Friday, December 29, 2006

Child Abuse

The motto of the dysfunctional family
" what goes on in the home, stays in the home".

Estimates say that one in 3 children are abused, I think the odds are even higher as many cases are not documented. Truth is the most serious of abuse cases fall through the cracks. These are upper class, intelligent, educated, families that are either ignored by society or go unnoticed do to ignorance of identifying the voiceless children .
Domestic abuse is not a
illness that effects one person in a household, those doing the abusing, those looking on are all victims of the evil as well as the child who feels the lashing of physical and emotional abuse.

This story is about voiceless children speaking out. My sister has been dead some years now she was one of five. She can no longer speak, so I am speaking for her. She had hair of gold, a warm smile with exceptional beauty, tall and graceful as a deer grazing in the spring. I tried to remember her through the years, and two specific occasions took center stage in my mind. I was approximately ten years old which would have made her sweet sixteen. My father had caught her speaking to a young man he was the local paperboy, without a verbal reprimand he called her. Gabriel he said get in here now, pulling his leather belt from his pants, he lashed out at her, breaking the skin on her thighs and leaving the outline of his buckle in the deepest black and blue I had ever seen upon her legs and turning away I could still see blood roll down her thighs. She started to cry, and and yet silence had fallen. I could hear his voice in anger" if you jump Gabriel you will get it twice as hard." It wasn't the first beating, nor the most viscous of beatings she received nor would it the last.
But this isn't about the beatings, the many slaps across the face, the name calling, the demeaning poking that not only belittles but creates insecurity in the most intelligent of children.
My mind traveled the years through a ghastly set of memories, most not of a pleasant nature. I recall one day, seem like a pretty ordinary summer day, hot and sunny and a bit humid as well. We were as close as sisters could be and yet as distant as the dessert from the ocean. This one summer day she was dressed in a pair of blue long nicker type shorts and she had a button up collar shirt that was rolled up to the elbows ,it was common to wear girls white tennis shoes, it was also the early 1960's and she had her long blond hair worn in a gentle soft flip, a style that was common for the era. She had a jar in her hand and she gazed off into it, like it was some prized possession, it contained, larva, I watched her intently as she watched what I believe to be mosquito larva swimming in stagnant water. She called me over to look, she "said one day they are gonna fly away." In her face, I saw her love for life, the sunshine that was trapped inside of her, the pain she endured. Her beauty inside imprisoned for life.
The greatest gift bestowed upon a parent is that of a child, I thought out loud, how could a parent betray the gift of life. I realize that abuse takes many forms and comes under many headings. Some more extreme then others, but all equally as devastating to the child.
This isn't about discipline,nor is it a sign of caring or love, hatchets, knives, guns, leather belts, these are not the tools of love, but the weapons of hell.
I thought what good would come from speaking now as an adult. I have always
respected and believed in education, disrupting a family, tearing it apart, breaking down the system, punishing, imprisonment, none of this has any place in a house of domestic abuse.
Family's are afraid of seeking help, because of the labeling and stereotyping that comes with the heading of "dysfunctional family or mental health issues."
I am not pro drugs or pro labeling, I am pro life, pro exercise, pro strength, pro love, pro helping thy neighbor, pro education. Slowly but surely through education and love I believe with all my heart that we can change the world one child, one parent , one family at a time.
The key is identifying the needs of each family, that is difficult as it is as diverse as the world is of insects. I do not believe we need more families that are dependent upon the system, we need more to realize the gift each has to give to the world around them.