By: Cristal Phillips
In my last few entries, I have shared about the special love I had for my horse Peanut. He was my hero and my savior. We would oftentimes take off and go exploring all over the area I grew up in, and we would have long conversations about everything under the sun. I was able to communicate with him without ever having to say a word; he understood me at a level no other creature or person has ever been able to and this horse knew I was being physically and sexually abused.
Before we owned him, he belonged to an orphanage with children who had gone through their share of heart ache and pain. It was an instinct he possessed, and you could tell he knew how to hone in on it. He was drawn to children who endured abuse, pain, neglect, and tragedy. He healed these children in the same way he healed me.
My childhood was lived secretly enduring physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my then stepfather. My mother was married to him for seventeen years and for ten years of that I was his victim upon a daily basis. When I would allow him to hurt me, it wasn’t as terrible as when I wouldn’t allow it. He would often use my animals and the love I had for them against me and try to hurt them if I wouldn’t allow him to hurt me. After years of being his victim I finally broke my silence to my mother and the situation was dealt with but not until after the damage had already been done. I suffer from PTSD because of this abuse to this day.
As a child, Peanut was the one I would run to when I needed to get away from my situation. He was always ready and willing to let me hop on up and take off with him; it was just as much as an escape for him as it was for me. You could tell in his gait and his run that he never wanted to go back to that house. I believe if he were able to, he would have carried me away from everything. He never wanted to go back home once we would take off. It was almost as if this horse knew that if he took me home, I would have to endure more abuse at the hands of my stepfather.
My plans were always to come back and take him away so we could be together until we could no longer be. That never happened because he was sent away knowing I was a victim of abuse, and he knew that he was never going to be able to rescue me again. It breaks my heart that I was never able to give this horse closure, and that I was never allowed to come back and get him so that he could spend the rest of his life by my side knowing that eventually I was going to be safe. I know that his heart was broken just as much as mine. To me, this is just one of the many tragedies I have had to endure in this thing we call life.
The abuse got worse and worse; it seemed as if it was never going to end. As I have mentioned in my other entries, before I broke down and told my mother, I had temporarily moved in with my grandparents. At this same time, my mother had to sell our property and horses and move back to Stockton, California because of the economy. Eventually, I was forced to move back home with my mom. At the age of seventeen, and two weeks before my eighteenth birthday, I finally broke down and told my mother about the sexual abuse I had been secretly enduring at the hands of my stepfather for so long. She was horrified and shocked that she did not see the signs. I got really good at keeping them hidden, but the pain was too much to handle. It affected me at every level; my grades, my friendships, and my appearance. The constant war going on inside my head, the blame I placed upon myself for allowing it to happen for as long as it did, and the fear I had for this man was unreal. He threatened me upon a regular basis and even attempted to murder me. It was all too much to endure any longer, so I finally broke down and told my mom about everything.
No charges were ever filed on my behalf. County Social Services failed me at every level. They didn’t press charges on him because they didn’t feel they could prove it in court and did not want to put me through anything more than what I had already gone through. They didn’t help me in any way, other than to offer me some generic counseling. They did however place an order upon him to never return home and took my little sister and brothers away from my mother temporarily, which only made me feel even guiltier up to this point. I was the only one who had suffered at the hands of this man. They then forced my mother to make me leave home because I was eighteen and not figured into the family plan. So, soon after, I was dismissed,and put on the streets alone as a senior in high school, working at a job making minimum wage and fearing for my life because I told on him. It was an abused child’s worst nightmare. Everything that should have gone right and protected me failed at every level, which only compounded my fears and fractured my spirit and belief in humanity in general. It was a dark, scary time in my life and the only thing I wanted at that point was to die.
As soon as I had saved up enough money, I moved far, far away and tried to rebuild my life as best I could. Through a suicide attempt, the help I needed was finally given to me. I went through many years of counseling to help me cope with what I had gone through as a child. It was truly a nightmare beyond measure, and healing from this is still something I am working on upon a daily basis. There are some days when everything is fine and others when I am hit with all of it again. During these times, I have to collect myself, focus upon how far I have come, and turn to my husband to help me through it because he is my hero now.
I am sure Peanut is very proud of Richard, and I know that someday soon, Peanut and I will be reunited again. He will be there to walk me through the Gates of Heaven when my time upon Earth is over, just like he has always been there in Spirit.
This horse still visits me in dreams and guides me in many ways. He is the main reason I have decided to open my animal sanctuary, and his memory is being placed into every facet of it. The promise I made to him 24 years ago will be kept; my sanctuary will be helping people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused from childhood sexual abuse. I want to give children an opportunity to connect with a horse at the same level I connected with Peanut so long ago so that the children and animals can help each other to heal. This is my dream and my plan.
I am looking for the property we will need to achieve this dream, and I am hoping that we can open up the Sanctuary in November. Please continue to follow the progression of this journey and I will be sure to keep everyone updated. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I hope you all have a wonderful week.