Self, Health And Wellness

I Survived Severe Abuse As A Child — But I'll Never Let It Define Me

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sad woman

There are many types of abuse; physical, mental, emotional, financial, and sexual. The truth about my life is that I have been victimized by all of these, and survived.

The emotional abuse started with me as far back as I can remember. In grade 4, I experienced my first sexual abuse by a janitor at my public school. It was the summer, and I was waiting for the camp bus. I needed to use the bathroom but I knew if I went home my father would hurt me.

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I knocked on the school door praying that the janitor would let me in, and he did. Coming out of the bathroom he was lurking by the door. As I was leaving, he told me about a puppy he had found and that he knew I would know who it belonged to. I believed him.

Terrible things happened to me in his janitorial room­, but thankfully the bus came just in time and honked his horn telling me to hurry. As I was leaving, he threatened to kill me and my family if I told anyone. Scared to death, I promised.

When school started again in the fall, the janitor stalked me down the halls reminding me of his threats, but everywhere I turned he was always there rubbing himself and terrorizing me. I ended up telling my parents, who in turn took me to the principal. I was called a liar, and it hurt. 

At the same time, my father started molesting me at home while my mother was out. He used words like, “this is how much I love you," and after I told him what the janitor had done to me, he got scared that I, too,  would tell on him.

Instead, he had me committed to the psych ward of our local hospital as a pathological liar. 

I begged for help, but there weren’t the resources we have now today. And nobody believed me. I was dubbed a liar. I wanted to commit suicide several times but instead, I got angry and tired of it all. At one point the embarrassment, degradation, fear, and horror became too much to handle.

I hated myself for allowing this to happen to me — it took me years before I realized none of this was my fault — but at the time, I felt completely alone, like there was no one to help me.

Predators exist everywhere. They prey on good and vulnerable people, and it's so important to know that if this is happening, or has happened to you, it is not your fault. Predators thrive on the power they have over you. They are sexually sick individuals, con men, master manipulators, and monsters of the worst kind.

At some point, I realize the only person that could help me was me. I put all of my efforts into myself until I found an inner strength to overcome the pain, to not give in to these monsters anymore, and I learned to survive.

It wasn’t easy but I am so glad that I didn’t take my own life. Today, I have three children and a beautiful grandson I never thought I would ever have.

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Since overcoming my childhood abuse, I've had many accomplishments both in my career and my personal life.

I have saved many women from abuse, and I have spoken at shelter foundations in front of abused women. I can clear a room in 7 minutes with my stories, but these women listened and knew what I spoke was true, and that bonded us. I was brought into these women's lives for a reason; I was someone who totally understood and lived the same life they were fleeing from. 

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They knew that they, too, had hope, could heal, and have a promising future, just like me.

My best and only advice for victims of abuse is to take your power back. Calling the police and seeking help immediately will make those monsters pay for what they have done. If you think that it won’t happen to you again, chances are it will and by the same abuser. If not you, then to someone else — again, and again, and again until the abuser is stopped.

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If you are contemplating suicide and feel powerless, take your power back now! You are not alone and united, we can move forward together.

Being a victim of abuse does not define who we are. In fact, it speaks volumes of our strength to become who we will be tomorrow.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse or violence, there are resources to get help. There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto thehotline.org.

Stephanie King is an author and abuse survivor who uses her stories to inspire others to tap into their inner strength and resilience and overcome the unthinkable. “When To Run, Born Scared" is the first book in a three-part series about her life.

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