“Happy” Mother’s Day

I did not sleep well last night. I went to bed at 1:30 am trying to sort out what just happened to me on the 3 – 11 pm shift at my work. A couple whom I had been associated with for about a week trusted me enough to share stories of their lives as children and how they had both come from families where they were physically and emotionally abused as children, the husband, brutally so. It was the wee hours of Mother’s Day morning and I was thinking about the mothers of these unfortunate young people as I lay in my bed in the dark. I could not stop weeping. I don’t understand women who allow a man to live with them who torture their children, child’s father or not. How can that ever, ever, ever be acceptable?

One of my coworkers said that animals get treated better than some children. I think I surprised her when I said the first child abuse case was litigated based on animal abuse legislation. According to Marvin Ventrell  the first two “modern” cases that were presented specifically  “to protect children, entitled Emily and Mary Ellen, never reached the appellate level to create child protection law. However, they did have significant long-term impacts. The cases are strikingly similar; both involved Henry Bergh, the founder of the New York Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Both children were observed being severely beaten by their caretakers: Emily in 1871 and Mary Ellen in 1874. Using a writ de homine replegiando (similar to a writ of habeas corpus), Bergh was able to remove the girls and ultimately have them placed by the New York Special Sessions Court in safe care.” (p. 66)

It wasn’t until 1962 when medicine described “Battered Child Syndrome” in the American Medical Association literature as a grouping of clinical symptoms that people started to realize that significant numbers of children were being battered. In 1967 mandatory reporting of child abuse became law! This was rather late in the history of humankind in my estimation, but it’s true.

I’m praying today for every single child who shivers a bit in fear at the mention of “mother” or “father.” I never had that. May the Lord show me what to do when I sense this fear in another.

God bless,


Ventrell, M. (January, 2003). The Colorado Lawyer, Colorado Bar Association, pp.65-70.

4 comments on ““Happy” Mother’s Day

  1. Dawn, I know how hard it must have been for you to hear these two precious souls share their stories. I also know how gut-wrenching it must have been for them to tell it. We can go through life, choosing to bury and hide the past, or we can work through it all and come through the other side healed and whole again. That doesn’t mean without scars. And sometimes, those scars show as we try to audibly share the story. There is something about “telling it” that is so hard sometimes. My heart goes out to these two, but I am so glad they found a tender, listening soul to tell it to. The Lord definitely brought you there “for such a time as this.” My heart goes out to you, too, Dawn. Sometimes, it’s like we are given something — plopped in our hands — and we can’t really figure out if this is the most beautiful thing someone has ever given us or the most horrible. But we DO know that whatever it is, it is so precious to God. I, for one, thank you for being there and listening with compassion.

  2. “Funny,” Dawn, how your subject before this one was on choice or freedom in choosing one’s life work and then there you were, in the right place to hear a story and take it so lovingly to the world. I did not know the legal facts of child abuse even though I was a foster mother to 11 foster children from 1973-1976. When those real-life stories land in your own living room and pierce your heart, burn-out is fast. Thirty years ago, a few determined mothers made some major changes in one little part of the world but changes move too slowly for hurting children. Thank you for making noise! My # 275 is Thank You for Dawn’s heart for hurting people and taking time to listen.

  3. Dawn, I, too, am glad you were there for those two. You would have been a real blessing to them just by listening. It is healing to be able to share those types of horrendous experiences to a truly healing listener. To be a listener, though, is to leave behind the land of innocence, isn’t it? I agree with Cora that there is a cost to the listener, also, to receive this kind of information.

    I grieved to watch my infant daughter suffer a relentless beating at the hands of her father-my then husband a good number of years ago. My attempts to help her only brought his wrath and violence on me. It only happened once to her-I left and he never sought help-but it was a heartbreaking thing to watch. My heart goes out to all who have suffered in this way. I have often wondered how God is able to watch the horror that goes on in this world. He sees everything. We only see a fraction and that is plenty unbearable as it is.

    The tragedy though is that I knew what he had experienced in his childhood and it brought understanding or insight though not excuse. And his father-the same thing. So sad. Sins of the fathers…7 generations (I am reading posts backwards here). So true.

    • A.,

      I know so few women that have the courage to leave a violent situation. Good for you and your daughter. You are such an amazing person to me. I’m so glad you drop by. I, too, do not know how God is able to watch the world’s horrors. Crimes committed on innocent children especially baffle me. I didn’t sleep the whole night after I heard that one couple’s story and the images are still in my mind. I can’t imagine if I had experienced the event. It has to be way too much for a child. How these adults get on with their lives as well as they do is a testimony to the human spirit.

      I pray you are making your way back to the bloggersphere where things present themselves in linear time,

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