Peter Learns About Child Abuse

by Arnold Nelson

It was the first day of high school. Peter felt like a big kid now. He finally made it to high school. In one of his classes he saw a very attractive girl. He said to himself I have to get to know her she is hot. When the teacher called roll he found out her name was Abigail St. James.

    After school he saw her at the light waiting for it to change. He hurried up and stood next to her. He said hi my name is Peter I saw you in History class. Abby said hi my name is Abby I am new here. We moved here over the summer. The light changed and they both started across the street. Peter said I live down here too. Do you mind if I walk with you.? She shook here head no. So they talked as the walked. Abby said her father got a big promotion so the had to move here. Abby said she missed all her old friends. Peter told her to make some new friends everyone is very nice around here. Abby said it is not easy making new friends.

    Abby said This is my corner, thanks for walking with me. Peter said I enjoyed it, usually, I walk alone. It is nice having someone to walk with. Then he asked her when she left for school in the mornings. Abby told him. Peter said Do you think we could walk to school together too. Abby smile and said that she would like that.

     Then Peter gave her a hug as the parted. Abby said ow and winced. Peter said What's wrong? I didn't hug you that hard. Abby said My father punished me last night and my back is sore. Peter suddenly got real concerned and asked how her father punished her. Abby said He hits me across the back with a belt. Peter suddenly got mad and said I will take care of him. No one deserves that kind of punishment. Abby pleaded Don't Peter! please don't go anywhere near him it will just make things worse. He doesn't do it very often. Please Peter promise me you will stay away. If you care for me at all, Please, promise. Peter didn't like it but he promised.

     They parted and went their own way. When Peter got home he went to his Mother and said Mom do you have some time to talk, I am real confused and concerned about something that happened today. His Mom said I don't have anything to do for about an hour. Lets talk now. They sat down at the kitchen table and Peter told her all about meeting Abby and all that happened on the way home. He said Mom I think I really like Abby and when she told me I wanted to go beat him up but she made me promise to stay away. His Mom said son you wouldn't be my son if you didn't feel that way, but beating up on Mr. St James is not the answer. Abby is right that would only make things worse. Mr. St James has an illness the makes him lose control and beat up on his family. Mr. St James needs help. The best think you can do is be Abby's friend and listen to her. I think she really needs someone to confide in. It looks like she wants you. See if you can get her to go to UMY (United Methodist youth) with you. Introduce her to some of your friends and when she is ready she will go to the authorities and do what needs to be done. In the mean time I will contact DPS (Department of protective Services) and see if they can start an investigation. Peter said I guess I can do that. It won't be easy I really want to knock some sense into Mr. St James. I feel so bad for Abby and her sister.

    So for the next few week Abby and Peter walked to school and back everyday together. They talked about everything. Abby did go to UMY with Peter and she had a good time and said she would go again.

    One day as they met Abby was all upset. Peter asked her what was wrong. Abby said last night her father broke her little sister's arm because she reached in front of him. She said it was bad enough when she got hurt but she couldn't stand by and watch Sara get hurt too. She asked Peter to come with here she wanted to talk to Pastor John and ask him for help, but she didn't want to go alone. Peter said let's go.

    They walked to the church and found Pastor John. Peter said Pastor, do you have time to talked to us. Please it is very important Pastor saw the looks on there faces and said come into my office. They sat together in front of the pastors big desk holding hands and Abby told the whole story. When she got through she was crying. Peter tried to comfort her as much as he could. When Abby got through Pastor had a look of concern on his face.

    He said It is time to call the Police. This has gone too far. You are not safe in your own home. I had a feeling something was going on when you were always wearing long sleeves. I am sorry, I never guessed it was this bad.. Then he said how long have you known about it? Peter. Peter said since the first day of school. I walked her home and tried to give her a friendly hug and she winced in pain. I wanted to go beat up Mr. St. James but Abby made me promise to stay away. Then Mom convinced me there was a better way to handle the situation.

     Pastor said you and you sister will have to get checked out in the hospital and pictures will be taken and you will probably be taken away from your Mom for a while. By the way where was your Mom when all of this was going on. Abby said She works nights. Dad had me so scared I was afraid to say anything. Then when he hurt Sara. I decided I had to do something I didn't want Sara getting hurt.

    The secretary got on the intercom and said the police are here. Pastor said send them it. The police and a DPS office walked into pastors office. They were told the whole story. the DPS office said come on Abby we will get Sara out of school and get you both checked out Abby said can Peter come? I really need his support right now. The DPS officer said it is highly unusual but ok It might make things easier on you and your sister. Pastor said Peter I am going to call your Mother. Didn't she just become a foster parent? Maybe she can take Abby and Sara for a while. Both kids had a big smile on their face. Do you think it will work? They both said. The DPS office said I don't see why not. but it is not up to me.

     Then the DPS office left with the kids and the police went to arrest Mr. St James. When the DPS officer got to the hospital with the 3 kids Mrs. St James was already there. Then the DPS officer asked Mrs. St James if she was ever abused by her husband. Mr. St. James started crying and said yes she was too. So Mrs St. James was examined along with the girls and all the pictures were taken and all the reports made. Mrs. St John was sent to a safe house along with the girls. The DPS officer said that Peter and Abby could not have any contact while the family was in the safe house except at school. The location of safe house has to remain a secret because some abusers come after their family and threaten them again.

     Peter said he understood and went home. The St James's went to a safe house. Mr. St. James was arrested and thrown in Jail and when the trial came up he was found guilty and sentenced to a long time in Jail. Mr St James was also told he could never go near his wife and girls again.

    A few months later Peter got a call from Abby. They were out of safe house and in an apartment on the other side of town. She gave Peter the address. She said she needed to see Peter bad, so Peter got on the cross-town bus and went straight over to their apartment. The door opened and Abby was in his arms before he could even knock. She said hug me as hard as you like, it doesn't hurt anymore. She said it was hard they all went to therapy and learned not to blame themselves. All the blame went where it belonged on her father's shoulders. Abby said her mother is still working nights so she takes care of Sara after school. Abby said why don't you stay for dinner. Peter said only if you let me buy Pizza, this is a celebration. Peter called his mom and she said it was all right and was real glad to hear the family is doing so well.

     Here are some facts and myths about domestic abuse.

     Myth: Only women and children are abused

     Fact: Men are abused too but it is harder to get people to believe a man is being abused because he is usually bigger.

     Myth: Domestic violence is not common.

    Fact: One woman is battered every 15 seconds. Fact: One out of every four women will suffer some kind of violence at the hands of husband or boyfriend.

    Myth: Domestic violence happens only in low-come families.

    Fact: Domestic violence happens in all kinds of families-rich and poor, urban, suburban and rural- in every part of the country and in every racial and age group.

    Myth: A beating is really just a couple of slaps and isn't harmful.

    Fact: More then 30% of hospital emergency room admissions are battered women. Domestic violence is the single greatest cause of injury to women in the United States.

    Myth: Wife beating happens only once or twice in a marriage.

    Fact: Most beatings happen over and over. The batterer hits more often and harder.

   Myth: Some women wanted to be beaten. They ask for it. They deserve it.

   Fact: No one deserves to be beaten. Everyone has a right to live free of violence.

   Fact: Domestic Violence is a crime. It is against the law for anyone to beat of hurt another person.

   Fact: Domestic Violence leads to murder. Husbands or domestic partners murder 3/4 of all women who are murdered.

   Fact: Domestic Violence harms children even if the children are not the targets of violence. Children who witness their mothers' being beaten or abused are likely to develop serious emotional problems. Many of these children have low self-esteem and problems with trusting other people.

   Fact: men who abuse their wives or partners are more likely to abuse the children in the home too. The presence of spousal abuse is the single greatest risk factor in predicting child abuse.

   Fact: Emotional and physical abuse lowers a woman's self-esteem. Battered women are 4 to 5 times more likely to require psychiatric treatment than women who are not abused.

   Fact: A minority of adult batterers were themselves abused as children. One study found that only 30% of battered children would grow up to be batterers as adult.

   Fact: Domestic Violence costs the U.S. economy and estimated $3 to $5 billion annually in job absenteeism. and another $100 million annually in medical expenses.

   If you are in an abusive relationship. Please call for help Most communities have shelters for abused women and children there all also many many people that want to help, but you have to make that first call. The abuse will not stop until you make the first call. Hear are the national numbers for domestic violence don't be afraid to call them, they want to help. 800-799-7233 or tty 800-787-3224.

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