The Survivor Struggle – Part 2

On July 5, 2011, many people, including myself, were shocked to hear the words “Not Guilty” resonate in an Orlando courtroom at the Casey Anthony murder trial. Despite our need or desire to put the puzzle together, we will never know what really happened to beautiful Caylee — not that knowing would make anything better.

I really hope that George and Cindy can cope with the result. I sincerely wish them well and hope they do not take on the emotional burden of this murder. I was a victim of severe violence and sex abuse as a child and I felt guilty for doubting Casey’s story. It troubled me because when I spoke out about my own family, they were so well behaved in public, people doubted me. I told the truth and have real trouble with anyone who concocts these stories.

In addition, during this long trial, I took offence to the characterization of survivors as liars, sluts or promiscuous (while men enjoy the double standard), and that that could be a possible excuse to murder a child. That upsets me because of what I survived at the hands of my stepfather and mother (beaten with fists, a baseball bat, slashed with  knives, and an arm broken – all injuries never treated because of the attention it would bring). Let us not forget the words used against me: bitch, stupid, tease, clumsy, haughty, pig, idiot. Finally, the worst, I was a victim of a multiple rape by their friends, something with which I was always threatened.

Sadism. Madness. Make no mistake; it is not mine. I was just born to these people. I am by no means perfect. However, I am not a prolific liar; have never had trouble with the law; and struggle with all my might to do things the right way. Study. Work. Do not compare myself to other people. Be good to others. Do not think anyone owes me anything. With decades of help, I eventually made progress and seem to have turned out okay.

Still, I would have given my blood for loving and helpful parents (like Cindy and George Anthony). Of course, no family is perfect. But how much better could it be with love and nurturing from day one? How could one abuse that and the privilege of having a gorgeous child?

I have no children. After an ectopic pregnancy, I did not try again. I was so terrified that what I read was true: “All abused kids grow up to be abusers.” I vowed never to be like them but had no guarantee. How would I cope with no emotional or financial resources of any kind? That was just not good enough. I could hardly stand myself as it was so being a third-generation child abuser was simply not acceptable.

One last thought for the sceptics out there. I write about these issues sporadically but with a purpose in mind. A car could hit and kill me tonight and I would never have a chance to share my only legacy. I must talk to people about it. I am on a mission to share my experience, successes and hope–not for pity, to seem holier-than-thou, or to engage in a useless “Woe-is-Me!” pity-fest. That is mind numbing and accomplishes nothing. It bores me, as it would my readers.

Besides, I must get back to chiselling away those negative word associations that haunt me still. I try to remember the gems people bestow upon me these days:  Kind, Strong, Funny, Caring, Honest, and Motivated. My goal is to mince and memorialize only those word-strings that make me smile and have a good belly laugh.

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The Survivor Struggle – Part I

In the years since writing this, I am proud to say that not only can I still refrain from breaking into song in local cafes, but I’m also now tackling, head-on, each barrier to my goals.


I get in Psychology and Women Studies classes the stuff that keeps me alive.  Sometimes cold, hard reality hurts like hell. But, I guess, that sense of struggling in unison makes all the difference in the world.  And I’m really not dramatizing — or ready to burst out singing “We Are the World,” right here in the Muffin Break on Robson Street. I am very serious…after a wee giggle at the image.

A couple of times this term, I seriously considered suicide. I reasoned it out. It wasn’t an immature thing — to get back at anyone or make a fleeting statement to what few people would notice. It was a very real and necessary end to my pain.  I couldn’t bear the hurt anymore.

The thing is, at those times, I see death as the only option to stop hurting.  When those moments passed, I had others where listening to my instructor’s stories inspired me. Like the time she said it was her job to see to it, through her teaching, that we would all be alive to see our granddaughters thriving and well. The power with which she spoke rekindled my own. I wanted to go on! I’d pamper myself to health and seek out whatever else I needed. I’d fight the urge to disentangle myself from the caring concern of friends or the fevered collides with my lover, towards translucence and safety. They are  the sources of healing.  Permitting them in my life renews me, allowing me to entertain my curiosity of who I am becoming.

Will I have a baby? Will I get my degree? Can I build a cocoon of love and respect around me? Will I be a grandmother who rides a motorcycle (hehehe) and sometimes travels? Letting myself wonder is incredible.

I felt all of this last night. No wonder I am tired and shaky today. Ah, Yes! A part of the desperation was linked to the fear of not having the resources to take another class.  Can I keep it together if I’m without this influence? Have I made enough contacts so I won’t return to isolation and depression?

T. Gibson, originally published in 1995.

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