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The Unanswered Prayer

Our house was like a little farm in the city. There were chickens, ducks, geese,

rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, doves, a cockatiel, and my dog. Our land was

rich and our mother was famous for her “green thumb”. She loved to garden, her

hands cultivated many vegetables and fruit. Her hands worked the land for hours

on end, and she cared for all of our animals. With her hands, she fed us and

tended to our every need. My father was a machinist and could build anything

with his hands. In the back, he had a machine shop on the upper corner of our

land. The machines his hands worked with were big and loud, you couldn’t hear

anything outside of the shop. This was my home, my safe refuge full of endless


Starting sixth grade meant new beginnings, a new school, and new friends all of

this was so exciting. I would come home from school and run to the mailbox

anxious to see if a new letter or postcard came addressed to me. My adrenaline

was always high; I was so full of energy. My life was perfect, I was happy. I was

also thrilled my older brother was getting out of the Marines and was coming

home for good. He was so smart, always helped me with my homework. We

played fun games like UNO, Monopoly, WAR, Checkers and, Tic-Tac-Toe. On the

Nintendo system, he could conquer all the levels on any game that you could

name. He was so cool and always made everything look so easy. I loved to

roller blade and ride my bicycle. It was his responsibility to watch me and to make

sure I didn’t get hurt. If and when I fell and hurt myself, he would clean my

wounds and apply the bandages. My older brother was my real-life superhero,

after all, he was a Marine and tough.

It’s common to pray to God for someone to return home safely when they are in

the military. Most often people pray when they want something, and they ask

God for it. Have you ever been grateful God didn’t answer your prayer? I prayed

many days for God not to let me wake up, that my eyes would not open again. I

didn’t want my life. My life changed in the blink of an eye. My experience was so

foreign and I no longer wanted any part of this thing called “life.” I was angry, I was

confused, I started to hate myself, and something had to be wrong with me.

From the outside looking at me, I appeared to be whole, however, on the inside, I

became a million shattered pieces. How could a touch that was warm,

comforting, and loving for so long become the hands of pain? Those hands

cared for me, made food to fill my hunger, made tasty rice crispy treats that were

perfect every time, they helped mold my volcano for science class, they held

mine when we crossed the street and when I was hurt they changed my

bandages. My hands were so small in comparison to those hands. Those hands

had more than a decade to become stronger than mine; those hands belonged to

a monster. A person who single handily changed my life forever with their hands.

How could a painless touch generate so much pain? The intention and actions

of those hands created a catastrophic storm filled with chaos, turmoil, hatred,

anger and brewed the question, “Why me?” I could scream from the top of

the highest mountain but my echoes would fall on deaf ears. I thought I was the

problem. How could I love someone knowing they became a real-life monster?

This monster authored and illustrated my night terrors, narrated the story of my

collapse. When I looked into any mirror I saw failure, I saw the person who

destroyed the most important thing in the world, her family. My hands trembled

when my monster's name was mentioned. He spent months explaining how his

hands were trained to kill and inflict pain. When I didn't listen, his hands would

discipline me, his voice would instruct me to do as he said, or else he would

show me what he was taught to do with his hands. He told me he knew how to

kill a person without them making a sound and I believed everything he said.

Who was this person? They weren’t who I remembered before they went off on a

mission to become a man. You were a man, old enough to sign up for the

military, fire a gun, buy cigarettes and drink alcohol, I was only a child who just

started wearing a training bra, my menarche hadn’t even occurred. I was an

innocent child. I always trusted you because you were my older brother - you

always protected me. What happened to you?

The abuse started shortly after your return. It started as verbal, then progressed

into psychological, slowly developing into physical, and finally ended with a

sexual abuse encounter. I was afraid of what you would do; you cultivated and

implanted fear into me. My father often thought we were siblings just bickering,

he thought any problems would be brought to his attention, but I couldn’t get to

him safely. I was terrified of what you would do to him and our mother. When I

didn’t listen to mom I would get sent to my room and you would physically punish

me and remind me of the ways you were taught to kill people with your hands.

The reminders were constant, you rarely let me out of your sight, and I listened to

what I was told because I was afraid of the consequences. I was ten when this

started, I hated everything and wanted it to go back to the way it was before you

went off to become a man.

There were a few times I would try to tell mom that you were hurting me and

scared me but before I could fully elaborate, you would talk over me in Korean, a

language that you and her could speak fluently together. It was obvious how

upset my actions made you but I was never granted the opportunity to spit out

what I needed to say. You prevented me. There was always an answer for my

behavior and how you would take care of it. My parents were clueless about the

control you gained over me. Then came a long holiday weekend, I was off from

school because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Never in my wildest

dreams could I ever imagine how my life would forever change. Upstairs in my

room, we were playing Nintendo and I fell asleep. You thought I was asleep, and

I pretended to be asleep because I didn’t know what you would do to me if I

made any sounds or appeared to be fully awake. In the past you told me if I said

anything to anyone to get you in trouble, you would kill my parents in front of me

and make me watch. I knew you knew how to, you put me in chokeholds before

and explained in just a few breaths I would no longer be able to feel anything and

my life was in your hands. You scared me. The ways you would describe your

power made me uncomfortable, you enjoyed terrorizing me. Late one evening

that holiday weekend, I became the subject of your curiosity, your hands glided

over my body caressing my developing breasts, moving my clothes out of your

way, and then you started kissing my body. You violated me and stole my

innocence as you molested me. I tried to keep calm, I tried to wiggle and pretend

I was still asleep because I was afraid if I made the smallest sound you would kill

me. I prayed in my head to God asking him to make you stop. My prayer was

answered you fixed my clothes and carried me to the other room. I lay in the bed

and prayed for strength and forgiveness. I could hear the television on

downstairs and knew my father was still awake. I needed the courage to make

that trek down that flight of stairs. I got up and walked down the stairs, walked

past my father, and proceeded to the bathroom. I pulled my underwear down as

I sat on the toilet and prayed. I prayed my pee would come and begged God to

forgive me. I didn’t want my parents to die because of me, I prayed to God to

help me. I needed strength that was greater than me, to wash my hands and go tell

my father what just happened and how you were touching my private parts.

Those places were my private areas and I knew you weren’t supposed to touch

any of them. Your hands navigated across my skin and violated every cell along

the path you touched. Until the day comes and I consume my final breath I will

remember how your hands and lips violated me. You were an adult and I was an

innocent child. That incident branded my soul and I was forever changed. My father

called you downstairs and asked if what I said was true. “Yes.” was your reply.

That was the ending of my abuse and the birth of the unknown trials resulting

from incestuous sexual abuse.

You were immediately kicked out of the home and within an hour you walked in

front of a semi-truck attempting to take your life. Our mother lost two of her

children that day. Her daughter would never be the same person she was before

and one of her sons was fighting for his life. My monster survived. My perfect

life was shattered and my safe refuge just became the birthplace of my trauma.

My protector betrayed me and used his hands to hurt me. However, my

heavenly father answered my prayers and protected my parents and me. My

father ended my abuse, removed my abuser and saved me, my true hero.

Enormous power is found in both hands and in words. Either can be used to

inflict hurt and pain or help and heal. The ultimate decision lies within each of us.

It’s our conscious deciding ability that determines the outcome of our intentional

actions. It has taken years for me to heal because incest creates a slew of

challenges. Those challenges come with a variety of triggers, constantly

navigating without a map or a compass stumbling along one step at a time.

Families aren’t equipped to defend against one of their own simply because we

are not taught about this form of threat. I hated myself for years because I still

loved my monster. How could I love someone who caused me so much pain and

suffering? My perfect life was destroyed, my family took a blow that we weren’t

prepared for, and our normalcy was shattered. I will always look to my father as

my greatest hero, he saved me and protected me to the best of his ability. My

parents couldn’t prevent what happened to me and I had no control over it. Their

trust was violated as well. Quickly I had to adapt without the resources or help

that I needed to process my trauma. You can’t escape the triggers of incest, but

you can learn how to respond to them and establish healthy boundaries. I

survived being assaulted by someone who was raised to protect me, that I was

raised to trust. I struggled in many areas with trust and I had to work hard to

process my trauma.

My scars that are beneath the surface can’t be seen. When people look at me

they aren’t aware I was abused by my brother or that I have an autoimmune

disease called Lupus that causes my body to attack itself. Those scars are

invisible to them. I am no longer defenseless, I have chosen to extend my hands

outward and help others. I am confident my story will provide hope and solace to

someone. I am so grateful God ignored my prayers and allowed my eyes to

open time after time. I fought and worked hard to establish this life that I now

have. My faith in God and my support system were my anchors at all times. I

am a Graceful Warrior fighting every day to be better than I was the day before. I

want to be the voice of hope, the face of courage, and the echo of strength; you

have the strength to overcome any obstacle or challenge that is presented to

you. In life, some circumstances are completely out of our hands, my abuse was

a decision another person made without my permission. I have accepted what

happened to me, and forgiven my abuser. I have chosen to focus on things in

my control and am committed to raising awareness about Child Sex Abuse,

Incest and Lupus.

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