> ABUSE IN A NUTSHELL | renita sue lloyd

I don't remember the actual beginning but I do know it was several years ago. My childhood was not an easy one and being born and raised in a dysfunctional household made it worse. They say children are resilient and I believe that is true. I also know there are a variety of ways victims of abuse find to survive. They also find ways to escape. As a child I didn't know how to run away from home . . . so I escaped. I read as many books as I could get my hands on and went to every place I read about.

Most of the places were a welcome change from what I was facing back in the world of reality. There were a few times when the worlds I escaped to were just as bad but I always had the option of closing the book and traveling elsewhere. It was so easy at home.

I think I began writing somewhere during that time. Usually it was just odds and ends like I don't know why my mommy hates me and Why is my mommy so mean to me, things like that. As I got older I started writing poems and little stories about the things that happened at home and things that I experienced when I fantasized about living in another world.

Back then it was easier to write about all of it than it is now. I am 44 years old but when I write too much about it I get sick, sometimes I even throw up. It is not easy to go to school with welts all over your body and I do mean all over. I have had them on my butt, my legs (front, back, lower, upper), even in the bends of my knees. They have been across my lips, my eyelids, my arms, fingers, neck, and throat and even in my female area. It was just like she couldn't stop until she covered every last part of my body. I remember lying there, shaking and whimpering, trying so hard not to breathe for fear it would cause another attack. I had welts to where I wasn't even able to pee without pain. I went to school and couldn't write for a few days because they were across my knuckles so bad I couldn't bend my fingers to write.

I always recovered, at least physically. The next day she wouldn't even be like that person who beat me at all. She was nice and would brush my hair, dress me up and buy me things. Those were the few times she would say I was pretty and that she loved me. It wasn't often, but at least it was sometimes.

She began to find other ways of punishment. She liked shutting me in the dark closet because she knew I didn't like the dark or small places. Then came the basement with the snakes crawling down below where the light switch was. She knew I would never go down those steps to turn the light on. She hated going down there to do laundry because of the snakes. When she was mad though she sure liked me shutting me behind that door. She flung me in there so hard she almost threw me down the steps and over the banister a couple of times. I still hate snakes. I always will.

When we left the snake house there had to be new forms of discipline so throwing my head in the toilet was the punishment of choice. The next favorite was grabbing my hair and shaking me while she sprayed hair spray in my eyes. Of course, according to her I was a little whore and a slut before I even knew what sex was. She hadn't always been like that. I don't know when it happened or what happened, it just did.

"You'll learn your lesson if I have to beat it into you," she would say. I still am not sure of the lesson unless it was don't grow up and be like your mother. That seems to be the one thing I prayed to God about; please don't ever let me be like that. I have stood in front of the mirror many times and screamed at the top of my lungs, I AM NOT MY MOTHER.

I didn't realize when she was calling me those names that sex was what my grandfather on my dad's side had been doing to me. Those long gnarly, nicotine stained fingers and that smell of tobacco. The stiff starched white shirts. It began with the nipple pinching and twirling and he would work his way to the other parts. I hate him so much. He should have died a long time before he did. Somebody should have known . . . and somebody should have cared. Nobody did. So it happened over and over again, until we moved.

I guess I just started writing to survive. If she found my writings about all the bad stuff I'd be punished. I had to hide them. Sometimes I'd still get caught. She'd accuse me of wanting the welfare to take me. I feared them even more than I feared her for some reason. I guess there are lots of reasons I write. A lot of my friends say it is something I am good at. That's funny, it seems like I never was good at anything or good enough.

> BIOGRAPHY | about the author

West Virginia resident Renita Sue Loyd has been published in Mountain Echoes and wrote a narrative for a nationally released hunting video.