they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their
testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death"...
I was born on February
21st, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan, and I had three brothers and five
sisters. Three years after my birth, my parents moved to Queens,
New York where I was raised, that was also the year my father died.
My father was raised
as a Baptist, and my mother, in various religions including the
Muslim beliefs and the Jehovah Witnesses beliefs, because of the
many different things she was taught; she became an agnostic. She
didn't encourage her children to go to the church, but we were taught
that we could go IF we felt like it, and we could go to whatever
faith we felt like getting involved in. I vaguely remember attending
a couple of services with my cousins as a child, and going to Catholic
mass on a few Easter holidays.
My memories of my childhood
were very dark. My mom was an excellent provider, and we always
had nice clothes, and a nice home, in fact we were the only ones
in our neighborhood with a swimming pool in the backyard. She also
possessed a lot of wisdom at times, and I still remember some of
her sayings, and even tell them to my children, and grandchildren.
Her desires for her children
was always on point, stay safe, get a good education, a good job,
live a good life, be respectable, etc. and she was very protective
of her children, so one could hurt us, except her. She was severely
abusive to several of her children, including me.
I believe this started
a few years after my father died because I remember being a very
shy, weak, and sickly child that cried very easily. Childhood illnesses
that my brothers and sisters would get over quickly always stayed
with me longer. I was always afraid, and of everything. I always
felt ugly, I remember always trying to hide from people because
I felt ugly, and this attributed to my shyness, (when I became a
teenager I still hid, but now it was because every time I would
get a compliment, one of my friends would want to fight me, so in
order to keep my friends I would hide so they would feel comfortable
When I started school,
the first thing I remember is drawing a string painting. We were
to dip the strings into the paint and place them on the paper to
make a design. I dipped my strings into the red, blue, purple and
black paints and smeared them all over the paper. When the teacher
came and tried to correct me, I laid my face in the picture and
cried until I fell asleep. I stayed that way all day until the end
of the day, even though they called my mom.
Then I remember being
sick all the time, and almost dying once. I remember staying with
my grandmother in California, when my father first died. I caught
my brother and my cousin smoking cigarettes, and threaten to tell.
My brother beat with one of my aunt's high heel shoes, which left
round circular bruises on my arms and legs. I hid under the table
until my aunt came home, but was afraid to tell her what had happen.
The first whipping I
remember from my mom was because I didn't want to eat dinner, and
I locked myself in the bathroom. She told me she was going to call
the fire department, so I came out and she beat me. After that things
intensified and by the time I was 12 years old, I had a series of
concussions, bruises, whelps, cuts, etc. on my body at various times.
On many occasions I had
to wear tights and a turtleneck to school to keep people from seeing
what she had did to me. Our family doctor, Dr. Cahill, once asked
my mother to leave the room while he talked to me. When she left
he asked how I was having so many accidents, but I would never tell.
Let me stop here to say
this, I am not trying to say we were perfect children, but there
was nothing we did that warranted the treatment we received, and
a great deal of the things we did were a direct reaction to the
abuse in our home.
There are several other
situations with my mom that stand out in my mind:
1-On several occasions,
when I was getting out the tub, my mom beat me with an extension
2-My mom hit me in the head with a coat hanger and the hook part
got caught in my head, putting a hole in my head and blood began
to stream down my face. My mom took me to the sink to rinse the
blood out, and then began to bang my head against the sink saying
I made her hit me with the coat hanger. And how did I do that? By
cooking some beans for my brothers and sisters to eat.
3-My mom pushing me down a flight of stairs when I was 10 years
old because I tried to commit suicide to escape the abuse, (this
was my first attempt).
4-Being chased by her with an old-fashioned shovel handle for not
coming back from the store fast enough, (this was the first time
my sister and I ran away).
5-My mom hitting my face against the windowsill because I didn't
do a chore fast enough. This required stitches, but the doctor used
butterfly bandages so as not to scar my face.
6-My mom threw a cast iron skillet at me during one of her episodes.
7-Trying to lock myself in the bathroom to avoid a beating, and
her spraying mace in my face to get me out, then my jumping out
the window onto the roof to escape.
8- Being punched, bit, scratched, being beat like an animal on a
regular basis for any offense real, or imagined.
But the worst incident
I remember involved my sister. My mom had taken the black cord off
the washing machine to beat her, (I was probably next because that
was usually how it went).
I was standing against
the wall behind my mom as my sister was being beat, and my younger
sisters and brother was huddled on the bed, crying. I can still
hear the sound of the cord with each hit she gave my sister, and
the sounds my sister was making.
At one point the cord
whipped around my sisters head and hit her behind the ear. A huge
bump the size of an egg rose up behind my sister's ear and she began
to scream at the top of her lungs that she could not hear, and my
mom continued to beat her. I remember thinking why don't the neighbors
help us, why doesn't someone help us.
Something snapped in
me, and I just couldn't take anymore. When my mom swung the cord
back to hit my sister again, I grabbed it, and wrapped it around
my arm and held on with all my might. I just kept saying, "I
can't take anymore, I can't take anymore".
My mom turned around
and began to punch me, knocking me back, but I still held on to
the cord. Somehow we ended up in the hall bathroom, and my mom punched
me, knocking me in the tub. She then took the toilet bowl plunger
and put it across my throat, choking me. My sisters and brother
were crying that she was going to kill me. I said, "Kill me,
I don't care anymore". Then I said, "I wished you had
died instead of my dad", this must have shocked her because
she stopped, and walked away. In spite of my pain, I felt good because
I still had the cord wrapped around my arm.
My mom didn't beat us
anymore after that time, but her abuse continued, taking on other
forms, which continue to include the verbal and emotional abuse.
I cannot tell you how many times my sister and I were called a whore
and slut, (although I remained a virgin longer than all of my friends
and relatives), the word for a "female dog", cussed out,
put down, and accused, and how often she lied about us to others,
in order to protect herself from exposure. Then there were the times
she favored our younger sisters and brother over us, (and they grew
up to do worst offenses, but she never once beat them, (her abuse
toward them was mostly verbal).
But I can tell you the
number of times my mom hugged me, ONCE when I was 19 years old.
Also, the number of times she kissed me, NONE. And the number of
times she said she loved me, ONCE when I was an adult. (This has
changed, but I will share that later).
My mom didn't allow us
to socialize much, not even with our father's side of the family
because of our dirty little secret. This made her seem overly protective,
but it wasn't us she was really protecting, but the secret that
she didn't want any family member to find out what was really going
on in our home. As I said in the beginning, she was a good provider
and from appearances, we LOOKED like a great family.
She began a long term
relationship, (which produced three children), with a man that would
only provide for "his" children and not my sister and
I, (by then my older siblings had moved out). He would buy small
packages of food for "his children" only, and although
my mom argued about it, it still continued.
They would take us to
visit HIS family, who let us know in no uncertain terms that we
were not REALLY related to HIS children by our mother, or them.
I thought this was the craziest thing that I had ever heard because
my sisters and brother had the same blood in their veins from my
mom as we did, and I loved them with a passion, but this split our
family, and there is still a division today.
It seemed that my mom
took everyone who loved us, and cared about us from us, and replaced
them with people who had no connection with us, wanted to use us,
(I was almost molested several times), or who didn't know us so
they would believe anything she told them about us...total devastation.
I had tried to commit
suicide several times because of the abuse, and I thank the Lord
now that I was not successful. I had also become very protective
of ME when I wasn't at home; determine never to let anyone else
beat me. I felt I would die before I let another person beat on
me. I was small, and weak, and I got into a lot of fights with bullies,
but because of the rage going on inside of me, I always won those
Somehow my sister and
I ended up in a Big Sisters program, and I will never forget the
lady who took on our case, Mrs. Sample, I believe she was a Christian
although I don't ever remember her talking to us about the Lord,
there was just something about her. I believe she loved us, and
felt sorry for us, also.
She took us to plays
and events, and I remember appointments in her office where we gradually
began to talk about what went on in my home. I don't think they
really knew how to deal with abused children back then, and they
did the best they could for us.
I was also a gifted student,
and my grades were most often excellent which landed me in the G.A.T.E.
program, (Gifted And Talented Education Program). I was gifted in
art and had a dream of going to college on art scholarship. Because
of these things, I was recommended for many other programs.
At one point, I was in
the Upward Bound Program at Queens College, where I received many
awards. On career day, the first editor of Essence magazine, (I
believe her name was Ida or something like that), came to our program.
She wanted to sponsor me in the Miss Teenage Black America Pageant,
all expenses paid. My mother refused to sign the papers, although
I begged and cried, she refused saying, "Models were nothing
but whores". I asked the lady was there another way I could
still participate, but there wasn't. She seemed very sad for me
that day, but no one was as sorry as I was, it seemed that everything
good was always blocked from me.
No one, but another abused
person, can fully understand the pain, the horror, and confusion
of a situation where the person who is suppose to love you, is the
one doing you the most harm. When the safest place you could ever
be is AWAY from home. You want to get away from the abuser, but
you are somehow dependent upon them, too. You feel that if you could
just PLEASE them, the abuse would stop, not knowing there is NOTHING
you can do to please them because the issue is not YOU, but inside
of them. You are afraid to stay, but even more afraid to leave because
you are uncertain if there is anything better out there.
By the time I was 18
years old, I thought I had a way out. My mother had introduced me
to a gentleman, and he wanted to marry me. She liked him very much,
so I thought I could "kill two birds with one stone so to speak",
please my mom, and get away from her abuse at the same time, so
I married him.
It was a horrible mistake
because he turned out to be worst than my mom in his treatment of
me. We fought often, (because this time I wasn't going to just take
it), and two months after we were married, his parents called the
police on him because he had taken his sister's dog and placed him
in a hot oven, then pulled a hatchet on his father. When he went
to jail, I divorced him, and moved where he couldn't locate me.
What I didn't know was that my upbringing had already started me
on a path toward several dysfunctional and abusive relationships.
At the age of 22, I tried
to kill myself for the last time, and the events surrounding this
is what lead me to Jesus Christ. I had just gotten out of an abusive
relationship that almost cost me my life, and went back home to
I had a daughter that
was almost two, and I needed a place to stay so I could get my life
back together. I went to the Dept. of Social Services because I
had no money, and no job. While I waiting for them to process my
paperwork, my daughter took sick with the chicken pox, and high
fever. For some reason, it was at this time that my mom decided
she wanted me to get out of her home.
I had no place to go,
so I went back over to the DSS office with my sick baby. She had
a temperature of 102 degrees, and someone at the DSS office called
my mom, asking her what kind of grandmother was she to turn out
a sick baby? They told her she could at least allow her grandbaby
to stay at the house, even if she didn't want me there, I was so
ashamed, and my mom must have been also because she said I could
come back to the house.
When I arrived, my mom
told me she would give me a week to find a place, and she left out.
I was sick with worry knowing I couldn't find a place in a week,
my paperwork wasn't even processed yet, and I had no apartment prospects
on the horizons. I held my daughter and cried until I felt sick,
then I had a thought. If I weren't around then my mom would have
to let my daughter stay, and at least my baby would have a roof
over her head.
Then I couldn't bear
the thought of living without my daughter, and felt I was a lousy
mother anyway, so I decided to kill myself. I knew my mother had
all kinds of tranquilizers in her room, so I went and found them.
I took every pill she had, (about 25-30 pills), and then I went
and held my daughter until I felt sleepy, which didn't take long.
When I felt myself feeling
sleepy, I gave my daughter to my youngest sister and told her to
take care of her until mom came home. All I remember next is walking
down the steps and outside on the porch.
The next thing I remember
is being in a dark place. It was so pitch black dark that I couldn't
see my hand in front of my face. I kept wondering where was I, and
walking around in nothing but darkness. Then I heard someone crying,
they were crying so hard, and I felt so sorry for them. They were
saying something but at first I couldn't understand them. Then I
began to recognize the voice, it was my sister, Mary.
I thought, but why is
she crying, I had never seen her cry. I began to walk toward the
voice, she was saying my name and asking me to please smile, please
laugh for her just once. I was walking toward her voice and saying,
Mary, don't cry, please don't cry. As I began to get closer to her
voice, I began to choke and my throat hurt. It was getting lighter
where I was and I was struggling to speak, but now my throat really
hurting, and I was coughing. Then I opened my eyes, and I was in
the hospital with a tube down my throat. They were pumping my stomach,
and Mary was next to me, crying for me to come back, to smile for
her once again. I tried to comfort her but there was too much going
on around me.
I found out later that
some children had found me in front of my old apartment, foaming
at the mouth, in some kind of seizure. One was a sister to Mary's
boyfriend, whose mom worked for the police department. She immediately
got an ambulance and rushed me to the hospital. The police were
perplexed because they said it was no way that I should have lived.
By the time they found
me, if the pills didn't kill me, then the traffic should have. The
only way I could have gotten from my mom's house to my old apartment
complex was to have crossed a freeway. They kept asking me did someone
help me, or take me there; did I remember getting a ride? I didn't
I was restrained in a
bed, and over the next few days several religious leaders came to
see me, a priest, several preachers, and even a rabbi. They all
looked so perplexed,(wondering how I got pass the freeway), and
sad. I told them all that I won't try to take my life anymore, that
for some reason the Lord has spared me and I had to find out why.
I lay there for several
days thinking about this incident, thinking about the Lord. When
I got out of the hospital, I found out that my mom had lied about
the events leading up to my attempted suicide, and although it hurt,
I had other things on my mind. I was curious about God, and didn't
know where to begin to look. For some reason going to church never
entered my mind, and it would be 3 more years before I actually
Over the next 2 years,
there were many changes, and I will condense them. I calmed down
a bit, had a really good job working at the county nursing home,
and my daughter was in private school. I was settled and from appearances,
everything was going well, but on the inside I was still unhappy.
My relationship with
my mother was still abusive, and although she could no longer strike
me physically, she did much damage emotionally and verbally every
time I would visit her, but I couldn't stay away, after all she
was my mom, right?
When I was at work, I
used to go off by myself to think, and ponder about God. One day
a lady walked pass and said, Jesus is the answer for you, and kept
walking. I couldn't stop thinking about her words. At my job, there
were three chapels, a Catholic one, a Jewish one, and a Protestant
one. I went to the Jewish one, but their book was in Hebrew and
I couldn't read it. I went to the Catholic one, but their book was
in Latin, and I couldn't read that one either. Finally, I went to
the Protestant one and began to read the Bible.
I got a Bible for myself
from somewhere and began to read it daily. I had lived in America
all my life, a country that profess to be a Christian nation, a
country with churches on every corner and I did not know who Jesus
really was, or why He had died. Sure, I saw the Christmas stories
and the Easter movies at holiday times, but I always though Jesus
was a good man, and they killed Him for no reason. I did not know
the real deal until I began to read the Bible. You know, we Christians
in America think that people just don't want Jesus when in actuality
there are many living right here in America that don't even know
who Jesus really is.
As I was reading the
Bible one day, I got to the part where Jesus was crucified, and
I actually saw it. I saw Jesus on the cross and He turned to me
and said, "It was for you I died". I started crying, and
cried for about 2 hours. I was asking Him to forgive me for every
wrong thing I had ever did in my life, then I asked Him to forgive
me for the wrong I did unknowingly. At the end of my prayer I kept
saying, it won't be in vain, at least not for me, it won't be in
My whole life began to
change then, I still was not in church, but I began to drop things
from my life. I no longer wanted to party, I stopped smoking marijuana,
stopped doing cocaine, and stopped the drinking, all of these things
I did socially, (but I was never big on liquor, or cursing). Gradually
my life began to clean up, and I didn't know that it was the Holy
Ghost at work. I just kept reading the Bible periodically.
Previously, I had met
someone that I really loved and we had lived together for two years,
but had broke it off. During this time I was taking birth control
pills which was having an adverse effect on my system, and I had
also developed an intestinal virus that I failed to get treated
because I wanted to wait until after I moved into my new 2 bedroom
We reconciled a week
before I was due to move, and on the day that I moved into my apartment,
everything came to a head. That night I woke up with such severe
pain that I couldn't get up off the floor. I couldn't reach my boyfriend,
and it was so intense, that I had to crawl to a neighbor's apartment
to get her to take me to the hospital and watch my daughter.
When the doctor went
to give me an internal examination, she said, oh, my God! For some
reason my fallopian tubes were infected and badly damaged, and this
infection had spread throughout my female area. She said with or
without an operation, I would be sterile the rest of my life, and
they needed to do an emergency operation because of the infection.
I asked her to put the
operation off until the next day, so I could make arrangements for
someone to care for my daughter, and to give me something for the
pain. Reluctantly, she did as I requested, and I went home, but
I was highly medicated, and very devastated. I had always wanted
a son, and a brother for my daughter, but now this would never be.
By this time my boyfriend
had come to bring me a refrigerator, and I told him what had happen.
After he left to go to work, I cried and prayed to the Lord, saying,"if
You will heal me and give me a son, I will truly live for you but
I need you to show me how".
Suddenly I felt sick
and I vomited, after I finished vomiting, I was no longer medicated,
nor did I feel any pain. My boyfriend was shocked when he came home,
and I called the doctor the next day to cancel the operation. With
much argument, I got her to make me an appointment for me to see
a specialist instead, but I wanted to wait a week before going.
When I went to the doctor
a week later, he kept looking at my chart and telling me that I
healed miraculously and he couldn't believe the chart because there
was no evidence of the infection described, I was perfectly healthy.
He then made an appointment for me to see him in 2 months for re-evaluation,
unless I had a re-occurrence before then. When I came back to see
him, he said he knew I was healed because I was 6 weeks pregnant.
I knew this was my son, my covenant with the Lord. My boyfriend
and I got married during that pregnancy, (and had two more sons
After this, at first,
the Lord still would not give me a church home. When I would pray
asking Him where should I go because there are so many churches,
and all of them SAY they are the right way, He would just tell me
to stay in His Word. I STUDIED the Bible for a full year before
the Lord led me to a church home, (I thought this starngs until
I read Galatians 1:15-17), and then He told me to always gauge what
I heard by His Word. After this, I joined my first church, and publicly
accepted Jesus as my Savior before man.
I have been on a continuous
Bible study since that day, and the Spirit of the Lord has done
massive deliverances in my life, (and He still has more to do).
My children's father and I did not last; he never gave his life
to the Lord but began to take more drugs, eventually he became abusive,
also, because of his drug usage, so we divorced.
(I refuse to allow abuse
of any kind into the lives of my children, and Glory to God; He
saved me so that I didn't abuse them myself. I acknowledged to the
Lord that I did not have the skills to raise my children, asking
Him to help me and He taught me how to raise my children. Now, my
children bring their friends to me for counsel, and all their friends
call me "mom").
My mom did more hateful
things until the Lord separated me from her. He said to me, "Come
out from among them and be separate...for I can do nothing as long
as you are there". He also stated that, at the time, my spirit
was not strong enough to deal with the spirit that was operating
in my mom. That she knew just what buttons to push because she had
created the buttons, but He was removing me until He could get rid
of the buttons she had created.
I was separated from
her for over 5 years, with absolutely no contact, and when we saw
each other again, things were different. She was different, but
more than that, I was different. She could not affect me like she
used to, and I didn't respond the way I used to.
Also, I had forgiven
her because the Lord had revealed my mom to me and help me to understand
her. Not to excuse her behavior, which will forever be wrong, but
to understand the pain that was driving her. She has also gotten
closer to the Lord, and although she has never repented for her
actions to me, and seems to be in denial, I believe she has repented
to the Lord and she is more loving toward my sister and toward me.
She even told my sister that she recalls one thing about us and
that is that we never disrespected her.
I had went through therapy
regarding my proclivity to choosing abusive men, and in those sessions
we had to deal with my abusive childhood because that has a lot
to do with it. She was an excellent MFCC, (Marriage and Family Christian
Counselor), and she told me that my mother would never validate
me because if she does, then she would have to admit that she abused
me, and she could not live with that. Maybe this is so, I don't
know, but I leave it to the Lord to correct because I have made
my peace about it, and the Lord has promised me that my mom will
be saved before she dies. I would like for us to have that mother-daughter
relationship before then, but if not, then we will have a better
relationship in Glory for all eternity. Amen!
There are several things
I have learned from this and so I can rejoice even to having been
an abused child. You know, what ever is in you is all you have to
give to others. If there is nothing in you but ugliness, then all
you give to others is ugliness. If there is nothing in you but bitterness,
then all you will give is bitterness. My mother had nothing in her
but pain, and that is what she passed down to us. This is why I
thank the Lord for "forgiveness". He helped me to forgive
my mom, so love was free to flow through me to my children, and
the children of others.
I had a friend in ministry
that went through a bitter divorce, and wanted to continue ministering
in the midst of it. After an observation, I told her that I felt
she needed to sit down a season because she was in a great deal
of pain, and all she was doing was ministering that pain to other
people. You can only pour out what you are full of.
I have been through a
lot, (abuse, homelessness, shelters, death of a loved one, abandonment,
rejection), especially with my ex-husband when he was on drugs,
and I learned a lot through my afflictions.
Sometimes people don't
understand the "intensity" of my stance, because they
don't fully understand that He saved my life, and in saving my life,
He saved my children's lives. I have had people say to me, "it
doesn't take all that", or "you'll calm down after while".
Well, it has been 21 years, and I am still looking for more, and
it is not legalistic, just gratitude. I can never thank Him enough,
so I give Him the life He saved, and not just when it is comfortable,
but especially when it is not.
Now, I know my testimony
is unusual and religious people would want me to say it differently,
(don't tell people the Lord didn't lead you to go to church, or
that the Lord healed you in fornication), but I can only say what
The Lord is a merciful
God, and He will find you, and bring you out by His OWN means, if
you seek Him. This is not to say He will do it for you the way He
did it for me, He is creative, and will give you your own testimony.
Although I am not "into"
pain and suffering, I don't think I would have learned some of the
things I did if I had went any other way, because if I could have,
the Lord would have chose another way.
I used to wish I had
gotten saved at 12 years of age and possibly skipped some of the
drama that I had in my life, and that has even carried over into
my salvation. But I know now that it's working for my good, and
helps me to minister to the audience He has ordained for me.
I understand why Paul
said that he would rather glory in his afflictions, and I leave
you with this scripture...
"that I may KNOW
Him and the POWER of His resurrection, and the FELLOWSHIP of His
SUFFERINGS, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may
attain to the resurrection from the dead"...Philippians 3:
God Bless you is my prayer...Ashanti3
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