Tag Archives: abuse

Going Public | My Raw Thoughts About Making My Abuse Known

The day after I remembered my abuse, I went to a police station to give a statement. I knew nothing about the process I was starting. I sat across from strangers. Officers and Detectives I had seen at parades and events around town and on Facebook. But I didn’t know them.

I nursed Bess and asked them if I could close my eyes during the retelling, because I was embarrassed. They were wonderful. And I left feeling a newfound freedom. They had believed me. For a decade as a child and teenager, my father had always told me the police wouldn’t believe me. He was wrong.

During those early months of the investigation in two states, I wasn’t allowed to say much. We didn’t want him to run away before a District Attorney could do her job. So I pretended like nothing had happened. Only a very small group of people knew what was going on. Even now, many details are just not discussed. But I worked tirelessly with two departments to help them get whatever they needed. I completed a timeline where I tried to remember (and give detail) about every instance of abuse in my life. It was hell. But I kept going, because I was determined to do everything in my power to get him imprisoned.

People often ask me why I fought so hard to get him incarcerated. Why I felt the urgency to go public after the trial. Why I didn’t just go to therapy, get over my issues, and move on with my life? Silently.

The answer is pretty simple. I didn’t want him hurting anyone else. I’m not his only victim. And I can’t go back in time to the first time he abused me and make it right. Get him arrested and incarcerated all those years ago. Save all those other people from him. But I can help others now.

By going to the police, his crimes were out in the open. When I sat in that first interview, I had no idea if he would still get prison time after all these years. Statutes of limitations are tricky things. But I knew keeping quiet gave him the power to keep doing what he was doing. And, like most predators, he was getting “better” at it. I knew that I couldn’t sit around when he was most likely grooming and abusing new victims.

Some people, who are no longer part of my life, said I should’ve just let it go. It was so long ago. What did it matter now? I responded that it mattered to me. I was worth it. And it mattered to all the people he wouldn’t get to abuse because I was speaking up. They were worth it.

He stated in a report that he was going to move back to my area after he was done serving his sentence. So when I had been on the fence about how much I was going to share publicly, that was the catalyst for going to the blog. I wanted as many local people as possible to know what he had done. What he was capable of. If he thinks he’s moving back here, that’s fine. But thousands of people know the truth. Tens of thousands of people have read and shared these posts, which will make it harder for him to abuse the next person.

Going public was not just part of my healing process. It was my way of saying, “You aren’t fooling anyone.” Just recently, someone stopped me to say she had appreciated him as a pastor and wanted to know how he was doing. “Well, he’s in prison for being a child molester.” Her face was shocked. “How do you know it’s true?” “Because I was one of the children. And he had multiple affairs, stole all my mom’s money, then tried to kill himself to cover everything up.” Then I walked away. One more person who knew the truth. I want this area saturated with people who know. I want him to be recognized for what he is. Not what he says he is.

Some accused me of being bitter. I’m not bitter. I’m smart. I know that predators are less likely to strike again when they can’t hide behind the facades. Blame it on being the oldest child, but I feel a duty to protect others. And I’m using my tiny corner of the internet to do it. And I’ll keep using it. Because I’m in the minority. Most people who are abused will never tell anyone. Never go to the police. Never go public.

But maybe one person will read my posts and take that first step to say, “I’m worth it. And I can help stop this person from hurting others.” I was victimized long enough. I’m now a survivor. That freedom is worth every moment of hell it took to get here. And it started with a trip to a small police station in the middle of America. Where a scared-out-of-her-mind woman nursed a baby girl, while simultaneously protecting her from the grandfather she will never know.

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“You’ll Bounce Back”

After Graham was born, I felt huge. It was the biggest I had ever been in my life. 

This was almost 7 years ago, before I remembered my childhood/adolescent abuse. Before I remembered the decades of body shaming. Before I started my journey of healing. I was still carrying all of that shame deep down inside. So I didn’t understand why I couldn’t show my body grace. I had read all the articles about how my post-partum body would be different. But I wasn’t prepared for the reality of feeling completely ugly. 

I had grown a human being inside of me. Fed him with my body. Carried him in my body. And evacuated him into a world of breathing air and nursing. I wanted to be okay with it. To embrace this new normal. Sagging skin and leaking breasts and staples and stretch marks. But I couldn’t. 

I started to fear that Dave would never find me attractive again. We would never enjoy my body like he had. Because it was now hideous.

I now know it was sleep-deprivation talking. Hormones shifting almost daily. But it was mostly a past I couldn’t even recall that constantly whispered, “You are never pretty enough. Your body is never nice enough. No one will love you if you gain weight.” 

Abuse has a way of following you around and popping up when you don’t expect it. I’m textbook with my body issues. But it doesn’t seem so obvious when you’re in the middle of it. 

What didn’t help: “Your body will bounce back soon!” Why do people say that to a person who just completed a 40-week sprint, which instantly transformed to an 18-year marathon? It’s so odd to focus on someone’s weight at a time like that. 

Plus, mine didn’t. My body didn’t bounce back. And it made me think that people were constantly critiquing my post-baby body. “He’s so cute! And your body will bounce back.” I heard it all the time. Along with aphorisms about how quickly he would grow and move away to college. I needed someone to say, “Rest. Nurse. Cut yourself lots of slack. Wear flowy tops. Don’t stress about your body.” But that’s the opposite of our culture. 

I was standing in line at Walmart with a tiny Graham and counted 14 magazines telling me how celebrities had shed their baby weight in weeks. There’s nothing wrong with them doing that. But life’s a lot different when you have a nanny and a personal chef and a gym in your house. 

I was living in a different world. We were in the middle of remodeling the kitchen in our little house. Our refrigerator was in the living room. Our stove was disconnected. I was living off microwave dinners while Dave was at work. Recovering from an emergency c-section. Definitely not good for the body or the soul. I knew my cart of turkey breast Lean Cuisine meals wasn’t in those celebrity tips. As a brand-new mom, I was seeing how post-partum obsession was at all socio-economic levels. 

Please don’t misunderstand my heart on this. I’m not into reverse shaming either. If a woman is able to bounce back in a healthy way, I’ll be applauding her! But my genes aren’t configured that way. And when someone told me I’d lose more weight if I quit nursing, I nodded politely. Then someone else said I’d lose weight if I pumped more. I hated being big, but I knew nursing Graham was something I wouldn’t give up.

I’ve nursed a total of 4 years, and it only helped me lose weight with Bess. Because I was on an elimination diet. I ate air and drank water…that’s how it felt. But as soon as she was 19 months and I had to wean her for the trial in Colorado, my weight started coming back.

It’s been more than a year. In that year, I’ve added a pregnancy and the end of a pregnancy. If there’s anytime you should show yourself grace, it should be after losing children. Part of what makes post-partum easier is that you are cuddling a tiny human who desperately needs you. After you lose children, you have the stretch marks and leaking breasts and no baby to hide your sagging skin when you’re out in public. You are exposed. And people say, “Your body will bounce back.” When they should be saying, “I’m sorry that your life feels completely worthless at this moment. I’m sorry that you feel like you failed. I’m sorry that you won’t see your baby this side of eternity.” 

One of my best friends recently lost her baby. Most likely from a virus. And she mentioned nonchalantly that she was bigger after her loss than she had been pregnant. And I texted without a second thought, “Your body will bounce back.” I should’ve paused and typed, “I know. A virus took your baby and your body doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s clueless. So your mind needs to remind your heart that you are strong and beautiful. Don’t even think about your weight and go buy bigger underwear.”

That’s what I did. I realized that I had bought bigger jeans from TJMaxx and bigger shirts from ThredUp. But I was still trying to wear smaller underwear. Which was a constant reminder that I was bigger. The biggest I’ve ever been. I took the kids to BigLots and bought my favorite underwear 2 sizes bigger. Then I told myself, “Your body isn’t bouncing back. And it doesn’t really matter. Not right now. What matters right now is feeling beautiful and comfortable in clothes that fit while you grieve.” 

August 26th is our due date. There are so many things I’ve never experienced. Infertility. Delivering stillborn. Losing a child in infancy or childhood or when they’re in college and it never crosses your mind that something horrible could happen on a regular Thursday. But I have lost babies in my womb. Delivered too early. And the day I was supposed to deliver is almost here. And it will last 24 hours and be gone. 

And I don’t have time to lament that I’m not as thin as I would like to be while I’m standing at that grave watching Graham release balloons. I won’t listen to the lies that it’s been 6 months and I should be smaller and happier. I lost most of my childhood to lies about myself. I won’t sacrifice my kids’ lives with the same. I’ll throw on a flowy top and mourn.

I won’t stop striving to be a strong mom. A healthy mom. A happy mom. But I give up on being a Size X Mom. I don’t have enough energy anymore to live that life. No one cares about my underwear size. 

And I vow to never again tell a woman who just gave birth, or was robbed of the chance, that her body will bounce back. Because that’s one of the last things she needs to hear. I’ll give her a hug, buy her some decaf coffee, and rejoice or mourn…whichever the occasion requires. 

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I Was Almost A Runaway

“Mom, I’m gonna rollerblade at the park.”
“Ok. What’s in the bag?”
“Some books and snacks. I’ll just hang out there. The kids are being so loud today.”
“Ok. Be home for dinner. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”

I lied by omission. My bag had books, two peanut butter sandwiches, a thermos of water, three ponytail holders, toilet paper, a change of clothes, and a pair of shoes.

I was running away from home.

But I decided I should actually go to the park for a bit, figure out how I was going to run away with $12. My friends lived in a different city. There was no way to rollerblade all the way there. I only knew how to get there by the highways.

I thought about hitchhiking, but it seemed unlikely that anyone would pick up a pretty 12-year-old girl. They would just call the police. I wanted to actually go to the police myself, but it was out of the realm of possibilities. Too many threats had been made about what would happen if I went to the police.

I spent 4 hours brainstorming, and then decided to just eat my sandwiches and go home. It was a silly idea anyway. If I could’ve gotten to the Daniels’ house, they would’ve called my mom. I was sure of it. And my dad would’ve picked me up. So I was almost a runaway, but failed before the starting pistol even went off.

I didn’t remember until Dave was reading a book aloud to me, and the main character was talking about when she ran away from home as a kid. “Dave, I almost ran away from home. I was packed and everything. I just remembered it. But I was too scared to do it. Thought no one would believe me about the abuse and things would just be worse when I was returned home.” It’s crazy how the suppressed memories return with no warning. No control over them.

I see runaways in the news everyday. Parents begging for help. In some cases, the kid doesn’t like the rules. Wants a later curfew. Wants a boyfriend. Is just immature.

But in so many other cases, that kid is trying to get away from hell. But she doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t have the tools he needs to communicate his pain. They have been lied to so much about how the police won’t help them. So they run. And I just pray that investigations take place when those kids are returned home. Do they have a stable family? Or do people just think they do? Are they being dropped off on a porch, to an adult who is verbally, physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive?

Several times a week, I see these runaways on the news. And I pray, “God, please let them be found by the right people. Please let the right officers find them. Please let them end up somewhere safe. If that’s home, great. If it’s not, I pray they get the help they need.”

Because I didn’t. And I had to eat dinner, even though I wasn’t hungry. I had just scarfed down two peanut butter sandwiches I couldn’t explain to my mom. The most threats were actually about telling her. And I believed every single one my dad told me.


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The Memory Game

Warning: this post may contain triggers for sexual abuse survivors.

“What do you do with all the good memories of your dad? That would be weird.”

Someone asked me this after hearing about my story. Or at least the parts I’ve shared. It’s actually an easy answer.

There aren’t any good memories of him anymore.

Everything was a sham. He was a fraud. I have no good memories of my dad anymore, because all the things I thought were good, well, they were lies.

When I was little, he got rid of our tv and we played games every night. It used to be a fun memory. Family Time. But now, I see it for what it really was: grooming.

That’s a word I didn’t even know before I remembered my abuse and heard a detective use it. And then I started to realize how much of my childhood was a chapter from a textbook.

We acted out plays of Bible stories. Under big sheet tents and forts in our living room. He would tell me what to say and do, paraphrasing the Bible, and we would all laugh and eat popcorn.

Fast forward a few years, and very different things were happening under those sheet tents.

But he had groomed me. That horrible word with an even more horrible meaning.

And I had learned that he was in charge. And I couldn’t question, because I wasn’t the one holding the children’s storybook Bible and calling all the shots. He no longer had the Bible, but it didn’t matter. He was still in control.

He had already had two affairs when he got rid of our tv. Of course we didn’t know that. We thought we were a happy, healthy family. I remember him telling my mom that the tv was just a distraction from family time, and we needed to spend more time learning about God and having fun together.

All of it was a lie.

He controlled me for decades. But it all started with little things. And sexual abuse often starts with spiritual abuse.

And taking away your daughter’s Mister Roger’s Neighborhood so you can be the center of all the attention and the sole provider of entertainment in your household is messed up.

In college, it was still a great memory. I shared it in a Comp class. This really gorgeous guy who sat a few chairs down said, “That sounds like crazy shit. What the hell was he trying to do playing with all those sheets all the time? I woulda run away fast.”

I was so embarrassed, but came to my dad’s defense. Because I was a good daughter and he was a great dad. I stood up for him.

If only I could’ve remembered then. And I wonder if gorgeous-guy-whose-rough-drafts-were-painfully-exhausting-to-edit will read this and think, “I was right.” But no one takes pleasure in being right about these things.

All we can do is look out for the next group of kiddos growing up with the fake dads who are very good at being evil. And see if we can be their voice, because they don’t even know that they should be running for help. Abused kids will often speak up only once.

I waited years for my moment to speak up, and then chickened out. Then blocked it all out. Then had to remember everything in waves.

But it’s easier to relegate the things I do remember to the evil pile than it is to move the things that seem good to that same pile. Because the stuff I forgot was so bad it can’t even be justified. But the rest of my life falls into gray areas.

So I chop photographs. I toss birthday cards. I remove him from stories. I won’t ever pretend he never existed, but I keep him separate from the actual good things of my childhood. Which is easy. Because almost all of them didn’t involve him anyway.

I have more great memories of my mom and siblings and friends than I have horrific memories of him. I can’t throw away 30 years of my life for one narcissist. But I can’t ever become so far removed that I forget to watch out for the next generation.

There are no new sins under the sun. Only new sinners. Who think they’re smarter than the rest of us. But they’re just repeating what’s already been done. And I know the tricks now. So I have an obligation to keep my eyes and ears open. While, somehow, still protecting my sanity. And holding onto the actual great memories with the people I love who were real and really loved me.


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Mom Confession: A Weighty Issue

I lost 85 pounds in 17 months.

I was nursing a kiddo with allergies/intolerances. No gluten. No wheat. No dairy of any kind. Absolutely no cows milk proteins. No egg yolks. No egg whites. No cocoa or chocolate. No peaches.

I nursed Bess 18 months. And I ate around the clock. Literally. My friends called it The Bess Diet. Eat all the time and still lose weight.

Then, I had to wean her. My dad-in-law was days from dying, and we weren’t sure where Bess would be during the funeral. I was getting ready for a trial that was supposed to take place in April, and I knew Bess was staying behind.

The truth is that I’m so bad at pumping. Horrible. I just nurse my kids and I’m rarely away from them. So, when I knew I’d be away twice in one month, I decided to wean her.

We weaned. And it was horrible. She didn’t do well with the almond milk. She went on a drinking strike for almost two days. I was about to start nursing her again, but I knew we were supposed to wean. I couldn’t even pump enough to keep her going while I was gone, so she would need to adjust to the almond milk eventually.

I was also very emotional. I had so much going on in my life. Then, I added weaning my last baby. And my body hated me. I had nursed for more than 4 total years. I had been lactating for more than 6 years straight. Then, I was done.

But I kept eating. Then I comfort ate after my dad-in-law died. And I stress ate through arraignments and deadlines and plea bargains. And I over ate, because my body was still lactating…but no one was nursing.

I gained back 21 pounds in less than 3 months. I logged into MyFitnessPal and tracked my calories for one day. 2300. I was still eating what I ate while nursing. At 2300 calories a day, I lost weight when I was nursing. But once Bess was done, I was eating more than a man should be eating. And I’m not running marathons. If you see me running, I’m running from a wasp.

So I started watching every calorie, tracking my cardio and new strength training, and I gained 4 more pounds and several inches. My pants wouldn’t fit. I had to start wearing my maxi skirts again…the yoga pants of the mom wardrobe.

I know it will take awhile to get back down to my goal weight. When I weaned Bess, I was 2 pounds under my goal. Back down to my engagement weight. And feeling fabulous.

I don’t feel fabulous right now. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel slightly out of control. So I am back on track now, but I have a lot of work to do. My body is still always looking for a nursling, but those days are over.

And I am also in the position of being careful about how much attention I give to my body weight. Because I am recovering from lifelong body image issues. Buying shorts was such a gigantic step for me, because I have spent more than a quarter of a century with body issues.

There you have it. Just some thrown together thoughts on nursing, weight, and body image. Time to go eat some Starburst. Just kidding. Maybe.


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Why I Don’t Have A Bible

“Julie said bring Bibles.” A text from a friend. It stopped my day.

I went to a Bible Study last week. And it was way out of my comfort zone. Women I didn’t know. At all. In a house I had never visited. And I almost cancelled several dozen times.

“Julie said bring Bibles.” Awesome. I had my Bible app on my phone, but no Bible. Nothing to actually flip through.

Eighteen months ago, I tossed my Bible in a trash can and muttered some curse words. My Bible had been a gift from my dad. Filled with an inscription to me…the song he wrote for my baby dedication and the song he played at my wedding. And almost all the notes, highlights, underlines, and arrows were from sermons he preached.

Beth Moore asked us to get out our Bibles. Every woman, but me, got out a paper Bible. Gilded, onion-skin papers rustling. As I swyped on my screen that’s taped over with box tape. My phone making pong-type noises. Is there an app to make your phone rustle? There should be…

In that moment, I couldn’t say to a room of strangers, “I had a Bible. Filled with  Greek and Hebrew and crap tons of important stuff. Had to toss it, because three decades of my life were a sham. And no one can be expected to read the Bible given to them by their molester.” But of course I can’t say that.

So the rustling and pong-ing continued for an hour and I sat there realizing there is a blessing in knowing almost no one, but the curse of loneliness. Of being different.

Of those 9 women, was I the only abused one? It sure felt like it. I don’t know their stories. But no one else looked like she was going to toss her bonded leather book into the garbage and say some words Beth Moore would never dare say.

But I’m going back. The study is fantastic so far. I actually managed to fill in all the blanks and look up all the verses on my phone and read all the commentary. It’s a first, I think. To finish my Bible Study homework more than 15 minutes before class starts.

And I’m saving calories today, because there were snacks last time. Food I was expected to share with no one. It’s like Mom Paradise. And I can eat while I read my Bible app. The food wipes right off the box tape.


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Five Minute Friday | Welcome

The first Five Minute Friday of 2015.
Just raw, unedited, Lyndse thoughts. I set the timer for five minutes and just write.

Ready, set, go…

One of my fears is completely irrational. It is the fear that people look at me and think, “She doesn’t do enough. She is a failure.” I know it’s wrong. I know that people are so busy with their own lives that they don’t even think it. And if they did, well, they could drive over here and be me for a bit. I know that it’s all a lie. But the lie is so deep that it follows me throughout my day. In the past few years, it was embarrassing how many of my social media updates included loads of laundry and diapers changed and therapies completed and books read. Lists and lists. I wasn’t bragging. But I think I was secretly hitting publish and whispering in my soul, “There. Now they’ll know I do enough. I try really hard. Everything feels like it’s falling apart, but I am chugging along and crossing things off a list. And they can see it.” There are many reasons why I fear rejection, even from acquaintances or strangers. As a child, I was taught by someone I trusted that love was completely dependent upon me doing things. And if I didn’t do those things, then I was a bad girl who would hurt all the people around me and no one would love me. So achieving became the best way to get love. And approval. I forgot that I was already approved by God and learned that I had to earn love and approval from everyone but Him. Whether I have known you 30 years or 30 seconds, I want your approval. I want you to think I am good at achieving things. And when you are a stay-at-home mom to three littles, what you can achieve in often involves wiping poop from someone’s butt and starting a crockpot meal. So trying to achieve all.the.time and never wanting to be perceived as lacking often result in looking like a Bragasaurus online. It’s not my heart to look like I do more than any other mom. I have been accused of thinking I am a Supermom with a superiority complex. When, in reality, the opposite is true. I often posted those things at the exact moment that I felt like the worst mom. The mom who couldn’t get it together or keep it together. But I don’t need you to look at me and say, “Wow. Lyndse is a great mom/homemaker/human.” I am retraining my brain: the only approval we welcome is from God. And He already gave it. Clean clothes, clean bottoms, and clean eating are good things, but God has the very important to-do list that trumps mine. And it includes being clothed in His righteousness, being cleansed by His blood, and consuming His body and blood in Holy Communion. And resting in Him. Lots of resting.

Time’s up.

Join me and link up your five minutes of real at katemotaung.com


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