Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “LJ Lamb” is the pseudonym chosen by the author.
Content warning: descriptions of physical and sexual sibling abuse.
Mum had these weird beliefs about Christianity. She believed that when you became a Christian you gave up your human rights. I’m going to let you think about that. Stop, re-read that, and let it sink in. My mother believes that no Christian has any human rights. None, zero, zilch, nuda. Feel free to grab your spew bag now.
One of my older brothers had a particular thing for beating, bullying, destroying, and even killing anything and everything he could get his hands on. Everyone younger than him was petrified of him. It only got worse as he got older.
I remember telling one of my younger brothers off – I think for making a mess in the kitchen and not wanting to clean it up. My older brother, hearing the argument between my younger brother and I, suddenly entered the room. He cracked his belt and threatened to whip my younger brother because our fight had disturbed his afternoon nap.
I pleaded with him to let me deal with it and not hurt our younger brother.
Another time he took some things that belonged to me. I ascertained to the family members there that taking something from someone without permission was stealing. Mum agreed, until she heard that it was her little ‘angel’ who did it. Allegedly she prayed about it, and God told her that I needed to learn to give up my rights.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, when he worked out how to get into my bedroom and my bed so that I couldn’t kick him out without making a fuss to mother (who would of course side with him all my experience told me) despite me feeling desperately frightened and dirty. I was certain I must be displeasing God, but believed with all my heart that if I went to mum she would punish me and turn me over to the wolf.
So I didn’t scream.
I didn’t fight.
I did the best I could. I tried to amuse him every other way under the sun. I knew he wanted sex. I was so frightened of him. What he would do to me if I as much made a peep. I kept putting my clothes back on. When at the end of the day mum finally came to put me to bed that night and found him in bed with me, his instant reaction was to blame me.
It was my idea. My fault.
By this stage I had already started blocking memories, so I couldn’t even remember what happened earlier that day. I was too frightened to speak. But I felt so dirty. I have no idea what he told my parents later, as I begged out. I pleaded to be smacked instead. After all, we were taught that beating makes atonement for wrong. Beatings were the only way to be worthy of God’s forgiveness. I intended to later get a belt and whip myself or get my younger sister to do it as a favour to me. It still makes me sick to think of it.
I knew what happened that day wasn’t right. I just didn’t realise for years that I had been conditioned to it and groomed for abuse. I didn’t realize it wasn’t my fault. God wasn’t choosing not to forgive me because I was too evil. He didn’t see me as having sinned in the first place. He saw me as the hurt, not the hurter. And He loves the scarred and hurt girls as much as the ones who weren’t abused.
Several weeks after that, the family was at the beach (minus dad). My brother tried to murder me by drowning me when no-one was looking. I couldn’t understand his behaviour and asked him why he was doing this to me. I will never forget the dark look in his eyes when he told me he was going to kill me, because he hated me.
I desperately tried to swim away, but I was quite young still, and couldn’t swim very well. In moments he was on top of me again, holding me under, willing me to drown.
I wasn’t sure why he let go.
Maybe I struggled too much at first. Maybe the waves knocked him about, because it was choppy. But I remember looking up at one stage realising the shore was too far away, and there was no way I could get back in because I was losing my strength to fight. And when I went back I can still hear that little girl’s desperate screams for help, realising she was about to drown at the hands of her own brother, and no-one would know why.
Then there was the terrible moment when I realised that nobody heard, because the wind dragged my voice away.
We were too far from the shore. Nobody saw us, and in my heart I knew that nobody was coming to my rescue.
My brother again grabbed me and held me under (over 8 times now), but this time something happened. Mum suddenly saw what happened, and called for him to come to her. (I didn’t see this of course, I heard about it afterward.) All I knew was that he let go of me, as a waves went over me, and I popped up into glorious air. And he was somewhere else, out of reach of me, and mum was calling him. He was in big trouble. I was much closer to shore than I was before he pushed me under the last time and I was able to catch a wave in.
He ended up being barely punished for the incident, because mother felt sorry for him. I should have told her what happened, but I didn’t. She wouldn’t have believed me over him. She never did.
It was only recently I was able to go back and unpack that memory in counselling. One thing it confirmed for me was that God did hear that little girl’s screams for help, and He didn’t abandon me in my darkest moment. As petrifying as it was to go back, I was comforted by that. Because God still loved me and was looking out for me, even then.
To this day I know the only reason I am still alive is because God spared my life that day.
I’m so very sorry that happened to you. Your story gave me chills. I’m very glad you made it out alive; keep being the strong person that you are.
You were a very lucky little girl. You obviously know now that you most certainly DO have human rights and will never allow anyone, related to you or not, to treat you in any way you don’t want. Beware of the word “god.” It’s as fungible as money and can be used for any purpose, foul or fair. Humanists refuse to give the word any power at all…putting all the power in ourselves.
I am so, so sorry.
This line really stood out to me: “He saw me as the hurt, not the hurter. And He loves the scarred and hurt girls as much as the ones who weren’t abused.”
Your mother was a coward.
As was mine.
Teresa, I think my mother was severely abused herself, as she wasn’t able to process and has multiple issues. The way she behaves sometimes is like a 2-4 year old child emotionally. No excuse, but it helps to know she’s crazy and can’t cope rather than it being personal. I’m so sorry your mother didn’t stand up for you, and for what that has meant to your life. You are not alone.
Thank you Eleanor, your story spoke to me also. That moment was precious and very profound for me, because suddenly I had worth again. I am glad it spoke to you.
I use the word God more because other people understand it, not because in the normal way of understanding it is how I see God anymore. Usually when I pray I call him Papa, because that is what he is to me.
**As an aside, I know many people here have been deeply hurt by religion – I feel your pain. The brother I wrote about above is still extremely religious, judgmental, “spiritually superior syndrome”, fundamentalist, etc. And I don’t want to make light of that or brush it aside.
However for me, despite other’s behavior, I found deep healing in discovering my Papa’s love for me – regardless of anything I say, I do, happens, how I feel, etc. My relationship with God is so extremely different to what it was 5 years ago. Instead of striving I thank him for his love and acceptance. And I constantly feel his love – what that feels like to be loved by a God who is a father, who loves me deeply, regardless of any s*** that is going on in my life. He never rejects me, but always has open arms for me.
I realize most people don’t have that kind of experience with God, and I wish for them that they could know him like I know him, and experience that deep love, that heals hurts and comforts like nothing else. I realize though, that different people deal with abuse – especially in Christian circles differently. That’s okay. My story doesn’t make anyone else’s story any less valid, nor does anyone else’s story make my story less valid. They simply are what they are. And that is okay.
Something I didn’t mention in my story too, is that before I got any help of any sort from anywhere human, at one stage I was begging God to forgive me, again, because I felt so dirty. That moment the Holy Spirit gently took me back to that first day my brother harmed me and reminded me of things I had blocked, and showed me it wasn’t my fault. And as such, I didn’t have to fight to forgive myself any more.
My whole journey has been guided by the Holy Spirit, my comforter, my coach, my counselor, my confident, the one who mothered me; Jesus, my friend, the lifter of my head, the one who wasn’t ashamed of me, the one who was beaten to take my pain; and lastly, Papa, my champion, the one who gets angry when I am hurt, the one who loves fiercely and protectively, the one who stepped in when someone hurt his little girl, the one who moved things so I was protected from further harm, the one who buffered me, the one who accepted me, the one who loved me with pride, not shame, the one who hears my cries when no-one else hears, the one who gave me a home when I was homeless and the one who is steadfast and unchanging – even when I have a melt down. 🙂
Sometimes I’m a bit surprised I’ve been able to heal like I have. My doctor tells me I’m a rarity; that few people are willing to change enough to heal. Again, I tribute that to Jesus. I had several “encounter” moments with God where I screamed out for healing from the depths of my heart.
I understand people being skittish around the terms “God” and “family” around here. Heck, the people who abused me are still going to churches and as religious and self-righteous as you please. I’m inclined to run from stuff that smells like religion too! Everyone has a different story, and the object here isn’t to change anyone’s story or to judge them, it’s simply to listen, to hear, to understand, and allow each other to heal.
If I could leave you with one thing, I would want to experience his love. Because my Papa’s love has given me hope, and peace. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ve come a long, long way.
Hopefully this isn’t too fragmented to understand and you can hear my heart coming through.
Thanks for reading my story.