November 19, 2009


Again if you can't read about domestic and child abuse please don't read further.


I arrived in the USA 3 days before my 8th birthday in 1993. I was SHOCKED. In a couple of hours I had gone from living in a farm with my grandfather to living in a congested city in America, with a step father and 2 brothers. BAM! here is a family. Bam! here is your mother. Make nice.

My mom showed me off to her friends and they fawned all over me. I heard stories about my mom being so distraught from having to leave me in El Salvador (she swears that if she had come by land via the border I may have died in the process, she ended up coming by plane) that she would borrow their daughters. NO LIE people. My mother missed me and on the weekends would have girls sleep over, she would comb their hair, make them delicious meals and take them to toys r us.

Not too long after I arrived in the USA things started to change. I started to get a lot of responsibilities. First it was helping warm my (less than one year old) baby brother's bottle or to change my 3 years old brothers diaper/underwear whenever he had accidents. Soon I became their nanny. I was responsible for all things BROTHER related. Things continued to be piled on me slowly. My step father was great to me and I took a great liking to him. His father had been murdered in El Salvador by the paramilitary and my father had died of total kidney failure. We bonded. Weird and kinda sick in a way but thats how it went down. I say sick because he knew my dad personally and they had been rivals...hence my mom.

I started to call him dad and I LOVED it when he was home. Because when he was I had virtually NO responsibilities and my moms harsh criticism was kept to a minimum. He was my hero. I don't know when things got violent but soon I was my mom's punching bag and lightning rod for curses and verbal abuse. I started crying a lot. I got so good you couldn't even hear it and you could be laying next to me. Whenever my stepfather would come home he would ask me how my day was and I felt important like I was human again. He also started intervening when my mother would hit me.

To clarify

I am not talking about spanking your child once or twice on the bottom with an open palm. I am talking about a straight up street/ghetto fight as if you are fighting your enemy. She broke bones and I was bruised most of the time. I was the only weird kid who would go to school with a turtleneck in the SUMMER because I was black and blue everywhere. I was also so skinny when I look at some of the pants I was wearing as a 7 year old, my arm doesn't fit in the legs. THAT SKINNY.

Anyway. I would get beat for having friends, for wearing my sweater tied around my waist, for any perceived infraction. Real or not.
When I came here in the summer I was actually midway through my 2nd grade in El Salvador (its weird like that). Once you arrive in the US they usually leave you a grade behind. That didn't happen with me. Instead of starting in 1st grade I was enrolled in 3rd grade. I was placed in a class of ONLY English and I hustled. Reason: dang kids were stealing my chocolate milk during the barter system. Just because I was a foreigner. *shakes fist*

Shoot. I couldn't have that anymore so after going nearly a year as a mute and without my ENTITLED chocolate milk I started speaking English. Broken but still English. My mother started to attack my English and make fun of it. I stop talking at home. My stepfather would come home and he would help me with my homework and force me to practice my English with him. He was great. May Allah swt give him iman. ameen.

God forbid a fellow classmate would see me in the streets with my mother and would either wave or *gasp* smile at me. The moment that would happen I would get slapped in the streets and a beat down when I got home. It got to the point that I would basically make friends and after the initial "hello" I would tell them "if you see me in the streets and I don't say hi or even look at you please don't take it personal. My moms around."

In 4th grade we moved to another part of town because my step father (I am using stepfather so that I don't confuse you guys with my biological dad) bought a house. In our town if you move one block down or over you might be assigned to a different school, and I was. I had to make friends ALL over again, the routine of sending me to the nurses office because of strange behavior or turtlenecks in hot weather started again. Our 4th grade teacher Ms. Garabito would throw her shoes at us when we got something wrong. I am pretty sure she may have been kidding but I was petrified.

My mom took away the few toys I had and I was told NOT to touch my brothers toys and NOT to touch the TV, NOT to touch the radio and basically not touch anything that didn't belong to me. Which was EVERYTHING. *sigh*

I started menstruating when I was 11 years old. (I can't believe I can replay this memory and it is as live and rich as it would be on a HD flatscreen today). I was so scared that I was bleeding from my hoohaa (I read it on another blog and wanted to use it) that I ran to my mother and told her. She was exercising in the living room and she told me to go away she will deal with me later. I ran to my stepfather and told him I was dying and I didn't know what to do. He told me it was my period and it was totally natural. I started to calm down A LOT. He then went to their bedroom brought out one of my mom's underwear and maxi pad and demonstrated how to put the pad on the underwear. He then gave me a maxi pad and told me to go to the bathroom and do that.

I must have come back and told him that it was WAY to large for me so he took another pad and just cut it in half with a scissor. LOL. So anyways from that point on I would cut my pads in half so that they wouldn't reach from my belly bottom to my midback. lol. My mom used to check my backpack a lot and one day found a cut maxi. She was furious and was ready to pound the life out of me screaming, "did I not teach you how to do it right!" I told her NO. My stepfather showed me. She didn't say anything else and I started to notice she started purchasing smaller pads for me. thank you mom.

I must have been twelve when she ordered everyone NOT to celebrate my birthday and to not even acknowledge it. My brothers would whisper it to me when we were alone though and my stepfather would sneak in trinkets here and there. She also started making fun of my weight that I was fat (no I wasn't), that I was ugly (psha, you must be blind woman) and basically an all out attack on my self esteem. I honestly can't even begin to tell you how miraculous it is that I didn't develop an eating disorder or how I didn't get fat out of depression. can't even begin to rationalize that one. Alhamdulillah.

During this time I had made a good friend at school whose bones were disappearing. I was scared that it would happen to me. (she had osteoporosis and didn't know how to explain it any better.) There was another girl in my new school who I had given my house # to and immediately regretted it. GOD I was so scared everytime the phone rang. One time I ran to the basement where the caller ID was kept and looked nervously if I recognize the #, thankfully she never called. HOWEVER, during this time my stepfather would know who called, at what time they called and what my mom even said in these conversations. My mom immediately blamed me. Saying that I was spying on her and telling my stepfather, no wonder you guys get along so well.

Never mind that she would make me stand by the window waiting for my stepfather to come and when I saw him I had to run to tell her he was coming so she could hang up and pretend like she was doing something. I told her it didn't make sense. He knows about conversations that take place while I am in school. Do you think I have spidey senses and I can HEAR the phone from BLOCKS away? then run over hear take notes and go back to school? It didn't matter. She still beat me anyways.

My mom was very creative with her punishments after beating me wasn't working. She beat me so bad that I had a high tolerance for pain. I wouldn't cry in front of her. Crying is for weak people and I wasn't weak. (that is what I would tell myself). I mean she would break things on me, bash me against walls, floors, doors and I wouldn't cry. Also DYFS (division of youth and family services) got involved with my family and they would do random searches of my body looking for welts or bruises. So she got creative.

She would make me stand with my hands up in the air facing the corner of the basement while she would be in the other side playing nintendo with my brothers for 30 minutes. After a while your arms start hurting because of the blood draining down, your muscles are starved for oxygen. If she saw me lowering my arms my time would start all over. Once you put your arms down the blood rushes down and it hurts. My brothers were never punished.

Another punishment was that she would force me to kneel on uncooked rice for 30 minutes or more for perceived infractions real or not. THAT HURTS! and it burns. It hurts so bad and when you shift hoping for relief it only hurts even more because it has become a tender area. I was a depressed child during this time. I never resented my brothers. They were my babies. I resented HER.

At one point I was so depressed that I went to bed with a knife so I would kill myself. I would cry in bed (almost every night) and wait for everyone to go to bed. I swear as soon as I heard my mom was asleep I would reach for my knife and next thing I remember it was the next morning and I would return the knife back to the kitchen. Don't know how it happened but for months that was the routine. I take knife to bed >> I cry in bed >> bros fall asleep >> mom falls asleep >> reach for knife >> next morning.

When I would wake up this was the feelings I had
it was as if the skies were grey, there was no happiness in life, I saw no purpose in being alive and I couldn't 'see' in to the future. I just wanted to die. I would tell God "you don't love me. If you loved me you would take me out of this miserable life and I wouldn't wake up ever. But here I am alive. Proof that you don't love me"
I would go to church by myself in El Salvador and in America. I was looking for God. Because I felt that God had forgotten me and I wanted to know why. Why was I going though this? Why am I alive? Why am I not loved? Why am I in pain? Why are you letting this happen to me? WHY ARE YOU NOT ANSWERING ME!

The church elders would patronize me and send me to the children school below to color Jesus or Moses or some other prophet they were teaching the children about. So I left. I decided I could live my life without religion.

Believe it or not my life actually got worst. My mother left my stepfather and with that I lost the only protector I had. She was now free to beat me and do what she liked. He still tried to intervene on my behalf but she would only beat me worst. He stopped trying to help me as it was making my situation worst. She attempted to beat my brothers too but they had a father and he had joint custody. He threatened her so she backed away from them and took it all out on me. This is why I feel that a child is an orphan the moment they loose their father. No one respects you when you don't have one. Not even your own mother.

actually this is too much for me right now. If i feel better later I'll come back to it.


AlabasterMuslim said...

Did your mother ever give you a reason, or an excuse for the way she treated you? Have you ever confronted her? Has she ever said sorry?
The pain you went makes me speechless. How can someone go through SO much pain? I'm surprised your memories do not hurt you more than they do. Tuttie, you may not realize it (or maybe you do), but you seriously are SO STRONG! mashallah. And subhanallah! you went through so much, feeling that god wasn't there, and you still became muslim! alhamdullilah!

hispanic muslimah said...

I wanted to cry reading this. It brought back a lot of memories about my own childhood. My dad would make me kneel on the uncooked rice for hours too. But alhamdolilah it's all over now.
When you were little, did you ever daydream about a nicer future?
I stopped believing in God at one point in my childhood because I couldn't understand why he would allow so many bad things to happen to me. I wouldn't be so optimistic now if it wasn't for my faith.
Thanks for sharing Tuttie.
hispanic muslimah

deleted said...

Hearing stories like yours breaks my heart. MashAllah you are such a strong woman. I admire you so much for that, all your past experiences you have mentioned here have probably all made you into the independent and intelligent person you are today. So in a way all the hardships have turned out positively. Like they say "there's always a light at the end of the tunnel"

NtN said...

*big hugs*

May Allah SWT give you strength in this and surround you by love and safe environments.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I have so much respect for you. You may not realize how strong you are. Wow, I really think that God let you survive this for a huge purpose.

Kiddy said...

It is a miracle that you survived being whipped so much and in such a harsh manner.God had not forgotten about you,He made sure that you survived didn't He? God had you endure all that for all the children you and your hubby are going to have,just look at how much you love your son and how well you take care of him.

Anonymous said...

My heart bleeds for you. Do you still talk to your mother? I know that there are hadiths which say that Jannah is underneath the mother's feet, but sometimes I feel that there are exceptions to this rule. Just saying what I am feeling.
May Allah (STW) bless you always!

ummAbdillah said...

As salaamu 'alaikum warahmatullah wa barakaatuh ukhti

*deep sigh* There really are no words...

Yet, you have a have have ISLAM! Allaahu Akbar! You survived to become the muslimah you are today, and insha'Allah you will be a source of strength and comfort for other sisters that go thru or in the past.

*deeper sigh* My life was practically the exact opposite of your horrific ordeal, my dearest ukhti...yet, I felt every word as deeply as if I experienced it right alongside you. The power of Islam.
I'm proud to call you my sister...May Allah Subhana wa t'ala grant you all the joy and blessings that passed you by as a child...because He never gives us more than we can bear...and shower your dunya with love and happiness, and your akhirah with jannatul firdaus...ameen!