Please be aware that some of my story includes information about sexual abuse (not graphic), effects of the abuse, domestic violence (not graphic), suicidal ideation, and self-harming behaviors. However, I fully understand triggers and I will do my best to stay true to my story without creating triggers, but I cannot guarantee it will not be triggering if you have suffered abuse and have not fully healed.
The best place to start my journey is all the way back to the beginning. My parents were married at a young age. My mom was only seventeen years old. Her parents and his parents all went to the same kind of churches so both families had crossed paths before they met and were married.
From my understanding he was violent toward her pretty much from the very beginning of their marriage and he was never loving or kind. She had horrible asthma and he smoked regardless of the effects on her health. He refused to stop even when she was hospitalized, and the doctors told him she could not be around it. Life revolved around him, and he was taught to be selfish from the time of his birth. He was very much spoiled by his parents. They gave him everything he wanted, cleaned up all his failures, and made excuses for his negative behaviors. He was never taught accountability and he seemed to lack the capacity to have empathy for others. That spilled over into every relationship and interaction he had. In his viewpoint life revolved around him and he would not tolerate anything less.
My mom was young and had experienced her own situations in her life that caused her to make the choices she made. The women in our family married young and she followed the same cycle. It was not on her radar that she had choices and could do something with her life other than being a wife and mother. We have talked about this subject many times and we have come to the conclusion that in the area where she lived and went to school only the kids with money were taught they could go to college and be anything they wanted to be and her family was by no means wealthy.
Once my parents were married my mom got pregnant with me. A few months after I was born my bio-dads parents moved to Florida and he wanted to go with them so the three of us moved from Indiana to Florida. My mom was removed from her entire family and support system.
The earliest memories I have of my bio-dad is being afraid of him and afraid to make noise while he was watching tv. I also have one memory of him coming into my bedroom and taking me to the bathroom because I said I had to go potty. I remember him standing in the doorway waiting for me to get done, but I could not go because he was so inpatient and wanted me to just hurry up. Once I was done I don’t remember him taking me back to my room, but I do remember being in bed with my panties pulled down by my ankles. I have no idea if the abuse started then or if my memories are just blurry. I was only three years old, so I am not concrete on saying it started then, but I do know I was afraid of him. I was also afraid of my closet because I always felt like there was something watching me from inside it. I felt eyes on me all the time, scary eyes that I could never escape from.
When I was around three years old my mom left him and got a divorce. I think the violence had taken its toll and she just could not take anymore. He stayed in Florida with his parents, and she moved back to Indiana to be with her family. He was granted visitation every other Christmas and every summer.
When I was seven he got married again to a women who had two daughters and a son. They were older than me, but her youngest daughter was close to my age. Being in their home was very difficult. I missed my mom terribly and I was thrown into a family that I did not know at all. My bio-dad and his wife were also very heavily involved in the occult/witchcraft. I have no idea who introduced who to it because when I went for a visit after they were together they were already very involved. During that time my bio-dad began to tell me that he could read my mind at all times so if I ever said anything negative about him or even thought anything bad about him he would know. That was the beginning of suppressed memories and emotions. I learned from a very young age how to dissociate/disappear and suppress my feelings and memories.
Sexual abuse became commonplace in their home. My bio-dad abused both of my stepsisters as well as me. He had free rein to do whatever he wanted to do with any of us and there was no one there that would stop him. This was also the birth of OCD for me because as he was abusing me I would count the tiles on the celling of his bedroom in order to “disappear”. That led to using counting as a coping mechanism to block out memories, thoughts, and feelings throughout my entire life. It quickly turned into bondage and became something I could not escape or stop no matter how hard I tried. I also had others like list making, repeating things over and over in my head, touching my fingers to each other in a specific pattern, clicking my teeth together in a specific pattern, and several others. Different ones developed during different times in my life and some left, but the list making, repeating things in my heard over and over, and the counting were constant companions that I could not shake free from.
He got deeper into the occult and scarier in his practices and abuse. He wore crystals and said that was where his power came from. He also said he was becoming a high priest in satanism. I was told that I was “special” and had powers because I was his biological daughter. I never wanted anything to do with any of that stuff, but the idea was planted in my head that I had psychic abilities or that I would at some point in my life have them. He made it very clear that I belonged to him and that he could do anything he wanted with my body. He was very possessive, and it seemed really important to him that I, as a representative of his bloodline, follow him and his practices. I never felt like my body belonged to me and I definitely never had a say in what happened to me.
Fear was my constant companion. Even when I was in Indiana away from my bio-dad I still felt fear because I believed he could read my mind. I saw him do things that convinced me that he had power and because of that I fully believed he could read my mind and that he would kill me and/or my mom if I told about the abuse or thought bad things about him. I would lay in bed at night shaking from fear, sweating, and feeling eyes watching me. There was nowhere I could go to feel safe. I never even considered disclosing the abuse because he always threatened to kill my mom and/or me if I did.
Because of the trauma I had behaviors that were screaming for attention, but I didn’t know how to reach out for help and those around me didn’t know how to interpret my behaviors. One time I was so upset I took a pen and marked all over my most prized possessions—my Barbies. I loved my dolls, but I was so full of anger and pain the only outlet I could find was to mark them up. Afterwards I was devastated because I loved them so much. They were a constant reminder of my inner pain, turmoil, and trauma. They looked on the outside how I felt on the inside—ugly and marred with ink that destroyed their beauty.
When I was staying with my maternal grandparents I would sleep in bed with my grandma because I was afraid to sleep alone, but I also had a horrible fear of waking up next to her and her being dead. I had a huge fear of my body touching something or someone dead. It felt like I always had the memory of being forced to touch something dead and I never ever wanted to experience that again.
I also always felt like someone or something was breathing down the back of my neck and standing right behind me. I could not sleep in a room alone, and I also could not take a bath alone. I was terrified in the bathroom and wanted my mom or grandma to sit in there with me while I quickly bathed. I was so afraid of the bathroom because it was connected to the sexual abuse. At my bio-dads house who ever got stuck having to take a shower in his and his wife’s bathroom was the one who was going to be abused that night. That translated to a major fear of the bathroom, especially the shower, that lasted many years into adulthood.
From that time frame in my life forward I never felt safe. Nighttime was the hardest time for me. As the sun started going down the fear would get worse and worse. I didn’t sleep well, and I always felt sick, so I missed a lot of school. I was a sickly child and I often had headaches and stomach aches. I was diagnosed with allergies from a young age and was started on weekly allergy shots. The same way my bio-dad would not stop smoking around my mom with her asthma he would not stop around me for the allergies. I was also sick when I was with my mom. Looking back I think a lot of it was connected to stress and always being on edge.
In school I didn’t have many friends and I never felt like I fit in. I was horribly shy in school so I missed as many days as I possibly could. I would have much more enjoyed staying home and playing alone rather than being in school or playing with other kids. I was overly shy and felt sick much of the time. I just wanted to be home where I could hide in a book, play with my toys, or watch soap operas with my grandma.
My bio-dads parents moved back to Indiana and put a home on the property of my Aunt and Uncle’s. My bio-dad stayed in Florida for a little while longer. When he did move back to Indiana he came with only the clothes on his back. At the time we didn’t know why he came back so quickly, but many years later we found out why. He had a child with my 16-year-old stepsister and when her grandparents found out they threatened to hurt him and he ran for his life and never looked back. In his home in Florida it was never a secret that he was her father, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that her family didn’t know he was the father.
Once he moved back I would visit him at my grandparents house, but he stayed in his room with his door closed most of the time. He loved to play video games and watch movies. Later on once computers were popular he bought one and spent hours on it. I later found out that he was highly addicted to pornography and was into disgusting things online.
When I was around him I was full of fear, but I would plaster a smile on my face because that was what was expected of me. I was afraid to be around him, but I was more afraid of staying away and making him mad. I never planned on disclosing the abuse because he always told me he would hurt me and/or my mom if I told and at that time I still believed that was a very real possibility if I even thought about disclosing, so I buried the memories further and further down.
When I would go over to their house for a visit I would go in his room to see him for a little while during each visit. I have no idea if any abuse happened because I have very few memories from that time. I only have one memory that may have included abuse, and even if it didn’t it was very scary for me. I was taking a bath and he tried to get in the locked door. He was laughing, but I was terrified.
My mom remarried and at first it all went well. I really liked my new stepdad (from this point forward I will be referring to him as dad and when I am speaking about my abuser, I will continue to refer to him as bio-dad). He was fun, outgoing, spent time with me, and it really felt like we were a family. I felt like he cared about me and wanted me to be a part of his life. It didn’t feel like he was taking my mom away. It felt like he was adding to us—not subtracting by taking her away. It wasn’t too long after they were married that my mom found out she was pregnant. She had my brother when I was around 12 years old. It was such a difficult time because of everything else going on in my life.
Once she had my brother, I felt like my one constant, my one thing (my mom) was taken from me. I felt like I was all alone and had nothing and no one so I turned away from her. Looking back, I know some deep-rooted bitterness formed. At that time, I could not form my feelings into words, but I knew I never felt like I fit into the family my mom created. It was like she had created the family she always wanted with my dad and brother and then there was me. I was so messed up, so hurt, and so broken I just always felt like I was on the outside looking in. I felt like my brother stole my mom and my family. He got the life I always wanted but could never have. I had to watch my dream life being played out day by day right in front of my face, but I was not part of it because on the inside I was in constant torment. The torment built a huge wall between them and me, so I turned to other people and things to fill the void. I started getting very interested in guys and I also spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house. Her house became my escape where I ran to and where I wanted to be. I didn’t hate my mom or brother, but the pain and jealously was too hard to carry so I allowed it to turn to anger. Early on I learned how to turn pain to anger. If someone hurt me instead of feeling the pain it was much easier to feel anger so that became a pattern in my life that carried through many years.
Because of the pain, behaviorally speaking, I was a very difficult child and teen. I felt rejected by my mom when she had my brother and because of that I built a wall around my heart that refused to let her in. I was not ever going to let her, or anyone, hurt me again. So, at the same time I loved her and wanted a relationship with her, but I also hated her and wanted to push her away. Of course, I could not articulate any of that when I was in the middle of it, so it came out in harsh words, behaviors, and erratic behaviors. I think a lot of times it was just easier for her to let me go where I wanted than to have me in the home, but that also felt like a rejection. It was what I wanted in the moment, but it also felt like I was screaming for someone to rescue me, and no one came. When no one came hate settled into my heart and more and more of me died.
I made the vow to myself that if no one was going to rescue me then I was never going to depend on anyone, except for the fact that I was very co-dependent on anyone I was in a relationship with which always led to major issues. It created very toxic love/hate, I must have you/I don’t want you type of relationships. I always went from one extreme to the next. I lived with these extremes, and I never understood why. My emotions were never balanced, and the undertone of depression was always present. Depression and fear were my constant companions from as far back as I can remember.
I started having fantasies about killing myself, how to do it, what it would be like, and then I started working on making a plan. The first plan I can ever remember making was one day when I was sitting on my bed. My bedroom was on the second floor, and I thought about wrapping the cord to my blinds around my neck and jumping out my window. I was too afraid to try it because I figured I would just get hurt but not really die. I also had a fear of dying and going to Hell. I had been raised attending a Pentecostal church with my grandparents, so I knew a little about the Bible.
I hated school and was still very shy. I didn’t like speaking out in class, so I hated to be called on to give answers. I didn’t have many friends and I never felt like I fit in. I was never the giggly, silly teenager. My family and I often joked that I was born an old soul, but in reality I was on edge all the time and I could never really relax. I grew up quickly because of the abuse.
I wrote a paper for one of my classes about a girl whose mother died, and she had to go live with her dad. In the paper the girl didn’t want to go live with him, so she killed herself. My teacher became very concerned about me when she read it, so she called a meeting with my mom. She suggested I see a counselor, so my mom set up an appointment. I do not remember much about the appointment. I don’t even remember if it was a man or woman, but I do remember I lied. There was no way I was going to talk about the abuse and my fears. I must have done a good job at covering it up because I did not have to go back, and life went back to normal—well what felt normal to me anyway. It was normal to hide my feelings, to hide the abuse, to pretend like I was fine, to feel like I was dying on the inside, but plaster a smile on my face and go about life the best I knew how. It was normal for no one to understand me or my actions. It was normal to feel alone and isolated. It was normal to want to die more than I wanted to live. That was my normal.
During this same time period in my life my bio-dad purposefully shot himself, but he did not die. He blamed it on medication he was taking at the time. He shot himself under the chin. The bullet traveled through his chin, his tongue, and then followed his sinus cavity and lodged in his skull. My family was told that it did not do more damage because it was a very old bullet. He lived in the house with his parent at the time and he had placed three bullets in the gun. To this day I still think he had planned to kill my grandparents and then himself, but for some reason he didn’t go through with the plan to kill them. He ended up in the hospital and had to have surgery to remove the bullet. He made jokes about it and just laughed the whole thing off, but it turned my world upside down and I carried the trauma from the abuse as well as his attempted suicide for years.
I thought I knew what fear was before he shot himself, but that was nothing compared to what I experienced after the incident. For me it was real tangible proof of what he was capable of doing. He was his favorite person in the entire world, and I knew without a doubt if he could hurt himself he would have no issue at all hurting me or my mom. From that moment on I had visions of him breaking into our home to kill me. Every time I saw him in person I felt terror because I didn’t know if he would try to kill me or not. There were times I would physically shake because I was so scared. I was on high alert every single time I was near him and even when I wasn’t I could not feel safe. Part of me, a big part if I am honest, was sad that he had not died because I felt like the only way to be free was for him to be dead.
After his suicide attempt I had a major downward spiral. I started having flashbacks of the abuse and many memories surfaced. It wasn’t that I ever had a time in my life that I didn’t know he had sexually abused me, but the details of the memories became fuzzy from all the times I pushed them down and out of my mind. I had refused to allow myself to think of them for so many years that eventually they faded, became fuzzy, and some of them even totally disappeared. To this day I do not have all of them back.
I do not know what lead to my parents taking me to see a therapist, but I do know I started going regularly. Once I had been going for a little while I disclosed about the abuse to my therapist. She didn’t report the abuse to any authorities, and I have no idea why because she was a mandated reporter. She did write a letter to my bio-dad to tell him that I needed a break from visits with him to work some things out. That caused a major divide in both sides of my family. Up until that point several members of both sides of my family (bio-dad’s and mom’s) attended the same church. My bio-dad’s dad was the pastor at the time. It did not go well, there was a divide, my grandpa was asked to step down as pastor, and the ripple effects lasted for years. I felt responsible for the divide and that was one more thing to add to my mounting list of reasons why I felt no one could really love me, why I was full of shame, and why I felt that I was innately bad.
The therapist also did not keep my mom informed about my treatment at all. She didn’t offer advice on how to help me, she didn’t facilitate family therapy, and she didn’t tell my mom how bad my mental health was at the time.
I stopped visiting my bio-dad, his parents (because he lived with them), and my aunt and her family because he lived on the same property as her. It was a huge loss, but I was terrified of him. Once I stopped the visits the fear increased because I knew that he knew that I was saying something bad about him otherwise my therapist would not have sent the letter to him. The anxiety and fear that came with telling was almost unbearable. I don’t even know how I was able to continue functioning. School felt impossible and my grades were the furthest thing from my mind. I was just trying to survive each day. To the outside looking in I probably seemed like a lazy student who refused to follow the directions and rules, but the truth was I just didn’t have any energy or focus left for school. I was in survival mode and there wasn’t much left outside of that.
By the age of 12 I had become interested in guys. I was interested in anything that gave me attention and moments of not focusing on the emotional pain. By age 13 I had my first boyfriend, and I quickly lost my virginity. My body didn’t mean anything to me, and sex was nothing. I looked as it as something you did in order to keep a guy and later in life I learned to use it to get what I wanted. I craved attention and I never cared where it came from. When I found out I could use my body to get attention I started dressing provocatively and that caused me to begin to get noticed by older guys.
I started visiting my biological dad and his family again. I started going back around for a couple of reasons. One, I was more afraid of making him mad than I was of going around him because if I just pretended like everything was okay I thought it would keep him from hurting me or my mom. When I was not going around him I always felt like he was plotting my murder, but when I did start going back around him I felt like he could kill me at any moment so I never felt safe. The other reason I started going back was because I missed my aunt, her family, and my grandparents.
He still lived with my grandparents, and they lived on the same land as my aunt. My aunt and uncle owned the land and they let them put a home on it. When I would visit him I did not spend much time at my grandparents home where he lived. I spent most of the time at my aunt’s house, but when I did stay at my grandparents I would stay awake all night with a can of hairspray beside me so I could spray it in his eyes if he came in to kill me. I didn’t sleep much but would instead lay awake all night. I mostly visited him a little bit during the day, and then went to my aunt’s house.
I continued to have extreme fear no matter where I was, and I never felt safe. I also had weird things happen to me. I would hear scratching on my bedroom wall, I would hear someone walking around my room, I saw shadows walking around, my items would disappear only to show back up laying in plain sight, and I always felt eyes on me. It was like someone was always standing behind my back, breathing down my neck. It didn’t matter where I was I could never escape feeling and hearing dark things. At the time I just thought I was seeing and hearing ghost wherever I went. It wasn’t something I talked about a lot, but it was definitely something that was on my mind a lot.
I also started getting really curious about what all my bio-dad had exposed me to in his occult practices. I knew it was bad and I knew it was dark, but I just did not have full memories to know everything. Part of me didn’t want to know, but another part was angry because I felt like even my memories had been stolen from me. In my quest to uncover the buried memories I checked out the satanic bible from the local library. As soon as I brought it home I felt a massive darkness enter my room. I could physically feel it. I put the book in the corner of my room and did not open it. The activity and darkness in my room continued to the point it was physically uncomfortable, so I quickly returned it to the library. I had experienced darkness and I had experienced seeing and hearing things, but that was an entirely different level of darkness.
Self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and fear were my constant companions in life. I put a smile on my face, but I was never really happy because I was in so much emotional pain. I had moments that made me happy, but they never lasted long. It was more like distractions and I was constantly seeking them in any form possible.
I did not fit in at school and I had very few friends. I was very shy and never wanted to be called on to answer questions. I hated school and I never wanted to go. I missed as much as I possibly could. I had my therapist write excuses for oral reports for me because they felt impossible to do and I would panic every single time I thought about having to do them. I could not talk in front of people, and I also could not eat in front of guys. I could have sex with them, but I could not let them see me eat. It confused me even then, but it was a huge struggle. It also shows how little my body meant to me that I could more easily share it in a sexual way versus being able to eat with someone. My therapist felt that it was an intimacy issue and that I could not cross that line because I was so closed off to letting people in my life. I was also diagnosed with anorexia at that time in my life and was threatened to be hospitalized if I lost any more weight. Looking back, I am not sure what the inability to eat in front of guys I was attracted to was connected to. I know the anorexia was a control thing and connected to low self-worth. It was the one thing in life I could control, and I always felt ugly, fat, and worthless.
I had very few friends and even fewer boyfriends in school. I quickly turned my interest in guys my own age to grown men. I rationalized they were interested in me because I looked older, and I definitely acted older. At the time I did not view them as predators, but looking back it is hard to see how a man in his mid to late 20’s would have any sexual interest in a 14-year-old girl. It felt normal at the time, but looking back it was anything but normal. The sex meant nothing to me. I just wanted to be in a relationship, and I wanted to be loved. In my mind that meant I had to say yes to sex. It never entered my mind to say no. It is so odd looking back to recognize that “no” was not even on my radar. I had sexual interactions that I did not want to have at the time, but it never even dawned on me to say no. It was like that word didn’t exist for me and it was never even one of my choices that I considered. I used my body as a commodity. In my mind I didn’t have anything else to offer. It made me feel good to turn the heads of older men. It made me feel special that they paid attention to me.
I continued to have suicidal ideation and I started engaging in risky behaviors. I snuck out at night, put myself into dangerous situations, and I started cutting. Looking back it is only by the grace of God that I never got kidnapped, raped, attacked, and/or killed. I was in so many situations that could have quickly went very wrong.
This next part of my journey is the most painful to revisit because it was not just me that my poor choices affected. It also affected my son, and he had to carry those effects. Watching my poor choices play out in front of my face was harder than living them in my own body and mind. Part of healing is taking ownership of our own poor choices, repenting to God, apologizing to those we hurt, growing, maturing, making better choices, and using it as a learning experience so we do not continue those same destructive/toxic patterns.
By the time I was 15 years old I had already had relationships with several older guys. If you can consider what I had as relationships. Back then I fully felt like with each guy we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but looking back I know for them it was just about sex. There was no substance to the relationships. None of them got to know me on a deep level and I did not really know them either. We always had to sneak around to see each other because what we were doing was basically illegal. I knew that at the time, but in my mind I didn’t think it pertained to me because even though my physical age was young, mentally I was way more mature. Which it is true that I was more mature than other kids my age because of the trauma I had went through, but I was still a child that grown men were seeking to have sexual relationships with. This truth didn’t really hit me until I had a son of my own and he was around the age I was when I started being noticed by adult men. It became crystal clear how wrong and disgusting the whole thing was on their part. I do take responsibility for putting myself out there, but their actions were very wrong as well and I had never even considered that part before I had my son.
One night, when I was 15 years old, I was at the mall with a friend of mine. We would basically go with the intentions of looking for guys to meet. If I was not in a relationship I was constantly looking for a new one. I didn’t like to be alone, and I went from one relationship to the next. When a guy would break things off with me, I was never the one to break it off, I felt heartbroken and then I would immediately be looking for the next one. I always had a boyfriend or a guy I was chasing because the attention was like a drug to me. I craved it and felt like I needed it. I was like a chameleon in many ways because I had no idea who I was, so I became a carbon copy of anyone I was interested in. It wasn’t because I wanted to be fake. It was simply because I lacked personal identity.
On this particular trip to the mall I saw two guys and one of them caught my attention because he was really cute. He ended up with my phone number, I can’t remember how, and he called me that night. He was really drunk, but that didn’t deter me. I was immediately drawn to him because he had paid attention to me. I was like a moth to a flame any time a guy paid any attention to me whatsoever. Red flags were nonexistent in my life. We started talking and spending a lot of time together. I was totally into him and my co-dependency was in full swing from day one. I had to have him, and I felt like I could not breath without him. Of course, I called it love when in all actuality it was very toxic. We were both very broken people because of things we had each went through in our childhood. We thought we could heal each other, but all we really did was allow ourselves to be instruments of pain and hurt for the other.
We dated for a very short time and then we got the idea that getting married was what we should do. By that time I was 16 and my mom consented to me getting married. You may think that sounds crazy but give me a moment to explain why it makes sense for our family. One, she thought if she didn’t consent I would just run away with him. She was right, we would have. Two, the women in our family all got married very young. She was 17 when she got married and it was not unusual in our family. It was never on our radar to go to college and then have a career. He was also close to my own age, and she liked that because she had caught me communicating with guys much older than me before I met him. I also calmed down and stayed home much more once I started dating him. My mom saw attitude changes in me, and it looked like a very positive change in my mood and actions to my parents because I was not so combative and disrespectful toward them. I also stopped having meltdowns when I did not get my way. I was a very difficult teen because I would often lose control of my emotions and lash out. I was often erratic and uncontrollable. At times my parents were afraid I would try to hurt my little brother or even them. They had no idea what was wrong with me so to them I think they never really knew what I was capable of, and it caused them to lack trust in me and what I might do when I was angry. Looking back I think they really just did not know what to do for me or with me. They had zero help and guidance in how to help me. They tried to help by getting me into therapy, but it was not effective and the therapist never offered them tangible advice and direction on how to handle me and help me.
When I got married something shifted inside me with my relationship with my mom. Prior to being married I had a love hate relationship with her. I never wanted her to give me rules or tell me what to do. Being around her in the house with my brother was also very painful because he had the life I always wanted. She was a different mom to him than she had been to me because she was in a much different place in her life when she had him. Back then I didn’t understand that. All I could see was that he had everything I wanted but didn’t get. It was so much easier to just stay away, but once I got married I started to bond with her and then it went to an unhealthy place where I felt like I had to have her close to me. I felt like I could not be away from her and somewhere along the way a family joke was formed that said my umbilical cord would not stretch far enough for me to live very far from her.
Within the first six months of our marriage he hit me for the very first time. I was devastated and he seemed to be as well. We both cried and I thought it wouldn’t happen again…and then it did—over and over the cycle continued. People often ask me why I didn’t leave after the first time he laid his hands on me. It is easy to look from the outside in and say you would never let that happen to you, but you must look at it from my viewpoint. From a very early age I was taught to hide abuse. I was also taught that those who are supposed to love you the most can also be the ones who hurt you the most. So, I did what I was trained to do. I didn’t tell. I blamed myself, and I stayed. I stayed for six years. During those six years I had my son, gave my heart to the Lord, obtained my GED, and began to outgrow the relationship. I got sick of being hit and I finally realized that love was not supposed to be painful.
When I was 18 years old my husband ,at the time, and I were invited to a marriage conference at the church my parents attended. We went and gave our hearts to the Lord. He was in and out of the church from the beginning, but I stayed and really tried to dedicate my heart and life to God. I wanted us to be a healthy family, but I just didn’t know how. I went full force into the church, the teaching, and I really tried to live a Biblical life, but I was so broken it made it difficult. I was not healed even in the slightest, so I had no idea how to not be toxic.
The level of toxicity in our relationship was off the charts, but I cannot put the full blame on him. I am in no way excusing a man ever hitting a woman. There is no excuse, and it is never okay. I am simply attempting to explain where I was at during that time in my life. I would often push and push until he exploded and hit me. Looking back, I now understand that I was using him as a means of self-harming behavior. In some ways internally it felt good to have him hit me because it reinforced that I was worthless and that I was getting what I deserved. I also had a tempter that would run wild when I was emotionally or physically hurt. Toward the end of our relationship I started fighting back and that never went well for me. When I left him I knew we were to the point that one of us was going to end up getting really hurt or killed. I also could not let my son continue to live in that kind of violence and chaos.
I was growing in the Lord, and I really felt that He released me from the marriage. I am not going into all the details because they honestly just do not matter at this point, but there was infidelity which the Bible clearly states is a reason for divorce. I stayed until I felt God release me because I did not want to do anything displeasing to the Lord and for many years I felt like I was deeply in love with my husband and that I could not live without him. That is the results of toxicity and co-dependency, but at the time I called it love. Up until the point that I left him I had never told anyone about the abuse. No one knew. I had a busted lip, black eye, and other bruises that I lied about over the years, but to my knowledge no one knew what was going on in our home.
I was very involved in our church and after the divorce I continued to be, but something shifted in me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I became angry at God, and I felt let down by Him. I was angry that I had been abused as a child and I was angry and let down that my ex-husband did not change and be the husband and man I knew he could be. Instead of fully blaming him somehow I placed some of the blame on God. I felt like He had let me down because I always felt like my ex was called into the ministry and that we were going to do a lot of great things for the Lord. I also saw glimpses of the man he could be and that is who I wanted to be married to. I know now that it was not God’s fault at all, but back then a seed of doubt was planted in my heart about God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for me.
That seed grew alongside the other seed that was planted as to why God did not protect me from the childhood sexual abuse. Actually I think the seed was planted when I was abused by my bio-dad, was watered when I felt like no one saved me from the abuse, and then when I walked through the divorce it was in full bloom. I would do Bible studies and learn about God’s goodness, but I had a wall around my heart because I felt so rejected, let down, and abandoned by God. I could hear His voice, be led by Him, and feel His presence but a wall was built, and it was getting wider and taller. It was affecting my relationship with God and all my other relationships. I went through massive changes in my attitude and personality.
The divorce took a heavy toll on me in many ways but in other ways I felt free for the first time in years. I was free from the abuse and toxicity. I could just really be me again, but the problem with that was I had no idea who me was. I started dating right after my divorce was final. I never wanted to be alone, and I always wanted to be married and in a family. As soon as I was divorced I was ready to start dating, or so I thought. The problem was I had not healed any of the trauma from my past. I was still the same broken little girl who was trying to go on with my life.
A few months after my divorce and dating a few other people I went out with a man I met at church (Ronnie) for the first time. We talked and talked and talked. That was the first thing that I really loved about him. He spent so much time just talking to me and the other thing that really attracted me to him was that he could make me laugh. We clicked from the very beginning. I think we have pretty much been together every single day for the past 22 years. Ronnie was very easy going and I really needed that in my life.
As soon as I was divorced a switch flipped in me and I made a promise to myself that I would never again be hurt, abused, or walked all over. Because of that I became very easily angered, easily offended, aggressive, and I was always on the offensive. I think Ronnie felt like such a good fit in some ways because he was very passive. I was controlling and dominating, and he let me have my way because he just didn’t care to argue.
We did not date very long before we decided to get married. I think from our first date to our wedding was about six months. I knew as soon as I was divorced from my first marriage that I did not want to stay alone. I wanted to settle down and get married because I loved being married. I just wanted to find a safe person and Ronnie was definitely that person for me.
We both brought a lot of baggage and affects of childhood trauma into our marriage. He also had trauma from the war he was in. When Ronnie and I first met I was still on an emotional high from escaping the domestic violence in my first marriage. I had started going to the gym, lost a lot of weight, and felt amazing. I thought that was my new norm, but little did I know the depression was about to come back with a vengeance and bring a few friends with it. Almost as soon as we were married I began to decline. I have few memories from back then, but Ronnie has told me a lot of stories. There were times he would come home from work and find me curled up in the floor rocking, crying, and asking for “mommy”. There were other times he would come home and find me hiding in the closest. Other times he would wake up in the middle of the night and find me either sleeping in the closet or under the bed. There were many nights that I was terrified of our bed, and I would hear what I thought was my bio-dad coming down the hallway. I slept with a knife under my mattress and Ronnie slept with one eye open because he never knew if I was going to have a nightmare or fall into psychosis. I also started getting very paranoid and thought people were talking about me and that they were out to get me. We could go into a store, and I would feel like everyone was watching me. On numerous occasions we would go shopping, but we would just end up having to leave because I felt like I had to get out of there. I even felt that way around family and my church family. It is hard to explain this part, but I often felt like a small child that needed to hold Ronnie’s hand for security and if he got out of sight I would panic. When we were in the stores I was very drawn to children’s toys especially stuffed animals and dolls. Ronnie bought me several soft toys to have at home and when I was having a very difficult day I could hold them and they would make me feel better. He tried to do and get whatever he thought would help me, but he had no idea how to really help because he had never been around someone with mental illness as severe as I had it. I know he wanted to rescue me, but all he could do was watch me slip deeper and deeper into mental illness and the effects of the trauma. There were times I had body memory of the abuse, and my body would hurt as if I was being abused all over again. I had so many triggers I could never even attempt to name them all.
Ronnie covered so much for me because I didn’t want anyone to know how bad I had gotten. I made him promise not to tell anyone. I also made him promise if I ever could not fight the urge to kill myself that he would do everything he could to cover it up and never let my son find out. There were days that I was mentally slipping away, and I was terrified of never coming back. The truth is I often needed hospitalized, but there was no way I could do that because of the situation with my son and his bio-dad. Right from the beginning of the divorce my son started showing signs of trauma after visits with his bio-dad. He was having nightmares, always seemed on edge, and when he started talking about not wanting to live anymore at the age of six I knew something was going on. We immediately got him into therapy, and he disclosed that his bio-dad was physically abusing him and putting him in very unsafe environments. That was a huge trigger for me, and it brought back so much from my childhood. I felt helpless in keeping my child safe and that took me right back to being a child and no one keeping me safe. No matter how bad I got mentally I did not want anyone to know, and I did not want to do a hospital stay because I did not want to give my ex anything to hold against me in court.
I documented every single thing possible, and I took his bio-dad to court every single chance I could get in the attempts to keep my son safe. It was a three-year battle that felt like a lifetime. During that time I kept it together as best as I could, but I spent a ton of time in bed just not feeling like I could even do the bare minimum of living. It took every ounce of energy I had to stay alive and keep going. I know I was not the parent to him that he needed, and I was never the step-mom that Ronnies kids needed. I barely had enough to keep myself alive and going so that didn’t leave anything over for a husband or kids. I was very irritable, manipulative, controlling, and grumpy. I wanted to control my environment down to every single little detail because that was the only thing in my life I could control. I could not control my emotions, my triggers, or what was happening to my son, so I become obsessively controlling over the things I could control even though that was painful for my family. I wanted to take my sons pain away, but I had no idea how. I honestly was a very emotionally neglectful mom because I never had anything to give. I took care of his physical needs, and I loved him more than anything else, but I just never could put it to action. It was like all I could see, and feel was pain.
After about a three year long battle his bio-dad signed over parental rights and allowed Ronnie to adopt him. Ronnie and I struggled so much in our marriage. I think he had no idea what he was taking on when he married me because I was at a much different place when we first married. I also had drastic mood swings and there were times he was talking to me that he knew it was not really me because I was so different—I talked different, looked different, my eyes changed colors. He had no idea what to do with me when I had the drastic changes, and he didn’t know how to help me. I don’t remember a lot from that time frame, but I do remember having visions and thoughts of wanting to kill him in his sleep. I loved him and didn’t want to hurt him, but something in me would tell me that he was mean, didn’t love me, and that I should hurt him. He was by no means perfect, and he had his own struggles, but he was not mean to me at all. The voices were nothing but liars. They also told me that everyone hated me, and that people were out to get me. They always tried to get me to kill myself and it was a fight to stay alive. God used my son as my anchor to life. Every time the voices would get louder, and louder God would remind me what it would do to my son if I killed myself and I could not do that to him. He had already been through so much and lost so much. I could not bring myself to cause more pain in his life.
From the very beginning of our relationship Ronnie and I enjoyed the same type of movies and books. We loved horror, mystery, and fantasy. The crazy part was we would watch those movies and then I would be so full of fear I could not sleep. I struggled with fear anyway all the time, but when I would watch those it got way worse. I can remember laying awake so many nights drenched in sweat but not being able to uncover my head because I was so afraid. There were other times my bed would literally shake all night long. I knew it was demonic torment when that would happen, but I didn’t know how to make it stop. Ronnie was also having a lot of experiences that made him fearful. One time he was in the bathroom and the shower curtain opened all the way from one end to the other. Another time he let our dogs out and when he came back to the door to let them in they were already inside sitting down with the door closed like someone else had let them in.
It kind of became a family joke that no matter where I went I was a magnetic for demonic activity. My family and I would talk about it a lot and the only thing we could think of was because I had been introduced to the occult at such a young age by my bio-dad I was kind of known to the demons, so they followed me. No matter where I lived or even stayed I always experienced demonic torment. Before I became a Christian I thought it was ghosts, but afterwards I knew it was demons. Even though I knew what it was I had no idea how to deal with it and the church had zero answers for me, so I continued in torment for years.
I need to backtrack just a little bit before moving forward. From the time I got saved at the age of 18 the Lord began speaking to me about using me to work through to heal people both emotionally and physically. I had no idea what that was going to look like and the worse I got the more I pushed that message to the side. However, after getting married to Ronnie I felt like I was supposed to go to college so that I could provide mental health counseling. I am sure it sounds a little off to say I wanted to go to college to help people when I was so sick myself, but I really felt like it was the step I was supposed to take, and it was supposed to be at that exact timing in my life.
I decided to get a degree in Social Work because that would allow me to become a mental health therapist. I was so scared of college at first because I had struggled so much in school. I had a major fear of public speaking, so I prayed and told God that I was going to need His help if I was going to be able to make it through my classes. My program required a ton of public speaking and that terrified me, but God set me free from that fear and helped me every single step of the way.
College was good for me in many ways. It was healing to process through some of the projects, I made friends, and I was able to express myself for the first time in my life. I had to spend a ton of time studying, but I excelled. I maintained a 4.0, but it crossed the line into perfectionism. I was getting my identity and worth through my grades and my mood hinged on every single grade. I got a B on a test one time, and I literally was in tears. If I achieved A’s I was “good” and if I got anything other than that, even an A-, I was a failure in my mind.
I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in social work in four years and I applied for the advanced standing accelerated yearlong MSW Program (Masters in Social Work). I was accepted and that entire year is a blur. They smashed an entire master’s program, including an internship, into one year. As soon as I graduated I was hired as a child and family mental health therapist in a local community mental health agency. For a while it seemed that my mental health was a little better and I was excited to start my new career.
The newness faded almost as soon as it began because I quickly saw how hard and triggering it was to listen to the trauma stories of my clients all day long. I didn’t have the personal coping skills to separate myself from their pain because I was still so broken at the time. I carried my burden and theirs as well. There were many days that I would come home from work and cut my body just to destress and make it through the evening. Cutting became my go to coping skill. Ronnie hated when I would cut, but the more he talked about me stopping the more obsessive and protective I got with it. I also turned to food and was steadily gaining weight. My physical health took many heavy hits. I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, allergies, chronic female issues, chronic sinus issues, Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and I had numerous surgeries/medical procedures. Some of the surgeries and procedures include 2 sinus surgeries, a total hysterectomy, endometrial ablation, DNC, 2 abdominal exploratory surgeries, gallbladder removal, appendectomy, and tons and tons of test to find out what all was going on with my health. At this point in my life I was on about 15 different medications a day for chronic pain, depression, and other issues. I was basically a zombie. I really don’t even know how I was making it through life.
As I declined more and more I decided to find a therapist for myself. After seeing her for a while we made the decision that it was no longer ethical for me to practice as a therapist until I was more stable. I turned in my notice and thought I would take a small break to work on myself and then return to providing therapy. My personal therapy sessions were very difficult. I do not remember a lot about my sessions, but I do remember my diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression, PTSD, and Dissociative Identity Disorder. I was not surprised by the depression or PTSD, but the DID was a really hefty diagnosis. The idea behind DID is that when you suffer trauma, especially as a child, your personality can split and create alters. In the simplest terms it means you can have several distinct people/personalities living in the same body.
The DID diagnosis made so much sense because it explained the voices I heard all the time in my head, the drastic mood changes, the strong influx of emotions, and so much more. I knew and could recognize which “alter” was speaking to me because of how it talked and the emotions I experienced when it was present. I will describe a few of them, but I am not going to give their names because that part is not important.
Sexually Aggressive: One of them was very sexually aggressive. It wanted to cause pain and experience pain. This was the complete opposite of me and nothing I would have ever wanted in my life, but when it was around I felt those emotions and desires. It was like watching a movie character from the outside. It was me, but it wasn’t me. I was not in total control of my body, and it was like being dragged into situations I wanted no part of, but I could not speak up and change it.
Protector: This one was especially damaging in my life because it pretended to really care about me and want to protect me. The problem was it hated everyone, including my own child and other family members. It would tell me that they wanted to hurt me, did not love me, could not love me, and that it was the only one who really loved me. It tried to put walls between me and everyone else in my life under the guise of protection. It even hated God and often told me that He did not love me and that He would never help me. It made me paranoid, and I felt like everyone was out to get me, that they all had an agenda, and that no one could like or love me for me. I fell for this lie for many years, and it kept me bound in a victimhood mentality and very isolated. This one was also full of rage. If I experienced even the slightest attack or even perceived attack I would easily slip into a blackout rage where I would yell, scream, through things, and get out of control.
Young Child: This one caused me to feel so much pain, abonnement, alone, and scared all the time. It was very needy. When this one was around it made me want to suck my thumb, have stuffed toys, hold Ronnie’s hand like a child would their parent’s hand, curl up in a ball, and rock to self soothe.
Goth: This one was drawn to very dark things such as movies, books, colors, décor, etc. It loved movies and books about witchcraft, zombies, ghost, demons, horror, Halloween, the occult, death, murder, fighting, paranormal activity, etc.
There were many more, but you get the idea. I was not living alone in my body. I heard constant voices and they often tried to get me to give them the “drivers seat”. They would tell me that life would be so much easier if I just took the back seat and let them take over. They said I could rest, and they would take care of me. I never consented to letting them fully take over, but I did give them a ton of control in my life. In therapy I was taught to integrate with them so that we could all live in harmony together. Part of the integration was allowing them to express themselves through giving them a voice, allowing them to write through me, and listening to their needs and wants. All those things allowed them a lot of control in my life, and I fully accepted them as part of me. I was protective of them, and I never once considered that they were anything other than the effects of severe trauma.
The PTSD continued to get worse. I had tons of triggers that included places, words, body type, clothes, shoes, smells, tv shows, geographical locations, seasons, dates, holidays, and so much more. Ronnie and I learned how to live our lives around my triggers, but I had times where I got triggered and I didn’t even know what was causing them. It was like something was constantly poking my emotions, body, and mind to cause torment.
The depression was so severe it was often physically painful. It felt like I was hanging on the side of a deep dark pit that I was in constant danger of falling into. I felt like I was losing my mind and that I might cross a line that I could never come back from. I can remember praying for God to not let me forget who I was because I was so afraid I would go to sleep at night and wake up not being me. I felt like I could just be gone and not have the power to come back.
My brother decided to apply to a college in Arizona. He was accepted so my parents decided to follow him, and Ronnie, my son, and I decided to follow them. Ronnie had wanted to live in AZ from the first day I met him, and I was finally ready to leave Indiana. My parents moved to Tucson, AZ. Ronnie rode out with them to help them move and while he was out there he interviewed for a job. He got the job, and we moved 5 weeks later.
The first several months were amazing. It was so much fun being in a totally new state. During those first few months I felt better than I had for years. It was like when I went through the divorce all those years ago. I was in an emotional high for several months, but then it all came crashing back down. I was really hoping and praying the good days were going to be my new norm, but they weren’t. I am so grateful for that season, but when it ended I was devastated. It was harder this time because I had a taste of what a better life could look and feel like. During the better times the depression, PTSD, and DID were ever present, but what got better were my physical symptoms. Because I was able to be active it did help lesson the symptoms of mental illness. It made it possible to leave my home and be active in ways I could not before nor after.
The physical and mental illnesses came back with a vengeance, and I was in the worst shape of my life. The suicidal ideation was a constant, but my son continued to be my anchor to life. There were times the battle got so hard to stay alive that I was afraid I would lose the battle. My marriage was suffering greatly because Ronnie basically became my care giver. I had shut him out years ago and he was shut down emotionally. Neither of us left much room for emotional or physical intimacy in our marriage which easily allowed us to slip into the role of roommates and the chronic illnesses further changed the dynamic into caregiver and me needing his caregiving.
Somewhere along the way I decided that God could heal me, but I wasn’t sure if He would. I didn’t feel like I deserved healing, and I wasn’t sure I would ever get it. I would hear stories of others getting healed and each time it made the wall between God and me bigger, taller, wider, and stronger. I also let self-hatred sink deeper and deeper into my heart because every time I didn’t get healed I internalized not being good enough for healing so I started chasing healing anywhere I could find it. I chased ministries, prophetic folks, natural healing, naturopathic doctors, specialist, treatments, books, specific prayers, and anything else I could think of.
While in AZ I saw multiple doctors, took tons of supplements, tons of medications, had lots of testing, and some procedures, but nothing worked. I even had one doctor tell me that she could no longer give me any type of treatment because it was not ethical. She said it was like something inside my body was blocking every treatment she was trying so until we figured out the blocking issue she did not feel right charging me for more treatments. I was severally obese, but I was also malnourished because something was blocking me from receiving nutrition from foods and supplements. My body was rejecting nutrition and treatments that should have helped to heal me. I felt like I was on the verge of hopelessness because I didn’t know what else to try. I knew the issue was not God, so it had to be me, but I had no idea what I was doing wrong, what I needed to do differently, or what I was missing.
My list of diagnosis grew from each doctor I visited, and the depression grew after each visit. I eternalized every message that said this was my life and it was not going to change. I heard the words chronic and no cure over and over. I came to a point where I fully accepted those words as my truth. I had the diagnoses I came to AZ with and then while there I was also diagnosed with low immune issues, chronic reactive EBV, hormonal imbalances, 3 other active viruses, adrenal fatigue, more allergies, asthma, and several stomach issues. With all the diagnosis came treatments that didn’t help or work.
In our marriage Ronnie was my caregiver and we moved to a place of being more like roommates. Sometimes we got a long like friends and other times we didn’t get a long at all. I really resented him in a lot of ways because I felt trapped in the marriage because I was so sick that I needed him, and I hated needing anyone. I wanted to be independent, and it made me so mad that I didn’t have the ability to take care of myself. Emotionally we were not engaged at all. He was living his life, and I was living mine. We still enjoyed watching the same movies so that would bring us together, but I had no idea what he was struggling with, and I never shared my emotions with him. He did not feel like a safe place for me to share because he was so shut down emotionally. I think we both wanted out, but we stayed for different reasons. He stayed because he felt sorry for me, and he thought I might kill myself if he left and I stayed because I needed him to help take care of me.
I was very controlling and manipulative in our marriage and other relationships. It was my way or no way. He easily gave in, so I ran all over him and I was very cruel with my words toward him. If I was upset or felt hurt in any way at all I would go straight for the throat and say the things that I knew hurt the most. I allowed the enemy (demons) to use me as a weapon of pain to hurt him emotionally over and over. I wanted us to be close, but there were parts of me that hated him. Or I should say parts that I thought were me. They constantly told me how bad he treated me and how I would be better off alone. It was hard to fight those voices and I lived with the identity of being a victim in every situation and relationship. I saw everyone as out to hurt me and that I needed to isolate myself so that I could be emotionally safe.
While living in AZ there were times that we lived with my parents. It was hard to be a one income family, but I was too sick to work so it was easier to split the bills with my parents. When we all lived together my mom told me she would see, hear, and sense demons in the home. She would see them peeping around the corners looking at her and at times she would hear them. Ronnie and I continued to see, feel, and sense them wherever we lived. There were times I could physically see them, spiritually discern/see them (like a vision), hear them physically, or discern/hear what they were saying in my mind. I have always been very sensitive to the spiritual world (demons), but back then I had no idea about the gifts God had given me or how to use them. I just knew that wherever I went I could sense if demons were anywhere around, and they always tried to scare and torment me.
When we very first moved to AZ God told my dad that I was going to be healed in the desert. We had no idea when or how, but we all held onto that promise. I think I was close to giving up so many times because I just got worse and worse, but there was something in me that would never let me fully throw in the towel and give up. Of course looking back I know that was God holding on to me even when I felt like I could not hold on to Him.
We started attending a church in AZ and met a group of friends. One of the friends offered prayer ministry sessions so I made an appointment with her. The details get really fuzzy because I do not remember much about our sessions, but I do remember during one that God told me that I did not trust Him. I saw a vision of me being in the driver’s seat of my car (life) and I looked over because I thought that meant I had put Him in the passenger seat, but to my surprise He was outside the car, the window was up, and the door was locked. He had His hands full of things for me, but I had Him locked out. During that session I really worked on trusting Him, repenting for lack of trust, and He started breaking down the walls between us.
She also taught me about how movies and books with witchcraft, horror, demons, darkness, etc. can open to the door to demonic torment. At first I didn’t want to let go of those things but what she said to me made sense so my husband and I started doing major house cleaning to get rid of those things. She also taught me about and generational curses. We had many sessions with a lot of prayer, but that is about as far as we could get because every time I went the voices in my head would go off. They hated her and said awful things about her, and I was physically getting sicker and sicker. Around the same time my son contacted me and told me about a minister he thought I should listen to. He didn’t say why, but I found one of his messages and he was teaching how Christians can have demons attached to our mind, will, emotions, and flesh and have the need to have them cast out in the name of Jesus. As soon as I heard the message it clicked, and I knew I needed deliverance (closing all doors to demons and verbally casting them out in the name of Jesus). I messaged the minister and asked him if he had any suggestions for reading material. He gave me a list of a couple books and I got them, but I sit them aside and didn’t read them right away. I have no idea why. I mean I know it was demonic interference, but I have no idea what the process was that caused me to not read them. I do know I lost an entire year.
In that year I started having extreme breathing issues that landed me at the Mayo clinic after seeing several other specialists. They finally decided that I had a few things going on. It was like asthma, but not really asthma. I would be triggered, and my lungs would get tight, and I needed to use an inhaler to breath, but they also thought I was having silent reflux that was burning my vocal cords because I had a chronic cough that would not relent. The cough made it difficult to even hold conversations. Even once they diagnosed me they could not get it under control so I was left with a chronic cough and breathing issues that were triggered by any smell at all including some foods.
Covid hit and my dad lost his job, my son and brother moved to Texas, and Ronnie and I were living about an hour and half away from my parents in a small town. Once my dad lost his job he could not find another one in AZ so he started looking at different states for a job.
I felt the Lord urge me to sit aside a week to pray and fast for my healing and breakthrough. He also laid it on my heart to make it public. I posted it on social media, and I had an outpouring of love and support. Looking back I know that was God showing His love through others to me. He also told me to call my parents and ask them to come over and pray for me. I told Him to please ask them because at that point they lived about a 1.2 away and I felt like that was a huge burden to ask them to drive that far. About 10 mins later my mom called or messaged me and said that she felt they were supposed to come pray for me.
I had started reading the books that the minister I spoke about earlier told me to read so I had an idea that during our prayer meeting part of it would include some deliverance. I sent my parents a little info on deliverance, but we were so not ready for a deliverance session. We had no idea what to expect and we really didn’t even know what to do.
In the week prior to them coming over I started walking through deep, deep repentance. I thought I knew what repentance was, but this was something very different. My heart was very heavy because I knew I had hurt the heart of my Father. I began asking God to show me all the ways I had opened my life up to the torment of demons. He started showing me all the personal choices in my life that had created open doors. He went back years, and it was much like holding a mirror to my face and looking at all the poor choices and attitudes that I had let rule my life. As He would show me each one I went into deep sorrow and repentance. Some of the things He showed me were my involvement in the occult by watching shows and reading books with occult themes, lack of trust in Him, refusing to submit to my husband, being so cruel with the way I talked to others, not being the mother He called me to be, rebellion, self-pity, critical attitudes, sugar addiction, accepting lies as my truth, and so many other things. Another area that had caused open doors to my life was the abuse I had gone through with Jim and my ex-husband. The abuse itself did not cause the open doors, but my reaction to the abuse did create open doors. The demons lied to me and told me that I would never be safe, and I listened to the lies, believed the lies, and then opened the door to the demons of fear and several others. I can remember at one point walking across my living room floor and falling to my knees because the heaviness on my heart was so strong. At times it felt almost too hard to bear and too hard to carry because I had hurt God in so many different ways, but He gave me the strength, grace, and mercy that I needed to get through the preparation time. He was not condemning me. He was cleansing me.
He also started showing me generational sin that needed to be dealt with. When we pray for generational sin to be covered by the blood of Jesus we are not asking for our family members to be forgiven. We cannot pray for the forgiveness of others. What we are doing is praying for God to cover the sin in our bloodline with the blood of Jesus and release us from any generational curses attached to the sin in our bloodline. When Jesus died on the cross He gave us access to salvation, deliverance from demonization, breaking of all curses, and healing. It is through Him that we are set free, but that freedom comes when we address the issues. I spent hours in repentance and not once did I feel condemnation. I felt cleansing. God was not beating me up. He was opening my heart up and showing me what all needed washed clean.
I had been in church for years, but I had never ever experienced this type of prayers with God. It was like He was sitting right there with me, guiding me, cleansing me, and leading every single step of the way. There was one thing that He spoke to me that just about knocked me off my feet. He said that I had not honored my biological father. Exodus 20:12. My first response was anger and bewilderment and to ask Him how I could have honored someone who had so severely abused me. It took me a few minutes and then I really asked Him to speak to me and I humbled myself before Him. He said that the way I should have honored my biological dad was by staying silent. There were times I talked bad about him, called him names, and said he was worthless. God said it had nothing to do about having a personal relationship with him, but it had everything to do with my attitude and negative words about him. Immediately, I knew exactly what God was saying to me. It was not that I was dishonoring him by speaking the truth about the abuse, but it was the way I felt he was worthless and a piece of garbage with zero redeeming qualities. I never looked at him as someone who God loved and wanted to save. I repented for my attitude and all the words I had spoken. I also acknowledged his role as my biological father and verbalized honor for his parental role in my life. It did not negate the abuse or the emotional damage he had done in my life, but it did release me to fully forgive him, and I released him to the Lord. It also had zero to do with reconciliation. He was deceased by this time, but I knew in my heart even if he wasn’t I would not be required to have any kind of relationship with him. It was 100% about my heart issue and attitude.
The night before the prayer session with my parents I was sitting in my bed praying. I was playing praise and worship music just asking God to speak to my heart. The demons in me did not like when I spent time with the Lord at all. I would often get headaches, feel nauseated, get extremely tired, and at times get confused and distracted. I got really sick, worse than usual. I was very short of breath, and I felt like I was being smothered. I was lying in bed, and it felt like something was sitting on my chest. I stood up and starting walking around and I really thought I was going to have to call 911. Ronnie was at work so I was home alone, and I could not breathe. My inhaler did not help at all, and then all of a sudden I had an anger toward the enemy rise up in me and I turned on some praise music. I verbally told the demons no matter what they did to me I was going to praise the Lord. After about five minutes of praising, the smothering lifted, and I was able to lie back down and get some sleep.
My parents came over early the following morning. I was in and out during the entire four-hour prayer session so some things I remember, some I have been told, and some things I just do not know exactly how they happened. When my parents first arrived as soon as my dad walked in the door I started to feel very anxious, nauseated, and angry. We got started pretty quickly and before he went and sat down he anointed my head with oil. I had to physically refrain from pushing his hand away and screaming at him to stop touching “us.” The voices in my head often spoke to me in the third person (us, we). I could hear voices in my head telling me not to let him touch me or pray for me. I also heard them screaming at him. They hated him and I could feel their rage inside my body that was directed toward him. It was pure hate. When he first went and sat down the voices calmed down just a little bit, but as soon as he opened his mouth to pray they started stirring up again. He began his prayer by asking God to help us and to evict the demons that were inside my body. As soon as he spoke I started to feel things toward him I had never felt before. I started cackling, in a voice that was not my own, and mocking him. I laughed, jeered, and called him names. Not only were all of these things coming out of my mouth, I was also feeling them. I knew they were not me, but I could feel the emotions tied up with the demons. Our feelings and emotions were intertwined. He asked for its name and after some verbal wrestling it told its name. Once he had the name he began to verbally cast it out by telling it that it must go in the name of Jesus.
There were a lot of demons that came out. My mom was taking notes of the names as they came out and she said there were between 50-60 that left. At one point I had my head in the trashcan because as some came out I was vomiting. I started getting choked and I could not speak or breathe. It felt like there was a huge hand around my neck squeezing it. As soon as she heard me whispering that I was choking she yelled and got my dad’s attention. He immediately commanded the demon to stop choking me in the name of Jesus. As soon as he said it the choking released. There was another one that he was telling to leave and it would not go. I heard it in my head saying it was part of me. I knew immediately that it was one that I had considered an alter, one of parts of my personality, and that I had fully accepted it into my life. The Lord showed me that I needed to verbally tell it that it was no longer welcome and that it was not part of my identity. As soon as I prayed through repentance for accepting the demon as part of my identity and verbally told the demon it was not part of my identity my dad was then able to cast it out. Many of the demons had a very strong hold on my life because I had given them so much control. I thought they were alters, parts of my personality, and I had tried integrating with them. I had also given them permission to express themselves through me many times. If we give demons an inch they will take a mile and in my case I had given them miles and miles of permission to be in my life.
Before my dad cast each demon out he would ask it if it had a legal right to be in my life. If they did still have legal rights I would repent for whatever had let them in, and then he could cast them out one by one. Some of them went fast and others I had to spend some time in prayer asking God to break their legal rights over and to my life.
Several of the demons spoke through me and as they were speaking I could hear them from a distance. One stands out in my memory because for as long as I can remember I have struggled with eating issues. This demon started laughing and said it made me fat and it made me eat and eat, but never feel full. It said several times, while laughing, that it “made me fat.” It seemed to have found that hilarious. A few days before the prayer session God had told me to stop consuming sugar. He said it was a command for me to refrain from all sweets. I was so addicted at the time, but I obeyed because I was finally ready to do anything He told me to do. During the session the demon no longer had a legal right because I was no longer feeding the sugar addiction so it had to go.
Another one that came out said it caused me to feel sorry for myself and to seek pity from others. It was the one who caused me to focus on everything negative in my life, to feel justified in using the sicknesses to get my way and what I wanted, and the one that constantly threw internal pity parties for me. It would remind me how hard life had been, how much I was not loved or understood, and how much I had been through. It would play painful scenes from my past over and over in my mind. It would also point out that others didn’t and couldn’t really love me because I did not have one redeeming quality. In a nutshell its assignment in my life was to create pity and feelings of worthlessness.
There is one more that really stands out and it was full of rage and anger. When it manifested I recognized the feeling of rage. There were times in my life I would go into blackout rages and not even remember the things I said or did. I recognized this demon was the one who pushed that in my life. Not that I was not responsible for giving it so much control, but I am just expressing from where the rage originated. This one also felt very possessive of me. When my dad confronted it my eyes changed, my voice changed, and I was speaking through clenched teeth. At one point I even spit on my dad from all the way across the room. The demon said it owned me and that I had been dedicated to it. My dad asked it who dedicated me to it, and it said my biological dad had dedicated me to it in a blood ritual and because of that I belonged to it. When questioned further it said innocent blood was used that sealed the dedication. My dad told it that my biological father did not have the right to dedicate me and that he no longer had any spiritual leadership over my life. This one took a lot of time to get out. It was very strong and very determined. That demon finally left after what felt like hours. It came out screaming. It felt like it was going to tear me apart from the inside out. It was by far the most aggressive and most possessive. Not all deliverance sessions are this dramatic, some are, and some are not. I had given the demons so much control over my life they wanted to hang on and not let go so it was a major spiritual battle.
As soon as the prayer session was over there were a few things we immediately noticed. My eyes were wide open for the first time in years. They had gotten to the point they were so heavy they were only opened in tiny little slits. Right away my mom noticed I was walking differently. Beforehand, I barely shuffled my feet when I walked, and I took tiny steps. I was always in so much pain it hurt to move so I tried to stay as still as possible, even when I walked. I was hunched over and never stood up straight. I had also felt like there were hundreds of pounds of weights holding my legs and entire body down when I tried to walk. That was completely gone, and I could stand up straight and move without feeling I was weighed down by a million pounds.
I think for the rest of that day I just sat on my couch in shock. I knew I had had a lot of torment, but I had no idea how many demons were inside of me and how strong they were. It was also so quiet in my mind. It was the first time I could sit in silence and not hear the voices speaking to me. I used to have to sit with the tv on just for a distraction, but I was able to sit in silence and my mind was quiet. What I thought were alters were all actually demons. I felt them leave one at a time during the deliverance session and afterwards they were completely gone. I did not have multi personalities, I had multiple demons. I did not have any mental illnesses at all. What I had had was demonic torment and that was gone for the first time in my life.
You may be wondering how a Christian could have demons residing in their body. Let me take a moment to explain. Many people confuse possession with demonization/oppression. There is a huge difference. Possession means ownership, and a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon. Possession means you lose control and cannot stop what is going on in your body. You are owned by the demons and consumed with evil. This can happen when a demon moves into a non-Christian, but it does not happen with a Christian.
Demonization is not ownership, it is oppression. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23, we are all made up of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. Our spirit is the home of the Holy Spirit. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit comes in and dwells within our spirit and a demon cannot move into this area of our lives. Our soul and body are our mind, will, emotions, and flesh. This is the area the demons can move into and take up residence within if we give them an open door to our lives.
After my parents left I also spent some more time in prayer and I knew that I had to talk to Ronnie when he got home. I felt that it was very important to me for him and I to pray together, for me to repent to him and God for how I had treated him, and to verbally commit to be a submissive wife to him. I also felt it was really important to ask him to forgive me before God. Ronnie was so gracious, and we went to God in prayer. That day began a change in our marriage that led to Ronnie going through deliverance and both of us continuing the road to healing and the restoration of our marriage.
Shortly after my deliverance my dad was offered a job in Tennessee and the enemy tried to get me right back into bondage because I heard a demon say to me, “what if you slip back into depression when they leave?” As soon as I heard the voice speak I heard God speak and say, “You did not have depression, you had a demon and that demon is gone.” That was a huge lesson to me because I saw right away that the demons would try to come back and one of the tactics they would use was to convince me that I was not really free.
Right after our prayer meeting, within days, God told me to publicly share my testimony. I went live on Facebook to share my story and the ministry was birthed. We didn’t have a name back then, but later God gave us the name Fullness of Joy Ministry. I began doing a ton of deliverance sessions, teaching on live videos, and then God led me to write a few books. I have now been moved to a new season of focusing on teaching about various topics on video, writing, running all our social media and website, getting ready to create a platform to offer E-Courses on various topics, offering behind the scenes support/guidance/prayer to many people who message me, and so much more! We have a lot in the works for 2024!
Freedom and healing finally came and my life has never been the same! I have still faced many battles, but God is faithful, and He has walked me through each one.
Ways to Connect with Fullness of Joy Ministry:
Facebook Ministry Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/351690279198647
Facebook Ministry Page: https://www.facebook.com/nicholehensonfullnessofjoy
YouTube: Nichole Henson https://www.youtube.com/@nicholehenson9579/videos
Books on Amazon
Written by Nichole Henson
Self-Deliverance Workbook: Practical Steps to Casting Out Demons and Walking in Freedom
Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare Training: Breaking Free from Demonic Strongholds
Breaking Out of Darkness: How I was Set Free form Depression, PTSD, and Dissociative Identity Disorder