By Cyndie Jones
When confronted with telling my story I ask myself, “Do people really want to hear the truth?” The truth is harsh.
Can people handle hearing that at age 4 I was molested and abused? It continued for years before I was put in the foster care. I never knew what was coming from one minute to the next. At times I thought that being at home would be better; at least I knew what was coming.
I was thirty years old and already in county before I knew I was more than a man’s punching bag. All of my life, men had treated me horribly, and I accepted it, because it was what I thought love looked like.
How many women in prison come from a house of abuse or neglect? There is so much brokenness sitting in prison. Most of us just needed to be taught there was another way.
When I came to prison, I made the choice to take classes. At first it was just so that I would look good. When I started opening myself up to who Christ was, I noticed I would open up in the classes, and I paid attention with my whole heart. As I went through classes like Parenting, Within Reach, Women in Transition, and Thinking for a Change, I was filled with shame and guilt about who I’d been before.
Before I came to prison I thought I was a great mom. No one hit or abused my kids. I endured all of the physical abuse, and I believed that as long as it was being done to me, it wouldn’t affect my children. I never realized what it did to them to see me bloody and beaten. It wasn’t until I was taught about healthy relationships and learned what love really is that I saw the truth. I hadn’t accounted for how my suffering made my kids cry and ask people to pray for me. I missed how my abuse affected them emotionally, mentally, and physically. I was so broken that being beaten or abused was normal for me.
I will never regret coming to prison, because I have learned that I wasn’t a good mother: I was a mother the only way I knew how to be. Because of my time in prison, I now have the knowledge to be the mother and woman I was meant to be. I am stronger than I’ve ever been. I can stand on my own two feet, whether here at the correctional center, or in society. God has restored me, my children, and five grandchildren.
I wish I could tell everyone that they are not lost causes. Not everyone has seen enough good to know there is a better life. People learn behaviors, right or wrong, and deserve an opportunity to change. Reform can start inside these walls, but it’s better to start before they get here. We are a people who, like you, just need a chance. We deserve to be treated as worthy and redeemable, to be seen as human. There are people who are dangers to society and to others; but we aren’t all the same.
I almost lost the most precious gifts of my life when I came to prison. My children and Jesus are the reasons I strive to overcome and to be better. Prison can be a place of transformation for all who truly have a repentant heart.