“My story started before I was born. Some say it’s not possible and some believe it plays a huge part of who I am. My dad was married and had an affair with my mom. I became the product of their affair.
My mom married another man when I was one year old. On the outside, to everyone else, we looked normal. But behind closed doors, dark secrets hid. My life quickly took a turn. My very first memory is not of a toy or family vacation or function. My first memory I have as a little girl was my stepdad raping me. He had to move my body the way HE needed. He would do it in the living room with people home and became ‘brave’ in doing it wherever and whenever he wanted it.
Another memory I have was my younger sister waking up when he was raping me. She said, ‘Daddy can you hump me like you do Shannon?’ He told her, ‘No it’s only for her.’ He never touched his kids or any other kids that we know of… Just me.
I was the stepchild and had to take hell.
People knew and some even walked in on him during the act and turned around and left me there! The hardest words to swallow came from my own mother. ‘This is the slut you are sleeping with?!’ I was only in 4th grade and it tore me apart. My brother grew up thinking and believing I was the other ‘woman’ his dad had an affair with. That I was the reason his mom and dad got a divorce.
I was told things like, ‘You’re the reason we are poor.’
‘You little slut.’
‘I wish I never had you.’
‘You’re a piece of sh*t.’
‘I hate you.’
These hurtful phrases came from family. The words from other people killed my soul. Words hurt more than anything.
To this day I hate crochet blankets, it seemed to be the main blanket he used. The abuse would happen up to 3 times a day. Soon after, I had my neighbors, my grandpa and my uncles touching me. They would tell me, ‘It’s already happening so no one will believe I’m doing it, too!’
I had to take it.
I have always wondered, how did someone have so much time to cause so much pain? My stepdad would ground me for little things. I was always grounded, sometimes up to a year. I believe it was so I’d be at the house – his way of controlling me.
My stepdad took everything from me. My image on love was destroyed, my self-love wasn’t there…I hated myself.
I was angry and violent towards people. I hated life. My pain was so deep, and most did not know. I quickly learned how to hide my emotions and became a fighter. I hated everything and everyone, even God. I was labeled at a young age and no matter how much I tried, I was always the horrible kid.
I started drinking and using drugs at the age of 10. I had to stay numb. Show no emotion. I hated the memories of the pain I knew and the hate that ran deep in me.
My stepdad moved out of the house, never spent a day in jail and no charges were EVER filed. After the abuse from him, I’d still hear and feel him breathing down my neck. I was in a living hell every single day. Every time I was touched a certain way it would trigger negative feelings and emotions. I dropped out of school in 8th grade – couch surfed or slept in the desert. I didn’t want to be around people.
I started using meth. And oh boy, I finally found something I loved! I got down to 78 lbs, stayed up for four months at a time AND at one point lost over two weeks when a couple of friends and I stayed in a room so HIGH we never came out until the dope was gone. The neighborhood thought we were dead but never called because they didn’t want the cops around.
I laughed then, but now I think, ‘Oh man, no one really would have cared if I was gone.’ It was a horrible place. I got pregnant with my daughter. I believe now that she saved my life, but at the time, I wasn’t ready to stop partying.
I liked being high. I felt no emotions or pain.
I believe God gave me her so I could live.
Almost a year later, I met my husband. We got together even though both of us were with someone else. My husband told me one day, ‘it’s him or the drugs.’
For the first time in my life, I stopped something for a man. I stopped that day.
God knew I needed this man. My now husband came into my life and took on some heavy baggage. He has helped me heal from my emotional damage, stayed through all the anger outbursts and the hell I put him through. I didn’t know how to love or even accept love. It was hard to know someone really loves me, because I was so broken and damaged. He stepped in and pulled me out of the hell I was living. We dated a month before we got married.
God really did have his hand on my life. I never believed it until I believed in Him. Believing helped me heal.
The hardest thing I ever had to do was forgive the man who raped me, who took my innocence away and then forgive the mother who didn’t protect me. After I truly forgave, a weight was lifted off me.
I gave my life to God seven years ago. The Lord and my husband are my strength. I know where I am broken, I know where I need strength and I know I am loved, and I am enough.
I once heard that trauma is the gateway drug. Through so much healing, I now believe that to be true.
Today I am 16 years clean. Happily married for 16 years with 3 kids. I work at our church serving others. I don’t tell my story for sympathy. It was and is still hard for me to think of myself as a victim. Because without my hell, I’d never have the compassion and love for people I now have.
I wear my story with pride – all of it! It sucked but I came out stronger and an overcomer by the grace of God. I tell others to be an example of hope.
Am I perfect? I am only human.
Do I still have my self-hate issues? Yes, but I cope through exercises.
Do I still have anger? Yes, but now, I’m not violent and I can work it out like an (almost) normal human. When I talk to others who are struggling with what happened I tell them, ‘In order to heal and move on you cannot wear that victim role too long – it will hold you in your hell.’
I still have feelings and emotions from my past. They haunt me, but I’m a heck of a lot stronger now. I don’t feel the man who took everything from me anymore… I feel the love my husband has filled me with.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Fuller of Arizona. A version of her story originally appeared on this addiction recovery Facebook page. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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