Briana Monai Thomas story begins with a trial of ongoing hurts yet with the yielding ability to find ways to quickly forgive and find inner peace within has been her compass and resolve. She is cognizant enough to know that one of her purposes of sharing her story is to use any God-given platform to reach and bring healing to others. Her story encompasses years of molestation while the perpetrator’s inability to show any repentance, humility, or at least, while imprisoned, be graceful and merciful to leave her alone. Briana states with a letter in her hand: “Instead he sends me degrading and hurtful letters through my mother when she either visits or he sends to her.”
Her mother made the decision to remain married to her step-father, the only father she has truly ever known. With a quivering voice, yet somewhat of an angelic smile, Briana convincingly professes her love and forgiveness towards her perpetrator as well as her mother.
She recalls her mother, for whatever rationale, passively and idly stayed by his side after becoming aware that her spouse violated her. Briana recalls her mother’s intense eagerness to readily defend her energy, emotions, commitment, and time for the man whom violated her yet seemingly enraged at her for a role she did not choose.
It is this unwanted role that still haunts Briana in her dreams, trust, relationships, and still causes her to weep the childhood that was stolen. The betrayal of a father, the betrayal of trust, the betrayal of a family, the betrayal of his marriage to her mother, and perhaps to add insult to such degradation, his unwillingness to continue his degradation of her – even in a jail cell.
It is the humiliating, and sometimes, choke hold that grips her memories that causes her to wake in pouring sweats. The ability of him to manipulate her mother while she willingly accepts. While he, her stepfather – the only father that she has really known, writes bitter letters to Briana because he received eight years in prison for raping her. As an adult, he robbed her childhood yet remains bitter. He will be released in August 2018.
Briana’s maturity, in some regards, has caused her to rationalize and realize her mother, her siblings, and even her stepfather may not want to heal yet she is confronting all these inner issues because she whole heartedly believes God has greater for her. From Briana’s perspective, she sees her family’s dealings of this as “her” problem, while detaching and abandoning themselves from what happened to her- as though they are distancing themselves from the horrid years she lived.
The molestation began at the age of three. Briana recalls how she was forced to engage in oral sex; then, as the years of abusive molestation grew into full penetration intercourse the older she became. At age 14 she became pregnant by him.
She vividly remembers him beating her harshly. Her recollection of these accounts brings to mind of him viciously assaulting her with so much intentional intense pain. Briana tells of the dark and sorted details of his instructions. Allegedly, he instructed her that he would drop her off at her maternal grandmother’s house and she should be quite about this matter.
Allegedly, he further explained that she may even begin to bleed yet she should remain silent. At the age of 14, she recalls that she could not process nor understand the severity of his willingness to cover his evil deeds that she and the unborn child lives were in danger. Although Briana did not bleed as he had anticipated from this alleged attack, the fact that he was willing to physical assault her to the point and goal to kill the baby and risk her losing her life caused her to tear up during her time of recollection. She now understands she could have hemorrhaged to death and he was more concerned about covering his tracks than her life.
At age 15, another child was conceived in the molestation and rape of Briana Monai Thomas. The molestation continued. Briana shares that mother became aware and decided she would support and remain committed to their marriage. Briana has additional children that are not fathered by her stepfather. She had another child at age 17, 18, and the last child at 25 years of age. She is now 28.
Briana and I paths crossed when I was asked to speak to a group of high school students as part of my non-profit, Beautify the Meek (www.beautifythemeek.weebly.com). From that encounter grew a mentor – mentee relationship. In Briana words, “Katrina encourages people to get counseling and help yet she understands not all people can either afford counseling, others may not even be allowed to reach out.”
Briana shares that her story has been suppressed as an underaged minor and “the suppression of my story, for the most part, has followed me.” She shares, when she speaks about sharing “her story” she is not really talking on a grand platform, yet she is speaking from a place where people say hide your story even if it means not freeing yourself or getting the counseling you need. Yet in a world where the “Me Too” movement has progressed and we have heard Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes declaring “Their Time is Up!” She is encouraged more than ever to share her story. She had made the decision to do so years ago yet now she is empowered to do just that.
Briana further understands that she has an amazing testimony and because of God’s goodness and kindness towards her. She will proclaim God’s goodness and how the enemy tried to bruise and paralyze her at an early age by presenting and inflicting such tremendous evil yet she confidently knows she is victorious.
She has learned to throw off offense after offense – to walk in forgiveness. She explained that the very fact that she had the know withal to cling to God and her Faith in Christ Jesus speaks to the knowing that God is with her.
An awakening has taken place in Briana, her commitment to continue to heal, share her story of pain and suffering, and all; while sharing that she has been graced with forgiveness by God and graced to forgive others by God. Admittedly, she shares there are days whereas she stills feel like that little girl that could not cleanse herself enough yet she has made a decision to forgive and to have a powerful love walk and existence.
The step-father that molested, raped, and impregnated her as a minor took her decisions of youth away, still writes letters degrading her, telling her that she is essentially nothing and when he gets out of prison she won’t have a seat at his family’s table. He makes declarations that he will prosper while he condemns her to a life of no value. She has decided to rise above the manipulation and to walk in the power of God’s love and forgiveness.
Briana Thomas says she wants to use her story to tell people of God’s grace, compassion, healing and forgiveness. Briana’s wisdom flowed from her heart to her lips as she said: “Forgiveness, Love, and Commitment are all choices. You may not feel like it yet doing so you have to because you will only imprison you, your children, relationships, your future and your legacy. I want this 28 year old to have a legacy that catapults hearts to forgive, expressions of hope, love, and growth in inner peace. I forgive, I forgive them all.” Briana Monai Thomas is standing strong and tall in forgiveness
Briana Monai Thomas
Written by Katrina L Long Currie, M.Ed. Chaplain
Photos by Photographer: Hal Todd
Make-up Artist: Katrina L Long-Currie