Marking another anniversary: abuse reports; my story of reporting child abuse; also, take courage when you witness child abuse
I forgot to note this one on the day of the anniversary: March 1. That tells me that the emotional impact is beginning to lessen.
But it was two years ago, as of March 1, that I mailed my letter to Social Services, reporting everything I had witnessed and which Richard had told me of the abuse in their home. It was nerve-wracking, and not done until I had gone through a full year of soul-searching, reflecting and research.
The year started in late winter 2010, when I witnessed Tracy smacking her tiny toddler hard on the back of the head. I was so shocked and appalled that I could hardly believe my eyes–and that she could do it right in front of me.
For many days after, I was in turmoil, wondering how I could justify remaining friends with her after she did that, wondering if I was morally obligated to call CPS, if it was morally bankrupt of me to not call the police right when it happened, or at least stand up for that little girl and say to never EVER do that to her again.
I’ve done some research into slapping small children like that: You can cause brain damage, and children have been seriously hurt or even died when smacked like that, as they banged into furniture.
A short time after, another friend of theirs, Chris, complained that his abusive wife was smacking his son on the back of the head; they said they do this to their kids all the time, and even justified it! I could see in Chris’ eyes that he was shocked by this. I, also, tried to be a voice of reason, saying this is not right.
I hoped that would do the trick, and satisfy my conscience. But there were so many other things going on that not only did I fear for the children’s emotional, psychological and physical well-being, but I also feared that the domestic violence in that household would lead to something horrible.
However, I was still not sure it was my place to say anything to CPS, because they were my friends.
When they proved themselves to not be my friends, I did not want to be vindictive, as I told a friend who used to work in a domestic violence shelter. But he told me not to let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right.
Still, it took a lot more research, many more months, viewing The Boondock Saints for a second time, and a series of e-mails with another friend (who works in group homes for kids in the system), to finally get the courage to write that letter and send it.
My friend wrote that Richard and Tracy both sounded very abusive, that she grew up in such an environment and her sisters still suffered the effects of it, so she begged me to make the report.
I wrote the letter to the best of my memory, including what I witnessed and what I had heard from Richard/Tracy themselves.
I trembled as I readied the letter and put it in the mailbox.
I was frightened that they would figure out who sent it, and do something awful to me in retaliation, even though I wrote in the letter, “I don’t believe they mean to harm their children (or each other), and they do love them very much, but they seem to desperately need help.”
But it was freeing. At long last, my conscience was clear, knowing that I had done what was right for those children.
And it was also validated when I discovered, months later, that on the very same day, March 1, Richard was officially charged with child abuse, for an event/report which had absolutely nothing to do with mine.
This film opens with mass in a Boston Catholic church, where Irish American fraternal twin brothers Connor McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus) pray while a sermon is read, mentioning Kitty Genovese, a real-life crime victim brutally murdered while her neighbors watched without intervening.
As the priest begins his homily, the brothers approach the altar and kiss the feet of a crucifix. They depart as the priest reminds the congregation that they should fear not just evil but also the “indifference of good men”.
The brothers conclude that the priest finally understands, Connor stating, “I do believe the Monsignor’s finally got the point…” and Murphy replying, “Aye”. —Wikipedia article on The Boondock Saints
So take courage when you witness child abuse. You could save a child’s life.
You will note that the incident which led to Richard’s charges, happened long before I made my report. What if he had killed her, which he could have easily done?
But her angel kept that from happening. And I became a material angel to her and the other children.
I noted with some surprise that I missed the date when it came. I certainly remembered it last year, the one-year anniversary. This tells me that some of the trauma is beginning to fade.
But I still get jumpy when around other parents and children. I hope to not witness more abuse. I keep a sharp eye out when deciding which new acquaintances should become closer, if I’ve seen them get too harsh with their children. I don’t want to go through this again.
Also see: Marking an anniversary: reporting my bullies to Social Services (2015)