We have the privilege of hearing another personal story from one of our AmeriCorps members, Christine King. Christine works with the Neighborhood Hub Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) site in Waterloo, Iowa. Read about Christine’s experiences and thoughts below. We thank her for sharing her story!
My input to this is going to be a little different then some of the other guest bloggers. I am a survivor of multiple forms of abuse as a child and specifically domestic violence in my adult years. I think for my first blog I needed to get out why making changes is important to me.
To start with, I believed I didn’t deserve better than what I was getting. I have said many times that I thought love was getting beaten and then being given a sandwich. Growing up, this is how my household was, as I can remember it. My dad had an explosive temper but was usually the one to cook dinner for us. Hence, my belief of beatings and food equaling love. Into my adult years, I searched for the physical pain in relationships because I was spiritually void inside. I was craving feeling alive somehow, and as it often is with abuse victims, it played out in my choice of men.
I do not believe there is something I did to deserve it, however, I didn’t feel or think that way a couple years ago. Back then, I truly believed I was put on this earth to experience this pain. That this was my lot in life, and since that was my experience, I couldn’t think outside of that box. I had been told I couldn’t by so many different people that I believed it.
It was hard to change. It has been torture to look at what was done to me, and in turn, what I have done to others because of these experiences. I first wanted to change when I had my daughter. I couldn’t imagine someone doing to her what I was going through. I knew I was in trouble when she witnessed the abuse. She would tell the story to random people. “Hey, remember when (abuser) slammed you on the glass table and dragged you through the glass.” For me it was the repeated visual of the blood on the white tile, and how that had to have looked to my daughter.
I struggle with Major Depressive Disorder and PTSD. I am a firm believer in a higher being because I got to a point where I had no fight left and wanted to die. It was too hard to change, and I was embarrassed to be the way I was. Unsure, insecure, always waiting for the abuse in some form – always waiting for when I would be told I wasn’t good enough again. I couldn’t see beauty in the world or find compassion for others and that killed me. But I have discovered that, deep in my spirit, my joy in life lies is in the helping of others.
I want people to know not to give up on the broken. They are probably doing the best they know how. Don’t coddle them, but love them consistently, and with compassion. Let them make little decisions so they begin to build confidence in themselves. For example, “Would you like Coke or Pepsi?” may seem like an innocuous question to you, but to me, picking what I wanted no matter what is was and having a positive consequence for doing so, was a new experience. It is like I was a child again. Little decisions with positive consequence became bigger decisions with mixed consequences. By that time I had been supported consistently, so I felt like it was okay to make that choice, even when it may not turn out well.
I am living proof of the power of prayer, compassion of others, and perseverance and what it can accomplish. I took myself from homelessness to a college student who is learning how to be of service to others. The person I was always meant to be. I am only part of the way recovered but I feel better about myself then I ever have before.