I didn’t go to kindergarten until I was 6 years old. Mom decided that the she didn’t want me going all alone on a long bus ride. So, she waited until Wren was 5 and we started kindergarten together. Because of all our moving we ended up going to several different schools. I don’t remember how many. Wren had to repeat kindergarten, so I still ended up a grade ahead of her. I remember thinking it all a waste that I started a year late when we ended up in separate grades anyway. I wanted to do well in school. I was just as much a people pleaser as I am today. I remember crying when a girl wrote me on the board for talking when the teacher was out of the room. If I didn’t make an A on a test, I would get very upset with myself. I kept A’s on my report card. I was completely devastated on the rare occasion I would fail a test.

As part of Crawford’s grooming, shaping and isolating us, I was taken out of school after graduating 5th grade. I guess the fear that we would tell someone what was happening to us at home was too great a risk to continue. We were to be home-schooled. I cried uncontrollably the last day of 5th grade. I would never see any of my friends again, but it was going to be better, he said. We could keep our own hours and study on the things that were important. I was put in charge of filling out the forms that we sent in to the Board of Education. I remember trying to come up with things we were doing at home that could count for subjects.

Issaqueena taught us Art because she was going to Brenau University studying art.  I only remember a hand-full of lessons.

We learned to type on a computer without looking. We would type “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” over and over. I can type without looking, all my fingers on the correct keys. This skill serves me well in my writing career. My kids look at me in awe.

As we worked to clear the Honey House property, we learned how to clip down brush, stack limbs, and drag it to a bon fire. Only Crawford could use the chainsaw, and we weren’t supposed to come too close. We learned to build a fence with 6’ pine logs soaked in kerosene, a staple gun, a post-hole digger, and a role of fencing.

I can stack firewood with the best of them and I know everything there is to know about starting a fire with cardboard and kindling (smaller yard sticks we picked up). I patiently stoke and coax a fire into life long after others would have given up or poured an accelerant on it.

We were put hard at work destroying our country accent. Everything time we used incorrect grammar or miss pronounced a word it was pointed out to us by Crawford. We would have to repeat the correct word back to him and restart our sentence. That is why people have a hard time believing I am from North East Georgia sometimes.

I was eventually put in charge of our banking account. I ran QuickBooks to keep track of all our expenditures. We learned to press a button on the recorder attached to the phone every time we answered it. Just in case it was important for later. I answered “Thank you for calling Atlantis, this is Tanya speaking.  How may I help you?” We must take a message. Crawford and Mom were never available to come to the phone.

Debt collectors can be very cruel. Especially when you sound like a 13-year-old.  Some would demand we put our parents on the phone. That was not an option. It didn’t matter how nasty they got. They didn’t understand that the option was worse than they could ever be to us. I don’t answer the phone now. If your number is not in my phone there is 0% chance me answering you. If you number is in my phone. That brings your odds up to 25%. If you are a distant relative, you just got to 50%. My personal close family, the odds are pretty good. I don’t make phone calls to people I don’t know. If my kids need a doctor’s appointment, I am driving to the office. If a child’s Mom is not willing to text me, then my kid is not coming to your house.

I learned a lot about sex. I learned how to give a man with foreskin a blowjob. A skill I have yet had to use anywhere else.

We got old enough eventually to not have to pretend we were being home schooled. I didn’t have to fill our papers anymore. School was never mentioned.

When I was 17 my stepsister Issaqueena volunteered at the Habersham County Adult Learning Center. I went with her one time and it was mentioned to me that I could study there for my G.E.D. For whatever reason, Crawford agreed. I studied there on the days she volunteered and took practice tests. On September 10th, 1999 I took and passed my G.E.D. test.

Unsteady from the start

In this blog I am going to talk about my abuse and how it affects my life now, but I want everyone to understand that how I am now is not shaped by only the abuse I suffered at the hand of Crawford. My young life was filled with ups and downs. I sometimes wonder if my earlier childhood or my emotional instabilities helped Crawford single me out as someone more easily victimized.

I was born to two 17-year old’s and while I don’t remember anything from that time period my mother has told me stories. Everything was not happy and stable. My father was jealous of the attention I received over him. He spent money at the video arcade, even if that meant us doing without. He pinched me when I sang. He didn’t care whether my mother was in the mood for sex or not.

My memories start around the age of 4. I knew who my biological father was, but Mom was remarried to another man. We called him Daddy Scott. I remember some of the arguments Scott and Mom would have. There was a lot of shoe throwing from my Mom and one time a threat of self-harm from Scott that was burned into my young memory. There are also dozens of good memories from that time. Watching Dr. Who, my little brother being born, playing games with other children, washing dishes, my first kiss, tying my own shoes, learning how to whistle and more.

I received my first kiss when I was 5 years old from another 5-year-old. It was a French kiss. We were hiding in a closet in my bedroom. We were laying down facing each other. We started smooching and then he stuck his tongue in my mouth. I asked him what he was doing. His response was, “Counting your teeth”. I look back and think now that someone must have been doing that to him; or else how would he have known?

I had discovered the joy of my own body parts by this time, and I remember masturbating a lot.

Mom and Scott’s relationship eventually broke apart and there was another divorce. I don’t know all the details or remember them. Scott got custody of my little brother, and Mom got my sister and myself. We went to live in a trailer behind my maternal grandfather’s house.

I have a lot of memories from that trailer even though we only lived there a short time. Mom started dating a woman. I don’t remember having any questions about it. I simply accepted like any child whose head has not been filled with preconceived notions about what society says should and should not be.

That woman was my first role model, and I wanted to be just like her. She taught me how to do hand stands. We dressed in jeans and t-shirts. I learned cart wheels. I tried to learn how to pee standing up, but that didn’t work out so well.


I remember a little bit about the time I had my first mental breakdown. (Mental breakdown is a term I am using to describe a period of intense mental and emotional distress. I was unable to properly function in my day to day life.)

I’m unsure as to my exact age. We were kicked out of the trailer and my sister and I went to stay with my paternal Grandparents. I’m going to guess that I was around 8 years old. I remember crying uncontrollably and for seemingly no reason. I cried in school a lot. My teacher would tell me to go wash my face.

My mother has since told me that she took me to see the therapist she was seeing.  He told her that I needed to be back with her. My mother quit the tech school she had started so to better herself, got a job and got a government apartment so we could all go live together again.

Mom dated a woman when we lived in the government apartment. She had seizures, though some of them were faked. A man came into our apartment one day. A stranger and started beating the crap out of my mother’s partner. I still don’t know why, or who he was. I remember him storming in through the front door, hitting her with it as it swung open. If she hadn’t gotten to the bat we had in the pantry, he might have killed her. I ran to the neighbors yelling for them to call the police that a man was beating her up in our apartment.

Mom dated a man when we lived in the government apartment. He had a beautiful Doberman Pincer. We weren’t allowed to have pets, so I was supper excited when he brought him over. He was physically abusive to my Mom and to the dog. I watched him slam them both up against the wall at different times. I remember holding my mother around her chest as she screamed and cried hysterically, drool falling from her mouth. I know she wanted to speak to me, but nothing came out but screaming. I told her it was going to be okay. We were locked in the bathroom of our apartment. He proposed to her and put himself on our government apartment lease. He wouldn’t leave. It ended up that, while Mom never married him, she did have to get a divorce since Common Law Marriage was in affect at that time.

During our time in the apartment I “went with” a new boy every other week or so. I also got my first girl crush. I thought she was the sexiest thing ever. She lived in the apartment complex. There was another kid, a boy, that lived at the apartments complex. I switch back and forth “going with them,” like a yo-yo. I was their first kiss and yes, it was French kisses. We would hide anywhere we could for as long as we could.  Kissing was and still is my favorite thing to do. Toe curling, soft, moist, intimate, pleasure. I believe that if I had known how to go about having sex at that time, I would have gone all the way at 10 years old hiding in a fan fort in the back bedroom with either one of them. I had confidence, and I new I looked all that in my jeans and t-shirts.

Then came Crawford and my second mental breakdown.