My Journey of Hope
Tina lived the Cinderella story. Only in real life, it was worse. She suffered crushing abuse until the Prince of Peace rescued her and set her free.
One night many years ago, a little girl was born. Her older twin sister was struggling. Then the doctor told her mom, “We’ve lost one but the other is fighting.” The next morning she was told that her baby was going to make it. She weighed only four pounds. I was that baby, born January 8, 1957.
Four and a half years later my world turned upside down. My father drowned. My mother lost her ability to cope and alcohol became her support. The next thing I new, I was on a plane never to return home.
I stayed at a temporary home for a while and then was taken to another home in a small town in Saskatchewan. I remember crying for my mom, sister and brother. Things were strange and confusing.
This family spoke French and it was hard to understand. Most of the time they spoke French amongst themselves, but when they addressed me, they spoke English. If I said anything in Cree, they corrected me to speak English. There were times I was told to speak French if I wanted something, or I would go without. I had a hard time grasping the language.
I had a foster sister who was six months younger than me. She became my rival very quickly. In school, she joined the other kids in calling me names like Indian, or squaw. She told me not to touch her because she may catch a terrible disease.
She berated, antagonized and insulted me until I cried. If I fought back, she ran to my foster mom and told her that I started yelling at her for nothing. I was sent to bed without supper. If I protested, I got slapped for talking back or received a spanking by hand, belt or a long ruler.
My foster sister did her own thing while I was expected to do all the chores – weed the garden, do the dishes, scrub the floors, clean the potatoes in the root cellar, clean the attic, and wash the windows.
I recall an occasion when I hadn't done the job up to my foster mother's expectations, she made me kneel on a flat, square heat register for two hours. If I fidgeted because it hurt and was cutting into my knee, I was told to turn around and face the corner, or I would have to stay there longer.
I remember hiding in a shed in the middle of winter because I knew my foster mother was going to give me another whipping. I also remember hiding in the crawl space of an attic, under a mountain of covers on a bed for fear of her finding me. I had a hard time breathing, but I was more afraid of her. I don’t know how long she stayed there, but I wasn’t about to move. I fell asleep.
Whenever they took family pictures, I was not included because I was not part of the family. I had no birthday parties because my birthday was two weeks after Christmas and I already received my presents.
If I struggled in school it was because I was dumb. I was asked, “Why can’t you be smart like your foster sister?”
I was reminded constantly of who I was. Whenever I cried, I was told: “Be happy you have a roof over your head, food to eat and clothes to wear. If you were anywhere else it would be worse than this.” Thus I grew up with a “Cinderella complex” hoping that someday my Prince would come and rescue me.
But my story was worse than Cinderella's. In addition to the rejection and labour, my foster father visited my bedroom frequently. He also found numerous secluded places to take me in order to exploit me. He took me for drives, to an abandoned house, or even to the dump. He told me that I was to keep it a secret and should I say anything, he would say I made it up. He also told me they might take me away if I were to tell. I was so indoctrinated, I thought, If they take me away, I will end up in a worse place.
I eventually started to close myself off in my room. I hated being home. I hated going to bed. As I grew older, I started escaping to my girlfriends’ homes, going for bike rides and getting home right at bedtime. I had a good reputation outside my house, so I started babysitting whenever I could.
I was raped at age 14 by the son of my foster parents’ friends, and again at a pow wow when I was 16. I started feeling like that was my destiny in life.
The years went by, and I counted the months until I finished school and could move away.
When I graduated, I met my real mom for the first time. I found out then I had had a twin, but she died at birth. I cried and cried for hours and grieved the loss. I told her it was bad where I was staying, but I couldn’t tell her how bad. One part of me wanted to retaliate and make her feel bad for sending me away and another part wanted to protect her. She told me how much my father had loved me. He had treated me like a porcelain doll because I was so tiny. My nickname had been “Teenie” or “Tiny Tina.”
The years passed and the final day of school arrived. I was so excited to be free. I rejoiced.
I got a job as a nurse’s aid, moved to another town and got my own apartment. I enjoyed going for walks and shopping, and felt happy and safe. I was there a month when my foster father showed up wanting me to come through for him again. I told him, “This is my home and I don’t have to listen to you anymore.”
We were in the kitchen and he started coming toward me. I grabbed a little steak knife and warned him to stay away. He didn’t believe I would do anything and kept coming. I swung at him and the blade caught him on the hand. It drew blood. He was shocked, and so was I, but he never bothered me again. I felt a renewed strength.
One evening I was out walking and a cop stopped to speak to me. He asked me where I worked and told me he needed to check on something. He asked me to get in the police cruiser. I thought, Wow, he seems nice! I felt safe and was intrigued about riding in a police car. Next thing I knew, we were outside of town. He stopped at a field and raped me. I was horrified. I was terrified seeing his gun and holster. He told me not to say anything and threatened that if I did, no one would believe me anyway.
After that I retreated back into my shell and only stayed home and worked.
One day I when I went for coffee at a restaurant, I met a man who I thought was my “prince charming.” We had a whirlwind romance, and a year later I was walking down the aisle. Finally someone loved me, I thought, and they had said it couldn't happen. I had a baby nine months to the day we were married. I was ecstatic that now things would be alright.
My husband liked to drink, but I tried not to let it bother me. He went out a lot, or had his friends over. I was never much for drinking, but I joined him at times.
I may not have had an alcohol problem, but I certainly had a problem with men using and hurting me. Once when my husband was out of town, a couple of his drinking buddies came over. They made some advances and threats toward me, and then raped me. I felt guilty, ashamed and dirty and blamed myself. I thought I was the worst person on earth.
When my husband returned, I couldn’t tell him. I felt unworthy of his love, and unworthy as a mother. I felt like I didn’t deserve to live, and I wanted to end my life.
While he was napping, I left the house and jumped into the truck. I drove out of town. It was raining hard, but my tears were coming down harder. I watched the speedometer climb higher and higher. I knew there was a big curve ahead. Soon, very soon, it would be over. Suddenly I felt a force beyond my control lifting my foot off the gas pedal. I cried “No,” and pressed harder, but I couldn’t press it.
I don’t know how I got back to town, but I pulled over and noticed that I was parked in front of a church. As if in a trance, I walked to the front row of pews and looked at the cross. I cried and asked if God saw me and if He cared about me. I cried out to Him, “God, help me, help me!”
The next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital four days later. I had been heavily sedated. Beside me was a psychiatric nurse. He interviewed me but I wasn’t interested in divulging my ugly past. He shared that I needed to ask God’s forgiveness and repent. He told me that Jesus died on the cross and that He loves me. I told him in no uncertain terms that I didn’t need his God and ordered him out of my room.
When I was released, I returned home but I was no longer happy or at peace. I persuaded my husband that we should move to escape the memories. I was hoping for healing and that we could reclaim our marriage, but things only got worse. Shortly after that, he walked out and never came back.
The Prince of Peace
I was a single mom with a four-year-old and two-year-old. A year later I started attending a Christian singles’ group. There I saw peace in people's lives that I couldn't understand. Knowing I needed that kind of peace, I went to a local church service. When they invited people to come forward for prayer, I stayed glued to my chair but I was crying inwardly, asking Jesus to forgive me. I surrendered all to Him.
I started growing by leaps and bounds in my walk with God. I wrote a song that God gave me called “I’ll Never Be the Same Again.” I wish I could say that everything was great after that but I stumbled along the way.
A couple of years ago, I got totally fed up with my life and with men. I cried out to God, and one night I had an encounter with Him. What are you looking for in a man?” He asked.
“I want to be loved, accepted and appreciated, and to feel secure," I said. "I need someone to hold me and be there for me and someone to talk to.” God spoke to me confirming every point. He said He loves, accepts and appreciates me, and told me He'd take care of me. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I can supply all your needs. I want an intimate relationship with you, and I can fill you with my Spirit. Can you trust me to do that?” He asked.
“Yes,” I said and I cried in His arms. That night I was set free from the bondage of loneliness and lust. The only thing I now seek is God.
A expanded version of Tina's story is available in a booklet form for a donation of $7.50 or a free-will offering to cover postage and printing. For her complete story, contact her at email@example.com or write to: Tina Laforce write to: c/o RR1 – Site 4, Box 38, Legal, Alberta, Canada T0G 1L0.
Tina Laforce lives in Legal, Alberta. She has three sons 33, 31, and 16 years of age, and six grand children.
Originally published in Indian Life, May/June 2010.