She was only a toddler when her and her three other sisters were removed from her parents’ custody. There wasn’t too much she remembered about the whole ordeal, but she vividly remembered the feeling of responsibility for her two younger sisters. Her and her barely older sister were doing their best to take care of the two babies in place of her parents, washing bottles, feeding them, changing diapers, and being the mother figures that all the girls desperately needed. When DHS intervened, although it ripped the girls apart, it was really the best thing for them. At just three years old, Genia was about to embark on a new journey, but the sense of leadership and motherhood that they were forced to take on at such a young age would stick with them through their entire lives.
Fortunately, they were bounced around from foster home to foster home together, and when they were finally selected for adoption, Genia and her older sister were adopted out together, and the two younger girls were able to stay together as well. It was a little ray of sunshine in the midst of utter darkness. Now they could really be children, and hopefully life would at last become normal for these young ladies. Trauma, however, has a terrible way of haunting you.
Growing up, she did live a fairly normal life with her adoptive parents. Her and her sister developed a strong love for all things adoption, and her sister even went on to adopt children of her own, as Genia wishes to do someday as well. She did very well in school, graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, and eventually married. When she became pregnant, it was one of the greatest joys she’d ever felt. Sadly, that little slice of happiness was about to get swallowed by something much darker.
It started out slowly, as it always does. Phrases like, “No, I never said that, you got it wrong,” or “You really need help because that’s not how that happened,” or “you made me do that because you are so crazy,” started forcing Genia to second guess the reality of her situation. She was starting to feel isolated, relationships with family and friends were becoming strained. And by the time the name calling started, her support system had been sabotaged. When the real physical abuse set in, it had escalated so slowly, and she never even saw it coming. She had loved him, and from her broken childhood, love was something she desperately clung to, and she had hoped that he would change, but he didn’t. Eventually, for her and her child, she knew divorce was the only way out. But it was only about to get worse.
In the court hearing, her narcissistic and manipulative husband had the law and the judge eating out of his hand. He convinced them that her allegations of abuse were all lies, things that she made up because she was crazy and had mental health issues and was just looking for attention. The court bought it, hook, line, and sinker. Genia lost custody of her child and full custody was awarded to her now ex-husband. Her life was in shambles, and there she was again, that little girl being torn from her home and everything she loved. She wondered, could she pick up the pieces again?
And she did, however, the next guy wasn’t much better. She found herself in the same situation again. She had remarried, had a second child, and became the victim of another abusive husband. When they also divorced, just as before, the husband was awarded custody of her child, leaving Genia confused, frustrated, and completely overwhelmed. She knew the only thing she could do now was to turn it all over to God. Her faith was strong. It was strong enough to help her overcome her childhood trauma, her first divorce and custody battle, and she knew it was strong enough to help her get through this.
She wanted to share her faith with everyone. As a teacher though, she felt her ethics were compromised. On one hand, she had an obligation as a teacher to follow the rules, and that meant that unless a student initiated a conversation about religion, she couldn’t speak about it. On the other hand, asking her not to share that with others was in direct conflict with what the Bible teaches us about sharing the Good News of the Gospel. Her faith was such a large part of her life, the only thing holding her together, that not talking about her heavenly Father was like asking someone not to breathe. After spending a lot of time in prayer over the situation, she felt that she was being called in a different direction. She wasn’t sure what it was right at that moment, but she knew it wasn’t where she was currently, so decided to leave the teaching field.
She knew she was meant for something great, but now without a job, and feeling mentally fried from everything she had been through, she was stuck and wasn’t really sure how to move forward. She ended up here at Gospel Rescue Mission.
Since Genia has been with us, she’s had time to reflect on her past, and where she would like to go from this point. She’s still working on her mental health and getting the correct diagnosis. Her attitude is very sweet and positive, and you can just look at her and see her love for God in her actions and how she carries herself. Always trying to be a friend to others and with leadership written all over her, it’s clear to see she’s going places. She is just working on a plan to get her to where God wants her to be.
While she feels pulled in many career directions, she has a few clear things she’s building on: her love for music, her love for business, and her love for God and sharing Him with others. She one day hopes to own a Christian-based dance hall, similar to a modern-day club. It would be alcohol-free, with good faith-based music, and a focus on leading people to Christ through music and fellowship with others. From this venture, she hopes to be able to put her mark on the world by becoming a speaker and influencer about poverty and abuse and the victory she experienced through Christ. In the short-term, she is focused on her work in the GRM Work Start Program, helping her to strengthen her clerical skills so that she can find meaningful employment, not just a job, but a career where she is welcome to share her faith with others. Once she is steady on her feet, she is going back to the court system to fight for her children, who she still sees very regularly and has a wonderful and healthy relationship with. All in all, Genia is down right now, but definitely not out. Despite her past, she is moving forward in faith!
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse and needs help, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Chat and text options are also available. Visit their website for more details: https://www.thehotline.org/