Justice prevails: A memoir of child abuse

Sandra Mae Brown is a survivor of child abuse.

Born in Botwood, NL, she now resides in St. Catharines, ON. She has three children and eight grandchildren. She loves spending time with her family, and likes going on road trips and making happy memories.

This, despite the fact that many of the memories of her early life are anything but happy. As a child, she was beaten, starved, and left to die by her parents.

She has told the story of the horrendous abuse she endured, including how she bravely stood alone and took her parents to court, in a book, Justice Prevails.

“My hope,” she says, “is that, by sharing my experiences, I can prevent similar things from happening to other children, so that they won’t have to go through what I had to endure.”

A long journey

Writing her story has been, for her, “a long and arduous journey,” consuming 15 years of her life.

Leaving school with only a grade three education, she learned, with the help of her friends, children, grandchildren, coworkers, and neighbors, “to read and write enough to see my dream of sharing my story become a reality.” She has achieved her goal of sending “a message to the world” and drawing “public attention and action to the issue of child abuse.”

I personally do not believe that forgiveness means forgetting. I asked Sandra Mae about this very matter.

“Forgiving is not forgetting about the things that were done to me,” she writes. “I think it’s more about letting go in order to move forward with my life.”

Sharing her story, as difficult as it was, has been her key to freedom.

In a transparency born of pain, she admits, “I’ve tried drugs, drinking and meds from doctors. I’ve been in the hospital for six weeks at a time.”

However, nothing worked for her until she, in her words, “started writing and, believe me, that wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did because today I’m so happy with all that I’ve accomplished.... I’m very much at peace with my life now.”

As an abused child, she often prayed, asking God to deliver her.

“Let me take you back to that dark room,” she says, referring to the “dark hole in the wall,” where her parents had moved her when she was only six. “It’s so cold inside, my fingertips are sore and bleeding as I try hard to break free. The smell of my own body waste makes me sick. I hear voices outside, but nobody seems to hear me crying for help. Mother’s footsteps scare me. I’m afraid because, at any moment, she’s going to pull me out, only to beat me again. It’s so dark, I can’t even see my hands in front of my face.

“I pray to God for help, but help doesn’t come. I say to myself, ‘Maybe God didn’t hear me praying.’ ”

Where does Sandra Mae believe God was while she was experiencing almost unspeakable pain?

“I believe God was there beside me all the way,” she responds “I truly believe one must walk through the valley in order to claim the victory in the end. I also believe life’s hardships can be our best teachers.”

A story that resonates

Sandra Mae’s message resonates with her readers. She has received messages from across Canada from people telling her how touched they were by reading her book.

“One mother said she had to stop reading and call her daughter, whom she hadn’t talked to in years, to say she was sorry and to tell her how much she loved her and wanted to see her again.

“One young lady wanted to send a copy of my book to her mother in hopes of making things right between them again. Today they’re like best friends. Her father sent me a note of thanks.

“I feel so blessed to have all the support from people I don’t even know.”

She hopes her book will “go far and wide around the world,” but not for the sake of selling more copies. Rather, she wants to help “save other children who are suffering from child abuse.”

She has a word of advice for her readers who may have gone through abuse in their own lives: “Don’t let the abuse define who you are.”

Meanwhile, she believes it is “very important for people to open their eyes to child abuse. A home may look pretty on the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s clean on the inside.”

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About the author

ChristianWeek Columnist

Following a 35-year career as an ordained minister, Burton K. Janes is now a freelance editor, writer and online instructor. He lives in Newfoundland where he maintains his own blog burtonkjanes.com

About the author