"We never called it abuse. To this day I still feel uncomfortable with that label because I'm still unsure whether my experience should be grouped with others who have suffered so much worse. But here's what I know: I was afraid to go home after school and I spent years of my life wanting to die.
As a kid I don't remember having time to myself, time to play or make my own choices. Work, even meaningless work, was the default. If I wasn't working it was because I had been granted a short period of time off for performing well. How do you explain that kind of childhood? How do you convey the endless sleep deprivation and threat of punishment? The most hopeless part of it all was that I was defending it. When people asked about us I told them things were just 'really strict.' For a good part of my life I even believed that.
There was this Bible verse that my pastor quoted often, 'rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.' He said it so strongly, so often, I didn't see a way to stand up for myself without sinning. So I waited. I waited for someone to notice what was happening to me. I was obedient. I would work until my body gave out if asked to. But no one looked close enough to see me."