Victim of abuse tries to help other women in crisis
Note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Post has changed the name of the subject of this story to protect her identity. This is Hope’s story.
Upcoming Family Crisis Council events:• Community Seminar, Thursday April 25, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, second floor conference room. Topics include: Myths, Facts and History of Sexual Assault in America; Responses to Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking. To register or for more information, call 704-636-4718, ext. 1056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.• Family Fun Festival & Pet Parade, Saturday April 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Family Crisis Council. The event takes place in the parking lot across from the Rowan Public Library. The pet parade takes place at noon. The event includes door prizes, a silent auction and raffles. There will be craft vendors, food, kids activities and a child ID program. For more information email at email@example.comRegistration for the pet parade is from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. The entry fee is $5 in advance and $12 at the door. For more information go to www.petparaderowan.eventbrite.com. The event is sponsored by Second Presbyterian Church.
By Shavonne Potts
Hope is a rape responder for the Family Crisis Council and answers the 24-hour crisis hotline.
She knows abuse all too well.
From infancy to her teen years, Hope suffered abuse from the men in her mother’s life. While other children fretted over coming in early from playing outside, Hope worried about her father coming into her bedroom. He sexually and physically abused her and her mother.
Now she uses that experience to help others.
“It has given me peace to know, what I went through, there was purpose behind it,” she says.
But there are also bad memories.
On one occasion, 3-year-old Hope awoke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and dropped her teddy bear in the hallway on the way. Her father came home drunk, tripped over the bear and flew into a rage.
“My punishment was being thrown down the stairs in the basement,” she says. Her mother screamed and cried out as Hope tumbled down the stairs, and he pushed her down the stairs, too. Mother and child were hospitalized with several broken bones.
Hope recalled a horrific moment when her father held her at gunpoint — a threat to get her mother to sleep with him. Then there was the time she saw him hit her mother over the head with a flower pot. Hope went to her rescue.
“I jumped on him. A police officer came to the house, and he was arrested that night,” she says. But her mother let him come back.
They finally received help from a domestic violence shelter, staying there for some time — and being influenced by the people they met.
“I remember meeting a lady who told me I would be OK,” Hope says, “and because of what she said to me, I can say that to someone else.”
But some pain remains. Her father agreed to give up his parental rights in exchange for a carton of cigarettes from her mother.
“I felt he sold me for cigarettes,” Hope said.
Finally arrested for his crimes against Hope and her mother, he was convicted and jailed as a serial rapist.
Hope and her mother did well after leaving the shelter — until her mother married again.
Hope believed her stepfather would be the kind of father she never had, but fate was cruel. Her molestation soon began again. It continued for years as her mother battled cancer, alcoholism and drug addiction. She believes the abuse ended only because her stepfather found out Hope, then a teen, was pregnant. She soon miscarried.
“I feel like that made me off limits,” she says.
When Hope turned 16, she quit traditional high school, worked two jobs and went to school at night. She rented an apartment and took care of a younger brother. Her mother has since died.
Hope says the years of abuse distorted her idea of how a man treats a woman, and she fought her own battles with alcohol and drugs. But she has turned her life around.
She married her boyfriend and they have three children — one boy and two girls.
Now 29, Hope works to encourage others who have gone through similar abuse.
“I decided I’m not going to let my past define the person I am now.”
Hope feels her troubles can inspire and bring triumph to others.
“Even the hard times have been a blessing,” she says. “because I can help someone else.”
For more information about the Family Crisis Council call 704-636-4718.