WARNING: Graphic Images
A 9 y.o. Alabama child is alleged to have been run to death as punishment for lying about a candy bar. Savannah Hardin died after being forced to run for three hours around and around her home, carrying 10 lbs. of wood. Authorities are uncertain whether she was physically or verbally coerced.
The girl was being punished for lying about eating the chocolate forbidden to her because of a medical condition. Savannah’s grandmother and stepmother have been charged with her murder.
“Savannah” is such a beautiful name. It evokes lace fans and languorous summer days, Spanish moss trailing from live oaks. But Savannah did not get the chance to live up to her name. Her beauty was snuffed out.
Still, in a way, she stands for the rest of us. We may survive abuse, but all too often we continue to punish ourselves for having been victimized. Around and around we go, carrying old burdens, repeating old patterns of behavior and old insults, old lies, long after the predator is here to inflict them on us.
The scars of abuse are painful and tenacious. Despite our best efforts, many are likely to last a lifetime. Sometimes they can even be fatal.
Victims deserve better. For that, we do not need the predator’s acknowledgment of his guilt. Satisfying though that would be, many of us will simply never get it.
We do not need a family member’s belief in our story; patience with what may have been mislabeled our “quirks”; or comprehension of our anger and grief. Validation and understanding by a loved one are tremendous gifts, but not prerequisites to our recovery. Recovery is in our own hands.
We know what it was we suffered. Somehow we endured. Many do not. To continue in the same behaviors, the same negative attitudes toward ourselves is to let the predators win. We must fight for our lives. We must rescue ourselves. We must at least try.
For Savannah’s sake.
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