“Sometimes we’re tested not to show our weakness, but to discover our strengths” —Unknown
As I sit here, as a 16-year-old, writing this article for Our Lives, I wonder how I got to this point. A member of the Youth Activist Council for Wisconsin, an excelling academic student, and a role model to kids, teens, and adults, I ask myself when did I become this successful woman that I have never met before? It is genuinely crazy how I got to this point today, and it was far from being handed to me on a silver platter.
Behind the curtains, my childhood seemed like something pulled out of a teenage movie. Starting from the beginning, my parents were together until I was 9, my mother, white and my father, African American. They never really got along, but they stayed together for their little girl. As they split, my life split, too. I lived two extremely different lives. In one house I was cherished, loved, and grew up with the most amazing mother anyone could ask for. As for the latter, I went to my father’s house, which was the exact opposite. My father was an undiagnosed schizophrenic, he suffered from an extreme case of Glaucoma, costing him his eyesight, and yet he was a part of a drug dealing gang in my local area. In his mind, everyone in his life was against him, and against me. He claimed that since my mother’s side is white, they were racist, and hated me because of it. I was “a plant he must water with the wisdom and truth behind whites.” Despite me being biracial, he believed that “they” (my mother and her family) were plotting to hurt me. I was brainwashed and abused. I encountered drugs on a daily basis, whether he was using them or someone was buying them. It all got so bad that he didn’t have money for rent, clothes for me, or for food. I went days without food, which led me to steal snacks from the local gas station. My life felt unreal most of the time, but I blindly followed him. I was the only person in his life, and he threatened if I told anyone what he said or did, that he would have people “come for me.”
I stayed silent for four years, until August 29, 2019. My mom got a call saying my father had passed away. Once she told me, my life changed forever. I was finally free, and I could tell my mom everything that he did. She has and will always be my biggest supporter. She gave me the courage to overcome. I started throwing myself into school, hoping to become everything my dad never wanted me to be. My motivation came through because I desperately wanted to show him that I was worth it, that he didn’t ruin me. That he doesn’t control me anymore. I am free. I started paying more attention to classes and learned how to cope with PTSD, depression, and anxiety that came along with all of my trauma. All I needed now was to believe in myself. Even now, I struggle with believing that I am enough.
I know many people have experienced something similar to what happened to me. You might be curious as to why I’m writing about all of this, to which the answer is simple. I want to spread awareness to domestic abuse survivors. To anyone who might read this and relate to my experiences, I want them to know that they aren’t alone. I see you, I believe you, and I believe in you. If writing this and sharing my story helps even one person, I’ll be happy. Domestic abusers don’t deserve to hold power over their victims.
“The enemy doesn’t stand a chance when the victim decides to survive” —Rae Smith