My name is Angela Dobbins. When I was five years old, I was placed in a facility called Open Door Home in Rome, Ga., which at the time was co-ed, boys down one hall and girls down the next.
By the time I was seven years old, I had been in several different foster homes with and without my older sister. Then a man and his wife, the Baldwins, came to visit me. I was so excited because I really liked them a lot. One weekend, I got to go stay with them. Everything was so normal until came bedtime, when my soon-to-be foster dad came in to tell me goodnight. He started tickling me. Well, that was fun until he put his hands between my legs, when he was finished I remember him telling me not to tell, that my soon to be foster mom would not want me. Well, I was a child who wanted a mama to love me so I kept that secret.
I was placed in the home a few weeks later; the abuse went from touching to him forcing himself inside of me, which continued while in his care. He kept telling me if I told my foster mom, she wouldn’t want me, and I didn’t want to be sent away. Then the threats started because I wanted him to stop hurting me. I hated him but never showed him that I hated him because I was too afraid.
Then the five kids came, and Penny became my sister by heart, especially when we realized he was molesting and raping us both. We were both eight years old at that time. She had two little sisters who were twins; I remember waking up to one of them crying and went to find her, not realizing the abuse that was going to be placed on me even more, I told him to leave her alone. I didn’t care what he did to me anymore, which was true. I never thought that I would be out of the home. I hated him but yet in some ways loved him, too.
I am older and realize I wanted him to love me for me and not to abuse me. He also raped my sister, Susie, who was a year older than me. Penny and I had to sit and watch, which was his way to keep control over us, keeping us silent. He tortured her two brothers in front of us to show us what would happen when we did tell, so that kept us silent as well. We didn’t want him to hurt the boys.
When Penny and her siblings went back to their birth mother’s care, I was left alone with him again. I hated summer because that meant no school and abuse from him all day. I wanted to die lots of times and even prayed that I would. I hated nights and remember many times pretending to be asleep, which worked at first, but then he would get me up anyway because he didn’t care.
Penny’s mother kept begging the authorities to get me out of the home, which I later found out when I was taken from his home. I lied the day my social worker came to get me. I was placed in a room, and a lady started asking questions they ask a child they suspect has been abused.
While being prepared for court, I still had not told the truth. They decided to show me the other kids on video telling what had been done to them. Then the quiet twin’s video came out. I had been really close to the twins at the time, and when she started crying, I broke down and admitted that he had molested me, but I’ve never told anyone that he raped me until now.
For years, I carried the secret of him raping me. My adopted parents never knew it, either, because I told no one. I wanted to forget it all happened. I felt dirty and felt no one would want me if they knew he had done that to me. When I was taken from the home, I was placed back in the Open Door Home, and remember I said it was co-ed. A 16-year-old boy held me down as he told a 13-year-old boy to have sex with me, that it would make him a man. The 16-year-old boy never did anything other than sneak in my room, lay on me and tell me things he wanted to do to me but he never touched or entered my body. He just terrorized me with his thoughts. I’ve never told anyone about this either; it has all come out since I started sharing my story with others on Facebook. I did feel like people would not want me if they knew the whole truth. I also know now that not all men are bad like he was to me.
Living in foster care had its good and bad moments. One of the good moments is when you are with a family who really treats you like their own flesh and not just a child that they get paid to keep. If you are in it to make money, that is so unfair to that child. One of the bad things about living in foster care is when you don’t trust the people you are with because you are so used to being in and out of homes that you learn not to allow yourself to get attached. As I said at the beginning, I was five years old when I was placed, so honestly I don’t know how all that works, just that the social worker is the one who took me to the homes I was placed in and would take me on outings to talk to me. Keep in mind I was little so I don’t remember everything, but I do remember liking my social workers who were always good to me. How I was placed in a home where I would end up being molested and raped I still don’t know. He fooled them as he did me when I first met him, I guess.
When I first met my foster father, I liked him and was excited to be getting a daddy because I really wanted a family. When he was abusing and raping me, he liked to talk. I cannot recall all that was said because you have realize a lot of times when children (myself included) take themselves away from the pain they are feeling, they pretend to be anywhere but in that room with the person raping and abusing them. I would pretend it wasn’t happening, too. I do recall two things he said to me on two different occasions. The first thing he told me was that I was like my foster mom because I didn’t like sex. The second thing my foster dad told me was to call him the devil because he was making him do that to me. For years that has stuck with me, too, because I believe now in my heart he himself had been molested by someone and maybe even within his family. I don’t say that to take blame from him, I say it because I really believe it.
I was violated as a child. My foster dad stole my innocence from me and taught me at a young age not to trust men! Again as I said, I thought all men would hurt me. I felt ashamed. As I got older and had bad dreams of him abusing me, I felt dirty and thought that not even God would want to love me because of what had happened. I was taken to church by his parents whom I loved so much and still do, especially his mother (who until this day doesn’t believe he abused any of the children who were placed in his care, including me).
The reason I am sharing is because I cannot keep the silence anymore. It has slowly been the killer of my soul and since becoming a Christian, at the age of 15, I knew that I would work with abused kids. Recently God has shown me it is the children within the adults who need healing as well. This has become my journey of healing.
I have learned that I am not a victim of abuse, I am a survivor. I like the word OVERCOMER because it is true. Each time I share what happened to me, someone comes forth, which has been happening mostly through Facebook and one time on my LinkedIn account, so I know my PURPOSE is to be a VOICE for those who are being abused and who haven’t come forth yet…They will!
A typical day, week and month for me while being sexually abused was really like just any other day: long days that I dreaded. I will add that summer was the worst season for me because I was abused whenever he took the notion he wanted to hurt me.
I did look at life differently. Like I said, at the time I wished that I would die so the abuse would stop, and yes I often wished he would die as well. I viewed all men as monsters who would hurt me!
When given the opportunity to speak to someone who is being abused I would not really expect them to just come right out and tell me, but I would let them know that when they are ready that I am here. I would encourage them to seek help to find someone they trust to talk to, and if people don’t believe them to keep talking until they find someone who will listen and believe what they are saying. I would also tell them that by keeping it inside that they are allowing themselves to be abused until they do speak out.
As a child I was a people pleaser. I didn’t want to be rejected, so I did what I was told. I was shy at times, too. Now that I am a Christian I would have to say that the abuse has made me a better person because I am strong in my faith and give all credit to God (never to myself) because He did bring me through the abuse! I have great love for children and compassion for those around me.
I welcome a man into my life when God chooses to send one. He will have to be a man with compassion to share my story and support my cause to stop child abuse and, most importantly, put God first even before me. Now that I’m older, I also know that I am now chosen to speak out and be a voice for other victims because I was raped and experienced the abuse first-hand. I do hope by sharing my story that those who are keeping silent will realize that they are not helping themselves at all. When we hold it in, we are allowing the abuse to continue inside us. My prayer is for everyone to start sharing and let those who abuse and rape anyone, especially children, know that we will no longer allow it!!!
The holidays are very special to me, especially now that I am older. I can remember in foster care it being just as special, even in the home where I was abused. My favorite cartoon was Rainbow Bright, and my foster aunt got me that doll for Christmas. I can recall my late sister, Susie, and I being in the first foster family together and getting dolls with cradles, strollers and lots of clothes for them. All my dolls had a tiny red mark so we knew whose was whose. Later we didn’t like the fact that we always got the same things, but that was to keep us from fighting over toys. Like I said before, Thanksgiving and Christmas mean a lot to me because it is a time when family comes together, but for me Christmas is special because of the reason we celebrate it. It is the birth of Jesus our Lord, and I would not be where I am and who I am today if I had never asked Him into my heart. So I look back at my childhood; no it was not a happy one, at times, but I can’t say I would go back and change anything that happened to me because I may not be as strong in my faith as I am today. Jesus heals the broken-hearted, and my heart has been His for a long time now, and this has been something He has been tugging at me to open up about and share to help others, but before I could help others I had to allow Him to open those painful memories that I had hidden within myself never wanting to remember or share. I know now that was, and is, the right thing to do. It has given Christmas a new meaning for me this year. I feel more at peace with who I am in Christ now that I am doing this, and keep in mind it is Him I am doing this for because through me He will be the one to reach those who are hurting. I can do nothing on my own. Christmas is not about getting things, it is about giving and receiving His love, and we are to share His love with those we meet!!! I also want to add that I do write my thoughts down. I love to read, write and draw too!!!
I am so thankful God has blessed me even more this Christmas season with new friends who support my ministry to share my story, to speak out on all forms of child abuse. I would like to add something that was mentioned in a article I read about one of my favorite actresses who is and has been a role model in my life. Gates McFadden, who played the doctor on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” recently talked about being a child performer, which I never knew about her. She was a model, I believe, at the age of five years old and appeared in some commercials as well. She sometimes felt the pressures of it and felt embarrassed when not told correctly how to do something on camera. She took dance when she was two-and-a-half years old, too. The reason I am mentioning this is because the main thing she mentions is things she watched and researched online for the play she just finished directing in Los Angeles called “House of Gold” One thing she mentioned was a show called “Toddlers and Tiaras.” She talked about the way the children were pressured to do everything just right, the way the parents talked about one another and especially what the kids went through including getting fake tans, getting their eyebrows waxed and wearing all the makeup. Her exact words were “It was very disturbing.” I totally agree because I watched maybe four or six episodes and just couldn’t take it anymore myself. What it made me think of was “Who else is watching those little ones dress up like adults”” and “The content of the dances and songs these babies sing and dance to is way too mature.” They subject the children to predators and pedophiles, so you don’t know who is watching these things on YouTube, , and even at the pageants. So, like Gates said, we need to protect our children and not pressure them to do things just because we want them to do it. I watched a video recently on YouTube that had to do with a five or six year old getting her eyebrows waxed, and she was terrified because the last time they ripped her skin off, too. The child was in tears, and the mother forced her to have it done and said sometimes we have to go through pain to be beautiful to win. I thought to myself, “If that is not a form of abuse I don’t know what is…that IS ABUSE!!!”
I apologize this is so long, but I did want to add what Gates talked about because it does deal with a form of abuse that I would never have thought about until hearing her talk about it and seeing that YouTube video. She also mentioned the things parents post on YouTube of their kids saying or even doing things that they think are funny and how she thinks that will affect the child in years to come, so we need to be more aware of the dangers that we ourselves put and place our children in. It is our responsibility to keep our children safe, not lead them into danger.
I know it sounds crazy but, like I said before, now that I am older I see things differently. I had to go through the abuse in order to be able to understand and help others who are going through the same thing I did or have been through it. God is the One Who has brought me through this, not those around me. Yes they helped, but God placed them in my life to help guide me, but He has been the One to mold me into who I am today.
I have never done this before and would love prayers as I continue to reach out to others. This is the ministry God has called me into, so join me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also check out my Facebook page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and support me in stopping all forms of child abuse!!
Love and prayers,