Each day I am usually contacted by a survivor of Child Rape, Molestation, Brutal Physical Abuse, Emotional Battery, and even severe Neglect. It breaks my heart to know there are so many of us, especially since I always felt so isolated and alone in my recovery journey. To know that in truth there are an estimated 40 to 60 Million of us in society today who are now parents and grandparents trying to make up for what our emotional scars have passed on to our own children while we try to watch out for the children around us now.
There are many layers of recovery that we must work through and if you are one of the millions who are still struggling through the aftermath, you know exactly what this means. For me the abuse encompassed all forms; from severe disfiguring neglect to spiritual and religious abuse, to trafficking and forced involvement with many different grown men and young teen boys who I also attended school with each day.
“Crazy to think these many young boys were threatened to take part in either raping me or lining up while I was ordered to perform oral sex on them. The next day when I saw them at school however, they would whisper, tease, point and be disgusted by the very sight of me, but ot once ever spoke up about what they were ordered to take part in the weekend or night before.”
This past Tuesday I had a therapy appointment and as I was preparing myself all morning as to where I wanted to direct my discussion that day, the hour long drive to her office filled my head with the swirling tornado of anger and memories. By the time I arrived at her office I was such an emotional wreck all I could do was walk in circles in the closed little office and shake violently at the prospect of talking. There was a fire of anger inside and I honestly did not know how to begin the sentence and explain to her what was wrong. Thankfully she is a marvelous well trained and expert in Trauma Recovery Therapy and we’ve been working together almost six years now. T^o say the least however, she was still a bit shocked at my actions and when I broke down on the floor in tears she knew that whatever was going on inside was eating at me and we had to break the wall to get through.
The anger was billowing up from the gates of hell where I had trapped it many years ago. I honestly believed I had worked through all the anger issues and had nothing left inside to be angry about. I guess as I have been talking on the radio with my guests, co-host and the wonderful growing number of listeners, it seems the hellish nightmares started churning and things I didn’t think I felt any anger about came pounding down like a hard cold slap in the face.
“If you know or love a survivor or if you are a survivor; know that our emotions buried from the trauma continue to invade our present day lives because of the many layers of mental destruction caused by the attacks.”
To share with others of this new emotional breakdown, those of you who know this buried pain and how we try to avoid going back to our dark reality; this new layer of anger is aimed at the entire community who made a conscious decision to ignore and watch as a beautiful little girl rotted in the evil of her home. The town is Freeburg, Illinois, where I spent nine years of my life, living through the very worst of all the torture and blatant neglect, the trafficking and the beating. The town was a small coal mining community back then made up of farmer and miners and totaling about 1500, according to our population sign shared on the ‘Welcome to the Village of Freeburg’ that was posted at either end of the main road, Highway #15, which ran through the middle of our small little nest.
“Oh how I try to erase all of the connections to my past. My life is so good now and it has only been truly safe since about April 2002. There are days however when I just can’t turn up the music loud enough to drown out the thunder of emotions and dark horrific memories.”
Now I know times were much different back then, after all I grew up there between 1971 and when I first left home it was 1979, then finally left the area for 20 years in 1983; not ever moving back to that community. I can’t even drive through it without having a major panic attack, but back to what I was saying.
According to PDF report, attached here, written by John E.B. Meyers, he gives an excellent break down of our country’s Child Protection Act and it’s origin.
To quote just a few bits & pieces here;
1) In the forty years between the economic panic of the 1890s and the great depression of the 1930s; the devolvement and growth of social work became a recognized profession.
2) Organized child protection emerged after the 1874 rescue of 9 year old, Mary Ellen Wilson, who lived with her guardians in New York City’s Hells Kitchen.
3) The 1960s witnessed an explosion of interest in child abuse and physicians played a key role. It was pediatrician Henry Kempe and his colleagues that published the block buster article, ‘The Battered Child Syndrome’, which played a leading role to bringing child abuse to national attention throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It was after this publication that media outlets started filling their publications with stories of maltreatment. A Newsweek article titled ‘When They’re Angry….’ quoted this:
“For every child who enters the hospital badly beaten there must be hundreds more treated by unsuspecting doctors. The Battered Child’s Syndrome isn’t a reportable disease, but it damn well ought to be.”
4) The Social Security Act amendments of 1962 gave way to the following shared by Vincent De Francis in 1967:
“In additions to sharpening the focus on child protection, the 1962 amendments required all states to pledge that by July 1, 1975, they would make child welfare services available statewide.”
5) The first four child abuse reporting laws were enacted in 1963 and by 1967 all states had reporting laws. As the reporting laws went into effect the prevalence and child abuse and neglect came into focus. By 1974, some 60,000 were reported, by 1980 the reports climbed to 1,000,000; by 1990 they topped 2,000,000 and since 2000 they have been hovering above 3,000,000.**In 2011 there was a total of 3,712,034 reports of child maltreatment, but only about (1/3) of them were actually handled and processed through our child protective services system.** per Federal Children’s Bureau reports from all 52 states collective CPS reporting systems.
6) In 1977, Henry Kempe, gave a lecture in which he described: ‘sexual abuse of children and adolescents is another hidden pediatric problem and hidden area.’
It is this author’s determination that while I’ve tried to excuse the problem of ignorance throughout the school officials and the community in which I grew up, you can clearly see that in the early 1960s child abuse and sexual abuse of children was becoming a nation wide media and governmental issue. You can also clearly see that each state had a least four mandated reporting laws in effect as early as 1963.
“So for the officials who were required by law to report and help the abused children they witnessed, what the hell happened to me towns people of Freeburg?”
The first and most prominent of the Red Flags I was displaying, was the severe blatant neglect. Our family had the very best healthcare coverage available then, that which was paid for by United Mine Workers Union of America. There was absolutely no our of pocket cost at all for care. Many may remember how strong the Mine Worker’s Union was in the 1970’s. These people took baseball bats, axe handles and fists to their meeting and brawls were common with many having to go for medical treatment. Our town, Freeburg, had these such meetings because Peabody Coal, Riverking Underground #1 was the lifeblood of the community.
Now although I was suffering in the many sadistic sexual attacks from my stepfather, and yes I know that sexual abuse rarely displays any noticeable physical signs; there are still many silent signs the victims display without being fully aware of what these actually reflect.
In school my silent warning signs were like huge beams of light searching for hope of rescue. My grades went from A’s and B’s to D’s and F’s. My homework was rarely completed, but the teachers always seemed to make note of that fact and ridicule me in front of the other students.
“Are you dumb or just lazy Patricia? Boy how I”d love to have told them that I didn’t get it done because I got beaten for two hours because I put on the heavy pajamas to protect me from his roaming hands or I was busy cooking, caring for my sister, and had to spend the evening being raped by a shotgun barrel.”
Of course we all know the shame attached to this type of abuse, so it is rare that a child will ever break that silence; especially if they are being badgered and belittled by an adult. All the red flags were waving high in the sky around me. My plaque covered, never brushed, broken black fanged teeth. The rotting flesh covered with crusted filth and infected sores. The heavy stench of body odor and the unwashed stinking gym uniform was all visible to those around me, but still not one single person, no teacher, school nurse, or other school official ever questioned my care in any form. They all watched me fail at everything, they avoided any discussions or physical contact at all. The memories I have of school are all clouded by the many years of trying to hide from the world the ugliness that was now seeping from my soul and covered my flesh.
When I share that it was the entire community, I do mean all the family friends who came to our house for various reasons; the adult men who attended the late night parties which I was ordered to be hostess, toy and child drunk they could feel up and play finger games with as stepfather watched on in enjoyment and mother’s cold eyes as she walked into her bedroom and closed the door. She permitted him to use me however and whenever he chose. I was taken on their dates and fed alcohol while he tried to find a man to entertain my mother so he could teach me how to slow dance. I was taught very young, just 11, when we first went out to the bar and I was ordered to shake my ass about and use my body to entice the grown men around me.
Then of course I can’t leave out the neighbors and local police. I can’t even remember all the parties we had with drunken teenagers and cases of beer or the half barrel stored outside to keep cold. Kids walking in and out, my little sister got in the habit of charging them a dime to use the bathroom and it was a joke as too how much money she actually made at each of these events. The times when Mother took her along for weekend excursions, but left me behind to take care of the house and of course her husband.
“This is my time away and I won’t be bothered with you coming along.”
Each time she went away she would go around to the local corner bars and warn them each not to give stepfather whiskey because she couldn’t trust him not to kill her kids while she was away. Every time she came home I was covered with bruises and had to spend at least 6 to 10 hours cleaning up the mess from the fights that always broke out. Usually it was because a boy that didn’t want to take me in the next room and screw my brains out stood up and said ‘No’ to him. It could have been the nights that he got angry because I had a boyfriend so I didn’t want to do what he ordered from me.
The neighbors and the police all knew of these many parties, you can’t keep anything in a small town quiet. The folks on our street got a birds eye view of him dragging me across the road by the fist full of hair, or getting beaten in the middle of the street with his fist; perhaps the midnight dash out of the house trying to find a safe place to hide after my brothers had taken off and left me there with his raging temper. There was always some type of explosion at our house and the temper of stepfather was well known to everyone.
As I talked with my therapist the other day, she asked me what I would say to the community of Freeburg and the many who watched me be handed out and rot in this hell. I would actually love to have an article published to share my anger with them. It was suggested by her the following:
“Everyone in that town should be REQUIRED to read your book so they could feel what you lived through and hopefully open their eyes to what they so blatantly ignored.”
In truth I know I wasn’t the only child in that town that suffered the abuses of their parents, but not once have I ever met anyone else who had rotted like I did or been left so severely scarred, both physically and emotionally, in such an extreme nature. To be perfectly honest however, the words I would like to say to them could only be screamed and would be so foul that it would just lower me to their mentality, so I’ll use this writing instead to express the trapped emotions. Hopefully this will help me shed another layer of pain and begin a new light of healing.
Our society is so judgment of everyone who seems to be poor or less worthy. Our society disregards even the children of those adults who they feel are unfit. Our society damns all who have contact with such families. Our human society has no empathy, respect or tenderness for the many in our country who do not live according to their beliefs and morals.
To all of society I ask you; What morals do you have when you turn away from these vicious acts against children committed by their parents and the family friends each and every day in our country? When our Federal Children's Bureau has reports of the statistics on these crimes and in our present day world full of information, emergency response system, federal and state child maltreatment reporting mandates, but you still use the age old ‘UNFIT’ status quo to pass your judgment on who should and shouldn’t receive your attention and who deserves to receive help or rescue. The poor of our society are not all bad parents, in fact, the reports show that the largest account for child abuse in our country is the White Middle Class who account for 43.9% of all the reported 3,712,034 calls for help to Children’s Protective Services.
“How do these reality checks make you feel now about the moral standards of mankind?”
Every soul is born with purpose, let no one keep you down by their judgment. Dream and chase those dreams, put forth the effort and no one can hold you back. No matter what the past has taught you, tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to create, build, achieve!!
~~Always Live Strong & Fly Free~~
Patricia A. McKnight
Author: ‘My Justice’
Advocate/Speaker/Writer/Talk Radio Prod & Host/Survivor
Founder: Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery & Talk Radio Brdcstng.
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