I think I recently had one of the hardest days of my life. It was a personal issue so I’m not gonna disclose the issue, but everything was falling apart and I couldn’t gather enough courage to pull myself out of the muck.
Today, I happened to spot a thread on Quora that asked readers to describe the hardest day of their lives. I came across an answer that has occupied my head from the very moment I read it. I couldn’t help but write about it because every person should read the story of this brave woman called Ann Young, who has been fighting with life since she was a little kid.
Here’s the answer she gave.
The hardest day of my life was my entire childhood.
At age 3, my uncle made me lick his penis “like a lollypop.”
At age 9, I was raped by another family member.
At 15, my mom and step-dad thought it was funny for my step-dad to touch my breasts.
I was date raped at age 17.
My mom’s second husband would make me strip naked and lay in the center of my bed while he beat me all over my body.
My mom’s third and current husband, my step-dad, beat me regularly for a decade, from the time I was 5 until I was 15.
I got hit for making too much noise in the morning. I got hit for eating the last pickle. I got hit for speaking. I got hit even if I opened my mouth to speak. I endured black eyes, bloody noses, fat and bloody lips, a broken finger, welt marks and bruises all over my body. I’ve been hit with a croquet mallet and beaten with a whiffle bat until it was broken in half. My entire childhood was terrifying.
On top of it my mom would tell me that she didn’t want me, that if she could do things over she wouldn’t have had me. She didn’t want me.
My step-dad made fun of me every day because I was a little chubby. He would entertain guests by making fun of me. He would encourage me to make fun of him in return and then laugh at my poor attempts. Whenever I did make a joke he didn’t like, he would beat me for it.
I tried my best to overcome it. By age 30, my body gave out. It was too damaged from all the physical abuse. I have Enthesopathy, Fibromyalgia, and polyarthritis, just to name a few. I also suffer from chronic PTSD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety.
I live off of SSD and receive less than $12,000 a year to survive. All of my hopes and dreams were stolen from me.
I haven’t overcome it yet.
This heart-wrenching reply of hers went viral on Quora and thousands of people asked several questions to know how she overcame all the difficulties she faced. She edited her answer and wrote down replies for each one of them.
1. About the uncle who sexually harassed her
Shortly after my uncle sexually abused me, he killed himself. I have wondered all of my life if he killed himself because of what he did to me.
2. About the family member who raped her when she was 9
The person who raped me when I was 9 years old was my older brother. He did not live with us.
My two older brothers grew up with our biological father while I grew up with my mom and step-dad. My mom didn’t want the boys. She barely had anything to do with them. She kept me because I was a girl and because she wasn’t entirely sure who my father was. I grew up believing that William James Young Sr was my father. My mom kept me away from him for most of my childhood because of my brothers, according to her.
The brother who raped me did so during a very rare visit to our home. He was allowed to spend the night that night. He hated me. He hated that my mom kept me and had barely anything to do with him. Little did he know what I was going through.
I didn’t tell on him until I was 11. My mom contacted the police and a woman came to our home. I had to tell her everything. My brother was arrested and sent to live in a juvenile detention facility for 4 years. His last year there, my mom took some interest in him for some reason. She started bringing my rapist home for visits. One day she made me sit at the dining room table and write a letter. She forced me to write that I had forgiven my brother and that I wanted him to come live with us. None of it was true. I was terrified of my brother. Additionally, my parents never got me any help for what he did to me. They said that they couldn’t afford it. My parents could afford new jewelry every Christmas for my mom and yearly vacations to Las Vegas but they couldn’t afford anything for me ever, not dental check ups, not doctors, nothing. I was lucky to get a coat for winter and with that I was forced to get on my knees and thank my parents repeatedly for all they did for me.
My mom had my rapist come live with us. Then they blatantly favored him right in front of me. He was good looking. He made them laugh. My step-dad would have my brother join in in making fun of me.
Eventually, they kicked him out when he became a serious drug user and started selling their stuff.
I came to forgive my brother. I learned that he did to me what someone had done to him. He is currently on parole after serving his second prison term. He never stopped using drugs. I don’t have anything to do with him.
3. About why she never tried to get out
A couple of people have asked me, “Why didn’t you get out?” As a young child, I didn’t realize I was being abused. I thought that all kids got hit like me. I was a bad child. I didn’t clean my room when I was told to. I made too much noise. Sometimes I talked back. I ate the last pickle. I didn’t clean up my parents mess in the kitchen. I could go on.
When my step-dad broke my finger my parents brought me to the hospital. I was told to say that I slipped and fell in the driveway. I was threatened that if I said anything else I would be hurt worse. I was too terrified of my parents to say anything but what I was told to.
It wasn’t until my early teens that I was allowed to spend time with friends in their homes. That’s when I saw that they weren’t being beat like I was. I remember one friend talking back to her dad. I winced and cowered in anticipation. I was shocked by her father’s response. He spoke to her firmly but lovingly. I finally started to see that what was happening to me was not normal.
At 15, I overdosed on Advil. I was questioned by many people at the hospital but I was still too terrified to speak about my parents. I blamed it all on a bad grade.
Eventually, I started to confide in some of my friends and one friend’s mom in particular. I would tell her something and then I would be shocked and intrigued by her response. She was the one who got me to open up a little.
At one point CPS (Child Protective Services) were notified by another friend’s mom. I told CPS a few things over the phone. The next day they showed up at my high school. I was horrified. My step-dad was a teacher at the school. I was brought to a guidance counselor’s office. I knew that the guidance counselor knew my step-dad. I was too terrified to speak. I only confirmed the few things I had told CPS on the phone. From there, a detective brought me down to the police station.
I was brought upstairs to a room full of desks. The detective introduced me to the secretary. I recognized her name. “She knows my step-dad!” I exclaimed. The detective yelled at me saying that whatever I had to say would stay in that room. Again I was too terrified to speak about my parents. The detective started asking me if my step-dad touched my breasts “playfully or sexually.” To me it didn’t matter. I thought it was wrong that he touched me period. I couldn’t answer the detective. He kept asking me over and over again, becoming more irate everytime he asked. He was outright screaming at me. I thought about how my parents would laugh at me everytime my step-dad touched my breasts. They thought it was funny that I would get upset by him touching me. After the third time he touched me, I stood up and stormed off. That’s when my mom said, “oh we can’t even play with you!” Because she had said that, I finally answered the detective, “playfully.” That was it. That’s all he wanted to know. He was done with me.
The detective then brought me down to CPS. I was made to sit in a worker’s cubicle. Somewhere in the room, I could here my mom and my rapist brother talking. I could hear my brother saying, “She’s lying! She’s lying!” I could hear my mom say, “He’s a respected teacher in this community!” While hearing all of this, I was questioned by the CPS worker. Again, I was too terrified to speak. At no point in time during that day was I given a safe place to talk. No one offered me a single ounce of compassion.
I was put in a foster home that night. I spent 4 nights there. On the 5th day, my parents called me. They said all the right things. They told me that they weren’t angry. They said that they loved me, that they missed me and that they wanted me to come home. I agreed to go home.
The CPS worker came and brought me home. She stayed and chatted with my parents for a few minutes. My parents were so polite and friendly to her. I really thought at that moment that everything was going to be okay. Then she left. My parents watched her leave. Then they turned on me and the smiles on their faces morphed into something that looked pure evil. I got a verbal beating that day that was so awful I just ran. I ran out of the house and I didn’t stop running until I got to my friend’s house a mile away. It was the friend whose mom I had confided in.
I lived there with my friend and her mom for a few months. One day my friend and I got into an argument over something stupid like kids do. My friend decided that she didn’t want me living there anymore. Her mom went to pray about it. Five minutes later she decided to bring me home. They packed up all my stuff in a garbage bag and drove me to my parent’s house and left me there.
I spent one night home. I endured more verbal abuse. The next day I ran away again. For some reason I ran back to the same friend’s house. This time the police were called. I told the police I was being abused. They told me they would handcuff me if they had to to bring me home. They treated me like a run away, not an abused child. They advised me to get a job or do some after school activities to keep myself out of the house. That’s what I did. CPS never did another thing for me.
4. About the following behaviour of the stepfather
My step-dad did not lay a hand on me again after CPS was notified. The verbal abuse was worse then ever though. When I was 17, my step-dad hurt my cat. That’s when I called up my real dad and asked him if I could live with him. He came and got me and my cats right away.
My father never knew the abuse I endured at the hands of my step-dad. I don’t know why I never told him. My time with him was very limited as a child. What little memories I have of him were all positive. I always felt safe with my dad. He never hurt me in any way. During my rare visits, we would do whatever I wanted. He would take me to the movies or roller skating or ice skating. We would take walks and go to the park. He also protected me from my rapist brother.
Living with my dad meant living with my rapist brother. For that reason, I only lived with my dad for one year. It was during that year that I really got to know him. He was a great man.
When I turned 18 I got my own apartment. I worked full time and went to college full time. Because I had lived with my dad, who was poor, for the year prior to college, I was eligible for full financial aid.
Four days before Christmas of 1992 my dad came over to my apartment. He gave me his big, bright beautiful smile and handed me a $100 bill. He told me that it was my Christmas present. I asked him why he was giving it to me so early. He just shrugged and said that he wanted me to have it. I thought about asking him to stay and play gin rummy with me. He always kicked my butt at that game. For some reason I decided not to ask him to stay. Instead I gave him a hug and a kiss and I said to him, “I love you.” He said it back to me and then left. Later that night he died of a heart attack.
It was my dad’s death that prompted me to go to paramedic school. I became an A-EMT-I. I did EMS for 5 years before my body just couldn’t take it anymore. I was lifting and carrying patients of all sizes day in and day out. My body was damaged from the physical abuse. I worked through the pain as long as I could. From there I went to work for a hospital caring for cancer patients.
5. About the sexual abuse affecting her adult life
It is common for abused children to end up with abusive partners in adulthood. It has to do with feelings of worthlessness and not deserving better. That’s what happened to me. I ended up with an abusive police officer. He lied to me. He told me that he had had a vasectomy. He told me he wished he could get me pregnant so he could keep me in his life forever.
At 25 I was pregnant, destitute and all alone. I had been taken out of work at just 5 months along because of all my health issues. I had no where to turn. I hadn’t talked to my mom or step-dad for 4 years. I made the biggest mistake of my life and called them.
They were absolutely thrilled to be having their 1st grand child. They fed me. They threw me a baby shower. They bought me everything I needed for my son. I told my step-dad that if he ever lay a finger on my son I would have him arrested.
Maybe it was Stockholm syndrome or something but I was happy to have some type of family in my life. I had spent 4 years having no place to go on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’ve never had many friends. I was quiet and shy and I couldn’t trust. I hoped that my parents had changed.
They had changed to some degree. They spoiled my son. He wasn’t their responsibility so they could just enjoy him and send him home. I monitored their relationship closely over the years. There were several times that I had to step in and set my foot down. For example, I had to make sure that my step-dad didn’t drive drunk with my son in the car. I had to insist that he not make his racist comments in front of my son. Because I monitored everything so closely, I agreed to let my son spend one night a week with my parents.
I never told my son all the horrible things my parents or his father did to me. I wanted to protect my son. I didn’t want to taint their image to him. I didn’t want to be bitter and angry around my son. I figured he would learn the truth about them on his own when he was old enough to understand.
After working at the hospital, my body was still struggling. I decided to go back to college and earn my degree in criminal justice. I worked jobs that were easier on my body. I worked security, loss prevention, and I even did some stuff for the state police. My body gave out though at the age of 30. The physical abuse I endured was just too much and it finally caught up with me.
6. About the current state
I have not worked in 12 years. I cannot sit or stand for long periods of time. I suffer chronic pain. I have muscle aches, joint pain and weakness, bone pain, and nerve pain all over my body all the time. I get injections all over my body just so I can function enough to care for my son and I.
I did not date for 15 years while raising my son as a single parent. I didn’t want to bring different men around him. I was also too busy and stressed spending all those years in family Court trying to protect us from his father. Now that I’m 42 and disabled, most men don’t find me appealing I guess.
My son started rebelling at 16. My parents did not help. Instead they would undermine me and talk bad about me to my son every chance they got. I would try to discipline my son by taking his phone away. My parents would run out and buy him a new one. I would also try disciplining him by changing the WiFi password. He would run away to their house. The police would tell me that they couldn’t force him to come home and to file a PINS petition.
A few months ago my son ran away for good. He lives with them now. They have turned him against me. He hates me. He does not want any chores or any rules. He will be 18 in September.
My son does not know what abuse is. I ended the cycle of violence. When I became pregnant I started seeing a psychologist. I still see her to this day, 18 years later. She helped me tremendously to end the cycle.
I currently have an order of protection against my son’s father. At our last court appearance, my son showed up with his father. My son and I don’t speak now. He is too involved with all of them. My heart is crushed.
My parents and my son’s father have my son believing that I am this terrible, awful person. They call me a “professional victim.” I’m “mentally retarded.” I’m a “nut job.” I’m a “disgrace to women and mothers everywhere.” I am told to “Shut the fuck up you stupid ugly bitch.”
Someone asked me how I keep going. It used to be my son. Now, the only thing that stops me from swallowing my entire bottle of pain pills is my cats. I promised them a “furever home.” I cannot imagine how scared they would be for strangers to come in and cage them and take them away from their comfy home.
If you read all this God bless you. I hope this answered your questions. Specifically, I have lived on my own since I was 18. I have never depended on anyone since then. I can no longer work as my body is way too damaged and fragile. My parents were never held accountable for any of their abuse.
7. About hope and faith…
I guess all my life I have wished for some kind of hero to come rescue me and take me away from this place, from them. I cannot go anywhere without great anxiety about running into one of them. I imagine this hero rescuing me and just holding me and letting me cry and telling me that’s it’s ok, that I can take a break, that I don’t have to be strong all the time. I imagine being loved for who I am and being told that I am deserving of love, that I am worthy of love. I have struggled and endured and survived abuse my whole entire life and I’ve learned that no such hero exists.
All I can write is that she was very brave throughout and I hope she gets the strength to fight all the odds bravely.
Be strong, Ann!