A Flower Growing in the Desert

I suffered child abuse, neglect, abandonment. My story of overcoming child abuse and becoming a survivor.

My Story of Abuse


Currently, I am in a very good spot in life. I have been able to continue to bridge my past with the present. My family and I are all able to communicate with each other. I am just looking ahead. Trying to enjoy every moment I have been given on this earth. I am currently disabled because of my abuse, neglect, and abandonment as a child. I am writing my story so we all gain more awareness of child abuse in this country. My husband told me once that he sees me as a "flower growing in the desert". I have grown and blossomed even though I have been in the harshest of environments. Nothing in life is easy or not even perfect by any means. I still have a lot of struggles, but I can honestly say I am a survivor, not a victim. I will continue to heal and gain the knowledge I need to understand the hurts, the anger, the love, everything that is me. I think it's important to understand that you can "Triumph Over Tragedy."

It wasn't always that way though:

Hello. My name is Holli, I am 28 years old. I think the best way to let you know a brief summary of my life would be to do just that...summarize. I believe strongly that we need understanding and knowledge if the abuse is to ever cease. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it will never happen if we don't speak out against abuse.

Age 5, I was raped by an 18-year old male babysitter. Ages 8-14, incested by my brother four years older than myself, who is developmentally delayed. Age 10-14, I was raped and molested by at least six different neighborhood boys.


I was born with a cleft of the hard and soft palate (roof of my mouth) which was repaired at the age of 18 months. The surgeons had to keep postponing the surgery date because of pneumonia. Finally, they just did the surgery while I had pneumonia and I remained in an oxygen tent for about one month following the surgery. For the next six years, I needed speech therapy and had to endure school children teasing me unrelentingly.

I also have a genetic disorder known as Stickler syndrome. Along with that, I have very bad eye-sight, the possibilities are in favor of going blind, joint pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia (to the point where I use a walker and sometimes a wheelchair to assist me), migraines, insomnia, flashbacks, and night sweats. These all add up to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I am also anorexic.

A Little Family History

My mother has D.I.D. (dissociative identity disorder), formerly known as M.P.D. (multiple personality disorder), and was/is very abusive in every way, except sexually. She tried to commit suicide all throughout my life. I have seen her cut herself deeply, as well as an overdose on pills. Several times, I saw her flatline right in front of me.

I was always the one to call 911 and get the paramedics to her or I would take her directly to the emergency room when she was threatened with being committed for her numerous suicide attempts. I visited her in the hospital and she would verbally, emotionally, and mentally blame her problems on my birth. I would leave the hospital floor as she swore aloud the whole time, telling me over and over that I was the cause of her "mental death". She also would say how she never wanted me, that I was not a part of her.

One time, in particular, she had a butcher knife in her hand and was cutting on her wrist. I was about 13 during this incident and struggled to get the knife out of her hands, not thinking that she could have turned the knife on me. I threw it and she grabbed a bottle of her pills and poured them all into her mouth. I reached around her in a chokehold fashion and scooped as many pills as I could out of her mouth and threw them down into the sink. She managed to swallow quite a few.

She stashed pills all the time (my father, brother, and I would look for stashes around the house whenever she was in the hospital so my father could show her psychiatrist). One time, she ran for a stash and locked herself in the bathroom. I called 911 frantically, they knew me by name, and that was just one of the times she flatlined on the floor. The paramedics put the shock paddles on her and she regained her pulse. I guess she lost it somewhere on the way to the hospital and in the hospital, but they managed to bring her back to life every time.

A Scary Life For a Little Child

I was left at home, no one to talk to, not knowing if my mother was alive or dead, alone. I would come home from school, not knowing if I was going to see my mother dead or alive in bed.
When I was an infant, she would put me in my crib, three floors up, and go downstairs to "escape" from the "pressure".


My sister reported that when she would get home from school, my diapers would be so badly soiled that I had horrible rashes all the time. She would change me and go downstairs to start dinner. My mother did not want to feed me. So I was fed when my father was home. Since he was working, and working hard to make ends meet with three children, eating was sporadic and varied.

I did not play and know the joys of childhood the way a normal child would. I wasn't loved and nurtured. I was told all of the time, how unlovable I was, and I was told to "shut up". Family matters were private. We wore masks of happiness to hide the pain.

I was severely neglected and abandoned and doctors said most babies would have died in my situation.

Abuse Takes Its Toll

My father was an alcoholic. He was controlling and emotionally, verbally, and mentally abusive. He's been sober for over 20 years now.

My parents are still married. Throughout the recent years, there have been times when I thought the healing process for us was going well. My parents and I have worked very hard on establishing some kind of acquaintance with one another.

When I originally wrote my story in 1997, I had no contact with my parents. I love them, even through all the pain. It hurts me deeply not to have a relationship that I so desperately desire. But sometimes in life, we must experience "Necessary Losses." Today we cope. We have found a way and I am ever grateful to have them share my life with me.

Sadly, there were times though when I decided to continue my distance from the family system. There is far too much manipulation and abuse that continues to remain. Sometimes, I felt I couldn't deal with it anymore and that my efforts to heal with them were in vain. I wish I could believe that things would change or turn around, but the simple truth is that I have done 110% and when nothing is changing, it just drains the energy I need to survive.

My older sister, who fell into drug abuse, moved to a different state to finish high school and married. She and her husband are alcoholics and have two beautiful daughters. Over the years, we have had an on-again, off again relationship. Life is tough for both of us. Today we talk all the time and are establishing a true loving bond. I am so happy to have her as a part of my life.

I think it's important to understand that you can "Triumph Over Tragedy."

next: The History of the Mint Green Ribbon
~ all Holli's Triumph Over Tragedy articles
~ all abuse library articles
~ all articles on abuse issues

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, March 20). A Flower Growing in the Desert, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: May 5, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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