I feel like I need a quiet place to sit down and reflect all that has happened in the short, yet so very long, 24 years I’ve been here. The truth is, a quiet place doesn’t stop the bombardment of memories, the instincts to protect myself, to protect those around me, and to stop looking for clues of abuse and trauma in those I meet.
There are a lot of gaps in my childhood, most of which I’m thankful for, but there are moments that are so drastically burned into my memory that I cannot erase them. No matter how hard I try or fight.
I remember the drugs, the nearly being kidnapped and being locked out of the house. Only to find myself beating against my own locked front door, screaming as loud as I possibly could, for my mother to let me in. Inside, an apartment full of people doing drugs, locking me outside was their way of “protecting” me from it. I remember fights, words so explicit I could only imagine at that point what they meant. I remember fists meeting walls and flesh; I remember locking myself in my bedroom trying to keep myself out of reach. Every drunken and drug-fueled rage my stepfather would fly into, I knew I had to stay out of the way. I remember so vividly the pot full of spaghetti sauce slung against a dining room wall, splattered red, the pot lying sideways on the carpet and remembering it looked like blood. I remember every night for a year, hearing my mom scream and protest his advances and him continuing. I remember wanting to turn the small radio on next to my bed so I didn’t have to hear it. Oh, but if he heard it, it would send him into a rage. If I cried, I knew I had to stop; otherwise he would surely give me something TO cry about. I remember my mom disappearing for days on drug binges, leaving me with him. I remember wanting to escape, to run away.
I remember him trying to rape me, I remember fighting him off and telling him that I will tell my grandmother. I remember him almost being too drugged to care. I remember running and locking myself in my bedroom and hiding and him beating on the door. I remember him coming into the bathroom while I was showering, sneaking peeks behind the curtain. I remember being touched and molested by a boy in the same apartment complex, him saying that we were playing doctor or house. His brother wound up molesting one of my friends at the same time. I was seven.
I remember the sounds of the Ferris wheel, the smell of the funnel cakes and cotton candy, and the laughter of those walking around the LA county fair. It’s probably one of maybe a handful of memories that are good that I have of him. He promised that he would protect me, that he would be a shoulder and a guiding light in my life. A support structure, as he should have been. Instead he took the trust of an impressionable little girl; he twisted it and abused it, just like he did to his wife. He pulled parts of my childhood that should have been filled with sugarplum fairytales, gum drop play scenes and other things brought about by my imagination, and turned them into nightmares. Nightmares of beatings, threats that no 8-year-old should ever witness, and scars. Scars that, while not visible, lie under the surface causing trust and emotional issues in that once 8-year-old child that has grown into a 24-year-old woman. I sat there as he told my mother matter-of-factly that he was going to blow up her car while I was in it. I stood up for my mom and told him that he wasn’t allowed to threaten her anymore and if he didn’t leave I was going to call the police. I was eight.
I heard a few months ago that he died. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I can only assume with the lifestyle that he lived, it is. My mom was afraid to tell me. She was afraid that I’d actually care, afraid that I may have actually cried at the news. To be completely honest, I was so incredibly relieved that there was going to be no more hoping some unexpected person or family would have to deal with the possibilities of disaster that came along with him. That no child would have to go through nearly being raped by him. That no woman would have to deal with him raping them, beating them or threatening to murder them and then coming close. That no little girl would have to spend a Halloween inside the house in her costume, peering out the front window at him screaming and yelling at her mom. No child should have to go through any of that. Ever. But at the same time, I have to thank him for it. I’m not sure if I’d be the person I am today if those things hadn’t happened.
I hope he got what he deserved while he was in prison.
I remember living on the streets out of my mom’s car. I remember sleeping on her friends’ couches and floors and empty bedrooms. I remember moving in with my grandparents, giving my mom yet another shot to get on her feet. I remember it not working, her disappearing for days, only to come home in the middle of the night strung out. I remember her moving out of the state with her disgusting, attempting-to-be-intimidating, shell of a man that abused her emotionally, verbally and sexually. I remember telling a children’s lawyer that I wanted my grandparents to have custody of me and her willingly signing the papers. I was nine.
I remember being trapped in a community pool bathroom, after going in to take a piss. Being followed in by him and being held against the cold tile wall. I hadn’t slept for days before this, I was too weak to fight back, not able to scream loud enough. Not that the screams would have done any good, we were the only ones at the pool. I said no, I said stop, I said get off me, I said don’t do that, I said no. He didn’t care. He was older, a bad boy, a friend of a friend. I had already lost my virginity so I guess he thought he wouldn’t be taking much from me. I still cringe or turn around swinging when someone touches my back or grabs my shoulder. I was told he was murdered a year after, and I felt relief. I was fifteen.
I have tried to find validation in every relationship I’ve had. Either by trying to fix the man that I’m with, trying to make him see that he can be better than he is, by telling myself I deserved the shit I put myself through, by justifying a fight. It’s hard for me to trust people, to comprehend the way they function rather than the way that I function. In two relationships, the men had overstepped their boundaries and threw me into a completely defensive mode which resulted in them being thrown into a wall. I question whether I am now becoming the abuser instead of taking the abuse, but then I feel that even though I did physical harm to them, I was put into a bad position and took what action I felt was necessary to remove myself from it. I still don’t like being cornered or pinned against a wall with someone screaming in my face.
I wasn’t supposed to make it through birth or to live after I was born, the doctors said. I lived. My whole life I struggled to not become a statistic, to follow in the footsteps of my mother and her drug habits, to beat the odds. I made it. I’ve made it this far and I will be damned if I’m going to give up now.
Thank you for visiting Violence UnSilenced, a speak-out platform for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. If you are a survivor and it is safe to do so, we encourage you to share your story here. If you are not a survivor but you want to support those who are, please click around this site and find out more about what you can do.
Thank you for speaking out and sharing your heart here. You are a survivor, and telling your story is so brave. <3
I am so sorry for everything you have experienced. You are a survivor... and an inspiration. Wishing you peace and love.
Your story speaks volumes about surviving! You are amazing! Thank you for speaking out loud about the things that happened. Thank you for finding your voice!
NO ONE should ever live with any part of what you describe. What a hellish past you have! I am so glad that you recognized that it was anything but normal and thank goodness you have survived!
Now, it's time for you to live a life of dignity and love that everyone (and especially you, dear) deserves.
Strength to you, every day in every way.
Thank you for sharing. I hope that you continue to heal, and welcome opportunities for love and healthy relationships.
You tell em, girl! You are one strong woman who can and will overcome the crap you had to endure growing up. Thank you so much for sharing this story.
Thanks for sharing your story. Every person who is brave enough to tell the story, inspires those of us not yet there -- but still in need of doing the same. Peace and love to you.
RT @VUnSilenced: RT @rachhabs: @lythics thank you you are truly inspiring! everyone should ready her story - http://bit.ly/eaDyS0
RT @rachhabs: @lythics thank you you are truly inspiring! everyone should ready her story - http://violenceunsilenced.com/calleah/
@lythics thank you for sharing your story. you are truly inspiring! everyone should ready her story - http://violenceunsilenced.com/calleah/
Thankyou so much for telling your story, you are an inspiration to everyone else who is battling against becoming a statistic.
All I can say is, good for you! And don't feel pressured by society to be in a sexual relationship if you aren't comfortable with one either. That bothers me about modern society, that we are expected to make something happen in such a personal area of our life whether it is healthy for us at that time or not.
Thank you so much to everyone who has posted comments, tweeted me on twitter or emailed me. I should have added on to this to let people know that I was assaulted yet again about 2 weeks after this piece was written. That individual is no longer in my life and it took me a while to realize, once again, that it was not my fault. I'm in a better place now in my life, anticipating single motherhood and expecting my first child.
All of your support does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
As I sit here reading this, tears are rolling down my face. It breaks my heart to know that someone I love so dearly has gone through so much more than I had ever known. To know that there is just one more thing we have in common is almost dissapointing to me. You are an amazing, beautiful, talented and intelligent woman and to know that so many people took advantage of you makes me sick to my stomache. I still haven't dealt with what happened to me and i'm not sure I ever will, but reading this gives me hope that maybe I can one day atleast move on with my life and not let it play a role in how I see men that are active in my life. I love you Calleah.
Wow, you're absolutely amazing - strong and smart and fabulous in every way!!!! To have come through that, you can do anything you want. Those people couldn't carry your shoes. I hope you're incredibly proud of yourself, because you really deserve to be!
I am proud of you, for telling your Story, I'm not to the point yet, where I can write it all out, one day, thank you for being strong enough now!
you are amazing Calleah <3
There is no doubt that you are profoundly strong. With the strength and wisdom that you already have you will be able to forge a life of passion. If there is one thing I would like to say it is this: Be gentle with yourself and continue to be true to yourself.
You are, and clearly have always been, a true survivor.
<3 I just want to give you a hug. Even though I may not come from the same past you have, I still have the same issues with 'changing' people or trying to show them they're really better than that or if he was a mean person that I deserved it somehow. I thank you for being so forward, I hope this has helped you in some way to get through it. I thank you for sharing it. It's really made me see how my mom must have felt. I heard her stories of her father, but never knew the man, which is probably a good thing. I am happy to be a (small) part of your life and to know you. You are kind and strong. People like you give me faith in humanity that all is not lost and those bad apples can't spoil the bunch if you don't let them.
Good for you for rising above. And self defense is not abuse. If you are fighting back, it is not the same.
Please don't give up. Because I've been there. And I refused to be another statistic - and I'm not. And you CAN make it and you will. You sound like a strong woman and telling your story will help someone else. *HUGS*