The Breathless Heartbeat of Fear – Part 1

The Breathless Heartbeat of Fear – Part 1

I was sitting in an IMAX movie theater recently.


During the opening credits, where they show you their superior sound effects and the name of the company who is bringing this superior sound to you, and the sound effects began to blast throughout the room. The sound was deafeningly loud, rattling so hard that you felt it in your chest and throughout your whole body.


And in that moment, I had a flashback of something terrible from my past. It was brief, but it shook me to my core.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the run, or if you’ve ever known TRUE fear like hiding from a person who is trying to hurt you. Your heart is pounding. Thoughts are slamming through your mind. Should I run? Where do I go? Will they find me?


Buh-boom. Buh-boom. Buh-boom. 

All of a sudden, someone is coming. Buh-Boom. You hear footsteps. Buh-Boom. Each step is getting closer and closer. Buh-Boom. You could be discovered at any second.


Without even knowing it, without you consciously choosing to do it, and because you’re truly terrified…


You hold your breath.


It’s the breathless heartbeat of fear. Fear so enveloping that you stop breathing. Have you ever been THAT afraid?

Your heart beat is pulsing and you are aware of each pulse as it pounds throughout your chest, your jaw, your head, and ears. Buh-boom. Your entire body is pulsing. Buh-boom. Everything slows down and it feels like slow motion. Buh-boom. It feels like a ticking time bomb that will only end in pain and violence.


That is one memory that I’ve never been able to forget.


When I was 5, my mother had a boyfriend that would watch me while she went to work. He sexually tortured me for years until my mother found out and then she blamed me for what he did to me, saying that I “asked for it” and that I had seduced him. That began the physical abuse that I endured for the next couple of years. 

I was locked in my room without food or water for days, weeks at a time. I had no human contact, unless she was in my room, beating me. Only when she would leave the apartment to go to work, would I sneak out and try to eat anything I could find.

I wasn’t beat every night but almost every night. Here’s what happens to a person who is being physically or sexually abused. Your entire body is in a state of tension. You’re always waiting for the next eruption. I didn’t do anything to make her mad. There was no reason for her to hit me for any reason. I can vividly remember laying there as stiff as a board, in my twin bed with the covers pulled up to my chin. Just waiting. Waiting for the next beating. The next explosion. It was hard for me to fall asleep. I was exhausted during those days. Hungry. Bruised. But I was terrified to close my eyes. I would sing to myself. 


I don’t know that I ever took a FULL BREATH during that time in my life.

She would threaten me and tell me that she would kill me if I ran away. I knew her well enough to know that she WOULD kill me so I stayed.


One day changed all that.


She came home from work and she was very agitated (more than usual) and started yelling about her job and that she might get fired. The heart starts throbbing. Buh-Boom. All of sudden, she burst into my bedroom and yanked me up off the bed by my hair. Buh-Boom.


It’s a weird feeling while you’re being beaten.


It hurts, for sure. But there is something so “out of body” about it, too. Depending on what you get hit with, there’s this ache of pain at the source. Then it stings. Then it feels like it’s getting full or swelling. It’s the sounds and smells, too. I know what the smell of burning skin smells like. I know what the smell of blood smells like. The smack of fists against flesh. The slap of a hand across the face. Yep. It hurts.


 My mother was a wild fighter. She would use her fists, and anything else she could grab. First she slapped my face a few times. Buh-Boom. Then she grabbed my hair and held my head and punched me. Then she grabbed hold of the bookshelf and tossed it on top of me. It fell on me, knocking me to the floor. Buh-Boom. She had grabbed a wire hanger and was beating me across my lower back and thigh. The sound of a hanger whizzing through the air. The sting as the wire sliced across my body over and over. I remember the pain of that was really intense. When she got too tired, she dropped the hanger and grabbed me by my face. Buh-Boom.

Her finger nails dug into my cheeks and she literally picked me up by my skin and shook me back and forth screaming “I hate you. You have ruined my life. I want you DEAD.”


Just like that, she was gone. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. And then I let out the breath that I was holding.


I hurt everywhere. I remember pulling off my pants because my leg was hurting so bad. What I saw was something I’ve never forgotten. My thigh was black and raised off of my normal leg about an inch or more. There was a bruise there the size and shape of a football and several bruises across my back and butt. I couldn’t touch it because it would sting too much. I couldn’t sit, either. It kept swelling.


I heard her open her dresser drawer where she kept her pistol. Buh-Boom. I braced myself for round two. She came into the room again, and pointed the gun at me and said, “This…is the answer to my problem, Sonya. (Buh-Boom) You are my problem. (Buh-Boom) I am going to solve my problem.” Cursing, she hit me in the head and I don’t remember anything after that.


When I woke up, it was morning and I was on the floor where she had hit me with the pistol. She had left me there in that condition. I knew that I was hurt bad. It was hard for me to get up. I listened at the door and heard nothing. So I knew that she had left for work. I knew that it was now or never. I had to run. My heart was pounding hard in my chest. I took nothing with me. I left it all. I went to the door and opened it. Buh-Boom. 


I knew that there was only one place that I could go. When I was a kid, I would pester every dog owner in the neighborhood to walk their dogs or play with their dogs. I LOVED DOGS. Well this particular house had 3 single women living together on one side of this duplex and they each had their own dog. One was a puppy and I was in love with it. When I got to the door, of course, it was locked.

So I walked around the duplex and when I got to the other owner’s house, I noticed that the screen door was open and that the mom was in the kitchen cooking. I knew from playing there that this duplex had two doors that opened up to each other to get to the basement. If I could get to that door, I could get into the other side of the duplex. I heard the phone ring, and the mom went into the living room and left the kitchen. Buh-Boom. This was it. Buh-Boom. I quietly opened the door and walked by the baby in the high chair, who was babbling and smiling, and opened the middle door and made it to the other side. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. I let out the breath that I was holding. I was safe for now and I could breathe. I closed the curtains, watched cartoons and played with the dogs most of the day.


The scariest part came when my mother came and knocked on the door, asking if they had seen me. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. I’m breathless. She was in the kitchen. She was literally above my head where I was hiding. They told her they hadn’t seen me in days. She left and I could breathe again. This is strange to say but I slept really good that night.


The next day, I heard the girls leave the house so I came out of the storage room and ate cereal, watched cartoons and waited. Sometime that afternoon, the dogs started to bark. They had a doggie door in their kitchen and the dogs were free to come and go as they pleased. I knew that the dogs were outside. As I looked up, there was my mother, glaring at me from the window. I had forgotten to close that curtain. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. Buh-Boom. Everything stopped. The breathless heartbeat of fear, pounding in my chest. 


I heard the puppy barking and saw my mother look down at her feet. She bent down and lifted the puppy up by it’s neck. Buh-Boom. She held it there, in a choke hold, with it’s legs dangling and had this strange smile on her face. Buh-Boom. All she said was, “It’s time to come home, now.” Buh-Boom. I looked at that puppy as it wiggled and cried and knew what I had to do. Buh-Boom. I opened the door and she stepped aside to let me out. She took my hand in hers, smiling this crazy smile for the neighbors to see and hand in hand she walked me back to the worst beating I ever received.


BUH-BOOM. BUH-BOOM. BUH-BOOM. You don’t even realize that you aren’t breathing until you inhale. That’s TOTAL FEAR.


Can you feel it? Many of you know exactly what that fear feels like. A breathless heartbeat that you never want to feel again. It’s born from a violent reality that something BAD is going to happen AGAIN. Do you know what THAT kind of fear does to a person?


So why do I share this today? 

Log on tomorrow for Part 2.

  • jendegZ
    Posted at 15:11h, 31 December Reply

    When I was a child, I was molested by a relative and I never told anyone. I have lived with guilt and shame all of my life. Why did he do this to ME? Why did God allow this to happen? I read what happened to you and I wanted to scream. I know that fear, too. I know that I need help. Can you help me?

  • 345benti
    Posted at 15:14h, 31 December Reply

    I’m so sorry what happened to you, Sonya. This made me sick. Those two ought to be dead for what they did to you. I know that we’re supposed to forgive but there are limits. What your mother did to you is unforgivable.

  • JasonL
    Posted at 15:17h, 31 December Reply

    Oh wow! I can’t stop the tears. No one should have to live through that. But I’m glad you did. I was hurt by someone, as well. I went to many years of therapy and it has helped. I love your story. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. Thank you for your courage.

  • PhilipR3
    Posted at 15:20h, 31 December Reply

    I hope those SOB’s get what’s coming to them. You are one strong lady. I served in our military and I can tell you that nothing I’ve seen in compares to the strength you’ve shown to share your pain with this world. YOU are a TRUE HERO.

  • potbelly09
    Posted at 15:22h, 31 December Reply

    Thank you for writing this. My mother beat me, too. When you described the fear, I knew exactly what you meant. I always wondered what I did to make her do it. I feel like no one will ever love me. I need prayer. Would you please pray for me?

  • KevinG
    Posted at 15:28h, 31 December Reply

    This is an amazing story. I don’t know what to say. I am a man who hit women. I’ve served time for it and have been in counseling. I never understood how they felt til I read your words. I am sickened by what I’ve done. You may not believe me but that’s okay. I am truly sorry for what was done to you. I’m also sorry for causing another person to have that fear. I have not hit a woman in 10 years. I’ve also been in a church where I am surrounded by a godly group of men. I never had that before. It does make all the difference. Your story moved me. I will never forget it.

  • bt1234
    Posted at 15:33h, 31 December Reply

    I’m inspired by all of your FB posts and the lives that u touch with your testimony. I can’t even begin to imagine your life as a child. I wish there was a way to help and love every child going through this. Some days I feel totally helpless when I start thinking of all the ugliness that surrounds us. I’m thankful that God has saved u and that u r using your life to bless others. Oh Sonya in reading it , I could almost feel the fear and the hurt. I imagined myself as u and what goes through a child’s mind. I pray constantly for the abuse of our children and the abusers. I have hope knowing that God uses u and others to help those that are so broken and hopeless. It seems like things are getting worse and the time is getting shorter. I pray constantly for a revival in this world. I can’t wait to read part 2. Praising God for giving u the courage and strength to be transparent about your life, knowing that many lives will be touched and saved.

  • alex28
    Posted at 15:36h, 31 December Reply

    I’m sorry.

  • lexa456
    Posted at 15:39h, 31 December Reply

    You are not alone. I am not alone. I was hurt like you. My grandfather sexually abused me when I was a young teenager. I was afraid and wouldn’t tell anyone. When I got older, I was a different person. I was withdrawn and I drank a lot. I didn’t want anyone to get close to me, but I craved love. Thank you for making me see that I am not a BAD person. I have crud and I will be dealing with it. That is the gift I’m going to give myself this new year. Thank you, Sonya. You inspire me to be stronger. Not for anyone but myself.

  • aizard89
    Posted at 15:40h, 31 December Reply

    How? How does someone live through that and still want to live? I can’t. I don’t want to.

  • trickygirl
    Posted at 15:44h, 31 December Reply

    This was hard to read. The things that you felt, I couldn’t do anything but cry for you. This story is going to change a lot of peopel’s lives.

  • redeemed13
    Posted at 15:46h, 31 December Reply

    I was physically abused by my father. He would hit us and then as he did it would tell us it was our fault. You DO hold your breath. Or maybe we just quit breathing. This story is so important. May God give you the strength and courage you will need as you step out into your destiny. Amazing.

  • ristcry
    Posted at 16:07h, 31 December Reply

    When I was 13 I was raped by my softball coach. He was loved by everyone and when I went to tell my parents, they didn’t believe me. I have lived with the shame of that for my whole life. I’ve been angry and bitter. How do I forgive him?

  • 56turkeys
    Posted at 16:08h, 31 December Reply

    This was really hard to read. Brought back all of my own lies. Powerful. God forgive me.

  • sid5772
    Posted at 17:17h, 31 December Reply

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Sonya. Amazing! No words. I can’t stop the tears.

  • penguinplus
    Posted at 17:32h, 31 December Reply

    I am a mother who has hurt her child. She’s not living with me now, but I miss her. I don’t know why I hurt her. But I did. After reading this, I realized I made my own kid feel that fear. It hurts so bad. I know that look, too. It was done to me. I need help. Will God forgive me? Will my child forgive me?

  • brendaOd
    Posted at 17:37h, 31 December Reply

    Wow. I don’t know what to say. This is just wrong. I’m sorry for what happened to you.

  • lonely14
    Posted at 18:41h, 31 December Reply

    I have hurt my wife. I can’t stop hurting her. She left me and I don’t know where she is. Why did she leave me? Isn’t marraige a sacred thing? I’m not perfect husband but I try. I give her everything she’s ever wanted. Why won’t she take me back? I try really hard to not lose my temper but it seems like she pushes me and I lose it. I want her back. What can I do?

  • slitit2099
    Posted at 19:08h, 31 December Reply

    When I was 8 years old, I was sexually abused by a man who was my mom’s boyfriend. They would get high and then she would pass out and he would come into my room and make me touch him. He would tell me that he was in love with me but that no one would let us be in love. I remember feeling jealous of my mom when I’d hear them having sex. Even after he dumped her, he would try to get with me. Now that I’m grown, I know that I’m so messed up. My life is not my own. I take drugs to get through it. I admit that I like sex. It’s something that I feel control but yet, can lose myself in it. I don’t stay with anyone more then a month or so. And that has worked out for me. A friend of mine told me about you and so I listened to your testimony. It really shook me up. I try to forget. Not remember. I know how it feels to be afraid. I also know the shame because I loved him. I’m not convinced that he did anything wrong. I mean I liked it. I loved him. I don’t go to church. And if I’m being honest, I don’t really believe there is a God. You probably won’t want to talk to me but I need to talk to someone. Can you help me? I think you might know just how I feel.

  • abbey45
    Posted at 19:10h, 31 December Reply

    Thanks for your courage. It’s going to minister to many lives. You truly are a Jesus girl.

  • sontimes
    Posted at 19:10h, 31 December Reply

    I want to believe you can heal but I just don’t see how. How do you forget the pain of something like that? I can’t.

  • Tdunnon
    Posted at 19:12h, 31 December Reply

    Please tell me that these people are in prison. I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through. You are nicer than I would be. There is no forgiveness for that. Ever.

  • DeanneW
    Posted at 12:00h, 16 September Reply

    I was hurt too. I have a lot of anger about it and sometimes I drink more then I should to try to forget. I want to move on but I feel trapped. Can you help me?

  • ThomasL
    Posted at 12:00h, 16 September Reply

    Buh boom. That was perfect. It’s the exact way I felt every time my dad beat me. I knew it was coming and I would just go someplace in my head to protect myself. It hurts to be hit. Trying to deal with my crud. Trying to forgive. Please pray for me. You are beautiful. Thank you for your bravery.

  • Jenny3Long
    Posted at 12:00h, 16 September Reply

    Oh my goodness this was so powerful. You are a brave girl. Beautiful and bold for Jesus. I love your heart. I’m praying for you and for all that will read this today!

  • ieooe0cx3
    Posted at 12:00h, 16 September Reply

    I’m sorry for what happened to you. I don’t know how you can forgive her for that? I couldn’t do it.

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