Two hours ago a neighbor girl who turned 17 a month ago came to me for help. I will call her Salina. She was sobbing, her eyes puffy and red with crying. I tore off my gardening gloves and ushered Salina into my home as I patiently listened through such sad tears to the story this young woman had to tell. I have known this girl since I moved here when Salina was ten. She is one of the sweetest girls I have ever known — and she is being pushed to the absolute edge of what she can stand to tolerate in her home and from her mother. Because I am and will always be an advocate for the children, I believe what Salina told me. She came asking me to help her locate a telephone number for her probation officer. She says her mother has the number and mother says Salina has it. OBVIOUSLY Salina does NOT have this number! Salina was in a fight last December than put her ‘in trouble with the law’. I am hoping that there will at least be some kind of advocacy for Salina through this channel. This child is exhausted. Tired of trying to win against her mother who gave birth to this daughter at age 16. (There are six other children in the family.) Salina wants to go to jail. What kind of home life does a child have who desires escape that badly? She told me she did run away once. To her grandmother’s house, “But that didn’t work out. My mother told all kinds of lies about me.” Salina says at that time she reported abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS). She showed them photographs of her bruises. CPS still did not believe her. They told her if she has a roof over her head and food to eat she should consider herself lucky. Basically, they told her to shut up and be happy with her situation. “I can’t stay there any more. I can’t stand it there any more. I need someone to please help me,” Salina pleadingly sobbed to me. I sat the child down, gave her water, a box of kleenex – and tried to get her help. I called the Sheriff’s office, spoke with a Deputy – who called Salina’s mother who was not home when Salina came to my house. I asked, and was told under no circumstances could I keep the child safe and protected in my home. The deputy warned the mother not to hit her child. He told the child to call 911 if she was hit. What are the chances her mother would hand her the phone, I wonder? Of course the mother sent clouds of dust swirling as she tore into her yard with her SUV. She stormed over to my house to get her daughter. “What are you doing with my daughter?” she screamed at me. With one ear I heard the mother. With the other ear I heard the child. Salina’s mother stood LIKE MY MOTHER WOULD HAVE — looking and sounding exactly like my mother as she shouted at her daughter past my garden gate to come home immediately. After the deputy had called her, Salina’s mother had called her other children – who supposedly had reported to her that Salina had ‘tried to choke’ her 8-year-old sister. Salina bravely tried to stand up for herself, “I did not! They are all lying! You told them to lie about me.” Her mother insisted all the children told her they had seen this happen. Through her tears Salina tried to tell her mother three of the five siblings weren’t even in the house. Her mother did not listen. Again, I absolutely believe Salina. I believe the younger children were emotionally blackmailed, emotionally bludgeoned into making up this story against their sister to ‘please’ their mother — upon whom they are desperately dependent. This depleted, beautiful breaking-apart child had no choice — and through her tears so thick she could barely see the ground to avoid sharp stones she most reluctantly and fearfully followed her mother back across the parking lot. Salina had left home barefoot – terrified of her mother (who had threatened to hit her when she returned home) and seeking only a number to call her probation officer — ANYONE who would take her away from her misery at home. (The deputy could not access that number. Did he try?) Yes. I saw myself at that age. I felt the desperate pain and the hopeless despair, the absolute inability to fight and win any battle for self – ever. Today I clearly saw how trauma-rules apply even now — for a different child — and for me who would do anything to help her — as I find there is nothing more I can do. Something is terribly wrong two trailers to the east of me. Terribly, terribly wrong — and terribly wrong with a world that does not care. This child was a refugee seeking asylum. I know this with the certainty with which I know my name. I am not willing to be arrested to prove this point. So, who will prove it? When? How?
I will track down and speak with that probation officer on Monday.
I don’t EVER wonder ‘how they got this way’:
I could not ask Salina about this today – she was already far too upset — but I sure wish I could have —
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