- Family and Parenting»
The Reality of Child Abuse
This Happens Way Too Much
Christina is a kindergarten student I work with. She is five years old. She has a wild mess of curly blonde hair that is almost always in her eyes. She wears cute little glasses to correct a lazy eye. She has the biggest blue eyes you could ever imagine. She is just as cute as she could be.
When you talk to Christina, you don't realize all of the problems she has. She has a huge vocabulary - and often uses the words correctly. What you don't see at first, she keeps real hidden.
When Christina was born, her mom abandoned her at the hospital. Her grandmother took her in and raised her until she was two. Then her mother came back into the picture and fought for custody of Christina. Because she was the birth mother, she won custody. Things were okay for a little while.
Then mom met a new man. He was young and handsome and treated Christina's mom well. At first he seemed to like Christina. But soon, she became a pest - a nuisance. When she wanted something, he found her just plain irritating. He began to hit her and slap her if she came too close. He would do this when her mom wasn't around. He explained Christina's bruises away as her clumsiness. Her mom believed it.
Things got worse - as they always do. The new man in Mom's life decided that Christina was good for something. He began abusing Christina in other ways when she was just two and a half. Soon he began recording his abuse and selling the videos on the black market. She was continuously abused for three years. Mom never suspected anything - even though the bruises became worse and Christina changed into a different child. She became withdrawn and fearful. She didn't want to leave her bedroom. She was afraid of men.
When Christina turned 5, her grandmother came to visit her for her birthday. She noticed the bruises. She noticed that the once cheerful girl was now quiet and shy. She noticed the fear of men and her reluctance to leave her bedroom. Grandma knew something was up.
Grandma told Christina's mom that she was taking Christina out for her birthday. Instead, she took her to the hospital. She was checked out thoroughly and it was then that Grandma discovered the extent of the abuse. She took Christina into her home and called the police on Christina's mom and boyfriend. They were both arrested on charges of gross child abuse and gross neglect. They were released on bail, so Grandma started immediate proceedings to get custody of Christina. She filed a protective order against Christina's abusers.
Christina is still living with her grandmother. She is receiving counseling for the abuse she has suffered. She is suffering in school, as well. She struggles to remember anything she is taught. Although she has been in school for several months, she still has difficulty counting to five. She doesn't even remember the letters in her name. She forgets from one day to the next what she has learned. School will continue to be a struggle for her. But now she is happy. And even more important, for now, she is safe.