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Children and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The Best Gift I Ever Received
Children are susceptible to and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The disorder is described as an individual that experienced an event(s) involving a threat to their own or others life. Physical and mental events can be factors within PTSD. Many children with PTSD have survived natural or man-made disasters, violent crimes, rape of a parent, parental abuse, or witnessed a parent being abused. Many other types of trauma such as automobile or plane crashes, severe burns, school shootings, wars, and peer suicides can be related to PTSD.
This article addresses an abusive father and the he trauma inflicted on his wife and son. From the time this boy was born and until he was 6 years old, he and him mom were abused. His father, appeared in the public eye as a fun loving, energetic, extrovert. His mask fooled friends, co-workers, and family members.
But, what he did to his son and his wife are inexcusable. The boy grew up believing that he could do nothing right, and was damned for just waking to a new day. If he cried he was a 'baby,' if he laughed he was 'too noisy,' if he kept to himself, he was labeled as 'ignorant' or 'queer.' His father might trip him or hit him just because he walked by. He was ridiculed for wanting to be with and help his mom, wanting his mother to read to him, or wanting a hug.
His mom dealt with his dad's infidelity, excessive drinking, fowl language, hitting, and pornographic involvement. She once received a black eye because she wanted his dad to get out of bed because the family was waiting to eat dinner. His dad tried to run her off the road in a violent rage. He pulled beside her car and pointed his 357 magnum rifle in her face. He advertised her in a porno magazine, and offered to 'sell' her to strangers. She cried often, but never stopped trying to protect her son. It didn't matter if she hurt, she only wanted her son to be safe and unhurt.
There were times his dad would come home, early in the morning after a night of drinking and hit or kick her. He would be drunk, but never too wasted to make a punching bag out of his wife, and would turn on his son a word was uttered. The mother and son lived in fear of his temper, and could never be sure what would set him off. He threw kitchen chairs, knocked his wife down and tried to choke her. He would let them stranded without transportation when he decided to go off with his friends.
Once, they were at an auto racing event, and he left to drink with his friends, leaving his wife and 4 year old son stranded. It was about 11:30 at night, and they were about 10 miles from home. The mother took her son's hand and started the long walk home. She was scared and cried a lot, but she never let go of her son's hand. It was a country road, so it was dark and lonely, but they made it home several hours later. The mother carried her son to bed and told him she loved him, and then he heard her crying in her room.
Many times, this little boy was hit or beaten by his dad. Once, when his mom was at work, the boy's grandma invited them to dinner. They lived in the country, and grandma's farm wasn't far away, so he and his dad walked to their house. On the way home, the little boy's dad pushed him, and thought it was fun to make him fall. The boy didn't know what he had done or why his dad did these things. When they got home, the dad told the boy that he didn't walk fast enough, and took a 2x4 board and beat him. When the boy's mom came home she knew something was wrong, but no one told her. Because, you see, his dad, told the little boy that he would hit him harder if he told his mom.
After supper, the boy's mother filled the bathtub, and said he should get a bath. The boy stayed in the bathroom longer than usual, and his mom went to see if he was okay. There she saw the purple, black, and red welts across her son's backside, a trail of pain from his upper ribs to below his knees. She asked what happened, and but the boy was afraid to tell her. She held him close, and finally he told her. She went out the bathroom door, with rage in her eyes. She fearlessly faced her husband, and told him that was the last time he would ever hit either of us, because we were leaving. He just laughed at her and then hit her across the face.
The next day when the boy got home from kindergarten, his mom was waiting for him. She told him they were leaving. He went to his room and grabbed his favorite blanket and teddy bear. His dad asked if he wasn't going to get a hug, and the boy stopped and then walked past him. His mother put him in her car and they left. It was hard to do, but neither of them shed a tear. It was like a heavy brick was lifted off their chests and they were finally free.
Life wasn't easy for this woman or her son, but they survived. Yes, as you might have guessed, this is about me and my son. We are also best friends. Our bond is strong, and remains so today. I always tell my son that he is the best gift I ever received. He is my rock and my mentor. To this day, we both come to each other when we have a problem, or are worried about something. We talk and listen to each, and we respect each other.
This is my son, and I love him. I tried to protect him, but when it became apparent that I couldn't, I wrapped him in my arms, and took us away from the hurt. But, not every pain goes away. We learn to go on, but the scars remain deep within us. We can talk together, laugh or cry because the blood runs deep between us. I love him with no boundaries, and I never miss a chance to tell him how much he means to me.
PTSD has other effects on children, such as major depression, anger, hostility, and low self-esteem. And, my son and I have experienced these firsthand.
This article is dedicated to my only son, Tommy.
I love you, mom