As an EMT and paramedic, my husband was among the first to respond to 911 calls that involved people getting hurt. After keeping the same job for several years now, he would not even need to blink during car accidents or heart attacks because of their commonality. However, if there was something that would always get to him, it responded to a child abuse incident.
Just a few days ago, my husband left the house on a positive note. He was like, “Maybe there would not be too many accidents today.” It was a far cry from reality, but he was always hopeful about it.
Once he came home, though, my husband looked sadder than he had ever been – even more miserable than when his childhood dog passed away two years back.
“What happened? What’s wrong?” I asked.
My husband said, “Someone called 911 today to report his neighbors, who had been abusing their child regularly. The man disclosed that the parents wanted the child to stop acting like one, basically. If he so much as ran down the stairs or made a noise at home, they would make him sits on the steps of the porch And not give him a meal for the rest of the day.
“Oh, my God,” I uttered. “But why didn’t the neighbor call sooner?”
“I heard the police ask the same thing to the concerned caller when we arrived at the scene. The man said that he and his other neighbors had been getting death threats from the child’s parents because they had been giving him food on the porch whenever they would see the child out there. The couple did not want anyone helping the poor kid, claiming that he would not understand the consequence of not following the rules if other people would intervene ceaselessly,” my husband explained.
“And what gave them the strength to call 911 now?” I asked.
“The parents seemed to have started hitting the child as starvation and neglect would not work due to the concerned neighbors on his side. They resorted to punching and using belts,” my husband uttered. Looking at me with sad eyes, he added, “It was so horrible. The kid was black-and-blue when I saw him. We asked if he could stand up, and he tried so hard to do it. However, he was visibly weak from constant beatings and lack of nourishment, so he kept falling.”
“Where did you bring the child?”
“Well, the boy would have to stay in the hospital for a few days to ensure that he could get some nourishment and heal his physical wounds. His devastated grandparents were also there to take care of him. Then, they would take him back to their ranch so that the child could live away from the pain – away from his parents, who would get persecuted for child abuse.”
I did not need to be a counseling professional to realize how negatively the child abuse incident could impact the entire town. After all, for at least a week or so, various news outlets could flock in town and disturb the peaceful neighborhood to get a scoop about the family of the abused boy. Instead of being able to move on quietly, they would have to fend off snoopy reporters.
Seeing my husband’s reaction, too, it was highly possible that the incident would have a much more significant impact on other people. My husband had only known about it a few hours ago, but he was so shaken that he could not even eat his favorite chicken parmesan for dinner. As for the family’s neighbors who had been aware of the situation for months but could not do anything to save the child until now, it must make them feel guilty and sorry for letting the boy’s parents manipulate them.
Still, if I were the neighbors, I would not allow the incident to affect me for too long. It was not their fault that those parents treated their kids awfully. They could have contacted the police sooner, but their hands must be tied at the time. Also, people were not wired to think the worst of others, so they might not believe that parents could act like that.
There was no doubt in my mind that it would take a while for the child’s neighbors to move past the incident. That’s especially true since the family’s home sat in the middle of the community, abandoned after the parents got convicted. From what my husband told me, even the best real estate agents found it almost impossible to resell the property, given that everyone knew of its dark history.
As for the child, he never returned to that place. It was the best decision, considering the awful memories might only return if he did. There were other ways to cope with what happened, and they did not involve going back down memory lane too soon.
Hopefully, there would not be another case like this in the future.