A Human Canvas-in the darkness of childhood abuse and neglect-Volume 7-"The Family Bully"
A Social Worker's Journal
This triad of stories will be the telltale accounts of three of my forever heroes, and the abuse they suffered at the hands of their "family bully".
These three lives have forever changed mine. Not only in the sense of encouraging me to share the plight of these children who suffered the worst abuses at the hands of their parents, but in the sense, that my life is now dedicated to seeing that this type of abuse is publicized, recognized, and abolished.
I will start with my three year old, girl angel-Becca. Her father, her abuser, was young when he had her. Nineteen, and a freshman in college, he married his girlfriend who had become pregnant, and from the moment of her birth, Becca had become a reminder to him that he had lost his youth to parenthood, leaving him bitter and angry. As the story goes, after he left college, and took a minimum wage paying job, he became abusive to his girlfriend, and when she finally left him, the abuse did not stop, it just took on a new victim-his infant daughter. Becca's mother had left her as well. Left her at the hands of Becca's father, who decided that this little girl would have to pay for all his anger. After all, he wouldn't be here in this situation if it wasn't for her, right? So, day after day, in way after way, Becca took on the role of daddy's little punching bag. This went on for three years, until one night, he hit her just a little too hard, and became scared enough to think he had killed her.
Making up a story that she had fallen and hit her head, Becca's father rushed her to the nearest ER, to help save the child he had just viciously beaten.
The ER staff physician treated Becca for a broken eye socket, taking notes on all the other bruises he saw on all four of her limbs and her back and buttock areas. Some bruises new, but some much older. A call was then made to the local CPS unit (Child Protective Services), and Becca was placed in foster care until a court hearing could take place.
While in care, Becca disclosed that her daddy spanked her a lot because she was so bad, and that it had been her fault for taking so long brushing her teeth, the night he threw her into the wall towel rack, that resulted in her broken eye socket. More and more disclosures were made, and in time Becca would be told that she would have to tell some more people (The Grand Jury) what daddy had done to her. Remember, she is only three years old. This little girl bravely agreed to tell what daddy had done, IF she would never have to see him again.
This child, this angel, set conditions on her own terms. It was agreed upon, and so, this tiny, human being sat straight and tall in the over sized, wooden, courtroom chair, while her father sat in the very same room, and told of all of his sins. She cried, but she knew, somehow, that if she got through this she might have a chance for a good life without him. At her very young, fragile age, she took a chance. A chance that most adults wouldn't take. I sat is complete awe of this amazing little girl. She became my hero for life. Hearing the seven year prison sentence that her father received for his abuse of her, I felt relief for Becca, and burst at the seams for the respect and pride I had for her. This girl angel. If she could do what she just did, then I could do anything to help bring this type of abuse to light. She was not only my hero, but my teacher. So, I share this with you. Becca had a happy ending. She was adopted into a loving family who had adopted two other children who had suffered abuse at the hands of their birth parents, as well. Sometimes there are happy endings, we just have to have the strength to stand up for them and seek them out. Becca, we applaud your bravery, and bask in the warmth of your happy ending. Enjoy life!
When I wasn't so jaded by my life's work, and I remember my own life as a child, the term, "daddy's little girl", had a whole different meaning other than what I've come to learn means to some of my clients, especially one named, Jackie.
It should mean something good and wholesome and loving. It should mean that you are the apple of daddy's eye, that he'll carry you upstairs when you have fallen asleep on the couch, that he'll look at you in awe when you descend the stairs in your first prom gown, that he'll die a little inside when he walks you down the aisle, giving you to another who will take his role and cherish you for the rest of your life. It should mean that.
Well, to Jackie, being "daddy's little girl" meant having sex with him when he demanded it, and being told to partake in swinger-sex parties when his friends dropped by the house. Actually, it started when she was thirteen and lasted for four years, until she became strong enough to tell a trusted teacher in her school, so her nightmare could end. At least, in the physical sense. A mandated reporter call was made, and Jackie and her two younger sisters (who had also been victims of this crime) were taken from the home they knew, and placed into foster care. They were not to have contact with their stepmother, who had been charged with "failure to protect", and there was a restraining order against their father-their abuser, while charges were made and a court date was set.
The physical assault was over, but the emotional and mental torment continued. Court appearances had to be made, and Jackie wrote a victim's statement against her father. Over time, and with therapy, she had finally accepted that she was in no way to blame for what had happened to her. She had spent her entire teen hood as a captive to her own father's warped sense of entitlement. She finally recognized and depended on her own strength. She had to, to survive.
At the final court appearance, Jackie's father faced her without regrets, without apologies, or without any sense of betrayal, for all the suffering he had caused her. The decision for his crimes was handed down. The judge offered Jackie's father a choice! What? How could this be when Jackie never had a choice? Her father-her rapist, could either pay a minimal financial retribution and be placed on probation, or, serve one year in jail and then be placed on probation with no financial obligation. He chose the latter. For now, he's serving that year sentence. But what about Jackie? What about her life sentence? The one that taught her about incest, abuse, and betrayal? Betrayal by her father-the man guilty of murder. The murder of his daughter's innocence, trust, and love. Who pays for that?
Jackie will continue to, unfortunately. She has years of terror filled memories that she will carry with her now and forever. She'll hopefully adjust in time with ongoing therapy and support.
Jackie, give yourself a chance, as you are now eighteen and will attend college. Be strong and look to your future. As you build your new life, please forgive us for failing you, and thank you for being my forever hero.
So, here's a question. When should a parent think it's okay to leave their seven year old son in charge of his five year old and infant siblings? Correct answer? NEVER. At least that's what most parent's response would be. But I'm guessing that those parents don't shoot heroin into their veins on a daily basis either.
Danny is seven years old and a "parent" way before his time. Let me correct myself. Danny was seven. He was seven on the night his parents locked him and his siblings in their apartment, and told him to eat the chips and soda they had left for dinner, and to go to bed early. Danny did as he was told. He fed his baby sister her bottle, and sat himself and his brother down at the table to have their dinner. At least that's what we think happened. It's hard to come to a conclusion about what happens just before a fire engulfs a home and ravages its inhabitants. Like it did the night Danny played the role of his parents-again. Like he always had. At least that's how it seemed when Danny's parents were questioned and they admitted that Danny was a good boy and a great big brother. That he always listened to what they had told him. But that he should have followed their rules to get out through the window, in case there was ever a fire. They were asking out loud now, why hadn't Danny listened and gone out the window like they had instructed him to do? Were they really trying to make this Danny's fault? Were they even aware of the tragedy of what had happened? Maybe not. The fresh needle marks were apparent on their skin, as was the fear in their eyes, at what the police were telling them. While they were out, having left their three children to fend for themselves, something had gone drastically wrong. Somehow, the apartment caught on fire and the children had tried to escape. Danny had tried to save himself and his siblings after all. He had been a hero. How could Danny have known that they would be jumping to their death? He was a child. He wouldn't have known. For all he knew, someone might be there to catch them. What he didn't know was that someone was. I can only imagine that the angel's arms were as strong as he was, to carry Danny and his siblings home. A home free of parenthood at the age of seven.
For his parents, they were found guilty of many things, and sentenced to prison time for their wrong doings.
Since I started this story out with a question, I will end with three. Do you think Danny's parents will be served chips and soda for dinner at the prison? Do you think that if there's a fire in their prison cell that they will be left to try to figure how to get out? Do you think there will ever be a window available for them to escape their guilt? I hope not.
ODE TO A GIRL-ANGEL (Becca's story)
I held a little girl today, and looked into her eyes.
Behind the emerald greenishness, were all of daddy's lies.
She begged and sobbed and held on tight.
She tried to tell me of her fright.
You see, her dad had reached a high.
His anger blew. He broke her eye.
Sad and hurt this little child, never knew of love as mild.
To her, it seemed it always was, a battlefield, or, just because.
It was my job to keep her safe.
This baby girl, from terrible fate.
Why did daddy hurt me so?
My darling child, I do not know.
But, I will vow to help somehow,
this little girl, to whom I bow.
INNOCENCE MUTILATED(Jackie's Story)
It's what she heard day after day.
But, it's not supposed to be this way.
When he called her to his bed,
his sickness overtook his head.
She doesn't know the day or hour,
but daddy took her precious flower.
He told her it would be okay,
to just be quiet, just to lay.
Now her only memories,
would be of those down on her knees,
giving up to dear ol' dad,
it made her sick, it hurt so bad.
But one day when this comes to pass,
his punishment will much amass.
It's then she'll swear he took her soul.
He'll spend his days, locked in a hole.
HOMICIDES (Danny's story)
Locked in a room of doom and gloom,
my parents sleep from dawn 'til noon.
My only toy is a broken train.
The bathroom tub's my urine drain.
We always know when they go out,
cause they holler back,
"use the window route".
In case of fire or other threats,
that 2x4 is escape from death.
I'm seven now, my brother's five.
Our baby sister seems half alive.
She lays there sleeping all the time.
Our parents' words aren't worth a dime.
Then that night of terror came.
When fire came in waves of flame.
We all cried out but no one's there.
The window route became a dare.
I grabbed the baby,
Our lifeless bodies filled the dump.
We laid there resting, the three of us.
No sound was made, no major fuss.
Our bodies laid to rest that week.
Our parents grieved, forgiveness seeked.
But, then, when all was done and said,
they stuck their arms and both played dead.
Kim Diaz 2012