Protecting children is everyone’s business. This remains the most under-reported crimes to this day. The U.S DHHS statistics show that for every 1 case of child abuse that is reported, 2 others go unreported. This is an epidemic that continues to spread. It is not Bias of color, age, stature, location or education, join the support to end abuse BEFORE you are speaking from experience, as I am.
My name is Tammy Gagnon. I am a Survivor, Mother, Grandmother, and Author. My Novel, “No Longer Silent” is my true story of abuse & the self destruction that followed for 25 years and touched many. I still don’t have any memories before the age of 7 and what I do remember as a little girl, was so painful, I spent most of my adult life either attempting to forget or to numb with alcohol or drugs. In my attempt to do this, I unknowingly turned into the abuser.
My siblings & I learned at an early age to read the body language of my mother and recognize my father’s bloodshot eyes when he walked in the door. Within minutes my mom would give us the eye & point to the stairs, this meant we shouldn’t ask any questions but go straight to bed. It could be daylight but we learned quickly not to talk back so we quietly made our way up the stairs and climbed into bed without making any noise. I’m sure now that she meant to prevent us from seeing the abuse. I lay in my bed hearing the dishes break, my father yelling at her, and slaps that would make me pull the cover up all the way over my head. I could hear her pleading for him to stop but it didn’t. I never did forget the time previous to that, when my father came in drunk covered with blood. I began crying when he chuckled and assured me that this wasn’t “his” blood, but the other guys, referring to a bar room fight.
I remember hearing my mother as she cried out, seeing a mental vision and never knowing if that’s what he was doing to her. I screamed on the inside until my throat was sore from tension. I whimpered until the noise finally stopped. I had been taught very early that I was to never talk about secrets and what happened inside the house was a secret, even though I didn’t really understand what was happening.
When my paternal grandfather began sexually abusing me, he convinced me that it was another secret. He used the fear of my father’s belt to convince me that if I ever told our secret that I would be beaten by my father worse than ever before. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong but we had been taught to obey adults. I really believed him & had seen the results of my father’s rage before so I kept all the secrets for years until I couldn’t even stand myself anymore. When I ran away at 13, I thought I was doing my family a favor in a weird way. I felt like such a bad girl that if I left it would allow them to be happy again.
I spent 25 years of my life running from one level of self destruction to another, ultimately straight to prison. I had a daughter of my own by this time and my daughter has witnessed more than any child should ever know, much less experience. I was now the abuser which I’d sworn would never ever happen. I didn’t see clearly in addition to the fact that my normal wasn’t healthy, I was hurting the one that I loved most as I continued to react to the abuse I endured as a child. I read a lot of literature and I was doing the best that I could with the tools I had. I realize now that I really had the toolbox but no tools. I rebuilt my life from the ground up, everything that I knew, or thought I knew was unhealthy learned behavior.
The only way that we can learn a new way of living is to reach out for help.
You will learn a few healthier ways of teaching your children or dealing with something in the past that you that might be effecting your decisions, relationships or coping skills without you even knowing it. I’ve spent nearly a decade of re-learning and it’s amazing but I am still learning new things about my behavior stemming from the past. I speak from experience that secrets are deadly and the consequences are hard & severe. Did you know that children can read body language and even your body temperature changes in certain situations? I’m here to tell you that they can and do. My daughters & I are still in therapy. Things come up that I had forgotten about or thought they couldn’t have possibly known. One of my daughters is now a mother. I still occasionally see the old me sneak up in the choices she makes.
The most helpful tool is “communication.” If you are in an abusive relationship of any kind you can reach out by calling a hotline which is strictly confidential, speak to a Counselor, teacher or your church leader. Communication with your family also, makes a big difference.
*Communication builds a stronger family (More than likely the abuse isn’t as hidden as you may think and may be going on without your knowledge.)
*By reaching out for help, it will open you up to resources that help inform your choices, emotional support and, most importantly, it will give you alternatives.
*Confirmation from others that what your describing is not normal, in fact it is abuse (abuse does not always have to be physical)
Thank you for joining me and allowing me share a part of my journey with you. Please join me again, next week. I hope that you will take a moment to look around the Website for additional information.
Tammy is currently working on a book entitled:
“No Longer Silent”
An amazing True Life story of one womans 25 year journey to battle back from the edge of death.
As she reclaims her life and voice to share her story as never told before.
From the Makers of Memories Foundation-
Thank you Tammy for sharing your story! Please stay tuned for more posts from Tammy on how her life has transformed and how her personal process of healing started. If you have a message for Tammy please comment on our blog!
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