Innocence Punished…

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In a previous post (Child Forsaken), I shared a recurrent nightmare that haunted me throughout my childhood. The dream began during the period of time when I was being abused. It would rip me violently from sleep, and leave me trembling in the darkness of my room.  Alone…

I often woke up in a panic, my heart racing and drops of sweat running down my face. Though I was trembling with fear, I didn’t dare cry out for my parents. I was afraid that if they found out about the dream, they would find out about the abuse as well. I worried that they would be angry and would punish me severely. I was convinced that they would stop loving me if they knew.

Perhaps you wonder what was behind this fear. It may seem so unnatural that a small child would wake up from such a terrorizing dream and not cry out in fear for her parents.

I had my reasons.

Initially, I kept the secret because of the threats of my abusers. But there were days, and many terror-filled nights, when I considered reaching out to my parents for help.

One experience, early in my elementary school days, ensured that the secret would remain untold…

It was a typical day for a first grader, or rather should have been. The only difference that morning was that my teacher was absent. A substitute teacher stood in her place at the front of the classroom. She seemed young, although the perception of age in my young mind was obviously limited. I remember that she was easily flustered. The boys in my class were full of energy that day, and defied her frequent requests for everyone to settle down.

From early in the day, it seemed obvious that there were no consequences for our disrespectful behavior. As I leaned over to talk to a friend, the teacher had finally had enough. She looked directly at me and yelled at me to ‘Shut up’.

This shocked me. I know that being told to shut up isn’t really that big of a deal, but I was raised to believe that all sorts of words fell into the category of ‘bad’. In my mind, these were swear words. I don’t remember much else from that day, but I’m sure I was much quieter after that point.

This is where the story gets messy.

I went home and told my father what had happened. I don’t remember being particularly upset about it, and I don’t think I was expecting him to do anything about it. I was simply recounting the events of the day.

My father was livid. “No one talks to my daughter like that, ” I remember him saying. I tried to tell him that it was okay. I didn’t like seeing my father get upset. He was so unpredictable.

The next morning my father drove me to school, and led me directly to the principal’s office. He was angry, but in a controlled way, not like what I often saw at home. He demanded to talk to the teacher involved, but she wasn’t there. The principal called my regular teacher down to the office over the intercom.

The principal led us into her office and told me to sit down on one of the chairs in the corner. The three adults remained standing. My father described the incident as I had relayed it to him. He told the two women that this was completely unacceptable. He demanded that something be done.

The principal and my teacher began reassuring my father that I must be mistaken. That they knew this substitute teacher well, and that she would never speak to a child this way.

The adults turned toward me and began questioning me about the incident. “Perhaps you just misheard her,” offered the principle with a smile.

“No, I’m sure she said that,” I replied.

“I know her really well,” said my teacher. “She would never say something like that to you.”

I sat quietly.

The adults continued interrogating me, and offering different suggestions about how I might have misunderstood. At first, I defended the truth confidently, but as the three of them continued to stare down at me and question my truthfulness, I began to feel frightened and upset.

“This is very important,” said my teacher. “She would get in a lot of trouble if she ever really said something like that.” Her tone indicated that she did not believe my story.

“She never really said that, did she?” asked the principal in a serious and intimidating tone.

I don’t know how long this interrogation lasted, but I finally caved. I lied and told them what they obviously wanted to hear, that the teacher had not said those words at all.

The principal and my teacher smiled and told me they were proud of me for doing the right thing, even though it was difficult. My father did not. “This will be dealt with at home,” he said as he walked out of the office.

That day after school my father took me downstairs to our unfinished basement. This was the place for punishment. Not the only place to be sure, but the preferred one.

My father was seething, though collected and in control. He scared me the most when he was like that. He lectured me about lying and about bringing embarrassment to my family. He used phrases like “how dare you” and “I’ll teach you not to embarrass me like that again”.

I didn’t dare tell him that I hadn’t lied. That it had been the truth all along.

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” he said coldly. I cringed as I heard the distinctive sound of his leather belt being ripped from the loops of his pants. He yanked down my jeans and underwear, then pulled me face-down across his lap. With each thrash of the belt, I felt the heat of impact. Swollen marks reddened my tender skin.

The punishment was meant to teach.

And teach it did…

I learned that my father could not be trusted. That he would not believe me, or be on my side. I learned that the only person who could be trusted to protect me from harm, was myself. Unfortunately, the responsibility of protector was never meant to rest on the shoulders of a five-year-old. I didn’t turn out to be very good at it.

Any thought of reaching out to my parents for help from the abuse was quickly gone. I carried the dark and heavy secrets alone. I would be an adult before I even considered opening my heart to another.

As much as I want Incremental Healing to be a place of encouragement and hope, I also want to be real with you. Writing this post devastated me. In many ways, it is easier for me to deal with the violations that came from outside of my family. I have even come to a place where I am able to label those despicable experiences as abuse. That was a huge step in my healing process.

With my family, its still different. If another child were to be raised in the same environment that I was, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it abusive. But for myself, there is still so much self-blame. I think in terms of ‘harsh discipline’, rather than abuse. This is something I’m still working through.

It has been a tough week for me, as I have been processing these thoughts. I don’t pretend to understand why God allows some of the atrocities that we face in our lives. The arguments about us living in a broken world, and dealing with the natural consequences of sin fail to satisfy.

In the midst of such thoughts, I choose to trust in God’s goodness and His love. I know his ways are far beyond my understanding, and I am choosing to believe that He is somehow working everything together for the good of those who love him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.

 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 44:8-9   (NLT)

I am thankful for these truths. Clinging to the promises of Scripture is often the only thing that gives me hope, and helps me make it through the pain and heartache.

May your loving, heavenly Father make His face shine upon you, dear one, and give you His peace and hope,

Kamea

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncwarren/4654245563/”>Brandon Christopher Warren</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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21 thoughts on “Innocence Punished…

  1. It makes me sick thinking about what you went through. Kamea, I’m really sorry. I know that was hard to write. Praying for God’s comfort and encouragement. Thank you again for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Clinging to the promises of Scripture is often the only thing that gives me hope, and helps me make it through the pain and heartache.” Amen. Praying for you Kamea. Thank you for being real, as your brave words stir our hearts to reflect on our own reinforced silence. Psalm 30:11-12 May you dance with joy and sing His praises forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Michelle. I love the blessing that you sent my way from Psalm 30. Beautiful! How wonderful that my post led you to reflect on your own “reinforced silence”. I have learned that the evil one works powerfully through secrets and shame. As we expose his lies and deceptions to the glorious light of Christ, they lose their power over us.
      Blessings friend,
      Kamea

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s okay to call it what it is, which was abuse. Certainly it might have come out of a lack of knowledge, or just doing what they thought was right. But that little girl was punished for trying to tell the truth. As an adult that can keep us silent, but I see that you are sharing your story. You’re declaring that there is healing, layer by layer. That’s powerful and faith-filled. I love that there is wisdom and forgiveness and a desire to be whole laced throughout this telling of your story. Thanks for sharing and for linking up on #livefreeThursday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome Suzie,
      Thank you for visiting and sharing your encouragement. I understand that its okay to call things what they are, but that doesn’t make it easy. I understand, on an intellectual level, that you are right, but I still need to come to a place of peace about it. My loving, heavenly Father is still working on me. I’m convinced that He will fully restore me in time, and redeem my brokenness for good, and for his glory. I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to getting to know you.
      Blessings,
      Kamea

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  4. That’s a powerful memory. It reminded me of a time when I was in first grade and was pulled, for some reason that I cannot remember out of my seat and forced to eat my lunch in the hall (it was early 60s and everyone went home for lunch-no cafeteria, so those who stayed at lunch at their desks.). Where the adult was, I don’t know. This woman came in every day looking for me so that she could put me in the hall. My mother finally dragged it out of me and the woman was fired. Fortunately, for me, my mother and the principal believed me. So sad that the adults—all the adults, it seems, in your life failed you. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad to meet you Mary!
      Thank you for sharing your story about lunch hours as a first grader. I’m sorry that the person who was supposed to be there to help you, targeted you with such cruelty. I am so thankful that your mom was there for you – that she sensed something was wrong and persevered at discovering the truth. I’m glad she was there to listen to you, believe you, and rescue you.
      Thank you for your compassion toward the little girl I once was. You are right that the adults in my life failed to provide the love and protection that I so desperately needed.
      I’m so happy to have connected. I look forward to getting to know you both here and at your blog as well.
      Blessings,
      Kamea

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    • Hello Sarah,
      You would not believe just how difficult this was for me to write. I had a really hard time processing my thoughts and feelings. I know that God is continuing to lead me into healing, but He is so gentle, never pushing. I have issues that have to do with my family that need to be addressed, and writing this post was one way that God revealed this truth to me. Sharing my story on this blog was intended, by me, to help and encourage others. I now believe that my loving, heavenly Father also intended this sharing to minister to me as well.
      Thanks for the encouragement friend,
      Kamea

      Like

  5. Kamea,
    What a difficult journey you are on toward healing but inevitably to get there, you will have to face the events in your past that have caused you pain. But you are bravely stepping out and trying to process them and seeking God’s love and healing power on this difficult path, which is a beautiful thing! Keeping you in my prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words of encouragement Valerie!
      It is true that this journey has been difficult – in some ways maybe even more difficult than the abuse itself because I have to accept the truth of my past, and not hide behind my denial.
      I am so glad you stopped by. I hope to connect again soon.
      Blessings,
      Kamea

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    • Welcome Brittany,

      Yes, my story certainly isn’t pretty and it’s difficult to write about sometimes, but I’m trusting that my loving, heavenly Father is in the process of redeeming my pain for good. I share here in the hopes of encouraging other’s who have been hurt – so that they will persevere through the pain and find freedom.

      Thanks so much for visiting,
      Kamea

      Like

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