Claudia Aeschliman (Claudtddybare)
|Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 12:04 pm: ||
My Dearest Barbara:
First of all let me say, that your essay was one of the most well-written stories I have ever read. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I have never read anything, that made me feel exactly what the author was feeling, as much as your story did. I know you don't know me yet, (my name is Claudia), but I was never so touched by anything in my life, with the exception of one thing. I was that little girl Shana.
I have so many things I want to say to you, that I don't even know where to start. My emotions are all in a whirl right now. I had trouble making it through your essay, because I kept crying, and couldn't see what you had written. So many feelings came up for me, that I was almost overwhelmed.
Let me start out by saying this:
I am 50 years old, and have spent the last 10 years, trying to get over the first 20 years of my life. You see, when I said that I was that little girl Shana, I meant that I was also physically and sexually abused as a child. I was also mentally and emotionally abused as well. So when I said that I had so many feelings come up for me, it was because I truly related to Shana's situation.
And let me tell you, that to hear from a rescuer's point of view, to hear about the pain and agony you experienced, was such a comfort to me, you will never know. In all my years, I have NEVER heard ANYTHING from the rescuer's point of view.
And Barbara, let me explain something else to you. If there ever was a definition of angel, YOU ARE IT. I admire the courage it took, to do what you did. I just wish that I would have had an angel like you, when I was experiencing my abuse. You are truly a God-send.
I also wish there were more people like you, instead of the one's that think they should mind their own business. If those people, for one minute, could step into my shoes, and see what I and thousands of abused children have gone through, to see the devastation of our lives and happiness, to hear about all the ruined relationships we have been through, to hear about all the substance abuse (although I never did that, I abused myself by gaining weight), to hear about all of us (the victims) who have turned around and abused our own children (I have no children, because I was afraid I would do to them, what was done to me), and last but not least, to hear about the depression we have suffered our entire lives, and all the suicide attempts we have made, then maybe those people would feel differently about rocking the boat.
It angers me that people can stand by, knowing what's going on with a child, and do nothing about it. If they only knew how that abuse affects that child's whole life, and how they carry that all through their adult lives, then maybe, just maybe, they would step in, like you did, and do something to help that child. And, no matter what anyone says, what you did was RIGHT, because that child is innocent, and in NO WAY deserves to be treated like that.
For you people, and you know who you are, that just stand by and do nothing, while a child is slowly killed off physically, emotionally, and spiritually, consider this: If an adult suffered the same abuses that these children have gone through, it would be called assault, and the perpertrator(s) would be arrested. It's a crime to do these things to an adult, but it's ok to do these things to a child? Get your heads out of your asses people!! (sorry) Wake up and use the brain God gave you. These children have NEVER done anything wrong, and they have NEVER asked for it. Can you honestly say, that a baby less than 3 months old, deserves to be abused, and asked for it? Well I was.....not only by my biological parents (I'm adopted), but my adoptive parents as well, and by an uncle. What could a 3 month old baby possibly have done, to deserve being abused? And what could a child possibly have done, as he/she grows up,(I was abused up to the age of 20), to have asked for the abuse? There is NOTHING in this world, that would justify abusing an adult, let alone a child.
And, if it was not for angels like you Barbara, there would be alot more victims injured for life, or dead. So God Bless You, and all the other angels out there, who have put their own lives in jeopardy, to save the life of one child. There is no greater reward on earth, than the feeling you get, from helping or saving a child. And if I was another sort of person, I would tell all your neighbors to go to hell, but they are obviously already living there. Because it must be like going through hell, to stand back and watch, while a child is abused like Shana was, and like I was. God did not put innocent children on this earth, to be the brunt of abuse.
And one more word to the people who think it's none of their business: The next time you see a child being abused, or even suspect that there is abuse, don't just stand there, step in and make it your business, because after all, it is ALL OF OUR BUSINESS to protect the children. They cannot protect themselves, so they need angels like Barbara, to step in and watch over them. Be one of those angels, because you will never be forgotten by that saved child.
So Barbara, I did go on a little too long, but I needed you to know, just how much it means to all of us abused children, when an angel like yourself, puts their own life in jeopardy to save JUST ONE CHILD. May you always be BLESSED, and may the good Lord watch over you and your family.
And the lesson of the day is: If any of you who read Barbara's essay, were touched in any way by what you read, then don't be one of those people, who just stands by and does nothing.
Thank you Barbara, for sharing your story, and touching so many people's lives. You will never know, just how much this kind deed meant, to all of us who have survived the tragedy of child abuse. I personally, could never thank you enough for what you did, and for what you went through to do it. If your neighbors still have a problem with what you did, just consider the ignorance (or stupidity) of these people.
God Bless You,
lewis findley_3 (Lewis_Findley_3)
|Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 12:45 am: ||
My Personal Experience With Child Abuse
Prepare to be shocked, as I Barbara Ashby will take you on a literary tour of my personal experience on child abuse. Two years ago I came from Europe to live at Fort Irwin, which is a small military base in California. My neighborhood is nice and quiet and everybody talks to each other. When I go out to get the paper in the morning or if I’m just outside playing with my children, someone usually comes over and strikes up a conversation. Although I have three children of my own, I usually have at least a dozen children around me when I go outside. Of course I don’t mind because I love children and I think they are all special. My neighbors usually ask me about Europe and I enjoy telling them about my homeland although it makes me homesick. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever suspect that a child could be abused in this seemingly perfect neighborhood. I was also surprised at the way I was treated when I uncovered the dirty little secret that was being kept by some of my neighbors.
Next door to me is the Brown family and next to them are the Miller family and that’s the family I want to tell you about. The Millers are quiet people with two beautiful little girls aged of 2 and 4. Mr. Miller is in the military and Mrs. Miller is a Family Child Care provider. One day it occurred to me that she always had only the two-year old with her. I always wondered where Shana (the 4 year old) was. The little one would always be dressed very nicely and always had her hair in colorful ponytails. Shana however, always had on old clothes and her hair was never combed. Although it was apparent that the two children were not treated the same, I really never imagined there was much more to the situation. As I said before, I love children so I would always say hi and ask how they were doing. Shana seemed sad most of the time and never had a smile on her face.
One day in the middle of May I was outside working in my yard. Most of my neighbors were also outside with their kids. Suddenly, Shana came running out of her house screaming that her mom was bleeding out of her mouth and that she needed help. I picked her up and ran in their house where I found Mrs. Miller lying on her bed covered with blood. I turned around and saw that the other neighbors had followed me inside so I yelled for someone to call 911. While we were waiting Mrs. Miller told me that she had had surgery on her throat earlier that morning that’s why she was bleeding. Shana sat on my lap the whole time and would not let go of me. She was so afraid I could tell by the way she looked at me. I told her everything would be fine and that when the ambulance came she could come and play with my daughter. When the police and the paramedics arrived, Mrs. Miller gave me her husband’s work number for me to call him.
After the ambulance left with Mrs. Miller I took the children to my house where Shana still would not let go of me. I called Mr. Miller at work and he came right a way. He wanted to take the kids but I assured him I would take care of them while he went to the hospital to be with his wife. After some hesitation, he gave in and left for the hospital. The girls asked me for something to eat and that’s when I realized that Shana was limping. I asked her if she was all right and she told me that her daddy had hurt her. At that moment, I wasn't sure I really wanted to hear that but I could tell she had a lot to say so I took her to another room were my children would not hear. As she sat on my lap and poured her heart out to me I became very confused and angry. She told me that her daddy had burnt her with hot water and that’s why her feet were hurting. I wanted to look at her but she was so scared that she started to cry. I told her that I would not hurt her and that I would try to make it better.
The whole time I kept on telling myself that it probably was only an accident because I could not imagine Mr. Miller doing that to his own child. I also know that children sometimes like to exaggerate a little. So after calming her down I took her socks off and my heart stood still when I saw the burns on her feet. She must have been in serious pain because her feet were swollen and had huge blisters on them. I also noticed that instead of band-aids she only had some paper tissue wrapped around her feet. I asked her if she had been to the doctor she said her daddy would not take her. I was totally devastated and I started to cry. About this time my husband, John came home from work so I called him in the room.
For some reason my husband’s arrival caused Shana to really open up and she kept on asking my husband if he would please kill her daddy cause he always would hurt her and that we please have to promise her to keep her forever. I told John I want to look at her body and I wanted him to stay as a witness. When I pulled her shirt up I once again burst into tears; the little girl was burned up to her chest and had bruises all over her body. At that moment I decided to take Shana to the emergency room so a doctor could examine her. I was very nervous because I knew that her parents were also at the E.R., and this could create a very uncomfortable situation.
When I got to the hospital the nurse immediately asked what was wrong with Shana because I was carrying her. I told her I thought her parents had abused the child and that they may still be in the hospital. The nurse told me to wait in the lobby, while she contacted the authorities. Suddenly Mr. Miller appeared stared at me as if wondering why we were here. When Shana saw him she grabbed me tightly and would not let go. She kept on screaming to not let him touch her. He looked at me and asked, "What is going on Mrs. Ashby." I couldn't stop the tears from spilling out as I struggled to control my anger. I looked at him and said, "Stop pretending, I think you know exactly what's going on.” He wanted me to give his daughter to him but I held her so tight to me that she probably found it hard to breathe. I looked him in the eye and said quietly, “Over my dead body. ” “How could you do this to your own child?”
Before we could exchange any more words, the military police came into the lobby and took Shana from me and I just fell on my knees screaming, “Please don’t let him hurt her anymore, I promised her that no harm will be done to her anymore, I promised. I became so hysterical that I was asked to leave the hospital or I would be forcefully removed. Looking back, I understand why they did this, but at the time, I was incoherent. Even now, I cannot begin to describe the emptiness I felt inside. I felt as if I had left this little girl all by herself with the person she was most terrified of. I sat in my car for a long time, unable to drive. I kept wondering what kind of people would do such a terrible thing. And how dare these people treat me like I was the guilty party. I was only trying to do what I thought was right.
I cried and cried until I got home but then I had to get myself together because I didn’t want to alarm my children; I didn't want them to know what was going on. My husband John was almost as shocked as I was, but he was very supportive of me. That same night both of Shana’s parents showed up at my house and told me that Mrs. Miller was really Shana’s stepmother. Telling me that her real mother had abused Shana. They begged me to forget about the whole incident but the whole time Mr. Miller was menacing me with his eyes. He just sat there, looking at me as if he wanted to hurt me. I felt extremely glad that Shana was safe from him.
Later that day, the special investigators came to my house asking all kind of questions but all I really wanted to know is where Shana was and that she was o.k. After some time, one of the investigators told me that she was with her grandparents who also live here at Fort Irwin. They then made an appointment for me to come in the following day and write a sworn statement. That night before I went to bed I prayed to God and asked for his guidance. I really wanted to do the right thing to make sure Shana would be safe, but at the same time if I was wrong my testimony could send the Millers to jail for something they had not done.
The next morning I went out to get my paper and I noticed that all my neighbors would turn away without saying anything. However, I just ignored them because I had Shana on my mind that’s all I really could think about. Later, as my kids and I played outside, 6 police cars came on my street to arrest the Millers. I watched with mixed feelings as they were handcuffed and taken away. While she was getting in the car, Mrs. Miller looked over at me and spat on the ground as if to say I was garbage. Over the next couple of weeks the neighbors completely avoided me. They must have told their children to do the same because they would not speak to my children or me. The only person who spoke to me was Mrs. Brown and she told me most of the others were saying I should have had minded my own business because I did not know what really went on in their household. They also felt I had caused the authorities to take the children away from an innocent family.
Only God knows how terrible I really felt inside. And still I thought of Shana wondering how she was doing. I guess God heard my prayer because a couple of weeks later I saw Shana in the store with her grandmother, who is Mr. Millers mother. Shana came running to me saying, "Look my oui1 is all gone." She then took off her socks and that beautiful brown skin of hers was peeled in a pinkish color. I smiled at her and I asked her if Miss Barbara could have a kiss. She hugged me and kissed me. I looked at her granny and I asked if it was ok that we do this and she replied, “Of course, I want it to see you anyway and say thank you. We all had our doubt about what was going on in that house but no one really never had the strength to do something about it.”
The Millers came back to the housing area about two months later and I was terrified for my safety and that of my children. Fortunately they only stayed a couple months before moving out. Still I wondered everyday why weren’t they in jail. Maybe I had done the wrong thing because the people in my street were talking to them as if nothing ever happened. I on the other hand was still being treated like a total stranger, like I was the one who had done something terrible. I felt like I was on trial by my own neighborhood. The other children still would not play with mine and that really bothered me because they had not done anything to anyone, even if I had.
After maybe 6 months everything calmed down and I tried to go on with my life but still I worried if I had really done the right thing. Deep down however I had a strong feeling I had done nothing wrong. Still I continued to pray every night for God to give me strength. After about a year I got a phone e call from the District Attorney's office. The caller told me that I was the prime witness in a criminal case against the Millers and would I be willing to testify. I said yes and the next day I got a subpoena to appear in court two days later. I was at once joyous and scared. All my old fears started coming back and I worried about what I would say in court. Yet I was glad to finally have a chance to get some closure in this matter.
The next day however I received another call from someone in the D.A.’s office saying I would not have to testify after all because the Millers had plead guilty to child abuse and sexual molestation of a minor. The Millers both got 6 years in prison and I was finally able to sleep. Since I never got to testify, this really is my first time talking about this and it still brings tears to my eyes. I haven’t seen Shana in over a year though and I still think of her a lot and hope she is ok.
I choose this topic because it gave me an opportunity to write what was in my heart that I could not tell any one about. It has been said that in New York City a child is abused every ten seconds. Many times I sit and wonder how many children could be getting abused in my very own neighborhood and how many people know but choose to remain silent because they don’t want to “rock the boat.” I wonder what may have happened to Shana if I had chosen like so many others to remain silent, and when I see the shocking stories in the news I am glad I stepped in when I did. I think people in the community have a responsibility to know the difference between respecting other people’s privacy and protecting the innocent. When a child is abused it is everybody’s business.