Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Cheray Braving Abuse

I admire Joe's bravery.  Her desire to come forward, so others may be helped by hearing her story is inspirational.  Joe made a huge impact at #140confSmallTown.  I'm not sure if there was a dry eye in the place.  Thanks Joe, because of you, lives will change. "I am just thankful for the opportunity to speak out in any way that I can about this. I think this is one of the better ways to facilitate healing as I don't feel so dirty and unaccepted anymore."

Blogging from  give Joe Cheray a big Rural Women Rock welcome.

 I was asked to write a post for @missduffys audience about my experiences growing up and to speak about them the way I did for #140confSmallTown. I am honored and flattered that she wants me to share my story with her readers.

Before I talk about this, let me introduce myself to you. My name is Joe Cheray and I am, as my Twitter profile states, a single mom to a son with cerebral palsy. I live in the heartland of America in Topeka, Kansas. I also have four cats Sunshine, Gracie, Princess, and Dot.

Now here is what I shared with the #140confSmallTown audience:

I was born in 1972 to a small town auto mechanic who was also a Korean War vet and a stay at home mom. At the age of 3 my life changed drastically forever. My parents were declared unfit due to my mother’s neglect of us, and my three brothers and I were removed from the home. The same night my brothers and I were removed from the home my dad killed himself. Two days later we went to his funeral and then we had to return to our foster parents.

We would then spend the next two years roughly in foster homes in various small Kansas towns. We were separated, two of us went to one town, and my baby brother and I were in a foster home together in Frankfort briefly then separated. I would also spend time on a small farm in north east Kansas.

At the age of 5 we were reunited with our grandparents and our mom in small unincorporated Baileyville Kansas.  At the age of 6 my mom decided that my grandparents had things under control in the raising of us and ditched us. We were abandoned by her and left for our grandparents to raise.  

At the age of 10 my grandfather who was physically abusing me, began to also sexually abuse me. Physical abuse included but was not limited to being whipped with a bullwhip, getting thrown around my room like a rag doll, and once I was beat until I almost urinated myself. Throw into that mix the emotional abuse. The sexual abuse started as fondling and moved into oral sex. He had already been physically abusing me between the ages of 7 and 10.

During this time I attempted suicide twice and tried to run away a couple of times. Running away never worked my grandfather controlled the whole county.

The last straw was at the age of 15 when I discovered my pubescent brothers had been going into my room and I vehemently stated that no one was allowed in my room. My grandfather went off and called me a bitch, a whore, and a slut and told me he could go into my room any time he felt like it. He ransacked my room; tearing my curtains off my windows, turning my bed upside down and taking all of my drawers out of my dresser then dumping my clothes out. After I was done hanging up my laundry I had to go clean up my room.

After he had fallen asleep after Sunday dinner I lied to my grandmother and told her I was going to bike the back roads. Instead I biked to a nearby town of Seneca and found my high school counselor. I told her that I was not going back home and that I would kill myself or her before going back home. I would spend the next 6 months in a foster home. In July of that year I went to live with my mom who I thought had her act together and was living in Topeka Kansas.

I wish I could say life was happily ever after in getting out of the hell on earth I was living in but with it brought future relationship issues and challenges.

I ended up in and out of temporary living situations, being homeless for a bit, and going back into a foster home. I had already found my first abuser. I was also 3 months pregnant when I graduated from high school. I gave the baby up for adoption. I would later go on to be in 3 abusive dysfunctional relationships. The second one brought me the one major joy in my life-my son. I vowed to keep him and break the cycle of abuse.

The important thing is that I have survived just about everything there is to survive in my life. I don’t have chapters I have book it seems. What I have just told you in regards to my grandfather is just a sample of what I went through.

My grandfather has been gone for 2 years. I cried tears of relief and joy at his funeral. I was relieved that I was able to speak my mind to him during his last days of semi lucidity. I was joyous that I was finally free of his physical presence here on earth.

I want to thank Deb Brown for asking me to speak at #140confDM. She opened a door for me that I desperately needed. Thanks to her asking me to talk about my son at that event, I was able to finally have the courage to share my childhood with others at #140confSmallTown.

Twitter @wildheart4vr , Facebook, and blogging has given me the outlets to speak out about my abuse.

Small town America is not immune to the same artocities that occure in the big cities.  For some reason there is a mentality that this can't happen in our town, or that it only happen in the city.  I want to encourage all of you to watch for child abuse.  Done be afraid to stand up fo a child.  You can be the differecne in an abused childs life.  I wish I would have had someone there to notice me and help me out.

Women Who Help:

Sheyvette Dinkens

Joyce Myers

Debi Pearl Childrens Book: Sara Sue Learns to Yell and Tell.


  1. Thank you for this post Joe. It couldn't have been easy for you to share but it is SO important that you have. Abuse isn't just a big city problem. It's everywhere! thanks for bringing it to our attentions. God Bless you and your son and your process of healing!

  2. Thank you Prairie Mother. The best advice I can give anyone out there is take the healing process one day at a time. Also there is no one size fits all approach to healing. I ask you to please share this story with all of your networks both online and offline.

    I am not there all the way, but I do the best I can and push myself to do better the next day.

  3. A tough journey to finally finding your joy in life with your son.

  4. You're a brave woman for sharing your story and an inspirational woman to all those going through adversity. God bless you, Joe.

  5. I am SO sorry you had to go thru that. Thanks for sharing. Just keep your faith and keep sharing! The more you help others, the more you help yourself. God bless!

  6. Brave woman you are, keep healing, keep strong!

  7. Joe, thank you for telling your story of survival. And thank you for reminding us all that there are so many children living in hell, who need our intervention. I remember when I was in elementary school, I could tell which children suffered at home the way I did. I knew they had secrets, too. It was so clear to me, but so invisible to the grown-ups in our lives - the teachers especially, who might have been able to help.
    Way back then, I decided that my adulthood would be better than my childhood. And it is!
    Thank you again, Joe.