By Rudee Becerra —
She thought she had overcome the trauma of her childhood through a relationship with God, but then her dad started stalking her again.
Esther Fleece built a successful career as a motivational speaker and writing pro. She had healthy friendships and accepted speaking engagements throughout the U.S.
She was talking in front of an audience of 15,000 when she got the news that made her blood run cold. Her dad had begun stalking her again after a 20 years reprieve. He was at her home.
“I never thought I’d see him again,” Esther says on an I am Second video produced by White Chair Films.
For many years, her childhood appeared normal enough. For reasons she does not know today, things turned south suddenly. Her mom was getting bruises, and they’d have to go to motels to sleep. Even though they lived in the suburbs, her mother would pick out clothes at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Young Esther was confused by all this.
Police showed up at her home so often she mistakenly believed they were friends with her father. But then she began to see the violent episodes. “It’s pretty hard to hide blood.”
“It was like my hero is becoming the most unsafe man that I had ever been around.”
While Esther was in school she immersed herself in after school activities and even ran for class president. She’d stay after school to be away from home.
People started noticing her bruises and that she did not have a place to sleep. “It was just awful.”
She’d go home and the locks would be changed. In her mind no one could be trusted.
She was called into court and ordered to testify, but had little grasp of what the proceedings were about. Somewhat bewildered, she meekly spoke about the problems. “Our home life was incredibly unstable, both of my parents hurt me, (but in court) I have to pick who I’m going to say nicer things about so I don’t get hit more when I go home.”
Her father was eventually taken away by the police and spent time in and out of jail.
When her father got out of jail, he was fixated with “rescuing” Esther. “He was very dangerous. Numerous times he tried kidnapping me.”
Her mother ended up marrying another man who was unfaithful. Esther discovered the affair and told her mom. The stepdad left.
“And that’s when my mother began hating me.”
At 13, she was forced to make it make it in the world on her own.
Esther graduated and took to writing. She found God and began sharing on how to overcome past trauma. This went on for 15 happy years.
Then in 2010, her biological father showed up and began stalking her.
Esther stayed with friends, attempting to hide herself from danger. She got restraining orders from court, which were all violated.
“The nightmares were terrible,” she says. “None of my coping mechanisms worked anymore. Busyness didn’t work, being performance driven didn’t work anymore. I just didn’t want to get out of the bed in the morning.”
All the old feelings of being unloved by her dad reared up once more. She felt her current successful life was just “plastic. Success could be taken away suddenly. I started hating life again. I didn’t want to get out of bed.”
Esther sought counseling, which she called a “Band-Aid.”
“The path towards healing and forgiveness was more excruciating than the physical threat to my safety,” she says. “How do I feel the full weight of what happened to me and seriously forgive people. How do I redefine what love is.”
The stalking continued — it became the new norm. Her only comfort during that time was reading the Bible. She identified with David, who ran like a fugitive from Saul. She saw David’s agony in the book of Psalms. “Scripture was normalizing me,” she says. “Even if my mother and father were never going to be a mother and father, there was Somebody who wanted to love me.”
She even slept on her Bible. “I thought that if my biological father was going to take my life, then let me be found laying on a Bible.”
Out of her traumatic experience, Esther wrote a hugely popular book No More Faking Fine, which she speaks about on the Christian circuit. CNN called her one of five “women to watch” in religious circles. She led Focus on the Family’s outreach effort to Millennials until 2009.
Fleece is founder and CEO of L&L Consulting, Inc., where she helps new and established Christian ministries develop innovative strategies for non-profit sustainability, new business development, next generation outreach and marketing and communications.
The stalking may not be over, but Esther is constantly trusting God.
“I have this incredible hope that my story isn’t over yet.”
Rudee Becerra studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Los Angeles.