Sanctuary Garden for Sanctuary Blog

There was only one place that I could go when I was a kid that I knew I would be safe, even if it was only temporary. This specific incident is what turned that place into a s-a-n-c-t-u-a-r-y.

When I started fifth grade, my mother and step-father had gotten me a puppy at the beginning of the school year. The house we lived in had a semi-storage unit attached that was large enough for a game room but my ‘parents’ never did anything with it.

It was enclosed but not insulated and it let into the back yard so the dog could run around. Instead of pooping in the yard, the dog would pool in the ‘game room.’ It was my responsibility to pick up after him and being the fifth grader that I was, I sometimes shirked my responsibilities. When I did this, I would cover the poop with old carpeting tiles that had been there since we bought the house.

It had come to be summer and I think I was nine. I was in a hurry because my Grandpa was coming to get me so I could stay with them for a month (after this, it became a summer-long event). My bags were already packed and sittin’ by the front door. I think that Grandpa was supposed to be there in two hours once he got done fixing his truck. My mother was at work so it was just me and my step-dad. He decided to do an inspection of the game room before I was supposed to leave.

My shirked responsibility had been discovered and I have to say that my step-dad went nuts. He started yelling at me and then he sent me out there again to clean. So I did. When he did another inspection, I had missed a pile that I truly hadn’t seen. I was sitting on the couch and when he came back in, he had a grin on his face so I thought I was in the clear, that I had done everything okay.

I learned quick to fear that smile. He went and got a plate from the kitchen and took it out into the game room. He came back with the pile of mess on the plate and my stomach sank to the floor. He grabbed me by the arm and took me to the kitchen table. He pushed me down into a chair, slammed the plate in front of me, and told me to eat it.

I refused and refused. Then I refused again. I did okay and held out for a while. I am not really sure how long I fought him on it. He threatened me with a long list of things if I didn’t eat it. A whippin’, canceling my trip and grounding me, and a few others you may or may not be able to imagine. Finally, I guess he got tired of arguing with me and he grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to the hall closet, got his gun case out, and drug me back to the table.

He took out his 45 and laid it on the table and told me that if I didn’t eat the poop, he would pull the trigger and kill me where I sat. Being a kid, it doesn’t cross your mind about the things that would happen to the adult that committed a crime like that. Being that little, I didn’t think about the fact that he would be sent to jail.

As much as I would like to say I stayed tough and stuck it out, I ate it. I was so scared that I pee’d my pants at nine years of age. That reaction… I can’t explain how it felt. I really had absolutely no control over my bodily functions. None! When he realized what I had done, that I had gone in my pants, he whipped me pretty good. Unfortunately, on that day, my grandpa was running late picking me up. He had some trouble getting his truck to start. The first and only time that he was ever late.

When he finally got done ‘punishing’ me, I had to go take a shower and change because I didn’t want to be that way when my grandpa got there. My step father just went in the living room like nothing had happened and was playing video games even. We had a Sega Genesis that was hooked up to the living room TV.
My mother claimed to never have known what he had done. She was at work after all. However, from what she reiterated he told her was that I got a spanking for not cleaning up after the dog once I had been given ample warnings to do it right.

I never told my grandparents what he had done but they knew something was wrong. My grandma always asked me about that visit and why I was so different. That was the first time my step father had ever gotten violent. I know that on that day, any childhood I had maintained to that point, had died.

Later in life, when my grandma would bring it up, she would tell me that for the first three weeks, the smallest noises would make me jump a mile high.

She even told me that when I got there, and she tried to give me a hug, I ducked my head like I was going to be hit and I flinched. I don’t remember that part but I don’t doubt it happened. She would ask me about that day at least every other visit but I still never told her.

I ended up staying for the full summer. I refused to go home and when it came time for school to start again, I cried and begged to not have to go home.

I told them that I would be a good girl and keep the house clean and do the dishes… that I would be really quiet and stay in my room. I remember even telling them that I would make all A’s on my school work and not ever get into trouble or have detention.

After crying hysterically for hours, I still had to pack my bags, walk them out to the car, and go home. When I got home, since it had to have been after my parents got home from work… I went outside to play with the dog and deliberately got him riled up by rough housing and because he was still a puppy, he nipped once too hard and broke the skin. I ran inside screaming and crying on purpose because I wanted them to get rid of the dog.

Looking back on it now, I wanted something to blame for what had happened. They gave the dog away. I never knew to whom… just that he was gone.


19 thoughts on “Sanctuary

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  1. You are a survivor and a courageous person to tell your story. Healing and truth to abuse only comes when we Speak! Thank you for sharing your story and I hope that you are on a journey to healing yourself. God Bless!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I greatly appreciate the support and hope. I’ve started following your blog as well and I am sending warm thoughts your way as well.

  2. I can’t believe he did that! I have no words for how violated I feel just reading about what he did… and you have written so honestly, so simply that the horror of it just seeps through. I wish I could help you in some way, but know that you are not alone in your struggles. There are a lot of us, abused in different ways, grown up without a safe home, we’ve paid for our parents’ bad choices. Sending you love and light and healing. Big hug

  3. Hi,
    Thank you for visit, and for following my blog.
    you said in your about you that this blog was not for the faint hearted.. and you were right!
    I’m horrified, sorry that’s not the right word, angry, upset, disturbed..I’m still not sure which one of these is right, if any.
    I can physically feel your fear and terror in your words.
    It is beyond my comprehension why anyone would treat a child like the way you have been treated here.
    I’m going to have to come back to this comment because I’m too upset to carry on right now, I’m sorry, I just dont know what to say.

    Sending you love n hugs and all my best wishes

    1. Thank you for following as well. My history is something that even my husband doesn’t know all of… I am tired and worn out of hanging onto the past that I need to let it go and I think blogging is going to be the best way for me because I am not the type to go and lay down on a couch and talk to a shrink that can only offer medical advice.

      Thanks for reading. Know that I am happy and well adjusted now… I’m still alive and that’s what matters. Thank you for your thoughts and sympathy. It goes a long way in helping!


      1. Hi Phoenix,
        I can quite understand you not wanting to go to a shrink.
        This blogging community an be a very good listener, and sometimes just writing things down, putting them outt in the public domain, is just a theraputic as ” medical advice.
        Thanks for letting me know you are ok now. I was telling my wife about ” Sanctuary ” and had to log on to read it to her.
        I’m afraid that I couldn’t finish it, and we both ended up with tears running down our faces.
        I can not and will not ever understand what makes any parent or adult do things like that to a small child.

        I feel so…again I’m not sure of the right words.. not sorry for you because that implies pity, and that’s not what I’m trying to say, angry and distressed that your step dad could be such a beast.
        I’m so glad that you are ok, and that you are happy now.
        I admire your courage and determination, and I wish you all the happiness in the world.
        Thank you for being so brave and honest, it couldn’t have been easy writing about and remembering that time.
        lots of love n hugs

      2. Please share with your wife that I appreciate the tears and sadness for what I went through. I know it’s not pity and it’s not being taken that way.
        I didn’t share this particular story with anyone ever up until about three months ago. Then a friend of mine gave a good recommendation and said that I should blog about my experiences and share it with others. Then two months later, I get the courage to do so and the first thing that came to mind to write about, was this post. The funny thing is that when I was writing it, the feelings didn’t register until I had finished the composition and was going back to proof read. It was like going through it all over again.
        Even then, the feelings were different from what I felt when it happened. It’s a sadness and mourning for the lost childhood, it’s an overwhelming rage at not being protected, and it’s a deep seated fear at not having the security – security in knowing, being, and experiencing life as a child. Instead I was forced into being an adult and having to accept that I would have to endure.

        Again, many thanks for the support! It’s greatly appreciated though, I understand if it’s hard to read what I write about and won’t take it personally if you can’t read it. I know what I write is a difficult thing to read. My husband won’t read it for that very reason. It’s too hard for him.

        With all the best,

  4. I can understand why your husband won’t read your blog Phoenix.
    For him, being personally involved with the people concerned, must be incredibly difficult.
    He must be a very patient and understanding man because I want to go and knock your father in laws teeth out, and I’ve only just come across your site today.

    I think your description of your feelings are exactly what I was trying to say,but I think shame is in there for me too, because I’m ashamed of your father in law…ashamed as a man, and ashamed as a member of the human race.

    As for bailing out, no way!
    You said in your “about” that this wasn’t an easy read, and might be difficult, and I proceeded under that understanding.
    I just wasn’t quite prepared as to how difficult Sanctary was going to be, and it took me by surprise and shock.

    I can’t promise to be a confidant, or a muse, with wise words of wisdom and knowledge, but I can promise to be an ear to listen, or a shoulder to lean on if it all gets too much.
    You are a very strong and brave lady and I’m pleased to have met you 🙂
    Take care,
    love n hugs xxx

    1. Thank you for the compliments. They are really appreciated. I am pleased to meet you and your wife and you have been very kind in your words. Kindness is such a rare commodity these days.

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to read…
      I know that my life history is hard to take in due to the subject matter… but that’s all I ever aim to do… I want to help others!
      Again, Thank you!


  5. I’ve only yet read this post and am filled with outrage. How could that man do that to you? It is a testimony to your strength and perseverance that you are able to relate your story to us, the world.

    When victims of abuse read your life story may they be encouraged, learn that they are not alone. I think what you are doing will help many.

    1. Thanks so much Paul. I greatly appreciate your words. I would like to say that I started out with the goal of helping others in mind… but it was more for personal healing. If I help others, it’s just a happy side effect.

      Again, thank you!
      With much respect,

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