“I got out of my friend’s car and walked up the driveway to my front door. My mother was home, complaining about the mishaps and chaos that occurred at work that day. My father was relaxing on the big couch in the living room, like he always does, while my mother began preparing a frozen meal for us all to eat. Packaged orange chicken from Trader Joe’s.
When she finished in the kitchen, she walked into the living room and plopped down on the light tan love sofa and turned on the television. I joined and sat right next to her. While this may sound like an average night, it was one of the most harrowing moments of my life. It was the first time I returned home after having confronted them both.
Just one week prior, I had discovered naked photos of myself on my father’s laptop. He had been secretly recording videos of me naked without my consent. I knew in my soul he wanted me to find them; he wanted me to know he still had control over me. In the video, my head was turned to the right side, completely oblivious to my surroundings. My brown, medium-length hair was drenched wet. I was holding a brown towel in my right hand and my favorite yellow St. Louis Blues shirt in the other. Every single body part was exposed. My vagina, breasts, butt, and face. It was me, his daughter. Although he wasn’t my biological father, he had been my parent for the entirety of my life.
Seeing the image on his laptop triggered a lot of repressed memories about his sexual abuse in my childhood. Suddenly, my mind flooded with horrid memories of him. I remembered all of the times he masturbated in front of me. I remembered all of the times he touched or groped me. All of the times I told him no, but he persisted. Other times he stripped me naked and spanked me. I was so little, but I didn’t know any other life.
Sometimes he would touch me in front of others, including my own brother. He would tell me, ‘Go get your blanket.’ It was a sick game. I would retrieve the blanket, hide most of my body underneath it, and prepare for him like clockwork. He taught me to do it that way. ‘Go get your blanket.’ Those words will forever haunt my mind.
My mother never protected me. I’d always cry for her in the next room, but she never came for me.
The day I spoke my truth to them, my mother stared at me blankly and said, ‘Brittian you are just different. You are just different.’ I had no words. I had no thoughts. I just didn’t understand. I looked down, closed my eyes, and reminded myself I am strong. I didn’t want to look up. I knew his devilish brown eyes were glaring at me.
Then she told me to get out of the house. He refused to speak to me. Like always, he tried to maintain control and power. I took a slow deep breathe and looked him dead in the eyes, completely weakened and defenseless. I stood up and walked towards the door. No one followed, no one cared. I slammed the front door shut and ran towards my friend’s white car. I fell into the seat and began to cry uncontrollably into my friend’s arms.
The week I was away, my mother bombarded me with messages. She told me she wanted the family back together again and we could move past it. She promised me his abuse would never happen again. She begged me not to tell anyone and manipulated me into thinking she was the victim of this situation. Naturally, I wanted nothing more than to protect her.
As the horrendous memories of his abuse traveled through my confused brain, I realized all I wanted was my mother. I wanted my mother’s touch. Her calm voice telling me everything was going to be okay. So I returned home. Every bone in my body was screaming at me to not walk through that door. I ignored my subconscious because I needed to protect my mother. At the time, I didn’t realize she was just keeping me close to keep me quiet.
The first night I spent in that hellish house was a clutter of emotions. I remember the feeling of my body trembling. My brain kept screaming at me. Don’t do this. Don’t do this. But I went against my intuition. I told myself I was strong and kept my head held high. I wasn’t going to allow him to know the power he had over me. He was a monster that thrived off of vulnerability. At times, I was confident in my superpowers, but when I looked into his devilish brown eyes, I realized he was my kryptonite.
My voice was a dull, constant ringing in my ear. It softly said, ‘You are weak. This is your fault. You deserve this.’ At the same time, my brain kept reminding me of my own worth. It was a vicious cycle. I avoided seeing him as much as possible. I was in constant fear that I would see his naked body appear from behind his bedroom door. The paranoia was unfathomable. I became an unbearable soul to be around. The outside world terrified me, but the corner of my room was comfortable and familiar. I would sit in there with my hands over my head, feet against my chest, and rock back and forth for hours on end. I would stare at my mattress, lost in my own head.
I tried to deny what happened to me in an effort to maintain my sanity, but it only lead to a downward spiral that almost cost me my life. I started doing cocaine and taking Xanax and pain pills. The more I took, the less I cared. I wrecked countless cars in an alcoholic haze. I began having sex to fill the void; it meant nothing to me. I lost my ‘virginity’ in a car to a complete stranger. I had been walking around somewhere ten miles from my house after a party when a man saw me walking. I was completely fogged and only remember getting into his car, seeing him shoot up in the bathroom, and finding myself in my own bed the next morning. I had angels flying over me that night.
I never felt fully in control of my own body. My father taught me I was property, not a human being. I began to think of myself as property, and couldn’t form connections with others. I often felt alone and like I could only trust myself. In every relationship I had, I would go to extremes to get attention. I knew these impulsive behaviors were wrong, but I didn’t know how to stop them. I never got the attention I so desperately needed as a child. When I did, it was invasive and traumatic. My father never explained to me how I should properly handle any situation. He purposely made sure I would get in trouble so he could constantly ‘punish’ me. It was another one of his twisted games.
My mother continued her hold on me. She told me I would destroy the family if I ever said anything. I would no longer have her trust and appreciation if I told anyone what happened to me. I remained silent because I wanted my mother’s love. I needed her support. But at the same time, there was a constant pulling sensation in my heart. Every breath felt painful and overwhelming. I no longer wanted to live on this earth; I could no longer handle all the pain. I knew in my heart that my mother’s behavior was wrong, but I didn’t want to be without her love. I thought it would be best to end my life. I would be at peace and my motherʼs secret would remain.
The strength of my voice saved me. I kept reminding myself I was worthy. ‘I am strong. I am brave. I can overcome.’ I repeated this to myself in the mirror countless times. Each time, it felt like the denial was slowly releasing from my soul and disappearing into the air. I remember telling myself, ‘It’s time to move on.’ I closed my eyes tight, took a deep breathe, and slowly opened my eyes. ‘I need to get the heck out of here.’ And that is exactly what I did. Today, I have pressed charges against my abuser.
I finally realized that even on my worst of days, life is purposeful. Life is beautiful. Life is adventurous. Life is fulfilled with happiness, love, and commitment. My perpetrator does not define me. We must be grateful and we must be humble, but, most of all, we must never be silent. I have been screaming at the world to listen ever since.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brittian of Florida. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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