was the only moment of peace I had that whole day and night, even though it was only for a brief moment. Next, I remember being in a hospital gown in a hospital bed when my ex-boyfriend's mother walked in as my nurse. *OMG! WHAT THE HELL? Why can't I catch a break, right?!* She comes in and says, "Kayla, what in the world happened?" I honestly don't remember much else except begging my mom to make sure she didn't tell her son, who was still a friend of mine. Next, I'm being handed a styrofoam cup of activated charcoal. Yes, that's what I said, charcoal. I was told to drink it or they would put a tube in my nose and down into my stomach to push the charcoal in. So I drank. It was thick and terrible, but I did it. It basically absorbs meds and sends them out in the form of diarrhea. Pleasant, huh? Here is a current picture of Spartanburg Regional's Emergency Center.
 After I got settled back in bed and started to feel better a psych nurse came in to do an interview. It was just me and her. She asked me what my intention was when I took all those meds. I told her plainly and simply, "I wanted to die." I don't remember anything else at all about that night at the hospital. I don't know if I stayed overnight or if they sent me home or if I went straight to Carolina Center for Behavioral Health that night or next morning.

My next memory is being admitted to Carolina Center (CCBH). I was there somewhere between 7-10 days. They started me on different meds, I was in group therapy, saw a psychiatrist daily, and had a strict schedule. I remember being angry and hating it so much at the beginning. I remember feeling trapped, the adolescent unit is completely locked down. Then, over the following days, I made "friends" and opened up in group and began to make strides forward. There was a 2 hour time frame on Sunday (I think) where family could visit. I remember being tired and still very frustrated so I'm pretty sure it was not a pleasant visit for my mom and dad, though they did come. Towards the end of my stay I felt like I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to return to the life where I remembered being so unhappy. We had a family meeting where we talked about expectations, boundaries, and setting up counseling before I left. It went well from what I can remember. Here is a picture of CCBH.
 I remember being a different person when I got home. I remember having a range of emotions, not just despair. CCBH taught me some coping skills. There's something very addictive about self-harming practices. They taught me to hold ice in both hands until it melted to have the same effect of pain and endorphins. They taught me to keep a rubber band around my wrist to snap when I needed to. They got me an appointment with a new therapist set up. That was a very serious turning point for me. That had to have happened for me to get the help I needed, and my mom to get the help with me that she needed, for us to move forward positively.
Looking back, I realize that this was all a huge cry for help. I didn't know how to ask for it or even that I needed it at the time. I know that my mom must have been so frustrated, discouraged, on edge, anxious, sad, and everything in between. I still carry guilt that I caused her to have such an immense amount of stress. I don't wish that on anyone. It had to be torture on so many levels. When your child looks at you and yells that she hates you when everything you do is for her best interest. The anger and hurt must have been so sharp. It brings tears to my eyes. And now when I start to feel that emotion, I remember that most of this was caused by one person. That one person who decided to use my body for sexual activities at an age before I could even speak. That's when the anger starts. He should have guilt for what my mother went through. Not just what he did to me, but what he did to my mom! If he really understood the magnitude of damage that he caused, how could he go on living with himself? I hope that there is some form of justice in that courtroom when the day comes. I don't know at this point what would help me have more closure or what would constitute justice for me, but some part of it will be an apology to my mother if I have a say in it. I hope he has the opportunity to hear at least part of the damage he caused with his selfishness and depravity!
I know this has been a heavy post. Once I started typing, it all just came pouring out. This is journaling in it's most raw form.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Information

I have been sick for a few days now and worked the majority of the time since my previous post. So, tonight I simply want to offer places to learn more about topics that I am very passionate about, #sexTrafficking and #humanTrafficking.

Most people think of 3rd world countries and far away lands when they think about these two very connected topics. The truth is, it happens everywhere. It happens here in my small hometown even. I want to post a link to a page that describes modern day sex trafficking in our area.

Trafficking In The Upstate

This group is called Switch 42:16. Please take time to visit at least the link above, if no other part of their site. The information is relevant, accurate, and easy to follow.

If you want to get involved or volunteer your time there is your local rape crisis center and Switch 42:16. However, if you just want to better educate yourself on the subject or take a less front lines approach there are so many wonderful foundations and groups out there to be part of!

Most of us have seen the show Law & Order: SVU and if you like the show, let's be honest, you have to love Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). She started a foundation called The Joyful Heart Foundation and End The Backlog. Another site that is partnered with these is No More. I will list them below. They are a source of great information especially at a national and global level.

Joyful Heart Foundation
End The Backlog
No More

These organizations and foundations strive to end sex trafficking of adults and children, human trafficking, bonded labor, teaching boys and men how to respect women, decreasing demand for the sex industry, teaching children about body safety, and so much more. Below are a few more.

Polaris Project
A21
Erin's Law

I hope you all have had a good start to the year. Thanks for following.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I Won't Let You Break

I want to start tonight by saying that in order to understand (at all) a person that has been through any trauma you must understand that our memories get all jumbled up. We can't always remember things in chronological order and sometimes we remember more about a specific "part" of the story later. This is only one of many explanations for why the story of a person that has experienced rape, sexual abuse, a life-threatening situation, any trauma etc may change their story or the sequence of the events. Our brains are designed to protect us and if that means setting up a blockade to certain situations or parts of the trauma then that's what it will do. God made our bodies and our minds to be self-preserving. It's how we have survived thus far. Also, until the legal proceedings are over I will not name my abuser or any specific things/persons. Once it's over, all is fair. I welcome questions and comments as long as it is put respectfully. Now, let's begin.

I will start with the night that I chose to bring light to the abuse. I remember it being a Wednesday night in January, the very first January that we were in our new house. According to my mom that would have been January 2000, which would put my age at barely 11. So 15 years ago, my memory begins when I was in the shower. I remember sobbing and feeling an overwhelming amount of dread. I remember feeling like this was the end. I knew that there was no way that I would survive past that night. I knew what I had to do in order to save someone else that I loved so dearly, that was not even school-aged yet. I remember feeling so heavy, so anxious, nauseated, and dirty that I leaned against the shower wall just to keep from collapsing. At the same time I was hopeful that I could save my precious ******** from the guilt and self-hate that I experienced so often. Words can't describe the emotions that coursed through my veins or the racing thoughts! I remember thinking that I made him cheat on her - feeling like I was a mistress. I remember thinking to myself, "My mom is going to be disgusted by me. She will never look at me the same way. I am damaged. I am dirty. I am BAD."

The next part that I remember is having a towel on my wet head and sitting on the carpet in the computer room where my mother was at the computer. I remember that I was sobbing uncontrollably and felt like my relationship with the person I loved the most was about to end. I never once thought anything to the effect that she won't believe me - part of me wished for that. I feared that she would believe me, then hate me and never be able to forgive me for the TERRIBLE things I had done with him.

I did my best to describe the essence of what had been going on. When my mother asked me who it was I remember begging her not to make me tell her. She said that I had to and so I did. After that everything blacks out. My next memory is being in my bedroom unable to sleep that same night and hearing my mom in the living room. I crept out of my room and caught a peak of her sitting on the loveseat crying. I could tell she was on the phone with her mother by the things that she said. Again, at this point my memory stops.

Now that I have been in counseling and have researched effects of trauma and sexual abuse, I understand that a lot of what was happening that night and many days/months/years later is called dissociation.  According to Sidran.org dissociation is defined as:

"The separation of ideas, feelings, information, identity, or memories that would normally go together. Dissociation exists on a continuum: At one end are mild dissociative experiences common to most people (such as daydreaming or highway hypnosis) and at the other extreme is severe chronic dissociation, such as DID (MPD) and other dissociative disorders. Dissociation appears to be a normal process used to handle trauma that over time becomes reinforced and develops into maladaptive coping."

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* Side note: I'm not writing a research paper so don't judge me on the way I cite my sources. ;-) *

I took the time to stop where I was in my story for a reason. In order to convey the true sense of what I went through during that night 15 years ago I have to go back there in my mind. This is not just some rehearsed version of my story. This is raw material. It's like opening an old scar - it hurts less than when it happened, but the pain is still real and you still remember how you felt when it occurred.  Most people that have heard "my story" have heard an abbreviated version where I kept my emotions separate and made it a matter-of-fact story. It's kinda like when you go over lines as you practice for a theatrical part in a play for the 20th time. You already know the words and have no need to put the emotion behind it because it would just use up your energy.

What I remember next is getting out of the car at Beech Springs Elementary School. I remember feeling exhausted and drained as if I'd been to the funeral of a loved one. I remember wishing that I didn't have to go inside. I remember wishing so deeply with every fiber of my being that I could just run away, far away and never have to face my 'pure' and 'perfect' mother again (don't most of us think of our mothers that way at that age?) and her disgust of me (of course those were just my feelings and thoughts at the time that were so painfully twisted). Every positive thought and feeling that I ever possessed had disappeared. They were gone as if the blood in my body had been just drained away. I felt gray, empty, sick, unlovable, gross, worse than dead. I don't remember ANYTHING about being at school that day. I don't even remember walking in the front door. Those memories are just gone.

The next thing I remember is being at ****'s house that Thursday night with my mom and dad. (I'm sorry at this time, I can't be specific about anyone). I remember **** sitting on the couch beside me on one side and my mom on the other side. I remember my mom describing the events of what happened while I desperately tried to block it out. I held my hands over my ears as hard as I could. I felt as if I would explode at any second literally. I remember tears running down my mom's face and my dad's eyes being red and swollen. Next, I remember **** saying over my head, "It's ****, isn't it?" After that the lights of my memory go out again. At some point that same evening I remember **** telling me that something like that had happened to her when she was a little girl, also. Then, yet again total darkness. I describe it that way because when I think back and relive the things that happened those couple of days it's like a movie and then it just abruptly stops and looks black like in a movie theater if the screen was just turned off in the middle of it. You know the frustration you would feel in that situation at just a movie for entertainment. Imagine how frustrating it is to feel that way about your life, that you experienced and were present for. I can safely say that most of that night my brain shut down. So much of me felt like I was LITERALLY a large glass vase that had been cracked and was about to shatter.

Right now... in my head I see Jesus carrying me through darkness like a baby with His hand against my ear (to block out the noise) holding my head against His chest (securely) while simultaneously blocking my view. It's as if He is saying, "I won't let you break."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Starting Point

I do not consider myself a writer. I do not consider myself to be well versed in grammar and a long list of other things that would be helpful when starting a blog. However, I do consider myself a survivor and a warrior. I am 26 years old and have never been more passionate and on fire about anything in my life than I am right now about #SurvivorsOfAbuse and #HumanRights! While I would love to be that person that makes an unbelievable difference in this world, I am a realist that understands most of the time it takes more than one person. With that said, I hope to be the start of conversation and passion everywhere. I was just typing the words, "My plan for this blog is" when I realized that my plans aren't important. More will be revealed as I allow myself to just be and say whatever.

I got the idea at work one night about 2 weeks ago when I met the mother of someone quite famous in our town as I was caring for her mother, my patient. Let's use the name "Sarah" for the mother of a famous someone and "Dorothy" for her mother who was also my patient. Sarah has written a book regarding her journey through a quite difficult time and was apart of the making of this story into a movie. Lucky me... she brought me a copy of both as a GIFT! As just a little foresight, I want to share that Sarah wrote this book after being woken up by God, who showed her a parallel in the journey she had been on and the life of Noah. This part is very important because God used part of Noah's journey to help me as well. 

Let me take a moment to caution anyone who continues to read this blog. If you are a survivor be aware there will be many moments that could be triggering. I understand how difficult that can be, but considering most of my life could be labeled that way I will not preface many things with the words "trigger warning." Also, I am both Christian and human. I do not pretend to be perfect and that is no longer what I strive to be. I don't believe that that is the purpose. Next, there will be "choice words and phrases" as well as subject matter that is perhaps better suited for more mature audiences so please know that my intentions are to be real and to reach all people. I will not be concerned with censoring myself or offending others because this is my one time to be me.

Back to the story... Through our incredibly wonderful conversation one night I learned who they were and they took a genuine interest in me. They honestly wanted to know things about me and to share a piece of their hearts with me. During that time I told them how I planned to become SANE certified beginning August 2015, plan to earn my BSN soon after, volunteer with the local rape crisis center and maybe one day work as a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) in the EC at the hospital I'm employed with. 
**PS I realize I've made several grammar mistakes... sorry! Bare with me the best you can. wink wink**
They both seemed wow'd and in awe of my goal. Then they asked me, "What is it that has lead you to want to do that?" Well, of course, deep down I probably knew that question was coming and maybe I told them my plans knowing that I was ready to share a part of my heart. So I shared simply that I suffered through sexual abuse for my first 10 years of life and am now ready to help others. As the conversation carried on, I shared briefly that I am currently in the middle of pressing criminal charges against my abuser after all this time. Their reactions of love, compassion, and awe in my strength made me gleam with a hint of pride. I'm finally reaching a level of being proud of myself for pushing through and taking this next step. Now with that being said, I am not so proud that I believe I made it to this point on my own. Wow, wouldn't that be arrogant?! 

My story is one of hope and promise. This is only the beginning.