January 30, 2013

The Abused Addict: Dulling the Pain

This week, I am happy to bring to you the next part of David Pittman's story. If you missed last week's post, be sure to check it out.

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Why me? Why did this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this? I am just a kid, why did you do this to me? These are just the start of questions that children begin to ask themselves when they fall prey to a sexual predator.

When dealing with issues of pain from childhood sexual abuse, people handle it in different ways; being a man, I can only tell you the struggles a boy and man goes though. Initially the greatest struggle was just in finding a resource for help to work through the psychological and emotional trauma. With most abuse happening to women, it only goes to reason that the majority of available support is directed toward them. But support for men is out there, you might have to look a little harder for it but it's there. Thus the increase in groups like “Together We Heal”, "SNAP”, "1in6.org" and many others. But once found, the next steps can be even more challenging.

If the abuse occurs as a young boy and at the hands of a man, you struggle with the confusion of being aroused. While we may learn that physiologically there is virtually no way to stop an erection or even ejaculation, it does not diminish the damage done. As a boy or man you begin to question your sexuality. How could I have been aroused by this disgusting act? When you combine this with the still long-held homophobic rhetoric voiced by so many, the confusion gets compounded and magnified.

For myself, I “proved” my sexuality throughout college by having sex with as many women as I could. While this temporarily bolstered my ego, and reputation with the guys, all it really did was hurt many of the girls' feelings and further hinder my ability to get at the root of my own pain.

When having promiscuous sex was not enough to keep my hurt and pain deep down enough in my psyche, I turned to alcohol and drugs. As I mentioned in the previous article, with drugs I could numb myself to the point where I not only didn’t feel any pain, I didn’t feel anything, except the high of the particular narcotic of the day.

I started off like most, waiting till I got off work and drank until I got that "buzzed" feeling. Over the next few years I would drink more and more until I would pass out each night. By drinking to that point, I made sure that while awake I was either too busy with work to think about the pain or too drunk to understand why I was drinking so much.

When alcohol was no longer strong enough I turned to drugs. I started with a club drug called ecstasy, once used by therapists for couples struggling to open up and communicate. It has become an abused "party" drug sometimes referred to as the "hug drug" for the utopia-like effect it gives you. Not only did I no longer feel emotional pain, but possibly of greater import, the "feeling", however false it may have been, was as if everyone loved me, and this was something I craved above all else...the feeling of love and acceptance. But as any addict will tell you, the more drugs you do, the more you have to do to get the same level of high. The problem is you never do get that again.

So at this point I chose to amplify the drug with another to try and extend its feeling with methamphetamine, commonly known as speed or crank. When this no longer did the trick I moved up to GHB. You hear of it used as one of the several "date-rape" drugs, but when used on yourself, its like ecstasy times ten. The extreme danger of this drug is that it slows your respiration and can do so to the point where you stop breathing altogether. What is so deadly about it, is once you reach a certain point, there is no way of reviving you. And I was doing as much as I could until I would pass out, coming close to overdosing on three occasions, that I can validate from others telling me...only God knows how many times I actually came close to death.

Eventually what occurred to me was what happens to almost all drug users and abusers. I got locked up and spent a month in jail for a conviction of drug possession. It was simultaneously the best thing that could have happened, the worst experience of my life, and probably saved me from ending up in a morgue. Having my freedom taken away, being totally humiliated, and my life threatened on two occasions while incarcerated, I realized finally where my life was headed if I didn’t stop taking drugs, so I went to NA and got the help I needed to get clean. I have remained sober for seven plus years now.

Once I got clean I had a whole new problem; I had to finally face all of this traumatic emotional pain without any filters, without any buffers. I had to face life on life’s terms; and life, for most of us, isn’t always kind and nice. It’s hard, and when you aren’t strong emotionally or mentally and don't have the necessary tools to confront this issue, you don’t handle this easily. It was only with the support of an amazing family and equally incredible friends that I have been able to process this pain and conflict and be able to finally stand on my own two feet again, now with a clean mind and body.

This doesn’t mean that I am not still haunted daily by the memories of molestation and sexual assault, it just means that now I have the tools to handle this battle. Frederick Douglass was quoted as saying, “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” This has been true in my life. The damage done by my abuser, Frankie Wiley, was so terrible that the positive done to build me up the first twelve years of my life, he destroyed in just 2 1/2, and it’s taken thirty to just BEGIN to get my life back on the right track.

I have since learned that the damage done was much farther reaching than I could have ever imagined. I wondered why it felt like it was taking me longer to work through my struggles than others who had "been just abused or were just addicted to drugs." I recently found a potential reason behind this.

A German medical research center has now documented that childhood trauma leaves a mark on the DNA of some victims. What they have determined is abused children are at a higher risk of anxiety and mood disorders, as traumatic experience induces lasting changes to their gene regulation. This topic is too important not to give its own deserved article, so we will save it for next week. I just wanted to bring it to your attention as a survivor or supporter so you, as did I, might begin to grasp some of your "unexplained" struggles.

Due to the derailing of my youth, I now have fewer years left on this earth to do what I believe I was always meant to do...help others in some way. So I am going to spend what time I have left to do my best to 1) prevent what happened to me from happening to other children and 2) help other survivors begin the process of healing. I am one of the "lucky ones", or at least so say the statistics--I should already be re-incarcerated, back on the streets looking for my latest high, or dead.

As I mentioned, I was arrested and spent a month in jail. But my experience with the justice system was the exception, not the rule. While I "did my time, learned my lesson and moved on," within three years of being released, 67% of ex-prisoners re-offend and 52% are re-incarcerated, according to a study published in 2004. The rate of recidivism is so high in the United States that most inmates who enter the system are likely to reenter within a year of their release.

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world and of the roughly two million people occupying a cell, approximately 500,000 of them have been convicted of a drug offense. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses.

If you are shocked by those numbers, wait until you hear how many addicts "fall off the wagon." Relapse rates for addiction range from 40% to 60%, or 50% to 90% depending on which studies you read. These rates vary by definition of relapse, severity of addiction, which drug of addiction, length of treatment, and elapsed time from treatment discharge to assessment, as well as other factors. The point is clear, relapse happens more often than not.

But of all the statistics I am "fortunate" not to be a part of, the last is most important. For the year 2011, there were 40,239 drug induced deaths and 26,256 alcohol induced deaths. Again, I told you on three different occasions, I came close...but thankfully I am still here today to be a cautionary tale of how NOT to cope with your abuse.

So this is my hope. And by that word I don’t mean what I wish for to happen, I mean it’s what I know, count on and expect to happen…the original definition of the word hope. Look it up. I have hope to help others, I have hope that they will heal, I have hope to protect children. I now have a future that was once denied me due to a sexual predator. And you too can have this hope, this expectation, this new future … just reach out and you will find us here for you.

As I learned in NA, there is no greater advocate and no better person to help an addict than another addict. The reason is simple: they know what the other has been through. For this reason I look to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse to help me as I continue to heal. For this reason I look to other survivors to extend themselves to those fellow survivors not as far along in their healing process. For this reason I ask you now, if you are in a position to help someone who has been through what you have, think back to who it was that helped you and remember how crucial it was for you to get that help, to have that shoulder to lean on, to have an understanding ear that would listen and consider this simple statement:

"as one person, you might not be able to change the world, but you can change the world of one person."
--


References:
- MPI of Psychiatry, Munich Germany, 2003-2012
- Nature Neuroscience 2012
- Narcotics Anonymous, Blue Book
- Narcotics Anonymous, White Pamphlet
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
- Stocker, S. 
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Institute of Health
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- International Centre for Prison Studies (18 Mar 2010). "Prison Brief - Highest to Lowest Rates". World Prison Brief. London: King's College London School of Law.
- John J. Gibbons and Nicholas de B. Katzenbach (June 2006). "Confronting Confinement". Vera Institute of Justice
- Bureau of Justice Statistics US Department of Justice

--

Check in next week for Part 3 of David's series.

Learn more about Together We Heal.


David spent years on a healing journey that continues to this very day. This led him to seek out groups specifically for men as well as those who had been through a similar trauma and ultimately inspired the foundation of Together We Heal, an organization focused on providing counseling and guidance for those who have suffered the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
As the Executive Director of TWH, David works to educate the public through speaking and collaborating with other groups to raise awareness and expose the sexual predator's methods. TWH now works with therapists, counselors and groups aiding both men and women in their efforts to heal, grow and thrive. He is also the South Florida Area Support Group Leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
TWH follows the saying, "one person might not be able to change the world, but you can change the world of one person."

January 22, 2013

The Abused Addict: The Ultimate Fight


This week, I am happy to introduce you to David Pittman, Executive Director & Advocate for Together We Heal. I had the great pleasure of getting to know David and immediately knew I wanted to have him on as a guest blogger. This week, David addresses a very important but often unnoticed topic in recoveryaddiction.

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This will be a little different than previous articles, in that, this is not so much solution based, as it is issue based.  I want to bring to light an issue that many survivors of abuse have to deal with on a daily basisAddictionwhether it is to alcohol, drugs or something else.

As an addict, you must first recognize that you are not “in control” and you are powerless to the addiction. And it is acknowledging that this “giving up control” enables the addict to begin their healing.

Meanwhile, as a survivor of abusewhile we are being abused we are also helpless and powerless and taking charge is empowering.  Claiming power is a significant experience of healing. It enables us to reclaim what was taken from us when we were abused.

So, survivors who are also addicts have a razor thin line to walk (and just as sharp), of giving up control of addiction while regaining control from abuse.

Is it any wonder why so many fall back off the wagon, are never able to maintain a healthy mental/emotional/physical life, or even commit suicide?

We have these solutions that run simultaneous and contradictory to each otherthe Ultimate Battle. This is why it’s so important to get professional help and seek the support from others such as AA/NA/SNAP and other support groups.

The statistics are remarkable. In a study of male survivors sexually abused as children, over 80% had a history of substance abuse. 75% of women in treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse report having been sexually abused. Another 10-study program found there was a direct correlation to CSA and substance abuse. 

Now full disclosure, in all of the research I read, I was able to find one psychiatrist who did not believe there was a correlation, but he did not produce any statistics or empirical data to support his argument. So it is my conclusion, both from my personal life experience and studies from all over the globe, this is something we cannot ignore.

I read in another article, instead of looking down at addicts and asking them, "What is wrong with you?" wouldn't it be a more productive question to ask, "What happened to you?"

Very few services exist to help with both issues: addictions and abuse. It needs to be understood that the two go hand in hand. The services which do exist are often inadequate, requiring the individual to heal only on the therapist’s terms, or to “get clean first, then we’ll talk.” Often, if you make one mistake, you’re out of the addiction program. This isn’t fair. Only one out of every 100 people make it, perhaps because of the programs themselves.

And this is what happened to me, I had to address my addiction first before I was able to even acknowledge my abuse and face it. As they say in NA, “face life on life’s terms.” Once I got clean from narcotics, I was finally able to reach out to Dr. Light and confront my abuser, Frankie Wiley.

Now in reclaiming my power over my abuser, the addiction is not the issue it once was, and that is because my primary reason for using drugs was to numb myself from the pain of the abuse.

Now that I have had my abuser removed from three jobs where he had power over kids, I have regained my power, but I KNOW that I will NEVER have power over the narcoticsthey control me in such a negative way that I can never do them without extreme, awful consequences.

Just because this is what worked for me, does not mean it will be the direction a fellow survivor will have to take as a path to healing. Seek the professional help that is available to youwe have therapists here and there are many others out there with other groupsif not here, just get help somewhere.

As I said, this is not a solution article. I just wanted folks to know what many survivors have to deal with and if someone in your life is going through this, maybe it will help you better understand what they are going through. Remember, love is patient and kind, and that is ultimately what we need in the battle we facepatience and kindness … and true love.

Michael and Cheryl Irving, two psychotherapists said in an article what I have been saying and feeling for years so I thought it best just to quote them:
"Survivors need to value themselves, to be true to themselves. Survivors often find it hard to say no to anything, and survivors need to fit in, so they often say yes...We need to understand that treatment for addictions is slow and progressive. You cannot help addicts quickly or with some other drug...Healing from addictions and abuse is possible and they often go hand in hand. It takes time, it takes trust."

References:

Dr. Michael Irving
Mrs. Cheryl Irving 
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Mental Health Association in New York State
The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Addiction By Andrea Presnall, Argosy University
Dr. Stanton Peele

--

Check in next week for Part 2 of David's series.

Learn more about Together We Heal.


David spent years on a healing journey that continues to this very day. This led him to seek out groups specifically for men as well as those who had been through a similar trauma and ultimately inspired the foundation of Together We Heal, an organization focused on providing counseling and guidance for those who have suffered the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
As the Executive Director of TWH, David works to educate the public through speaking and collaborating with other groups to raise awareness and expose the sexual predator's methods. TWH now works with therapists, counselors and groups aiding both men and women in their efforts to heal, grow and thrive. He is also the South Florida Area Support Group Leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
TWH follows the saying, "one person might not be able to change the world, but you can change the world of one person."

January 15, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Girl Without Shoes - Part 3


Today I bring you the final installment of Margaret Marie's amazing and inspiring story. If you have been touched or helped by reading her story, I encourage you to post here or email her directly. It is always a gift when a person shares their story so that we can grow and learn.

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Then the unexpected happened. School was closed early one day while I was still working. As mentioned previously, normally the kids were at after school activities until I picked them up after work. This day the buses took my kids home early and I was not told about the school closing. I received a frantic call from my daughter, who was at the neighbor's house. She was very upset and said, "Mom, get home quick! Dad is going crazy, destroying things and there is blood everywhere!"

I left work immediately. The troopers had been called, and as I approached the road to my house I was overtaken by six trooper cars. They were screaming up the road and flew around me. My heart was in my throat by now! I had been praying for the children--that God would keep them safe. 

When I reached my house it was surrounded by trooper cars. My daughter was standing in the driveway crying, holding onto our cat. I took my daughter back to my car and told her to stay in the car. I later found out that her father had pointed a Marlin rifle at her. I asked her where her brother was; she could not answer me. I began to panic. I ran up the stairs of my brand new home that had been terrorized, even as the children had been terrorized. The back door was destroyed and was hanging off of one hinge. The door had blood all over it. I ran into the house where there were several troopers on top of my ex-husband. The troopers were trying to gain control of him. The kitchen had been destroyed. I found out later that the damage that was done that day was about $5835. Someone's blood was all over the kitchen. There was a broken Marlin rifle on the floor and a pool of blood next to it. Blood was all over the cupboards. 

Whose blood was it? Where was my son? My oldest son was not home at the time because he was at college. I was looking for my middle son. The troopers handcuffed my ex-husband and put him in the car. As I watched out the window I saw my son coming into the house with another trooper. Thank God he was alright; at least all right physically. The blood was from my ex-husband, who had cut his hand while destroying the metal door. This was a very bad situation since my 14 year old son had to file a statement against his father. It had broken my heart that things had come to this. The heroes in my life turned out to be my kids. They had gone through such sacrifice--sacrifice that I had never hoped for. I wished time and time again that my children did not have to go through all that they did.

I am so sorry for the negative effect that all this violence must have had on each of the children. I tried to get help for them (counseling, etc.). I must say that they are all overcomers today. My kids are amazing people. My oldest son has a doctorate in musicology, my middle son became a sergeant in the Marines, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently finishing his engineering degree, and my daughter is finishing a degree in ancient history. I cannot take the credit nor the blame for the people that my children have developed into. Each one of them, despite their negative environment growing up, has made excellent choices in their lives. I am so thankful that they are alive today! I know that there is greatness in each one of them.

This was the end of a very long nightmare. My abusive husband and I were divorced after a grueling two year battle in court. I was granted a Supreme Court order of protection for life.

It has been ten years since our escape and I have not been bothered at all, thanks to the grace of God. As is the case with so many abusers, he has gone from victim to victim.

In the last ten years I have written and published two self-help books: "No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper" and "Choose Well: The Choices That You Make Affect Your Destiny". In addition, I have published a children's coloring book from my 'Presh-Us Destinies' series and have developed a character building class that I have taught in schools (with a middle school focus). 

I have spoken in churches, community agencies, colleges and schools, educating people about abuse and about making good choices when it comes to relationships. I teach them what 'red flags' to look for. I also have a program for the younger children in which I teach them about building character, and encourage them that they can overcome their circumstances, no matter how difficult, and make wise choices for their future. 

I messed up by not keeping my own children sheltered from domestic violence, but it is not too late to reach out to other children that are embroiled in domestic violence. The first book that I wrote (No Weapon…) was a miracle because I was left penniless from the divorce. I had felt prompted by God to write the book, so I did. I had no idea how I was going to print, distribute, or pay for the book, but at each step of the way I was given what I needed in order to successfully get the book out. Since the book was a miracle, I have given hundreds of books away to women that I have met who tell me that they are living in abuse. This is a self-help book that gives tools and strategies to people who might be stuck in the cycle of abuse. 

The focus of my second book (Choose Well…) is to choose to abandon unproductive, negative thought patterns and in turn choose to develop thinking patterns that lead to a more positive trajectory in life. This book is for anyone, from any walk of life, who may be struggling with going forward in life. Both of these books are faith-based, as I know that the only reason that I am able to speak in front of people and tell my story is because of the grace and mercy of God on my life. I could have been dead or in an institution, but God has set me completely free! I believe that whatever we struggle with in life; when we get the victory over the problem, God will give us authority over that thing!

I have founded a skills training center for women that have been abused called 'Victory House'. Abused women get so beaten down, degraded and broken that they need to learn a new way to see themselves and a new way to believe in something again. One twenty year old came in and told me that she was too stupid to do anything. That is what the abusers work very hard to train their victims to believe, using fear and manipulation to accomplish this. At Victory House, we start our day with a devotional time to learn about the Lord, and then the rest of the time we work on building skills to empower these women and to help them rebuild their lives. 

I am aware that the scope of the issue of domestic violence also includes men becoming victimized by abusive women, but I have related the focus of this writing from a woman's victim perspective. Male or female, being controlled, manipulated and abused is unacceptable behavior for anyone to withstand, and if any of those reading this have lived in abuse, I want to tell you, I am so sorry for what has happened to you; you never deserved to live this way. There is hope for you! Thank you for reading my story.

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Learn more about Margaret Marie's published works at http://margaretmarie.com.



Margaret Marie is a credentialed rehabilitation counselor, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Studies, and Master of Science in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She has an extensive clinical background working with individuals with various disabilities. She is a survivor of 47 years of living with abuse and violence, and has counseled many people from abusive families.

Margaret is an avid speaker in schools, churches, and other community agencies, and is an advocate against violence in our homes and lives. Her great desire is to see people set free from the cycle of abuse. Her message is simple: “Your life has a divine purpose, though you may not know yet what that purpose is.” She proclaims that with God’s help, people can overcome their circumstances instead of allowing their circumstances to overcome them.

In her presentations, Margaret shares strategies for people who may be stuck in a cycle of abuse, and is always ready to share a message of how to be an overcomer. “Through God, all things are possible!”



You can contact Margaret Marie at overcomerpublishing@gmail.com.

January 8, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Girl Without Shoes - Part 2


Last week, I introduced you to Margaret Marie and we learned of some of the terrifying abuse that she survived. Here is Part 2 of her story ...


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Two years had passed and my life was looking much better. My son and I were very happy; he is so precious to me. I continued to work at my state job, had made a great real estate deal and was debt free. I vowed that I would be very careful about other relationships, since I had such a bad first marriage. I had also found a relationship with the Lord, so I was more optimistic that my life was going to change for the better. 

I met a man who said that he was training to be a pastor, and was setting sound for a Christian band that had cut an album. I was convinced that he was who he appeared to be. We dated for two years before we were married. I did not want to rush into things. He never missed church and pursued active involvement with the church; it all looked so safe. I had not been healed totally or delivered, which I believe is why I fell into the same trap a second time. 

We married, and the night of our honeymoon I found myself in the Adirondacks, in the middle of nowhere, with a man I did not know. He sat staring at the wall, and would not speak to me. I know now that he was experiencing a dissociative phenomenon. I saw problems coming right away. The first year was the only decent year of our marriage; everything went bad after that. 

This man had all the classic "cookie cutter" characteristics of an abuser--none of which I had noticed in the two years before the piece of paper uniting us had come into play. How does somebody do that? It's called manipulation! He began to control me. Everything that I did, he had to control. He began to have tantrums when he did not get his own way. He isolated me from my family, my friends, and the people who could speak into my life. There was no one who could speak into my life or give me any support for what was really going on in my life. After we were married for two years, my second husband was driving us in a truck. It was my kindergartner, my new son, and me (who was pregnant with another baby).

Some other young man got in my husband's way as he was driving out of the school. He had just picked up his little sister who was five years old and was in front of our truck. My ex-husband went crazy and started to deliberately smash repeatedly into the young man's car. The little girl was screaming and my kids were screaming because of the height of insanity that we were all experiencing. This would be the first of many 'reckless endangerment to a child' charges (there were four children in the two vehicles) that would be filed against him. There were multiple 'assault' and 'assault with a deadly weapon' charges that would be lodged against him over the next 17 years. He is currently registered as a child abuser in this state.

I never knew when I would have a gun to my head or pointed at someone else. He would awaken me at knife point. He shot a hole through the floorboard of my car as I drove to work one day. He took an ax to my car and chopped it to the point of rendering it nonfunctional. I still had to pay for the car. I was beaten and raped, and property damage was almost a daily event. Over the 17 years, my children and I witnessed physical (property damage is also considered physical abuse), emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual and financial abuse by this perpetrator. 

I personally feel that the term 'battered women' is a non-functional term. Statistics reveal that in most cases where there are women, there are children. When domestic violence is occurring in a family, it is more appropriate to say 'family abuse' or 'battered family.' Of course there are always exceptions to this statement, dependent upon who is in the family. We were a battered family. In all those years, our lives were threatened in some way almost on a daily basis. The level of this abuser's destructiveness served to keep us all convinced that he was capable of destroying us just as traumatically as he destroyed everything that he put his hands on. 

I had tried to leave him multiple times. We were in safe houses a few times. He would draw me to court and I would be mandated to allow him to see his children whenever he wanted. I have three wonderful children, two of which were his, a boy and a girl, and the other son is from my first abusive marriage. These children witnessed the destruction of seven table and chair sets, multiple phones, computers, and all of my antiques. I had a beautiful antique piano, the back of which was ornately carved. He shot holes in the ivory keys and used an ax to scrape the carving off. He destroyed every piece of furniture in the house. The children knew that he had many affairs, and when confronted about his infidelity, he would destroy property. At one time I was paying a mortgage and there was nothing left of the interior of the house; no furniture, dishes, walls. He even tore the toilet out of the floor and threw it and it smashed. We had to go hide during this time. 

He drew me to court, and sent the police looking for me so that I would get the subpoena. The children would have to lose time at school. They would lose belongings and would have to see the results of this destruction at some point, even if they were not always there when it happened. We spent a lot of time at the library. The children still love the safety and quiet of libraries. Every time I would get an order of protection, the abuser would go to court and fight to see the kids, even though the kids were terrified of him. 

Abusers will use the court system as another avenue to abuse the family. They will use the kids as pawns to pull their victim back into the cycle of abuse. What many people do not realize is that abusive people pursue their victims in an obsessive manner. People say, "Why don't they (the victims) just leave?" Victims are stalked, called obsessively, manipulated, lied to and terrorized by the perpetrator in whatever manner possible. 

In the US, 75% of the victims of domestic violence are either killed or severely injured when they try to escape the cycle of abuse. As indicated earlier, this abuser was arrested multiple times. He came from a family that had money, so when he got arrested, they would bail him out. Each time he got out, we were in grave danger because he would be angry about the arrest and look for revenge. 

I became depressed, even to the point of suicidal ideations, because I saw no way out! The only reason that I would not do such a thing to myself was because of the children; someone had to be there for them. Someone had to teach them that there was a different way to live. I taught the children that what was happening was wrong, illegal, and a criminal activity.

I always planned our lives so that the kids would not be left alone with him (if possible). This was especially true once I began to plan a way of escape. I would pick them up after their after school activities. All of them knew how to call 911 at a young age; they knew to run to the neighbors if he started to get violent--especially if I was being attacked. It was a treacherous way to live. I taught them an emergency plan. These kids had to grow up way before their time. 

I started planning the day of escape. I pulled all our important papers and items together (birth certificates, social security cards, insurance papers, pictures, clothes, etc.) and put them in the trunk of my car (which was packed full). I kept counsel with the domestic violence program advocate. I was now waiting for God's help to make sure this final escape happened. I had to surrender this to God--that this time would be different. I had collected many pictures of damaged property for court education and just wanted the time to be right. The abuser had gotten out of so many charges before. I have got to say that I am not sure why this repeat offender was not locked up.


--

Check in next week for Part 3 of Margaret Marie's story. 

Learn more about Margaret Marie's published works at http://margaretmarie.com.
Margaret Marie is a credentialed rehabilitation counselor, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Studies, and Master of Science in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She has an extensive clinical background working with individuals with various disabilities. She is a survivor of 47 years of living with abuse and violence, and has counseled many people from abusive families.

Margaret is an avid speaker in schools, churches, and other community agencies, and is an advocate against violence in our homes and lives. Her great desire is to see people set free from the cycle of abuse. Her message is simple: “Your life has a divine purpose, though you may not know yet what that purpose is.” She proclaims that with God’s help, people can overcome their circumstances instead of allowing their circumstances to overcome them.

In her presentations, Margaret shares strategies for people who may be stuck in a cycle of abuse, and is always ready to share a message of how to be an overcomer. “Through God, all things are possible!”



You can contact Margaret Marie at overcomerpublishing@gmail.com.

January 2, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Girl Without Shoes - Part 1



Today, I am so pleased to introduce you to Margaret Marie, author and trauma recovery facilitator. Margaret has graciously agreed to share excerpts from her soon to be published autobiography, "Girl Without Shoes". Margaret is someone who you immediately adore and respect for the journey she has taken, and I'm sure you will gain so much from reading her story. 

Margaret's domestic violence story started when she was just a child herself and took her through two abusive relationships as an adult before she came out victorious and with a firm belief the God had led her and her children to safety.


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My name is Margaret Marie. I am a thankful overcomer of domestic violence. I also happen to come from a history of abuse, though this is not the case with all people who make choices that place them in abusive relationships.

My real father was very abusive to my mom, my four siblings and me. When I was 11 years old, my younger sister, my three brothers and I were placed in foster care homes, as my mom could not handle this life of abuse and had no other supports to keep her life together. 

It was my further misfortune that the foster father where my sister and I were placed was emotionally, physically and mentally abusive to all of the children in the home. At one point we had as many as ten children living in this home. I was the cook and the bottle washer, and was just one of many who would work very hard with much scolding and degradation. On one occasion I watched my foster brother get beaten. It was very traumatizing. I thought that I was witnessing a murder! This young man was 9 years old and the reason that he was getting this severe treatment was because he did not know how to eat with a spoon or fork. He had never been taught to, and somehow that warranted punishment--as if it were his fault. I watched his under-nourished body as he was thrown violently down a full flight of stairs. Once he landed on the concrete basement floor and just laid there. I thought that he had died. My foster father followed him down the stairs then proceeded to kick him from one end of the basement to the other. He punched this poor lifeless body, then spoke such negative words over this young man and then continued to kick him repeatedly. 

I was so terrified at what I had witnessed that I ran away to my room so that he would not know how much I had seen that day. Thank God that this young boy managed to survive this terrible beating. The next day, every part of his body was swollen and black and blue. He still had to do all of his chores. This young man later grew up and was abusive to his first wife until she left him. He then remarried another woman and beat her as well. The cycle perpetuated, which is often seen, unless counsel, therapy, education or some other kind of intervention, changes the course of the cycle.

The abuse that I sustained was intense emotional and mental torture. I had told my foster father one day when he had raised his fist to punch me, "If you ever lay a hand on me I will turn you in to the authorities!" His heeding this made my terror more of a mental twist and trauma on my state of being. I never knew what it was like to be loved unconditionally by a father, or by anyone.

I began to make bad choices concerning people that I hung around with. I had no understanding what 'red flags' to look for in people. I approached relationships with men with no ability to bond, and was so belittled in my self image that I chose men who were unable to bond and who walked all over my boundaries--men who abused me in every way. I was physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially and sexually abused.

My first husband wrapped a chain around my neck and broke apart all the furniture by driving my body into the furniture until it was broken into pieces, just as my body was also being broken. I became pregnant with my first child and my first husband left for Kansas City to party with some friends. I chose to move out while he was gone. 

I took an apartment in town. The apartment was filled with many boxes packed with my belongings. I was still in the process of moving, so I had stopped by the house to pick up more boxes. I was eight months pregnant at the time. I heard a knock at the back door. I thought that it was the landlord from upstairs. I opened the door, and there stood a very large, unfamiliar man with a knife in his hand. I tried to close the door quickly, but his foot was in the door. He immediately lunged on top of me. My body hit the floor and I felt his weight pressing against the baby. 

My first thought was to get the knife away from him, for I shuddered to think of what he could do to me with that knife. As he was focused on holding me to the floor, I fought the knife away from him and managed to throw it into the ceiling in order to get rid of it. This action angered the perpetrator. He beat me mercilessly, punching me repeatedly in the head as if trying to knock me out. I scrambled to get away numerous times, and as I did, he would kick me repeatedly right in the baby, almost as if he wanted to kill the baby. This beating went on for one hour. 

I tried to scream for help, but no one came. I was beaten beyond recognition, almost to the point of death. I was bleeding from every part of my body, which made it difficult to get away from him. I kept slipping and falling in pools of my own blood. I collapsed against the wall, and could feel his arm across my neck and his breath panting upon my face. I was blinded from the swelling of my brows and cheeks. My head was enlarged to the size of a hydrocephalic. My eye sockets were filled with dried blood, and I could see nothing but black with white and yellow stars. That was why I started to think that I must be dying, because of the spots that I was seeing in my head. I cried out in my heart, "Oh Lord, my God, if you are real, please come and save me, and save my baby!" I suddenly heard a voice say, "Forgive him." I had not been walking closely with the Lord in years, and had no close relationship with Him at that point. Somehow I thought, "What have I got to lose? I am almost a goner." 

I knew that the perpetrator was on top of me because I could feel his weight and me, and his breath upon my face. I said to him, "Look at me! Look at what you have done to me (I was a bloody mess!)!" I paused, and then said, "I forgive you for what you have done to me, and if there is anything that I can do to get help for you, I will try to get help for you." In my mind (I had no faith at that time) I was seeing headlines flash before me that said: "Woman found dead in her apartment!" It is true that your life flashes before you at the end. I was not at all sure of anything that would happen next. 

After I had expressed forgiveness to him, an amazing thing happened. There was a bright glow of light in the room, and even though I was blind, I saw this light appear before me. I could only hear and sense what would transpire after that. All at once I felt the weight of this man's body lift off of me and land on the floor (I heard the echo of his body hitting the floor), and I heard a voice say, "You can go." I have for years been convinced that it was not the voice of my attacker. I believe that it was God's voice or the voice of His Spirit releasing me.

I had no strength left, but I was not going to pass up the chance to get out of there after all that I had been through. I stood up with numbness and dizziness overwhelming me, and I saw the light, which I followed out of the house. I felt a strength that I knew was not my own as I was ready to collapse. I remember feeling the broken glass under my bare feet from one of the many windows that he had thrown my body into. I continued to follow after this light, which led me down the stairs, out of the house, and onto the sidewalk. I could not see anything; I was covered with blood, swollen and distorted like a monster. I collapsed, but instead of hitting the ground, I felt my body be lifted up, as if someone had caught me. It was a volunteer fireman who was on his way to a fire. He lifted me up, called the police, and rushed me to the hospital. The light had led me right to this man. I know that it was God who saved me that day. God had given me a second chance on life. The baby did die later that evening. She had a fractured skull in three places.

This traumatic event brought my first husband back from Kansas City, which was not entirely a good thing. He was not really there for me--he never was--though I was to get pregnant again before we divorced and give birth to a beautiful son. I tried to get marital counseling, but he did not want anything to do with it. One day when my son was 1 ½ years old, his father walked out and never came back. I was with this man for twelve years. I did not know what love was, as he never loved me. He abused and neglected our son and me.

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Check in next week for Part 2 of Margaret Marie's story. 

Learn more about Margaret Marie's published works at http://margaretmarie.com.
Margaret Marie is a credentialed rehabilitation counselor, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Studies, and Master of Science in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She has an extensive clinical background working with individuals with various disabilities. She is a survivor of 47 years of living with abuse and violence, and has counseled many people from abusive families.

Margaret is an avid speaker in schools, churches, and other community agencies, and is an advocate against violence in our homes and lives. Her great desire is to see people set free from the cycle of abuse. Her message is simple: “Your life has a divine purpose, though you may not know yet what that purpose is.” She proclaims that with God’s help, people can overcome their circumstances instead of allowing their circumstances to overcome them.

In her presentations, Margaret shares strategies for people who may be stuck in a cycle of abuse, and is always ready to share a message of how to be an overcomer. “Through God, all things are possible!”



You can contact Margaret Marie at overcomerpublishing@gmail.com.



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