“You are Stronger Than You Think”
October 2022 Issue
By Cynthia Robinson
Photography by Mike Force Photography
Brunswick native Amy Muggridge leads a full and happy life. She has a loving husband, two beautiful children and is surrounded by very close friends. Life for her now is good, and she is looking forward to even better things. But to get to this place, she had to weather and overcome years of abuse and the heartbreaking, back-to-back deaths of two of her closest family members.
“I want to share what I’ve gone through so I can hopefully help other people, especially women. There are good people out there who want to help you. You might think you can’t go on, but trust me, you can. You are stronger than you think.”
“My mom and father divorced when I was only18 months old, and my mother basically raised my half-sister and me as a single mother, working hard as a bartender and waiting tables to support us.” However, Amy’s life took a sinister turn after her mom remarried.
“I was raped from the ages of 12 to 18 by my stepfather,” she said, adding she had no problem speaking openly about what happened to her and shared that her abuser recently died, which allowed her to further heal. “It doesn’t bother me now to talk about it. I wasn’t the one who did anything wrong and hopefully reading about my experience can encourage another rape victim or victims to get help and overcome the trauma. It (trauma) won’t completely disappear, but you can survive and live a happy life.”
“I did have a lot of anger and issues for years.” Four years ago, after years of professional counseling, soul searching through her church and endless talks with other victims, Amy made the extremely difficult decision to come face-to-face with her rapist and forgive him, not for his benefit, but for her own mental health and healing.
“It was an extremely hard thing to do, but I felt like I needed to do this. I didn’t do anything wrong, and he’s the one who has to face God and answer for it.” Amy said she doesn’t dwell on the years of abuse, including witnessing her stepfather beat her mother, but she knows her continued healing will be a life-long journey. She was diagnosed with both PTSD and an eating disorder and did contemplate suicide more than once. But she continues to get help and find strength. I have talked to other victims and that helps me; “my faith in God has given me a will to live.”
Despite all the tragedies she endured at such a young age, Amy was able to see a better future ahead of her after she met the man who would become her future husband. After dating each other on-and-off for five years, they officially became a couple. They married on September 12, 1998, in a large, joyous wedding at Pine Ridge Baptist Church, bought a home and embarked on their new life. “I was so happy to be married to the man I loved and I thought, ‘this is finally my time.’”
After the first few happy years, the couple welcomed their first child, son Chandler, now a 21-year-old student at Valdosta State, followed by their now 19-year-old daughter, Ansley, who will graduate this year from Glynn Academy. The Muggridges were ecstatic to welcome both their children and are proud parents, but they were surprised when Ansley was born with Down Syndrome.
“The first minute I saw her little face and knew she had Down Syndrome, I loved her and felt she was a blessing,” she said, but the shock she felt led to feeling sad and she found herself “unable to leave the house for the first nine days we were home.” That sadness soon evaporated. Amy felt guilty about the sadness she was experiencing because she also felt true love and happiness for her baby girl. “Then I remember being told not to feel guilty. ‘You are not sad because Ansley was born with Downs; you are just mourning the death of the perfect child that you were expecting.’ And I realized it was true. We had been told all the tests were normal.”
Amy added that all expectant parents envision their child’s future, with all the happiness and milestone experiences that parents expect. When a child is born with unforeseen issues, parents have to accept a new reality. She and her husband Bob embraced their new reality, and set about finding out what Ansley’s needs were and how they could meet those needs. That course of action included Amy retiring from work to stay home with their daughter.
“It isn’t always easy, and she can be sassy sometimes,” Amy said, laughing. “But she is very smart and knows what she wants.” After she graduates from Glynn Academy, Amy and Bob are enrolling her in the REACH program at the College of Coastal Georgia, a program for adults with intellectual disabilities to transition into college and later the working world.
Just recently, Amy experienced two major tragedies that left her reeling, but she knows she will overcome these, as well. Within two years she lost both her mom and her uncle Glen, who was more like a brother to her. Both of these close family members had short battles with cancer, and both spent their final few days in hospice care in Amy’s home.
Amy said being their caregiver was hard but was she was so glad she was able. Amy is healing once again with her support network of professionals, friends and family, especially her husband. “I can’t say just how much I love that man. He knows everything about me and has always been so loving and supportive. I am so thankful for him and his love.”
Amy continues to be a work in progress and is optimistic for the future. “I would tell other victims that it isn’t easy, but if I can do it, you can do it, too! The memories will always be there, but you can overcome them.”
Wide Open Spaces: She and her husband bought six acres in Mt. Pleasant and construction will soon begin on their dream home. “We’ve lived in a house in a neighborhood for 24 years. We were looking to move somewhere out in the open and not on top of each other. As soon as we saw this land, I said, ‘this is home.’”
Raising Ansley: “I raised her just like her brother. She knows she will be disciplined when she does something wrong and has learned manners, just like Chandler.”
The One: “The night I met Bob, I told a friend, ‘That’s the man I’m going to marry.’ I just knew he was the one.”
Fall Plans: She and Bob are taking their annual trip to the North Carolina mountains that began with their honeymoon. “We love going there, just the two of us, but this year will be the first time to go in the fall. We are really looking forward to seeing the fall colors.”