I turned towards my mother who had not quite made it to the phone before the door had buckled. She also seemed frozen like a statue, staring at this man. She was holding tightly to my little brother who was now crying hysterically. I didn’t know what to do. I could not seem to make my lips or my legs move. When he turned away from me and began to approach my mother, tears started streaming down my face.
So this is how it’s going to end. I’m going to find out what it feels like to die.
I couldn’t think of anything that would get us out of this mess and I still couldn’t seem to will my body to move.
Suddenly my mother screamed out, “Dusty, run!”
Her voice seemed to snap my senses back into reality and my legs took action. I could not get to the only phone in our house because it was behind my mother, so I sprinted out of the door and across the field that lay between our house and neighbors. Us and the only hope.
I bolted out of the door and ran as fast as I could manage, gasping for air and yelling for help as loud as my voice could carry. There was no response. The night seemed so still and quiet.
My mind was running a million miles a minute.
Why isn’t anyone answering?
I reached the door to the first house and pounded on their door with all of my might, screaming for someone to answer the door. After a few seconds, I realized that no one was home and began to run to the next house, feeling the precious seconds ticking by and terrified that my mother was falling into the grips of a madman.
I arrived at the second house and again threw all of my energy into beating on the door to get someone’s attention. I could not believe what was happening when again there was no answer.
WHERE IS EVERYONE!?
Sobbing hysterically, I ran to the next house and felt the tears catch in my throat in relief. There was a woman standing on the porch trying to find the source of all the noise and commotion I was causing. Ironically, it was actually a family member of my brother’s father. I raced up the steps and grabbed her by the arms and begged her to call the police because HE was trying to murder my mother.
I was led into the house and authorities were called. I wanted to run back home and try in some way, any way to help my family. I didn’t care that I was only a child. I went to the door and suddenly I heard a faint sound. Was that my mother’s voice calling out for me?
Was I imagining it?
Then I heard it again and with a firm resolve I bolted through the door, searching for her frantically. When I finally saw her, carrying my brother as she passed under a streetlight, I made a mad dash for her.
“He’s coming,” she panted. “We have to get inside.”
We hurried into the safety of the neighbor’s house, locked the door behind us and waited for help to arrive, praying that we weren’t found before they came.
When the police finally showed up, we told our story and they left to search for the man who terrorized my family for sport. He was found and arrested. Unfortunately, he was released the next day and went home completely unscathed.
My mother managed to get another restraining order on him (including me this time) and there were several other similar events that unfolded in the coming days, but eventually we were able to move away to escape the need to look over our shoulders with anxiety every moment of the day.
The events of that night haunt me on occasion even now. I never asked my mom just how she got away. A part of me really didn’t want to know the details of what happened in that trailer when I ran out of the door. The memories I do have are scary enough on their own.
Our attacker is still out there. The last I checked he had been jailed for sexually assaulting a minor (which doesn’t surprise me, and I’ll tell that story in another post some day), but I don’t know how long he remained incarcerated. I’m safe now, hundreds of miles away and many years older with a loving husband as my protector, but that doesn’t stop the occasional nightmare from intruding in my slumber. It doesn’t completely erase the scars left on my heart from being utterly terrified. But it has taught me a lesson.
It has taken me many, many years to come to terms with the terrible events in my childhood and I’m still not totally there, but with the strength, mercy, and grace of the Lord, I’ve taken great strides toward releasing it all to Him. I’ve come to learn that fear should not take over your life. Fear contributes nothing but pain and sorrow to the world. Moreover, God doesn’t want us to be overcome with fear.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
The Bible tells us over and over and over again to “fear not.” God doesn’t want us to drown ourselves in worry and anxiousness.
I believe that because I was just a child when this terrible event occurred, I wasn’t mature enough in years or faith to remember that while God never promises us an easy life, he does promise that He will work everything for good. Everything.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
All things. Even the nasty, gritty, shove-to-the-furthest-recesses-of-your-mind things. The ugly things. The unsavory things.
We may not know until much later on what the good turns out to be, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it.
God’s ways are most certainly not ours.
If this had not happened to me, we might not have moved.
If we hadn’t moved, I may never have gotten the opportunity to get an after school job, met friends who encouraged me and inspired me despite my past, had teachers who assured me that even though I was poor, I could still go to college.
If I hadn’t gone to college, I may never have met my husband.
If I had never met my husband, I wouldn’t have my three precious blessings.
That’s only one way that these tragic events turned to good.
What about how it taught me about my own strength and resilience?
What about how it made me appreciate life and how truly short our time here on earth is?
Most importantly, what about how it makes me desire to know my Lord more so that I can find peace, love, and safety in Him because none of those things are guaranteed elsewhere?
“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” Psalm 56:11
I’m only at the beginning of this road, and I still stumble. Occasionally, if I glimpse a man with a face similar to our attacker when I’m out and about, it can send chills down my spine and make my throat go dry, but I’ve taken the first steps. Now it’s just remembering to continue putting one foot in front of the other and to keep my eyes ahead on the One who is drawing me near.
I don’t know if anyone reading this has had similar experiences, but if you have, just know that God will never leave you or forsake you(Hebrews 13:5). He will pull you out of the muck and into the sun. Trust Him. Lean on Him. Follow Him. He will be your strength when you feel you have none.
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31