She was only nine years old but the violence she’d seen rivaled that of a combat soldier, except that she went into this war with no defense training and no backup. Her name was Molly.
It didn’t happen every night but there were warning signs on the nights when it did. He didn’t come home from work on time. Her mom fell asleep on the sofa after a few drinks and forgot to fix dinner for her and her little brother, Max. There was no milk, so Molly fixed them dry cereal for dinner.
When she heard the rumble of his truck pull into the drive after she was in bed, she knew it was going to be one of those nights. Barely six, Max crawled into her bed, already starting to whimper as they braced for another terrifying night. Huddled in a corner of the bed, they pulled the covers over their heads and held their hands tightly over their ears to muffle the sound of crashing lamps and picture frames, Dad’s yelling and Mom’s screaming. Once, when she was eight, Molly tried to stop him from hurting her and got an angry backhand that left her eye swollen shut. When her friend asked her what happened, she lied and said she fell off the trampoline; too embarrassed to tell her the truth. This was her life and she would have to deal with it alone.
Danielle and Cecelia, were eighteen months old when a concerned neighbor peeked in their bedroom window after hours of what sounded like tortured screaming. What she saw will likely haunt her forever. The twin girls were alone in the room, naked and covered in their own feces. A single filthy mattress and countless bottles of sour liquid lay scattered around the floor. The girls were screaming and trying to get the door to their room open. On the other side of that door, their mother and grandmother operated a meth lab. A piece of furniture had been strategically moved in front of the twin’s door so they couldn’t get out. The neighbor called the police, the community responded and today, Danielle and Cecelia are happy, healthy eight year olds living with their adoptive family.
Teala was only fourteen when she snuck out to meet Chad, the nice young man she met through friends online. She would bring him home to meet her parents next time, she thought. Only Chad’s name wasn’t really Chad, he wasn’t young and he certainly wasn’t nice. Teala never came home.
I didn’t make these stories up. They are very real and happening every day in every community, ours included. April is Child Abuse Awareness month as indicated by the 151 blue flags surrounding our courthouse plaza, one for each of child killed by their abuser in the state of Texas in 2014.
At some point, we have to call it and say ENOUGH! We have to collectively take a stand against abuse – all abuse. Don’t just be aware of the statistics, be part of changing them.
In the next few weeks, watch for the ENOUGH! PURPLE DOTS in business windows around Granbury. These businesses have pledged to stand against all forms of abuse, to send a message to abusers that they’ve had ENOUGH! and a message to victims that they’re not alone.
Hundreds of children will go through life like Molly, bearing the scars of war and living with memories that will influence everything they do - because they felt alone. We can change that.