She was young. No more than 10 years old.
It was her job to look out for the younger two. It was her job to do the chores around the house.
Her mother worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time to make ends meet. She wasn’t home much.
Her father worked nights and farmed during the day.
She worked in the summer to earn money that often went to help with household expenses.
She tried hard to be a good daughter. She tried hard to make things right. She’s seen her father hit her mother before. She’s heard them fight. She didn’t want that for herself.
It came to her anyway.
She washed dishes and kept the kitchen clean. She was forced to eat dried food off the dishes that were improperly washed.
She did laundry in a room that housed piles that may have been there for years. When the piles got to him he pushed her head into the laundry room wall.
This was normal, right?
He gave her roses for her 13th birthday. He said he was worried about her. She said she’d be fine without him.
Days earlier divorce had been announced.
Weeks later they all left him behind.
She told the judge she wouldn’t go visit him. The judge said she didn’t have to visit but did have to do counseling.
She was protective of her 2 siblings. She didn’t want him to hurt them. She questioned them after each visit.
She was angry. She was confused. She lashed out. She failed at school.
More counseling was recommended.
She shut him out completely by age 15.
She moved forward. A happy person with something missing.
For years she questioned why. For years she wondered what she did.
Almost 20 years passed before she got answers.
Almost 20 years passed before she got closure.
She does not love him, but she does not hate him. She has a degree of understanding and a heart that is forgiving.
Today she fights for the rights of children.
Her heart aches all over again because of parents who hurt their babies. She holds these babies with a sense of understanding and a hope for the future.
She was beaten, but not broken. She can make a difference. She is a strong person in spite of her hardships.
**April is child abuse awareness month. Love the children in your lives. Walk away from them when they make you so crazy you could shake them. Hold them tight and cherish them for whomever they are. Wear your blue ribbons in support of all children being safe and abuse around the world coming to an end.**