Every Child Has a Right

Amanda - Heath, Ohio
Entered on November 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe every child has a right to know who they can and cannot trust. They have a right to know where they can go to seek help if something isn’t quite right.

My brother and I lived in fear for eleven years of our lives, hiding from this evil man we had to call Dad. We celebrated each time he went out of town on a business trip. Our mom worked constantly to keep food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads, while he spent his money how he chose. We walked on egg shells, trying not to make him mad; otherwise we faced his wrath. We hid by going to friends houses, staying at school late, or playing every school sport we could. We tried to get out of the house as much as possible; otherwise the emotional and physical abuse would just keep raining down.

He taught us how to stand up for ourselves, and fight; however if we even dared to try to use our tactics against him we suffered consequences. I kept a journal of the things that I remember him doing or saying to my brother and me. The pages are filled with terrible things that I hate to recall. I never told of the time he turned on the dryer with me in it when I was four, or the time he dumped an entire gallon of Windex over my brother’s head not caring that it was in his eyes. I didn’t tell anyone the time he kicked me down an entire flight of stairs, or even when he broke the glass spoon holder from the top of the stove in my mouth and didn’t take me to get stitches. I never learned that I had a right to tell anyone. As I grew older, I tried my best to protect my brother. He learned to play the game. I knew how, but chose not to, just to spite him.

I finally did tell my mom when I was fifteen years old. We cried for hours on end with one another wishing I had told her sooner. My mom tried to leave him, but he threw her down the stairs and broke her knee. Things grew worse for my brother and me; he knew one of us had told on him.

My brother and I left for the summer as we usually did to spend time with my real dad in Ohio. The night before we were supposed to fly back to Washington my mom called and left a message telling my dad to call her back as soon as he got it, for it was urgent. My brother and I watched from the upstairs window as my dad talked to my mom outside on the back porch. I ran down the stairs as soon as the back door opened. My mom was taking her chance and leaving my stepdad while he was out of town. It was Wednesday night, and she had until Saturday night to get everything out of the house before he came home. Over the next few days, my brother, my aunt and I lived in fear for her. My aunt told her each night not to worry about replaceable items and to get out. For the next month I worried constantly about my mom. My step dad showed up at her work, yet thankfully he never found out where she was staying.

My mom came home on September 14, 2005. When she walked around the corner at the airport we ran to each other and hugged and cried with one another for a good few minutes. Our lives have turned around completely. My mom and I now share everything with one another. We have become incredibly close. I have not heard from that evil man ever again. For the longest time I had nightmares that he came back to convince my mom to come back to him, or even that we had never left. I worried constantly that he was going to show up at my school. He never did.

Today, in schools, the subject is brought up briefly; however, I would like to see more education on the issue. I want to see kids know that they do not need to be afraid to talk to someone and stand up for their rights. Had I known as a child that I could stand up and fight by telling someone I could trust at school or even my own mom, my childhood may have been different.

I believe that every child deserves to know that he/she can tell any trustworthy adult if something that is happening is not good and is harming them.