As a child, Pam Campbell never felt love, nurture, security or stability.
“We, as a family, were all subjected to neglect, indifference, physical and emotional abuse. For some of us we experienced the utmost betrayal of sexual abuse,” Pam admits.
As her older siblings had done, Pam’s turn eventually came to escape from her hostile home environment and have a life of her own.
“However, my poor self-esteem made me a prime target for people to take advantage of me. The next seven years became an extension of my childhood where I was deprived of enjoying a normal teenage experience. I lost my identity and ability to function normally,” Pam sadly remembers.
“I became like a robot, numb and unable to show emotion. At 22, I started a relationship with a man just like my father. I lived in a state of uncertainty not knowing if it was going to be a gun pointed at me, or his hands around my throat.”
Pam was with this man for 12 years. “By this time in my life I was convinced that I was destined to be a born loser and deserved all that was handed out to me,” she confesses.
“Sadly as the years passed by the cycle of fear continued. One night I fled the house and wound up at Scarborough Beach where I sat at the water’s edge contemplating drowning.
“I knew there was somebody called God who was supposed to live in the sky and supposed to be able to help you. I heard my voice saying the words; ‘God give me the strength once and for all to leave this man.’” A few months later Pam’s prayer was answered.
Afterwards, working in far North Queensland as a companion carer, and very lonely, Pam got a letter from a friend’s mother explaining about a God who knew everything she was going through and still loved her.
“The only word in that letter that made any sense to me was the word love. I remember thinking that if I could find this God who is supposed to love me, I would be able to go on.”
Pam asked her employer if she knew anything about God. She responded; “All I know is to get to God, you first have to believe in Jesus.” This sparked a desperate search to know more about Jesus.
Pam returned to NSW and bought herself a little cross. Thinking that one could only go to church if you were christened, she would just sit on the steps of a church near her house and feel comforted and consoled.
“if I can find
this God who
loves me, I
will be able
to go on”Later Pam learnt that a fellow employee went to church and she asked if she could attend a service with him, which turned out to be at the same church whose steps she frequented.
Church services were all very strange and unfamiliar to begin with. After about a month, Pam says: “I came to the conclusion that they were good people. The trouble was that I didn’t feel there was anything good about me. … My inner turmoil and torment got the better of me. After a Saturday night spent tossing and turning I made the decision that I would not be returning.”
That Sunday afternoon, the minister, who had always looked out for her, visited Pam at home, and she opened up to him about some of her past life. “He asked me if I would like to accept Jesus as my Saviour. At the time I had no understanding of what that meant or what was expected of me.”
But Pam did know this; her search for Jesus was over. He was now living in her heart, thanks to this minister and her personal commitment of her life to Christ.
Life for Pam slowly began to change. She enrolled herself at TAFE to study and got a job at her church’s Children’s Centre as assistant director and, later, director.
Ten years later, after moving to Perth so she could buy a home of her own, God brought a kind, gentle man into Pam’s life. “Over the years this man treated me with nothing but the utmost respect.
“Bubbling and festering deep within me though was an anger I had not felt since my earlier years, which sometimes erupted into our relationship,” Pam admits.
After one particularly violent outburst, she cried out to God to take the anger away and felt God say: “Your anger is not aimed at your husband. Your repressed feelings of hate need to be put to death. You need to forgive.”
“I visualized my father standing in front of me. God revealed to me that he would be this man’s judge and I was able to say ‘I forgive you, Dad.’ Over time, God’s love was sufficient to sustain me as I forgave my abusers one by one. My anger, agitation and temper outbursts subsided and were replaced with a deep feeling of peace.
“My husband now receives the love and respect he deserves,” Pam smiles.
“Forgiveness does not mean you forget but it enables you to take control over your life. It’s about being liberated from the chains that shackle you to your past. It’s about living your life to your fullest potential which is what God wants for all of us.” Pam concludes happily.•