my story the day I became a victim
Abuse and Self Care, Encouragement

My Story: That Day I Became a Victim

Five years ago this very morning, I became a victim of violent sexual assault, a widow, and a single mother.

I’ve eluded to this in my writing from time to time, sharing with you many times that I know what I’m talking about when I share with you about domestic violence…emotional abuse…verbal abuse…physical threats…

They’re all in the pages of my personal history book.

But until now, I haven’t shared the ultimate demise of that abusive relationship, a day that’s forever burned into my memory and turned our world on its ear, causing us to grab hold of our faith in a desperate clutch like never before.

Why did it take me five years to speak out about this horribly painful and traumatic day? you may wonder.

“It just wasn’t time and I just wasn’t ready,” is my sincere reply.

These weeks leading up to this significant “anniversary” might have made me feel ready, that there’s been enough time and space between then and now. Maybe I feared judgement: how could I share this intensely personal information about the father of my children? (Read the disclaimer below). Or maybe I was worried it was too much for you all to hear, too big a burden for you–some of who bear your own tremendous scars–to shoulder.

But then I realized that’s what community is about: bearing each other’s burdens, wiping each other’s tears, and offering a shoulder to cry on or lean on. And that’s what I try to be and do here as I write: be your “sister’s” shoulder to lean on. I almost feel a responsibility to share because I encourage others to share and keep sharing their stories of survival. How could I withhold my own?

When my children and I awoke that morning five years ago, we had no inkling this day would alter our lives so achingly. My then-husband was out of town for the week, doing a clinical rotation for a college degree he’d been working very hard to earn for the previous several years, one he was set to graduate from just days later.

We three drove to school as usual and while still in the parking lot, I left a voicemail for a girlfriend saying I wouldn’t be at breakfast with our friends that morning as planned. I wasn’t feeling well and had a lot of work to do and thought it was better to head straight home. I’ll never know what may have been different had I gone to that breakfast gathering.

Coming home, work was on my mind and I went inside and straight to my home office where I’d worked for years as a medical language specialist. Within a moment I noticed him sitting in the corner of my office, waiting.

The details I’ll share don’t begin to cover the horror that actually took place. It’s just too hard. But you’ll get it. You’ll understand.

By the time I discovered his presence, it was too late. I couldn’t escape. I would learn later that instead of going to clinicals that morning, he left his hotel an hour away and drove back to our hometown and essentially lay in wait for me to leave. Then he hid his vehicle so I wouldn’t be aware he was home, loaded a gun (that was safely locked away from the children) to use against me. And then he waited.

Although I’ll never know exactly when he devised this plan, it was indeed planned, even if just a few hours in advance.

In one sentence, I can summarize the events: I was bound, forced at gunpoint (and yes, it was loaded. He fired a warning shot just in case I had any doubt) to comply with his commands, brutally and repeatedly sexually assaulted, then forced to witness him turn the gun from me to him, and pull the trigger against his own head.

The End.

For him.

For us, things were just beginning. The beginning of pain, of PTSD, of residual effects that last still today, of fatherless children, single motherhood. That was the last day we would wake up in the house we called home for a decade. We would suffer the results of his refusal to seek help for his undiagnosed mental health issues and his ultimate giving over to the demons that haunted him and led him to his actions that day, that led him to tell me that I may not have him any more but I’d “never have anyone else either.” Looking back, I think he needed to imagine he could control me from the grave once he was gone.

On that day not only would I have to suffer at his hands, but also have to tell my children devastating news that would change them and shake their security to its core, that would leave them with too many questions and so few answers. I would have to let us fall into the loving hands of friends, family, and church who would envelope us.  I would have to face what happened to me while comforting my children. I would have honor my rapist and abuser at his funeral, for the sake of the good parts that once existed and more importantly, for the sake of my children.

There’s so much more to this story. In many ways the story begins this day and in the brilliant ways we have survived. I will share more this week. It won’t be easy, I promise you. But I need you to know that there is hope. I need you to see it. Maybe that will encourage someone to share their story. Maybe an abuser will stop his or her behavior because they will read this and see just how far someone can slip. Maybe it will encourage some healing of your own. Please come back and walk through this with me.

Hope…always,

Melanie S. Pickett, blog

 

 

 

Disclaimer: With the permission of my children I share this. Aside from the featured image, I used no others. I hope my words speak well enough and that you’ll hang in there with me for the next chapter of my story tomorrow. 


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62 Comments

  • Reply laurie yost April 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you Melanie for your deep and true honesty about such a tragic day. You inspire me as you have allowed God to envelope you in His arms and to seek Him in the hurt. You so inspire me.

  • Reply Barbie April 18, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Oh Melanie, I’m in tears as I read this, and shudder with the thought of my past date rape. It does not by any means compare to your story, but abuse is abuse and I had the courage to tell my story (although not on my own blog) and you’ve had the courage to tell yours. I am so sorry this happened to you and your children. I am truly thankful for a God who picks us up when we are at our lowest and showers us with strength, grace and redemption. He makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives. Hugs!

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Barbie, I’m so sorry for what you suffered. I am thankful you are here to share as you see fit. What you write is a true inspiration. Thank you for being my friend!

  • Reply Christina @ Youthful Homemaker April 18, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Oh wow. I also had an abusive husband who raped me and a myriad of other horrible things. I can’t imagine your particular pain but I know about some parts of it, because I share them on some level.
    You are brave to share your story, I hope it helps bring you healing.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      Christina, I’m so sorry you can relate to what happened to me. I’m praying for your healing as well.

  • Reply chloe | boxwood avenue April 18, 2016 at 4:28 am

    I have absolute chills after reading your story, and although I don’t know the right words to say, I wish I did. You are very brave for writing about your attack, and I applaud you for clinging to God during your times of struggle.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      Chloe, thank you for your kind words. My story is worth sharing if it can help inspire hope in even one soul. <3

  • Reply Wendy Munsell April 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Melanie, praise God for His ability to keep you and bring you through such a horrific experience. May your story give others hope in the One who can set them free. Your life is a living testimony of Jesus’s mercy and grace. Blessings, dear sister.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Thank you, sweet Wendy, for your words. He has given us such mercy and grace, it is true.

  • Reply Jessica April 18, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Thank you for sharing. I have no words. I am praying for continued healing for you and your children.

  • Reply Hannah Grace April 18, 2016 at 9:49 am

    My heart breaks for you and your daughters. I know that I started my blog as a healing process for myself after a nasty divorce and discovering my child had turned from God and to drugs.
    We may never understand why we have endured these things, but we know God has never left us. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Hannah, I’ll be praying for your through your challenges as well. Indeed, God has never and will never leave us!

  • Reply Julie Severson April 18, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Your story will be resonating with me for a long time. You tell it with incredible grace. Wow, I’m absolutely speechless. I don’t know you, and yet, from this one post, I’m rooting for you in my heart as though you’re my sister. What a story of courage and perseverance you have to share with the world, and you’re entirely brave and amazing to do so.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      Thank you, Julie. I don’t feel so brave but I’m thankful I find the words to convey our story. <3 Thank you for rooting for me!

  • Reply Karen Woodall April 18, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Melanie. Bless you for sharing your story. I know there are so so very many people out there who will draw hope and encouragement from your words. Evil does not win. God indeed ‘turns ashes into beauty.’ I know that He will continue your healing and draw others to Him through your testimony.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Thank you, Karen. I appreciate your prayers and I pray too that God will bring those who need to hear this.

  • Reply stacey April 18, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I pray each woman reading this is stirred with the knowledge we serve a faithful God who sees, who heals, who redeems. I look at you, pouring your life into other women when you could be bitter, angry acting out of hurt five years later. I hope your story reminds every woman in the midst of her pain and trial that God is not finished with her yet. Healing is possible.
    Thanks for placing your story in God’s hands.
    stacey recently posted…Chronic Illness and The Sales PitchMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Oh, Stacey. You put things so wisely and eloquently. I love everything you said. God truly is good and I pray He can use my story to help others.

  • Reply Ceil April 18, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Melanie, I can’t imagine how hard this must have been to share. As I read it, I was just stunned by the experience you had, and overwhelmed by your courage and grace in sharing. I know you are helping so many people by doing this. I will be praying for you as you continue to share with us your story. May God continue to bless you and your children.
    Ceil

  • Reply Kelly S April 18, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Unimaginable horror. But your bravery in sharing will open the door for healing, but your’s and others’. What he intended for evil, God will redeem!
    Kelly S recently posted…The Importance of Discipleship, or It Doesn’t Have to Be Big to Matter BigMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Yes, Kelly! What man intended for evil, God will turn around for good. I’ve clung to that.

  • Reply Anne @ The Fitly Spoken Word April 18, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Wow, I’m so blessed by your bravery and courage to have lived through that, healed from it, and now recovered enough to share with the world. I know God will use you mightily to help other women through the healing process.
    Anne @ The Fitly Spoken Word recently posted…6 Tactics of the Enemy {Warrior Woman}My Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      Thank you, Anne. I hope I can be encouragement and hope for someone else going through similar heartache.

  • Reply My Inner Chick April 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    **The End.
    For him.
    For us, things were just beginning**

    :::::::::POWERFUL:::::::: life-changing words.

    I did not know all of this, Melanie.

    Thank you for your honest, brave, courageous, hopeful voice.

    When we RAISE our voices, other women in crisis will, too.

    I am standing & applauding you in Minnesota.
    Can you hear me? xx
    My Inner Chick recently posted…After The FireMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      I can hear you. <3 So true, we must continue to raise our voices! One of my favorite quotes: "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."

  • Reply Jessica @ConveyAwareness April 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Transparency is honorable. My hope is that through your sharing, more healing is taking place. <3

  • Reply Betty Mullaney April 18, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    So glad you’re ready and able to share. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I know how both difficult and necessary this is. Bravo!

  • Reply Kelly April 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    What a horrific story to live…and yet by God’s grace, here you stand – stronger, more compassionate, and such a beautiful light of hope to many. Praying for you…thank you for sharing. <3

  • Reply Christine Carter April 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    God bless you, precious Melanie. God bless your words, your story, your voice as you continue to share it for others to find hope, find healing, even find Him.

    My heart is cracked wide open right now, trembling at the thought of the scene you described. You are an inspiration- to have survived that and helped your children survive that? Utterly amazing. #Victorious

    I can only imagine how hard it was to write this, my friend. I’m so moved by your strength. Shine that light girl. Keep shining that light in all the dark corners of the world. Yours is dark no more, in Him and through Him. I’ll be praying for you as you walk through this powerful story with us all.
    Christine Carter recently posted…Finding Worth in Our WaitingMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      “Yours is dark no more.” I love that. You are right. I’m out of oppression. We are living in the light. Thank you for your generous and loving words. <3

  • Reply Ashley April 18, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    You’re so strong & your story is gut wrenching. I hope others find empowerment through your story!

  • Reply Tami April 18, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Melanie…I am so sorry I did not know the “whole” story! Please forgive me for my ignorance…I am sorry you had to bear scars from someone you once loved and trusted! I pray for your forgiveness…I will pray for you for comfort and healing….I to was sexually assaulted by a relative….I pray we can heal completely from the evil which came into our lives because of someone who was at one time, dear to us!! God Bless You, Melanie!!!

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 24, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      Tami, no forgiveness needed. 🙂 I know many people didn’t know the whole story. I have forgiveness though you’re right, the scars still remain. I will be praying for your healing as well! <3

  • Reply Emma Messner April 19, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Melanie. . . I’m in tears. You are so strong for sharing your story. Thank you. God has given you a blessing with words to be able to share your story and encourage others on their own healing path. May god bless your heart and your family richly. <3

    Emma
    Imhislittle.com

  • Reply sarah April 19, 2016 at 8:39 am

    You are so courageous and brave to speak this. I know your heart is so heavy for women who face domestic violence. Your words are going to help so many come out of the shadows. I’m in tears at your personal experience, but at also the selflessness you have to help others.
    sarah recently posted…Trying to Conceive After A Loss | Cherish the Here & NowMy Profile

  • Reply Bonnie Lyn Smith @ Espressos of Faith April 19, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Oh, Melanie….no words. No words. I am so glad you are finding the strength to put this out there more completely for the healing and hope for others. God bless you. You are so strong!
    Bonnie Lyn Smith @ Espressos of Faith recently posted…5 Reasons to Lick a Shut-up-sicle (and 5 Reasons Not To)My Profile

  • Reply DeAnna April 19, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Hi there! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m happy that you are findimg peace and strength in all of it. I was a survivor of mental/verbal abuse, that I thankfully got away from before it turned physical. The memories still haunt me, so I can only imagine your pain that you’ve went through on your way to finding peace.
    DeAnna recently posted…Cesarean Awareness Month: Guest Stories Part OneMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      DeAnna, I’m thankful you’re out of that situation too! Often people don’t realize that verbal, mental and emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical and often escalates to physical. Thank you for your support!

  • Reply Leah Sannar April 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m just speechless. It’s horrifying that experiences like this one actually exist… I hope you are able to feel peace and love through our Savior. This was beautifully written, and it just made my heart ache. Hoping nothing but good things for you and your family in the future.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Leah, it was horrible. It was surreal, like I was just one of those terrible news stories you read about. But then I was IN the story. I’m so thankful my children and I are alright. God is so good and protective!

  • Reply Vicki Reilly April 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    I am so inspired by your courage Melanie. We walk somewhat the same path but yet different. We have both seen evil in different eyes yet with pain and heartache we grieve for what may or could have been. I won’t forget the day I walked into the funeral home for you, Kayleigh and Parker but also for me as it was one of the 1st times I was there since we buried Tanya. I applaud you for your bravery as well as your children. I thank God for the peace we both have been able to find in the days, months and years since or tragedies. May God Bless you always my friend!

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com April 24, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Vicki, you are far braver than I. I too remember visiting the funeral for your beautiful Tanya. My heart breaks over and over for you. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you visited a place of pain in order to support me and my children. YOU, my friend, are courageous.

  • Reply Hannah April 20, 2016 at 12:46 am

    I’m so sorry to read of your trauma. My heart goes out to you, and all that you have (and are) enduring. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it will help to give others the courage to share their own.

  • Reply Petra April 20, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I love your vulnerability, honesty and the courage to speak out! For that I thank you!

  • Reply Jean-Marie Lawrence April 20, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and opening your heart on your blog. Your strength is inspiring to me. I cannot even begin to understand what you have gone through and are still going through. I’ll be keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  • Reply Liv April 20, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    What a horrific event. I’m glad that you made it through alive…and I’m so sorry you had to go through it.

  • Reply Diane Lansing December 11, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Melanie,
    I came upon your story by accident through a link from another blog, and I want to thank you so much for having the courage to share your horrific experience. I am also a survivor of an abusive marriage, although mine ended in divorce rather than death.
    One of the most difficult things for me were the people who didn’t want to believe me when I finally spoke up. They couldn’t understand how a seemingly nice guy could commit such awful acts toward his wife.
    I believe we all need to share our stories in order to support one another and to educate those who don’t understand domestic violence.
    May God bless you as you continue to minister to others through your writing.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com December 19, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Oh Diane, I so understand your story. I’m thankful you’re no longer in that situation. I do agree with you, we need to speak up to help ourselves and others and bring awareness. <3

  • Reply Jeri Riker April 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

    As I am reading this for the first time, your courage and your ability to express your situation with such finesse is simply beyond amazing. I’m not sure I would have had the strength in me to move beyond the way you did for yourself and your children. I pray that there are young women out there that will read this and understand how things can change in a split second, maybe figure out clues and be able to see possible danger that could be lurking. I know you have touched countless women with your writing and videos, some of them victims and others not. Never the less it’s the encouragement and the faith that you exude that shows beyond bounds what a person can go through and survive, to learn to love and more importantly live again. I think of you often and wish you the best of what life has to offer.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com May 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      I really appreciate your words, Jeri. They mean so much to me! I do hope that I can make others feel heard and seen, and encourage them through whatever they’re facing (or have faced).

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