A survivor story by Dawn
I have so many questions that have gone unanswered; and the painful truth is that I know they will never be. You still, have never even acknowledged the nightmare you put me through, as if it’s only water under the bridge. It’s not so easy for me, I can’t erase it. For myself and a lot of survivors like me the burning question is always ‘Why?’. Why did you hurt me? Why did you choose me? Why didn’t I matter? Why didn’t you care?
I used to think that if I could just make you happy, or do something good that just maybe you would see that I was worth something. I looked up longingly to you hoping and trying my best, but it never seemed to work. You never looked at me. I always felt ashamed because you could not even look at me. I could only continue to think to myself what a true piece of garbage I was because you couldn’t stand to see my face. I know you didn’t love me, or even like me for that matter, but I thought if you could just see me, just look into my eyes for a few moments, maybe I could’ve become more human to you. It was hard watching the others have so easily what I would’ve given anything to feel.
Understanding my place took me a very long time, I know. I felt like a stray animal that you resentfully tolerated in your presence and in your home. I learned not to expect anything, or dare think I had a right to anything. I knew that I wasn’t wanted there, and that I should feel lucky that you allowed me there at all. Still, I foolishly kept hoping.
Sometimes when you would beat me, I would daydream to myself. I’d imagine that you suddenly had a change of heart, that you stopped hurting me, threw your arms around me, and told me that you loved me. Somehow that made taking the pain easier. Have you ever even considered the true agony of all the things you did to me? I need you to know that I suffered through each and every one, every time. I wondered to myself if you ever set a mental limit, thinking to yourself, “If she blacks out, maybe I should stop”. I wondered what would be enough. Each time I thought sure that you’d stop because I was bleeding or badly broken, I was wrong. Just wrong.
So many times I was so afraid, I felt that if fear could actually kill someone that I would certainly die. There were times I truly hoped it would. I thought that if I could just die and you didn’t have to see me anymore that maybe you wouldn’t be so angry. Did you know that I started wanting to die when I was just five years old? Sadly, I wanted that for you …. and sadly, I wanted it for me. My mind won’t let me remember each time you tried to end my life, but a few are etched there forever. I died on the kitchen floor in front of my brother and sisters whom were forced to watch, when you stomped the air and the life from me as you stood on my neck. I knew that day that there was somewhere better for me, somewhere I belonged. There was no pain where I went, no sorrow, only incredible peace. I know that you knew it too, or you wouldn’t have struggled to revive me. I felt cheated, I was there and you wouldn’t let me stay. Why?? Why did you bring me back? What were you afraid of? You had finally gotten what you seemed to want so badly, and you still couldn’t let me have peace at last?
These questions haunt me, just like the nightmares that never let me forget. How did you do it? How did you forget, or do you think about what you did to me? Does it make you feel sorry or guilty…..or anything? Do you ever feel like a monster inside, and have to tell yourself that what you did was okay so that you feel better? Do you have nightmares about the children you repeatedly tortured? Do you see the eyes of a beaten child with arms reaching out, pleading to you for mercy? Do you wonder if you will go to hell and burn for eternity, or do you feel that time and god have forgiven you? Time hasn’t taken my pain away, neither can god. It’s like a movie that just replays and replays, always making sure that I’m still afraid. Had you ever taken a moment to realize that I was a real person with feelings, or that I was a child, that I was your child. Through it all, that connection never seemed to register in your mind. You were so detached and cold toward me and I know that’s why it was so very easy for you to heartlessly crush me every day, mind and body. There was never any affection, or even regard for me as a living creature. Your motherly instinct was non-existent and at times you seemed to enjoy the misery you put me through.
Though you abused me relentlessly, one of my most painful memories was the day you stole my smile. You were beating me with a metal serving spoon and kept me close so that you didn’t have to stand up. You filled my arms, legs, and chest full of burning welts before turning on my face. With the first strike I knew, and could only cry harder as I watched all the blood and pieces of my teeth fall. For a moment, I saw a nervous look on your face that vanished with the next swing. I looked at you again, wondering where the line of humanity lie. Do you know that every day I have to look at myself, and the smile that you took from me? I hate that I have to see you when I look at myself. Every… single… day, I get to relive those moments.
No one could understand why I couldn’t stop wetting the bed. You claimed that I had been to doctors and they repeatedly told you that nothing was physically wrong with me, so I must just be lazy. What you didn’t tell them was of the horrible abuse I suffered at home. It took me until adulthood to understand that what was happening to me was the cause. I lived in fear every minute of my life, and my nervous system couldn’t keep up. Sometimes, even just your approach would make me wet myself. There was never a time that you came toward me that I didn’t fear what could happen, and always cowered and covered my head. You beat and humiliated me constantly for something that you were the cause of. You never even considered that then, can you see it now?
You began calling me a slut when I was very young. So young that I didn’t even know what it meant. The things you would say to me made me want to throw up at times, and were beyond what a child should have to hear. I always wondered what I did to make you feel that way and why you wanted to shame me so badly. Sometimes I would just agree to the things you said I did because you wouldn’t stop hitting me until I did. I remember once that you forced me to say that “I liked it, and that it felt good.” I felt utterly defeated and hated myself for saying it. I felt worthless, like a dirty piece of trash. At the same time ironically; you exploited me for all to see, including grown men. I became hollow inside and disgusted with my body because of it. As I sat humiliated for hours in plain view of everyone and anyone, my mind would take me away. A calming numbness would come over me and for at least a little while, I didn’t have to be me.
I know that I will have to live with the burden of all these unanswered questions forever. Still, I dream of one day finally having an answer to the two that consume me the most.
Do you ever want to say you’re sorry?