Finding Freedom From Childhood Abuse, Trauma: A Survivors Story

MentalIllnessby Antoinnette Borbon

In the past couple of years as a reporter for the Davis Vanguard, I have listened to many stories of insanity. Insanity that may have been sustained from childhood abuse, trauma.

A “Not guilty by reason of Insanity,” plea from a few or more different defendants.

 As I sat thru each one over the course of the last couple years, I found it difficult to hold back the tears as I listened to some of the most ungodly stories of abuse, most at the hands of a defendants parents.

Each one becoming even more tragic than the next…. it pushed me to share a story of a little girl I once knew. A little girl named Mary and this is her story,

I wanted to share her story in the hopes it may help anyone listening to better understand what affects stem from abuse.

At the young age of 4 years old, as early as she could remember, Mary would awake to hear her mother screaming. She was screaming at her and her siblings to get up out of bed. Her mother  was never cheerful, patient or kind but more hateful. As Mary got ready for school, it did not matter what she did right or wrong, she was still beaten, her and her siblings.

Whether  with a switch, punched, slapped or yelled at…often over nothing at all, Mary was hurt by her mother and so were her siblings.

Her father, often on the road, long hauls as a truck driver, was not present for a lot of her younger years. Her mother was left to do the work of two parents most of the time.

Mary says she never knew if it was due to the pressure of having six children in the home at once or other mental health issues? But the beatings kept coming…the evil words hurtful words…she  thought it felt better to get hit than hear the awful things spewing out of her mother’s mouth..

Mary described it  to be a sort of  mental torture, emotional torture and uses the word, “torture,” because that is the best and most accurate way to describe what she felt.

On the days her father was home, Mary says she and her siblings were often  beaten by him after he would drink.

She says after every fight they had, the beatings would come. It seemed like hours, days and months turned into years of listening to their tumultuous fights and repeated beatings.

The bruises came and went, Mary explains, but the words sunk deep into their little minds, never really leaving them. In turn, it caused each one of her siblings to form  emotional/mental health issues. Depression was the dominant for most of Mary’s siblings, but she says, “I got lucky…mine were minimal.”

Mary says, many of her siblings developed addiction to alcohol and/or drugs; hers was food.

Along with those problems/ addictions,  she lost two siblings to suicide in the family.

  A brother at the age of 18, chose to end his life with his hunting rifle on  grandmother’s lawn; Mary was thirteen as she watched coroners lift his limp body into a bag and take him away…on Mother’s day, 1979.

Years later, losing another brother to a drug induced heart attack and more recent, a sister to suicide at her home on Travis Air Force Base in 2006.

 Mary says, “Year after year, things continued into our  teenage life; as if being a teenager wasn’t already rough enough. “

 After being to big to beat with Weeping Willow Switches and other items, Mary says she and her siblings  were hit in the head, slapped in the face,  sometimes kicked and drug by the hair..

Mary says, “we began fighting each other…even nicknaming one of our sisters, “crazy spell,” because of her violent temper.

As a small kid, Mary remembers lying in bed at night wishing her parents would die….often crying themselves to sleep. Mary and her older brothers talked about a plan to run away when her brothers were old enough to drive.

 She says, “It was a dream of ours to run so far away to a peaceful place, a beautiful place filled with nice people. People who would never harm us again. We felt like misfits at times, sharing the fantasy of a perfect life; never having to look back on all that ugliness or feeling all that pain…..wishing it would end and we would be able to be free to be happy..”

But, Mary says, ” We never did leave, we were too afraid.  We knew we would miss mom and could not live without her. Maybe I was a big baby? Mary thought… Or maybe she was pulled into a world of no escaping….she wondered.

Mary says for the next several years, she and siblings lived thru depression and addiction.  She says experiencing feelings of hopelessness, fear, anxiety, instability, anger, frustration, rage, guilt, shame, hurt and pain and it would orchestrate the rest of their lives; leading some to an early grave.

 Mary thought she found a way to cope. Instead of becoming enraged, rebellious or addicted to something, Mary locked herself in a “fantasy world,” a world of which she allowed no one to come close enough to hurt her again. She wore a smile on her little face as a mask and pretended not to grieve…not to hurt…but underneath the mask, feeling all alone with her emotions, her pain.

Mary says it was her own little world of denial.

She continued to function in that fantasy world…never revealing her secret to living soul protecting those who hurt her and her siblings.

After years had gone by and Mary had her own children… Suddenly, It could no longer be kept a secret. Her children demanded answers to Mary’s  rage. Mary was caught…she could no longer pretend…or protect her parents.

As she began to unlock her proverbial, “Pandora’s box,” she says her children and her wept. They could not believe what they were hearing.

Mary says once the cat was out of the bag…her daughter suggested psychotherapy immediately. She was finally ready to unload her pain, her story…and by doing so,  learned ways of coping with all of those feelings she had kept quiet, secret for so many years.

Mary says as she talked about each time she was struck, yelled at…or experienced pain, she felt a monkey off her back…those feelings were ready to be grieved and Mary was on her road to freedom….

 Mary talked about feelings of “hopelessness, sadness, guilt, anger and shame but never understood it to be anyone’s fault but her own.”

After years of telling her story, lots of therapy and a continuous effort, she began to understand all those feelings. She began learning how to let them go.  .

Mary says she has come to accept those memories may never fully leave her mind but she is okay with it because she has learned a deeper level of forgiveness felt it necessary in letting go…

“I was able to allow forgiveness because I learned my parents were victims too.”

Mary says….”I learned all that guilt and shame was not ours, but someone else’s…”

Finally…Mary says, “I am free!”—

I shared this with you in the hopes it may fall on the ears and eyes of a person who find it comforting…..I did…..I hope you do too…

You see, I knew Mary….she once lived inside of me…

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Chicolini

    So well written, so sad and painful and disturbing on so many levels, and yet so uplifting to hear that you are now safe and moving forward with your own children and a strong sense of purpose.

  2. Frankly

    What a well done piece. It sounds like Mary was successful in breaking the cycle of abuse that seems to plague successive generations of some families. Any type of child abuse is heart-breaking.

    I think children are both more resilient and more impressionable than we give them credit for. I would prefer we stamp out 100% of any child abuse, but we know it will not happen. There are just too many underdeveloped and damaged people that will have children, and they will end up abusing their children. So, I would like for us to start teaching coping skills to children. Explain to them what real abuse is. And explain to them some of the potential consequences of personal destructive behavior that result from the abusive behavior of their family and other adults, and give them tools that they can use to better cope with their situation and to recognize and resolve destructive behavior.

  3. Sailor boy

    That was a awesome piece. I’m so sorry for what you went throught as a child, I didn’t have them problems growing up, my brother was already in the Army, and my sister had just graduated from High school when I was 6 years old. My sister went off and got married soon later. My sister always told me stories about my dad when she was small how he always came home drunk and the way he was. My dad was the type of man that believed that a woman should be treated like a kid. Speak only when spoken to. I don’t remember to much growing up as a kid. I later learned my dad accepted Jesus Christ as his savior in !949. and I do remember going to sunday school. I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian family, until I was 17 and I parted ways.

  4. Antoinnette

    Yes, my family has been in the church for our whole lives…and repented…mother went thru therapy too.

    I forgive and love my parents deeply. Their childhood was worse.:(

    Fortunately…all of us remain very close!

  5. Antoinnette

    @Silvia…….you prick my heart….YOU all have meant the world to me, sweetheart! One of the very sweetest things about being a part of the Vanguard…so many special people in every courtroom! I have been so blessed to be able to work with all of you and become so close!!

    My cup runneth over…xoxox Miss you so much!!!

    You classy gal!!! 🙂

  6. badyer

    Wow! Very talented Anto. I always knew you were a strong person.
    You have proven this by the person you have become
    and definitely overcome. I didn’t know the whole story.
    Now I understand you better lol love you girl and
    Hope you continue to thrive!

  7. Antoinnette

    @badyer……thank you, my dearest and longtime bff….I am so sorry I could never tell you what was going on…but I sure am glad you were my best friend…you changed so much for me, kiddo….love you with all my heart, always!!! 🙂

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