by Patty Hite
Sometimes I feel like I am an advocate for anger. I don’t want others to think that I am an angry old woman, full of bitterness and mad at the world. That is not who I am. But anger has been a life-saving force and I’m thankful for it.
I spent half of my life being passive. I wondered why there was so much abuse in the world, but I didn’t have the energy or strength to do anything about it. I was sexually abused at a very young age and the older I got, the more I was physically and emotionally abused. There were times when I fought for my life and for my honor, but those times were few and far between. I beat the crap out of some boys who tried to touch my body and called me a bitch because I fought them off. I chased one boy through the halls at my high school because he lied and said I performed oral sex on him. Once I caught up to him, he recanted and told everyone he lied. Yet, most of the time I cowered down and others abused me without a word or a fight.
By the time I married my abusive first husband, he played me like a puppet and I endured ten years of traumatizing abuse. From the very first smack and rape until I left him many years later, I never raised my voice except to beg for my life. Fighting back was not an option because I knew the punishment would be more than I could endure.
The first sign of anger was when my daughter told me that she was being sexually abused by him, and I plotted my escape. It was anger that motivated me. Since it was my mother’s house, he was forced to leave, but he broke in and stuck a knife to my throat and took my son out of my arms in the middle of the night.
I was devastated and felt like giving up, but anger rose up and I had enough strength to visit every lawyer in our small town and found one who gave me a discounted price to fight for full custody. My ex tormented me constantly with phone calls, threats and tried to run me off the road with his truck. I was afraid for my life and could feel myself wanting to give up the fight. It wasn’t until the day that my daughter came running in the house telling me that my ex tried to run her over in the front yard, that the rage I had been holding in finally took its place of honor.
The tire tracks covered the same place my daughter was playing. I saw him at the end of the road and heard him revving up his engine. I walked into the middle of the road and told myself, “Do or die, I will not live in this fear!” I stood there as he drove towards me. I refused to move and knew that I would rather die than to live like this. He steered away from me within inches of hitting me. It was over. I won. Anger gave me the strength, again.
He moved out of the state and I followed him for a year to try and get my son back. The only way I could track him was through the schools my son would attend. One year and four states later, my ex called and told me to pick up my son. Although I finally won, I know that it was anger that gave me the willpower to fight and to spend everyday, calling every school to track him down.
Years later, anger saved my five year old daughter from cancer. The doctors told me she would die. I remember the moment the doctor told me how severe her leukemia was and I felt a teardrop hit my folded hands. One tear. I was mentally back in my abusive relationship. Defeated and holding back my emotions. I wanted to die, I wanted to give up. When he was done telling me the bad news, he lifted up my face with his hands and told me that he would never give up. He would do everything he could to keep her alive. His words were like a hammer and chisel. If this man, who is a stranger, will fight then I can too. That night, I re-visited my abuse and the feelings of defeat. I got mad that cancer would dare try to kill my child. I found the strength to fight.
Anger gave me strength to keep family and friends away who were themselves defeated and told me to “Let her go.” Anger gave me strength to run a night-duty doctor out of her room because he told me in front of her that I was in denial and that she was going to die. Anger made me alert to guard what medication was being given to her after a nurse gave her a pill that caused my daughter to hemorrhage in her eye and caused her blindness. Anger gave me the tenacity to fight against the insurance company because they were going to let her die instead of paying for a transplant. I continued to fight through a bone marrow transplant and those ten years they say cancer can re-occur.
You bet I get angry. Anger is a force of energy for me. It keeps me alert and empowered to fight for myself and others. It’s like a shield that wards off those who try to put me down and it’s like a weapon when I need to conquer. It’s a part of me now and I know that I can call on it anytime I want it. It’s right there, just under the surface ready to be awakened when needed and to give me a helping hand.
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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