THE Call (Part 3)

Smith: “Alright, let’s talk about the physical side of the abuse.”

Me: “This is where I feel like I don’t have a lot of information to offer… I don’t know how much it got worse after I left, and I was almost never at home this summer, so I didn’t see a whole lot…”

Smith: “What do your parents do in general?”

Me: “Well, I can tell you what they do lately, but it’s not the same as what they used to. But that’s what I’ve seen.. It may or may not have gotten worse…”

Smith: “Ok, what do they do lately?”

I always try to play it off like it’s not a big deal just because I’m aware it could be worse…

Me: “Well, they mostly just toss and throw us around..”

Smith: “What do you mean by that?”

Me: “Well, they throw us across the room, throw us up the stairs, shove us into the wall…”

Smith: “Can you give me an example?”

Me: “Ummm… well…. One of the last things I saw was when my dad picked up Johnny (he’s 6, but he’s the size of a small 4-year-old) and threw him across the kitchen, from the table into the island.”

Smith: “When did this happen?”

Me: “Well, I saw it no more than a week before I left. But I know Jace told me it happened again after that.”

Officer Smith paused between questions a lot to take notes, which just made me more nervous…

Smith: “Do they ever hit you guys?”

Me: “Well, yeah.”

Smith: “Do they ever hit you with objects?”

Me: “Well, yeah.”

Smith: “What kinds of things do they hit you guys with?”

Me: “Well, it just depends on the nearest objects. A lot of the time they’re really small, but sometimes we’re not so lucky…”

Smith: “Can you give me an example of a not-so-small object?”

Me: *hesitates* “Well, one time I saw my dad hit Jessica (she’s 8 now, but at the time she was 6 I think) with a 2×4…”

Smith: “A TWO BY FOUR??!?! Would you elaborate?”

Me: *hesitates* “Well, it was a year or two ago, but one time my dad got mad at her and hit her in the back with a big wooden plank.”

 

WHY DIDN’T I STAND UP FOR HER??

Oh yeah, because every time I tried standing up for one of my siblings, this is what generally happens:

[Me: “Dad, please don’t hit Jessica with that 2×4!”

Dad: “I can do whatever I want because I’m the parent! I can punish my kids however I want! You can’t tell me how to be a parent!”

(Imagine a huge, 6’ 220 lb. man screaming this at your face while he’s holding a huge piece of wood.)

Dad: *beats me with the plank*

Dad: “Is this what you don’t want me to do?”

Dad: *beats Jessica with the plank harder than before*

Me: *begging my dad to hit me instead of her*

Dad: “Why would I hit you instead when I can torture you both at the same time by hitting her?”]

Even though I really would rather be the one being beaten with a stick, that’s not how things work in my house.

 

Smith: “Do your parents ever break the skin or leave visible marks?”

Me: “No. Everything they do is in a way that won’t leave any proof.”

My father is a fireman. Therefore, he’s seen parents do terrible things to their kids. Therefore, he knows what will leave marks. He has figured out what will NOT leave marks and uses those tactics rather than other forms of punishment that will leave proof of abuse.

Smith: “Can you give me some examples?”

Me: “Well, my dad knows that throwing us down the stairs risks us breaking our necks. So he throws us up the stairs so we hurt our legs at the most. It’s mostly just to scare us… Or like my mom stabbed Jace with plastic knives. She wanted to scare him and maybe inflict some pain, but she didn’t want to break the skin and leave scars.”

Smith: “She stabbed your brother with plastic knives??? Will you elaborate?”

Me: “Well, the first time was a year or two ago, but he told me while I was up at school that it happened again.”

 

I didn’t tell Officer Smith the story, but I’ll tell you here. I don’t know the more recent story, but I remember the one a couple years ago because I was actually home at that time.

[Jace: *sitting in a banana chair, playing a videogame*

Mom: “JACE, YOU BETTER TURN OFF THAT VIDEOGAME!!!!”

(My mom isn’t big and intimidating like my dad, but her scream is shrill, cuts to the core, and fills our entire 5,000 square foot home.)

Jace: *unaffected by my mom’s voice* “Ok, Mom, just let me save and I’ll be right downstairs.”

Jace: *goes to save videogame*

*15 seconds later max*

Mom: *suddenly right behind Jace* “I TOLD YOU TO TURN THIS GAME OFF!!!!!”

Mom: *stabs Jace in the back, shoulders, and neck with a plastic knife before he can react*]

All I could think was “What the heck??? Are you for real??? What on earth are you doing???”

 

Smith: “Is the abuse equal among all the kids?”

Me: “Well, it was even worse than all of this when I was little. But then as Jace and I got bigger and older, there were younger, smaller kids to take our place, so they started taking more of the beating. Now Kira and Kourtney are bigger, so Jessica and Johnny are more physically abused than us older kids. But my parents emotionally abuse us now because it hurts even more than the physical stuff did.”

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THE Call (Part 2)

Smith: “I met with the counselor you talked to right before you left. He said there was some abuse going on in your home. What kind would you say is going on?”

Me: “Physical and emotional. *pause* But I wasn’t home for a year, I don’t know how much information I can really give you… I feel like I won’t really be of much help.. Jace (my next oldest brother) would be able to help you more….”

Smith: “Well, I would like to ask you some questions now, and then depending on what you tell me, I might meet with him as well. Now would you say there’s more physical or emotional abuse in your home?”

Me: “For the older kids, emotional. For the younger kids, physical.”

Smith: “Let’s talk about the emotional abuse. What kinds of things are being said.”

Me: “Well, my parents tell us we’re worthless and insignificant and that we can never do anything right…”

Smith: “What phrases do they use specifically?”

Me: “We’re worthless. We’re insignificant. We can’t do anything right. Oh, and they remind us that they’re our dictators. I hate that the most.”

Smith: “How often does this happen?”

Me: “Every single day without fail.”

Smith: “Who do they say these things to?”

Me: “All of us kids, including the youngest ones.”

Smith: “When was the last time you heard them use one of these phrases?”

Me: “The last day I was home this summer.”

Officer Smith seemed surprised… Partially because he’s close to both of my parents. Partially because I talk like it’s normal for parents to talk to their kids this way. I wasn’t aware that it was abnormal until I started seeing how my friends’ parents treated them.

I didn’t include that my parents have said worse to me… I felt like he just wanted the usual phrases that they used on a daily basis, and he seemed satisfied enough with my answers.

I’m warming up.

When you were a kid, were you ever afraid to go home and face your parents? Like if you got in a fight at school? Or you ditched class and you knew the school would call home? Or you had a really bad report card and you were afraid of your parents being disappointed?

I felt like that every single time I walked up to my front door.

Even though I graduated and have moved out, I STILL have that sick-to-my-stomach, fearful feeling when I come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This summer break was torture.

Only I never got in a fight. Or ditched class. Or got a bad report card. I did exactly the opposite.

I actually had a really good reputation and was pretty well-known for it throughout my community. I was really involved in most extra-curricular activities. (I even got a prestigious award for being the most involved in the school.) I graduated as Salutatorian of my class. Most parents wanted their daughters hanging around me because I was a good influence, and they wanted their sons dating me because I had high standards.

But my parents hated me.

(And when I say “hated,” I mean always have, still do, and probably always will.)

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed pep band, choir, jazz band, cheerleading, forensics (speech and debate), theatre, Student Council, and the National Honor Society. But I never did any of it for me. I only did it all to try to impress my parents.

Too bad I failed. I impressed everyone except for the 2 most important people.

Every day I came home they had a different complaint. “I hate how much time you’re spending at cheer practice.” “I hate the people you’re around in choir.” “I hate the things you’re learning on the forensics team.”

A) They only hated that I wasn’t around more so they could yell at me more. They also wanted me to babysit their kids for them even more than I already did. And the biggest reason they wanted me around the house more is this: they didn’t have control over me while I was out of the house.

B) My parents hate everyone. But they won’t admit it. They’re super fake. Let me be more specific: my mom is super sweet to everyone’s face, but she complains about them all once they turn their back. My dad just doesn’t care about anyone at all. Everyone knows him, but he doesn’t care to remember anyone’s name. And “the people I was around in choir” were some of the best kids in the school. They all had good grades, were friendly, and made good choices.

C) My parents are extremely conservative Republicans. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. But they hated that I was exposed to liberal and Democratic points of view in my forensics class. I always had to debate both sides of a topic, and I really liked learning about the pros and cons of every viewpoint. I was able to decide for myself what I really believed about something. But my parents yelled at me for letting a teacher “indoctrinate” me. The funniest part about all this is that I still agreed with my parents’ views for the most part. I never debated them or argued with them. But the fact that other peoples’ ideas even made their way into my head made my parents furious.

Why didn’t I just quit everything? If everything I was doing made things worse, why did I keep doing them?

Some years I was less involved in activities than others (my sophomore year, I was only in pep band, jazz band, the elite choir, and forensics) and my parents were always mad that I wasn’t doing a ton of activities. “How did I expect to build up my resume?” “I wouldn’t impress anyone doing what I was doing.”

Perhaps my parents were worried about me slacking in my classes?

NOPE! I only took the most advanced classes my school offered. I took dual-credit courses from the community college close to my high school. I got straight A’s all throughout high school. I got only a single B for my 2nd quarter grade in AP Calculus my senior year. It brought my 1st semester grade down to a B. I got an A both quarters 2nd semester, but I was still demoted to Salutatorian. (In my graduation speech, I mentioned being the “first-place loser” haha!) My parents were extremely disappointed in me.

Why didn’t I get a job instead of doing high school activities? Wouldn’t my parents like that better?

I didn’t have time. Ever. I babysat for my neighbors and my parents on the weekends that I didn’t have a sporting event or a forensics tournament to perform at as well as on weekdays after practices. But that’s all the time I had to make money. I worked as a lifeguard during the summers to keep busy, but the pool was closed during the school year anyway.

Boo hoo. My life sucked because my parents weren’t proud of me. Am I not aware that other kids are treated worse?

OHHHH YES. I’M MORE THAN AWARE.

All this is just the beginning. 

I just wanted to get you started. Just wait, I’ll get to the good stuff soon. Grab some popcorn and a Dr. Pepper.

Background Info…

“Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

I was born and raised in Southern Nevada. After I graduated high school, I studied in Idaho for a year, moved back to Nevada to work for the summer, and now I live in Utah.

I’m the oldest of 6 children – I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters.

I love them a lot. I miss them often.

I worry about them constantly..

I keep stressing and worrying because I feel so helpless.. There’s not a lot I can do from over 300 miles away. I’m doing what I can.. I just hope it will work..

 

Why would I abandon them? Why would I leave them if they needed me? How could I do that to them if I really loved them?

 

Don’t make me feel worse than I already do. I was told to leave. My counselor said it would be the best thing I could do, and he assured me my little siblings would be taken care of while I was gone. Officer Smith would work with them once school started and hopefully something would start to change in their favor.

So I left. I moved to Utah with the blind hope that the future would soon be brighter than when I left. I’ve been stressing the entire time I’ve been away from those poor kids (which has been just over 3 weeks now).

 

I realize reading this it may sound like the 6 of us kids were living together on our own, and now I’ve left them without anyone to watch over them. This assumption would be false. The problem isn’t that the kids don’t have a guardian.

 

The problem is that they’re living with our parents.

 

My parents got married in 1990 and have loved each other ever since. They had 6 kids together. I’ve moved out of the house, my next oldest brother is a senior in high school, and my youngest brother is in first grade. My mother is a “domestic engineer” and my father is a Fire Engineer. My family has family night every Monday, chores every Saturday morning, and family dinner every single night. My dad teaches us how to fix our bikes, change a tire on a car, and fix every electronic device in the house as well as how to play sports (specifically baseball). My mom taught us how to cook, clean, sing, and play the piano.

We look like a picture perfect family.

 

This assumption would also be entirely false.

 

 

 

Quote: said by character Inigo Montoya in the movie “The Princess Bride.”

THE Call

*phone rings*

Me: “Hey Kenneth!”

Best Friend/Boyfriend: “Hey! I just got out of class!”

Me: “Come on over!”

*I get another call from an Unknown number*

Me: “Hey, I’ll call you back in a minute, I’m getting another call.”

*switch calls*

Me: “Hello, this is Arizona.”

Other voice: “Hey, Arizona, this is Alan Smith. How have you been?”

Alan Smith lives down the street for me. I grew up going to school with his oldest son and our families go to church together. But my heart sank because he is also one of the local police officers, and I could already guess why he was calling. But at first I pretended I was excited to hear from him.

Me: “I’ve been doing well! How about yourself?”

Officer Smith: “I’ve been good!”

I wanted to avoid the main subject as much as possible, so I thought of small talk conversations I could start, but he interrupted my thoughts with –

Smith: “Are you in a place you can talk for a bit?”

Me: “*sighhh* (quietly) Yeah.”

Smith: “I’ve had concerns about your family brought to my attention recently. *pause* Do you want to talk about it?”

I wanted to answer that I would very much NOT like to bring it up before I hung up the phone, but instead I sighed again, fought back some tears, and agreed to talk to him… He asked questions, I answered them. My roommates and Kenneth knocked on my door, but I ignored everyone until my conversation was over.

I anxiously anticipated this phone call for a long time and stressed because I thought it would never come. But I’ve been stressing a lot about it ever since I finally got it last Thursday afternoon…