I would like to commend Dena Silvers, chairman of the Wise Coalition for Healthy Children, on raising the disturbing issue of “Wise County, we have a problem” (Messenger, May 4, 2013). Indeed we do.
In 2012, my oldest stepdaughter moved in with her dad and myself. She was pregnant with her second child. Over the next nine months, we had the opportunity to become very close to our oldest granddaughter who had just turned 3 years old.
Our granddaughter is a bright, happy, cheerful little girl who loves to talk non-stop and loves to learn all she can. I chose to stay home to help care for her while her mom worked.
Our daughter’s boyfriend visited once during this time, for two weeks.
When he was at our home, my husband and I both noticed that if we went out and our granddaughter had to stay home with her “dad” that we would come home and he would be sitting in a chair with her on his lap watching a Disney movie. It did enter my mind as to what 28-year-old man would want to sit for two hours watching a kids’ movie. It disturbed me even more that she was not allowed to get off of his lap until he said so, not even to greet us when we arrived.
After the second child was born, the boyfriend moved in with us. Both of them had jobs and between all of us, we took care of the baby and the 3-year-old.
After less than eight weeks, the oldest granddaughter began getting aggressive. I thought it was just because of the new baby sister. However, she was afraid of her new “dad” and would tell me she was afraid of him. I mentioned this several times to our daughter who totally blew us off. He “loved” her daughter and was so good to her. I began to notice that he would tell her “to be good” while he was gone to work and he would take her to Chuck E Cheese, but somehow it sounded more like a threat than a loving “be good while we are working.”
My husband and I decided to put up a “nanny cam” while we were away. When we returned, we decided I would view it first, for privacy reasons, and show him if anything was wrong. Three days on camera went by and everything was normal. I was so relieved. Then on the last night, I watched as this large man held my granddaughter’s head to the couch by her hair. When she would not leave him alone (he was watching TV), he grabbed her by the neck and thrashed her against the couch four times as her head slammed against the couch and literally bounced off.
I burst out crying. There was more “rough-housing” and “playing rough” as he called it, and later CPS called it the same. He continued for an hour to push her down, pull her hair, throw her against the couch, and push her head back – hard. At one point he held her head to his crotch by her hair and would not let her get up. When she did, he slapped her cheeks back and forth and would not let her get away.
Did she cry? No, like any rough-and-tumble 3-year-old she began swinging her arms, trying to hit him back. If he pinched her, she tried to do it back. She is 3 years old. He is 28.
We took this video straight to the Sheriff’s Department. They took it very seriously. It was investigated and turned over to CPS. We were told that the district attorney would not be pressing any charges because there was not enough to charge the boyfriend. CPS ordered parenting classes and closed the case. It was all viewed as “rough play.”
So where are our granddaughters today? They are living in a very small travel trailer with their mother and this man in another town. In the name of love, our daughter knows he will not do this again. Perhaps she can fix him.
This past February, we had the chance to have our granddaughter for two weeks. She was hiding because she did not want to fix her hair before we left the house. I was trying to distract her so I started singing a child’s song, and I clapped my hands loudly to get her attention. She jumped and burst into tears. She said not to do that because it scared her. I asked her why, and she said because “he” (name withheld) slapped her and it makes that noise.
I asked her if she told her mom that he slapped her and she said “No, mom was there.” Upset, I asked her “what did your mom do?” Her answer: “She slapped him back.”
Now, while I applaud her for slapping him back, it’s not what he needs. I know it will only lead to more violence.
So yes, we have a problem. When does Child Protective Services decide what a child should and shouldn’t endure? I leave you with a quote from Silvers: “When children are abused, it changes who they are. It affects the quality of life they have and the type of adults they become.”
I pray every day that this bright, happy little girl will grow up strong and remain as loving as she is today and that her mom will not let anything bad happen to her. But from the outside looking in, she already has.