1 in 3 Foundation presents Miss’s story

Content Warning: If someone has been impacted by suicide, trauma, domestic violence, depression, sexual abuse or assault, alcoholism, addiction or a child's death and would prefer to abscond from reading, please feel comfortable to do so as mentions of such content are included in many of the survivor accounts.

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month and in partnership with the 1 in 3 Foundation, The Tyler Loop presents Miss’s story as part of the Share Your Story program. The Share Your Story series seeks to help end the stigma around sexual assault and to give voice to survivors’ experiences.

“Many survivors suffer in silence for years,” Maya Golden Bethany, the 1 in 3 Foundation founder said. “Survivors have often experienced blame, judgment or disbelief during the times when they do open up. This program provides participants an opportunity to reclaim their voice and raise awareness. It is not just their experience but a call to action.”

The 1 in 3 Foundation exists to remove the barriers to healing from trauma in Smith County for women recovering from sexual abuse and assault. “We believe that the 1 in 3 women who will experience sexual abuse or assault during their lifetimes deserve meaningful understanding and crucial access to support,” Bethany said.

Miss — an alias — submitted her story to the Share your Story program, read by actor Kiara Hawkins of Tyler. Miss recounts growing up enduring sexual and verbal abuse for years from her mother’s boyfriend and mother.

“From the age of two to seven years old, I suffered abuse from my mother’s boyfriend and his family. My mother’s boyfriend was a coward.

When I was two years old, he burned me with his cigarette and left a mark under my left breast. When I turned four, things got worse. He began molesting me in my room, and there was no one there to ever help me.

He violated me, causing vaginal bleeding for which I never received medical attention. I would scream out in agony, and I saw that he enjoyed this.

The abuse didn’t stop there. My mother has played a major role too. She knew what he was doing and she chose him over me. She ignored all of the signs that I became so distant from other kids; that I was a heartbroken child.

What I needed was a nurturing, caring mother. What I got was a heartless, insensitive person unremorseful about what happened to me while I was in her care. I have not received a genuine apology from her. She blames me for what happened to me, and she has called me a liar.

I was an innocent child who didn’t ask to be born. There was no way that I was responsible for what was happening to me. She should have been a mother and had him arrested for intentionally hurting me. It took me so long to realize that she will never acknowledge the fact that I’m not a liar. So like family members of mine.

Family members on my mother’s side always seem to praise her because of the type of person she passed herself off to be. They never knew what really happened in our home. She made sure her mask would stay on in public. She has lived in denial for so many years.

Once, after her boyfriend molested me, I gave her my bloody underwear and I said, ‘Mama, I’m bleeding.’ She took them and shut the door in my face.

I didn’t experience real peace until he was murdered on the back of a truck in traffic. I was seven years old when that happened, and I was so relieved that neither he or his family could hurt me anymore. I was so happy that my mom was affected by his passing.

I hated him. I know hate is a strong word, but he violated me. He took my dad’s place in the house. I didn’t deserve what he did to me. I didn’t deserve the hand that I was dealt and almost drove me to suicide at the age of 17. I felt like suicide was going to bring me peace. Having to grow up in a house where you were sadistically abused and neglected for no reason was enough to make me want to end it all to escape my traumatic memories.

✎Stephanie Glover

I moved to Tyler when I was 18. In 2020, I began seeking counseling for the first time. I started realizing that my story wasn’t over, and that I didn’t have to be silent. My mother doesn’t believe mental illness exists: That’s a taboo that exists in the Black community. I started speaking out against her remarks toward abuse and mental health.

I got my associate’s in social work from Tyler Junior College, and I’m currently attending UT Tyler to receive my bachelor’s degree in psychology.

What’s the impact today? Trust issues. I’m still afraid to sleep in the dark due to being assaulted in the dark. I still seek counseling. I still have flashbacks.

I like women today. I don’t hate men. My dad is a good one. Nobody was responsible for what happened to me but my mother and her boyfriend, but I’ve never been able to emotionally connect to a man nor become sexually attracted to them. I am a lesbian woman, and I feel more comfortable with women. I become more cautious of my surroundings and who I let in my life. I’m alert, attentive.

I’m accountable for my adulthood. It is my responsibility to heal from the trauma and recognize my triggers. I speak up for others when I feel that they are being mistreated as well as for myself. I’ve learned how to control my emotions when it comes to being triggered although it’s hard sometimes,

I’m allowing myself to be loved. This has caused me to love myself differently. This has taught me the signs of when it happens to someone else, to report it with no hesitation.

I want to live in a world where every adult who hurts children is held accountable. I want to live in a world where all child rapists, women who choose worthless men over their children — all of them have to go to prison forever, so that they can’t hurt their children anymore.

This world would be so much better if things weren’t always swept under the rug for protection. I want to live in a world where all victims learn how to defend themselves and live in their truth. No one deserves to be violated at the hands of a worthless coward.”

Love what you're seeing in our posts? Help power our local, nonprofit journalism platform — from in-depth reads, to freelance training, to COVID Stories videos, to intimate portraits of East Texans through storytelling.

Our readers have told us they want to better understand this place we all call home, from Tyler's north-south divide to our city's changing demographics. What systemic issues need attention? What are are greatest concerns and hopes? What matters most to Tylerites and East Texans?

Help us create more informed, more connected, more engaged Tyler. Help us continue providing no paywall, free access posts. Become a member today. Your $15/month contribution drives our work.

Support The Tyler Loop!