'My earliest emotion was feeling abandoned and neglected'

All Woman

This week we begin telling the story of a woman who says she has finally found the strength to talk about the abuse she endured from an early age, surviving horrors unimaginable to today becoming a manager and CEO. Though she still doesn't have the courage to reveal her identity publicly, she hopes that her story can encourage others who are hurting, that there's always hope at the end of struggle and heartache.

MY earliest emotion was feeling abandoned and neglected. When I was young my mother constantly reminded me that I was an unplanned pregnancy, and that I'd ruined her life just as she was in her prime. Therefore, as soon as she delivered me, I was left with my grandmother in our extended family home. My mother went on to pursue her male interests. I remember flooding my pillow with tears at night as I longed to feel a mother's embrace.

At around age five my mother was convinced that she had finally found her prince and that they were getting married. After much cajoling from my grandmother, my mom took me to live with her and her new beau. He was adamant that he did not want any stepchildren around, even though he had about six children from previous relationships.

He burnt the bed that I was sleeping on. I was forbidden to watch TV or do anything a child would love to do. The treatment was so harsh that I would sneak out daily to play with the neighbours' kids. After much pressure from her husband, my mother decided to let me go live with an elderly friend. She constantly told me that she was desperate for her marriage to work and obviously I was the one thing that was in the way.

I started living with this old woman and her family in a dilapidated house in a sketchy community. There was no need to go outside to tell the weather as it could all be seen and felt sitting on the bed. All that kept me going was the thought of being reunited with my grandmother in rural St Andrew.

My days were spent roaming the streets of the volatile community, which led me to witness a brutal murder. I remember being held so close to a gun, and the perpetrator telling me that if I talked I'd die. Once I was let go I started to run.

The community was growing tense as rival gangs were having a face-off. We soon started to hear that the don would be sending for young girls for his sexual pleasures. My fears grew and I knew I did not have much time left.

It was on a Saturday afternoon that the elderly woman contacted my grandmother and a few days later she came to take me home. I remember telling my grandma that as soon as I was able to, I would take care of the woman who had saved me from my mother, only to learn that she passed away two weeks after I left. That was indeed the saddest day of my life.

As I grew older I resented my mother more and more. She never called to ask about me or offered any financial help to my grandmother at that time. I remember her voice on the phone telling my grandma that she would soon be going to America as her husband was a green card holder. She also spoke about them trying to have children together.

But she was unable to bear children for her husband at first, and was abused and neglected by him. Finally she got pregnant and had a son. She told everyone that this child was her angel. Following the son, she gave birth to two daughters. Again, she reminded everyone that she had three angels. As I learnt this new information my pain grew more and more and to add fire to fury, two men showed up claiming they were my father.

I soon became suicidal. One cousin in particular would remind me daily that no one wanted me and that I was a raffle ticket. She also made sure to inform everyone at school of my family situation, and I was teased and jeered.

I finally gave up and decided to end my life. But before I did this I decided to write a letter to God, the one I had heard so much about when I went to church with my grandma. I remember that day after school I climbed the apple tree with a rope and decided that this was my last day on earth. I tried to find a reason to live, but just thinking of how much my mother hated me was too overwhelming. I took that jump to my freedom and I am not sure if nature or a supernatural being stepped in, but the branch completely tore and I ended up in pain on the ground.

Next week: Hungry and desperate days

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