I'm going off writing today because I have been troubled by something all week and I'm hoping by getting it out of my head it will be some kind of therapy and I will somehow find the strength to do the right thing. And as I hear everyone's gasps...no, everything is FINE with me, I assure you. I was witness to something this past holiday weekend, that I will never forget. The image still haunts me as well as how everyone else who was there (except for one other person) has seemed to turn a blind eye to what they saw.
I'm talking about physical abuse. I know it unfortunately exists more than we realize and it can totally be where you least expect it (as in this case). I've read about it, you hear on the news how things happen. But I never would have thought it would touch my life or that of my children as it did this past weekend. I'm just thankful that my 12 yr old daughter was in our hotel room and only heard what she thought was an argument between father and son.
Since we were away for a soccer tournament, many times the parents hang out as we did that night on the hotel patio. We get pizza for the boys/parents who don't want to go out to eat. The kids run around while the parents socialize and have a couple cocktails. My family had chosen to go out to dinner, as we usually do, so we joined the socializing when we returned.
It wasn't long before one of the boys (Ryan) came across the grass, breathing radically and holding his face. My first thought was, they were playing some stupid game in the parking lot and he must have gotten hurt. Our coach asked him what was wrong and that's when he says "my dad kicked and punched me", and when he turned there was blood all down his face, his arm and his t-shirt. 3 of us moms jumped to action getting ice, towels, first-aid and set him down in a chair to try to calm him down as we tried to make sense of what actually happened.
I rubbed his shoulder, soothing him and holding his hand while one mom applied ice and the other used a wet cloth to clean the blood. I asked him what happened, and in a shaky voice Ryan told me that his little brother (9) took his hat and threw it away, so he got mad and hit him in the back. Then his father got mad and kicked and punched him in the face.He said he hated his father. At this point, the boy is in shock as am I and pretty much everyone around us.
Who does this to their 15 yr old son?
By the time the mom came down, we were putting butterfly bandages over the gash above his eye. She tried to get him to come back to their room, and Ryan yelled he wasn't going anywhere near him. One of the other dads calmed him down once more and said that Ryan could stay in his room with his son and daughter. At the time I was surprised at how calm the mother was, but then again, I'm sure she was in shock too. But when they tried to get Ryan to stand up, he nearly passed out.
Hotel management was doing the best they could (now, no one has called the police at this time - including hotel management). They brought out a wheelchair and talked to the mom about taking him to the hospital. (while the rest of us discussed the fact that once there, the father would probably be taken into custody once Ryan told them what happened). Well, then the father comes to the patio and tells his son he'll be all right. To which Ryan yells for him to stay away and that he F**ing hates him. (can't blame him there).
But it just gets better, people. Apparently Ryan hit his brother so hard that he was having trouble moving his legs. (yup, see where I'm going here? this is a horriffic cycle). We have a mom who's an RN on our team, so someone ran to get her (who was thankfully upstairs with their young daughter). She comes down and is evaluating Ryan and then his brother - doing all sorts of motor-tests, vision tests, etc...
They take Ryan to the lobby with his mom - and we all assume they will be going to the hospital. As we parents are trying to grasp this, all I can see is Ryan and his mom in the lobby and I start to think: What if she's just sitting there trying to smooth things over? You know, being the typical "mom" and coming up with excuses and making it all go away?
And that's exactly what happened. While we were cleaning up our trash, the hotel manager came out and we asked if the ambulance was coming, to which he replied "no, they have refused transport". Whaaat??? Oh, that's right, of course they have. They have 2 injured children and a father who drew blood and would probably spend the freaking night in jail where is sorry ass belongs. Ok, so let's not do that, knowing they could both have serious injuries. Are you kidding me???
But to make matters even worse, the manager says Ryan retracted his statement that his father did that to him.
I just about lost it. So the mom did her job all right. She took advantage of the shock her son was in, sat in that lobby and filled his head with a bunch of bullshit. She made it all go away. The more I thought about it the more upset I became. I cried and felt like I wanted to puke. How could this even be happening? The fact that they refused to take their child to a hospital floored me. I went back to our room, hugged my son and daughter, told them how much I loved them and called my 17 yr old who'd stay home and checked on him.
The next morning before our game, I had all I could do to say goodmorning to them. Because aparently the mother's brainwashing worked. Ryan said he fell out of a chair and he doesn't remember anything after he blacked out. REALLY???? My husband says Ryan remembers, he's just to afraid to say anything. All I could think of was, why didn't one of us slip away and call 911.
And I guess both parents covered the incident well, because "the story" now is that the dad kicked the chair out from under Ryan, he flipped over and hit his head.Which explains why it took the mom so long to come to her son, and why
she didn't look upset or show him comfort at all. She and her husband
had to take time to concoct the freaking story. Yup, and the rest of the parents have drank the freaking coolaid because they are all in denial as well! At our game this week, everyone was talking and it was as if it never happened.
Me? I couldn't even look at them. I have lost all respect for them. 3 times this week I have picked up my phone at work to call the CPS hotline. 3 times I put down the receiver. Did too much time go by? is it too late to file the report? What if they find out (even though I know you can call anonymously)? While I know what the right thing to do it.....my own fear has kept me from it. Being a mother, I have to protect my own family and myself. If that man could do that to his own child, what would he do to me if he found out? And please, I'm an author. In my mind it would be pretty damn easy for him to figure out who. If I'm the only parent who isn't social with him, then I'm the logical choice for who blew him in to CPS.
But also as a mother, I feel horrible about myself that I can't overcome that fear and make the call. I feel for that family and pray that they do get the help they need - but I think the truth is, they won't unless they are forced to (like if they'd taken Ryan to the hospital and the police got involved). But then I hope our RN mom, our coach, and the few other parents who are teachers (because don't they have to by law report ANY signs of abuse???) have placed calls. Considering how chummy everyone was at the game....I'd say they have fallen for the lies and have swept this under the carpet.
If anything good has come of this, it opened lines of communication with
our own children. We explained to my daughter what happened, and my son
knows the truth. he even told me there's no way that gash was from
having a chair kicked out from under you. It definitely looked like a
boxing injury because it was on his brow bone - and that you only get if
you are punched and punched hard.
Fear is a very powerful thing. All of us that night were so shocked and so scared....we didn't react and we should have.
Thank you for letting me spill this very long post. If anything, I hope it brings to light that violence can happen to anyone and they can hide it so well you'd never know it was happening - until something bad happens. And I hope we can all be strong enough to do the right thing.