by Cheryl Allen

I would like to share a little history of my life with you. As a little girl I was raised in a home of tremendous abuse. I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. Being a child I knew I couldn't stop people from hurting me. However, I had hope that when I grew up I could stop the cycle that I was raised in.  I made a promise to myself that 1 would never beat my children, or tell them I wish they were never born, and I definitely would never sexually abuse them. I would Love my children and show them to believe in themselves. I even promised myself that If 1 couldn't prevent myself from abusing them I would give them up out of Love. I knew that I had it in me to reach out for help if necessary! These were my promises to my children and me.

Not knowing how difficult it would be to break the cycle, I tried to do It on my own for a few years. I need to tell you that 1 had no idea what was in-store for me. I was raised in the woods on the east coast. So I was uneducated about society and how to express myself or who to trust. I do know that I was doing my best! 1 also had no idea that there was another cycle of abuse that I would have to overcome. That is domestic violence! It has taken me a lot of hard work to learn about what is abuse and what is my responsibility to myself and my children.

In the early 80's I started reaching out for help. 1 sought  the help of the Department of Family and Youth Services and counseling for myself. I figured the best people to help me with my children would be the people that work in a program that it is their job to protect children from abuse. That they would know how to help me raise my children in a healthy way. Help me with my goals of breaking the cycle. The counseling would help me understand how to deal with my own pain and suffering from my childhood. Help me understand who I am and why I felt the way 1 did. Always asking am l good enough. Feeling afraid that I was going to lose my children by speaking out and telling the truth about myself and my past. Always knowing that having my children taken away from me seem to be punishing me for not having the skills that were never taught to me on how to raise healthy children. Feeling punishing me and my children did not make sense since I was asking for help and doing my best.

This is 1997, so I have had a long history with DFYS. I would like to say there has been a lot of work over the years. Some experiences have been good. But, eventually I became suicidal and Thank God I am alive today. I can't erase the pain, the wrongs of what I have been through or what my son has been through over this experience. But, I am now being able to go on. I have dealt with some wonderful social workers at times. I am not able to remember all of your names. But, Thank the ones that worked with me from the bottom of my heart. I have also dealt with a few that caused severe pain inside me and my son. I can't forget your names. I can't forget the suffering and pain that you have caused from being closed-minded and being determined to be right! I won't disclose your names in this writing. However, I believe you know who you are.

I always had the hope that people would work with me and help me to achieve my goal of showing my children that life Is beautiful. That nobody deserves to be abused by anyone. That honesty is the best policy! That you can become anything you want in this world if you work for it. That showing respect is the way to be. Believe in your dreams!

I had a dream of people working together and making it possible to stop child abuse. Prevent it from carrying on from generation to generation. My dream has always been for a healthy family to adopt a family that wants to change the cycle that they were so unfortunate to be raised in. Be an example of how to show patience, tolerance, and Love. Help someone learn what is self-love, self-discipline, self-respect, self-esteem. Help them feel loved and cared about. Help them not feel worthless, hopeless, or that they can't change just because of where they have come from. Show them that there is HOPE! Someday this dream may come true.

I was asked to write my story of success. It isn't just me.  I have to tell you the reason I am being able to be successful today is forge the people that work with me in my life today. I have to thank my social worker and her supervisor. Both of you have seen me in the worst condition that I could be in except for a hospital bed from an attempt of ending my own life. Or death itself. I thank both of you for believing in me even when I wasn't able to believe in myself. I Thank God, for protecting me from myself and others. I Thank god for my therapist who has always been there for me. Who has always been there to  help me through my stuff. Who has always been there trying to help people understand what my mental, emotional health problems are and how to help you understand how to help me!

I Thank God, for Janice letting me know that I could trust her, with the truth of how I feel and how I see things, of how I think. That she would not judge me or take my baby away from me forever just because of how I was doing at the time. My biggest fear in this world, has been that I would lose my children forever, just for trusting the wrong people. Being honest about all the struggles I have inside me at times. Knowing that I was doing my best and I can't do no more than that.

Today my life is beautiful! I have self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect and Hope! As long as I continue to do the things that I am doing today, I may not ever have to feel all the negative feelings that I was raised with. I have trust in other people again. I pray that I never lose that. I pray that me sharing my story with you will help you to understand how to help other families, like me. I must remember that as long as I am doing the best that I can do, I can't ask myself to do anymore than that. Neither can anyone else! Today I have Hope, Faith, Encouragement, Compassion, and Understanding because of people like Janice and Corey giving it to me. I thank them for not kicking me while I was down, but helping me to get up! A very special Thank-you to Dr. Patrick, who has continued to work with me thru the years. Always encouraging me not to give up She has never given up on me. I Thank her for being with me through the good and the bad. Most of all I Thank God for allowing me to be able to help other people. Today there is a lot of HOPE! God Bless All.