Being an entrepreneur is in LaChelle Jackson’s blood. Her father was self-employed and worked in construction while her mother handled the administrative part of the business. Watching her parents work hard to provide for the family fueled LaChelle to be the serial entrepreneur she is today. She is a hairstylist, candy maker, insurance agent…just to name a few.
“I am driven by the idea of success,” LaChelle told The Weight She Carries. “It’s not just money. Success encompasses the unity of many things: spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, economically and social balance.”
She further explained that she has an innate desire to improve herself and help others do the same.
LaChelle grew up in a middle-class home in Ohio, USA. From the outside looking in, it seemed she had an ideal life. However, her reality was a far cry from appearances.
While she can appreciate her mother’s intention in trying to instill certain values in her children, LaChelle believes she ruled with a heavy hand and was difficult to please.
“Sometimes I felt my mom’s actions were a little excessive, to say the least, in cleaning the house,” she said. “I appreciate learning how to clean the house, but she would take a white cloth and run it along the baseboards to make sure they were clean.”
Even more distinctly, LaChelle remembers being sexually abused when she was about 5 years old.
“I had a cousin who didn’t really come over and spend the night often. He was nine years older than me,” she recalled.
LaChelle said she remembers looking into the mirrors on the wall when her cousin, standing behind her, exposed himself to her. She knew immediately it wasn’t right. Sometime later, the same cousin came over again, and this time took things further.
“I don’t remember all of the specific details, but what I remember is he ended up in the basement and it was dark. I think I went down there to go to the bathroom and when I was on my way back upstairs, and that’s when it happened,” she said. “He told me to lay down, and then he fondled and penetrated me. I didn’t know what to do. I bled and didn’t tell anyone until I was an adult.”
The sexual trauma affected LaChelle in many ways. She began to wet the bed, which her mother would spank her for.
“My bedroom was on the second floor and when I felt I had wet the bed, I would sneak downstairs and wash my sheets in the middle of the night so that when my mother woke me up in the morning, my sheets wouldn’t be wet,” LaChelle said.
“I didn’t know that a lot of that stuff happens to children who are molested. I remember trying to take my life around 12 years old. I hated living at that time and I just didn’t want to live anymore. It was about midnight on Dec. 31. We were always up all night cleaning the house. My mother said the house had to be a certain way when the New Year came in. I was just tired – tired of all the meanness. And I knew this wasn’t the way a child’s life was supposed to be, so I took a bunch of aspirin.”
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often find themselves in one of two predicaments, LaChelle explained. Either they are completely disconnected from sex, or they become promiscuous during and/or after puberty. The latter happened to LaChelle and she found herself pregnant at the age of 16.
“I carried the shame of sexual abuse, and when I became pregnant, I was scared to tell my mom. At that time, it was an embarrassment to the family; and when that happened, some families would send girls away, and when they came back, they weren’t pregnant anymore,” she said.
Despite having a baby herself at 16, LaChelle’s mother was very angry at her daughter and told her she needed to have an abortion. LaChelle refused.
“At first, I considered it, but then I decided against it because I knew I had to live with the decision I made. She didn’t. She was adamant she was going to take me to have an abortion. Even up to six or seven months pregnant, she kept threatening to take me,” she said.
Her baby’s father was seven years older than her, so LaChelle refused to disclose who the father of her child was in order to protect him from being charged with having sexual relations with a minor.
Meanwhile, things continued to be rocky with her mother.
When she was about four months pregnant, LaChelle was sick and after coming home from school, cleaning up the house and making dinner, went to bed early. Her father came home, ate the dinner she had prepared and he put his plate and fork in the sink.
When her mother came home, she was furious that the dirty fork and plate were in the sink. She stormed upstairs and demanded LaChelle get out of bed to wash the dishes.
“I told her I wasn’t feeling so well, so I asked her to give me some time and I would wash the two dishes,” she said.
Her mother snatched the sheets off LaChelle’s bed, making her upset. She went downstairs and told LaChelle’s father he needed to make his daughter wash the dishes.
“My dad really loved my mother. They had their challenges, but he loved my mother and he would do just about anything she asked of him,” LaChelle said.
“My father, at this point, had never put his hands on me. He dragged me out of the bed and carried me out of the room. Next thing I knew, I was at the bottom of the landing and he took his belt off to whoop me,” she said. “I was in disbelief because I couldn’t understand what was happening. I had to physically defend myself against my dad, who was a very strong man.”
Gaining control of the belt, LaChelle threw it down the stairs only to have her mother bring it back upstairs.
The next day, a bruised LaChelle went to a friend’s place for refuge.
“My parents called the police and said it was a jurisdiction issue. So, my friend’s mother had to bring me to the police station. When the police saw I was all bruised up, he said this was a matter of a father disciplining his child. That rubbed me the wrong way,” she said.
“Once again I felt I didn’t have a voice. Children, no matter the age at that time, were to be seen and not heard. As a child, you were not allowed to have an opinion or voice in anything.”
LaChelle went back to live with her parents and eventually told her mother who the father of her baby was when she was about nine months.
“The reason I told her was because he stopped talking to me,” she said. “I gave her his contact information and she called him. He denied it. He had gone to the doctor with me at times, but the last few months of my pregnancy, he pulled back. My parents got a lawyer and as soon as I had my daughter, we were in court and he had to do a DNA test. It proved he was the father.”
Being used to always working, LaChelle didn’t skip a beat when the baby was born. Within two months, she was back in school in the fall and had started a new job. A few weeks later, she met the man she would later marry.
“His family just took me in. I mean, I was his new girlfriend and I had a new baby. I didn’t take the baby around them; but before long, they asked me when I was going to bring the baby. They took to my baby and a forever bond was formed,” she said.
“My mom knew that if she didn’t watch my baby, I couldn’t go anywhere. That was her way of controlling me. When I took the baby to my boyfriend’s house, his mother would just watch my daughter without a fuss. That upset my mother because she no longer had that control over me. If my boyfriend and I came back home late from a date, his mother wouldn’t let me take the baby home. She would say, ‘Oh, no, you’re not taking this baby out into the cold, she will be here all night.’ So, she would send me home with no baby.’ At times, she was more of a mother to me than my own mother was.”
LaChelle and her boyfriend had been together for about three years when she became pregnant with their son. She began to look for a place to live because she was determined not to have another baby under her parents’ roof.
“I didn’t tell my mom that I was pregnant until I put a deposit down on my apartment. I initially headed to look for an apartment for just myself and my children, but eventually, my boyfriend decided it would make more sense for us to live together,” she said.
To be continued…