Like any other young girl, I longed for love, peace, joy and a home throughout my childhood. Love was something I heard about but never received, not even from my mother who I thought would give me unconditional love. On the contrary, I received the worst from my own family. Things went quite well at home until I was about 10 years old when my parents’ relationship began to sour. My mother was unfaithful to my father, cheating with many boyfriends and their relationship was destroyed and they divorced. I hated to see my parents part ways, it was shameful and painful for me and my siblings specially because she didn’t think about how this would affect her own children. If she loved us, how she could do that to us…..
I began to resent my mother so much. I hated her for everything she had put us through, the pain, the suffering and the shame that she had brought upon my family. After she left, after the divorce, my relatives began to bad mouth her saying her behaviour was worse than that of a sex worker. They wanted nothing to do with us. They hated us for the way my mother had betrayed our father. The hatred I had for my mother grew. I was truly lost and hurting at this time, wondering why my mother would do such things to us.
When I was 12 years old, things become even more difficult for me and my siblings. To support and help my family financially, I had to work during the day and study in the evenings. However, this was not the only challenge. My older cousins started behaving strangely towards me. They looked at me in lustful ways and would say I was too beautiful, my body was very attractive and that they were worried that other guys would also see what they saw and would have me before they did. They would not allow that to happen. They told me that I was bound to turn out just like my mother: I would be a slut and an embarrassment just as she was, and so the horror began. They started to abuse me sexually and emotionally. They would touch me, running their hands all over my body, telling me I was good for nothing. This was humiliating. I hated having to go home because I knew what was going to happen, so I used to make sure that someone would be in my house so I could arrive safely. Nobody knew what was going on, and obviously I could not tell my relatives because that would prove that I was just like my mother. I began to feel useless, like I was rubbish, and that indeed I was not good for anything. I wanted to die. I was filled with fear. I could not stand being alone in the house just in case my cousins found me and abused me. I became very protective of my two younger sisters and did not allow them any freedom. I never wanted them to be left alone because I did not want them to face what I was going through. The worst moment was when I was very sick and was sleeping. I woke up with my cousin on top of me. I shouted for help but he shut me up. I really wanted to die. Many times I asked God to kill me because I did not have the courage to do it myself.
One day I had really had it. I decided to end the pain by taking pills but I realised it would be selfish to take my own life because my family needed me to take care of them. If I ended my pain, I would be just like my mother. I threw the pills away but I was bitter and full of anger. I had suicidal thoughts every day and I did not have anyone to speak to – not even my dad as he was already in so much pain. I blamed myself, thinking that somehow this was all my fault.
One day I decided that someone had to pay for what I was going through, someone had to feel what I was feeling, and so I started to abuse my abusers’ children. I abused them physically and even sexually. I wanted them to suffer as much as I was although this did not satisfy me or ease my pain. Afterwards I felt bad, guilty, ashamed and so dirty but I wanted revenge and for my cousins to suffer as I was suffering.
I had had enough of the suffering and my behaviour towards others, but I was still so hurt inside. I doubted God’s existence because I questioned how He could allow such terrible things to happen to me and I doubted that He loved me. I was empty. I pretended to be happy to avoid people asking questions but I was a zombie, dead but alive. I went to church with my father when he invited me to make him happy, but one day when the pastor preached, I felt he was talking about me. It was as if someone had told him my story. He said there is a way out of suffering and that God loves us no matter what we have done, regardless of how bad our lives have been. For the very first time I felt God’s love and I started to see a way out of all the suffering. I began to attend the chains of deliverance in the church. In time I was able to forgive my mother for all that she had done and put us through. I forgave my cousins who had abused me and most importantly God helped me to forgive myself for all that I had done to my cousins’ children. This was very difficult.
Although I was free and attended the church youth group, I did not believe in marriage. I thought it would cause suffering as my parents’ marriage had done. However, while I was an assistant, I met a man who would become my husband. Although I liked him, I did not think I was good enough for him – I was afraid of a relationship.
After we were married, I began to punish my husband for the trauma in my life, although I was not aware of doing this. Sometimes I pushed him away, I could not be affectionate to him and I felt bad. My husband was patient and understanding, although he had no idea why I was acting in that way.
A few years ago at a wives’ meeting, Mrs Marcia was talking about her experience of abuse and how she overcome it. Her courage in sharing her story touched me. I began to think about my husband’s complaints about my lack of affection. Then at another meeting I remember Mrs Marcia saying that we should look at our actions (things we do that hurt others including our husband) and things that we don’t like about ourselves but can’t understand why we are acting in this way. She encouraged us to be sincere and look inside ourselves no matter how difficult it was and identify the root of our behaviour so that we could deal with it and change.
I made a decision to find the roots and change, and so my journey began. I had made myself forget all about the abuse that I had suffered and my abuse of others because I was so ashamed of it and I was afraid of what my husband and friends would say about me.
But the time had come to confront it and really deal with it. It took me a year to process everything and with Mrs Marcia’s help I learned how to talk about it openly with my husband. I was shocked by his reaction, as he said that I could use what had happened to me to help young ladies and women in the church.
Today I am not afraid to speak about what happed to me, quite the contrary and I am happy that I can help people through my life experience.
I am a truly happily married woman. I thank God for everything He has done in my life and for putting people in my life to help me: my beloved husband who was ever so loving and patient with me and Mrs Marcia Pires for all the help and support she gave, and continues to give, to me.
Glaucia dos Santos