Incredible Journey of Genessa Bingham, a former Marine corp. Her journey took her from being abused as child to the battlefield of Afghanistan to the night clubs in Las Vegas and to the hospital bed, where she accepted Islam as the one and only religion which gave her solace and meaning to her life. Read her story in her own words.
My name is Genessa Bingham, I’ve been catholic, Mormon, Christian, and even wiccan. I am 25 years old, female, college student, born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
As a child I was raised through many religions ranging from Catholicism, Mormonism, all kinds of Christian denominations. Just because I was raised in religious households did not mean that I had an easy road or good upbringing. My mom did all she could to shield me from the physical, emotional and mental abuse that my biological father dished out on a daily basis, but she also had no idea of the sexual abuse I was receiving from my grandfather. Growing up in this situation it was hard to have faith, especially because my dad justified the severe beatings with the “spare the rod spoil the child” praise that he said was in the bible.
My grandfather who was a hardcore catholic Christian, also happened to be a serial molester he molested my mother myself as well as my sister years later, I would wonder while he would touch me and have me sit in his lap what I had done to deserve it and that maybe I was bad and that God would let this happen, not just that but I could never get over the hypocrisy of these faiths saying there is one God yet praying to more than one person as if they were more than one deity. As I got older the sexual abuse lessened but the physical violence and emotional abuse only got worse and it wasn’t just me when my mom would step in to protect me she would be beaten as well and in some instances worse. Whenever my father drank it was known that someone was going to get hurt, the punishments were torturous and he would often punish me in front of friends or other relatives’for humiliation purposes, and again I would wonder why a God would allow this to happen to me. Finally at 14 years old my mom took me my brothers and sisters and left him. We had to be on the run and even get a restraining order from the court. The night we left he tried to run us off the road rather we die then leave. After we were finally free of my biological father, my mom met a great man who accepted all 5 of us as his own kids and it was a real blessing. He was an atheist, but a good person.
After I finished high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps. I was a squad radio transmission operator assigned to first battalion sixth marines one of the most decorated and combat hardened units in the country. In March of 2008 we would be deployed to Garmsir Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. We were under heavy contact (fighting) for 4 months, in May the Taliban’s last stand would result in me gaining faith, a fellow marine was shot and my squad was called in to get him so that medics could try and rescue him, the rest of the platoon was under heavy fire and all one could see was rounds of heavy firing, RPG explosions and people on both ends popping up and down to shoot at each other, it was intense to say the least. While running to go get Corporal Copper (RIP) we had to take the high ground, a bullet came so close to my head all I heard was a zip then nothing out of my right ear for about two days, the poppy that it hit exploded all over my face making me realize how close to death I just came and I remembered something my team leader had told me and that is a popular saying in the military “there are not atheists’ in fox holes.” I lowered my Kevlar (helmet) kept moving forward and prayed to any God that would listen as I still didn’t fully believe but wanted to be covered in case I was shot. We finally reached the wounded marine the Doctors were already working on him, and we put him on a stretcher and started to head back still under fire. I was at the head of the stretcher at first the good Corporal seemed to be hanging in there but I looked into his eyes and I saw his soul leave his body ( as in there was just nothing behind his eyes anymore just a husk) he was declared dead hours later. That’s when I knew that everyone has a soul and that there had to be a God. After the fighting had ceased we started getting to know the locals and the culture.
One morning still the most peaceful thing I have ever seen it was the most beautiful sunrise and all the local Afghans, our interpreter were devoutly in prayer and I could hear them praying and thought wow I really like this. So I started asking our interpreter aka John Rambo about Islam and liked a lot of what he told me and even found a beautiful prayer rug as a war trophy (which I still use), but when we came home several months later that would be the end of the pursuit of Islam I would instead succumb to religions popular here in America started going to churches with friends (Christians) and parents who were now ardent Mormons, it still never felt right though so I stopped going saying I didn’t need a church to praise God.
January 2011 I got out of the military I still went to church with my parents a few times but nothing major I was focused more on what to do with my life and that was at the time when I was partying and enjoying the freedom of not really having rules anymore. March of that year while at a club in Las Vegas would again bring out the old scars, I went out with some friends who left early but I thought I’ll take a cab later I hadn’t been drinking really was mostly dancing until I met this guy he said he was with his wife so I thought It was harmless he offered to buy me a drink because we were talking and having a good time I had only about 4 other cranberry vodkas (in small cups and noticeably weak) he handed me the drink and we kept talking and I finished the drink and started blacking in and out. I felt weak and tired I thought there was way that I could get drunk, as I only had a few drinks ( and at the time I was a heavy drinker) he offered a ride home the last thing I remember was him plugging in my address to his phone. I would wake up unable to move and realize that he was raping me. I couldn’t move or even really utter a word I would again black out and wake up at my house door step. Ashamed, disgusted and sore and still kind of not all the way back to normal I would just go in the house and climb in bed and wouldn’t utter a word of it to anyone. After the attack I didn’t want to believe in a God but resented the fact that people where always praised him I became very vocally atheist, and a heavy drinker and drug user. I not only said there was no God but would debate and put down people of faith out of sheer hatred. Tried unsuccessfully to overdose at the lgbt pride parade because I didn’t want to live anymore, but survived and just kept the party going. About 4 months later my drug use and partying had gotten worse and me and one of my best friends in the world were partying at neighbour’s house most of them were really nice and we had been over there several times and it felt like a safe place to have a party. Well one night after I got back from the gym me and my BFF did our usual routine of drinking with the neighbours and snorting pills (generally Ambien) well she left early and because I lived right next door I figured I would stay a little longer and go when I was ready well I mentioned that I was sore from my work out and one of the older guys that lived there asked if I wanted a massage and since they had been gentlemen every time we went over I thought that I could trust him. We went to his room I was high and drunk but still together, we started talking and he started rubbing my back and to cut it short he attempted to rape me, luckily one of the other guys walked in and was saved. The person had already mad the excuse before I could say anything he said,” we were fooling around” . All other guy started making jokes, so I gathered myself together and left and didn’t party there again however my drug and alcohol abuse got much worse. Now I was doing “bath salts” (synthetic speed), meth, cocaine, oxycodone, Xanax, all kinds of pain killer’s marijuana and more booze then anyone should ever drink. It only ended when I had a walking nightmare on speed and apparently hit a good friend of mine and tried to attack several others but didn’t realize it just remember blacking out (had been awake due to drug use for 4 days slept for 3 hrs. then was awake 9 days in a row) so all the drug use stopped except booze marijuana. I had enough of this drug/alcohol fueled life and needed some support. Seems Allah had a plan.
I moved from Nevada to try and start over and reinvent myself with the help of some of my good friends, and they were big on partying so it worked, kept my mind of things none of us were religious and in fact openly spoke hatred about those who were religious, we were living the punk rock don’t give a damn lifestyle. It kept my head right for a while I was able to bury most of it but was still fueled by hatred for pretty much everyone.
Later I realized that I was never loved/supported by anyone and I was never in control of it, so I stopped eating cried for a week straight and then decided to join rape survivors group for further support and God sent a great friend Taras who was of the faith who talked to me and helped me a lot and encouraged me to go get help, we also started talking about my time in the military and my interest in Islam, she encouraged me to take it slow and not just jump into any religion and that I would have to be serious and should seek help first no matter what anyone said. I was at a low point of my life. My great father (step dad) came to get me and the whole while I was getting support only from our FB group, and even had a discussion on how hard it is to have faith after being raped, my back was against the wall and I wanted to end it all and just kill myself my parents then checked me into the Vegas hospital.
I thought of my friend Taras and what she said so I told my dad to bring me a Qur’an ( which he did ) as I started reading and praying I started to feel a little better. One of the hospital staff, a Muslim man named Bashir saw that I had a note on my door that said to wake me at 4:20 am for prayer and he asked if I was Muslim, I said that I was trying to be, he then went above to print out the proper ways to pray and some surah’s which he translated and taught me how to say them in Arabic. Now I really started feeling better and the hospital was denying me stronger medication because of my drug history so I knew it wasn’t the hospital but Allah, I then called the Islamic Information Center here in Las Vegas and they sent two wonderful women Shaheen and Elizabeth to talk to me and eventually witnessed me take Shahada (declaration of faith) from the hospital bed. I took said in Arabic and English that THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH AND MOHAMMED (SAW) WAS HIS MESSENGER
. Since that Moment I have felt unbelievably better I still often cry tears of joy because I feel Allah’s presence. I have submitted totally to Allah and am now covering myself (wearing a Hijab) and Allah has been so amazing to me. The English Qur’an which I had wasn’t the best translation and just recently while I was getting my nails done I was thinking to get a better translation of Qur’an from the mosque, just then the owner of the shop saw I was covered and asked if I was Muslim I proudly said yes. She then informed me that someone left a Qur’an there awhile back and asked if I wanted it, and I obviously said yes and she came back with a beautiful copy of the Qur’an that was in Arabic and translated as well. I just couldn’t believe how much Allah had chosen to guide me, and even now all my hatred is gone I still think of the horrors I have endured but my heart is eased, and I don’t carry hate for people even those that have wronged me or hurt me. I have forgiven everyone and have recently I prayed for them. There is no greater feeling then knowing Allah and prayer is one of my favourite times of day. I used to think that religion was for the weak something to fall back on, now I realize that it takes amazing strength to submit to one and only God. I am currently sober, chaste, covered, and busy spreading the word as much as possible and will never hide the fact that I am a servant of Allah. I would like to tell you all that please do not judge me based on my past as I have realized the beauty of Allah and his creation. I have learned the purpose of my life. The reason of sharing my story to my brothers and sisters is that no mater how you are and what you are Allah is always there to guide you and make you a better human being. Hopefully this will inspire us to be a better person……..Alhamdulillah……..May Allah Guide us all!!!!
(Genessa Reverted to Islam on 21st April 2013 in hospital in Las Vegas, US and since then she has recovered and devoting her time for the sake of Allah)