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At the age of four, two armed soldiers burst into the home of my grandparents and forcibly removed me from my family. They shoved me into an animal cage on the back of a truck and I was taken away from the world I knew. I was terrified - no comprehension as to what will happen next. The soldiers repeated this action a number of times as they pick up other children. From that day forward, my life will never be the same. My childhood was stolen away from me at that point and my nightmare began.
Eventually, I was taken to a place that I'd never seen before. I was yanked out of the cage and forced to stand in a line. The soldiers continued standing around with their guns ready. One by one each of the other children are stripped of your clothes, my hair was cut very short, I was given a uniform and escorted to a dormitory where I would now live. Before my young mind could comprehend all that has happening, the soldiers took me to a room the size of a closet and locked me inside. The room was so dark I couldn't even see my hands.
I heard the other children crying through the walls. Some screamed and others threw tantrums. I sat quietly hugging myself rocking against the wall. Time passed and all of the sounds disappeared. I thought all of the children were dead and that I would be the next one to die.
They came and took me out of the room, gave me drugs and shots and then put me back into the room. This was repeated over and over until I had no idea what time it was even who I was.
As time went on, I was trained to be a super soldier. I was not allowed to demonstrate any type of feelings or emotions. All of the children were treated as genderless. Slowly they brainwashed and programmed their philosophy of violence. I watched my comrades being humiliated, tortured, and abused as part of the discipline.
They considered me to be the best and brightest and I was promoted up the ranks quickly. I was promoted by being able to stand in front of a firing squad and not flinch when the triggers are pulled with blank ammunition. I was promoted when by being beaten senseless and then a gun held to my head and the trigger was pulled. My reaction decided whether or not I would receive my promotion. I passed the test?
At the age of 12, I was one of the ranking young people. I was their brightest and best but for some reason I felt in my heart that this was somehow wrong. Without warning, the leaders told us that this experiment had ended and we were failures.
I was now forced to live with my alcoholic parents. My grandparents died. I went through severe withdrawals from the drugs that the militia leaders had given me. My parents moved away to another area. Everyone I saw was different from me. I felt as though I had arrived from another planet and now my peer group picked on me and treated me as an outcast because I didn't fit in ; I didn't understand society's rules.
Also at the age of 12, my father decided to give me a sex education lesson by raping me on multiple occasions. Until that point, I barely knew there were two genders in the world. He continued to take advantage of me sexually and used every opportunity to humiliate me. My parents constantly beat me and humiliated me. I was constantly being molested, raped, and beaten by drunken visitors. In order to cope and have some place of acceptance, several other kids from the militia experiment formed a street gang based on the knowledge we received from television. Our gang becames a force to be reckoned with.
Eventually my father was arrested before my eyes for passing bad checks. I was left standing on the sidewalk scared to death.
I now lived with your mother and her boyfriend. I had to run the household: watching my younger sister. I ran the household - making dinner, doing dishes, shopping, ironing, cleaning house, cleaning up the vomit that is left from drunks in the house.
Often we lived without electricity, without heat even though it was snowing outside, living without refrigeration. We were forced to cook meals on a charcoal grill.
As time goes on things continue to become worse. Your mother's boyfriend was constantly molesting and raping me. I cannot tell anyone because I was constantly being threatened to be jailed as an unruly child and I could not bear to be locked in a cage ever again. Yet, I felt that all these things were my fault for not beating him off. I had the capability to do that - but I also had the fear of being locked up.
The drunks that visited our house seemed to feel a challenge to try and molest or perform sexual acts with them. Some I was able to fight off - others I couldn't remember if you I did or didn't. I felt worthless.
The day comes when I couldn't accept the violence of the gang. I resigned my position as leader and quit. The gang felt betrayed and when I least expected it I was attacked and beaten. The gang members then took me back to secret place where I was tied up and blind folded. Various members, both male and female take turns raping, sodomizing, and doing things that are so vile and unspeakable, I shut my brain off so I no longer knew what was going on. I believed that they were going to kill me when they were finished - but for some reason I was spared. I believe that God intervened.
One by one, I learned that the other militia kids had committed suicide or had been locked into mental institutions. I lived with extreme turmoil and pain deep down inside of me that I didn't know how to handle.
I wanted to kill myself to end the pain. Then, I met my first Christian that I'd ever seen. Her testimony radiated. I was so drawn to her that I felt I needed to be as close to her as possible in order to feel the calmness that she exuded.
I continued to be haunted by the things that had happened to me. My mind couldn't deal with the abuse, the rape, incest, etc. so it stuffed the memories in the dark corners of my mind.
Yet the pain I felt inside never seemed to go away. I didn't know how to rid myself of the pain. I was scared and wanted to die.
Through the influence of this Christian teacher and another, I was able to hold onto some point of sanity in the insane world that I lived. I made the National Honor Society in High School. I put herself through college at which point I accepted Christ as my Savior. I work a full time job. I continue to function in society.
Yet, things are not all well. I am on a journey of emotional healing. A journey that is as painful if not more than the original actions. I am in therapy and progressing on my healing journey and offer the things that I cannot change to God and allow Him to lead me on this journey. I don't know why He allowed so much abuse and trauma to touch my life, but I would hope that it has a purpose. I wish to help others who are on a healing journey of their own. I want to be an advocate and teach others that have no clue about how to help people that are hurting and teaching them to be supportive. I still have to overcome the brainwashing and programming that the militia group inflicted upon me.
On the flip side, the militia leaders, my parents, the gang members, and the other abusive adults in my life could not take away my depth of character and my faith that one day I would find peace. And it is this character that drives me to choose each day to move forward and to volunteer in my church.
Susan Kaye Behm