There was a lot of secrecy and shame
Hello, my name is Catherine Annette. I am writing to tell you that NO ONE deserves to be hurt in any way–physically, emotionally or mentally. If you are in a situation where someone is hurting you, the most important thing you can do is reach out for help. Call 911 if you are not sure where to turn. Hurting someone is a crime, and people who do it should be arrested and put in jail.
When I was growing up, my parents–and my dad, especially–would hurt me very badly physically. Also, they didn’t think I was very smart. My parents were musicians and teachers, so myself, my brothers and sister, were all taught to play musical instruments. My instruments were piano and violin. I practiced and practiced my violin, but it was harder to play than the piano. I had a violin teacher, but he used to yell at me a lot when I couldn’t do something like play rhythms right. My parents just thought I didn’t have any musical talent. What I really needed was a better violin teacher like my friend Lee had. He won competitions and eventually got a faculty position at a music school, teaching and playing in a string quartet.
Anyway, I believed my parents when they told me I was a mediocre student. I believed them when they told me that I didn’t deserve the food and hand-me-down clothing they were giving me. My dad said the only reason he gave me anything was that he was required to do it by law. He told me I was a poor excuse for a human being. He would also regularly tell me to leave the house. I would go, but I didn’t know where to go, so eventually, I would come back. Back then, there weren’t a lot of places you could go. The nurse at school knew when I came to her with a sprained ankle that my dad had ripped my dress off and threw me against some stairs, twisting my ankle. She never reported it–it just wasn’t something that very many people talked about in the 1960s. There was a lot of secrecy and shame about it. I didn’t talk about it, either.
I was too ashamed.
My message to you if you are in a situation where someone is hurting you, just because they tell you something doesn’t make it true. What they tell you really doesn’t have anything to do with you, but it does make a huge statement about who and what they are.
Here is the good news: Nothing lasts forever. Bad situations don’t stay bad forever. Reach out for help–it is there. Also, you are growing up, and one day, you’ll be able to get away from your abusers.
When I was 18, I left home, went to business school with a loan co-signed by my grandmother, lived with friends and got employment as a secretary. I eventually worked for temporary agencies so I could take time off to perform on my violin and attend music festivals. I also got a really good violin teacher. Today, I can play most anything on the violin, and I have both bachelors and masters degrees from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. I got almost straight As and received academic and music scholarships that paid my tuition. So much for my parent’s wrong idea that I wasn’t too bright or talented.
I have had a career for the past 40 years playing in orchestras and teaching along the front range of Colorado.
What advice would you offer to encourage others?
The most important thing you can do is reach out for help. Being abused is nothing for you to be ashamed about. Your abusers are the ones who should be ashamed.
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