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.
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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