My name is Sherry Haney. I was born on November 6th, 1989 in Big Rapids, Michigan. I am the 3rd oldest out of 7 children.
Before I get into my story, I’m going to start by telling the story of my mother’s past. My mother grew up with an abusive father and a mother who didn’t care about her. Her dad would both physically and sexually abuse her. When she was 13, my mother ran away from home to escape the abuse. That’s when she met my father. My father’s mother took my mother in and adopted her as her daughter. During this time, my father and mother fell in love and had their first child when my mother was 16. Over the course of 8 1/2 years, she gave birth to 7 children. My parents ended up marrying after the birth of their second child.
As far as my father goes, I don’t know much about his past except that his parents got a divorce when he was young. He has one younger stepbrother, James, who has some kind of mental impairment and lives with his mother.
Now, on to my story. All Of the drama started when I was two years old. I was at my grandma Loretta’s house for the day, visiting her and my uncle, James. My uncle asked me to come into his bedroom to walk on his back. It may have seemed innocent to others, but, in reality, he was taking advantage of me. He molested me. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on. It went on for a whole year before I told my mother about it. My mother got so angry about it and called the cops. They asked my grandma if what I said was true, she said no. My grandma was the guardian over my uncle, so she said he never did it because she never saw him alone with me. Well, she didn’t know what was happening in his bedroom. The molestation began to happen every time we went to grandma’s house. It would happen to my sister and brothers, as well.
My uncle had a few mental problems, but this does not excuse him from what he was doing to all of us. James began to force my brothers, Jr. and Jason, to touch me sexually, also. It became customary for them to do this. They were threatened to be beaten if they didn’t molest me. This abuse went on for many years. My brother Jr. would touch me in secret, trying to hide it from everyone. I was scared every time. He began to touch my other siblings, as well.
During all this abuse, my mother was a drunk and a drug addict. My father and mother ended up separating when I was two years old. They both were cheating on each other. My mother was smoking marijuana, shooting up heroin, smoking crack cocaine, and always drinking.
My mother couldn’t take care of any of her children, so I took charge. I began to feed all my siblings, bathe them, change their diapers, etc. I became mom. I only had a break when my grandma would come over to help. We never had food in the house because alcohol and drugs were more important. So, I would go to the local grocery store and steal snacks for all of us. I had to grow up fast.
While I was taking care of all my siblings and my mother, my mom took advantage of me. I was her “sex prize”. She always had me dressed in nice clothes and wear makeup. My eyebrows were always perfect, and my legs were shaven. My mother would take me everywhere with her, and I would go along to all her parties. She would tell her “boyfriends” that they could do whatever they wanted with me as long as they slept with her. So, on top of all the abuse from my uncle and brother, I was also being raped or molested by older men. I was so confused. I didn’t know what was right or what was wrong. My mother would have a new man in the house every night, and if there wasn’t a man in the house, she would have one of her sons in bed with her. Oh yeah, did I mention, I was only 4-5 years old at that point?
And because I was the men’s “reward” for having sex with my mom, then I would have to wait outside my mother’s bedroom door (well, there was no door, just a curtain) until they were done having sex. I heard everything. I remember, at times, asking my mom if she was okay. All I heard was a bunch of noises. I didn’t know what was going on.
After she was finished, the man would come out of the room and choose whether he wanted to toy with me or leave me alone. Regardless of his choice, I would fall asleep every night between my mother and her boyfriend. And when I awoke, my mother would be screaming and yelling at her boyfriend. There would always be a fight. I remember seeing knives fly across the kitchen, along with plates, cups, pots, and pans. My siblings would all come running downstairs, screaming. I would yell at them and send them back upstairs or to the neighbor’s house. I had to keep them safe. It was my job. I was mom.
I remember one incident, in the middle of winter, where my mother was in a huge fight with her boyfriend and he had a gun held to her head. I was in the kitchen, making ramen noodles for my siblings, since they were about to come home from their friend’s house. I heard my mother crying, so I peeked around the corner, and I saw her being held at gunpoint. I quickly grabbed the phone and began dialing 911. But, before I could finish the call, the boyfriend threw my mom into the wall; her head went through the wall. He then grabbed me. Now, I was at gunpoint. My mother was panicking. She was trying to figure out how to save me. Her boyfriend told me, “If you ever call the cops again, then I will kill you.” Then, he threw me to the ground and took out a knife and stabbed my mom seven times in the back.
My mom screamed for me to run. I didn’t have time to get shoes on or a coat. It was dark out, and I was in a nightgown. I ran to the nursing home barefoot in the snow. I got there and asked them to call 911. An ambulance came to my mother’s aide. She was okay. I ended up with frostbitten feet.
I got warm fuzzy socks and a popsicle while I waited for grandma to come to get me. There was always some type of violence going on. My siblings and I would continuously find guns and knives hidden in the house. We would bury them outside.
My mother was in desperate need of a change. The cops wanted her for threatening to blow up a hospital, so she was on the run. She got a U-Haul and put all of us kids in the back of it. My mother was pregnant with Eric at this point. We loaded up the moving van: six kids, Grandma, a big bed, a blanket, a few pillows, a little table, a chair, a candle, some toilet paper, and a milk jug as a toilet in the back. We wouldn’t stay in a place for more than two nights at a time. My mother was always on the run.
While my mother was on the run, my father lived in Florida with his girlfriend, October. She was pregnant with my stepsister, December. My mother drove all of us kids to Florida to be with my father. October was not nice to at all. She hated us kids. She did not like the fact that my father had six other children with another woman. She was abusive to us as well. One day, I remember October got mad at my sister, Loretta. She was so mad that she threw Loretta into a dresser. My sister still, to this day, has a scar on her face from the dresser. Also, October would not let us kids inside the house until dinner time. It would be over 100 degrees some days and we were locked outside of our own home. My father couldn’t do anything about it because he was afraid she would leave him.
After a few months went by, my mother came by and kidnapped us while we were playing outside. She put us back into the U-Haul and we headed back to Minnesota. Then, she gave birth to my brother Eric in Bemidji, Minnesota. My mother was so addicted to drugs, she tried to sell my brother, Eric, for drug money. When the news of this got around, Eric was taken away from my mother. He was put into foster care, and then adopted into a loving family. In case you’re wondering, I was only 8.
My mother tried robbing a bank in Minnesota, and that is where she was arrested. I remember the cops showing up at our little home in Menahga, Minnesota. They let my mother come inside and tell me what was going on. She kissed me goodbye, then she was put into the back of the cop car. The police officer then asked me where the rest of the kids were, I told them they were at a friend’s house. He asked me to go get them, so, I did. Once all the kids were home, the cops sat us all down and explained that we must say goodbye to our mom because she was going to jail. We said our goodbyes while crying and screaming in fear. I remember looking back at the cop car that my mother was in, and she was doing the “I love you” sign to us. We were doing it back to her, also. We were all so scared. The officer got us all into a couple more cop cars, and took us off. Jr. and Jason were sent to different foster homes than the rest of us because they were still sexually abusing us. So, 3 of my siblings and myself were put into one home; with the Bowens.
The Bowens immediately got my siblings and me into counseling. They wanted us to get help for the six years of sexual abuse we went through. It was strange finding out that the abuse that I went through was wrong. It happened for so many years that I thought it was normal. I remember not being able to sleep for days because I wasn’t being molested at night before bedtime. My body became used to all this abuse. It took me a couple of years to realize that all that the things I went through weren’t normal and that I needed help. It took me a lot longer to understand that the abuse that happened to my siblings wasn’t my fault. I blamed myself for the things that happened to them because I was in charge of taking care of them.
I was with the Bowens family for two years before I, along with my siblings, were transferred to the Werner’s home. The Werner’s fought for an entire year to try and get custody of my brother, Jason, too. They ultimately did not win custody of him. It was on May 7th, 2001, that I was adopted along with my 3 other siblings. I was 11 years old.
It has been a long journey of healing from the time I was 11 years old until now. The Lord has taken me from the ashes and turned me around, and is using my story to impact the lives of young girls and boys who have gone through the same things I have. It breaks my heart every time I hear that someone else has been raped or abused. The enemy is trying to take out our generation one person at a time, but those who have been rescued must stand up and be a voice and say, ”No more!” We can change the world, one person at a time.
I gave my life to the Lord when I was 11 years old at a mother-daughter event. A girl got up and shared her testimony, and I was blown away by the similarities our stories shared. I didn’t believe that anyone could’ve gone through the same things I did until I heard her speak. God has changed my heart and given me a passion for helping those involved in human trafficking. I believe, we who have been rescued from the enemy’s chains will take over the enemy’s human trafficking camp.
I give thanks to the Lord every day for my past. Yes, it was terrible and hard to imagine that one person could go through so much, but I just look at Job’s life. He had everything stripped from him, but he did not deny Christ. I will not, either.
I am reminded of a particularly powerful encounter I had with the Lord: I was 18 years old at the time and I was sitting in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. I was crying out to God, “Why could you let something so wrong happen to me? You are the God who sees and knows all things before they even happen. So why did you let these horrendous things happen to my siblings and me?” I cried out for months before God finally answered me in a dream one night.
I dreamed that I was in my bedroom as my brother, Jr., was sexually abusing me. Then, I looked over to my left, where I saw Jesus laying on the ground in agony. Every time my brother touched me, I heard Jesus get whipped repeatedly. Then, in my dream, the cops suddenly arrived. That’s when I saw Jesus getting nailed to the cross. I saw Him look up to heaven and say, “It is finished!” Jesus was there the whole time I was being abused.
I wasn’t alone. And every woman, man, boy and girl needs to know this. It is not God’s fault that these things happen to us. Satan is out there trying to kill, steal, and destroy, but he will be defeated in the end. WE WILL HAVE THE VICTORY!
I am now a mother to two beautiful daughters, and, I am proud to say, I broke the generational curse over my family! My mother was abused as a child, then, her own children were abused. I refused to pass that on! I have the victory and, now, my younger siblings have the victory, as well!
Unfortunately, my two older brothers followed in my mother’s footsteps and are in and out of prison to this day, but I will never stop praying for them.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Written by: Sherry Haney
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