Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Run Away


I was seven years old when I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore. ‘It?’ you may ask. The constant fighting, the blow ups, the tip toeing on egg shells knowing that a flare up was going to occur but not knowing when exactly. I had enough.

One Saturday morning I woke up and saw that no one was home. I went into each room calling for mommy and daddy but they were no where to be found. I became anxious. What I didn’t know was that my father had dropped my mother off to work, hoping I wouldn’t wake up until he returned. My mother worked in the dietary department in a Nursing Home in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Her shifts were 6am – 1pm or 11am – 7pm or sometimes both if she wanted to be paid double time. This particular morning she worked the 6am shift thus the reason why they were gone so early.

Be that as it may, I saw this as an opportunity to just leave. Leave all the stress of having to experience my mother’s grunts and screams and my father’s relentless blows to her torso. For the most part, he would beat her in that area and now I realize this was so that there would be no visible signs of abuse. As I mentioned before, I used to write myself into my stories while the fighting would happen so as to magically beam myself into another world. But sometimes, this wasn’t enough.

This is why I loved school so much. School was the only place I would feel at ease and feel wanted and praised for my good grades. No one knew what I had to endure before I came to school and at the end of the day. And I wasn’t going to let anyone know what was going on at home. I was very ashamed. So I had a smile on my face all throughout the day everyday. It wasn’t a painted on smile. My smile was real because I was really happy at school. I remember one day, one of my classmates stopped me and said, “I wish I was like you. You’re always so happy.” If she only knew.

So here I was, packing this red tote one of my aunts gave me with a picture of all the flags of the world in the front, arranged like the flags at the United Nations building in the City. I can’t remember what I placed in the bag, but knowing me, it was extra clothing. I zipped it up, put on my jacket and walked out the first door of our apartment. I didn’t know where I was going. All I knew was that I was leaving this place. As I walked down the dark hallway toward the second and last door with my U.N. bag in my hand almost dragging the floor, I started to hear a fiddling at the locks. I stopped in my tracks. The door opened, steadily spilling in morning sunlight. My father looked at me perplexed as he pulled his key out of the lock. “Where are you going?”
I stared at him with doe eyes and silence. The silence lasted for a good couple of seconds. He then locked the door and simply led me back inside and not a word was said about it ever again.

All children in abusive households feel imprisoned as I did. Many run away like I almost did but then they become victims of abuse on the streets, be it as a member of a gang, as a prostitute, a drug abuser etc. It is such a sad circle and for this reason I want to help these children who seem to be forgotten by society to know that they have a place they can go to for help. This is why I have joined with the Purple Ribbon Council to head up a support group for children who have lost their parent(s) to domestic abuse called the “Butterfly Club” in Brooklyn, New York. My hope is that the pilot program is so successful, that it is adopted in every city in the U.S. until there is no more need.

Sometimes I wonder how long I would have lasted on the street as a skinny 7 year old carrying a bright red bag around. I know I wouldn't have gotten far.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the silent metaphor screams volumes...no pun intented...your dad said nothing, you said nothing and victims usually say nothing...what a brilliant correlation.

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