Very late December 2009 or very early January 2010 is when I saw Tracy smack the 3-year-old upside the head, which could’ve easily sent her flying into the TV, which was a short distance in front of the child.

Keep in mind this child was very small for her age, and toddlers are already small, their heads not fully formed, their brains still vulnerable. 

Even if the child does not fall on something or get a visible injury, smacking a child like that can give a kind of whiplash to the delicate brain as it whacks against the wall of the skull.

Shaking or hitting a child’s head or face is always dangerous. Young children cannot control the movement of their head as well as adults can.

Shaken baby syndrome (shaken baby–impact syndrome) is brain damage caused when a baby is shaken, slammed, or thrown against an object. –“Physical Abuse: Common Injuries in Children,” HealthLink BC

Help prevent shaken baby syndrome

  • Never shake a baby. Also, do not slap or hit a child of any age on the face or head. A child’s brain is very delicate. Shaking, slapping, or hitting a child can cause serious harm, even though it may not leave any obvious sign of injury. –Healthwise staff, Shaken Baby Syndrome: Home Treatment

But Tracy popped her child in the back of the head right in front of me one evening, so hard that the child’s tongue flew out.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sat in shock and disbelief.  I wonder if it showed on my face, if Tracy saw it–and if this is what renewed her campaign against me.

But she only has herself to blame.  Not me, and certainly not that poor child.  Sure the child was being naughty, but abuse is never the answer, never the fault of the child.

I think I wondered if I should call the police.  But when you’re a guest in someone’s home, and that someone already frightens you….

Afterwards, I spoke to Jeff at home about it, and discovered he didn’t see it happen even though he was in the room.  I went through a moral crisis over the next week or two.

I posted about it briefly on an Orthodox forum late on January 6, 2010, hoping somebody would help me with good advice.

Though I soon took it down again (in the wee hours of January 7) after a guy scolded me twice over: first, for “gossiping” if it wasn’t that hard, and second, for not calling the police if it was so hard a slap.

But another poster got upset with that guy, couldn’t believe he wrote what he did, and understood my predicament.  He understood this wasn’t about “gossip” but about badly needing advice about abusive friends.

He urged me to report Tracy to Social Services, even gave me a link to state CPS phone numbers and said I could do it anonymously.

But I hoped that somehow I could convince her this was wrong, without calling the police or CPS.

Those few weeks were so hard that I finally told Jeff the various abuses I had seen and that Richard had told me about, so he’d know where I was coming from.

He already knew some of them, because I told him at other times.  But now I showed him the e-mail and notes from March 22, 2009, the contents of which I never showed him before, keeping Richard’s confidence.  He finally realized just how bad things were in Richard’s house.

I asked Jeff, “How much more of this can I take?”  Because being friends with Tracy, and not calling CPS or the police about what I saw and what I knew, was working like acid on my conscience.

Jeff and I discussed whether we should report her to Social Services, but set it aside for the time.  I forget why; maybe we thought we could still influence them to stop the abuse.

Later in the year, after we ended the friendship, we set it aside again, in fear that Richard would take vengeance like he almost did with the apartment manager, whom he plotted to kill.  (I also didn’t tell Jeff the full details about that plot until July 2010.)

Shortly after the smacking incident, one of their friends, Chris, stopped over for a bit as we played D&D at Richard and Tracy’s house.

His own wife did some of the very same things Tracy did, but he apparently had no clue Tracy did them:

  1. Chris’ wife fought tooth and nail to keep him from seeing Richard, just as Tracy used to fight tooth and nail in early 2008 to keep Richard from coming over for ten minutes just to pick up stuff they left behind at our house.  (So you see it’s not just fearing affairs that gets people to act jealously).
  2. Chris’ wife went into rages and hit him.

Chris complained about latest developments: She left him again.  He saw her smack his son (from a previous marriage) on the back of the head, and he was very upset about that.  Chris said that smacking anywhere but on the butt or hand is abuse.

Tracy said, “Well, I smack [the 3-year-old] on the back of the head all the time!”

He looked startled, and she laughed and said, “I’m just kidding!”

To which my mind screamed, “You are not kidding!  I saw you!”

Then Richard joked about smacking kids on the back of the head, said the way he grew up it was normal.  He talked like they did this all the time and there was nothing wrong with it.

I cried vehemently, “No, no, no, no!”

To hear Richard joke about smacking kids and apparently condone it, disgusted me. 

But at least I finally had the chance to speak up about Tracy’s actions–and without broaching the subject myself.  Not only that, but Chris supported my views.

It was so Providential that I wrote back to the guy on the Orthodox forum.  I said that God seemed to have answered my prayer, and arranged circumstances so I could say something to Richard and Tracy.

We both rejoiced.  I hoped that everything was settled and I would not have to call CPS.

I made my feelings known another time as well: On February 8, 2010, Chris posted on his Facebook wall,

And some say that ‘waterboarding’ isn’t torture!
Daily Mail: U.S. Soldier waterboarded his own daughter, 4, because she couldn’t recite alphabet

I replied at 8:12pm,

Anyone who thinks the US should use torture of any kind, should read “Proved Innocent” (the story of Gerry Conlon). 😛

I wrote at 8:29pm,

And all for not knowing the alphabet. It’s like the parents who made their little girl eat half a bar of Irish Spring and ignored her near-fatal allergic reaction, just for saying a bad word. 😛

Screaming, belittling, hitting anything other than the butt (or maybe a quick hand slap), torture–all are child abuse and inexcusable.  😛

Richard’s reply is no longer available for me to quote exactly because he blocked me months later.  But I recall him writing, “Screaming is abuse?  Seriously?”

I replied the next day at 4:53pm,

There’s a big difference between yelling and screaming. I’m not talking about yelling at a kid who’s about to touch a hot stove or run into a street or who isn’t listening.

I’m talking about screaming, screeching, sounding like a demon….

There was no reply.

Um, screaming is not abuse?  Seriously?

It was absolutely appalling.  I used to think Richard was kind and gentle, with a big heart, like his friends kept saying about him.  But I was beginning to see an entirely different person, the wolf underneath the sheep’s clothing.

This post (and a refusal to get into his extremist politics) is probably why, a very short time afterwards, both Tracy and Richard started bullying me on Facebook and the friendship soon ended.

My mother and father never smacked me anywhere on my head.  When an older brother smacked me one day, my mother became furious with him and said to never do that.

My parents raised me in the days when you could still use a paddle, which I don’t condone nowadays, but I don’t remember them ever doing anything that was abusive, at least according to the standards of the 70s and early 80s.

They didn’t scream, didn’t use a belt, didn’t smack me or slap me on the head.  Of course I did naughty things from time to time, as all children do, and got yelled at, but I turned out fine without being abused by my parents.

If Richard told me the above stories of abuse, and Tracy did the above abuse right in front of me, so brazenly, as if bragging, as if to show no fear that I would report them–what else went on when I wasn’t looking, what was I never told?

What the heck were they thinking?  Why did they think they could do this without me ever reporting them to the authorities?

Why did they repeatedly do these things, yet Richard treated me like I didn’t know what I was talking about when I said this was child abuse and Tracy was abusing Richard?

Why did Richard tell me the things Tracy did, how she’d be mean to him over the phone for example, and why did Tracy demonstrate to me that the stories were true, yet they expected me to befriend Tracy?

Why did they think I’d want anything to do with a child abuser and husband beater?  Why did they think I’d ever want to open up to her?

8 Reasons People Don’t “Get” Emotional Abuse
Unnecessary Force is Emotional Abuse [no longer available on Web]

When I told these things to two friends who were in some way involved in Social Services in my state, both said Tracy and Richard sounded very abusive and I must report them for the sake of the children.  This was in July 2010 and February 2011.  I finally did in March 2011; the story is here.

What did they do when I wasn’t around?  What did Richard not tell me about?  I was to discover the answer in 2011.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

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