Wrecked by a Belt

I held my breath. I could hear my brother scream. Was I next?

My dad’s footsteps got closer. Then I saw his face. Eyes glowing like the incredible Hulk, except this was real. When we’d hide his belt, it didn’t stop him. He’d use his hands instead.

“Son of a b****,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Dad, please don’t!” I cried, trying to shield my face.

“Put your hands down or you’re gonna get it worse!” he warned.

I didn’t believe it could be worse, but I was too scared to find out. Lowering my hands, I felt the sting. My ears, my poor ears. My face was burning.

With each slap, shame slipped into my heart, filling every crevice.

As an adult, I replayed those scenes, hoping I would eventually figure it out.

Why did he beat us?

Our dad was a volcano waiting to erupt. Instead of dealing with his problems, he stuffed them down with food. That’s the only time we felt safe.

When his anger rose, we knew how much of a head start we needed.

It was hard for my father to move his 400-pound body. In the upstairs hallway, he had to turn sideways to come after us. He’d reach for his belt and the four of us scattered like little mice.

Other people thought my father was funny. He was funny, with them. They thought he was a nice guy. But nice guys don’t beat their children. They use their hands to help them up, not to slap them around.

Our radar was finely tuned. We became experts deciphering body language. A raised eyebrow, a stern look.

I don’t remember laughter in my house, unless it was at someone’s expense. He would roar and I would crumple up inside.

Why didn’t anyone help?

If those episodes of abuse happened today, someone would have called the police. The lines on my brother’s legs and arms would have been enough to warrant help. But. years ago, we had no voice. Nor did we talk about it. It was our normal. For all we knew, everyone was being hit.

But, why did mom allow it? How could a mom let her children get beaten? Eventually I realized mom was an accomplice. And there were times when dad was unavailable, mom would do the hitting. Using whatever she found within reach, sometimes a wire hanger.

After dad hit us, my sister and I would lay on our bed. I could hear whimpering coming from my brothers’ room. I waited for my breathing to settle down, thinking, we must be bad, we must be very bad.”

There is a difference between discipline and punishment. We were not disciplined.

Afterwards, we were told, “Get away from me!”

We were more than willing to oblige.

One day, as I read from my Bible. I came across John 19:1.

“Pilate took Jesus and had him beaten.”

Tears slid down my cheeks. We weren’t the only ones. Jesus understood.

Years later, someone told me God loved me. He loved me so much he sent his Son to die for me. When I heard about him I was ready to believe.

I got wrecked when I was a child. But God has taken every negative thing in my life, weaving it into something of value.

Some questions do get answered

Was my father wrong to beat us? Absolutely.

Why didn’t God stop him?

God gave us a free will. We like it when we’re referring to our free will. But some people make poor choices. Some hurt others.

Even though I was abused at the hand of my father, I became convinced God loved me.

God heals

God is healing the wounded places inside of me. But healing requires forgiveness.

Could I forgive my dad?

When I was 24, my dad lay in a hospital, dying of cancer. As I stood by his bed, he said something I had never heard him say before,

“I’m sorry I wasn’t a good father to you.”

I felt God softening my heart, nudging me to extend grace.

And then, I heard myself say, “You did the best you could.”

Words I grew to believe. Reaching down I kissed my dad on the cheek.

God helped me do the impossible.

God, who has always been there, even when I got wrecked.

 

About the Author: Anne Peterson is a writer, speaker, poet, and published author of 42 Bible Studies and numerous articles with Christianity Today/Today’s Christian Woman. Her poetry is sold throughout the US and abroad. Anne is presently working on a book about Real Love.

You can find out more about Anne at her website. You can also see her current writings on her facebook page

 

About the Author

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This is a post by a guest author. To submit your own story of how you got wrecked, click here.

Comments

  1. Anne – thank you for opening up this vulnerable part of your life in order to help others see that, even though wrecked, there is hope in knowing Christ. It isn’t easy to open up the vulnerable parts of our lives.

    Blessings,
    Joan

    • Joan, it just isn’t right. But, there is a shame attached to being abused. The truth is, one time a counselor said to me, “I can tell you are an abuse victim.” Even before I shared this story. I want to encourage those who have been hit. To tell them, it wasn’t their fault. No one deserves to be hit. No one.

  2. Anne, thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. You have given me courage to share my own stories. What a light you are to the world. I am so sorry this happened to you — that you had to endure this pain. You are a brilliant, brave, and beautiful woman and I’m proud to know you. Much love to you and to the part of you that endured this … may she know down to the depths of her how worthy of love and goodness she truly is. xoxoxo

    • Sandra,

      It was scary at first, but I really want to help those who have been abused. We may not choose many of things that happen to us, but we do get to choose our responses to them.

  3. Anne, my heart breaks for the children, including you and your siblings, who have endured such abuse. Praise God for his healing. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Janelle,

      Thank you for reading it. Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. Pray that this piece can help someone.

  4. It’s incredible that you could redemption in this tragedy, find Gods love in the midst of hate. I guess the point is, every pain we suffer, every abuse we endure, Jesus did first, for love of us.

    • Kathleen,

      You are right. He was acquainted with grief. There is nothing we experience that he hasn’t experienced. That’s why he understands completely. Thanks for reading it Kathleen, and for your comments.

  5. Thank you for sharing this incredibly difficult story, Anne. I’m so inspired that you’ve allowed God to take “every negative thing in my life, weaving it into something of value.” How beautiful! Keep writing for Him, my friend!

    • Maria,

      Thanks for reading the piece and for your kind comments. I believe that child abuse victims are more prone to be drawn to abusive relationships. That being said, I want to target those who have been abused so the cycle can be stopped. So they can be told they have value, dignity. It is my desire to do that. Thanks for your encouragement, Maria.

  6. Wow, this story deeply moves me. I’m amazed at the power of God in your life to enable you to forgive. I’m simply in awe that you would be able to overcome such horrific abuse through coming to know and experience the love of God.

    I feel sad you had to go through that and at the same time you’re better able to help others who have suffered injustice because of it. I know I’ve found a new level of healing through reading about the power of God’s love in your life.

    My adopted children went through things like this and when they told me their stories I would cry and say, “You so didn’t deserve to be treated like that. You were beautiful and precious and deserved to be delighted in and cherished.” So I would say those beautiful truths to you as well.

    Thanks so much for taking the risk to be vulnerable and share your story. I know it will help a lot of people. May God continue to heal your heart and comfort you.

    • Sharon,

      Thank you for reading my story and for your comments. I am thankful that God placed those children who were abused with you. Your soft heart will serve as a balm to their bruises. They need to be cherished. That was God’s intent.

      And to pass those same words on to me? Thank you, Sharon. Thank you.

  7. Lauren

    Anne,
    How brave you are. A heart wrenching view from a child’s eyes when discipline is abused. I’m so sorry that you had to go through so much difficulty in your life. God has definitely used these hard times to minister to the hearts of others.

    • Lauren,

      Thanks for reading this, and for your comments. Based on what I know discipline to be. I can honestly say I don’t think I was ever disciplined. I’m hoping that putting these stories to words will help someone. Whether we are talking about a parent who is too harsh thinking he/she is justified in their treatment. Or someone who was abused.

  8. Such a powerful story of redemption. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Looking back I can see that it is a story of redemption as well as a story of restoration. But, at the time, it was simply a story of pain. Thanks for your comment, Mary.

  9. Rhea

    I step into a beautiful dream & slammed by life as you have it! As they say!
    I lost my best friend & confidant. To cancer. My husband was a workaholic, his last words to me ” Honey I`m not thinking of work, I`m thinking of all the things we haven`t done!” Though as it was knowing he was dying, realizing the end was near, he told me I was his Bucket List! If it weren`t for me he would have never done half as much as we did! I never knew what love was till, he said those words to me!

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