Jena, at 13, wrote the following account of the hidden talents she found living with abuse and standing up to her bully for a school talent show:
What is talent? Is talent dancing or singing? Is talent jump roping or is it gymnastics? Since I was young I have been confused and questioned what talent really is. I would think to myself, "am I talented because I can make up a dance to a song” or "am I talented because I can do a cartwheel?” The older I got the more I understood what my talent is and I found out talent lives inside of us. This year I meet someone in my class that has extreme amounts of talent and I am going to tell you a story about that girl.
She was born in June, 1998. Like most kids, she doesn't remember much of the first few years of her life. But unlike most kids, what she remembers is scary: loud voices, screams, things banging and crashes. She remembers hiding with her sister when her parents fought. She remembers crawling under the covers on her mom's bed with her mom and sister when things were breaking downstairs. Her mom always told her everything would be fine and dad was just stressed, mad, tired, hurting or whatever. But even at her young age the girl knew things weren't ok.
Finally, when the girl had just turned five, her life fell apart. Her dad became super crazy and her mom couldn't take it any more. Mom and the girls tried to get away but dad wouldn't let them. He would follow them; show up at their schools and work. Call them, send them things and harass them every chance he got. Then things got even worse. He told the courts the mom was sick, had a brain tumor and was dieing (it was a lie). He got visitation with the girls started to make their lives even more miserable. He told them mom was sick in the head, he said everything was mom's fault; he said he had a broken heart and needed it fixed. The girls felt sorry for him and tried to make him happy. He started doing weird things that didn't seem right but the girls just wanted to make up to him for all his hurt. He touched them and told them things that little girls aren't supposed to know. If they told anyone he would get really mad and do scary things like drive the car so fast they thought they would die. He would yell and break things, so the girls did what he said.
This went on for several years. The mom tried every way possible to help the girls but the dad lied to the courts, lied to social workers, and lied to everyone. He told the girls not to tell what he did or he would go to jail and it would be their fault. He said their mom would die and they would have to go to foster homes. He told them they had to visit him or they would go to jail. The girls were always scared and confused.
Now, you are probably wondering where the talent part comes in. Well, right about now. You see, bad things happen to good people all the time. It's what we do with these bad things that make the difference in who we are. We've all learned about what to do about bullies in DARE and GRIP. But what if you tell the right people and nothing happens? Do you give up? Do you get mad? Do you get even? Well, here is what one little girl did - she used her hidden talents.
So what does all this mean? We all have talents. Whether it's singing or dancing, shooting hoops or playing the piano, bravery or resiliency. We just need to look inside ourselves and find our talents, believe in our talents and make the best of our talents.
And why do I know all this, because that little girl is me. I found my talents this year; I stood up to my bully and said "no more!” I have strength, perseverance, bravery and resiliency! So today, lets all celebrate all our talents, because today, we are all winners!!!
~ Jena Phillips, 2009
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Stories
In another of Lundy Bancroft fantastic books, The Batterer as Parent takes the reader inside of homes affected by domestic violence, imparting an understanding of the atmosphere that battering men create for the children who live with them. It show how partner abuse affects each relationship in a family, and explains how children’s emotional recovery is inextricably linked to the healing and empowerment of their mothers. Also cover the important but often-overlooked area of the post-separation parenting behaviours of men who batter, including their use of custody litigation as a tool of abuse:
To order in the US: The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics (Sage Series on Violence Against Women)
When Dad Hurts Mom. This is a must-read for any woman with children still in or finally out of an abusive marriage. He covers the myriad of ways in which children witnessing domestic violence are affected, the prejudice in the legal establishments and the patriartic world has made the life of female and child victims of abuse difficult. And then he gives you tips on how to conquer this situation and help heal our kids from the trauma of witnessing abuse:
To order in the US: When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse
To order in the UK: When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse
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