By Naimah Shaw
Growing up in a modest suburban neighborhood in the Big Apple sounds like the epitome of the American dream for some, but for Steve Simpson it was a façade of a landscape that hid the intense physical, emotional and verbal abuse he suffered at the hands of his violently abusive alcoholic father.
Being called a “failure,” a “moron,” and a “stupid kid” are only some of the destructive words that Simpson internalized as a child and he can still here those words today. Simpson recalls his early childhood, in which he was subjected to so much abuse at home that school became his only outlet. He struggled immensely and often referred to himself as a “Z” student-every teacher’s worst nightmare.
Simpson recalls that he, like so many other victims of abuse, felt responsible for his father’s behavior and believed he was indeed a failure so rather than studying, he spent more time figuring out how to cheat and disrupt other students. Simpson ran away from home numerous times and was eventually placed in foster care.
Simpson says, “I was 11 years old and I was suicidal. I knew I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to live.” Foster care was the crossroad in Simpson’s life that provided him with the unparalleled opportunity to turn his life around. A new school, new teachers and a new family provided him with a new outlook on life.
Joining a self help group was eye opening for Simpson who realized that there were students in that group who had come from a broken place just like he had, but they were still able to excel in school and life. That revelation helped unlock the hidden potential Simpson had and he unleashed his creativity in writing, poetry and prose. He went on to become track MVP, earned medals in wrestling and ended up in honor roll and junior honor society. Simpson ultimately became a model student and garnered much recognition for his success which propelled him into the role of public speaker at the tender age of 13.
Simpson recalls the moment he had an epiphany in which he realized that his opinion of himself was not reliant upon the angry, miserable incomprehensible words of an alcoholic. In that moment, he decided that he would not be paralyzed by a broken individual any longer.
Today, Simpson is a renowned author (which comes as no surprise since he once ditched school to retreat to the library and write). Some of his books include The World Is Wrong, Runaway, Child’s Island and Who Am I? While the exciting fictional stories entertain readers, there is a Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook discreetly placed inside each book. The handbooks deals with tough issues that some teenagers and young adults face such as suicide, alcoholic parents, child abuse, self esteem, bullying, as well as surviving back to school and the holidays in a dysfunctional home. The books and survival guides serve as a powerful, non- aggressive means for teachers, counselors and adults to connect with students, especially those they believe might be struggling with abuse. Simpson’s books are available at www.powerpublishingcorp.com.
Here are the top 5 tips Simpson offers to those who may find themselves caught up in the ugly cycle of abuse:
1) Find a support group- This is a powerful mechanism that allows you to laugh and cry with others who share the same unfortunate journey that you are. Form associations and do not isolate yourself.
2) Speak to your school’s social worker. Having a trusted person on your side will boost confidence and self-esteem.
3) Find a local church, self-help group or community center. Get involved with and volunteer with something much bigger than yourself, there is an intense adrenaline that comes from this service.
4) Call the suicide prevention line 1-800-273- TALK if you have even the slightest thought of suicide.
5) Do not runaway and put yourself in danger. Call the national runaway line: 1-800-RUNAWAY.
Simpson is very adamant at proclaiming how much his faith helped him to overcome his battles as he recalls that holidays were always a harsh reminder of just how dysfunctional his home really was.
However, instead of focusing on the commercialized aspect of holidays, Simpson learned to focus on the reason behind season and found that even in a dysfunctional home, God was still functional and reliable.
Simpson urges children to rely on their faith and use that belief system to serve something bigger than themselves. Finding a higher power is this underlying message that Simpson shares with the self help groups he runs. Other gems of wisdom and affirmations he imparts include the ideology that things will always get better, it’s not your fault when you are the victim of abuse and you should never accept it.
Along with being an author of 4 books, Simpson has been recognized by President Barack Obama and Nassau County, N.Y., for his efforts on behalf of abused children.
Naimah Shaw is a Freelance Writer, Copywriter, Blogger and homeschool mom of four who has lived in Evans for almost a decade. Prior to that, she graduated with a Masters of Science in Information Technology and taught computer programming for a few years at local colleges.
This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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