I was only 1 1/2 when my parents decided to move to sunny Ft. Lauderdale, FL from CT. I don’t remember much about the early years, but I remember that my parents were never around. I figured they were working really hard to provide for us. We lived in a duplex and went to a school just behind it. My brother and I always came home to an empty house after school. During the elementary years we would walk to school, since it was close. He is 4 years older so, there were only a few years that we were together. This time in my life was a blur.
My mom always cooked a nice meal, and we would try to spend quality time together. As I got older my dad would drink daily, in excess, and he would become easily angered. It was sad seeing the way he treated my mom, but I hoped that the next day would be better. But it wasn’t, and unfortunately, it got worse as time passed. I witnessed my dad trying to strangle my mom, holding a gun to her head, yelling and cursing at her. He was under the control of alcohol and drugs, and it made him a different and scary person to be around. This abuse lasted for many years.
There were happy times too. Every weekend we spent the whole day at the beach. This was a happy time for our family. We were away from the daily activities and the stresses of life. We would stop at Italian Ice for a cold lemon slushy after a whole day at the beach. I would come home with sunburn almost every time, but it felt good.
Another happy time was when we had to do our laundry. We didn’t have a washer or dryer, so we would go to the laundry mat. This was a special time for my dad and me. We would go to this shop close by and purchase stickers for my album. I was so excited every time we got to spend time with each other, and I realize now it wasn’t the stickers, it was the time spent with my dad.
I watched my parents struggle financially, emotionally and physically. I don’t know what was going on, but I do think they had a lot of hurt in the hearts. Maybe it was their past relationships and poor choices that added to their destructive, abusive behaviors. My dad chose to cover up his pain with alcohol, and both my parents used drugs. My mom was abused by her father, and now she was dealing with it from my dad. This filled her with rage.
Many years later my parents surrendered their lives to Jesus and were saved. We didn’t realize how badly we all needed Him in our lives. It was nice to know we didn’t have to deal with life alone anymore.
But before Jesus came into our lives, on the afternoon of December 4, 1986, our lives were changed forever. As a 12-year-old girl, I walked out the front door of our duplex after eating dinner with my family. There was a man sitting in his car on the street who said “Hello” to me. I didn’t pay much attention to him. My friend Gina who was 16, lived in the apartment building behind ours. Every day we would walk down the street and talk about boys. We walked down, came back and stood between the two apartment buildings, on the sidewalk. My back was facing the row of cars so I couldn’t see behind me. And that’s when it happened! The man from the car came up behind and grabbed me right in front of my friend and her little brother. My friend immediately ran to my apartment, and that’s when they started looking for me.
In the meantime, I was in the hands of a rapist. His hand wrapped around my mouth so no one could hear me screaming at the top of my lungs. I was so scared that I wet myself as my body trembled. I didn’t’t know what was going to happen to me. I was an innocent child in the hands of a rapist and possible killer. He took me to an abandoned apartment just down the block from where we lived. I had on all new clothes because I just gotten them for my birthday. I loved when I got a new outfit. But now that outfit was being ripped off my body. This was the very moment when my innocence was ripped away from me. At that moment in a walk-in closet, this man whose name was Larry, raped me with his hand over my mouth as I tried to scream. He raped me over and over, causing damage to my small virgin body. I was in utter darkness.
I could feel Satan there with all his demons. I can’t even describe the pain I felt. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt so much anguish in my soul. I imagine so many were crying out for my rescue. They were pleading on my behalf, “Father, rescue this little child.” How could this be happening to me? When Larry was done, I remember asking if I could go to the bathroom. This was my chance to escape. But little did I know that he would follow me in the bathroom. I was going to jump out the window and run home, but there was no window. He escorted me out of the bathroom and sat me on the floor and started to perform more sexual acts while trying to get me to do the same. I remember asking when he was going to bring me home, and he said, “In the morning.” I didn’t believe he had any intentions of bringing me home, but God did.
A friend of Larry’s came in with some food and drugs, which were offered to me. But I refused, and they didn’t push it. I knew better than to take any because I grew up around it and saw what it was doing to my parents.
At my home, I know my parents were heartbroken because their only daughter was missing. I can’t imagine as a mom now myself, how they felt. They probably felt desperate and helpless. As police searched with helicopters and police cars, my parents were instructed to stay home in case I showed up. Did they cry out to Jesus? Did they utter his name? Did they cry out to God in the anguish? They knew who God was, but we only went to church on holidays. What was going to save me? I didn’t’t know. I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know He existed. I didn’t know God.
At the point when Larry’s friend came in, I saw an opportunity to try to escape again. And when I did, he grabbed me and pushed me to the floor. This was the last time I tried to get away. Larry’s friend told him they were actively searching for me, which I’m sure he already knew. By now, I was sitting on the floor with saturated clothes. Larry was lying across my legs because he knew I was going to try to escape again. Right above me there was a window, and Larry told me that if a light flashes in, for me to get to the closet, which was right next to us. Sure, enough a light flashed in. This was the light of the angels.
Out of fear, I quickly moved over to the closet. Meanwhile, I could hear them yelling, “We know she is in there, so let us in.” I don’t know how they knew, but God never left me. He is omnipresent. Larry denied that I was in the apartment, but the police knew better, and they were not giving up. At that moment, he told me to move to the dark walk-in closet. I had NO choice but to do it.
God has recently shown me that the angels were all around that apartment even in the evil act of rape. He was protecting me from ultimate destruction. He had more to teach me about His love, forgiveness and redemption. In my next blog, I will continue my story so that everyone may see how our great God has shown Himself strong in my life!