Smile. Don't let them see.
Chin up, and no one will notice.
No one will see. No one will care.
Phrase after phrase used to run through my head in the setting of any public place. If I just kept to myself and smiled up at the rest of the population, no one would sense that anything was wrong in my life. I stood in a giant, steel cage that was invisible to anyone in the outside world. Trapped. Isolated. This was me, less than two years ago. This was me to everyone I knew; completely and utterly silenced. I've found my voice, and I'm here to scream and shout. I am a victim of child abuse and this is my story.
As you probably guessed from the title of this article, my father was abusive for most of my life. In fact, for as long as I could possibly remember. He controlled and abused all aspects; physically, emotionally, and mentally. Flashbacks take over my brain of being thrown out of a bar stool when I was very young. I still hear my little sister's endless screaming from the other room as the sound of a belt whipping echoed in the hallway. Never again can I sit in a small closet floor, because I once spent hours hiding in one, on the phone with 911. I flinched when someone grazed my shoulder, and scurried away at the sight of any man. My entire life was overtaken by fear. As if at any moment, one small crack could shatter my existence.
I blamed myself for many reasons. I hadn't been good enough for my father. I wasn't enough to stop him from hurting my sister. It was my fault I was in those situations since I lacked the courage to say something in the first place. I took everything out on myself.
Why did an eight year old deserve that?
Here's your answer: she didn't.
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I spent a lot of time as a child, furious at the universe for handing me the cards that I was dealt. I despised people for always disappointing me, including my parents. I felt as if I couldn't count on anyone for anything; my friends, my grandmother, anyone. It's taken me two years to approach the realization that those bruises were not my fault, and even now I have difficulty accepting that. No slam to a wall was my fault. My mother's broken wrist was not my fault. These things were not in my control. Why did they have to happen? I will never understand.
Fortunately for me, I escaped his ruthless grip almost two years ago, and never looked back. One day, I decided I wasn't going home, and so I didn't. That's when the roller coaster cycle of healing began for me. It's been a long journey, with many bumps and bruises. I'm still on the journey to healing. I will always be healing from the years, but that doesn't mean it has to control my life.
Stephen Chbosky says that "It is not where we come from, but where we choose to go from there." Sure, I could stay pissed off at the world for the rest of my life. I could very well have ended my life many times. I could have given up, and let my father smile. I could slam doors and scream, but I won't. That would be letting him win. He wanted me to feel worthless and inferior. My father hoped that I'd fall to the deepest level of dirt there possibly is so that he could feel powerful.
My father does not rule me anymore. He cannot control me. I shouldn't have to be walking through the mall and feel flashbacks that send me into despair. I get to control where I'm off to now.
Society spends their time covering up real issues in our world with headlines such as "Kim Kardashian Wore an Ugly Dress!" or "Jennifer Garner Caught, Eating Fruit at the Farmer's Market!" to cover up the ugly truth. We're too busy avidly awaiting the next top hashtag rather than focusing on matters that really need our attention. Child abuse is one of them. Any abuse, shall it be rape, bullying, whatever.
Our abusers will not win, because we are stronger at this exact moment than they will ever be in their lifetime. Decide that you deserve better now. We deserve someone who will always be by our side. We deserve nothing but greatness. We deserve to lay underneath our comforters at night, knowing we are safe from harm.
Well, Stephen Chbosky, here is where I'm going from here:
I've discovered the beauty that lies in the quiet folds of life, and I'm on the journey to self-love through an array of adventures. I will be taking you with me, as well. How could I leave you out on this marvelous endeavor? Prepare for laughter, and tears and sunsets. Two AM spontaneous drives, and mountains that beckon our names. We'll travel around together, my friends, and realize that life isn't all horrid. There's more stories to tell, more music to play, people to meet. There are sunrises to catch, and water to wade in. I, for one, don't plan on missing out.
On the way, though, I'm becoming an advocate against child abuse. No one deserves to be silenced. If you, or someone you know, may be a victim of abuse, don't ever hesitate to call.
– The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
– The Domestic Violence Hotline
I'm ecstatic to be going on this journey with you lovely humans, and owe everything to everyone who has ever supported me through this insane ride.
Until next time,
"May your eye go to the Sun, to the wind your soul. Or go to the waters if it suits thee there."