My story is a tough one. A story of complete devastation starting from a very young age. A story whose details make most squirm in their seat in discomfort. But that’s not how I tell the story. I tell it how God has blessed me to see it, through His eyes.
I was born to two kids who were in college. They were still too young to even have found themselves, and definitely too young to have kids. But God had a plan. My parents married and just two years later had my brother. They were young, and they were drowning. I didn’t know it then, but my father was terribly emotionally abusive to my mother. She left the situation thinking that she was the problem, and that if she were gone, everything would be ok. This is very stereo-typical victim blaming. It leaves the victim feeling responsible for the abuse they endure. She made the hardest decision to get free of the monster who tormented her to the very near point of taking her life. She knew our father had a very large and loving Christian family who would help care for us, and never did she ever think he would hurt his own children.
From that point on, our father raised my brother and I and we spent about half of our time with our grandparents (praise God for them), and some time with our mother as well. God blessed my path very early in life, being born into a large Christian family. Unfortunately, christians are just as much sinners as anyone else. We all sin and fall short.
I don’t remember much from my childhood, which I also consider a blessing from God. Sometimes memories as traumatic as mine, are better off forgotten. I remember my father as two different men wrapped into one person who I called dad. On one side, he was a great father. He always brought us to church (again, blessing from GOD), taught us many sports and played with us, helped with homework, made dinner, prayed with us, and took us on many fun vacations. He also taught me how to do hair (I am now a hairstylist!), and match my clothes. The other side of my dad was the polar opposite. He was angry, aggressive, yelled often, and was mentally, physically and sexually abusive. And unpredictable. He would be dad one minute and completely snap the next minute. We never knew when it was coming. We tried to stay out of his way, always being quiet and doing things right. But avoiding his wrath seemed impossible.
I grew up quick. I had to make sure the house remained clean and quiet while dad was sleeping (he slept during the days when he worked nights). Dad didn’t allow friends into the house, so I rarely played indoors. He often allowed us to play outdoors, but it came at a cost. My dad manipulated everything about my life, to benefit his own selfish and sick desires. I compare my relationship to my father until 18 to that of a cult leader and a follower. Except I didn’t choose to follow him. I did it because I didn’t know any better and felt I had no choice.
When I turned 15, my dad remarried a wonderful woman from our church. I felt this was the biggest blessing God had afforded me yet. Finally, I felt, someone else to come into the situation and perhaps protect me. Maybe dad would stop the abuse? Things did get better. The physical abuse stopped, but the sexual abuse was still sporadic.
The hardest part about being abused by a family member, specifically one who’s job is to protect and provide for you, is you feel like you can’t tell anyone. And when you do, you downplay things. On one hand, you desperately want help and protection from the monster, yet on the other, you’re afraid of what happens if you do turn said monster in. Like where will I live? What will happen to him? Who will believe me? What will happen if he gets to me after I tell? Then there is the thoughts of guilt that you’ve been conditioned to feel so you wouldn’t tell.
So I told very few people. And not until my late teens. While I felt like I was pleading desperately at them for help, I really probably didn’t even tell them much of anything. I was too scared. I confronted my father in my early twenties when I felt a small sense of security being outside of the house at college. He basically told me that I couldn’t tell anyone because he would lose his job, wife, kids and position in the church. He convinced me that he would eventually confess to the church but had to do it in his own time. He also convinced me that he was done with this behavior and would never do it again and certainly not to my sisters.
Unfortunately this was not the case. About a year and a half ago (years after I confronted my father), I got a call from my step mother saying that my father had also abused my sisters. My heart sank and my world was shattered. I was flooded with feelings of fear, regret, guilt, anger, sadness, and despair. This was the day that God gave me my life back. This was the day He spoke to me in an audible voice and told me that he loved me and would take care of me. This was the worst and best day of my new life.
My father turned himself in with no other choice and thus began the process of prosecution of his sexual crimes against his three daughters. This year was the hardest and longest year of my life. It was equally the most beautiful first year of my new life. Having this all come into the open fully, for the first time ever, brought up ugly pain and fear. I was diagnosed with PTSD and riddled with anxiety and crippling fear. Some days I couldn’t even make it out of bed. Some days I took so much caffeine to keep me from sleeping (and having nightmares) that I hallucinated during the day. The devil took advantage of my fear and pain and I saw demons. But my God, in His almighty love and care, fought for me. And my family and friends fought for me, when I had nothing left. And God conquered! When I felt afraid, I cried out to him, and he made me strong! When I was sad and angry at the devastating loss my father caused in our now fractured again family, God gave me peace.
Through therapy I learned that what I had been taught about God from my father was mostly wrong. God wasn’t some man who required a certain formula to communicate with me. He wasn’t too holy that he didn’t want my broken self to reach out. My problems weren’t too big for him. So I slowly, prayed more and more. Thanking God for all the blessings in my life, and asking him to help me continue to focus on the blessings moving forward. I asked him to heal my hurts. I told him when I was afraid, or angry, and asked him to guide my thoughts for HIS glory. And he did. Some nights I would fall asleep praying. I always slept the best those nights.
In the end, my father went to prison. Part of me mourned the loss of the good parts of my dad. Part of me felt so much safer he was gone. God surely had a hand in every step of the process, and it was very evident.
Now that I finally have started my life again, without an abusive figure guiding my path, I’ve learned how to and trusted God to be my guide. And I’ve learned that no human, good or bad, was meant to be our God. The only way to get where God wants us, is to let HIM be the driver. I am so thankful that HE loved me enough to allow me to see positive in every bad situation along the way. I’m so thankful that HIS love is perfect, and as my father, he will never let me down or hurt me.
My journey is just beginning, and I’m learning everything all over. By myself, with GOD at the reigns. I will make mistakes, but I’m pushing forward to be the best person I can be, for the glory of GOD ALONE!
4 thoughts on “Erin’s Story”
What a wonderful woman you have grown into, despite your circumstances! Keep clinging to Jesus and He will supply all your needs. Thank you so much for sharing your story!
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Very inspiring and moving story. I write and publish stories of kids in Uganda, Africa, who are are in similar situation like Erin. Its uplifting to see the love of Jesus changing their lives, one child at a time for His glory. There’s hope in Jesus for even the broken hearted and down trodden to see another day!
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Erin, you are such an inspiration to so many in your situation. I could not even imagine what you went through, having your trust shattered by the one you’re supposed to trust most. My dad was the absolute best man on earth to me and my family who would never dream of hurting any of us. I miss him so much everyday so it deeply saddens me to hear that you didn’t have the same experience from your dad. The description of the emotional rollercoaster you rode daily is heartbreaking. What is uplifting is to listen to how you’ve turned to God for strength and He’s never let you down. Born and raised a Lutheran, I do believe and trust in Him, but have found myself sometimes struggling with my own relationship with God. Your words always seem to touch me….to remind me that I’m never alone, even when I think I might be. Thank you for sharing your story again and be proud of everything you are and how far you’ve come!! You’re a very beautiful person with a great big heart! I do believe that you’re touching a lot of people with your story. Helping them to feel a lot of positive things, not only the ones who’ve been abused and endured so much, but many others like myself who haven’t had your experiences too so thank you!! It really helps us all to hear you triumph and overcome! 💜
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