Somewhere in a courtroom today decisions are being made about the welfare of children, abused and neglected.
Hardly a week passes by that I don’t receive a note from an adult who was abused, neglected. They always ask the same question: Why didn’t anyone intervene on my behalf? I was just a kid.
Somewhere in a courtroom today a CASA worker speaks up on behalf of a child, caged and chained, starved until almost dead.
I answer the emails from those adults who managed to survive the abuse, the neglect: I am so, so sorry. I wish you’d had someone to intervene on your behalf.
Somewhere in a courtroom today, a judge will award the mother who chained and starved her child full custody of all the children she didn’t starve, didn’t beat, didn’t cage, yet, still neglected.
I answer those emails from those adult survivors of child abuse with questions of my own: Why can’t the states who put you back into the hands of your abuser be sued for their neglect, their abuse?
Somewhere in a courtroom today, a DHS worker will convince themselves they did right by “keeping the family together”, even though it means taking a girl child from a stable foster home situation and putting her into the hands of a mother who will willingly barter her eight-year old as a sex partner for any man with any amount of cash.
I answer those emails from those adult survivors with wonderment: How did you manage to survive?
Somewhere in a courtroom today, a foster parent, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle, will weep over the court’s decision and their powerlessness to protect the children whom they love to pieces. They will rightfully curse the judge and the system that grants rights to parents no matter the multitude of ways in which that parent tortures children. Parents can starve a six-year old until he or she weighs only 25 pounds and still be awarded custody of their child because state law maintains that the rights of abusive, neglectful parents supersedes the rights of children, abused and neglected. The state will even provide the legal representation to ensure the rights of that parent, whereas, the child will have to rely on an unpaid volunteer, a CASA worker, to speak up on their behalf.
I answer those emails from those adult survivors cursing the system myself: The State is a co-conspirator with parents in the abuse inflicted upon children. The truth is that the state is less interested in protecting children than they are in protecting the rights of offending parents. We treat children like they are property in this nation. We believe parents are the property-holders. This is why five children are murdered in this country every single day, usually by their parents. Often by their own abusive mothers.
Somewhere in a courtroom today, a CASA worker will sit on a bench, utterly dismayed by the judge’s ruling, knowing that the children they fought so hard to protect over the years will be returned to a gawd-awful parent. That child will be subjected to horrors untold. If she or he survives somehow, some will call it a miracle.
The adult survivor of child abuse stopped believing in miracles the day the courts returned them to the hands of their abuser. The miracle they prayed for throughout their childhood never came. The courts ripped them from the hands of the only salvation they’d ever known and returned them to a living hell.
They aren’t even sure how they managed to survive.
People who know the trauma of their childhood, often tell them they are the lucky ones.
What a load of pithy dookey.
The miracle only happens when a judge takes to heart the testimony of a CASA worker and acts to protect the child.
The miracle only happens when the courts revoke the rights of an abusive parent and place that child in a loving, nurturing home.
Ask any survivor of child abuse.
There is nothing miraculous or lucky about being abused.
Or surviving it.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Karly Sheehan: The True Crime Story behind Karly’s Law.