Melissa’s Story
I am a 37 year old mother of 4, and here is my story.

I can remember it starting at age 7 by my brothers. I was the only girl with 3 brothers. I didn’t know better at the time. They would have one of them hold my hands above my head and take turns getting on top of me, telling me to be quiet. They would count. I would hide in the closet for hours after they let me go. We lived on a farm but I was scared to leave not knowing what they would do. They would shoot me with bb guns in the back yard; and urinate on me when I was sleeping. As I went into 4th or 5th grade they would tell me to stand in the middle of the bedroom and they would jump off their dressers and kick me to the ground. Many times getting hurt but was told not to tell or they would hurt me more.

There is something that happens when you grow up around sexual abuse, it takes a toll on your self esteem, yourself worth and the way you see yourself in general. I hated myself. I began staying in my room more and more, only coming out to eat or use the rest room. I was not allowed to say anything or my brothers would hit on me.

Shortly after this my mother started using drugs and my stepdad was an alcoholic and a drug user as well. I moved in with my grandparents and lived with them for about 6 months. When I moved back home I thought things were going to be better.

When I was in second grade I was burnt badly on my right hand and forearm. My mom and stepdad wouldn’t take me to the doctors. It got so bad my grandmother took me to the hospital and I had 3rd degree burn on my wrist and 2nd degree on my forearm. I had to have skin grafts on my wrist.

My stepdad started beating on my mother more and more so we went to shelter home to shelter home. At 17 I became pregnant and my mother got very sick. After having my son I told my mom she had to make a choice. Her new grandson and me or the drugs and abuse. I moved out got a job and still went to school. I managed, moving from place to place before moving back home to take care of my mom for a while.

I soon met my ex-husband and fell in love with him and we had 2 wonderful daughters together. We got married 3 years after we met. He was very abusive, physically, emotionally and verbally and we were having lots of problems. I tried to make it work and pretended things were fine for as long as I could. I stayed much longer then I should have, but I had nowhere else to go. It all came to a head when I found out he took our rent money to the bar to play poker. I left him. One afternoon I dropped the girls off to visit their father and he forced me to sleep with him, I told him no several times and tried to force him off of me. He told me if I didn’t stop fighting it he would hurt me and then the girls wouldn’t have a mother. All I could do was cry and tell him “no you are hurting me”. He didn’t care.

I got a restraining order and that was the end of our relationship. He would violate if all the time but nothing would happen. The judge told him “it’s just another bite out of the apple.” This went on for a couple of years. I was so scared. My kids and I went into hiding for 2 years to get away from him. In 2008 I filed for divorce and was granted full custody of my kids. During the time of hiding I had a surgery and the doctors found cancer. (Been in recovery since 2007).

For several months I suffered from Agoraphobia, I was too ashamed to be seen in public. Anytime I was out, I feared people were looking at me, talking about me, shaking their heads and thinking I was bad. Anytime a man looked at me I feared I would be hurt again. I to this day have a very low self esteem and am worried I will never find a man to love me for who I am and understand what I have been through. I have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Manic Depression and Anxiety. I still struggle with my weight, part of me wants to feel attractive, eventually marry, to wear cute clothes. I have had a (somewhat) successful relationship for 4 years this October 7th2012. When I lose the weight I feel better about myself but then the fear and anxiety kicks in and I start packing on the pounds again. I have no self esteem even though I have learned to hide or ignore it for of my children. I do not know how to get involved in a lasting relationship where he would want to be with me for the rest of my life.

I have no memories or experiences about being in a healthy relationship at all, and though I feel the effects of being alone, though I dream of having someone by my side, I cannot fathom how anyone could possibly want, love or choose to be with me in the first place.

I want to thank the ones that was there for me.