- JL Whitehead
A survivor's tale: Patricia's Story
On April 2, 2012, I conducted an interview with Patricia McKnight. At the time, I was a writer for an online publication entitled, "The Examiner." Ms. McKnight is an advocate for child abuse, domestic abuse and as of late has become one of the many voices that speak out against human trafficking. In addition to advocating for the rights of the defenseless, she also heads up a radio program entitled "Your Voice Radio Network."
Ms. McKnight is an abuse survivor and although the original article is currently not available, I decided to reprint a copy of the original interview so that the many victims who have endured abuse in any way, shape or form will know that they are not alone.
This is Patricia's story:
Abuse: A survivor’s tale
It’s a beautiful, quiet day today. There’s a slight chill to the air as I look outside my window at the rows of beautifully kept homes lined with lush trees with light green grass that will turn to a deep green as we glide from winter to spring. And as I look at these homes, the first thing that crossed my mind is not how wonderful the neighborhood appears, but what is really going on behind the closed doors of some of these beautiful homes.
I thought about that as I began to write this article because I know that domestic abuse is the crime that hides in plain sight. I know from talking to abuse victims, that there are telltale signs but many people choose to ignore them. No one wants to reach out to help the victim. Some simply choose not to get involved.
I met Patricia McKnight through one of the previous articles that I had written. She is an advocate for the rights of battered spouse and abused child. But what makes Ms. McKnight so intriguing is not who she is, but where she came from. An introduction is not needed. Instead, judge for yourself as you read Patricia’s Story.
JL: Do you remember when your particular circumstance of abuse started for you?
PM: This moment I will never forget. Returning home from a weekend with my most beloved grandmother and my father's family; having celebrated my fifth birthday with them. As she said goodbye to my brother and I there was a very tight hug and I could feel her very special love for me, but that would be the last time I saw her until my grandfather's passing at age 19. As I ran to my mother's door, returning home with my presents in hand and a very happy girl, I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the evil spiraling out of a man's eyes who was sitting on our couch. A few months later he was left to care for my brother, the neighbor boys and myself while my mother attended her bridal shower. It was that night the snake of the devil made his first violent attack of molestation and perverted acts towards me, with the boys in the same room. The next twelve years of my life would be under his complete sadistic control, violent rape, years of night time visits; simply all of the ugliness and cruelty of abuse that you could possibly imagine plus much, much more. My mother had walked in on us when I was nine and found me in her bed, naked as he was using his "toy doll", but instead of rescuing me she got angry and sent me to my room for the night. I was not allowed to join in for dinner, but made to come out and clean up the mess. For years I was the family care taker, babysitter, cook, and housekeeper; but in simple terms...a SLAVE!! As I grew it was never safe to bathe in my home and I decided to quit bathing as a mode of protection. This resulted in a skin infection of some type that ate away at my arms and legs, leaving me now to be disgusted by my own reflection. There was never any medical care or dental care, not even the provision of a tooth brush. An entire community watched and was even disgusted by how I looked. Many teachers and school mates were afraid they would catch something if they made contact with me. The community and the police knew of drunken teenage parties, the violence of my stepfather's rage when he drank and many times there were brutal physical attacks public to everyone, but still no one said a word or ever questioned my safety or care.
JL: What was the lowest point in life that you had to face?
PM: I would say that the very lowest point of my life actually happened twice. The first was when my stepfather's sadistic desires lead to rape with a shotgun barrel. At that moment of only being 12, I physically died inside and my entire view of myself and what I deserved in life was changed for the next 25 years. It started me down a long term path of self-destruction and promiscuous behavior. Actually I became a very ugly person inside and out. I began drinking, which was highly promoted by my family life. I used marijuana and speed drugs to make me feel numb or escape into someone else. The men and relationships I chose to live were almost deadly. There were multiple attempts from various boyfriends and husbands to actually end my life. This came through beatings, kicking, choking, and drowning attempts. They used weapons to hold me captive in corners cowering and praying for my life. The only reason I am here today is because of the higher grace of God who for whatever reason made them stop at that precise moment and walk away rather than killing me. This was the pattern of accepted abuse and it was my life through three marriages and even a few simple dating relationships. The last beating was so severe that it lasted for two solid hours.
I was awakened at 4:00 am with my husband on top of me choking me. I was able to maneuver myself and reach my head up to fiercely bite his left upper wrist which caused him to let go, but set off a furious rage of punching, throwing, kicking, and finally trapping me naked in a corner of my son's room. He then used an old style heavy chrome legged chair…the kind from the 60's style kitchen set that served as an art table for my children. The chair became his fury and it was repeatedly smashed down on my back, head, and wherever he could connect. His stature was tall, lean and strong; but his rage made him insanely powerful. It took two hours before I could crawl to a phone after he spit on me and walked away. As I called 911 it came to me that our neighbors on the opposite side of the duplex had to be awakened by this fighting. You could hear between our homes as there was only a wall that separated the actual home. They turned a blind ear as many had done in the past. When the police arrived I was told that either both of us were going to jail or one had to leave. I forced myself up from the position at the top of the stairs, bruised; shaken; crying; searing with pain, but I decided at that moment I was done with this evil and never again would anyone get away with harming me. During my marriage to this husband, named "Marcus" in the novel, "My Justice", my children were living with us and I did not realize the impact the violence of our marriage was having on them. After I got away and with the support of a very dear friend who gave me safe place to stabilize my thoughts; it was then that I used the education I had worked for to begin a career in which I could take care of my children and myself and purchase a home for us to rebuild and create our safe world. It was important to try and mend what horrors they had experienced. When you are in the very pit of this evil, you don't often realize the damage done to your children as they cower and hide from the battles. This became my rebuilding point, my strength and desire to do better, live safe, and create a world for them to enjoy.
JL: What did you do to change your circumstances?
PM: The best thing I ever did to help myself was at 25 and pregnant with my third child, I went back to school. I completed my G.E.D. courses and went on to achieve valedictorian from a small business academy in Fredrick, Maryland - Abbie Business Institute. This gave me the belief in myself that I could actually be more and strive for more than all of the violence and control in my life. That night some 9 years later when I left my second husband; it was this education that gave me the ability to provide us with shelter, clothing, food and the necessities to survive without the financial control and violence of another.
JL: Could you tell our readership about your publication and the programs that you are affiliated with?
PM: In February 2011, I released the true graphic novel, "My Justice" and finally gave voice to that person who had been forced into the silence of torture and abuse. This was not only my freedom, but more as a way to apologize and explain to my children who their mother was and why there was so much pain in their lives. It also became my strength to reach out and connect with others who had survived these types of trauma. In January 2011 I started creating a "secret" group connection using the Facebook group applications. This is still safely running today and we have a small community of about 50 women who have overcome their circumstances and are now rebuilding their lives. I make it a point to check in with them, provide any resources they may need to get back on their feet. It's very hard work to actually rebuild the person you are, but if you truly want to be safe in your world it is something you must do; if not for yourself then for your children. Any woman who is struggling with this rebuilding and recovery process is welcome to reach out to me at facebook.com/triciagirl62 and we will discuss their needs and the support or resources they may need. Then we include them in our family of positive supporters who are growing stronger and brighter each day.
Also with the publication of "My Justice", I've been able to connect with some wonderful people. Best-selling author and advocate Peter Thomas Senese not only purchased and read my story, but gave rave reviews and provided two major press releases in the PRWeb site. He has become a friend and I've learned of all he is doing as an advocate. In my view his actions are sincerely directed at protecting our children.
I have been really blessed by connecting with the amazing team at Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. Not only did they do an interview of my story on their blog talk radio programing, but then brought me into this realm as a host for a special program; Survivors Speak Out. Of course this has grown tremendously, as my bond with the Founder/C.E. O. - Ms. Sandra Potter, who is a very well established author, but more so a strong and devoted advocate for the safety of all children. Also our President, Ms. Donna Kshir; a platinum level author and another sincerely devoted advocate. These two amazing ladies have given me the opportunity to reach out and inspire many lives. They've given me the position of Executive Director of the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children Blog Talk Radio Programing. We are revamping and refreshing our programing now. Our listeners from all around the world join in with me to share our stories, support those who are healing, inspire them to reach out and achieve their full potential. We also discuss cases of abuse, provide education on awareness, prevention and intervention of many types of abuse. Our wide spectrum of violence in this world is not only the abuse, bullying, teen dating violence, self-harm, emotional scars and suicide of these victims; but more importantly using our voices and special guests to provide them comfort and knowledge to pass on to others. When we can discuss these crimes openly then we can remove that bond of silence within society and break down those barriers of shame that trap us in this world. This programing gives me the opportunity to touch people lives all over the world and inspire them to allow the rejuvenation of human kindness and caring, vigilance against these crimes and protecting the children in our circle. Those we see each day in our neighborhood and those within our family. We encourage everyone to at least check out our dedicated team of advocates and specialist; survivors and inspirers. You can find me on the show Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's by going to www.blogtalkradio.com/dreamcatchersforabusedchildren. You can also check out our new 24/7 live stream of every show recorded through wix.com/dreamcatcherstalkrad. Go to our website and find resources, books, testimonials, education materials and much more at www.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com . Everyone can also find our World Wide Non-Profit 501(c)3 at facebook.com/dreamcatchersforabusedchildren or myspace.com; Linkedin; Twitter and most any other social web tools.
JL: How did this evolve into the blog talk radio program and would you provide the specifics such as when the show airs and your call in numbers?
PM: Our show airs, three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The broadcast starts at 9:00pm e.s.t. and is usually a two hour program, full of great information and amazing guests. All of our listeners are encouraged to call in and get involved in the discussions and can do so by calling (917)932-1132 and then press 1 to get in the queue and talk with me live. The most wonderful part of this is the comments left by our listeners who have repeatedly stated how well they loved the show, connecting with me, and most of all feel comforted and SAFE!! This is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for; it tells me I am where I'm supposed to be now and I am using my past experiences in a very positive manner to enlighten and inspire others to keep moving forward.
JL: Would you mind telling the readership about your book entitled, "My Justice"?
PM: This is a journal to my children to explain and apologize to them for the horrible pain they suffered because of the abuse I was "trained" to accept as normal in my world. You can find "My Justice" through Amazon.com / BN.com / Authorhouse.com and it's been published in the Kindle; Nook; E-Book and paperback formats. The cover of "My Justice" has received many wonderful comments about how well it truly connects with the body of this story. I have to give that credit to my wonderful son and very talented artist, Brett T. Sanders and his beginning business of KreAtion Studios. The substance and depth of this story has left an impact on all of its readers. They have reviewed it as being a "Magnificent well written story about a very horrific subject". It has been deemed "A learning tool for anyone who is involved directly with children to be watchful of the many silent signs of abuse and what can be hidden behind the neglected and dodging child". Author Peter Thomas Senese heralded this novel as "A call to arms for all human kind to stand against the abuses in our world, but also an amazing portrait of the survivor's determination to achieve that happiness in life and overcome each barrier to finally reach their FREEDOM!!"
JL: What is the message that you want to convey to all women that are in situations of domestic abuse?
PM: Don't believe in the brainwashing emotional and physical abuse that anyone might subject you to. Find just one piece of belief in yourself and allow it to be the building blocks of your complete happiness. There is nothing in this world that you cannot achieve if you put forth the devotion to make it happen. It is very hard work, therapy is a great way to gain that support and create a "Positivity" list for yourself. Each day write down one positive something about yourself. Carry this list with you everywhere. As you are feeling beaten down and have no strength or energy to carry forward; especially when the anxiety and P.T.S.D. set in on you heavy, that is when you take out that list and began reading it over and over out loud to yourself. Saying each positive mention about yourself and truly believe in the words you are speaking; it will provide a huge helping tool to refocus your thoughts on the present surrounding of your life and what it is that is good in you as a person and in the new beautiful world you are building.
JL: Would you mind providing all of your contact information in case someone reading this should be inclined to reach out to you?
PM: I sincerely love connecting with other survivors and creating that positive energy between us as we move forward in this mission of awareness and taking down that brick wall of silence. You can reach out to me in many ways, email me; email@example.com ; You will find me on Facebook - facebook.com/triciagirl62 ; Twitter - @tricialgirl62 or through my new blog site - survivorsjustice.com ; the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children website as above and for the blog talk programing as well. I encourage anyone who is suffering to reach out and connect with just one person you trust and allow the emotions that were forced to remain silent for so long to finally have a voice and be told. Talking about your past is a huge step in the healing process and no one should be forced to bury such horrific secrets of crimes against them; not crimes that they have committed. Remove the blame and shame from the victim and allow it to be placed where it should be, the evil monsters who attack us out of sick power to maintain control over what life has been given to us by the grace of God.
We all deserve the following positives in life and they have also been shared on the last page of my novel as a beginning list to your own "Positivity List" which will help you begin your own steps toward freedom and happiness.
Positive Thoughts About You
You deserve a safe place to sleep
You deserve respect
You deserve kindness and support
You deserve as much love as you freely give to others
You deserve roses in your garden of life
~ J.L. Whitehead