Yesterday I told Corey (my husband of almost 20 years) we needed to finish some projects before starting more…This was a trigger for him. I hate that word. It almost caused an enormous argument. We sat outside and talked a bunch…communicated a bunch…worked on US a bunch…in our back yard over coffee…This is marriage y’all. This is the story of being married to someone with childhood abuse and trauma. And I have permission to write this because maybe it’s your story too.
My husband is a survivor of child abuse at the hands of someone meant to love him. My husband held this secret for years and years and years. There are people who know. There are people who pretend they don’t. There are people who turned their back because they didn’t want to make other adults uncomfortable…didn’t want to rock the boat…didn’t want to step in or step up…This is how child abuse can continue…This is the story of how two little boys were abused by their step father. And no one did a damn thing.
Corey Hooks has put a wall around his family. To keep child abusers out. A whole shit ton of people think Corey is an asshole for this…People have stopped him in the halls of church or written letters asking him to tear down the walls he has painstakingly put in place. They have talked about forgiveness and grandparents and time being short…But what they don’t ever talk about is two little boys who had the living daylights beat out of them and were humiliated time and again in the name of punishment or discipline or how crappy of kids they were.
These folks don’t talk about kids being forced to eat molded lunches or a shot gun being held to a 15 year old’s head. They don’t talk about Christmas presents for the “real” kids versus the “step” kids. They don’t talk about little boys being punched in the face during family dinners, or beat up for a stick being in the yard. They don’t talk about kids getting the courage to call CPS or spitting loogies in their step dad’s shoes because they couldn’t think of any other way to get back at the man who abused them…or the people who said, and still say, they deserved it.
In 2009, after being married ten years, my husband stood in the kitchen and told me the whole truth. The truth about shot guns and secret tapes of women undressing for “Glamour Shot” photos taken out of their house…of beatings and living life afraid and being told you deserved it. And my husband, started to make sense. My husband, who has the world’s lowest self esteem and had zero goals because he never imagined to live past 20…My husband, who had been an honor student and ended up dropping out of high school twice…My husband…This sweet sweet man with explosions over the weirdest things…Decided to let his guard down and tell the truth and confront his family…
The question was simple:
Are you waiting for your abuser to die in order for you to live?
Corey Hooks was going to live. Right now. With all his precious people still ok…
Over the last ten years, I have watched this man wrestle from the inside. Wrestle with the image of God the Father…Wrestle with who he is as a husband and a Daddy …who can he find as a role model…who can he follow…who will lead The Hooks Family of Buda, TX?
A year ago, Corey started counseling. Counseling just for him and all his past pain. Counseling for the people who tell him he should invite his abuser back into his life and the lives of his children. Counseling for all the people who think and say he deserved abuse. For all the disguises inside a church where abusers can hide…Give them an upstanding family…Give them a sob story with two step children…Give people the story they need, and they will buy it, no questions asked.
I am married to a man who is terrified of being like his step father or treating his kids like he was treated or picking a favorite or hurting them or hurting me or ruining the people God entrusted him to love…And love has so many conditions in his heart…He is not good enough…He is unloved…He deserves hurt and pain and the worst life ever because y’all, people showed him he deserved hurt and pain and the worst life ever.
When you are an adult who abuses children, you simply write them a script they cannot get out of…You simply tell all the other adults present that these two children…these two little boys…they are out of control…they need harsh discipline…paint the picture of the godly step father who saved a single mom and her boys…paint the picture and the world buys it…
Maybe we didn’t build a wall. Maybe we just walked away.
I live in a house with my husband and my four children. There aren’t many demons living here anymore. We work hard to keep it that way. If you are reading this tonight and you are crumbling under the weight of childhood abuse and still hold the door open for your abuser…Hear me tonight, you can walk away. You can run away. You can plug your ears to the scores of people yelling from your past that you are an asshole and ruining your family.
YOU CAN SAVE YOURSELF. YOU ARE WORTH SAVING.
My husband is fond of pointing out all the things we do to keep our children safe. Car seats. Helmets. Cameras on doorbells. Video baby monitors. Software on computers. Sports gear. Night lights. Sunscreen. Bug spray. The list is good and it goes on and on. We love our kids, right?
But we will invite abusers inside our home again and again in the name of family…
If this speaks to you tonight, Corey and I are standing with you. If this speaks to you tonight and you feel the nudge to go to counseling. Go. You matter. You really really matter. A child should never be hurt. There is no exception to this.
You are not alone. You never were. I promise.
And your story is not over either.