Brave Victim of Child Abuse Says Effects Last a Lifetime

After I published this very specific sex abuse crime story last month about a new adoptive father in Ohio, I got a flood of very brave and candid replies from you readers. I wanted to share a letter from Patty, who is hyper-aware of foster kids and adopted kids who sustain child abuse and sexual abuse when shuffled from home to home.

Patty said reading my account was very upsetting even though she’s safe now and the abuse occurred decades ago when she was younger than 12.
She told me, “Abuse lasts for a lifetime. Even at an age where my own children are now teens, child abuse affects every decision, every opinion, every reaction I make.”

“It’s part of who I am, like a birthmark.”

Patty said she learned to live with savage beatings and solitary confinement. She said, “Horrible abuse that would have landed my stepmother in prison today…  what she did back then when people minded their own business. I was horribly abused, locked in closets for days at a time while my mother partied, beaten until I looked like a rainbow, whipped with electrical cords, but oh how I wanted her to love me.  That was so long ago and yet it never completely leaves my awareness.

I ran away again and again until I no longer had to run. I lived on the streets from age 14 to 18, when I finally applied for, and was granted, emancipation.”

Patty admits that a love of reading helped her years of hard living and abuse on the streets.  “I spent every spare minute reading, hours upon hours in the coolness of the libraries in the various cities I hitchhiked to. No one ever questioned or bothered me in the libraries.”

Looking back 20 years, Patty reflects on her own children today.  “I never raised a hand to my children, never verbally abused them never called them names or hurt them with words because in my opinion the worst sin is to deliberately hurt others.  My youngest is 16, a straight-A student since kindergarten; and the oldest is an artistic freshman in college.

Yes, child abuse can be survived. But the biggest obstacle is trust. You never learn to trust anyone. Ever again. Ever. The hardest part of any relationship for me is learning how to trust someone.  I’ll never be able to trust easily.”

“Someday I’ll be alone again.”

Thanks Patty. Tell me your adoption story here!

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