The amount and magnitude of cruelty and contempt I endured in my life is mind-boggling. If I described to you some of the events that were common in my childhood you would vomit or at least feel like it. Yes, things nobody wants to hear because they’re too awful. Few can hold even the idea of the things that happened, much less the details. Except me. I hold them all! They are in me, part of who I am. So are the brilliant ways I survived them, what I did when I figured out what I had to do to survive that kind of terrorism. I thought two of my abusers were going to kill me. I was afraid they would and they liked that. And I wished they would kill me because death would have been easier than living with what they did to me. But they didn’t kill me. That wasn’t the point. The point was the sense of power they felt in evoking my terror. To nearly obliterate a child–to do to her what was done to them–made them feel big and strong, a victor instead of a victim. My abusers taught me to freeze because escape was impossible. The freeze is a kind of death, actually. Everything stops except the heart and the terror, and maybe the breath. Terror itself can squeeze the life out of you. This I know.