When Patrick Reed slipped into that green jacket in Augusta on Sunday, his parents, Bill and Jeannette Reed, were not in attendance. Neither was his sister Hannah, when Reed, 27, won his first major title at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. This was the biggest moment in the golf pro’s life. Who would miss seeing their son and brother at such a moment? What herd of wild horses kept the Reeds and their daughter away?
That group of wild horses would be Reed’s wife Justine Karain and her family. Patrick Reed has been estranged from his parents and his sister ever since Justine turned up in Patrick’s life after some bad acting (alleged cheating, drinking, fake ID) on Patrick’s behalf led to him leaving (getting booted) from the University of Georgia after his freshman year.
Reed possessed natural talent and uncommon ambition from an early age. Intense doesn’t begin to describe his drive to succeed. He began to think of himself as the best in the golf world long before anyone else began to consider him so.
Take the brashness of Tonya Harding and mix it in with the arrogance of Donald Trump and you get Patrick Reed. Is there a parent among us who could raise up such a child without conflict on a daily basis? Especially as that boy grew into a teen? Parenting will turn an atheist into a praying manic.
Reed was 22 when he married Justine, 26. Bill and Jeannette weren’t keen on the notion of their son marrying so soon, and they expressed those concerns. So they weren’t invited to the wedding. Neither was his sister Hannah. And from that point on, it appears that Justine and her family circled the wagons around Patrick Reed, cutting him off from the family that Justine says abused Patrick. The Reeds have had no contact with their son since he married. Justine even reportedly once had the Reeds tossed from the US Open, so fierce is her desire to protect her husband from the parents she insists were abusive.
In a Facebook post, Justine wrote: “His parents verbally and physically abused him for most of his life, abused alcohol and would get in fist fights with him in parking lots after bad rounds. Patrick was seen as a ‘meal ticket’. Not my words, his. This is no sob story, we don’t have time for that. This is the truth.”
Justine, a nurse by training, maintains that the Reeds are a textbook case of abusers. In my research, I would say there are no textbook cases. That’s part of the problem of child abuse. The assumptions we make about abusers are the very things that allow them to get away with the abuse.
Here’s some cold hard facts about child abuse:
- According to data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, a nationally estimated 1,670 children died from abuse or neglect in 2015, which is 5.7 percent more than in 2011. This translates to an average of nearly five children dying every day from abuse or neglect.
- Three-quarters (74.8 percent) of child fatalities in 2015 involved children younger than 3 years, and children younger than 1 year accounted for 49.4 percent of all fatalities.
- In 2015, parents—acting alone or with another parent—were responsible for 77.7 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. More than one-quarter (26.7 percent) of fatalities were perpetrated by the mother acting alone, 14.7 percent were perpetrated by the father acting alone, and 22.3 percent were perpetrated by the mother and father acting together.
So, in other words, the bulk of deaths by child abuse is inflicted by mothers acting alone or biological parents acting together. Not fathers. Not boyfriends. How does that fact line up with the mythology?
I don’t know why Justine Karain Reed claims her husband was the victim of child abuse. I don’t know the reasons why she claims Bill and Jeannette Reed are “textbook” cases of abusers. I do know, however, from writing KARLY SHEEHAN: The True Crime Story Behind Karly’s Law, that the more highly regarded your family is, the less likely anyone is to believe the victim. That’s true of domestic abusers as well, by the way. Another commonality between child abuse and domestic abuse is the need for the abuser to isolate their victims. That’s why the bulk of child abuse deaths occur before the child can talk.
Often children who grow up in homes where abuse has taken place develop unusual bonds of co-dependency. Siblings are naturally inclined to unite in their efforts to escape the abuse. If it is true the Patrick Reed was abused as a child, he and Hannah don’t seem to have bonded over that abuse. Hannah, in fact, has denied any such abuse has taken place: “Patrick is not the same person he used to be,” she wrote. “He accused me of faking two kidney surgeries to get him back into my life, completely disowned me and never wishes me happy birthday. This is not a brother anymore, but a selfish, horrible stranger and it’s heartbreaking. There was never, ever any abuse mentally or physically, abuse of alcohol, or fist fights in the parking lot because he had a bad round.”
There is no question that abuse seems to be at the heart of the discord in Patrick Reed’s life. The question remains: Who really is the abuser and who exactly is the victim?
The reason that so many children die of child abuse in this nation is due in no small part to underreporting. People are afraid to make allegations against a loved one, a friend, a neighbor, or a daughter or a son. So they don’t speak up and children die. But part of the reason they don’t speak up is because of the people who do lodge false allegations. People who exploit the system in divorce cases or battles over money and power.
If Patrick Reed really was the victim of child abuse and his coaches and others witnessed that and didn’t report it, shame on them. They put his very life at risk.
However, if Justin Karain Reed is making false allegations against Bill and Jeannette Reed to serve her own purposes, then shame on her. She puts a host of innocent children at risk. And by so doing, she victimizes her own husband.
Know the signs of child abuse and speak up when you encounter them, wherever you encounter them. Even if it’s your own loved one doing the abusing.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of KARLY SHEEHAN: THE TRUE CRIME STORY BEHIND KARLY’S LAW. Learn more about Karly’s Law and how to get it implemented in your state through Rep. Sara Gelser.