Jennifer Maggio: Secrets in the Dark
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
“There were many times that I can remember being huddled up in a ball on my floor in my bedroom just scared of the stepmother that would come in in the dark, scared of the step relative that would come to molest me,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer Maggio grew up in a house where nothing was safe. She was only 15 months old when her mother was killed in a car accident.
Jennifer remembers how bad it was. “My dad married a total of six times and had lots of girlfriends and mistresses in between and during the marriages. And he became an alcoholic, so there was always screaming and fighting that would go on in my home.“
Jennifer was only three years old when she was first molested. “I was left in the care of many people, and that’s usually when a lot of the sexual abuse would take place.”
She never told anyone about the abuse. “I knew that it was weird as a young child,” recalls Jennifer, “but I just assumed that everyone had that weird thing that they were dealing with in their home as well. And so I never spoke about it, because I didn’t know how to articulate it to people.”
Even with her father’s faults, the two were close. “My father was not one of my molesters, nor do I believe that he knew about it,” Jennifer says, “The severe abuse would not take place when he was there.”
To keep up appearances, her family went church. “I accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was nine years old, and I remember for the next several years committing my heart to the things of God.”
That all changed when Jennifer became a teenager. “I put Jesus on the back burner and put boys on the front burner. And I began to have relationships, one after another that were sexual in nature.”
When she was fifteen, Jennifer started dating one of the most popular guys in school. “Almost from the beginning of that relationship it was abusive, pulling my hair or choking me, pushing me and shoving me. Not being punched in the face, just the manipulation and the fear.”.
Despite the abuse, she kept seeing him. She had two miscarriages in two years, and was pregnant for a third time when she graduated as class valedictorian.
“As odd as this may sound to some, I was not scared of the idea of getting pregnant. In some ways, I thought that that may secure a volatile relationship.”
It didn’t work out that way. Jennifer’s boyfriend took no responsibility for the baby and left for college, but what really hurt Jennifer was her father’s reaction.
“I was so scared of what my dad would say that I called him on the phone and told him I was pregnant. And his exact words to me were, ‘Have a nice life. You are not welcome back here.’ And I was kicked out, homeless, with no place to go.”
A friend offered her a place to stay. Then one afternoon, Jennifer learned her boyfriend had gotten another girl pregnant and was getting married. “Depression set in and I was at a place where I was the closest to suicide that I had ever been.
After the baby was born, Jennifer began to eke out an existence on her own.
“I worked full time everyday, I enrolled in a local community college at night, I took care of my son and I was making it.”
But Jennifer continued seeing her abusive boyfriend. “I wanted my son to have his dad, and so I held on to that relationship and I wanted it to work.
Jennifer got pregnant. Again. This time she had a baby girl. “I would come home at night after a long day’s work and care for those sweet babies. And life was pretty bad.”
One night, Jennifer and her boyfriend got into a fight. After he left, Jennifer broke down. “And my little boy came toddling into the bathroom, and pats me on the back and says, ‘It’s otay.’ And in that very moment, I realized that everything that I had vowed that my children would not experience, I was duplicating, everything.”
Jennifer decided to go back to church. “I still was living in sexual sin. I was in church one Sunday and I was praying over and over again, ‘Lord, please change his heart, please change the kids’ father’s heart. Make him want the things of You, make him desire the things of God.’ And in that moment, I feel like the Holy Spirit just spoke to me and said, ‘Stop praying for Me to change his heart, and start praying for Me to change yours.’”
Jennifer broke up with her boyfriend—for good-- and started to pursue God in earnest. “And God slowly began to transform my heart and my life.”
Today, Jennifer is happily married and has three children. She also has a thriving ministry to single women. Jen knows firsthand the miracles God can do with a heart fully submitted to Him. “I’m the girl that should’ve never had it all work out. I’m the girl that made every mistake you can possibly think of. But God has done such a restoration in my life. He’s shown me what true joy is. Dedicate your life to the things of God. BecauseHe loves you. He loves everything about you. He wants you to be part of his family.”
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