I was starved
My parents got divorced when I was around 5. I didn’t know it at the time, or at least, I don’t remember knowing it, but my father was abusive towards my mother, before I can remember any abuse happening to me. My father had money, a lot of it.
While even to this day, he will tell you he’s not rich, he never had to worry about money for as long as I can remember. It started with joint custody, until my father remarried when I was 7. Before this, while life wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t bad. My father’s new wife situation didn’t start off as bad either. I liked her at first. She seemed nice. I didn’t have a perception of fake vs genuine yet. I don’t remember the exact moment things took a turn for the 5 year tornado that ripped my life and my childhood apart.
But, by the time I was 8, I could feel something was wrong. It wasn’t until I watched a video in my third grade class about what child abuse and neglect was, that I fully realized what was happening. That other kids didn’t go through this, I thought. That “normal” kids had loving parents that tucked them in at night, let them play, and let them eat. Between the ages of 7 and 9, I was belittled, insulted, beat, starved, and tortured by my stepmother while my father sat back and did nothing. All it would take was to look at my stepmother the wrong way, and I wouldn’t be allowed to eat for days. I used to be super diligent about trying to make my face look happy and friendly while I was suffering and miserable, just so I would be allowed to eat that day. But despite my best efforts, it never worked.
I was often isolated, forced to sit in a chair facing the wall for weeks. Never allowed to get up, except for the bathroom and if she decided to let me eat. I would wake up in the morning and sit in the chair until I was allowed to eat, if I was, and I would sit there until bedtime. Then I would go to bed. It got to a point, where in the middle of winter I wasn’t allowed to eat that day. I threw a giant fit. I was so hungry, and I was being told my stepmom didn’t feel like letting me eat that day. She locked me in the freezing cold garage without a coat all day. She refused to let me use the bathroom.
I screamed for hours, but no one heard me or no one cared. I ended up peeing myself because I couldn’t hold it anymore, and then had to sit there with urine freezing to my body. I was 8. Later on, after they all moved to a new house, I was frequently dragged down the stairs by my hair and thrown outside. I was locked out of the house more times than I can count, especially when it was very cold. I was starved. I was forced to stand, not sit, in the middle of a room for about a year. No interaction with others unless she came screaming at me to tell me how ugly, stupid, and worthless I was. I started speaking up. Screaming outside to my neighbors. Telling my teachers, my friends, anyone who might listen. My father even took me to several therapists to try to say I’m making it up because I’m crazy. What would he know? He was never there. He didn’t believe me. My life was threatened.
I was held with a knife to my throat while she said that she was going to kill me. I told the police. But they didn’t care. CPS was in and out of the house but they never did anything. I always thought it was because my father is good at faking appearances. He has a lot of money. And after telling people and having nobody care, I stopped telling people. Until I got out. I started wreaking havoc on their lives, I didn’t take the torture and abuse quietly, anymore. My father gave me to my grandma. I walked out of those doors and felt free. The only thing that hurt was leaving my little sister behind to fend for herself against these monsters. I made friends after that, and I told some what happened. One of my best friends got close to my father and that family, and my father told more lies about me and I lost my best friend because he believed them instead of me, so I stopped telling. But now I’m getting LOUD.
What advice would you offer to encourage others?
Abusers instill in their victims that they won’t be believed. Sometimes, like in my case, telling people and then having them do nothing, can confirm this thought and feeling. It’s never too late to speak up. You do not have to be afraid. You do not have to be silent any longer. You have a voice. You matter.
Jessica Leta, Survivor
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