Deeper Than Skin Deep

Oct 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: All Posts, Steps Toward Healing

by Patty Hite

I took my bulldog Molly to the vet because she was getting skin blisters all over her body. The vet and I have been omitting different things from her in order to see what is causing this. When she has a breakout, she gets a shot and then she’s put on pills for a month. It heals, but within a month she breaks out again. The last time I took her I asked the vet if it could be a hormone imbalance and he said no, it has to be something she is eating because it was in her soul. I asked him what he meant by that and he said it was something that her whole body reacted to, not just her outward body.

This got me thinking about the different things that affect my outward body and things that have affected my soul—those things that I have tried to fix with a band-aid or with coping medication such as alcohol and drugs. It eased the pain for a while only to have it return again. This way of thinking made sense to me because there were many mixed messages that were fed into my soul as a child that I battled with for most of my life. It was those messages and false beliefs that I had to tackle during my healing. I had to go deeper than the sexual abuse, find the mixed messages, connect them with the emotions that were attached to them, and replace them with truth. Once I was able to put the healing truth in my soul, I was able to overcome them.

Respect Your Elders: I was taught this at a young age and knew that if I didn’t, I would be punished with abandonment. I would be sent to my room, omitted from playing with my friends and forced to apologize. I do believe everyone needs to be treated with respect when they deserve it, but this law in my home set me up for victimization from every adult who expected me to respect their unwanted touch. I was afraid to tell them no because the punishment would be more severe than allowing them to do it. I didn’t even squirm out of their reach. No matter what adult came through the door, I was told to give them a hug, allow them to kiss me, pinch my cheek, yank the curls in my hair or pick me up and sit me on their lap.

I remember being forced to sit on Santa’s lap one time. He smelled of alcohol and when he lifted me on his lap, he had his hand under my bottom, moving his fingers between my legs. I remember crying and screaming for my parents, but I was told to stop crying so they could get a picture.

  • This taught me to obey others—abusive boyfriends, husbands, so-called friends.

Speak Only When Spoken To: I was taught that if you had something to say, especially when there was company over, it better be a life and death situation. I was raised on a farm and don’t remember ever asking a question about anything. I was raised to listen when spoken to because if I didn’t, there was hell to pay. I had many questions but learned at a young age to never ask them. I would have been told it was none of my business or made to feel stupid for asking. I remember the first day of kindergarten and my teacher called me Patricia. I didn’t know that was my name as I was always called Patty at home. Because I didn’t answer her, my first day of school was spent sitting in the corner. The next day she called me Patricia again and I told her my name was Patty. She slapped me across the face, pulled my ear and dragged me to principal’s office. I was sent home with a note pinned to my dress. I don’t know what it said, but I got spanked and sent to my room.

  • This taught me to not speak up for myself or ask for help.

Be Invisible: I don’t remember much family time except when we ate dinner. It was a golden rule that no matter where you were or what you were doing, you’d better be sitting at the table when it was time to eat. We didn’t have a specific time to eat, but I think we must have been like cattle out in the field. When it got close to feeding time, we started walking back toward the house. Other than dinner time, I was gone once the chores were done. When company came over, all the kids were sent outside or to other areas of the house. The rule was to just stay away from the adults and don’t disturb them unless you are bleeding. Don’t snitch, even though my older brothers would tie me up to the clothesline pole and leave me there for hours so they didn’t have to watch me.

  • This taught me I had no value. Stay hidden in the shadows, don’t make waves.

Predestined Future: I was told from an early age that I could only be a wife and mother. I started looking for my husband well I was very young. I dreamed about being a nurse but I had the perception that in order to be a nurse, I would have to remain single. My older sister married at the ripe age of 14, so looking for my potential husband was acceptable. I always had boyfriends and most of them were abusive. I would beat them up if I thought they weren’t marriage material, but if there was even an inkling that they could possibly be my husband, I withstood anything and everything.

  • This taught me to have no dreams of my own and that my value was in what I was, not who I was.

Boundaries are NOT Allowed: Being the youngest of eight children meant the pickings were slim for me. I slept in the same room with my brothers until I was 14 and took baths with my older brother to save water. Although my brothers never touched me sexually, being intertwined with them as much as I was made me susceptible to not knowing what a boundary was. We dressed and undressed together, used the bathroom together and I never had a sense of privacy.

  • This showed me that my body was not valuable or worthy of protection.

These were a few of the false beliefs that I have had to re-examine. They were an open door for my abuse, even into adulthood. Going beyond my sexual abuse and recognizing my upbringing helped me recognize the reasons why I was so easily abused. Smashing these false beliefs and replacing them with healthy beliefs has helped me establish boundaries, listen to my inner voice, trust myself to make healthy decisions and have hope to live an abuse-free life.

Related Posts:
Emotional Healing & The Will To Go Forward

As a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty Hite has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years. She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of ­­­­five years. She’s blessed with four children and six grandchildren.

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  1. Patty, I could relate to a variation of all of those “lessons” you mentioned. I carried them with me into adulthood and didn’t question those rules for a LONG time. I didn’t even think of them in those terms. I wasn’t even aware of how I thought and it all seemed normal to me. All I knew was that I was in pain and my life wasn’t working very well. Tracing the root back to all those sick lessons has been the key to my healing. I learned them and lived by them, but now I’m unlearning them and truly living my own life now. Thanks for sharing this with us! Hugs to you, my friend— Christina

  2. Patty, great blog! So true. I’ve been thinking about that lately. It’s so much more than what just shows on the surface.

  3. Christina,

    The thing that got to me, was that this was considered normal behavior. At least in my circle of friends and family. I remember hearing horror stories about how my dad was raised. They’re way of thinking of control and excessive punishment must be shown in order to prove who was boss. The division between adults and children. Thank God for healing. Patty

  4. Bethany,

    Thank you for your encouragement. And there is so much more than what is on the surface.


  5. hi Patty, love ur post…I can relate to it, but I also have another perspective on things too…I do believing in my children respecting their elders….that kids need to heard when a situation occurs of course, I’ve had situations w/my kids at the school. Their where instance that I found they were way out of line but also defended them when I felt they were done wrong,,,. but also know through my neighborhood, that much worse than that occurs w/the younger generation…parents that neglect to hold their kids accountable, & responsible for their actions…that it is for the school, and everyone eles to deal with…Parents do need to parent and teach their children taht their are consiquences for their actions not wait till something real bad happens and they are sitting in jail, NIp it in the bud!!!! Yes, in healthy way of course.but dont ignore it because they aint got the time or maybe better things to do…casue we all have things to do…
    I do expect the kids to be home at dinner time to eat at the table…Esp when Im spending big bucks to fill the fridge and the time to prepare their meals jsut for the dogs to eat…I also believe that sitting at the table together eating a meal is a good time to find out whats happening in thier lives…Not to mention, if their wasnt some scheduled activity that I didnt know…Where are they?? Who are they with, and What could possibly keep themfrom being hungry at dinner time? I always worried about them in other peoples houses and the possibilities of what could bet if they’re not home at dinner time, I knew where they were and if I didnt I know something was wrong….9 outta 10 times I was right…something was wrong 🙂 mothers
    As far as the young ones being in adult conversation….Nope certain things are not for kids ears…Nor if their is some sorta partying going on do kids need to be around people that are drinking…thats usually when the potential for soemthing bad to happen…I warned/talked to my kids about unwanted touching etc..alway encouraged them that if anyone I knew every touched them to tell me…that I would never be mad at them etc.
    I hate to say this, but I raised my kids on fear, not so much fearing me, but fear of the others. I told them of things that happened to me and others. yup! I watch NANCY GRACE etc and share as much as I possibly can. I hate that I’ve done it, but then torn, cause of all the personal experiences I’ve had this world. Their is no way in hell that Im gonna send them out in this world thinking their is nothing to fear & being naive. esp when they started dating….yup! thank god they talked to me about mostly everything, and I gave my honest opinion, cause usually i was right and they learned…Momma knows when she see’s it.

  6. Hi Patty;
    I love how you broke this down, and describe specific events that formed your belief system. There is so much information for us here in this blog post ~ so much fog busting info, I had to read it twice. I can relate to so much of this too and although my childhood was very different, I learned many of the same things about myself and my lack of value that you did. I think that realizing how we come to the conclusions that we come to, as you have described here, is extremely important, especially when we are building our foundation for recovery and overcoming those false beliefs about ourselves. This is a great post!
    Hugs, Darlene

  7. We weren’t permitted to talk in our home unless we were bein spoken to. We had to stay in our rooms, on our beds basically 24-7 unless we were eatin or bathroom OR in school. We were told how bad we were, how ugly, unloved, not worth their time, as well as we’d never amount to anythin,worthless and more. Readin your bog is like my chidhood to a degree but you’re braver than I, you speak out against it where I keep it hidden b/c I don’t know but thank you for writtin your heart.

  8. Patty,

    I too believe we need to have structure and boundaries with our children and teach them about the harmful things in life. I was raised in a way that painted a picture that I did not exist. I had no rights nor boundaries. I do believe that children need to be responsible for their actions as well as adults being held responsible also. I never acted out at school because I was in fear of punishment. Coming home to dinner time was a good thing, but no communication and again being treated as invisible was the harm of that.

    We were taught in fear and by example. I do not believe kids should be punished for speaking out and defending themselves or expressing their opinions. Sadly, it took me a life time to find the nerve to do that because I was so shut down as a human being.

    When adults were at my home drinking, is when most of my child hood sexual abuse occurred. We were sent out of the room so the adults could drink. I personally believe kids should be taken to a caregiver at that time, because they don’ t need to be around the adults. To just tell us to disappear, was not the right answer either. If I know there is going to be trash talk in my home, or people are going to drink, then I showed my children that I cared about their welfare by taking them out of the situation.

    There are so many who may have lived my life but weren’t affected as I was, and see that as a great way to raise their children. It was not for me nor did I choose to raise mine that way. lol.

    All I know is that we are all trying to fumble thru the book of life and our hearts are to do the right things for children and our selves. And that is all that matters.

    Thanks for sharing, Patty

  9. Darlene,

    Thank you for your encouragement.
    I am so glad that it spoke to you and I think, as you do, that it is important to go beyond the abuse itself and discover the things that made an impression on us. Things that affected our lives. I remember when I went back to research the slapping of my teacher. I mean, who does that? I was this tiny little thing with no meat on my bones. I was not rude, nor loud or disrespectful to her, God knows I was raised to never raise my voice, but for her to slap me. How demeaning was that? Well, obviously enough that it stayed with me all these years.

    I am real curious about my brothers reactions to this blog, if they read it. They have a totally different perspective on how we were raised. And it is quite a sight when we all get together and start talking about our childhood.

    It just goes to show, that the path each one takes and the different color of moccassins we wear, affects us differently.

    (((Hugs))) Patty

  10. Jackie,

    I am so sorry that you were not cherished and shown love as you deserved. It is so hard to live thru things like that and not have it affect our everyday life as an adult.

    And you are brave also, because you just told me as well as every person who reads this. You are telling your story. And that is a good thing. You could have read my blog and not said a word, but you didn’t. You spoke up and the more you do speak up, the easier it becomes.

    It is also good that you are able to see the wrong in how you were raised. It took me many years to figure out that my childhood wasn’t perfect. I thought I had the perfect parents and life was wonderful. Leave it to Beaver sort of thing.

    Realizing how our upbringing and the false beliefs that molded our lives, is a big step in the right direction. Sorting it out and changing it is our ultimate goal in healing.

    Thank you so much, and don’t discount yourself….. you are very, very brave to share your life with us all.

    (((Hug))) Patty

  11. Patty, Right on sista….reading your break down realy tapped on alot for me, those 3 things I comment’d about,..boy did I spend alot of time marinating in it,while raising my children…Your right, we all are doing the best we can…and at different places ect…wats great is we all have ea.other, to help figure things out along the way…please dont thank me….THankyou 😉 ((hugs))

    Jackie, can I identify w/you bigtime! you acknowledge courage, but I say, you being here takes amazing courage…this aint easy to do, and look at you!! Yippy….you go girl! love your courage..;) i

  12. Patty,
    I think that people like that teacher have a sense about who the victims are.. like radar. I had a grade 5 teacher pick on me pretty bad. (so bad that I got really sick and the dr. had to get me out of the class) so I have also thought on this a lot. and then I studied for over 3 years about the misuse of power and control in abusive relationships and worked in a counselling / seminar firm teaching this stuff and my conclusions about much of all this is based on that training. I think that abusers look for certain things in a kid that tell they if they will get away with it or not. Bullying like that makes them feel stronger in their own lives. (how pathetic is that???? picking on a little kid makes them feel better and more powerful !! Sad but very true.) Anyway.. I still have a hurt spot over the teacher stuff. I was a really good victim, (compliant) and it never mattered… being compliant never once kept me safe!
    Hugs again!! Love Darlene

  13. Patty,

    I am touched deeply from your testamony and was raised with similar rules. We had to be seen and not heard. We didn’t have real relationships with our parents and I believe that because of this I was allowed to be sexually abused and I never told anyone ever. Even when I suppressed the abuse it resurfaced in my dreams. I was a prisoner in my own skin. I was told by my mother that I acted like a fag. I was told that on numerous occounts as a youth. Comments were made about my body that made me very uncomfortable but I dared not say anything about it to anyone ever. I really am thankful that you shared with the world about your life and abuse. Your story has given me hope for myself and for that I am very happy and thankful.

    God Bless,


  14. Darlene…omg a pretty good victim…..I was a perfect victim, cause I act’d out anywhere, when I wasn’t at home regardless, of the beating I would catch,wonder if it has do with the severity, or not???,,,, but can remember the threats the teachers would make of “calling my mom”, it caught my attention, but not for long…….to think them, the teachers, mandiated reporters, & roll models would do such a thing, and then some..sad to say the least…..

    Patty, you mentioned in your response how so many endured what you had, but yet, was not affected in the way you where, and see that as a great way as raising their children……I’ve seen this by watching my sister, who was in/out in jails, while I was in/ut of treatment, rehabs, on &ff meds/drugs…..I wondered for years if others went through what my sister & I did how,would they turn out…I learned some are dead, some are in nuthouses/jails, in addiction, or still living it,,, the miracle …..its that some made it here! and are SURVIVING

  15. Darlene,

    That is so true that the abusers “see us coming.” 2 of my children had bad experiences with their teachers, but thank God, I was already in healing and knew the effects that my experience with my kindergarten teacher had on me.

    It is a happy day for me when I see these same kids of mine, protect their kids. What is wrong with teaching our kids to respect those who deserve it and people in authority have no higher honor than they do themselves? Just because someone has a diploma, doesn’t mean they are good people. Some are bad people with a diploma.

    Thanks dear friend for sharing. Patty

  16. Chris,

    Thank you for sharing and for telling us how you were hurt as a child. I’m sorry you were hurt, but I am glad you are speaking out about it.
    It took me many years to talk about my family because I was raised to honor them and respect them. it was so confusing for me because my mind said yes and my heart said no. Those feelings and false beliefs can still try to torment me at times, but the more I speak about it, the stronger I am and the doubts and the “bad child” go away.

    If I could center my thoughts on my abuse only, I was able to remain in the denying stage about my family, but my healing only went so far. There were still so many questions I had and I was still filled with pain and confusion. I finally began reading other Survivor’s stories about their upbringing and I couldn’t hide it any longer. It was the best thing I did, because knowing the truth, has been freeing to me.

    I want to encourage you to continue talking about it Chris…… and we can have that in common also. Survivor’s who are not afraid any more. They hurt us. They taught us things that were untrue or not explained, and because of it, we were susceptible to being abused. Thanks for sharing and hope to hear more from you. <3

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