Wednesday, 25 July 2018

STOP CHILD ABUSE - THE FIRST TIME I WAS FALSELY ACCUSED






THE FIRST TIME I WAS FALSELY ACCUSED

(Wizard of Oz)
My sister Kadey is a witch. No, not the kind that flies around on a broom and wears a black hat, but that’s how I think of her. In six decades she hasn’t given many reasons for me to change my opinion.

Our parents believed she was the perfect kid, the angel in the family. She patterned after them; she could be cruel in the name of God. They openly showed their prejudice and favored her over the rest of us.

There were six of us. She wasn’t the oldest kid. She wasn’t even a boy. She was the second in line and two years older than me. 


(great swamp Baptist church)    

Sharing a room with her caused me a lot of grief, many a night sleeping on the floor, and a crescent moon shaped scar on my left forearm.

When Kadey was around twelve going on sixteen years old, she wielded our father’s wooden yard stick, a piece of yellow chalk, and measured off the middle of our room. Half for her. Half for me.

We shared a double bed. She shoved it to the exact center of the back wall.  Her desk went on her side, my desk went on mine. She used masking tape and stuck it to the marks she made on the floor, walls, and yes, even on the sheet down the center of our bed. She tore up the top sheet, gave half to me, and she took the other. If my foot, hand, or any other part of me accidently touched her side of the bed at night, she kicked me back to my side and onto the floor. I learned to keep a rug there. It served as a pad and helped to soften my fall.

My parents knew I slept there along with my dog. They said I was being stubborn and did nothing to intervene.

Kadey was a clothes hog. Our closet was the only thing that she did not divide evenly One-fourth was for me, three-fourths was for her. When she wanted to iron her clothes, she had me move my desk out of her way so she could set up the ironing board. Kadey didn’t want to mess up her side of the room with her pile of clothes. She also needed to prove she was boss. I was afraid of her so I usually did what she said until one time, I refused.

I was studying at my desk for a test. I had my books and study notes organized the way I needed them to be. If I moved, I would have to wait until Kadey was finished ironing and then start over again.

Kadey plugged in the iron and stretched the cord so it reached my side of the room. She flexed her talons and screamed, “Get out of my way!”

I cringed and felt fear rise in my chest but I declined to look at her. A cloud of steam hissed through the holes in the bottom of the bulky General Electric iron.

My sister waved the iron around, advanced towards me, and branded my arm. My skin sizzled. I smelled my flesh boil. A blister immediately formed. I screamed, jumped over my chair, out the door, and scrambled down the hall. 

My parents heard the commotion and ran into the hallway towards us.

 Kadey joined my father with the iron still in her hand. She had pulled the cord out of the wall. A tiny piece of my blistered skin stuck to the edge.

My father glared at me and said, “Stop screaming! What did you do this time?”

My arm hurt but my heart broke into a thousand pieces of agony. I had nowhere to run. I was wedged in the windowless hallway between my father and sister on one side and my mother on the other. The truth of their prejudice and favor towards one child over all of the rest of us killed the joy of being their kid. They scolded and yelled and accused me of being bad. They took turns yelling:

“Joyce, you are being stubborn - again.
Your stubbornness is from the devil.
You need to give your heart to the Lord and repent.
You are our worst disobedient child.
No one will ever love you.
You won’t have any friends.
You’re headed to having a terrible life!”

I was about ten years old at the time.

The walls of the narrow hallway closed in around me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. I don’t know how long my parents took turns scolding me but after a while, their words sounded garbled. The anger and disappointment in their faces blended and faded into the color of paint. I shivered with grief and panic …
Please stop.
Please stop.
Please stop.

They did not.

Fear and shame became a migraine of pain. I shrunk into myself and withdrew into a tiny little box inside my mind. As an escape from their abuse, I experienced dissociation for the first time. It allowed me to survive. Nothing was real – it was just a dream – my parents weren’t cursing me – they were telling me how much they were proud of me – because of my good grades – because I tried to obey – but I was afraid.  

I woke up as a pile of bones on cold squares of linoleum tile.

My sister and father were gone.

My mother allowed me to retreat outside and hug my dog.

Almost six decades have passed. A lot of things have changed.  Some things have stayed the same. I understand more about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the cycle of abuse, about the misogynistic personality of my father, and the pseudo Christian cult in which he raised us.

My father died of a global heart attack ten years ago. That’s the kind of heart attack from which no one recovers. I had a few precious minutes alone with him before he passed. I had time to forgive him and tell him I loved him because, well, because he was my father.

My sister? She never answers my phone calls. Why would she? I left the religious cult of our parents and am considered to be a heretic. She is the executor of their estate. Their will states she can make decisions about them without the notification or approval of any of the rest of their other five kids.

Favoring one child over the other is not the heritage I wanted for my children. I choose to teach justice and truth and live with hope and joy and the gift of salvation. 

For more stories on how to stop child abuse: 


For more stories on how to stop child abuse:
https://www.aslongasibreathe.com/search?updated-max=2018-10-31T15:34:00-07:00&max-results=1&start=10&by-date=false



 
********
True Crime Memoir – Survivor: As Long As I Breathe
is dedicated to:
survivors of emotional, physical, spiritual, or sexual abuse,
those who have had to bury a murdered child,
former members of a religious cult based on misogyny,
children born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome,
and anyone who was falsely accused of a crime.
 ********
                                                                 
                                                                 
Joyce A Lefler is the author of
From Miracle to Murder: Justice For Adam.
She is a facilitator for Parents of Murdered Children,
a bereavement counselor, registered nurse,
and an advocate against abuse.
Connect with her:

Website:
Facebook:
Advocacy project:
Amazon:




 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

STOP CHILD ABUSE - A CULTURE OF MISOGYNY





A CULTURE OF MISOGYNY
 
(878-David)

Could Three Dog Night be wrong?
Yes. 
One is not the loneliest number. 
Try being less than nothing.
A nonentity.
Try being a zero. 
Were you ever last in line because no one chose you?
A zero is invisible. 
A zero is a woman whose bruises are ignored. 
The shame of receiving them silenced me for a while. 

I cried out for help to my pastor, my father, my grandmother. My mother scoffed at me. They told me it was my fault. It didn’t do any good to cry.

The sweet scent of citrus was strong on the breezes coming through our open screens. Palo Verde trees bent under their yellow flowers of spring when my husband hit and abused me in front of our children again. His fists to the left side of my skull split open another migraine. His screams, rage, and violence frightened them. I believe he had murder in his mind this time.

I needed to survive to save my children. I called emergency services when he finished.
I never called them again.

(courtesy of woman-bruise-face)

Two male officers swaggered into our house. They saw the angry bruise swelling my eye, the black tears staining my face, the tiny child in my arms whimpering with fear, the second one hiding behind the couch. They adjusted their leather belts, stood with legs apart, looked at me, and frowned. They turned to my husband. The three men eyeballed each other, puffed out their chests, and nodded. It was 1976 and a culture of misogyny  pervaded society. Men could do as they wished with their wives. The younger of the two officers closed his paper pad and put away his pen. 

The older one glared at me and said, “We don’t want to come back here. Next time, just do what he says.”

There was no justice for me. There was no justice for my children who witnessed. I was
a zero with the law. There were zero shelters or orders of protection, and zero empathy or understanding for victims of domestic violence the way there is today.

When people ask now, “Why didn’t you just leave?” It is obvious they had zero understanding of the grief and damage caused by the culture of misogyny back then. Women were considered to be intellectually, spiritually, and physically inferior to men. They needed a man to tell them how to function. 

Fear plays havoc with the mind, especially when violence cools and cycles back around to begging for forgiveness or excuses are expressed, “I was drunk,” or “I promise, if you take me back, I will never do it again,” or worse, “you made me mad.” When the victim is told it is her or his fault there is confusion and self-doubt.

I may have been a zero, but my children were immeasurably wondrous miracles of God.  The day I took a step back, slid over, and shielded them from the switch in their father’s hands that was intended for their bare skin, I took a step forward and away from fear. Breaking the cycle of abuse became a choice for me and my children. It is the heritage I wanted to give. I had zero money in the checking account, zero food in the cupboard, zero credit, no cards, no history of having a job, and zero ability to support the children without my husband’s paycheck. Not a single member of my family or church said, “I care enough to help.”

Starting over took a super charge of energy and courage I didn’t have. I had to dig down deep and find those extra volts of power. I found them in the faces of my children as fear for their father’s fists and screams was replaced with hope and joy. 

Sometimes it’s not only okay to be alone, sometimes it’s better. When time isn’t wasted on the impossible task of pleasing an abusive partner, there’s time left over for reflection, making lists of what I would need, and a plan to leave. 

Sometimes the number one is the best number of all. Becoming a one was the first step in becoming who I am and who I needed to be for my children. I needed to become ME.

Getting the word out, becoming aware, and then doing something about it, will help eliminate the prejudice that some people have, that abuse is the victim’s fault. It’s getting better but we have a long way to go until we make zero tolerance of abuse the norm. 

For more stories on how to stop child abuse: 


                                                                                                                                        
(Better is One Day)






********
True Crime Memoir – Survivor: As Long As I Breathe
is dedicated to:
survivors of emotional, physical, spiritual, or sexual abuse,
those who have had to bury a murdered child,
former members of a religious cult based on misogyny,
children born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome,
and anyone who was falsely accused of a crime.

********
                                                                
                                                                  
Joyce A Lefler is the author of
From Miracle to Murder: Justice For Adam.
She is a facilitator for Parents of Murdered Children,
a bereavement counselor, registered nurse,
and an advocate against abuse.
Connect with her:

Website:
Facebook:
Advocacy project:
Amazon: