Sarah Grady Ackerman interviewed Michaela Barone on her difficult childhood and how the Lord changed her life.
Sarah: By the age of seven, this little girl had experienced an abusive mother and the foster care system. Michaela Barone was hoping moving in with her grandmother would be a change for the better. Instead, her grandma’s boyfriend, who was like a father figure, crossed the line.
Michaela: It started from fondling, and then it took on from fondling to…he was in the house, and we had just come in home from school and then he had touched me. And I said, “You’re not supposed to do that to me. I’m going to tell on you.” And he helped me down. And then it went from fondling to rape.”
Sarah: Michaela kept quiet about the abuse for three years. At the age of 10 she finally told her mother during a visitation.
Michaela: I just ended up telling the truth of what had happened. The police got called and, you know, after the police got called, sure enough we…my mom got very upset, and then we ended up going right back into the foster care system.
Sarah: The lesson Michaela learned was to keep the truth to herself.
Michaela: So I ended up, you know, holding all of that in, but then all of the anger, I guess, as I got older starting turning into rage, and so the rage started to turn into depression. And I had to end up, you know, not going to foster homes really, as my little sisters did, but more so going to psychiatric hospitals.
Sarah: To cope with that rage the preteen developed a habit of cutting herself. After receiving treatment one day, she remembers overhearing some nurses.
Michaela: They said that, um, “She’s a problem child,” and “She’s never gonna snap out of this. I can see her being an adult and being in a Chattahoochee or somewhere.”
Sarah: And that’s when Michaela Barone decided to take matters into her own hands.
Michaela: I actually wear a scar on my arm today from, you know, just basically trying to commit suicide. I just said that, you know, if I can’t go with my grandmother, if I can’t have a good life, I’m not gonna ever have a good life, so I might as well just die.
Sarah: Michaela says that was the lowest moment in her life. However, more trouble was around the corner. So you were only 12 years old. How did this impact you into your teen years, especially your relationships with men?
Michaela: The first man in my life who was supposed to be there to, I guess protect me, he defiled me. And so the type of boys that I was turned on to were the type of boys that would defile me.
Sarah: The troubled teen says she also dabbled in alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. But around her 18th birthday she was handed a great gift, “The Purpose Driven Life.”
Michaela: When I read the book, I got saved. I immediately gave my life to God.
Sarah: But her newfound faith was tested, and like many, she backslid. It was during this period she met her future husband.
Michaela: He wasn’t saved, nor – you know – I was saved but I didn’t act like I was saved. And so we ended up, actually, moving in together and stuff like that. And after we moved in together, we had ended up, probably, eight months later, getting pregnant. And we had our daughter.
Sarah: Michaela and David decided to get married. Yet David, also a product of the foster system, and Michaela, with her tightly sealed sorrows, had a tough road ahead of them.
Michaela: Every time an argument would come up, or just the littlest problem, that’s what I would think of, “He’s trying to disrespect me.”
Sarah: Michaela decided it was time to return to the Lord, bringing with her her husband. During a service at Christian Heritage Church David Barone accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. And 20-year-old Michaela forgave the man who stole her innocence.
Michaela: God forgave us after everything that we did to Him on the cross. He laid down His life for us, and He said, “Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.” I forgave him because he knew not what he did to me. He didn’t know how that would affect my life, but I forgave him. And I love myself enough to forgive him, and forgive myself for holding that in so long.
Sarah: Michaela then declared that God would use her past as a vehicle to lead others to the Lord.
Michaela: He needed you to be that broken person who He put back together, to heal and make whole for someone else who’s broken, who’s downtrodden, to stand up and say that it’s going to be okay. There was somebody who was just like me. Or there was somebody who went through this and somebody who was in my same situation, and they were able to pray and get down on their knees and ask God to heal them, and they were healed.
Sarah: And now the Barone family hopes to specifically heal the lives of little ones by sharing Jesus Christ.
Michaela: I believe that He’s definitely going to use me and my husband to try to go out and start up maybe some kind of program to help kids just like ourselves.