Let me tell you about myself. I am deaf and 44 years old. I have an older sister who has cerebral palsy in her legs. Her nickname is Hopper. I adore her and cherish her everyday. My harley is named after her which is "Okie Hopper". Hopper wasn't supposed to survive the birth, she was born 3 months premature and have several issues. She is traumatic brain injury survivor, have mild retardation, stuttering, and slow development of learning. Hopper is 45 years old now. Pretty amazing, huh? That she has outlived the doctor's expectations? 

Our story starts out like this, we were born into violence/abusive world. When we were 1 and 2 years old, the abuse started with daily beatings with closed fists to our faces, open-handed slaps, kicking us in our stomaches or backs, dragging us by our hair, and throwing us across the floor. The beatings come from our parents mom and dad. If we make a sound and wake parents up, they would come in and physically beat us up til we black out. We endure daily beatings, I mean everyday. If Hopper didn't do good on physical therapy for her cerebral palsy, then they would take us home and physical beat us til we black out. Mom and Dad take frustrations out on us everyday. When mom and dad give up on us, they usually take us to grandparents for few weeks. Grandparents beat us too. When grandparents give up on us, they call mom and dad to come get us, then beatings continue. We didn't have any clean diapers, clothes, or any food. Mom and dad didn't take care of us, they usually go out party and leave us to fend for ourselves. The cycle of daily abuse continued up for long time.

When we hit teens, dad decided to upgrade abuse to sex abuse. He did have sexual intercourse and broke our hymens. We thought it was how we show love to our dad. We didn't understand at that time. It continued for 2 years til Hopper told a teacher at her school. On that day I had the biggest knife in my hands, I was ready to stab my father. But police got to him first, He went to court and served 5 years for his crimes. In my mind, it wasn't long enough for me. 

Dad and mom got divorced, mom blamed us for the divorce. I thought the abuse would stop right there, but no. Mom decided to physical, mental, and verbal abuse us. It started on the day I was to leave for deaf school which I was 15 years old. I witnessed my mom beating Hopper so bad that her eyes were swollen shut. I dropped everything and asked for transfer to mainstream school. I had to protect my sister at all times. I abandoned all my deaf friends and basketball dreams for my sister. I had to physical fight my mom. That is when I had my first taste of drinking alcohol and using drug. It was hidden from my family and friends for several years. Mom continued to beat us, manipulate, play mind games, and use guilt trip on us daily. I hid my depression from everyone and I was in black hole. Most of my deaf friends still don't know the real reason that I stayed home with Hopper.

In 1996, my drinking and using spiraled out of control and reared its head when I overdosed on alcohol poisoning twice in 2 weeks time. The second time I overdosed, I was taken to different place. I was walking and seeing and smelling all pretty flowers. I was walking toward tunnel of bright white light. My grandpa appeared, stopped me, and asked me, "what are you doing here?" I told him, "I overdosed on alcohol poisoning". He shook his head and put his hands on my shoulders. He said to me, "I want you to go back". I asked, "why? I just got here." He said, "you need go back, you aren't ready for this. You have a sister down there". I looked down there and seen the face of her being so sad and desperate. I turned to grandpa and said to him, "ok I love you Gramps and I want to have my 2nd chance on my life." He said, "please take this gift and put better use to it. I love you, (he used this sign 🤟🏼)." I turned around and got ready. He kicked me out and I felt my soul flying down so hard and felt my body flew off the gurney. I woke up and had this big eyes. I looked around and seen my hands restrained.  That was very intense for me. I looked up to the ceiling and muttered "thank you" to Gramps. I went to inpatient treatment in other state. I came home clean and sober, I was doing good for several months til I seen my sister's bloody nose, and I relapsed major time. I went back to drinking and using again. Abuse continued for several years and my drinking turned to hard liquor. From the time I wake up, I drink hard liquor til I go to sleep. Everyday. In 1999, I was drinking heavily and got in my truck, I got pulled over for having no headlights at 4am. I was charged with DUI, and other fines which cost me $2,000 total. The court ordered me to go to inpatient treatment, do community service, and on probation for 1 year. I completed all that in 1 year and they cleared my record. I was clean and sober for 1 year til I came home early from my work. I witnessed my mom beating Hopper and it triggered my relapse again. Abuse and my drinking continued til 2005, that day I had enough of abuse, I gave my sister the phone to get cops here to get mom out of here. They charged mom with domestic violence charges. I asked Hopper, "What do you want to do?". She said, "Get me out and to women's shelter". I said, "Let's go". We got her stuff together and packed up the car. We got to women's shelter and tapped on her shoulder. I said to her, "Promise me that you won't come out or come back to me til I say so". She said "Thank you and I promise you". We hugged hard and told her to get going. I left her there.

When mom got out of jail, she was pissed and let it go. Mom and I moved to different state in 2006, I thought things would quiet down. Mom got pissed and angry at me, she demanded me to go get Hopper back here. I said, "Oh you want to beat her up again?" She said nothing. Then I said, "Nope, Nope, Naw, Never, and over my fucking dead body". I walked out on mom into blizzard 12 inches of snow. I walked 10 miles with no coat or no jacket. I went to the police station and asked for help.

They helped me to get restraining order against mom. I filed domestic violence charges against mom. I got some money together and hopped on greyhound bus heading for Arizona in 2007. I began to look and asked several friends to find and locate Hopper. My friends found her and we reconnected, we talked for 4 hours and was surprise to learn that I was living in Arizona. One month later, Hopper got the call from mortuary saying that our mom is dead. I thought, "Oh, not another one of her mind games". So Hopper and our uncle went down there to identify mom. My uncle said, "Finally she is dead!!! No more abuse!!!" What we felt on that day, it was full mind blown freedom!!! We finally felt the freedom at 29 and 30 years old. Hopper and I still working on rebuilding our relationship to this day. We have suffered mental trauma. I finally quit drinking and using on December 9, 2018. I ride my own harley and ride for my sister. I am putting my gift of 2nd chance to better use.

We are not victims, but survivors of mental, physical, verbal, sexual, and domestic violence abuse. We have come long way from 2007, We have learned alot about ourselves. Thanks to Beautiful Disaster, I do identify myself as beautiful but broken inside. I dedicate my time on rebuilding myself, exercising, riding my harley, and my 2 dogs. I may not have a relationship with anyone else. I am at peace with myself about why, what, and how things are thrown at me. It taught me not to be another defenseless or silent victim again. I am not holding any grudges against anyone because life is too short. We have been through hell and back many times. We stand strong and we won't be silent any longer. That is Beautiful Disaster for me.

Thank You. 

Jennifer Kephart

AKA Okie Hopper

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March 23, 2020