There are no victims allowed in this house Imagine being four years old and terrified to visit your dad because of what your step-mom would do to you. Now, imagine being so scared that you hide alone in your closet, where you believe no one can get you. These are the feelings I grew up with, and these are feeling that came back to me my junior year of high school.
I am aware that this may sound confusing, but all of this leads to one thing that I have held dear to my heart, and that is the saying “there are no victims allowed in this house, only survivors!” Before I can tell you about what that saying really means, I believe you need to know a little bit about who I am, and what I have had to overcome. When I was only four years old, my biological father met someone who wasn’t too impressed with his past, and that woman eventually became my Step-Mom and she hated me something fierce. It was so bad that she even tried to have me and my mom killed in order to erase my father’s past. Because of that, I was terrified to go with my Dad for visitation. When I got a little bit older, the truth came out, and my family finally knew why I was so scared; my Step-Mom had been abusing me. A lot of what happened to me I don’t remember because the traumatic experience cause me to have a split personality. I also don’t remember the bad things that happened to me while I was at my dad’s nor do I remember the days following right after one of my visitations, butI do remember hearing my mom say, “there are no victims allowed in this house, only survivors.”
At the time the court case against my Step-Mom was brought up, I heard that saying more than ever. When the verdict came, it was both good and bad. It was good because my stepmother could never come near me again, but it was also bad becauseI would never be allowed to see my Dad again. My Dad had made a deal with my mom and her lawyer that if he signed away his rights to me and never talked to me again then the charges would be dropped against his wife. This hurt me bad because he believed his wife over me, and I had the bruises to prove my story true. Somy Mom agreed and the charges were dropped, and me and my family moved to New York, where she couldn’t find us.
Now when I was younger, and I wasn’t being tortured by my Step-Mom, I always wanted to command the room. I was this small, blue-eyed ball of charisma that wasn’t afraid of anything, when I was with my dad, that all changed. After my family found out everything that was happening to me, they put me in therapy and that was when I started reliving things I never wanted to remember. I went from being this small bundle of joy and happiness to this constantly scared little girl. I wanted more than anything to be happy again, and the one thing that my mom always told me was that a survivor can overcome anything and everything. After I heard that I knew I wanted to be the survivor and not the victim.
Then in 2005 I moved from New York to Arizona, and I thought this was my chance to start over with no one knowing anything about what I went through, but in early July, of 2006 that all changed. My Step-Mom found me again. It was through MySpace that she found and contacted me which sent me into full blown panic mode. I couldn’t focus on anything; it was like my world had been turned upside down, but my mom stayed calm and did everything she could to keep me safe. She notified my school and set up special safety precautions for me, yet I still didn’t feel at ease. I kept my emotions bottled up inside me. That was until August 8th, of 2006, when my mom became ill and almost died. At that moment I lost it. All of my rationality went out the window and I broke down.
I felt as though I couldn’t go on, and then my band teacher, Nora Gnader, came to me and told me just what my mom would have told me. She told me not to be a victim and not to think that the world is ending, but instead to be strong and believe that everything will be okay. As she told me that I thought back to my mom and what she would have said. She would have told me, “Don’t be the victim and let Jamie ( my Step-Mom) have the joy of knowing your living in fear, but instead, be a survivor and show her that she doesn’t scare you anymore. Show her she can’t win anymore”.
That is why I live everyday by the saying “There are no victims allowed in this house, only survivors.” For me, this means always stay strong and never give up; and it is this statement that Iwill tell my children and my grandchildren when they have a problem that turns their whole world upside down, just like when I was told that when my world turned upside down.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.