You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore, Mark

As promised in My Story:

For 10 years of my life I watched my mother, sisters, brother and myself endure insufferable and severe abuse at the hands of my stepfather. I don’t mean we got “spanked.” I don’t mean my stepfather once slapped me when I mouthed off.  I mean abuse.  The ugliest abuse you could possibly imagine. We were beaten relentlessly, sometimes for up to an hour, with a closed fist on every part of our body that could be covered in clothes.  Our offenses could range from bad grades on a report card to forgetting to make our beds before school. I was once beaten so badly that I went to the bathroom and vomited blood. I had a petechial rash all over my body from the blood vessels being so quickly damaged from the force of his fist hitting me so hard, over and over and over again.  My stepfather would beat me so badly that he would be out of breath and sweating by the time he was done.  Sometimes he would leave to catch his breath for a few minutes and then come back to finish the job. There were four of us, plus my mom. I am the oldest and my brother was the youngest. The severity of our abuse was different for each kid. The sister born right after me always got it the worst and the most often. She is stubborn and strong-willed by nature and her spirit refused to die.  She knew he was wrong and refused to give in. He beat her more, he beat her worse. I received the second worst treatment. I am a procrastinator and disorganized in nature. This means I often left messes, got “poor” grades (and by poor I mean sometimes I would bring home a “C”), and couldn’t always find the things I was asked to find that I was responsible for. Therefore my beatings were not as severe or as frequent as my younger sister’s, but still came more often than my youngest sister and brother.  My youngest sister was eager to please, studious, organized, smart and did whatever she had to do to avoid getting beat. She still did because humans aren’t perfect, especially human children, but her beatings were less frequent than her two older sisters. By less frequent I mean approximately once a week instead of everyday or several times a day. My little brother, the baby of the family, is biologically my stepfather’s son. I believe this kept him from being abused as severely as his older sisters.  His age may have played into that as well.  He is significantly younger than us. Still, he was abused.  He was beaten.  My mother endured horrible abuse.  I am not even sure how much or how often because she was so good at shielding it from us. She couldn’t shield us from it all, though.

I do remember one evening I watched through our big bay window as my stepfather chased my mother outside as she was running away from him.  He grabbed her by the back of her head, her hair, and proceeded to bash her face into the concrete…over and over and over again. I remember thinking how surreal it was to watch these big beautiful snowflakes falling and the stark contrast of the deep red color of her blood meshing in with the fresh snow. When I remember it in my mind it is always in slow motion. You think that when stuff like that happens the world speeds up really fast.  It doesn’t. It slows way down. Prior to this beating I stood at the bottom of the steps and listened as my mother and stepfather argued in their bedroom with their door closed.  Their bedroom was right at the top of the stairs. The fight escalated and there was a commotion.  My mother screamed.  I knew he was hitting her. Having the courage of an angry enraged 15 year old who would die for her mother, I grabbed a butcher knife and screamed up the stairs, “YOU LEAVE MY MOM ALONE!!”  Within seconds I heard the door slam and saw my mom, clothes ripped, mascara smeared, start to run quickly down the stairs.  She said, “Look out! Hide!”  I got out of her way as my stepfather ran after her and out the back door.  And that is where I watched him slam her face into the concrete.  I instructed my brother to hide under the coffee table, set the knife on the kitchen table and called 911. It rang and rang and rang. No one picked up and I could hear my stepfather come back in. Suddenly the courage I had when I told him to leave my mom alone had dissipated at the sight of the horror he had done to my mother.  I was scared. Scared for my life. I thought he may have killed my mother. I hung up the phone with 911 not answering. I believe my sisters were hiding somewhere in their bedrooms. I ran into the bathroom that was off of the kitchen and locked the door. I heard the phone ring. I heard my stepfather pick it up sounding cool and calm, like he had just played a relaxing game of golf. I heard him say, into the phone, “Oh no, there’ s nothing going on.  We have kids and they must have been playing with the phone. I’m so sorry they took up your time.”  Then I heard the phone hang up.  It was quiet for a few seconds. Then he discovered the knife on the table. He asked who had the butcher knife in this weird sarcastic, sadistic voice he would get when these rages would go on.  As if he had literally mentally snapped and was capable of anything. I was scared for my life and threw my sister under the bus screaming, “N did it!!” He then proceeded to say, “When I find out who called 911 I’m going to bury their face in the snow next to their mother’s.”  And then I heard him retreat upstairs. I stayed in the bathroom another half an hour or so just to make sure it was safe to come out. Once I emerged my mom had already gone back to her room, with him. I checked outside, expecting to see my mom’s dead body, and there was nothing but a puddle of blood. I heard her quiet and muffled crying coming from upstairs. My sister’s and brother emerged as well.  We all sobbed for hours and put ourselves to bed.

We wanted to leave. My mom wanted to leave.  We couldn’t leave.  We would call the police and they wouldn’t believe us. My stepfather would threaten to kill us if we left. He would never let my mom leave with all four of us kids because he knew that she would never leave any of us behind.  He controlled the money, he controlled the check book.  My mom had never really worked outside of the home besides some restaurant work before and during their marriage. No one would listen. We told the school what was going on.  A visit from my stepfather and all was forgotten. My stepfather was a “prominent” member of the community with political ties that lent him credibility. His father was the former Speaker of the House for the state I was born in and was now a very successful practicing attorney.

But we left! We fled! We ran! In 1995, when I was 16 years old, things were coming to a head again.  I won’t give you all the details, I think I’ve drawn a pretty good picture of the type of things we went through, but my mom and I planned our escape with my siblings after another failed police report. We stashed socks and underwear in our pool shed (which was conveniently located next to our van), and one of my high school friends gave us all the money in the world he had – $50.  My mom had no money to leave.  He made it that way. But I found a way. We fled. He tried to keep my little brother home. We ran out of the door anyway, with him.  It was horrifying. One of the scariest nights of my life. We had nothing but the clothes on our back, $50 in cash, and a Mobil gas card. We were about to travel 900 miles with this alone.  We were going home. Back to where all of our family was…and my father. It was terrifying, freeing, sad, and triumphant.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that my stepfather is denying his actions in those 10 years we lived with him. He denies that he ever laid a hand on any of us and claims that he was a great father.  He is claiming this to my little brother. Not that my brother believes him. This is even after losing custody of a subsequent son (marriage after my mother, she was also abused), and being ordered to have supervised visits because he strangled this son (he also denies).  And these are very recent events. He called us liars.  He said he doesn’t lie so that must mean we do. I had forgiven him for his actions long ago. But I will NOT be a victim of his any longer. I will NOT allow him to rewrite history to his benefit.  He WILL own up to his actions and take responsibility for them. I am no longer a child.  I am a full grown woman with almost full grown children of my own. You will not intimidate me. You will not victimize me again with your lies.  You, my good sir, belong in PRISON for what  you’ve done to our family and those that came after. You are a liar.  You have left nothing but pain and hurt in your path.  You are the reason that my brother has to fight for his children after you gave their mother sanctuary when she kidnapped them and brought them to your state, away from their home, away from their family. You claim that you are Christian.  You are a hypocrite. You are a liar.  And one day God will judge you for this.  He will hold you accountable.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.  -2 Corinthians 5:10

This is my proclamation to the world.  This is my proclamation to HIM.  You hurt me.  You hurt my mom. You hurt my siblings. You damaged us. I spent YEARS trying to recover from that.  You cannot hurt me anymore.  And until my last breath I will make it my mission to make sure no other children are ever in your care.

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2 thoughts on “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore, Mark

  1. Thank you for posting your story. I am so glad you survived and are with your loved ones now. I have stood there holding the phone myself, trying to dial 911 while hoping not be found. I think when it occurs in adoptive families it’s called the double whammy.
    In your writing you are a sensitive, expressive, and honest. I can see why you would despise an abusive liar and brute. It sounds like he exemplifies the opposite of everything you stand for. Trying to save someone’s life does bring out inner strength and courage. At the time it can simply feel like doing what’s needed. I hope you continue to find safe spaces and peace in the days ahead. You deserve the best. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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