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This is the sixth post in this series, to start from the beginning, please click here.
Disclaimer: I wrote this in 2013 to share my testimony with the world in the hopes of helping other children faced with abuse. Most times, you will be the only person to advocate for a child that cannot stand up for themselves. Children in abusive situations are taught to conceal every aspect of abuse, so if you by chance are able to see something, it may be the only opportunity for rescue a child has. Please take the appropriate steps to report child abuse. I have since rewritten and updated these posts to make them more understandable and up to my current writing standards.
I don’t blame him
When my mother’s boyfriend pushed his way into our world my brother was eleven years old. A preteen. He had his whole life ahead of him. And then a choice was made for a monster to live with us and his life changed too. I wasn’t the only one on the end of his rages. My brother suffered some very unique punishments also, alongside the beatings. The one I remember most was him having to stand in between the opening of our hallway with his knees bent and his arms out for hours.
There were constant threats that he would string my brother up and hang him in our bathroom. He would choke him, punch him, make him do push-ups until he was satisfied and whoop him until he couldn’t sit down. For me, this was a life I grew accustomed to because I had known of a better life for only a few short years. For my brother, it was a life he hated to the core, something that he longed to leave, and so he became angry.
Abuse can change anyone’s life. I burned with rage also, but not until after we were free. For my brother, his only outlet for his anger was my sister and me. He didn’t have a role model of protection like he should have from our mom, he was a kid. I honestly don’t hold anything against him. And I know that my brother is not the same person he used to be, but in order for me to tell my entire story, I have to tell the truth. And I have to tell everything that happened to me.
When my mom and her boyfriend would leave home my brother got stuck watching us. He was never allowed to go play outside, and when he did he had to take us with him and watch us there also. His fatherly influence was an abuser. So when he became angry about it, we became his outlet. In my mind, my brother was the master of torture. He was smart and knew how to trap us. And he knew how to get us to never tell. When my mom would give us baths and see bruises she would assume they were from her boyfriend. It was all the same to her. But I knew which ones were which.
When they were gone, in chimed my brother. It wasn’t always, and it wasn’t constant but it happened frequently. His favorite thing to do to us was what he would call a “charlie horse”. We would be walking around a corner and he would scream out “charlie horse!” and then punch us with his middle finger knuckle raised above the rest. Sometimes it would be one punch, sometimes it would be a couple in the same spot. We never knew when he was going to do something to us because he loved the element of surprise. So we had to be ready at all times, whether we needed to run, or duck or hide, we did what we had to do to avoid him.
His favorite ways to torture us
We had a clay jar that my brother made in elementary school that held all of our pens and pencils. Randomly, my brother would grab it, yell out “Defend yourselves!” and start wielding pens and pencils at us as hard as he could. He also followed that phrase with throwing glass marbles at our heads or wherever else he could hit us. Because of this, my sister and I became masters of hiding. When he would scream out one of his favorite phrases, we would duck behind a couch or run behind a wall. We had to come up with survival plans. We tried to fight back but that never worked. My favorite hiding spot was the bathroom. The bathroom cabinet opened up against the door. I would sit up against that cupboard door holding my knees to my chest waiting for his storm to pass. I could stay in there for hours until he or my mom got home. It was my safe place. He never figured out how to get past that barrier. We could always run from my brother, but there was no outrunning my mom’s boyfriend.
As my brother got older and smarter he figured out more ways to entertain himself. He began to tie us up with rope, tape or whatever he could find and we would sit there until we figured out how to get ourselves out of the mess he created. He would lock us in our bedroom closet by tying a rope to the closet door handle and then to the wood slats on his bunk bed and then to a million other things so that it would take us hours to get out. When he got into junior high school and had to take health class, he practiced CPR on me. Not the breathing air into my lungs part but the compressions on my chest.
I don’t know why he was obsessed with fire but we became his extinguishers. He would light our stuffed animals on fire among other things. He would take that can of Lysol, start spraying and light that on fire and point it at us. And then there were always the doors. I hated those the most. I feared that our whole apartment would catch on fire and we would be trapped inside. There were small burn marks all over our carpet that no one ever noticed.
His perception of me
The worst part, in my mind, was how he was brainwashed along with everyone else into thinking that I was a liar, thief, and little devil. I’ll never forget the day we were all playing the game ten thousand in our living room. I had rolled the dice and before they hit the table something extremely interesting came on the television and we all turned our heads to watch. When we turned back, I had rolled almost all sixes or ones or whatever it was to get a really good score. He turned to my brother and asked, “She turned the dice didn’t she?” And my brother lied and said yes. I still wonder why he said that. I, of course, got beat and put on restriction for it. But that moment was validation to my mom’s boyfriend that I was a liar and a cheater. And my brother believed in those lies, so much so that when they were gone, he treated me like a little devil. His nickname for me was “The ol’ Devil.” When they were gone, he would put me in the corner for hours and leave me there just like they did. I felt like I would never get a break from the hurt and terror.
We did, of course, have some good times together. When we knew that they would be gone for hours we would go and buy pizza and sometimes breadsticks from the Little Caesars up the street from our apartment. We would get money from our grandmother who would send us an allowance every week. My brother would get two dollars and my sister and I would each get one. So on the weeks that her boyfriend didn’t take the money from us we would save up and get pizza. It was our little secret, among others.
Towards the end of her boyfriend’s reign in our lives, there was a Sunday that they sent us to go to church up the street without them. Little did they know that we barely ever went and would always go behind my elementary school to play hide and seek or tag. After we got done with our ritual we went to Little Caeser’s and got a pizza, but on the way home I did something to upset my brother. I don’t remember what it was, but it happened, and when we got home he put me in the corner.He and my sister were like best friends. The brainwashing made us all look at her like she was an angel (not saying that she wasn’t, she was amazing). So while I was standing in the corner, they ate the pizza together. I thought that my brother had been kidding and that he was still going to give me some but he never did.
I was pretty naive during her boyfriend’s reign but as I got older, there were those moments that forever changed my relationship with the ones I loved, and this was one of them. Why this moment was so important to me, I’m not sure, but in a life where all you have are your siblings because they are the only ones that understand what you’re going through, this was detrimental for me. As I stood in the corner, he invited his friends over and made fun of me having to stand there. He wouldn’t let me use the bathroom when I asked when I really had to pee. I felt like he was turning into him. I felt so betrayed and alone. Standing there and told myself that my brother didn’t love me and that I hated him. I burned with rage and hatred inside, I wanted to cry my eyes out but I knew that if I did, it would just be another thing for him and his friends to laugh at.
Why we never told
My brother had figured out how to deceive and trap us. When he was in high school, he called my sister and I to the kitchen table and asked us to show him what our signatures looked like. So we signed a piece of paper. He then removed the top sheet of it that had two rectangles cut out of it where we signed our names and told us that we just signed a contract. He explained what a contract was and then told us that we had just signed a paper saying that we could never tell on him for anything. I look back today, and I think why would I ever believe that? Why would I let a piece of paper stand between telling the truth and telling someone what my brother was doing to us? But I was young and naive and we believed him. And we never told a soul.
When he left
The day my brother left for the military was one of the happiest days of my life. Her boyfriend was gone, and now he was too. I was free! Or so I thought. I wanted to throw a party and shout from the rooftops! My heart was lifted and I could smile again. Since those days, I’ve forgiven my brother. I understand now the situation he was in, and what he was going through. I don’t blame him for what he did, he was a lost and angry teenager. I’ll always love my brother. And I know that his past hasn’t defined who he is. He isn’t the teenager who lived with me in that house. He found joy when he moved out. He lives a wonderful life and I know that he would never hurt anyone or act the way he did when we lived in that apartment. I don’t know how my brother would have treated us if he never came. When my dad still lived with us I remember my brother as the one that always shared his cereal with me. He and my sister have always had a closer bond, even way back then, but I still love him and I would sacrifice anything for him. Our relationship has never been close and I don’t know if it ever will be, there’s still lots to heal.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.”
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