A little over a year ago, I met a young girl and her mother. I had no idea how much that young girl would touch my heart. Her name is Shellbie and she was 17 when we met.
When Shellbie was almost 14, she met a boy. The boy was older, 19, and she was enamored with him. He was handsome and charming and he liked her too. Like any young girl, she fell in love with him very quickly. They spent all their time together. It wasn’t too long into their relationship that he started telling her she couldn’t wear certain things. If she wore a shirt that dipped a little too low and showed any cleavage or shorts that he thought were too short, he would pinch her or hit her either on her chest or the top of her thighs so that she would have to cover them up. As the months past, the hitting and pinching got worse. He also wanted sex all the time. Sometimes she was willing, but whether she wanted to or not, it was going to happen. Eventually she just conceded to it. It was much easier that way. Shellbie was scared of him, but still loved him. He made her believe that he was the only one that truly loved her. He convinced her that her family didn’t want her to be happy so she stayed with him.
When Shellbie was 15, she got pregnant. When he found out, he promised to never hit her again and he didn’t…for a while. It did start again, but it wasn’t as bad until after the baby was born. Right after, the abuse started again with a vengeance. One night on their way home, he pulled down a two track and parked the car. For what seemed like hours, he raped her and beat her over and over again. He strangled her until she was almost unconscious. At one point in the night, she thought to herself “I’m going to die tonight”. She was only 17. This was a turning point for Shellbie. A few months later, she was finally strong enough to end the relationship and press charges. That is when I met her. You would think that things got easier for her at that point. In some ways they did, he wasn’t there to physically or sexually abuse her anymore, but the emotional abuse continued. It came from him, his family, and even her friends. She was forced to tell her story over and over again to complete strangers. People called her a liar and a slut. They said she was making it all up. She lost a lot of friends. Well did she really? They couldn’t really have been her friends if they could treat her that way. She cried…A LOT. I cried for her…A LOT. She wanted to give up, but she didn’t.
This 17 year old girl had been to hell and back and her life would forever be changed. She was closed off and had a difficult time recalling details and timelines of the years of abuse she endured. She had to prepare to testify more than once, bringing all those horrible memories that she had tried so hard to forget to the forefront of her mind only to have the hearing delayed or dropped altogether. After several months, her abuser took a plea bargain pleading guilty to only 3 of the 6 charges he was faced with and he was sentenced to at least 6 years in prison and no more than 15 years. I stood by her side when she walked into court and faced him telling the judge and his family who sat in the courtroom, how his abuse affected her. She showed such bravery and strength. I was so envious of her for facing her fears and getting justice.
Today Shellbie is 18 and she is doing much better. Through county resources she was able to get an apartment for her and her daughter. She got her driver license and has a good job. She is also planning on getting her GED. Things are still difficult for her in many ways. She has PTSD, severe depression, and severe anxiety. She is still very insecure about herself and she has trust issues. Who wouldn’t though, right? She doesn’t see how incredible and beautiful and kind she is. She still has a lot to learn about people and about life, but she has a shot now at a much better life for her and for her daughter.
Despite everything she has been through, Shellbie is very creative. She uses her creativity to draw, paint, and write. These things help her when her mind is full of the past and when she fights the insomnia she is left with. Shellbie has decided to share her poetry in hopes that it can touch others and teach others that there is a chance at a better life. She wants to help others like her. Shellbie is an inspiration to me and to her daughter.
From time to time I will share Shellbie’s poetry on my blog. Please give her your feedback. I’m sure she would appreciate it.