Angolan native Lucia Morais was legally adopted by her aunty, secretly assaulted at the hands of her stepfather and left to make a possible life-threatening decision. Her story follows a girl whose quest for peace spans across a decade. It’s a fight for control and freedom to turn her life the right way up.
It had been four years since Lucia’s adoptive mother had moved in her new partner. It felt like a perfect home to Lucia, with stability, a complete family, and a stepfather who treated her as his own.
“The night before my mum was due to come home from hospital (she had an operation), it was a very cold evening. I sat in the living room on the desktop computer in jeans, a jumper, and my outdoor coat. In the same room, near the door, my stepdad was slumped on the sofa, drinking a glass of wine whilst watching TV. My eyes fully fixed on the computer screen, I heard, ‘Go and put your pyjamas on’. Reluctant to move, he angrily repeated himself.
“Confused by his reaction, I got up and as I passed by him to go upstairs, he grabbed me and threw me on the floor. As he pinned me down with his weight, his eyes inches away from my face, he forcefully ripped my coat open and started going for the next layer. Desperately clutching onto my clothes, I fought back. His eyes looked black as if he was looking straight into my soul.
“I knew how to pray from a young age. In that moment, I said to God: ‘Please don’t let this happen to me’. Just as I finished my last word, he suddenly eased off me and let out this evil roar of laughter. I darted up the stairs frantically trying to think of a safe place. I was completely alone in what was the most vulnerable moment in my life. Feeling weak, I mustered the last bit of strength to barricade my bedroom door with my wardrobe so the handle couldn’t move.
“I curled myself into the foetal position struggling to process what just happened. How could someone switch like that?
I did not see it coming, or had I just missed the signs? I wondered.
“A few hours later, still in shock and my whole body aching I kept reliving the indescribable, suffocating, and horrifying moment. I was scared and felt ashamed.
“At some point, I knew I would have to face him and when I did, it was like nothing had happened. He threatened me saying because of my mum’s operation, if I said anything, my mum would die. And I believed him.
“I started dating multiple boys and having no respect for my own body. I was trying to escape the helldeep inside of me, yet it would still seep out through aggression against anyone who wronged me.
“My mum was puzzled by my behaviour but my stepdad would tell her: ‘She’s a teenager, that’s why she is misbehaving’.
“Three months had gone by and I tried to block it from my mind, but I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I told my friend about what had happened and now my secret was out! It didn’t take long for it to get back to my mum, who was filled with guilt and now understood my sudden change.
“After she confronted him, things at home were never the same. Arguments were a daily thing, until it became too much and she asked him to leave. Thinking it would be over, he came back with a vengeance. He monitored our every move. He came to the house with a knife threatening to kill us.
“During this period, my mum was fervently praying for things to change and they did.
“About a year later, my mum met someone new and we moved to France. She then arranged for me to go and see my biological father in Namibia. What I thought was a flying visit was in fact permanent.
“My mum did not join me – she stayed in France. I couldn’t believe it! I found out that it was an order from my father, who didn’t want anything to do with me, but felt my studies were being affected. I still felt betrayed by my mum.
“After four years at university in Namibia, my biological mother reached out to me. I jumped at the chance and flew to Angola to be with her.
“Our relationship was a disaster! It was like she was trying to relive the moment she gave me up as a four-year-old but I was no longer that little girl. We could not see eye to eye and had many explosive arguments.
“I got into a relationship with a married man at work who was 20 years older than me. To be honest, I wasn’t attracted to him in the slightest and it took being under the influence of alcohol to be with him. This was my lowest point. I turned to drinking until I blacked out. I would wake up in my own vomit, not remembering anything that had taken place prior.
“Trying to fill the void I had inside, I wanted to make something of myself so I threw myself back into my studies. The married man I was dating financed my move to the UK and paid for my Master’s degree.
“The first thing I did upon arrival in the UK was find a Universal Church. I would attend religiously three times a week and still go back to the same life I hated. On the outside, my friends would say that I was living the life, but on the inside, I was a mess.
“When I laughed and smiled, I was empty. In front of others, I put on a façade that I was fine, but at night, tears soaked my pillow. I had no peace. I would plan my own funeral as death seemed to be the only answer. I was certain everyone would be better off without me.
“Every time my adoptive mum called, I would pretend I was fine, post happy photos and I thought that if I told all those who asked that I was okay often enough, it would become true.
“Grappling with feelings of worthlessness, I would binge-drink every day to fill the empty space and try to smoke my troubles away. I would tick through the reasons why logically I should be happy, but something in my brain wouldn’t let me get there.
“As usual, I attended the meetings at the Universal Church, but on one occasion, I heard the Pastor say: ‘In order for your life to change, God needs you to exchange your life for a new one.’ I had most probably heard that a million times, but in this particular service, it clicked.
“I had to break my pride of knowing I had been in the church for so long. My life had not changed, because I was not applying what I had been taught. When I started putting all the Biblical teachings into practice and using my faith, I began to see results. I also had to be radical and make some tough decisions.
“I ended the relationship with the older man, but trying to give up the alcohol proved difficult. I fought hard to change, although it was not easy. I would speak to the advisors, which meant having to allow people dangerously close to the darkest parts of myself. When I welcomed the help offered at the Universal Church, I was able to gradually give up all my bad habits.
I realised I had to let the past go and forgive my parents and all those who had hurt me. I reconciled with my biological parents and today, through using my faith, I have turned my life the right way up. My family has seen my change and now see me as a reference.”
If you or someone you know can relate to this story and would like to talk to someone and receive spiritual support, call our 24-Hr Helpline: 020 7686 6000 or WhatsApp us on 020 7686 6010.