Many women have shared with me their stories of abuse over the years, most of them much worse than my own.I share mine to give purpose to my pain, and hope to those still struggling with the pain of abuse.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts me in all my distress, so that I am able to comfort people who are in any distress by the comfort with which I myself am comforted by God.” (II Cor 1:3-5)
I was born January 8, 1954, on Camp Lejeune Marine Base.There’s never an excuse to forget my birthday, Christmas, a week later New Year’s, a week later my birthday!My mother, married a marine at 17.She remembers watching The Sands of Iwo Jima at the base drive in with 40,000 marines –she wasn’t able to hear much dialogue!They were transferred to Albany, Ga. where she had twin boys.My first memory is running back and forth between the bassinettes, barely able to see them while standing on tip toes.I thought they were my babies and I was diligent to watch over them.Ricky had a heart defect and died when he was 5 months old.I remember reaching under the net of his little bassinette-coffin and trying to wake him up.Our father was overseas when Ricky got sick, his shipmates took up a collection of $1000 (a lot of money in 1957) and he began his trip home.He partied his way around the world and arrived flat broke, with a doll for me, 3 weeks after the funeral. My mother later found out he had another family in Okinawa and she divorced him.The last time I saw him he held me and said,"You're the only one I want, I'll be back to get you."I never heard from him again; but I continued to believe my mother left him because he loved me more than her.
My mother and bio-father
We moved to Florida and lived with my grandparents.They became the only stability I ever really knew.Granddaddy was my hero. He let me stay up and watch the late, late show and drink black Cuban coffee from the time I was two.Granny loved me!She taught me to garden and wear hats!Most of all they were always, always there.Granddaddy was a preacher; he and my Grandmother loved the Lord. I went with them to a little church in Dover, Florida, and when I was 5 years old I gave my life to Jesus.As I sat in that church and prayed, a light poured through the window and I was covered in the light ofthe love of God.
My Grandparents and Me
My mother married Robert and had another son. When I was 7 we visited some of his family in Waycross.My brother, a cousin and I were playing on the front porch.The plan was to hold hands, run and jump off the porch.Well we all ran, but only my brother jumped.He landed badly and broke his thigh bone in several places.He says the cousin and I conspired and pushed him – since the evidence is sketchy - no videos, and no witnesses – I think I’m ok!Anyway, he ended up having to stay in the hospital in Waycross for six weeks.My mother and baby brother stayed while Robert brought me home so he could go to work and I could go to school. When we got home he told me to sleep with him so that he would not forget to wake me up for school.While I slept he began to sexually abuse me.The abuse began as touching, forcing me to touch him, and penetrating with his fingers.I was terrified; I soon learned to ‘disappear’ during the abuse.He threatened me and made me swear I would never tell.I, of course, believed what was happening was my fault.In my child’s mind, I knew I could never tell because my mother would lose him and she had already lost one husband because of me.I had to protect my mother. My mother came home and the abuse continued.Robert made me cry and plead with my mother to stay with him when she went out shopping or to get her hair done.We went to a picnic at a lake once and he told me to beg him to take me swimming.He laughed while he abused me in the water in front of my mother and family.He loved to hear me beg to be with him.
The first place I was affected was my speech.I had always had excellent speech, I talked constantly to anyone who would listen.Suddenly, I developed a profound stutter.The doctor said I would outgrow it.When I was in high school I was part of a University study of trauma and it’s affect on speech.
I have little or no memory of grades 2, 3, 4 and 5.We moved back to Georgia when I was in the 4th grade.He started waiting for my mother to go to sleep to come to my room.I used to lie in bed awake dreading the sound of his footsteps in the hall.He began to grab or touch me every time my mother turned her back.Finally, she came to me and told me she had had a dream every night for 2 weeks.She asked if Robert had ever touched me.I can’t tell you how both relieved and frightened I was at the same time.I was told there was violence or threats of violence toward him from my uncle and others, So we moved back to Florida.I was scared to death. He told me he would kill me if I told, and I knew it was only a matter of time. For many years I believed my mother left him at this point.But when the Lord started bringing me through the healing process I realized she lived with him for another 3 years and continued to leave me with him alone. These years are almost blank with the exception of 2 memories.I can remember being between the bed and wall and him beating me with a belt.And I can remember being locked in something small.
Me 8 years old
At some point she left him.We moved back with my grand-parents and she went to work as a waitress.One day she brought home a wonderful man named Gene.They married when I was fourteen and we moved into a beautiful house (with air conditioning!) in Dunedin, Florida.He was funny, loving and a good provider.He took us on wonderful vacations, boating and skiing every weekend.He kept us laughing.And he considered it his personal responsibility to keep the guys on that third shift at Budweiser working. Drinking for my mother became alcoholism.When she was drinking she loved my brothers and hated me, when she was sober she loved me and hated my brothers.Naturally, my brothers said here Ma, have another drink, while I kept hiding the liquor.Because of her drinking I had to do the cooking, cleaning and ironing.I took care of the boys and tried to protect them from the weekend brawls.Every Friday night we pulled the covers over our heads and dreaded when they would come home.They would yell, scream and throw things until they came to find me to referee.Occasionally, the police would come and haul daddy off to jail, with my mother crying in the front yard, “Oh but I love him!” I didn’t bring friends to my house – needless to say there weren’t too many seeking an invitation.Everyone knew about us.My mother’s drinking continued to escalate.There were a number of times when she would tell me to leave, then take my clothes and throw them in the front yard.In order to get away, my brother quit school and joined the Marine Corp. My junior and high school years were haunted by my speech.I had a few girl friends and one boyfriend in my senior year.I did very well scholastically.In 1973 I met my husband in Junior college.We dated for 3 weeks, were engaged and married within 5 months.He was my knight in shining armor!He was strong, confident, and fearless.We were married on my grandparent’s 50th anniversary and I felt safe for the first time in my life.
After I married my parents quit drinking and became the happiest of couples!They held hands everywhere they went.They lived in love and peace until daddy died in 1978.Today my mother is single, very active in her church and loves the Lord with all her heart.
LaVonne the Loan Officer
My life was full of contradictions.I was very successful in my career.I was a top producing loan officer making a six figure income. My ministry was thriving - I was teaching at a drug rehab along with several Bible studies each week and I wrote a study of the Book of John for addictive personalities. However, my methods were far from “Christian”, I drove like a ‘bat out of hell’ driving potentional passers off the road, everywhere I went – my life was totally fueled by rage!There was nothing I couldn’t accomplish through fear and intimidation.A client once told me, “I sucked all the air out of the room!”I was trying to create value because the truth was on the inside lived an abused, terrified little girl, unworthy of protection, surrounded by chaos, with no power and no hope.
Then the Lord started to meddle.Suddenly, every church service I went to the man of God called me out to give me a Word on healing from abuse, ‘it’s time for the abusive voice to stop!’.Everything I read, every song I heard, every movie I saw… I was surrounded, I couldn’t escape!I just got angrier and angrier until finally I gave up – and then the Lord gave me a verse, Luke 2:51 “… and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.”I realized as women, thats what we do, we hold everything in our heart.The Lord then lovingly took my hand and step by step we began the healing process. I learned to love the person God created me to be and that God loves me best.I learned how to be still, quiet and to live in the moment.I learned the secrets of forgiveness, to accept and enjoy people for who they are and not make demands they cannot meet. In my marriage, I first acknowledged my vows were to God and not my husband. I stopped making demands on him to meet needs only God can fulfill and I learned how to "gift" love. After 45 years we're starting to get the hang of it!
God has led me to share the pain of my life and the steps He guided me through healing.The purpose of the ministry is to bring restoration, and transformation, and to give hope. Freely I received, freely I give!!