Dedication: I want to dedicate this to those who haven't found their voice and for those who need to know that there are people out there who can help with what ever you may be going through.
Trigger warning: Please be cautious when reading this. This may offend and upset readers who have suffered something of a similar nature such as sexual and physical abuse.
My name is Cassandra Pullman and I am 21 years old. This is my story of abuse at the hands of my parents. I was forced to suffer a variety of severe abuse as a child. I was sexually, physically and mentally abused and neglect by my parents. My parents were destructive, aggressive and extremely violent towards me. My home was never a place of safety and I could never hide from danger. There were times that I thought that danger followed me like black clouds drawing in every ounce of darkness it could fetch. My heart and body could never break or hurt anymore. I was broken from the day I was born. How could anyone ever think that I could be loved by this family? All I wanted was to be happy.
I believed that happiness was a day without pain, without being scared and fearing for my life every day my parents called my name or some other awful word they would use a substitute. I believed that happiness was being loved and cared for as this was one thing more than anything that I had ever wanted. I wanted someone to appreciate me to say yes that she belongs to me and I love her with all of my heart. This was something that never happened.
Every time I was around my parents, my skin would crawl so hard and fast it was like it was desperately trying to get away from me. My skin was my barrier and my protector but it could only protect my little life for so long. The skin on one’s body was not meant to handle such severe pain day in – day out and soon enough it would collapse like every ounce of good in my life. My mother would make me feel so bad so unloved that I did not ever understand why I was ever here. If this was the way my mother was treating me now then what would the rest of my life be like, what essence would hold. I knew that I was going to suffer this for a long time and I knew that eventually, I would have to get used to it. I would have to learn that my penetrating screams were not going to save me, that attempting and quite clearly failing at trying to get my relentless parents to not hurt me. The vindictiveness that surrounded them was almost hideous. There was nothing that I could ever do that would be seen to them as right. I was forever in the wrong. I was wrong for crying when I was scared and frightened. My mother – Annie would go to such lengths to keep this a secret that when they would take me to church she would wrap soft fluffy tissue around my body to make me look larger and she would make my clothes look bigger than normal to hide and cover up all signs of abuse. She would even go out and get material to add onto the clothes to not only make the style of clothing look different by to disguise the lack of fat and body tissue that I should have had.
Both my parents were equally as bad. They would bruise my skin so badly that sometimes I would wear makeup to school to hide the bruises, marks, and countless scars. My first memory of the abuse was the day of my 1st birthday. This was when my father first sexually assaulted me and when my mother first beat me up. They were the ideal couple when it came down to all types of abuse and their unfortunate mascot of pain was me. I was their winning medal, their trophy and their dream of a future. My father could do what he wanted to do to me and my mother would never stand in his way. I could not stop him even if I wanted to, and Annie she was as useless as a broken robot, just following Albert and playing this devilish game. My father – Albert was more brutal than Annie. This was down to him getting away with abuse for many years. He would do unimaginable things to me. He would hurt me in such a passionate way that he would enjoy every second of it. And yes the abuse was not just physical, Albert would sexually abuse me from a very early age. He did it in a way of absolute excellence. I knew that he was doing things that were immoral. But the abuse occurred on a regular basis, everything that my dad was doing to me was normal. It was my version of normal because I did not know any better and I did not for a while. Things that no one should ever do to anyone. But there was nothing that she could do about it, no amount of screams and crying would ever make it stop. My father would rape me every chance he was given. Albert never felt shame or guilt. Albert only felt pleasure and enjoyment. Albert was incapable of seeing that what he was doing to me was completely and utterly wrong. Albert was completely dismissive of my feelings and emotions, he did not care that he was hurting me, he did not care when he would see my blood and he did not care that when he would throw every devastating punch that I may never wake back up. He could never see past the tears that I would cry nor would he ever understand the agonizing pain that I was in throughout the act and afterwards. He would take advantage of me with no second thought. He would do such an act of nastiness without thinking or even considering the consequences of it.
Between the ages of 1-5, my father would rape me (with his hands and objects) whenever he could and my mother would stand by and encourage him. When I was 6 my father raped me (with his genitals) and continued to do so until I was 12. The reason he stopped was that my mother told him I had started my period. My mother was equally as evil causing physical/mental harm and neglect throughout my life for as long as I can remember. They never care nor did they ever love me. I was an unloved child, who was like discarded trash that never quite made it to the bin. I believed that happiness was a day without pain and torture. They would do unspeakable things to me. I also used to run away and self-harm.
The first professional who knew something was going wrong at home was my nursery teacher and that was a complete mistake, I never intended for anyone to ever know let alone my school. The way she found out was worse, I was in the playground at nursery and I took off my jacket, socks, and shoes and fell asleep next to tree all curled up on the grass and moss and had a little kip. The teacher came back and noticed that something was very different about my hands and feet, they did not look the same. I had taken off my socks and shoes, and my jacket. My teacher saw something very disturbing, something that she has not seen before at her work place and something she did not know what to do about it besides cry. What she saw changed her outlook on children, she did not make the assumptions that everything was alright, especially at home.
So she woke me up, I have had my sleep, though I was still confused as to why she has rudely woken me up from my slumber. The first thing she said was “I know what is going on at home”, I was confused and then realized what she had said. Her teacher then went and asked her why her arms and legs were a deep painful purple with a tinge of navy blue. I had to think fast and I said that I was playing at home, that I was running around with my dad and that I fell down the stairs and hurt my arms and legs. The teacher knew straight away that what I had said was incorrect, that it was far from the truth, all you had to do was look at my face and at the bruisers you knew it was all lies. You could clearly see hand imprints still there almost like they were painted onto my skin, just simply looking at the colour of the marks you knew a fall down the stairs did not make them appear. I pleaded with the teacher to not say a word. I cried and I could not stop crying. I did not want anyone to know, not my parents or any of the teachers, I just wanted my bruises to be forgotten about like they were never seen or discovered.
I thankfully went through primary school with no one ever saying anything about it which for me was the best thing that could ever do for me. When I was 13 finally plucked up the courage and told my high school about the abuse I received at home but only a little part and social services got involved. I escaped what was happening by firstly running away from my parents and then from the school. When that didn’t work I would self-harm, at first it was for myself but then I realized the school was finally taking me seriously. After I showed and proved there was a significant risk I was then able to place myself in care at the age of 13 with the aid of my wonderful social worker and solicitor.
When I was 15 after I had moved to the best placement ever, I finally had the courage to tell social services what was happening at home but even then I was scared to tell them everything. What did help was learning about other survivors, hearing their stories and igniting myself to do the same. I learned so much about myself which I can put into practice thus helping to aid my recovery. Truth be told, there is no one who knows the full story of my childhood. For me, help lines were amazing, if I ever needed someone I would pick one at random number and call. I would talk about my past, present and the future. One aspect that will help heal and rebuild my life is when I finish writing my book and it is published. Then I can tell my story with every single detail. With my recovery, I am now able to live the life that I want to have, I am able to change my life, change my fate and change my story. I can do what I want with my life without living in fear of my horrendous past. I can now move on and forward and conquer anything.
No matter what you suffered it was never your fault, not now and not ever. The violence and abuse is not your fault. The struggles you went through were not your fault. Never blame yourself. Whatever the reasons for the violence/abuse I can and it will never be justified. I would suggest that you speak out, no matter who it is or what the circumstances are. You get out there, find people, contact helplines and speak to the police. It can be daunting and it will be scary but if you keep it bottled up for a while you will eventually explode and that explosion will not just be deadly for you but for others around you. It’s important to share what your experiences, maybe with someone you trust like someone who will be there for you to listen and give you the right support. Talking about what has happened to you can make an enormous difference and can feel like a great weight being lifted from you.
I learned to accept my self no matter what, I knew that what happened to me was indeed wrong but I also knew that one day I would get through it all and become the young woman I am now. I knew that one day I would get there, I knew the journey would be long and hard but what motivated me the most was that I knew that at the end I would be all over and done with. The breakthrough moment was finding my inner voice and telling myself that every day I would tell someone and one day I finally did and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. Learning and realizing that not only what was happening to me would not only damage me for years to come but it also made me realize that if I never spoke out when I did then I probably would never have done so, in all fairness I would probably be dead if I didn’t say something. I overcame everything by realizing that I was worth more than what I had been put through, by showing myself that I could make a better future for myself. It was hard telling people as I was ashamed by all that had happened, I was scared about how they would react to me, if they would be the same with me but with all of that I said to myself that this is my life and no one else and if I lost people because of what I suffered then maybe it’s for the greater good. I move on with my life, I changed my path and I am the only one who can make my future the one that is perfect for me. Just remember you are not your past, what happened, happened and this is your chance to let go, start over and move on, it will be tough but so are you. You can do things when you put your mind to it. If you want to change then make a change, don’t wait for someone else to tell you. Your life is in your hands, you have the power to control it and make the best out of it.