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"I have endured physical AND emotional abuse at the hands of my father. Although he was the main abuser, my mother acted as an enabler throughout my childhood. I am writing a memoir on my childhood abuse (under the name Ira Banerjee) and what I am about to share here, is from Chapter 4 of my upcoming memoir: 'The Despot - What Not To Do As A Father.' "Of the many incidents of abuse that I can recall, a few have left an indelible mark in my memory. One such instance would be a particularly harsh punishment my father gave me at the age of 9 for skipping my “music practice session” at home for vocal training. A little bit of background first. I had been training in Indian Vocal Music from a very young age (started training with my father when I was 3, and then private lessons with a music teacher / vocal coach since I was 4), and my father was extremely serious about me having music as an avocation. So he left no stones unturned in making sure I was having at least one hour of vocal training practice every day on school days, and 1.5 – 2 hours a day on weekends and holidays or during any extended school breaks. It was a hot, humid afternoon during summer break. I was supposed to practice my vocal lessons for at least 1.5 hour. Now, I fully understand the kind of dedication and practice a person needs to become even remotely average in something like singing or dancing or playing an instrument – and I genuinely respect that. But my 9-year old dumb self decided that I should take a break from the daily practice and have some fun. So I skipped my regular vocal routine and played the entire afternoon in the rooftop terrace with water – which, honestly, felt great on a hot summer afternoon. After my father came home from work around six in the evening, he casually asked Malati, our domestic helper of that time, that how long had I practised vocal lessons that day. She truthfully answered that I didn’t, in fact, do any practice all day. As soon as she said it, all hell broke loose. My father decided to teach me a lesson. He ordered that I were to practise all my vocal lessons (yes, everything I had learned so far) repetitively until midnight, and I must not stop for anything except washroom breaks – and that too, for when it’s absolutely necessary. He started my punishment by putting me in a room with a harmonium, and by ordering me to start singing right away. Then he turned off the ceiling fan to increase the intensity of the punishment, and then, he decided to go truly above and beyond by closing every single window to ensure that I really do feel the heat and the humidity. Now, I should mention here that air-conditioners were not quite common in middle-class households at that time (i.e., in the mid-nineties), so we didn’t have one either. Usually summer evenings in Calcutta were moderately tolerable those days, and if we were lucky, we would get pretty nice, cool, and breezy evenings. It would be very hard for anyone who doesn’t know much about tropical summers to imagine how genuinely uncomfortable things can get on a sultry summer evening in India in the absence of natural ventilation or the electricity. Just try to walk through what exactly was going on in his head at that time! To make sure that his 9 year old daughter doesn’t get any relief or comfort whatsoever by coming in contact with or by being exposed to any breeze, a father not only shut down all the windows in the room, he also turned off the ceiling fan – simply to increase the severity of the punishment manifold! And yes, he also warned me not to even think about opening the windows or touching the switch for the ceiling fan – a stern command which I was not bold or courageous enough to violate. Lastly, he got out of the room and locked the door from outside, only after being fully satisfied that his arrangement of this makeshift ‘hothouse’ would surely teach me a lesson. The heat and the humidity soon became unbearable. I was sweating profusely in that oven-like room, which was incidentally situated in the top floor of our house, thereby receiving and retaining ample amount of heat throughout the day in the hot Indian summer. I don’t remember what exactly the mean temperature was that day, but I can tell you that from mid to late summer, it is not uncommon for the temperature to shot up to 40˚C – 45˚C, the average being anywhere between 35˚C – 43˚C. The whole ordeal started shortly after 6 pm, and as mentioned before, I was not allowed to stop my practice before midnight. By the time the clock indicated it was 7 pm, the sound that was coming out of my mouth, music had little to no resemblance with that. It was pure agony. I knew that there was nobody who can go against my father and rescue me from that hellhole. My rapidly escalating anguish and misery was being manifested in the noise that was coming from my vocal cord. I don’t think there was anything even remotely close to a melody or a musical note that reverberated in that room anymore. My mom, after considerable pleading, got a dinner break approved for me around 9:30-ish. So, if you were worried that I had to go on without food – I can assure you: no, I didn’t. Although, that was his original plan – I have no doubt about that. I was still not allowed to leave that sweltering room though, and had to finish my food as quickly as possible, only to go back to my vocal lessons and continue till midnight. For that day and that punishment, I will forever be a little broken inside. And I will never forget the way he made me feel during those 6 hours – helpless, trapped, oppressed, and extremely vulnerable. I quite literally got roasted in that stifling room for close to six hours before he allowed me to breathe in any fresh air that night. If you are wondering whether or not I learned any lesson from this entire ordeal – the answer to that is: yes, I did. I learned that my father was a savage brute. I learned that he had no heart. I learned that “teaching a lesson” in a cruel and inhumane way was far more appealing and important to my father than to actually invest his time, energy, and effort to do some ‘proper parenting’ – which obviously involves lots and lots of patience, and an unfailing commitment to nurture and support the young, impressionable, and vulnerable child(ren) that we, as parents, bring into this world. One might be curious if I have ever learned to love music later in my life. The answer is yes. I eventually did fell in love with music and learned to take it more seriously in my life. I also realized the value of regular practice when it comes to learning music – whether that is training one’s voice or polishing one’s skill of playing an instrument. But I would say this with absolute certainty: that my love for music happened not because of him or his cruel punishments. It happened in spite of him throwing all of his monstrosities toward me. The fact that it happened at all, has actually surprised me later in my life when I became an adult, and eventually, a parent." I am writing the memoir because writing about my abuse has been absolutely therapeutic for me. If you would like to stand in solidarity with me and support me in this journey of my self-healing, you may do that by liking my memoir's Facebook Page, titled: 'The Despot: What Not To Do As A Father' and please feel free to share your stories. "
"The emotional/psychological abuse I experienced as a child was insidious because my parents are covert narcissists who painted a beautiful presentation of our family life to the world. On the outside, there have always been displays of wealth, family vacations, smiling social media pictures - the “perfect” story spun in a million different ways. Meanwhile, behind closed doors, I grew up experiencing daily verbal abuse, physical abuse and witnessing domestic violence. The gaslighting (key trait of narcissist) was the very worst part of the abuse - when my parents did/said something hurtful to me like “I hate you, I wish I never had you” or “you’re overweight and you’re jealous of me” or “You’re a slut” they would then deny that they ever said it at all. I believed I was “crazy” most of my life because of this. From a very young age, I lost touch with reality because my parents would lie so often, and children natural want to trust their parents. As I’ve grown up, my work has been to continue trusting what I know to be true. To this day, my parents can’t stand when I speak up and tell the truth. They try to shut me down but i will not stop. I will continue to speak my truth and build my self-trust back each day. I want people to know that abuse shows up differently in every family. Just because a family looks “perfect,” that perfection is most likely a facade. People who are brave, people who are real, people with whole hearts are not afraid of showing their imperfections. As you heal, remember - trust yourself. You are not alone."
"I was abused by my father for years. It was horrible: I was withdrawn food, yelled at, demeaned, forced to not go to my mother/friends etc. No one, including social workers or police officers, would help me. I had to find it within myself to stop going to his house. Now, I’m a survivor, but I attribute a lot of my problems to my abuse: my oversensitivity, tendency to minimize problems, and trust issues. Even today, I feel sympathy for my abuser- that’s how impaired my thoughts are as a result of the trauma. I hope no one has to go through this ever."
"When I was little, I was mentally, physically, and sexually abused. It does get better. You just have to believe in yourself."
"I was raped by someone who I had previously had consensual sex with. But in that moment, I knew it was wrong, I felt like it was wrong. He had heard me say no but he didn’t even care. I literally had to get up and leave in the middle of the sex because he wouldn’t stop. I told myself that since he wasn’t that aggressive maybe it wasn’t rape. But it was."
"My mother had two children from her first marriage. My mother neglected them so badly that she handed over custody to their father before she was made to. The girl was 11yrs older than me and the boy 9yrs older. Their father had remarried and his new wife had several children from a previous relationship. My mother remarried and had me. When I was 2yrs old when my mother got them back. My half brother started sexually abusing me when I was 2yrs or 3yrs old. It went on until I was around 5yrs old. One day I told him that if he ever did anything to me again I would tell. He dared me to. I didnt think he would get more than a telling off. He did some little thing to upset me. He was a total bully in every way. I told my mum but a family friend was there and so my mum felt she had to report it to the police. That was the last time I saw him for many years. He lied in his statement and said it only happened once. It happened lots of times and he almost killed me through lying on top of me so small, I couldn't breath! He must have enjoyed that because covering my nose and mouth became a feature. I was examined by a police doctor and they found evidence of penetration. My half brother got sent to live with his father. I was left to deal with the fallout. I always felt guilty and responsible for him being sent away and my family talked about him freely as if he had just decided to leave. My grandfather died soon after it all came out and my mum told me that is had killed him. I took that as I killed him. My half sister couldn't accept it at all and my Mother has npd and maybe other mental health issues. She would alternate between anger and guilt but if I ever mentioned my pain then she would tell me that she lost her son and that I shouldn't dwell on it or keep bringing it up. Yet it was okay for them to casually drop him and his life into conversation. When I was 9yrs old I was asked of I wanted to become a Catholic, like my dad. I did and before long my mother invited him for 'holiday' and given a lecture on forgiving and forgetting because I was a Catholic! She asked if he could stay but instinctively I said no. Even though he hadn't done anything to me during the holiday. All my life I have battled anxiety and depression. My dad died when I was 14yrs old and my mother abandoned me, leaving me to live with my boyfriend and his grandmother. He started seeing someone else and eventually my mother remarried and I fled to go and live with them in another country. Her new husband turned out to be a valium addicted alcoholic. He hit my Mother around and also tried to strangle me a couple of times. We both ran away back to my home town. She stayed two weeks and then went back to him. I lived with my half sister for a year. In the end my mother returned and when I noticed her face looked strange she told me that she had spent weeks in hospital after he broke her jaw. I have had a few toxic relationships and currently married to someone who I am realising is a covert narcissist. We have two children together. One is 20yrs old and the other is 14yrs old. We have been together for over 20yrs and married for10yrs. I got help from a local rape and sex abuse centre and my support worker told me after trying to work with him that if she had her way, she would lock him up as a perpetrator! He triggers me on purpose. I got violent after the triggered me recently and he disappeared for 7 hours. He is very high risk for Coronavirus so I reported him missing to the police. Now we have social services involved and I feel so utterly ashamed. He will be moving out as soon as possible. I just want to heal and be free of pain. I have worked very hard on myself and my journey is not over. I am about to take the next stage which is counselling with a trauma informed counsellor. My husband acts like he doesn't need to do any work on himself. My 20yr old son left the day after we argued and went to stay with his girlfriend, even though we were on lockdown. Now I am scared for him. I feel so guilty and ashamed but I vowed to get all the help I can and help my sons get over all the damage that I have done. I hope my story helps someone."
I have endured physical, mental, and verbal abuse at the hands of my ex boyfriend/Child’s father. The first pain he ever caused me was cheating on me. We were only 2 months in our relationship and I didn’t owe him anything. I stayed with him because I thought I loved him. He was my first boyfriend so it was easy for me to settle and limit myself. I became pregnant only after 3 months of knowing him. My pregnancy was hard on the part of him not being there. I had a great support system but I was longing for the person that I created her with. He treated me like shit. He mentioned abortions and Plan B’s when I was 8 months pregnant and even after she arrived. I couldn’t do anything without his approval. My money was his money and he spent his money on whatever. He would literally bully me. He was an asshole, but I loved him and tried to see the good in him but unfortunately it costed me the person I loved most. He even started putting his hands on me. I remember his hands wrapped around my throat and I could think about was my baby. I just dismissed it on him being stressed from being the only over working. He treated me like literal shit. Why, because he had his own pain and he thought it was okay to hurt another person, a person that would’ve died for him. He was fucked up. He wasn’t a good person. I had no idea he was holding something so sinister deep inside him. My daughter Mahogany died on January 14, 2020 at only 2 months old. He is currently incarcerated is awaiting trial for her murder. I met him when I was 18 years old and I am currently 19. No one should endure this type of pain, let alone at this age. Long Live Mahogany"
~Sierra White, Atlanta, GA
"I got thereI was speaking with my daughter a couple days ago. I mentioned that I came into my full self when I was 65. She replied, at least you got there. True that.Some may not understand what I mean by true self. For decades I buried painful memories of being raped when I was twelve. That horrific event evoked emotional responses that interfered with my day to day life in negative ways. At the time of rape and sexual abuse, I froze. I didn’t say anything or tell anyone. The first memories of that sexual abuse did not surface for thirty years; memories of the violent rape by the parish priest did not surface for fifty years.When I was attacked I could not speak, now I fight back. I work to help other victims of sexual abuse through activism and advocacy. What happened to me should not happen to another child.My childhood smashed, my path to adulthood, corrupted. A constellation of symptoms of PTSD mangled my very being. All the while this tremendous negative influence remained hidden; it unconsciously acted on, and deformed, every aspect of my being.When horrific memories emerged when I was 63 it hit me like a freight train. Several months of major symptoms of PTSD demolished my well being. My twin daughters who were just turned twelve prompted memories. My family provided life saving help and gave me love and support that enabled all of us to weather the storm. Participation in SNAP support groups, work with a marvelous and amazing therapist, alongside the support of family enabled me to emerge as my true self.It was a difficult road from being beset by miseries to being on a path of healing. Instead of burying horrific memories I was able to incorporate them as part of who I am, the good experiences and the most painful memories.Like the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis I could now determine my life. No longer will I have the past determine my future.I became my true self."
"I have endured verbal, mental, and psychological abuse at the hands of my father. My father had a lot of things wrong with him. He had metal rods and screws in his body because he had been in a series of car accidents. He also was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, severe anxiety and depression, and later on with schizophrenia and have shown qualities of multiple personality disorder. There were certain things that we were and were not allowed to do. I was aware of those things while my older brother was not, and he stayed in trouble. Crayons, markers, play doh and things of those nature were not allowed in the house. I have three younger siblings that all were born when I was 12 years old. As a child you just want to color. Me being 12 or 13 I had to keep my own supplies at school and my mother kept some crayons for when it was time for their schoolwork. My father didn’t work because of his physical and mental illnesses. I remember mommy working all of the time. I raised my younger siblings until me, myself got into a deep depression where I couldn’t even take care of myself. I remember random outbursts, foul language, and just plain hurt and evil in my father’s eyes. We are a family of 7 and if the head is down then it’s physically impossible for the rest of us to operate. My father was the glue but he was also the destroyer. It was literally hell on Earth. Where was my mother? She was right there next to us in fear, as though she was one of his children. Today, he isn’t the man that I grew up with. You wouldn’t even believe he was that man, even if he told you. The mind is an outstanding substance."
~LLM Sierra White, Atlanta, GA
"I spent years lost in darkness, thinking I would never find my way out. I spent years in agony, feeling tortured by own thoughts, thinking that suicide was the only way to end my pain and using my eating disorder and self-harm to try to keep myself numb. With the help of my therapist and treatment, things finally started to take a turn for the better. The darkness started to shift and I finally started to find hope and healing. My trust with my therapist grew immensely and I finally felt like I was overcoming my demons. This is when it was discovered that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder and my ‘alters’ revealed themselves. DID is extremely stigmatized and I’ve always felt so much shame in talking about it or admitting that I have it. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. DID develops when you go through severe trauma at a very young age. Your alters are created in order to hold the trauma for you so you can continue living your life. After years of not knowing I had been through any trauma I am now in the process of learning it from my alters. I am getting the memories back about my abuse and abusers. This is currently what I am walking through. It is the hardest, most painful thing that I have experienced but I know that I will make it through and I know that I will find healing on the other side. Just like I’ve found healing from my eating disorder and self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I created my Instagram account @inthistogethernow_ because I want all of you who are going through the painful process of recovery to know that you aren’t alone. I want to give you hope that you can get through this. I believe in myself and I believe in you and I know that we are stronger when we are together. I care about you all very much. Please keep fighting. I know that we can get through this together."
"I’ve got a couple but I will share the one that impacted me the most. Six through seventh grade, my neighbor, when we got off the bus he would chase me up to our houses (which are like 10 min away) and if he caught me he would pin me down and sometimes drag me to the ditch and like try to take off my clothes and stuff. I thought it was all a game and then he moved summer of seventh grade and then I realized. I became scared of being alone with boys. And now if they treat me with even an ounce of respect I think they’re amazing because every interaction I’ve had with boys have been them wanting to use me. From a different guy continuously trying to kiss me when I tried to stop it to that."
"I was abused from about 13-17. Partly due to that, I became a sexual assault recovery specialist & national speaker. My story is told in the upcoming book: #MeToo: counsellors and psychotherapists speak about sexual violence and abuse. Coming in May from PCCS Books in UK!"
"Growing up, I faced several forms of abuse at the hands of relatives. Looking back on them now, as a survivor, the emotional/psychological abuse was the worst of the lot. It was the invisible assassin, the silent killer that slowly ate away at me. My childhood experiences including growing up in isolation, limited communication with friends outside of school, waking up and going to bed on eggshells, having every decision made for me by others in the name of protection. After 26 years of barely existing, I had to make a choice, to either stand up to my abuser or have my mother lose her life. I chose the former, I sent my abuser to jail (albeit for a short period of time) but it was the most life-changing moment I would ever have. Now 2 years free, I am getting to know myself for the first time ever and although I still have moments of extreme panic and trauma responses to the tiniest bit of uncertainty but I am learning to love myself , love my flaws and know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. To anyone reading this, please reach out to the authorities as I know reaching out to friends/family isn't always possible or safe to do. Call national helplines and seek out support. Pray and stay safe."