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Night terrors

By Mona Korstanje

CW Childhood abuse, neglect, childhood sexual violence, rape, depression, PTSD

Mona lived through a lifetime of abuse, but is finally in the loving relationships we all deserve.

This is only a portion of my life. I am a prime example of abuse and trauma.

My brother was born just two weeks after I turned a year old. He was born without kidneys and my mother spent all day long caring for this newborn. When he was two months old he passed away. At the funeral my mother tried to kill me my squeezing the life out of me.

“At the funeral my mother tried to kill me my squeezing the life out of me.”

A year later another brother was born. He was given a 50% chance of survival. Once again I was left alone. My mother, an alcoholic, was busy with my brother and my father did what he could to make ends meet financially. My brother survived. He was the family favourite and I was just there.  I found at an early age that I would have a tough life. My father left for the East Coast to work when I was around four years old. My mother left me to care for my by then two year old brother. She was gone approximately four days leaving only milk and cereal in the house. I took care of my brother: feeding, dressing, toileting and making sure that he was safe. I was beaten often for things that he did and grew up fearing my mother.

“At 16 the man who would become my husband raped me.”

A cousin molested me before I was even 13 years old. At 16 the man who would become my husband raped me.  It was a shame-based relationship. He didn’t treat me like a human; he did whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased, to me. I was not a human. I would reason ‘It is only for 15 minutes two to three times a day.’ He said he loved me. We were married. I endured rape. He would lock me up in the bedroom with our infant son while he drank and entertained friends.

Just five months after our baby was born, my husband had sex with my mother. These were people who were supposed to love me. When I confronted him about this infidelity he admitted to it. He promised that he would never do it again and even went as far as saying my mother took advantage of him in the car. What is worse is when he came home from having sex with my mother, he raped me. He continued having affairs, with more than 14 women, but that did not stop him from continuing to rape me several times a day. I had not experienced consensual sex or orgasm for 10 years. I was abused mentally, spiritually, physically and I wanted to die many times. I had only my children to keep me from doing it. I had a nervous breakdown in 1985, and suffered serious depression.

I finally divorced this man when I was heading for another nervous breakdown. He stalked me, threatened my life, and abducted my sons. My daughter didn’t fall for his promises. I had to get a restraining order against him, and even my oldest son, who is now 16. I continue to receive threats from them both. I am told to ‘repent for my evil ways.’ It was as though I married my mother.

“When I returned she hugged me and whispered, “don’t leave with him again.”

When I was remarried it were as if I married my father. My new husband would regularly tell me that I was controlling and manipulative. I believed what I was told and put up with it for fourteen years. He needed me to change and conform into some unattainable wife in order to build his ego up. I couldn’t do this, and again I was made out to be evil.

As he complained about ‘not feeling good’ I was responsible for all labour in and outside of the home. I had to work three jobs to keep my three children clothed and fed. He left after being home alone with the kids for five days. I was at a memorial service for my father a few provinces away. When I returned home I learned he tried to have my oldest daughter, who was 16, to do everything I usually did. When I returned she hugged me and whispered, “don’t leave with him again.”

“Normal is just a setting on the dryer!”

Although I am a prime example of abuse and trauma, my story doesn’t end there. I have a strong faith in God and he gave me a new husband that is marvellous to me. No control, manipulation, or abuse. Unfortunately, I suffer with PTSD and have a support dog for when I get into crowds.  The symptoms are controlled with therapy and medication.

I am a foster parent to sisters that were experiencing a childhood similar to my own. They were taken from their mother when the oldest was four, as their mother did drugs and drank the way my own had. I knew I could make a positive impact on these lives that started out much like my own. These girls are now adults and still call me mom. I have a very close relationship with the eldest. She writes me letters and calls every Mother’s Day.

Still like me, she also suffers from PTSD and requires a support dog. But she is married and leads as good a life as can be expected. The younger girl isn’t as close but calls me ‘Mom’ and keeps in contact. She and my biological daughter are close. She is going to have our eleventh grandchild.

There is hardly a reason not to do what we can to cause positive change in our lives and those around us. Trauma is difficult, and can feel insurmountable at times, but with therapy and medication you can lead a reasonably normal life. I’ve always told my girls, “Normal is just a setting on the dryer!”

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