The Cycle of Trauma
By Christine McWhorter
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I never felt truly, truly loved, or protected,” said Tonier Cain. “I wanted her to love me, you know- like I loved her.”
Tonier Cain was the oldest of ten children raised by a single mother in inner city Baltimore. She longed for her mother’s affection. “I wanted hugs. I wanted approval. I wanted to feel like I was her child.”
But Tonier’s mom was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and wasn’t around when Tonier needed her most - after she was molested by a family friend. That left little Tonier to deal with the pain alone. “It took everything that a child believes in - joy, happiness, dreams. I didn’t know how to cope with it, so I would find those half filled cups in the living room I would drink them. And I realized that those memories and the feeling didn’t feel as bad anymore.”
Tonier and her siblings were soon taken from their mother and separated. She spent years bouncing between the homes of foster parents and family members. “My belief system was ‘I’m nothing. I’ll never amount to anything and this is how it’s supposed to be for me.’”
When she was only 17, she married a 24 year old man and got pregnant. “I had my son. My son, little Keith. And for the first time in my life I had somebody love me. This baby would look up at me. He would grab my little finger and he would hold on to it with his little fist and he loved me.”
But this love, the only love Tonier had ever known, was about to be torn from her. Tonier’s husband left her, and took the baby with him. Since he was the father, police said there was nothing they could do. And with no money for a lawyer, she had no way to get her child back. “Once little Keith was taken, I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care and I started to find something better to help me cope. And it was crack.”
She was instantly addicted. She ended up living on the streets of Baltimore. “Everything I did was destructive. You know, so I was literally, literally trying to kill myself, destroy myself. And I used it every chance I got. As a result of that, I ended up prostituting. My daily life was being beaten, raped, or just crawling up in a dark corner like a rat wishing - I was dead.”
Tonier tried to quit drugs, but failed every time. She fell into a vicious 19 year cycle- drugs, prostitution, then jail. “One thing hurt worse than anything else.
“Every time I would have a baby, they would take it out of my arms. And no matter how bad you are on drugs and alcohol, when somebody takes your kids they take your chances. And every time I had a baby, they took another chance from me.”
During one stint in jail, Tonier found out she was pregnant again. “Now I am terrified. Again I’m about to lose another baby. I don’t know how I’m going to live through having another baby snatched from my arms. And I remember somebody saying, ‘When all else fails, why not look up to God?’ I always knew there was a God. I just didn’t think He could love somebody like me. So I didn’t expect his help.”
But Tonier was desperate. “…and I cried. I said. ‘I don’t know if You hear me, but if You hear me, please help me. Please help me keep my baby.’ After I prayed, something in me started to stir. And I can’t even say what it was. But I had a desire to start to go to the Bible study. I had a desire to start to go to all the church services and read the Word. And I had a desire to just be around people that were talking about God.”
After several months of reading her Bible and going to church services, Tonier gave her life to Christ. “It didn’t matter anymore about anybody else’s love because I had God’s love. And He wrapped His arms around me all the time. And I had somebody I could cry out to and I knew heard my tears, heard my cries. I had love all this time and I didn’t know it, because I didn’t know God.”
Soon after, she went to an alternative to prison program that helps pregnant inmates become better mothers. The program included therapy and rehabilitation from substance abuse. “Since my trauma has been identified addressed and treated, I have not even had the desire to use drugs and alcohol. Not even the slightest desire, none. Because finally I was able to go to a program where they were able to address my trauma and treat it. And I was given the opportunity to develop my relationship with God.”
Tonier has also reconciled with her mother. She now speaks internationally about her experience to help people get free from destructive cycles. She lives with her daughter, Orlandra. She says she is grateful to know God’s love. “When I got that clear understanding of who God was, what I realized is He has always, always loved people like me. When I realized that, my whole life changed. Nobody, nothing could have given me the joy and the love and the peace I have today. And that comes from Jesus.”
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