Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Eight
HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Mary” is a pseudonym. The following series is an original non-fiction story that spans 33 pages of single-spaced sentences. It will be divided into 10 parts. The story begins during the author’s early childhood and goes up to the present. At each stage the author writes according to the age she is at.
Trigger warnings: various parts of this story contain descriptions of graphic, often sadistic, physical abuse of children, apologisms for religious abuse, deprivation of food, as well as references to rape.
Part Eight: Teen Years
I cannot sleep and I am trying not to freeze.
It’s sometime in January and Abby and I have been kicked outside for two days. We were wearing just our shirts, jeans and socks when we got kicked out and it is so cold outside that we can see our breath is the air. We didn’t try to ask for our shoes and coats because they never let us have them. We are walking and walking around the house over and over trying so hard to keep warm. This might not be so hard if my stomach would stop screaming. It’s been 4 days since we have eaten a meal. We tried sneaking out a snack earlier and got caught. That is why we are outside.
Before Mom sent us out, though, she gave us both a spoon full of ipecac to make us throw up. We threw up but nothing came up but stomach juices because we hadn’t actually gotten anything yet when she caught us.
I’m so hungry that I feel dizzy and faint. Abby can hardly walk. We finally get too tired to walk anymore and go huddle together in the corner of the porch and cover ourselves in the cushions from the porch furniture. We usually go huddle in the van to get out of the wind but Dad caught us there the last time and they made sure that it was locked tonight. We finally manage to fall asleep but I wake up so often because of my stomach and being so cold.
Sometime after devotions the next morning, Mom comes to the door to give us our chores for the day that will be outside chores since we have been sent out. We are actually glad to have something to do because it will help us stay warmer. The next night passes just like the first and finally we are allowed back in the next morning in time for devotions.
Right now I am shaking with rage and my head is throbbing.
Mom got angry with me again a few minutes ago and grabbed my hair and started yanking me around. I finally got away from her and ran upstairs but my head hurts so badly. I run my fingers through my hair to try to soothe my head and when I pull my hand away I almost faint with rage.
There is a ball of hair so large in my hand that it looks like I just cleaned out my brush.
I storm downstairs and head for Dad and show him the hair. He accuses me of lying and said that I just cleaned out my brush to get attention. I don’t know if I have ever been angrier and I yell at him that I am not lying and I haven’t even touched my brush! He finally looks like he might somewhat believe me and takes the hair into their room. I follow because I want to hear what happens. Mom is putting her makeup on in the bathroom when he shows it to her and tells her what I said. Then she yells at Dad and says that she doesn’t care and that she will do it again if she wants to.
I am furious but what else should I expect?
Everything is John’s and Abby’s and my fault. That’s what Mom and Dad keep saying.
All of the younger ones are following our bad examples and we are leading them astray. John moved out years ago but somehow he is still to blame as well. Abby and I are always in trouble because every time one of the younger ones disobeys we get in trouble too because it is our fault.
I don’t want to believe it, but I really don’t know what to believe anymore.
At this point in my story I am going to change how this is being written. If I were to keep writing as I have been, this would probably end up being 50 pages long. I have many, many more examples of how we were abused again and again — day in and day out — but I really don’t know if they all need to be told in this one document. In this story, I focused more on my younger years but the abuse only got worse and worse as we got older so I find it very hard to try to formulate a way to put it all on paper. From here on out I will be writing in more of an overview position.
The “rest” of the story
Until I was about 18 all of the above and other things were all pretty normal in our house. We never knew when our next meal would be, we never knew when we would be kicked outside and for how long. Basically, we never knew anything. Age and gender didn’t matter in public punishments. Abby and I were made to half strip for our beatings in front of all of the other siblings. We would also be made to walk around in our underwear for hours at a time and, because I developed later, Mom saw no reason that I should even be allowed a bra all the way till I was about 17. I have and always have had really bad seasonal allergies as well, to the point of asthma attacks. That didn’t matter either as far as losing house privileges when I got kicked outside. She would never allow me any allergy medicine. Being on my period didn’t matter either because I would lose access to feminine products while outside too. My driver’s license was used as a pawn for years and so, half of the time, I didn’t even have it in my possession.
Somewhere between my 17th and 18th birthdays, my Mom’s Mom found out some of the things that were going on and freaked out. Abby and I actually didn’t understand at first why she freaked out because it was all so normal for us.
I remember her telling me on one occasion that she was going to call CPS on my parents. I freaked out at that point because I knew enough to know that we would all be split up into foster homes and the thought of losing my siblings was too much to bear. In tears, I begged her not to call, assuring her that it wasn’t “that bad” and we were used to it anyway.
Nearly 15 years later, both of us have talked about it and realized that she should not have listened to me and should have called anyway. But we cannot change the past. The fact that she was willing to do so for us makes me love her even more (if that is possible). After my grandmother got involved, the physical abuse slowed to a near stop, while the emotional and mental went through the roof. Mom was furious at me and Abby for “telling on her” and was doing everything she could possibly do to make our lives more miserable and blaming us for everything going on.
To be continued.