This I Believe

Kristen - Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 8, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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When I hear stories in the news about parents who hurt their children, either by brute force, sexual violence, or with negative comments that stay with them for the rest of their innocent lives, it makes me sick. Recently, I had heard a news report about a Pennsylvania man who shook his infant son so hard that the baby had to be taken to a local hospital for bleeding and head trauma. According to the doctors, they said the baby will never grow up to live a normal life because he had sustained “severe head trauma” due to the violent shaking. And the reason for the father’s actions? Because the baby wouldn’t stop crying.

The truth is that so many children worldwide are victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse every single day. I was one of those children.

I was one of those children whose parents used fear to control her every move. One memory that still haunts me is when I was punched in the stomach, thrown to the floor and kicked by my own father as I screamed for him to stop. I was seven years old. The reason for these actions was because I had not been doing well on my spelling tests in my first grade class lately, and my parents knew it. I decided if I got a perfect test, they would leave me alone about it. But that involved cheating, which I felt guilty enough as it was to do so. As a result of my parent’s punishment to me, I knew what would happen if I messed up again, so I didn’t. Day in and day out I was told I was worthless and school was no better. I was teased at my schools from the time I entered at the age of six till I walked off the stage with my diploma in my hands. My parents never comforted me with the school teasing. They told me that the kids were right in the comments they said to me. Every day was the same to me, and I felt like a horrible and ugly person and I thought that was all I would be to anyone.

My voice was what saved me and now I want to use my voice and my story to help others. I want to go out there and help children who have gone through what I have gone through and help them realize that not everyone in this world is heartless like the people they know who hurt them. Every child has a voice and every child as a story to tell. I share my story as a way to let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.

I believe that abuse is an ugly thing no matter how minor or major it may seem, provable or improvable, violent or not, and I don’t care what kind of excuse a parents can give to explain their actions – no one deserves to be treated this way, and in some cases so badly that they will never grow up to live a normal life. No child deserves this. This is what I believe and I hope that my story as well as others can help touch the world and make people realize this so that it becomes more than just a belief, but reality.