I was born in 1977 to a 16 year old girl who was, at the time, being sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend (this man is not my father). We were abandoned by my “supposed” biological father who was age 25, so I was raised by my mother. A new man came into our lives when I was three and they eventually married. I also had a one year old brother at the time who had a different father than me. This new man was very jealous, possessive, physically abusive and an alcoholic. He was from Puerto Rico and at one point took the three of us to live there with his family, but that time did not last very long and we ended up moving back to New Jersey.
I know part of it was because of the abuse. He never fully accepted my brother and I as his step-children and had trust issues with my mother so he would take his anger out on us. For four years it was just us four then they began to have children together ((there are 5 of us now – 2 step-children and 3 biological (who were never physically abused). I can remember being beaten with belt buckles on my head as a child. I can remember the hysteria of crying and screaming from seeing him beat on my mother. I can still envision her to this day during these events. I can remember having a very unhealthy attachment to my kindergarten or 1st grade teacher because I wanted her to be my mother. I can remember being visited by DYFS in school around this age where they questioned where my bruises came from. When I would tell them the truth and he found out, it meant more beatings for us.
I honestly cannot remember a day without some form of domestic violence during my childhood. My mother was severely depressed already from her sexual abuse as a child. She then lost her mother when she was in her twenties and she never mentally or emotionally recovered from the molestation. She stayed in this abusive relationship with my step-father for more than 20 years, which literally drove her mad. Soon after she became disabled and could not work. She became even more depressed and later began to exhibit signs of mental illness.
Throughout these years I had been beaten, molested by one of my step-father’s relatives around age 5, kicked out of the house since about age 15 by my stepfather for no legitimate and was later physically & emotionally abused when my mother became strung out on drugs during the times she lived with me. Psych meds mixed with street drugs literally created a monster. At this point, all my parents would do was fight. Domestic violence events at our home became a weekly thing. We were the talk of the town and a spectacle to our neighborhood. Especially when my mother would have her public psychotic rages and transform into another person (most of the time dangerous and evil). These episodes would last weeks or months. My eyes have seen my mother trying to commit suicide by slitting her wrists; my mother being dragged off in straitjackets to every mental institution in south jersey; my mother being kicked out of the house by my step-dad and having to live in her car; my mother becoming one of Burlington County’s Most Wanted for being involved in a drug cartel to survive the streets; my mother strung out on crack/cocaine, heroin, and whatever else; my mother’s body marked up either by heroin needles or from being bitten up by rodents from sleeping on floors in drugs houses; my mother prostituting herself and making boyfriends of random men just to have a place to lay her head.
My mother had completely lost her mind and life to mental illness, psych meds and street drugs that eventually took her away from us in 2005 at the young age of 44. She ended up on dialysis due to kidney failure, her dialysis port became dirty from living in the streets after my step-father had kicked her out and it got infected and rapidly spread throughout her body shutting down all her organs. She died of Septic Shock.
I was never a clear-headed girl. I would wake up almost daily in night sweats from terrible nightmares. Because I was so unstable as a teen from being kicked out and living with different family members, I allowed myself to be manipulated by a boy from high school to give up my virginity at age 14. Two years later I became pregnant. I was lost and did not feel loved. I was invited to return home to have my daughter but that did not change a thing. I was not there long. Shortly after my daughter was born I can remember my mother having a psychotic episode and punching me in the face when I was holding my newborn baby. This incident caused a major uproar and drove me out of the home again. My mother’s mental illness hated the sight of me. Her firstborn child. She has beaten me up and threatened to kill me, chased me with a butcher knife, sought me out to fund her drug habit, and even accused me of sleeping with and being pregnant by my step-father when he put her out. I can remember kids in the neighborhood would come to our house to get high with her. She had drug addict friends that would hang out in our home almost every day.
When I got my own apartments she would find me and beg me for drug money. There was a time I had to lock myself and two children in a room for hours because of her crying and begging for money. I can remember finding crack bags she had dropped on my floor around my toddler. By the time I had my second child at age 21, she and my step-dad had split up again, he moved with his girlfriend while my mother and 3 youngest siblings lived in a motel. She came to visit with my siblings and spent the night. The next morning I woke up to all of their birth certificates and social security cards and a letter. She left them with me! My step-father lived in the same apartment complex at the time, but would not take the responsibility. He sent me child support checks for them, but lived in a one and a half bedroom apartment! That day I became mom to 5 kids. To top it all off, my children’s father was always MIA, even though we were married, so I was completely on my own.
I can’t remember exactly how long this situation lasted, but I eventually got evicted, my step-father had no choice but to take my siblings and I was homeless with my children. My brother (the other step-child who suffered the abuse with me) opened his home to us but he himself became abusive to women, was on drugs and mentally ill, so this was automatically not the ideal situation for me and my children, but at the time we had nowhere else to go.
There was this one episode that drove me out of his house. Thank God this was on a night that my children’s grandmother had taken them to bible study. During this time my brother had an episode and held me and his girlfriend hostage threatening to kill us if we tried to leave. When he caught me trying call 911, he yanked the wire out of the wall and threatened to strangle us with it. From there my children and I received help. We went to live with my husband's God sister (by the help of his mother), but eventually had a fire in the home where we stayed, lost all of our things and ended up staying in a motel. All the while their father was still completely MIA. Then, a church sister invited me and the children to stay with her until I got on my feet. So I spent most of my years of motherhood as a single parent. Later on, I soon found out that he had a whole other life with another woman-which I knew!
When I was around 19 years old, I tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pills because I knew of no other way at the time to escape from the darkness. My life was literally like a living hell all the way up until my mother passed away when I was 27. I was victimized by my step-father my entire childhood and by my mother in my teen and adult years. It seemed my face would trigger her psychotic episodes. I had love/hate feelings toward my mother and step-father. There have been times when I wanted my mother to die because that is the only way I felt I would ever be free. It is only by the grace of God that I have learned to forgive my mother and step-father because I now know that it was the enemy who wanted me to take my life.
What breaks my heart the most is that before my mother went totally insane (despite her physical and emotional abuse by my step-father), there was a time when she was a light to everyone. She was someone you would never forget and the community around us loved her so much. She would love on you immensely, take you in if she had to, feed you and clothe you in a heartbeat! She was tough, strong and one of the most passionate women I’ve ever known who absolutely loved God.
God has blessed me with two beautiful children, now ages 20 and 23, who since birth have been the driving forces in my life that have set me on a lifelong mission to break what I have identified in my life as a generational curse. As I have healed over the years and God has taught me how to forgive, I no longer have that love/hate feeling for my parents for not knowing or understanding the damage they have caused me. I love them. I have recognized that they too at some point in their lives were children and that, somewhere along their life journey, they somehow lost their way. I also recognized a vicious cycle that had to be broken. So, at a very young age, despite all my adversity, I chose to take action. If I could change anything about my past it would be to erase all the memories of the abuse, the fear it left me with, my difficulty with trusting people, and my procrastination when it comes to seizing life’s opportunities. The biggest lessons I’ve learned from my past is what NOT to do and how NOT to live. I believe that God exposed me to those things in the early stages of my life for a reason (which I’m still partly trying to figure out today) and that those experiences have shaped who I am today. Because of my life of perpetual crises, which did not stop here (my children and I also suffered another major crisis of abandonment by my 2nd husband in 2012), GOD has been my ONLY life support and HIS WORD my survival guide.
I was extremely afraid to share my personal life with strangers because these are very hard and embarrassing truths for me to reveal, but I felt it very necessary to let others know that they are not alone and there is hope! Yes! I know that this is not a pretty image! But, by the grace of God, I’ve survived it all and I thank Him! I made it through elementary and high school, gave my life to the Lord at the age of 21, fought my way through college and received two degrees, an AS in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Philadelphia (AIPH) and a BA in Childhood Studies from Rutgers University, Camden. I’ve won awards for fashion projects at Burlington County College and AIPH. I’ve worked as a substitute teacher, mostly in Camden high schools, and currently work as a youth advocate for an agency that provides crisis intervention services to children in Camden County, ages 3 to 21, with behavioral and/or emotional needs. I continue to volunteer for different ministries in the church and community and will continue to dedicate my life to my one and only ROCK & REDEEMER, Jesus Christ, who has literally saved my life.
Sisters, I urge you to never let a man break you down this far. I totally believe that if my mother had gotten out of that relationship, I would still have my mommy today! Don’t do this to your children! The devil stole her from me and my siblings. He took her mind-he took her everything! So, please, LET GO & LET GOD! IMMEDIATELY!
Peace, love & Blessings to all,