Sunday, May 3, 2009

Survivor's Story: Delivered from a Living Hell

by Dori Wheeler, Guest Contributor

I grew up in a violent atmosphere. Abuse of all kinds, physical, verbal, emotional, and as I got a little older, I was molested at school. I started to drink at the tender age of 11 to kill the pain. A few short years later, I was an alcoholic. A real party girl.

Since my dad was a police officer for New York State, I had to "prove" myself, party hardier and hang out with the older kids to gain their trust. In the mean time, I had destroyed the trust at home. I remember coming home at sunup when I was 15 and my dad calling me a "drunken slut." To this day those words still burn.

When I was out one night, drinking with an acquaintance, he started to manhandle me—groping and pawing. I tried to fend him off, but he was much stronger. I screamed, "NO! Please, no!" But it didn't faze him. I was raped.

I was devastated. I didn't know what to do. So I got myself cleaned up the best I could and snuck back into the house. I didn't dare tell a soul. If this got back to my father, I knew he'd blame me because I was drinking. So it was my "dirty little secret" for many years.

As with many people who grow up in violence, I sought out violent men. When I was 29 I got sober. I still didn't say a word. Finally, I couldn't bear the pain of the secret—feeling filthy, disgusting, and ashamed. I was 35 and pregnant with my last child when I finally told my husband. That was the beginning of the healing. Up to that point, I had been a victim. From that day forward, I was a survivor!

But because of the abuse I endured throughout the years, I am 100% disabled. I have severe depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I also have four herniated disks from being beaten. Please don't let this happen to you! No child, man, or woman should ever have to endure abuse of any kind—especially sexual. No matter what you think might happen, tell someone! It's a terrible crime! You didn't do anything to ask for it. It is not your fault! For your own sanity, you MUST tell someone you feel you can trust. Please don't live the shame, the hell, and the guilt that I lived!

I wrote this poem of my experience in hopes that it might help at least one person. If I can help one person, my pain wasn't all in vain. . . . This is my story:

The Tear

Face hidden in shame.
A lonely tear drips off her nose.
For who else can she blame?
Dignity gone with her torn clothes.

Society tells us how to look, how to dress.
No matter how beautiful they say she is
From inside her mind, she's a huge mess.
She hears, Don't do this, Don't do that.
Get good grades, read your books.

She fears the wrath if she tells.
So damned alone, nowhere to turn.
What to do, what to say?
Nobody will believe her anyway!

Innocence taken in the name of love
Even though she's black and blue
She looks to the sky, to Heaven above.
Abandoned she feels
No one has a clue.

He didn't listen as she screamed, "NO!"
Battered, bruised, innocence gone.
What can she do, where does she go?
It's all your fault, surely they'll say,
You've been asking for it anyway.

She carries this alone and close to her heart
Never saying a word to anyone.
Time goes on, years they fly,
Then one day she just falls apart.
Lonely tears roll down her chin.
He cares enough to ask her, "Why?"
Can she trust him with what lies within?

Years of guilt, years of shame,
No matter how she dressed or what she wore
She carried all the blame
Just so Daddy would not call her Whore!

In that moment, day and time
She decided she must tell.
She stopped right there, stopped on a dime
To let go the years of her living Hell.

He wiped the tears from her chin
He felt her pain, ever so sad.
He said, "Now your life can really begin."
The shame she carried, thinking she was bad,
She could finally let go and let him in!


Anonymous said...

I, too, was molested as a child. By two different people on many occasions. As a teenager and young adult, I drank too much, used too many drugs, was raped by strangers and acquaintances. I suffer(ed) from PTSD and depression and physical injuries from the abuse.

However, as a single woman in my forties, I am a fully functioning, tax-paying, member of society. What happened to me then, does not define who I am now.

Anonymous said...

That's great that you don't have lasting debilitating problems! I am a survivor, not a victim. I am however disabled because I am unable to deal with stress and also because of the back injuries. I would love to go back to work one day! I'm sorry for what you have been through, but it feels as though you are passing judgement on me because I'm disabled. There is MUCH more to the story that hasn't been revealed. Becareful what you say, others may feel guilty because they are not in the same place as you...

Anonymous said...

You are a brave survivor indeed Dori! It is women like you, who bare their soul and tell their stories, that help prevent others from having to endure this type of pain. Your poem is beautiful.

Sheree Margaret <3

Dori said...

Thank you, Sheree! I'm glad you are moved by my poem! I was in hopes that people would be moved enough and get some strength from it so THEY don't have to suffer in silence as well! You are a good friend, Sheree~

Diane Dimond said...

I'm in awe of you.
What a heart-wrenching, first-person story! And what courage it must have taken for you to combat your demons and take back control of your life.

Shame on the adults in your life who victimized you and set your childhood on its ear way back when.

Welcome back from the dark, my dear. Your poetry is compelling!

Diane Dimond

Anonymous said...

Siyo Dori, from my heart I thank you, for being brave enough to share he pain, wise enough to know there are others who will be encouraged because of YOUR strength. You have done a wonderful thing, you are a beautiful deserving human. I am honored to know you.
blessings granny

Dori said...

Siyo Granny,
I am so happy to know you also!!! It's nice to have a representative from the "tribe" here with me!!!! Thank you!!!

Dori said...

This is to Ms. Diane Dimond. Thank you so much for your lovely compliments! This is becoming a very healing event for me! I am so glad that you ladies gave me a chance to share my story, in my own way! I am in hopes that you'll give other poets a chance in the future! I only started writing poems on 4/24/09. This was my second one. I could feel it screaming for release!

It was the 14 year old girl before me that I found to be a true heroine! The strength this young woman has to come and tell her story in such a brave and brilliant way is astonishing! I envy her that, not the bad things she endured, but the courage to speak!!! Thank you so much for giving us a forum to find our voice!

rjhope69 said...

What a beautiful poem, Dori. It is a strong emotional statement to overcoming your pain and you flourishing as a better person.

Thank you for sharing your story. I know from experience it can be difficult thing to express, but the release it gives you makes you lighter in the heart.

Dori said...

rjhope69, Thank you so much for your very kind words. I am in hopes that someone who is now suffering silently will have the courage to come forth and tell even a STRANGER your pain. It can't stay needs to be released. I've finally found a way that is not only creative but a healthy way to release my pain. I've never written poetry before last week. It felt sooooooo good! People have been very receptive and wonderful. The more this is brought out into the light, the less places for the perps to hide!

Tara said...

Important to note: I have never been a victim of sexual abuse. However, I have had many friends (surprisingly mostly male) who have. When my 11 year old son was born, this was something always in the back of my mind.

How would I, as a conscientious parent, deal with that should it happen to my son?

First of all, by preventing it. We have talked openly about things of that nature since he was old enough to carry a conversation. And I make sure I am very familiar with the families in his life outside of me.

But the thing that I always considered was how important it was to me that if anything should ever happen to him along that vein - it not be the defining moment of his life.

While I think it is soooooo important to address abuse & abusive behaviors, I think it is equally important not to be defined by them.

How do you avoid that?

I honestly don't know - which is why I am a little paranoid about preventing it.

Although I have never been sexually abused, my dad was an alcoholic and drug addict and I was his "significant other" much of his life. When I was young, he was downright abusive. As I got older, it was more insidious. I have addressed this through counseling and staring the truth in the eye and loved him (he is deceased now) with the healthy love of a daughter with the help of Biblical principles and the healing nature of a forgiving God.

But did this relationship define me? There are times when I would say no and times when I would say yes.

I don't want to be defined by abuse, but we are all the sum of our experiences. No way around that.

Anyway, those were my thoughts as I read your post, Dori. You are a beautiful poet and I admire you for utilizing your life experience to validate & soothe others.

Dori said...

Tara, I'm sorry that you endured the abuse from your father. I hope your son never endures it. Something to keep in the back of your head, some people have coping mechanisms that prevents them from remembering things that are too painful to deal with. So, since YOU described yourself as your father's "significant other", do you REALLY know that he didn't touch you? What if it comes to your mind all at once? How are you going to define to your life at that moment? Everyone acts and reacts to this kind of thing differently. I'm sorry if this comes off like it's my defining moment in life, but you only know a tiny bit of the story. I'm NOT here for sympathy. I am here to try to help someone else from living the hell that I have lived and continue to live. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder only takes a smell, a thought, a song, a sight in a fleeting second to bring it all back like it happened this morning. Not only does it effect the way you think, it paralyzes you at times, where you can't get out of bed, go out the door, and you certainly have a real hard time trusting anyone ever again. It effects you emotionally, mentally and physically. To come and bare a part of my soul, so personal, so painful and then to feel attacked is exactly why people suffer in silence! Maybe I misunderstood your meaning, but this isn't the first time in these comments that this subject was brought up.

Dori said...

I want to thank all of the wonderful people that have shown and given support after baring my soul in my poem. It was a bit of a risk because some of my abusers from my family are still alive. I was forced to turn down a guest spot on a radio show for fear of more family difficulties. It just goes to show that sometimes you just have to find "family" through other avenues! I have "brothers" and "sisters" all over the world! Thank you all for reading and for your kindness, support and strength!