You told me that I wasn’t good enough.
No one would love me and that I’m lucky that I have you. I would be dead without you and even my mother agreed. You were thirty-three, I was seventeen. I was naive, I was vulnerable. I was a child who was unwell. I was only recently discharged from the hospital due to a suicide attempt after being sexually assaulted by a group of men whom I did not know. I was going through police statements and not managing my trauma well. My soul was tainted.
But you, you prey on the weak. You saw my vulnerabilities and weakness and you reeled me in as quickly as you could. I was unhappy living with my mother at that time and you knew that. You appeared to offer me stability, love, support, and a home. Anything was better than the living hell that I was already living in right? Or so I thought. Looking back now, the red flags were there well before we told everyone that we were in a relationship. I understand now why you hid our “relationship” until I was of a legal age.
A textbook narcissist:
You were manipulative, cunning, so stupid yet calculating at the same time. You treated me well around other people. My words of concern about you meant nothing when your true colours were hidden from the world to see. And so I stayed, appearing to the outside world that I too, was happy.
You had three kids to different women. I was warned about you from one of your children’s mothers, but you told me that they were just jealous and bitter about you being with a younger woman. I believed you, I was naive. I should have known then, but I didn’t do a thing. You knew I would fall in love with your children. You knew that my heart, as broken as it was, was also as pure and compassionate as they came. You knew exactly how to challenge my empathy and compassion and how to use my qualities to your benefit.
I was seventeen .
You took me in when I was at my lowest and weakest point of my life. Appearing as my knight in shinning armour whilst your shadow was a demon. I wanted to study and build my life back together after my assault, but you told me so angrily that
” I don’t have to, that it’s a waste of time and money. I am selfish.”
So I obeyed you. I was seventeen, and up until this point, my whole life I was taught that a man needed to save me. The childhood t.v shows, movies, the books I read as a child, social media and society tells me that I need you to save me. I need you to survive. I need you to rely on. I was born for this…
I was seventeen when I was taught that I had to stay with you, that you were saving me, that I am nothing without you, and then….
I was eighteen:
I instantly became a step mother and not long after I was holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand.
One parent praying that I didn’t follow through with the pregnancy, whilst the other parent who was just as cunning as you were told me that I had to have this baby with you. Excitement on their face as they manipulated the situation and told me that all of my reservations about you were in my head. Reminding me that you saved me.
“You put a roof over my head”, you were the only one who would “put up with me”.
I was told that no one else would put up with me. That I am lucky. You tell me that you are sorry for hitting me. Truthfully, I lied too, I told myself that I was happy. I was eighteen and I believed it all until…
I was nineteen :
You moved me far away from my family at this point. You now have four kids. Three of which appear to dread to see you, whilst one who is so fragile, so new, so dependent, and so unknowing about the world that he was just born into. Whilst your eldest son has clearly experienced your true and cruel nature, this new born precious boy has no clue of the man that you are.
Did he realise I was gone all of the times that I was in hospital? Whilst doing as demanded by you and telling my family that I was in hospital for the pre-existing conditions that I had. We both knew that wasn’t true. I was in hospital because of you, another outburst about absolutely nothing, and all I could think about was my son and what you were doing with him. I’m sitting in a hospital bed, alone, scared, bruised and so anxious. I told the hospital that I had another epileptic fit and fall onto a glass candle holder, and that was why I had glass stuck in my forehead. I still remember on the way to the hospital, the ambulance nurse telling me that it’s okay to say what really happened, but I denied it. I lied so many times about my cuts and bruises that even I started to believe them.
I barley felt the pain in my head that night, all I feel is worry. I am sweating and crying, I feel my throat closing in. Concerned this might be the last time I saw my son. You’re so angry at me that the thought crosses my mind that you will hurt him in spite of me. So I discharged myself that night to make sure my son was safe. I was nineteen and realisation washes over me.
You are not a friend, you are not a father, you are not a man.
You are a monster!
I stayed for a while after that event, contemplating yet also waiting for the “perfect” moment to leave. Battling my own thoughts, alone in this hell that you called home. I was scared to leave you see, I knew it had to be well planned, it wasn’t as easy as said to just “walk away and leave”.
Up until this point, I believed your abuse was normal. I believed my family did not care for me, I believed that I was worthless, I believed that every traumatic experience with you was my fault, and one thing always remained true, I was scared.
But something changed and I am not afraid now, I am not afraid for I am a mother. A mother that is stronger than any monster on this earth. A mother that knows that her love for her child is stronger than any fear that you ever caused. A mother that knows her fears are nothing compared to her responsibilities and love she has for her child.
One last time, one last bruise, one last chance to manipulate your words and one last tear shed for this mother to run. It took a very scary situation for me to realise that there is no perfect time to leave. You not only harmed me this time but you harmed my baby.
And that was the moment that I woke-up to myself. I realised it was now or never.
Now was my time to leave, and if not now, I might not make it to see tomorrow.
And so, I finally left.
But this mother did not run from a monster, but ran towards a better life.
She did not run from abuse and torment, but she ran towards strength and courage .
She did not run from financal ruin and shame, but she ran towards education and security.
With every ounce of her, she mustered her strength and transformed every weakness into a passion, into a strength, into independence, and into purpose.
She didn’t need a man to save her, she saved her god damn self. And she grew… wiser, stronger, fearless.
A year passes by, I am finding myself whilst remaining hidden from you. I am studying, working, battling…. surviving.
My son is my sanity, my reason, my rock. The law now says that we are safe, we are free, we can breathe. You are not allowed near us, but the fear will never leave and the law does not understand that a piece of paper that I hold in my hand serves no security to a woman who has been abused. Especially to a woman who’s child had been harmed by the hands of a monster.
But as I found myself in a field of supporting others experiencing similar to what I experienced with you, I quickly learned that if I live my life in fear first, you win. If I live my life in fear first, then you still hold control over me and I’ll be damned if I ever let you control me or my son again.
That fear is unforgettable and that fear you cast upon me will always be remembered, but I am no longer driven by it and it does not consume me. I, Ann Toscano, no longer allow that fear to hold me back in life and I no longer decline opportunities that require my changed legal name. For so long I used a fake name as I hid from you, but as my business grows, my real name is now out there for you to see, which may sound minor to some but it’s a middle finger to you and a massive milestone for me.
Upon regaining a new found strength and life, I unintentionally met a man. One that’s compassion is so strong that you can see it in his eyes no matter how hard he tries to shield it. Rugged, humorous, impatient yet kind. A heart so full that he whole heartedly loved a child that he did not create but applied to the courts and claimed this child as his own. Without hesitation, he proudly shares his surname with his son.
I spent previous years chained up in a prison that you created, and then I met this man who stood by me as he helped those chains break free.
And this man fought, only this time was different.
This man did not fight with me or against me, he fought for me and for our son that we raise as a united front, together and equal. A man that is not a monster and finally is… A friend, a husband, a father.
Through your abuse/hatred and through my husbands love and care, I have learned 5 things that I want to express and thank you for.
1: My past mistakes and errors were only my wisdom and success of my future.
These errors have only lead me to the pure happiness and the contentment that I am in right now.
2: I am loved, I am worthy, I am deserving, I am brave, I AM ENOUGH.
3: Nothing that life throws at me will ever be stronger than I am. You think you broke me, but you didn’t break me. You don’t own that type of power, you never did. I am Bent, But Not Breaking!
4: My son will learn how women should be treated. He will watch me in the field of social work and he will watch me empower and advocate for violence against women. He will know that violence is never justified and he will stand up for what is right. Through both mine and his fathers hard work raising him, he will learn that his voice can make a difference, he will be heard and he will always be seen. He will know what family unity means. He will know what being a father means. He will live a life of health and happiness and live to demonstrate and appreciate respect, resilience, courage, integrity and compassion. He will know that he is safe, that he is loved, that he is valued in this world and that he too, is enough and loved, just as he is.
My experience with you, the monster, eventually guided me to the realisation that I was never the problem, it was always you. I also learned that you should never underestimate the strength of a women.
And the biggest lesson of them all, is that you can no longer hurt me, for I now have all control.
I hold the most valuable thing that the world has to offer; My self-worth and a shit tone of self-love.
It is now my passion and my job to guide women in discovering their own self-worth. Ironic right? You told me that I was worthless, turns out it’s not me that holds no value in this world.