Surviving Parental Abduction: A Resilient Journey

Surviving Parental Abduction

I am sure that some of you, if not most of you, will have gone through moments when your life feels like it’s crashing beneath you and everything you have worked for and cherished disappears right before your eyes. You attempt to salvage it all, but nothing works out. It’s true; human suffering is an inevitable and natural part of our life’s journey. It is what builds resilience in you and what makes you unique. As part of sharing my own story with you, I want to highlight a quote that has continually inspired me throughout my life. It is a quote by Aristotle which says, “Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.”

Melissa Dewar

 My own story begins at the age of 8. I grew up in an unstable household, where abuse was the norm, and every day held new challenges. My mother suffered from serious mental health issues leading her to be violent towards me and my dad. I was often beaten for expressing my views. This resulted in a painful custody battle between my parents, where my mother kidnapped me. My life was turned upside down and everything I cherished I lost. Everything an 8-year-old girl should have had was taken away from me – no phones, no friends, no school, and most importantly, no freedom. Throughout this period, I was kept in various flats where I experienced physical and mental abuse. At the mention of, ‘Mom, I want to see my dad.’ I was beaten and told never to utter such words again. After constant abuse and suffering, even the minds of the strong can wither. I began to question the meaning of life and contemplated suicide many times. There was a moment which I will never forget. The moment when I decided, I was indeed going to end my life and climb onto the balcony of the apartment block I was kept in. That was it, I was going to jump and be free from all the pain. But in that moment of despair, something remarkable happened. I heard what I can only describe as the voice of an angel telling me, “Never give up.” To this day, I truly believe that was a divine intervention.

Before I was kidnapped, my father had a gut feeling that my mother might do something to me. He left with me a secret teddy bear which was stuffed with a secret phone. This was our only hope for communication when my father’s hindsight proved to be true.

Before I was kidnapped, my father had a gut feeling that my mother might do something to me. He left with me a secret teddy bear which was stuffed with a secret phone. This was our only hope for communication when my father’s hindsight proved to be true. However, he did not leave a charger and we ended up not being able to communicate for part of my abduction story. This phone was what became my saving grace. However, without a charger, I couldn’t stay in touch with him for months. I coped with the pain through self-harm and numbing myself to the outside world.

Finally, I managed to get hold of a phone charger and made that critical call to my dad! It felt like an eternity since I had heard his voice. I remember telling him what had happened those past few months and I could hear the relief in his voice. Something shifted during that call and there was a feeling of hope. I told my father my location and how he could find me. After my mother moved me again, my father found me! The feeling of being reunited with a loved one after what seemed like an eternity is plausibly one of the hardest feelings to explain. During the court case that proceeded, I mustered the courage to speak up for myself and express my wishes to stay with my father as opposed to my mother. As an 8-year-old child, facing a room full of adult solicitors was one of the boldest and most courageous things I have done in my life.

“The feeling of being reunited with a loved one after what seemed like an eternity is plausibly one of the hardest feelings to explain.”

Reuniting with my father was just the beginning of a long journey to rebuild my life. When we returned home, I was seriously behind in school, socially isolated, and broken. But I never let statistics or what others said about me hold me back, I used my pain and experience to propel me forward in life. The words that echoed in my heart during my darkest hour, “Never give up,” fuelled my determination to persevere.

I can truly say that the journey to healing and rebuilding one’s life is not an easy endeavour. For me, it took the love and support of those around me to get me back on track. Brick by brick, I rebuilt my life, never forgetting the importance of the trauma I overcame and the moments that I raised my voice. Today, I want to stand before you and share my story with vulnerability and grace. I want to also emphasize the significance of raising our voices and creating a world where we can share our experiences without judgment or fear. Whether we are 8-year-olds in a courtroom or 50-year-olds facing life’s challenges, our stories matter. They can inspire and impact others, giving them hope, strength and the knowledge to endure their own struggles.

Aristotle’s words indeed ring true. If we can face suffering with greatness of mind, our experiences can become beautiful. They can shape us into stronger, more compassionate human beings and remind us of the human capacity to endure and rise above adversity.

I hope that my story has inspired you to look at your own struggles with new courage and hope. Embrace your challenges, always share your journey, and remember that within suffering lies the potential for beautiful growth and blessings.

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