Life Stories

True LIfe Stories of Those Who Found Full Recovery from Past Abuse, Addictions and Hopelessness

All is Not Well in Paradise

Hello, I'm Sarah Ann Haunani Kahaloa Niemeier.   If you can tell from my name, I am Hawaiian by birth, born in Honolulu and raised on the Big Island in a remote village called Pahoa.  We lived off the sea and the fruit of the land in an open thatched hut; very primitive by today's standards.  I had a big Hawaiian father, a loving mother of mixed nationalities, including Hawaiian, and six brothers & sisters.  The daily life we knew was hard work, and our father used all us kids for various jobs to bring home income.

Our lives revolved around our Dad, the ruler of our family.  He was a hard man, a strong man, and often an angry man.  He often drank too much, which only fueled his anger more.  We were subject to harsh physical beatings regularly; anything could set him off.  So we lived cautiously, always on alert, for it didn't take a direct act of disobedience to get a beating.  No one escaped his anger and violence, even my Mother.  He ruled with a strong hand and everyone did what he said.  Even the local police were afraid of him!   I remember one time they tried to arrest him - five police officers - but he beat them all up!  

So I received many beatings in my childhood, along with my siblings, and of course none of this endeared our father to us.  One of the worst beatings I received from him was over a missing penny, which he himself lost, but he chose to blame me.  In his drunken rage, he grabbed a lead pipe and beat me severly across my legs until I couldn't stand.  Then he made me slide down the front steps of the house (which we had later moved to from the village) and cut the grass with scissors, continuing to yell at me and kick me.  I was so badly beaten and unable to move, he reluctantly had my Mom call for an ambulance.   I was in the hospital several weeks and told I would not walk again.  But I did  heal over quite some time and in my determination walked again.  I was in my young teens at that time, and while it was the last time he beat me, the emotional abuse continued.

But the damage had been done.  On my 18th birthday, on that very day, having already packed my bags the night before, I left.  Being 18 he could not legally stop me.  I had arranged to go off to Job Corp on the far side of the Island.  As I boarded the plane, my father said for the first time ever, "I love you" - but I didn't respond.  I didn't even look back at him.  Though I regret that now, some 50 years later, but then, I could not love him or forgive him for all he had done and said to me and my brothers and sisters.

Job Corp went well for me, except for an older boy there who tried to rape me at knife point.  He had been trying to corner me for several days, and when he finally did, I got away from him and just kept running - away from Job Corb, from home, from everything in Hawaii that had so deeply wounded me and nearly destroyed me.

I went to the USA mainland where my older brother, Isaac, had escaped to a couple years earlier.  I stayed with him and his family in the Seattle area.  But my brother, also much abused by our father, had become very abusive and violent himself, especially towards women, as well as his own sons.  That, of course, included me.  He introduced me to a friend of his who was very charming, and I agreed after a short time to marry him - it was my way out!

On our wedding night, after the marriage ceremony, my new charming husband surprised me: he physically started knocking me around the hotel room and beat me up.  He told me with a stern look that this was how it was going to be from then on.  I couldn't believe it!  I kept trying to get away from hate and abuse, only to run into it again and again.  And this man was worse than my father.  At least my father never sexually abused me or my brothers and sisters; but this man was abusive in every way imaginable.  But he was my husband and I hoped against hope that this would stop; I tried to please him, but he only found fault with everything I said and did.  Over the next 16 years of marriage to this man I would be pregnant 12 times: only two daughters survived.  He caused miscarriages by his frequent severe beatings.  I endured several severe beatings that sent me to the hospital, several stab wounds, cuttings on my body, cigarette burns, being knocked unconscious, strangled, stomped on, and perversely humiliated many times.  I knew, too, he was constantly with other women, which he didn't hide, but threw in my face.  He seemed so intent on hurting me as much as he possibly could.

Not only did he abuse me in every way, but he was the same with our two suviving daughters, his own "flesh and blood".  I tried several times to escape with my daughters, but he had this uncanny ability to always find us and drag us back home.  He controlled me by threatening to kill my Mom and other family members if I didn't comply and stay.  That included threatened to kill our daughters if I didn't obey him and be a "good" and submissive wife.

Finally, over time, I just couldn't take it anymore.  I often thought of ways to kill him, to get my girls out and be free of him.  But I couldn't bring myself to do it.  The last straw came one night, after fighting and being just so tired of it all, I said I was just walking out the door with our daughters.  He held a gun to my head and said he would blow my brains out if I tried it.  I frantically was trying to think how I could get our two little girls out the front door, with myself, without him harming them.  Finally, he held the gun at the girls and told me to just get out.  I did, and called the police (as I had several times over the years, though they never did anything about him; he was a State policeman during the early years of our marriage).  But the police never came to help.  I was on my own. 

I eventually got a place for myself in low income housing.  Authorities never did help me, even to get my daughters away from him; and I tried a few times to snatch them myself, but he always caught me.  It wasn't until a couple years later my oldest daughter left on her own and came to live with me, and then another year or so later, my youngest daughter.  All of us, though, were greatly traumatized - more than we knew.  But finally we were free of him.

People often ask why abused women often end up with another abuser as a spouse or partner.  It can seem puzzling, but I know why - firsthand.  When you suffer abuse like I have, it does something deep within you.  It wounds you deeply: you don't believe in yourself anymore; you have little or no sense of self-worth.  Deep within you feel you are nothing and worthless, because that's the message you've always had from your abusers.  And so, having that view of yourself, it's easy to be drawn to those who you figure you are "as good as you're going to get!"  You just feel....broken...damaged goods.

This wasn't the end of my abuse experience, though - unfortunately.  I married again, and while this man wasn't abusive physically, he had sexual issues and was always hooking up with other women and cheating on me.  In a short time, he ended up in prison due to his uncontrollable sexual lust.  I divorced him, and I figured I was done with men.   A pastor and his wife I met through a good friend, had helped me when I came to a point of just wanting to end my life, and I discovered Christ and the benefit of good Christian abuse-counseling.

I've been receiving Christ-based abuse-recovery counseling now for over 17  years, and have and am experiencing the healing grace of Christ in my heart and mind, addressing my "soul wound" from all that past abuse.  Through this help in Christ, I've been able to forgive my father, my older brother, and my two former husbands (and others) who had so severly abused me and my daughters.  The Lord continues to work in my mind, emotions and spirit, to discover and reverse the lingering effects of all these sins done to me.  I've learned it's not just the particular incidents of abuse that need Christ's healing touch, but also realizing and recovering from the unhealthy ways I adopted to cope with all that abuse.  I had to be healed from the inside out!

The Lord did eventually bring me into a marriage with a Christian man (my former pastor) who values and loves me - and is willing to go with me through the rest of my healing journey.   My daughters are yet discovering this needed journey of healing, too, as they had also ended up in abusive relationships.  But the Lord is working to reverse this trend in our lives and family line, though it is a hard journey back.  If it wasn't for Jesus, though, I know I wouldn't even be here today! 

I am the first Kahaloa, including my sisters, brothers, mother and father (he died in a car accident many years ago, after changing in his later years and no longer drinking or being abusive), to live past 60 years old!  My father, my mother, my oldest sister, my oldest brother, and two other brothers, have all died in their 50's or younger.  I have yet one younger brother and one sister remaining, both in their 50's; but each is dealing with life-threatening health issues.  I myself am a survivor of two cancers, the loss of one kidney, and living with COPD.  I'm praying my sister and brother will come to know Christ as I have and have many years yet ahead of them, as they would come to know Him as their Savior, Lord and Healer.  My two daughters have both come to know Christ and are yet working through the effects of their past abuse.  One of my greatest joys, through them and through my husband, are my 14 Grandchildren!   I am so thankful to the Lord for bringing me through all I've been through, to know Him, to know Peace, to have a New Life, and to enjoy my children and grandchildren!  

Truly His grace is greater than all the evil sin can bring upon us.  There isn't anything He can't change and heal!  I am living proof!

Gary Morrison