Oct 4, 2012

Tears and Drowned Kittens


I was a child tormented by secrets hidden inside and the outside flesh they were carried in. How does a little girl tell of a demon that tore childhood from her and hung it on the threat of drowned kittens? Frightened, traumatized and overweight I walked through my youngest years with nightmares clinging to my ribbon sash.

A shadow stalks innocence
biding time and fueling intent.

No one knows – no one hears.
Darkness waits to steal from the light.

I heard my father and grandfather in the other room. My predator had me cornered; hand over my mouth suffocating escape. The green walls and scent of plaster of the bedroom were burned into my memory.

Sweating omen crawls across lips,
“Don’t tell anyone. You know it is your fault.”




“Teacher, she is throwing up again.”  It happened more times than I can remember, stomach in turmoil feeding on secrets. The lunchroom at school became an extension of abuse. A teacher would stand over me demanding I eat three bites of everything. I tried, but my body resisted.

A rain barrel and tiny kittens sacrificed for a threat,
large hands emerge from water holding limp fur.

My youngest sister always stayed close to my mom whenever we visited family. I am so thankful she did. But on one occasion she was with me when my abuser threatened me by taking new born kittens and drowning them in a rain barrel while saying, “This is what will happen to you if you tell.” 

Memories took knives and death
and tried to apply them to wrists,




I didn’t tell anyone about my abuse until I was nineteen years old and I told my husband. Through his strength and love I was able to make my way out of the abyss of depression and guilt.

but a savior appeared through the vertigo
and pulled hands from spiraling depression.

I feel so impelled to share my story. Sexual abuse is epidemic and those who have survived it need to help victims who can’t seem to rise above the pain and stigma. There is life after abuse. A time will come when you no longer use the language of a victim, but speak in the voice of a survivor.

“It is not your fault,” became a song of freedom,
surviving dried victim’s tears.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

57 comments:

  1. I lived with a horrible secret as a child also and as I read this post Susie I know this pain all too well. I pray that you find comfort in life now and know it can never hurt you again. I am available always to listen and care :)

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    1. Thank you Janice. I am doing well. It is sad there are so many just like us out there. For some reason the issue has risen up in me and I feel like there is someone who needs to hear my story. The internet is such a huge audience, perhaps someone will come across this and it will give them hope.

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  2. This is so brave of you Susie to share such a painful event and I know that this will help other people who have carried their secret for a long time to know that it was not their fault and they are not alone ....LARRY

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    1. Thank you Larry. I hope this will help others to know they can get past such horrible trauma and to know it was not their fault.

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  3. This is something I have experienced as well. In my time such words would never be spoken or written openly, the pain never acknowledged, don't talk about it and it will disappear. All of those things. If even one person is helped through your post it is a very good thing.

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  4. Thank you Ellecee for sharing your story with me. No one talked about it when I was a child either. It took a lot of years for me to be healed from it.

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  5. Do you ever wonder sometimes if you will ever again be completely whole? Brave of you to find the courage to share.

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    1. Thank you...There are parts of me that are still that little girl who suffered abuse, but thankfully I feel healed.

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  6. I have a huge lump in my throat reading your post. I am a recovering anorexic/bulimic- after a childhood of abuse and first marriage of abuse too. I am going to self publish all the poems I wrote twenty odd years ago with some drawings I did. Will add you to my blog list of pals and keep in touch- am so glad you were able to 'talk' about this. Takes a lot of courage, I know as mine was/is a secret disease too.

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    1. Thanks soulbrush. Nice to see you here and hope to remain connected. Let me know when you publish your work.

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  7. i dont know how to respond.just let me express my admiration for your courage and strength of spirit.salute!

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  8. I am saddened and horrified by what you endured ... and have a heightened awareness of just how strong, substantial a woman you are.

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    1. Thank you Helen. What we go through in life can either break us or build us. I am so thankful for the support of my husband through the healing process.

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  9. This is such a personal story, Susie, and almost too unbearable to suffer through, just in the reading of it, let alone the living through. I agree that women must speak out against abuse, but I also appreciate how terribly difficult that is. I salute you.

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    1. Thank you Kerry. I feel I must help others who have gone through such abuse. Through the years I have been able to share what I went through with many young people and help them on their journey to healing.

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  10. Thanks for sharing, it must be hard to go back to those memories but it let us who have similar stories that we are not alone.

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    1. Thank you Kimolisa. The memories are difficult, but healing has made it much easier to share what I went through.

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  11. Susie, I applaud you for writing of this. Yes, it will help others, for certain. I look at your innocence in the photos, and can picture so clearly the terror you felt. The drowning of the kittens is absolutely horrible, and the accompanying threat.

    Thank God for your husband, and your healing. And your courage!

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    1. Thank you Sherry. There are parts of what I went through that will always remain. Through healing I have learned to cope. I am so thankful Charlie was there for me.

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  12. Susie your courage, dignity and strength in releasing the "secret" is held with tenderness and appreciation by all of us who've read your words, I am sure of this. May you be blessed on your journey as you continue to heal. Thank you for sharing the dark, for opening your heart and allowing us to cry with you.

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    1. Thank you Laura. There have been many times I didn't feel brave, but healing has taught me others need to hear so they too can be healed.

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    1. Thank you Audrey for taking time to read it.

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  14. Wow, my dear Susie, ouch! And the form you choose of journal/poem makes it ever so much more effective. I hope telling it felt like a tonic to cleans your system. I hope you are no longer afraid.

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    1. Thank you Susan. I still struggle with fear, but I am so much better. Healing has set me free from my abuser. For so long he kept a part of me, but finally I got the courage to take it back.

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  15. It's horrible to think anyone would have to survive such a trauma. You have such strength in being able to share this and help others face their abusers.

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    1. Thank you Teresa. Each day I pray children would be spared abuse. And for those who have I can tell them of hope.

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  16. Susie, what awful times you went through as a child. The abuse, the fear. Not only at home, but also at school when you had to eat 'three bites.' And the abuser telling you that if you told the same thing would happen to you as happened to the kittens....what an awful thing to bear. I am so glad you married someone who understood and helped. I am glad you are able to share your story, which just may (we can hope) help someone else as well.

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    1. Thank you Mary. My husband was an angel sent to save me from myself. He had to bare so much when such a young man himself.

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  17. Oh my God! What monsters lurk in human form! I'm so grateful that there are saviors for some. I admire you for sharing your story.

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    1. Thank you Karen. By grace and love I came through and have been healed.

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  18. I have great admiration of you, Susie! It's not easy to come clean to tell on the dark experience. On the other hand once off the chest apparently one is so relieved and reassured. More so the trauma is now shared among many making it a lot lighter! Going by the confidence shown here you are up and about enjoying life the way it should be. Happy for you Ma'am!

    Hank

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    1. Thank you so much. Having come through it my hope is to help others to know they too can see brighter days and healing.

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  19. What a personal share, I applaud your courage and strength ~ I don't know what its like Susie but I felt the terror from your words ~ I am glad that your family is so supportive of you ~

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    1. Thank you. I have spoken my story but never really written it. I felt compelled to put it on here because the internet reaches so many people. Perhaps the one who needs this will find it and know healing can come.

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  20. A time will come when you no longer use the language of a victim, but speak in the voice of a survivor

    Oh dear God, this ... I'm a turmoil of thoughts and emotions. You are a warrior, a much needed warrior. Bless every word you write, that it reaches out and changes lives!

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    1. Thank you. Writing has been part of my healing. It gave me a voice when I was afraid to speak. I too pray it will reach those who need it.

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  21. I too was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. The minute I read the title of your post...I knew exactly what it was going to be about. The kittens in my life had their little heads hung over a dresser drawer which was then slammed shut. It takes courage to divulge, and even more to heal. I applaud you, and every one of us that takes the painful steps towards the freedom of becoming a survivor.

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    1. I am so sorry Karen that you had to experience abuse and horror. Thank you for sharing with me. We who have survived can bring healing and hope to those who suffer the anguish of being victims.

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  22. Your poem, while horrifying to contemplate, sang with the strength of your healing and your wonderful courage in not only sharing your story but wanting to help others heal. I pray that a day will come when men not longer perpetrate this horror on innocent children! thank you for your courage!

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    1. Thank you Barbara. I too pray this horrible abuse will end. No child should have their innocence taken. My hope is to let others know who have suffered that healing can come.

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  23. As a survivor of this, I have to say, I admire your courage. It takes so many, many years before a victim finally understands that, that, (being a victim) is exactly what it was. So instilled in them/us is the guilt by the perpetrator that is is our own fault, we are all to blame because we did this, we did that.. and we will be the ones who get into big trouble... these people do not know the evil that they do. They do not understand, or maybe care, how it leaves life long mental scars which sometimes do take a life time to heal, or, maybe never heal. It took me many years of self analysis and watching people like Oprah who bought this type of abuse into the light of day, and spoke about it openly, before I realised myself that...the abusers were probably also abused too. Once I could remove myself from the focus point and begin to look at it all from other aspects of why they did what they did, I was able with the help of my partner, to talk it all through, to stop the dreadful night terrors, to let the inner child who still wept from fear, have a voice and to see the light again too.
    Not easy Susie but, I'm so glad you were able to do this too. We need to see that we were victims then, but, we don't need to be that victim anymore and yes, try to help others who have gone through the same or, are are. Education is the only answer, teaching people the often permanent damage this does to young minds.
    This touched me deeply.

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    1. Thank you. We do need to stand up to let others know life can go on and be rich and productive. The guilt placed by abusers on their victims gets burned into them until they believe it is their fault. We, who are survivors, need to help others to be set free of it.

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  24. Susie, just love coming from me to you. Words fail me. What strength and love you have. xoxox Marian

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    1. Thank you Marian. Love is a great healer and I thank you for sending it my way.

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  25. It's mind boggling, isn't it, that a fellow human being can be so inherently evil? You share your story here, Susie, with a frankness that will illuminate the crime. Brava!

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    1. Thank you Kim. As I stated before I have spoken about my abuse, but never openly written about the experience. It just seemed to be the right time.

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  26. aloha Susie - this is a powerful write. well written and full of the strength in you. i see that as a very good thing. this is one of those writings that needs to be promoted, encouraged and acted upon by all. aloha.

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    1. Thank you so much Rick. It is my hope it will reach those who needto read it.

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  27. The threat of drowned kittens was additional abuse, and their deaths must have added an unbearable amount of guilt to a young soul guilty of nothing.
    My heart goes out to that young soul, and to you now, Susie. If just one person is helped by your sharing, it will be worthwhile. I know, because I have shared some of my own horrors and have seen the good that came from it.
    Warm hugs, much love,
    K

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  28. Hi Susie ~~ Thank you for sharing this terrible time in your life. I am so glad that you have a husband that love will let you share your experience with him. All husbands should be as loving.

    I really cannot fully imagine the horror you must have had. And then the kitten's drowning would add in cemementing that total picture in your mind for later. I will never forget the cruelty I experienced as a child and there was nothing sexual involved in those. I am sorry for your childhood ruined and am glad there is some repair available now. For you and for everyone else too.
    ..
    Thank you for peeking in on my Texas travel and are happy to know you are a fellow Texan. We live north of Houston. I didn't mention on my blog, but the travel is actually to London, the U.K. We arrived to visit our grandkids and kids for a few weeks. They have been here going on three years now.

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    1. Thank you Jim. I am so sorry that your childhood was marred with cruelty.

      I hope someday to go to London. My oldest daughter went in July and she is planning another trip in November.

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  29. First time reading this. To share your story is to relive it - but you are now in control of how it ends this time. And you have, I am sure, already changed someone's life with your ability now to speak out!

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    1. Thank you Margaret. I so relive it when I tell it, but healing has softened the pain. I hope in some way sharing what I went through will lead someone else to healing.

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  30. Pardon me for saying, but I hope karma came around for the person who would do such a thing to an innocent child. What a sadistic person. You are truly braver than you think and stronger than you believe. Never forget that you are NOT alone. Others are here, just a mouse click away. Hugs, my friend! xxoo

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