One thing often leads to another. I finished the book by Cornelia Read called “Invisible Boy.” It was a heart-wrenching story of a little boy who was murdered. The day before he turned three.
His mother Angela not only saw her own mother’s boyfriend kill her when she was a child herself, but her mother fell dead on top of her, and she laid there with her for a long time.
Should this fact be taken into account when this woman was judged by the jury? What are your thoughts on this?
Angela was eight months pregnant with a little girl when her son’s case came to trial. On the stand she told the judge and jury that Edward was beaten by her boyfriend, Albert, the father of her baby.
A 43 year old nurse, ravaged by cancer, was brought to court in a wheelchair to testify that she heard these beatings from her downstairs apartment. She refused to die until she could communicate that she tried to intervene for Edward.
But when the social worker went to check it out, the family had left to stay in a motel the city was paying for.
Angela showed no emotion, just petulance, as she described that her boyfriend Albert hit little Edward with his fist in the chest a number of times. Then together they finished watching a TV show they had been watching while he lay motionless on the floor. She did not even get up to see if her child was alive or dead.
She said that Albert put Edward’s body in the motel refrigerator, where he stayed for two weeks. Then Albert put him in the old churchyard, where he was found about six months later. She did not want to know where he took the dead body. What mattered was scoring more crack.
During those two weeks after Edward died, they remained in the motel, doing drugs. As if it was perfectly normal that a little boy was crammed into the motel refrigerator just a few feet away from their bed.
As it turned out Albert was convicted of manslaughter, and Angela was only given a slap on the wrist.
Well, this got me to thinking about an article I wrote about child abuse once upon a time.
I couldn’t recall the particulars of the story, so I went searching through my things for the old duffel bag that held my writings.
While I was in there, I found the publication for feature writing for the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
Can you tell which one I am? I just opened it up to the page and took a photo.
Second person, second row. Big glasses. A mother of two attending college and writing articles on the side.
I remember I was horrified when I found out one of my journalism professors had turned my name in for various awards that year. Of which I won four in some capacity for feature writing.
My article was about a woman I interviewed, a victim of incest. Her perpetrators? Both of her grandfathers. One the town drunk. The other a minister of a prominent church.
I remember having to pick out a fancy dress to attend one award ceremony.
I was NOT in my comfort zone. I had to walk to the podium to receive my award, that one being The Gaylord Award. Standing in front of a bunch of people, even if I didn’t have to say a thing, scared me half to death.
While in the duffel bag I happened to unzip a side pocket. I had no idea what was in there. I found all kinds of things. Cards my children made me when they were little. A letter from my ex about a year before we were married, signed “I will love you forever.”
In one article, I had written about a home where young unwed mothers could live with their children while attending school. I wonder if there are still places like that?
In one, I wrote about a little boy I called David who was molested by both his parents.
The boy lived in a treatment center for children who had been abused. David hated women, and acted like an old pervert in a young boy’s body. He was not allowed any time alone with women working there or otherwise. It was found that he suffered from schizophrenia and also had a low IQ.
I asked Todd, the director of the treatment center, if young babies remember abuse. He told me that if babies could act out, they would. That a baby can take a lot of abuse for a long time.
Bonding should occur in the first year of life – basic trust versus mistrust. If a young child does not learn trust as a young baby, it will take a long time, if ever, to overcome this, he told me.
I asked Todd how much worse could a case get than that of David. He said: “Death. David’s alive. He’s out of the home.”
One little boy came up and kicked me. This seemed to be an ordinary occurrence.
There were lots of cameras at this treatment center. Todd told me that this was so the child can see him or herself. Mirrors are also important so that a child can get a perception of themselves. “In a deprived home,” he said, “you won’t see a mirror.”
Just weeks before I went to the treatment facility and interviewed the staff, baby “Charlie” had been murdered in Oklahoma City. Charlie Elaine. I won’t state her last name here. She was seven months old.
The department of human services had seen the child on February 26, 1988. Just three days later, the baby died of massive head trauma. A case of too little, too late.
For all the baby Charlies, we beg forgiveness for a world we cannot make safe for them, for all the chances we cannot give them. For the cries gone unanswered.
The tiny girl touched us all. We can only shed tears now for the child too young to run away from the brutality, from the blows that beat the life out of her precious little body.
We did not hear baby Charlie crying.
Baby Charlie doesn’t cry anymore.
Children are usually killed by family members, not strangers. A stranger killing is very rare. No, it is almost always a close family member who manages to wreak such horrific acts on a child.
And I, having been the little girl whose parents sold her, and thus had to grow up in a small town with that legacy, was determined to make the facts known.
I wanted these children and other victims to matter. To be more than a case number.
I started that article about child abuse with a quote by Oscar Wilde…
“Children begin by loving their parents. As they grow older they judge them. Sometimes they forgive them.” – Oscar Wilde