The Death of a Predator
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
My first question when I received the call that my predator died was, “When did she pass?” Knowing the date would seal her death — make it real and final. When I heard the answer, the corners of my mouth slowly lifted up. I had waited decades for that call. Her death meant the last piece of my physical and mental suffering was finally over. Ninety-one years she took to die. My birth mother was dead. I looked at my husband and he knew “the day” had finally come. I was free.
Trusting God’s Voice
The agony of daily sadistic abuse and attempts to end my life from six months to 17 years old drove me as a five-year-old child to the curb of my house. I hoped for a car to come by fast enough to jump in front of and end my life. I wanted peace, and to never be touched again. I looked up into the huge blue sky. In my innocence I wondered, how big it was and who made it? Was there someone bigger than those who were hurting me?
Then, I heard a voice say, “This is not the plan I have for you. Suicide is not the answer.” I knew it was the voice of God though I barely knew who God was. At the age of five, how could I have known what the word “suicide” meant — but I did. I trusted that voice.
Mercifully, no cars came by and I retreated to the garage. Leaning against the door, I cried out loud to that voice, “If you keep me alive, I’ll do whatever you call me to do.” I had no idea how long the years would be or how much suffering I would have to endure.
Wearing a Mask
When a predator dies, there are residual effects. I have been processing all the ugliness, the shame I spent decades resolving. Healing came through faith, extensive therapy, and painful trial-by-life. The body has memories that get triggered by unexpected images in movies or something somebody says. It can be devastating. For victims, it is an unending paradox of wanting to be genuinely loved as a human being, but not be violated.
In order to survive, I had to mask my thoughts and memories. I wore a never-ending “game face” throughout multiple careers, and an abusive marriage, so no one would see my inner pain and shame. It was to hide the truth: my birth mother was a violent monster.
My predator lurked in the shadows of my life even as she aged. I didn’t pray for her death. I left it to God. I wanted to close that horrific chapter of my life. Most victims share a common desire. They want their predators locked up in jail — or dead.
I recognize that “mask” on the victims I have rescued. It is their protection no matter where I found them, on the street or in a homeless shelter. It is because we share a same experience, they trust me to “lift their mask” to see the future with hope.
Opening the Door to Help, Healing and Hope
My first memory was at 3 years old. She was chasing me through the house with a meat cleaver, screaming that she would cut me up if I touched her wallpaper. One year, she locked me in my room for three months. Horrifying as that was, the worst terror was when she invited my birth father, birth brother and others to brutally physically, sexually and mentally abuse me. I was 17 the last time she tried to choke me to death.
Familial predators are a constant. You can’t escape them. They are your family. They control everything. They are protected because they share a bloodline.
My experience with victims has shown that family members and others outside the home who suspect, rarely speak up for the child. Victims have recurring vivid memories that transport them back to the age they were when the violations occurred.
Graham Greene said, “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” My life is committed to making sure that the door opens to help, healing, and hope. If you know of a child that needs help, call 1-800-422-4453.
Andi Buerger, JD is Founder of Beulah’s Place in Oregon, the author of A Fragile Thread of Hope: One Survivor’s Quest to Rescue, and Founder of Voices Against Trafficking. She is a sought-after speaker and frequent guest on radio and television regarding the issue of human trafficking.