Rachel’s Story: A Life battle of Child Abuse & Neglect
This article was inspired after I listened to one brave woman, Rachael B, 18; tell her story about her story of child abuse over the years. Rachael hopes that her story will help other victims and survivors of child abuse find the courage to stand up to their abusers. According to Rachel, “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do;” and I could not agree more. Rachael was told from an early age that her birth was not planned which only led Rachael to believe that she was some horrible mistake and this alone can traumatize a child emotionally.
When she was an infant, Rachael was taken away from her father by her birth-mother who apparently was unfit to take care of Rachael and this only led to emotional abuse and neglect. According to Rachael, her mother had her own horrible childhood and like many victims of child abuse who does not seek out counseling, emotional trauma can stay with a person for years and affect future relationships and even the windfall of nurturing. Rachael’s father hired a private investigator to find her but Rachael and her mother vanished without a trace. A few months later, Rachael’s father did find them but Rachael was emotionally broken by then.
Rachael’s father was awarded full custody after the court ruled she was an unfit mother and within a few years, he remarried. As far as Rachel was concerned, her stepmother might as well have been her birth-mother because any early memories of Rachael’s birth-mother eventually began to fade. According to Rachael, things could not have been better, because she had a father and mother who loved her very much, as well as a grandmother and uncle who would become her best friends growing up. So, what could possible go wrong from there?
The Nightmare Unfolds
As far as Rachael was concerned at the time, her childhood was going to be all fun and games from a loving family. Growing up, Rachael enjoyed spending time with her grandmother, uncle, and parents. Rachael described her grandmother as a very special woman who was probably the most amazing woman she ever met. Rachael’s grandmother was very supportive of her and would go to great lengths for Rachael. For example, ever since Rachael can remember, music has meant everything to her and her grandmother bought her a Casio keyboard and even a karaoke machine. Whenever, Rachael would spend the night at her grandmother’s home, there was a bell and every morning Rachael would ring the bell and her grandmother would tell her, “Good Morning Sunshine!” They had a very special bond.
Another key person in Rachael’s life growing up was her uncle; her father’s brother. Rachael considers her uncle to be her biggest fan next to her grandmother. Rachael and her uncle would have a special time together eating Bon-Bon’s (little vanilla ice crème bites covered in chocolate) from time to time. Naturally, he worked for a bakery supply company so they often had a night filled with deserts. In 2001, Rachael’s baby sister was born which is about when Rachael’s nightmare came crashing down in the form of abuse.
To this day, Rachael has difficulty remembering some of the details which is very common with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in which these types of memories become suppressed and kept to a distance. With any traumatic experience, victims are more likely to keep their emotions bottled up inside and put up walls protecting them from remembering those tragic events. It isn't until later in life that they begin to remember bits and pieces of those forgotten memories. But, one thing that Rachael does partially recall is an incident when she went down the stairs with perfume on and her father firmly stated to her that she smelled like a whore. Also noteworthy about PTSD, is that often a scent such as the perfume she was wearing at the time could be a future trigger for her to remember that incident more clearly. If she were to come into contact with the smell of that perfume again, even today; she could experience a panic attack and feel as if she is reliving that very event today just as she did that day in the past.
Now, Rachael was a bit surprised by her father’s response because she practically worshiped the ground her father walked on. She loved her father so much and assumed her reciprocated her love. With no explanation from her father, Rachael ran upstairs in tears.
In 2004, Rachael’s grandmother passed and Rachael regrets that she never had an opportunity to say goodbye to her. Apparently, Rachael was often caught in the middle of nasty arguments between her father and grandmother. Looking back, Rachael has blocked most of her childhood until around the fifth grade. Over the years, her father’s temper ranged and whenever he discovered what was believed to be secrets kept from him by her stepmother, Rachael would be her father’s outlet for emotional abuse. Rachael would often ask her cousins to visit and spend the night but they would refuse because they did not like to watch how her father mistreated her verbally. Rachael’s aunt on her stepmother’s side would often suggest for Rachael to report the emotional abuse to a school counselor but Rachael was always worried about leaving behind her baby sister to be the likely victim of her father’s anger.
When Rachael was older, she sought out her birth-mother even though her father and stepmother were not one to really discuss that matter. Over the years, Rachael became the splitting image of her birth-mother and her father did not want a constant reminder of his previous life with Rachael’s birth-mother. Rachael remembered an incident where, “He picked me up and threw me like a rag doll into this huge wooden armorer. I crawled into the corner and my father hit me and screamed at me, you’re gonna grow up and suck #$@! … like your mother and when you come crawling back, I’m gonna split your fucking face!” Rachael ran upstairs in terror as fast as she could. Rachael also recalls that there were too many incidents to count where her father’s rage was so out of control that he would break things and she would often hide with a pink-bunny-pillow that Rachael used as a savior of protection. For years, Rachael lived with her father’s emotional abuse as she would constantly look over her shoulder in fright worrying when he would add to the emotional scars and physical abuse.
On another incident, Rachael’s father had been having technical problems with his computer that only frustrated and maddened him. He began screaming, “What the fuck did she do—stupid fuck!” Meanwhile, Rachael’s heart was pounding as she hid upstairs in her room with her protection pillow. He yelled for Rachael to go downstairs and face him. At which point, Rachael cautiously walked down the stairs to her father as he continued screaming names and cursing at her and then out of nowhere, he picked up the computer and threw it at Rachael. She immediately ran out the front door as if her life depended on it. Rachael hid between some trash cans near the end of her driveway and tried to keep her crying silent as tears ran down her face. Just her luck; a boy from her neighborhood spotted Rachael and pointed her location out to her father and stepmother.
Rachael’s father screamed at her to come to them. As Rachael fearfully walked towards her parents, her stepmother quickly grabbed her by an arm while digging her fingernails into Rachael’s skin! Next, Rachael’s stepmother slammed her into the front door and then yanked her back as she opened the door and then pushed Rachael inside. The rest of that night is a blur for her but what she does remember is traumatizing just the same. Rachael was 15 at the time of this incident. She stated to her father that she was leaving and he basically called her bluff as he handed her the phone. Rachael called her aunt practically begging her to pick Rachael up but instead the aunt turned around and called Rachael’s stepmother and asked that they work things out. Rachael was so upset because the one person who suggested for years that she talk with a school counselor and find a way to get out of that environment had turned her back on Rachael and would not go get her. Rachael was devastated.
Meanwhile, the emotional abuse continued as her father sat on the couch brainwashing her with the knowledge that nobody loved her and that nobody wanted her or was ever going to come save her. In addition, he would sit there and make light of her fear of him. Rachael came to the conclusion that the man she once idolized was no longer her friend but rather some horrible monster instead.
Eventually, Rachael called her uncle begging for him to come rescue her, which he did. According to Rachael, her father abused her uncle for years but he put up with it. Rachael’s uncle lived about 40 minutes away and Rachael remembers this wait as one of the longest 40-45 minutes of her life. Rachael packed a suitcase and patiently waited for her life to change for the better. However, Rachael suddenly became torn with guilt as she looked over at her baby sister who had been crying in her bedroom. Rachael called on her sister and they sat together crying as Rachael said to her sister, “This is not your fault. I love you so much.” Rachael rocked with her as she kept saying that none of this was her sister’s fault. “My heart broke every minute.” When her uncle arrived, Rachael told her sister goodbye; her stepmother told Rachael goodbye and her father did not say a word. They both acted as if nothing has transpired. “At fifteen, I left my abuse; I walked away with one bag and a broken heart and bruises.”
Rachael never wanted to return to her father and stepmother out of fear of further abuse and if she did return that she might never be able to escape again. Also, Rachael was not sure if she was moving in with her uncle on a permanent basis or merely until everyone had ample opportunity to calm down.
Later on, Rachael was invited to her cousin's bridal shower; the same person who turned her back on Rachael when she needed her most but Rachael attended the shower because she really wanted to see her cousins and her sister. When Rachael first saw her sister, she was given the world’s biggest hug ever! Rachael thought what could possibly ruin this perfect little moment with her sister? Before she knew what happened, Rachael’s aunt and some of her cousins had led her to a room where they laid into her with screams and derogatory words. Was this an intervention or a persecution? Rachael left the bridal shower and went back to her uncle’s home.
Eventually, Rachael was required to enter into family therapy with her father and stepmother. It probably did not help matters that her stepmother worked as a temp at her uncle’s business. Regardless of the reasons behind therapy, any time someone begins a new form of psychotherapy, it is quite common for people to experience a wide range of emotions because they are opening old wounds and learning to cope with a flood of emotions. But, what made the first counseling session a bit less confrontational was that her stepmother brought Rachael’s sister to the session. For the actual therapy session, Rachael’s father skipped the session and sat in his car in the parking lot. For the first time, Rachael thought about her father, “What a coward! I don’t know if it was guilt or shame or the fact that he could only abuse me behind doors?”
As suspected, the first therapy session did not go well nor did it seem to get any better over the first several months which involved a lot of back and forth screaming. While Rachael’s uncle and his wife, her aunt continued to defend her, it was quite apparent to them that it was three against the rest of the family. Rachael felt as if she had risked so much and given up just as much when she walked away from her parents even though the rest of the family made her out to be some type of villain and horrible person. This is commonly known as ‘Blaming the Victim.’ Nobody ever wants to admit that someone close to them could ever be an abuser and yet, they find it even easier to blame the victim. It is more common to shift the blame unto the victim and accuse them of either lying about an alleged abuse or doing so out of attention seeking. Either way, the victim only becomes victimized all over again. Meanwhile, Rachael’s parents, cousins and even her aunt who once stood by her side had all continued to verbally harass Rachael through Cyber Bullying (phone calls, e-mails, Facebook, etc.).
All that Rachael could think about was how could her family turn on her and defend her father’s actions? This is the type of events that can cause a victim’s self-esteem to downward spiral. Some turn to outlets such as drugs, alcohol, anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating, cutting, or worse; some take their own life over this type of continuous harassment. After all, this was abuse by proxy. The psychological effects alone can last a lifetime. Physical scars will heal but emotional scars can last for years.
Eventually, Rachael uncle and aunt were awarded custody of her. Rachael considers her uncles to be her guardian angel.
Growing up too quickly
Rachael experienced a lifetime of abuse that no child should ever face. To this day, Rachael experiences some emotional outbursts and panic attacks. There is still a part of her that feels anxiety and fear that causes her to look over her shoulder out of fear. Rachael often fears that her father will show up unexpectedly at her uncle’s home and do something foolish out of spiteful revenge. When home alone, Rachael will often hide in terror for hours and panic over every single type of noise she hears. This is very common with those who struggle from PTSD. Rachael hopes that her story will help others to find the courage to stand up to their abuser.
For additional updates and to contact Rachael, please click [here].
UPDATED EDITORIAL BY AUTHOR
The comments below by Michael Bernstein suggested that I am somehow hiding from him after he and another family member attempted to contact me via email. This is an exaggeration of the truth as I do have copies of three emails from them threatening legal action as well as date and time stamps of these emails along with my replied email back to Mr. Bernstein. If need be, I will added copies of these emails. Furthermore, Michael Bernstein has manipulated and stretched the truth to make him look better when this is simply not the case. Furthermore, I added a comment below this article in reply to Mr. Bernstein false allegations but the comments were removed after 'somebody; reported my comment as spam.
Therefore, I feel the need to post it in the body of the article, to set the record straight against the false allegations Michael Bernstein has made against the reputation of this author.
First of all, I am not ignoring you as I did reply to your emails about 8 hours ago. I received one email from you around 2:30 am threatening me and then another email around noon later that early afternoon asking why I did not respond to your first email in a timely manner.
Secondly, I do not need this article to promote any website. I have been with the Examiner since 2009 with over 600 articles published over the years, in addition I have two books with another publisher. One book is on profiling sex offenders and the other is a self-help book for victims and survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence (IPV), child abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anorexia and bulimia as it relates to victimization. I am well known and tend to have more page views than most with my articles, so to suggest that this article is some breakthrough story for some PR gain is untrue.
As explained in the email, abuse occurs in families of all walks of life which includes families with medical and law enforcement careers. Physical abuse scars can be hidden and more often than not most friends and family members have no knowledge that someone close to them has been physical abuse. Furthermore, while physical scars can heal over time, it is the emotional scars that can last a lifetime and often results in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
You have manipulated the facts involving communication between you and I and if need be, I would be more than happy to post copies of the emails where you threaten to take legal action against me for telling Rachael's story. Rachael has a right to Free Speech and I have a right to Freedom of the Press. I interviewed someone who told her story from her point of view and therefore, I have not misrepresented myself in this matter. Also, as stated in the email, unless a gag order has been ordered by a judge, then No, I am not required by law to remove this article simply because you threatened legal action.
Lastly, as I stated in the email to you, (and yet another manipulation by you), I did not disclose the identity of any family members in the article. Rachael did provide names but stated that she used alias' to protect the identity of those involved. I will either use true names or omit the names all together as I did in the article. In fact, the only time an identifiable name other than Rachael was used, was when you identified yourself by name and as Rachael's father. In fact, in the article, Rachael has been identified as Rachael B. I did not even mention a location of where the incident allegedly took place.
And to make mention that if I was an honest writer that I would have contacted you - again; not only did I contact you prior to your posting this message (per the date and time stamp) but you emailed me in the middle of the morning and then again, hours later. So, if anyone is untruthful in the media, it is not I."