Hi, my name is Tammy. I am a Survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence. It’s an honor to share my story with you.
I was sexually abused from age 6 to 12 years old. I testified against my abuser and received justice. He received his life sentence, but never served it because he died shortly after being sentenced.
I’m serving his life sentence!
Even though he can’t hurt me anymore, I still smell his body, feel his presence, hear his voice and most of all, I had to relive the abuse he did to me through triggers and flashbacks.
It was his smell what finally brought me to my knees. I want you to remember this trigger. I will come back to it.
In my earlier twenties, I experienced domestic abuse in my first marriage. The abuse started very slowly, but enough for me to react to it. I would feel a pinch on my side or a squeeze to my hand or kick to my leg. I thought to myself, ok that is new. Then words were put with these actions like, "You are mine, don’t you ever leave me, stay in the house." Then it just progressed to, "If you leave me, I will kill you."
I couldn’t seem to break the cycle of abuse. I kept blaming myself. I felt I was the problem. But the problem wasn’t me. I was able to leave the marriage, but at a tremendous cost. I left everything behind and lived out of my car. I moved far away and started a new life.
These secrets silenced my voice for 41 years but lived within my body and my mind through Dissociative Identity Disorder and C- PTSD. From the outside world I was an educated woman, that was successful in whatever career I chose to pursue. I concealed my abuse by wearing many masks consisting of being a wife, mom, friend, professional and now a grandmother. Each day, I encounter many triggers and flashbacks that will cause me to switch my mask to be able to function. If the mask failed, my secret would control my life through destructive behaviors. I would lose precious memories and time with my loved ones that I can never get back.
I started therapy with a Christian therapist 8 years ago. He realized I needed more help. He asked me to make a phone call. That phone call was to the Vera House crisis and support line. I made that call. I spoke to a wonderful and loving lady. This phone call was the first of weekly calls for a year. The phone calls started out with me just listening to the sound of her soothing voice. I didn’t say much because I felt I had no voice. As time went on, I began to trust her.
The phone calls would sound like this:
Hi it’s me
Hey, how are you doing this week?
Were you able to read the books I recommended on sexual abuse and domestic violence?
I’m so proud of you for having the courage and strength to buy the books.
Are you safe?
I’m so happy to hear from you. I hope to hear from you next week. If you need anything, please call this number. If I'm not available, please speak to the staff that received your call. They will be able to help you.
This went on for a year because I didn’t believe I was worth saving.
The last call I made to the support line was the start of a great relationship with Vera House. I started going to a support group for women. I started to trust! I started to share what happened to me. From there I started counseling that lasted 2 years. My counseling was very intense and involved. I had two other therapists and 4 doctors that Vera House worked closely with to keep me safe, as I started healing from all the abuse. After 3 years, I thought I had my triggers and flashbacks under control. I tried to go without therapy and support. I thought to myself, I can do this. I have a strong voice now.
Oh no, remember the smell, I told you about?
Four years ago, I had to attend a meeting at my job. The man’s smell brought me to my knees. His voice and the touch of his hand made my mind believe my abuser was alive. My mind was reliving the abuse again.
I woke up in the hospital very confused. I won't speak to anyone because I thought my abuser was alive again. I lost the job that I loved.
I lost my memory and almost lost my life. I filed for SSD.
I won my case but because of all my abuse I have gone through, the Judge ruled for my husband to be in control of my financials and my life. I lost my independence and my voice.
Wow! I was re-victimized by the court system for sharing my sexual and physical abuse. My lawyer and doctors were all shocked by the outcome.
My voice was silenced again.
I won’t speak!
All I did was cry! This went on for 6 months!
I thought to myself, “I am not, what happened to me.”
I made that phone call to Vera House again:
Hi, my name is Tammy, I was a client of Vera House.
Hello, how are you doing?
Terrible! I lost my voice and memory. The Judge handed my life over to my husband.
Ok, we can help you get your voice back and your memory,
I don’t remember coming to Vera House at all. I don’t remember what I learned.
Ok, here’s the plan. I’m going to connect you with Colleen.
(I started to cry)
Thank you so much for your help.
You are so welcome, hold on please so I can connect you with Colleen.
The crisis and support line saved my life again.
Vera House started working with my doctors and myself. By supplying all my therapy notes from my file.
I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I am working hard on healing myself again.
I can see my future.
I am not that little girl anymore.
I am Strong!
I am Courageous!
I am Brave.
Today I am giving back to Vera House as a Survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence by sharing my story. But most of all, showing I found my voice again!