Warcry: No longer a victim
Kimberly Farewell says her faith in God has helped her overcome violence, homelessness, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
I had a very traumatic childhood living in a house where both my father and stepfather were alcoholics. When they drank (which was nearly every night) they were abusive—physically, verbally and emotionally—and life became a rollercoaster ride of emotions that left me dreading each day.
My parents never nurtured and protected my younger brothers and me. I was never shown what true love looked like and didn’t believe I was valuable, loveable, worthy, pretty or accepted. How could I be those things to someone else if I wasn’t any of them to my parents? I felt like the black sheep in my family, like I didn’t belong and began to believe that I was unwanted.
I learnt from an early age to keep my feelings to myself, as I would often have to try to reassure and help my mum. Most nights she would sit on my bed and tell me her problems about money or my dad and I’d have to try to comfort her.
I guess she just needed someone to confide in, but that left me feeling helpless and I was unsure how to help. I believed t it was my responsibility to fix things, but most of the time I couldn’t, of course; I was in primary school at the time. It is heartbreaking when the people who are meant to be the role models and care for you are the ones telling you that you’re worthless. It is very easy to become numb and just fade into the background and do what everyone says to keep the peace. That’s when I learnt the wrong ways to cope and would often self-harm to deal with how I felt.
I took on the parenting role to be the peacekeeper and keep my brothers safe, as mum couldn’t cope. I ended up becoming bitter, angry and resented her for forcing me to do the things a parent should do.
As the years went by the violence escalated. My family lived two different lives, what happened behind closed doors and how we had to act in public.
I cherished the times we attended church. To me, church was an escape from the violence at home and I felt safe and loved, although I struggled to believe about a heavenly father who loves me unconditionally, when both my earthly fathers were abusive.
I moved out of home as early as I could and things were hard as I became homeless twice. I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom. I was trapped in an abusive relationship and lost hope.
December 2011 was the turning point in my life. I had lived in Marion (SA) for about two years and often walked past Marion Salvation Army. I was feeling lost and needed answers to questions about life and God; I remember standing outside for 20 minutes while I worked up the courage to go inside and ask to speak to a ‘God person’.
They gave me Angela’s (the Salvo minister’s) phone number. I called her that night and she arranged to meet me the next day.
God called me to the Marion Salvation Army at the right time because the corps officer (minister) impacted me is such a positive way, directing me to programs that still continue to support me.
I finally feel like I belong. God has blessed my life with beautiful friends and I’m a part of a wonderful church family. I have become a member, work as a community service worker and playgroup team leader and I’m part of some small groups at church.
Joel chapter 2, verse 25 says, ‘Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten.’
This is a verse I hold onto, because I know God will replace and multiply what I have lost. I know that in the darkest times he is walking beside me and will guide me to become what he wants me to be.
Through God’s amazing grace and the power of prayer and forgiveness, I am a new creation in Christ. My past cannot and does not define who I am.
Other stories from Warcry
To read other stories from past issues of WarCry, click here.