This guest post comes courtesy of Anita Wladichuk, who reached out to me to share her story as a survivor of abandonment, abduction, physical and sexual abuse, bullying, and other tragedy’s that she outlines in her story. I’m honored to have the opportunity to share Anita’s story as she strives to continue her healing journey and advocate for survivors of abuse, suicide prevention, homelessness, and awareness of traumatic brain injuries.
My name is Anita, and this is my story. I am the second youngest of seven children having three (3) brothers and three (3) sisters. My siblings are generally omitted from this story because we were separated and put into foster homes, boarding schools, or lived with abusive parents. My youngest sister and I were together until I entered university, but I elected to say little about her. She lives a life of secrecy. Secrecy was a significant problem in my family. There were so many secrets whirling inside my head, it was about to explode.
When I asked for any kind of help from my siblings, they were not there for me. I didn’t ask for much. Instead of helping, my sisters took the easy way out and abandoned me. My brother was forced to leave home, and he became homeless at the age of 15. I never saw him again but later learned that he ended up with alcohol and drug addiction problems. My oldest sister was forced to leave home when she was 19 years old. I saw her again 8 years later as a single mom with a 2-year-old daughter. It was her pattern to vanish then re-emerge when she wanted something from my Mom and from me. My mom and I always helped her out during those times.
I survived abandonment, abduction, physical and sexual abuse, bullying, death of my oldest brother, suicide of my second oldest brother, homelessness of my third oldest brother, death of a couple of friends, post-partum psychosis (PPP), post-partum depression (PPD), and later the death of my parents, death of my aunt, a divorce, and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
My Dad left for another woman. My sisters abandoned me when I was suffering from PPP and PPD. Two of my sisters abandoned me after my TBI.
I was kidnapped four times by age 12. The first two times by children’s aid society. I didn’t stay long in the foster home because my Dad received visitation rights, and an ice cream treat with him and his partner ended up in a trip to Uranium City, Saskatchewan forcing me to live with them for the next five years. There were no laws then to get a kidnapped child back who was taken out-of-province.
Shortly after being kidnapped, my oldest brother was killed. I was unable to attend his funeral as I was trapped in Saskatchewan. I could only cope with this by praying for him and myself.
The next five years, I lived in constant fear because my Dad was an abusive alcoholic. His violent behaviour was horrific. He would throw things out the window, smash furniture, but worse, he would beat my stepmother either with just his fists or with an object. Often, my stepmother was hospitalized because of these severe beatings. When my Dad wasn’t drinking, he lost his temper easily so I had to be careful at all times. It was like walking on eggshells. Other punishments included washing my mouth out with soap for lying, burning my hands on the stove for stealing, as well as being sent to bed without dinner because I didn’t like the food. After school, I fantasized being Cinderella while doing my required chores.
My Dad touched me inappropriately on different occasions. He would kiss me using his tongue. He would pinch my nipples and tell me that my breasts would grow to be the size of cherries. When my stepmother was in the hospital, my Dad got drunk and raped me. I remember screaming and yelling because of the excruciating pain, and then I passed out. The next morning, I ran to the hospital to tell my stepmother but couldn’t because my Dad got there first. In a small town like Uranium City, I was alone with no one to turn to.
I had a dog to comfort me. Uranium City was beautiful so I enjoyed wandering the hillsides, picking berries, swimming, hunting, and fishing. The winters were cold but I loved playing in the snow. I went to a Catholic school and church; therefore, I prayed often and put my faith in God. I had no one else.
When I was 11 years old, my Dad and stepmother left for Ontario and left me behind to finish school. I traveled on my own from Saskatchewan to Ontario.
My stepmother tipped my Mom off that I would be there. This led to being kidnapped for a fourth time. I was sent off to visit my Mom and a new venture began. I knew what my Mom was doing, and I was more excited than afraid. I thought things would be better for me. My Mom and her friend had everything planned out: a change of car and a place to hide out for a few days.
I never told anyone what happened to me and was stunned when my Mom asked if the things Dad did were true. I forgot that my brother was living with us at the time. I felt utterly ashamed with my Mom and then my siblings knowing. My Mom refused me any counselling as she was too embarrassed. She felt I would get better over time.
My Mom was a very controlling, depressed, and insensitive woman. A new emotionally and physically painful life change was upon me. For example, my Mom would sit and watch a beauty pageant with me and suddenly say, “for a pretty girl, you have an ugly disposition.” Or, if I upset her, she would angrily tell me to, “go back to your Dad and be his bed partner.” Her words burnt painfully. The feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, emotional pain, and confusion engulfed me. I also had to listen to accusations of having sex with all the boys at school because she noticed that I was always surrounded by them.
To cope with all this turmoil, I had a cat for comfort, I babysat, worked part-time, studied hard, played chess, and got involved in arts, crafts and writing. I buried myself in my studies, and I would buy nice clothes to feel good. I found someone to talk to as well.
My decision to attend university turned into a calamity as a result of the constant yelling and arguing between my Mom, brother, and myself. My Mom wanted me to either get married and have children or attend university close to home. I chose to move away. My brother was ecstatic with this opportunity of mine to attend university. I was the first person in our family
to pursue this path. My Mom and I argued constantly about my educational choices. I was pulled between my Mom and my brother. When I became indecisive about going to university, my brother got so angry at me, he punched me in the face. The bone below my eye protruded to the extreme that I was taken to emergency to ensure it wasn’t broken. I was too embarrassed to say who hit me, and I wouldn’t press charges. With all this fighting, I finally gave in to my Mom but when my brother came home and learned, through me, that I wasn’t going to university, he threw me to the floor and started choking me. Shortly after that, I packed and moved out.
I successfully graduated, got a good job, got married, but separated and divorced 20 years later. However, I ended up with two wonderful and successful adult sons.
After my separation, I began taking dance lessons and spent many wonderful years as a social dancer.
Life, of course, still presented itself with traumatic events. At the age of 30, my second oldest brother committed suicide. This was excruciating, and we were told to keep it a secret.
In March 2005, my stepfather passed away and then in September 2005, my Mom passed away. The passing of my stepfather was the catalyst to writing my story, “Anastasia and The Ghostly Owl (The Choice Was Hers!).”
In November 2006, I survived a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after being hit in the forehead between my eyes when a roof awning collapsed and flew into me. There was a very long recovery, and I was blessed to have my two sons, one sister, plus a friend supporting me. During recovery, I coped by doing a lot of volunteer work painting hundreds of wooden toys for the Wooden Toy Society which were given to needy children. I currently do some volunteer work for seniors, and I tutor children on a part-time basis. I continue some of my social dancing to help me survive and put things behind me.
I would like to advocate for the awareness and prevention of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children, awareness and prevention of homelessness, suicide prevention, and assist in the awareness of Traumatic Brain Injuries.