My husband Tom and I just returned from a visit to my hometown, a small farming community in northeast Nebraska. It is the loveliest place I know. I tell people I have three favorite cities, London, England, Sedona, AZ and Petersburg, NE. It is nestled in Boone Co., with rolling hills sparkling with brilliant greenery, large stands of cottonwood, oak and elm, rambling country roads with bridges grumbling noises as you cross and a shining scene in the sun, Stevenson’s Lake. The Beaver River crawls through the valley. When I lived there I swam in the Beaver in the summer and ice skated on it in the winter.
That town has brought me more joy than they could imagine. If you could be in love with a place I am in love with Petersburg. The people are the most kind and giving I’ve ever known. It is as if they were all one large family and they have accepted me as their own even though I had been living in the Los Angeles area for 42 years and for 22 of those years I had never been back. My homesickness assailed me throughout my days as I crept in to my mind on a regular basis to relive the joy, the enchantment, the captivating beauty of Petersburg. I especially loved Rae Creek, a small wooded area only a half mile outside of town. When I lived there I hid in its midst as often as I could, climbing trees, sitting on their branches as I wrote poetry, the only friend I would have. At the age of thirteen I had written a poem about Rae Creek and the last four lines of it would sustain me for decades to come:
Wherever I go in the years to come,
Whenever my heart is tired and sad,
I’ll think of life in this hidden world,
And long for the moments that once I had.
This is the town where my father raped me when I was thirteen beginning a five year period of rapes, beatings and emotional and mental abuse. At the age of 18 I ran away from home. We were living in LA at the time. This began a 27 year period of alcoholic marriages, nervous breakdowns, failed suicide attempts, time spent in a women’s shelter and finally after my third abuser, a man my therapist said was so sadistic and abusive that I would never survive, I entered my own self enforced period of recovery. In the middle of my recovery I found out that my second husband had sexually abused my two oldest daughters. My youngest daughter had been raped at gun point when she was 17. This validates the truth that children of an untreated child sexual abuse victim stand a five times greater chance of being abused themselves.
During that time I developed and worked a program called REPAIR, a program for recovery from incest and child sexual abuse. The 2nd edition of REPAIR Your Life was published in December of 2016 by Loving Healing Press with a Five Star Review (on amazon.com) written as the Forward by Dr. Vincent Felitti, an internationally renowned physician and researcher. Dr. Felitti is one of the world’s foremost experts on childhood trauma. Leading the charge in research into how adverse childhood experiences affect adults, he is co-principal investigator of the internationally recognized Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a long-term, in-depth, analysis of over 17,000 adults.
Loving Healing Press, Publisher Victor Volkman, also published Repair For Teens, Repair for Kids, Repair for Toddlers, The Repair Your Life Workbook and It’s Your Choice Decisions That Will Change Your Life.
Having completed the REPAIR program, I rid myself of my last abuser and became the happiest person I knew.
I think it is fitting that I should return to the scene of the crime on Father’s Day Week. Despite the two times that my father tried to talk to me about what he had done, he never once admitted guilt in any wrong-doing once saying, “It wasn’t so bad kiddo. They do it in the Appalachian District all the time”. I pray that he is looking down on me and sees what good has come out of such evil. Today I am the Founder of the Lamplighter Movement, a movement for recovery from incest and child sexual abuse that currently has 76 chapters in ten countries. One in four girls and one in six boy will be victims of child sexual abuse. 93% of perpetrators are known to their victims. This is a problem of epidemic proportions. Please read the following information from the non-profit organization Darkness to Light:
“To err is human, to forgive divine.” Alexander Pope.
I forgive you Dad.
Happy Father’s Day.