22 Mar A Future Greater than my Past
Jump Start is a faith-based prison rehabilitation ministry that is making disciples inside SC prisons and providing the support inmates need during re-entry after their release. Jump Start’s inside program takes inmates through a 40 week discipleship curriculum mainly led by other inmates who have already completed the material.
Jump Start is ministering to many individuals with broken pasts filled with abuse and generational sin. One of the women currently completing this class inside one of the two SC women’s prisons shares how her past influenced her future and about the life change she is now experiencing as a Jump Start program participant.
“Can I touch you?” These are the first words that come to mind when I’m asked about my past. My father molested me from the age of five until I was about eight or nine. Unless someone has experienced it, they cannot imagine being a child and the main person that was supposed to be protecting you was hurting you. My father took my two brothers and I from my mother. He was supposed to keep us for the summer and bring us back, but that didn’t happen. I didn’t see my mother again until a few weeks before my eighteenth birthday.
I told several family members what my father was doing to me. Nobody listened until my teacher told us about good touches and bad touches in school. When I told my teacher what was happening, I was placed with my dad’s brother and his wife, where I stayed there from the age of eight years until I was fifteen years old.
While there, I was abused mentally, physically, sexually, and emotionally. Anything they could do to me was done. I was told several times that I deserved what was being done to me. It was during this time that I started to get angry with God. If I was His child, why was He allowing all these things to happen to me? I started wondering if there really was a God.
If I was His child, why was He allowing all these things to happen to me? I started wondering if there really was a God.
I was beaten with extension cords, water hoses, tire scraps, switches, boards, ax handles, anything that was handy. I was hung from the ceiling by the chandelier loops and beaten. I was forced to hang there all night. Another time, I was forced to stand up all night. My life was a living hell. Many years later, my body is still covered with scars. In the midst of all this, I was still an A+ student. The only time my grades dropped was when I was forced to make them drop. According to my aunt, “I thought I was smarter than everyone.” The thing that upset me the most was that my uncle was a pastor and my aunt was also very active in the church. They were finally exposed when my brother’s football coach saw that his clothes were stuck to him because of all the whelps on his back and bottom.
At this point, we were placed with my dad’s sister. Things were okay for my brothers, but for me, it was torture all over again. My dad stayed there, so I did everything I could to avoid being in that house. I ran away, and I acted out. Finally, my aunt got tired and placed me in foster care. No one ever asked me why I did what I did. I was just thrown away like garbage and placed with people l didn’t know. Turns out this was the best thing that ever happened to me.
No one ever asked me why I did what I did.
My foster mother treated me like I was her child. Her children embraced me like I was their sibling. But, I wasn’t used to anyone loving me. So, I did what I knew best. I rejected them and their love. My own parents didn’t love me and neither did my family. So, why should I trust these strangers? Still, she never gave up on me. She continued to love and nurture me. I finally accepted her for what she was: a loving, fun, God-fearing person. Everything was okay for a while, but then my biological mother came back into the picture. I was seeing a therapist at that time. My therapist happened to see an ad on online that my biological mother was looking for her 3 children. I was allowed to meet her, and she seemed nice enough.
When I aged out of foster care, I went to Charlotte to stay with my biological mom. I learned quickly that she was not ‘mother material’. She was so quick to be my friend that she forgot to be my mother. I wish she could have been the mother I needed. I hope one day to learn her story- to learn why she’s made the choices she’s made.
My foster mother treated me like I was her child. Her children embraced me like I was their sibling. But, I wasn’t used to anyone loving me.
Soon my life started spiraling out of control. I’ve had several suicide attempts. I’ve been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, severe anxiety, and PTSD. I refused to take medicine because I was afraid of people calling me crazy. In the midst of everything that was going on, I did manage to get my GED and go to college. Then, I had this bright idea to let a “friend” apply online for a car in someone else’s name, and I would go pick it up from the dealership. I’ve done so many things that I’m not proud of.
I’ve never realized it until now- the choices I made affected so many people. Not just my kids and family, but my victims as well. I ended up in prison on June 5, 2015. I was sentenced to nine years for financial identity fraud. The day I was sentenced, I decided right then and there that I was not going to let my prison sentence defeat me. I was going to let it develop me into a totally different person. I was going to stop letting my past determine my future. I have accepted responsibility for my past and for my future.
Today, I have a better relationship with God. I’m involved in several different programs, and I’m not afraid to tell my story anymore. I’ve learned that God can take a mess and turn it into a message. I want to be a living message of what He can do. I want to help others not let their past experiences ruin their future. I was a victim and created other victims in the midst of my pain. The saying that hurt people hurt people is very true.
I refuse to look out the small rearview mirror when I have the windshield view ahead of me. I’m trusting God to lead me and guide me. He is sending the right people at the right time. I am determined to make the most of the opportunities that I receive. I know that as I live surrendered to Christ, His future for me will be greater than my past.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21