Reaching Out

March 29, 2011
By , Bakersfield, CA
I believe in reaching out for help. Growing up, I lived an abusive lifestyle, complete with the evil stepdad who would beat my mother, and then proceed with his cruel acts of violence on me in secret. I remember watching him hit her continuously as I watched in fear from under the kitchen table. Then later on that same week when my mother wasn’t home, he’d beat me senselessly until I was nearly unconscious. After the beatings, he’d lose interest and shove me into a closet. I remember lying there in the dark, numb and drenched in my blood, wanting to just die already, and for the suffering to end. After hours of being “dead,” I’d somehow manage to get up and make my way to the bathroom, and wash off. I had to make myself presentable to the public, my teachers, my family, and more importantly, my own mother.

For years, this went on, and I can still remember Mom telling me that no one can ever know about what was really going on in our apartment; our stage… and, trying to be the good daughter, I obeyed her orders and kept everything a secret just as she’d wished. I became good at keeping secrets. I kept everything to myself; I lied, and turned everyone away. I kept things from everyone, from the family, the school, CPS, and even my own mother, who, even to this very day, doesn’t know of the beatings I have received. Over time, I had become withdrawn. I didn’t care to make friends in school, so despite everything that was going on behind the curtain, if anyone suspected anything, I would turn them away.

Year after year, things became more violent. At one point I was hospitalized for a week for whatever reason. I missed a lot of school in fourth grade. I stopped caring. Life as I knew it was miserable, and pointless. I had nothing to gain; nothing to lose. I didn’t care what was to happen to me. I’d find myself searching desperately for reasons to even keep going. I convinced myself that my sole purpose in this world, if I had one, was to protect my mother. Whether it was true or false was of little significance. It gave me a reason to keep fighting.

Later on, that reason alone didn’t seem to cut it anymore, but then on October 22nd 2004, my brother, Sean was born. His son. One night, Sean and I were being dropped off at my cousin’s to stay the night. Mom was having us stay with relatives a lot more lately, due to the escalating danger we were in. Our stage had become a battlefield. It hit me hard that night when I woke up to Sean’s crying and I was cradling him in my arms. It occurred to me that this innocent child would grow up like me, living every waking moment of his life in fear if nothing was done. I would never wish that on anyone, especially a baby, who was only a few months old.

It was then, for the first time in my life, that I had (in my own way) reached out for help by leaving a note for someone in the household to find saying to look at my mom’s arm where I knew she had a bruise from that man. It was in this way, that I had slowly lifted the heavy curtain that would soon reveal the dark burden that both my mother and I had shouldered for all these years. My family was devastated by what we had been hiding all that time. Some were furious that we kept quiet about it from them. Though I had broken my promise of secrecy to my mother, we had taken the first steps to safety at last. It took us what seemed like an eternity to escape, but by the time I was twelve, we were safe, and out of that man’s grasp; out of his reach.

I’m fifteen now, and despite the fact that it’s been almost four years since we got away, the bitter memory of the shadow of our past still comes back to haunt me. It’s burned into my memory, and I have yet to fully recover from the mental scars it left me. My mother, now married, could never see what an impact it made on me. She couldn’t see how deep my wounds still were. During my sophomore year, last year, I had suffered from depression, and suicidal thoughts, but I kept to myself still, hoping it would pass. I struggled to heal. I was alone. My mother had moved on, but I was still left behind on that stage, still fighting, though I was the only one there. I didn’t know how to get help, while at the same time, keep my mother under the false illusion that I had moved on with her, and that everything was fine. Until finally, I broke down in front of a few family members, and it was clear that something was wrong.

Now, I’m still healing. I moved out of my house in California to live with my aunt here in Massachusetts hoping that my time away will help me heal. Healing is difficult, and no one has to do it alone. The first step lies in admitting that there’s a problem and something needs to be done. Getting help isn’t always easy, especially for someone such as myself, who has become withdrawn, but it’s possible. I believe that by writing this essay, and being able to write about my horrible past, I’ve taken another step into healing. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help, because there will always be someone out there who is reaching out to help. Perhaps in the process of taking another step towards healing, I’ll help someone take their first step.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Jessmic14 said...
Mar. 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm
I like this article it SHOULD be published to Teen ink Magazine. Keep trying to reach out!!!
KaonKiroko replied...
Mar. 19, 2012 at 1:19 am
Thank you so much for the feedback. I wrote this a little over a year ago. If it interests you, I have somewhat of a continuation to this posted, called "What I Believed VS What I Believe." I'm not too find of its title and plan to change it eventually. You think you can help? In return, I'll read some of your work.
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