‘Shattered Child’ author returns to Troy, where she first felt love

Published 3:00 am Friday, April 21, 2017

Coming to Troy was a homecoming of sorts for Victoria McNeal.

It was coming back to the place where she first experienced acceptance; the place where she at last felt she belonged; and the place where she first knew love.

McNeal came to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home in Troy when she was 13 years old. She came as a troubled youth who had been neglected by her mother and abused by her uncle.

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McNeal returned to Troy on Wednesday as a special guest of the Colley Senior Complex. She came to share her story as told in her recently published book, “Shattered Child.” The senior center is located in the former administrative building of the children’s home complex. So, for McNeal, it was coming back to the place where her life began to have meaning.

“When I came to the children’s home, my life had been shattered,” McNeal said. “We had lived in a old school bus – my mother, my aunt, my uncle and me. We lived at the end of a dark, dirt road. The bus didn’t have any heat. At night, we would light candles so we could see. We had no way to cook so we ate cold sandwiches.”

McNeal said her mother was often out at night drinking and with strange men. It was one of those nights when her mother was out partying that her uncle came and pulled back the covers of her bed.

���It was so dark, and I was so scared,” she said. “I didn’t know what was happening to me.”

She was 8 years old at the time.

At the book signing at the Colley Senior Complex, McNeal openly shared the story that incident and of how, at the Alabama Children’s Home, someone seemed to care about her for the first time in her young life.

“At first, I didn’t fit in at the children’s home because I didn’t know how,” she said. “But, they didn’t give up on me. I learned what it means to be a friend and have a friend and what love means. They gave me love.”

Nuir Abdur-Rahman of Troy was McNeal’s “mom” at the Troy children’s home.

“She gave me a place to call home and showed me what a real family looks like,” McNeal said. “I’ll always love her for that.”

But, when she was 17 years old, McNeal left the children’s home and her past caught up with her.

“I closed people off because I didn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t interact because I felt different, strange and nasty,” she said. “I became an introvert. I kept running from my past. I needed counseling. I wanted to tell my story but I didn’t think anybody would want to hear it.”

But the time came when McNeal could not run anymore. She learned that her 11-year-old daughter had been raped by her oldest son who was 17.

“He was living with his father and only visited me on weekends,” McNeal said. “That’s when those terrible things happened. I didn’t protect my daughter just as my mother had not protected me. I had to learn to forgive my mother and hope and pray that my daughter would forgive me.”

McNeal realized she had a story that needed to be shared and a burden that had to be lifted. By sharing her story in “Shattered Child,” that burden is being lifted – slowly but surely.

“My daughter and I are not alone; there are many others with stories just like ours, she said. “Hopefully, our story might encourage others not to sweep their stories under the rug. To share them in a personal way or maybe even openly so they can begin to heal.”