Category Archives: Physical Abuse

Bad Parental Behavior

Juvenile Criminal Law | Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

Image courtesy of Barnett, Howard & Williams, PLLC

Maryland resident, Cornella Rookard, drove her armed 14 y.o. son to confront another boy.  The teen fired several times at the intended victim from the backseat of his mother’s vehicle with a shotgun.  He was later charged with attempted murder.  His mother was charged with assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless endangerment [1].

We assume parents will raise their children to become good citizens, and teach them right from wrong.  Unfortunately, that assumption is often mistaken.

Parental Impact

Parents have enormous impact on the behavior of their children.  Parental interest and encouragement can increase a child’s self-esteem, motivation, and interest in school [2].  The reverse is, also, however, true.

Children who are rejected by their parents, who are inadequately supervised or grow up amid conflict run the highest risk of delinquency [3A].  Where parents are, themselves, involved in criminal activity, that risk increases exponentially [3B].

Absent Fathers

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5: 8).

It may be painful to hear.  But the absence of a father from the home is considered the single most important cause of crime [4].  Boys who do not share a home with their fathers after the age of 10 y.o. – 14 y.o. are twice as likely to be jailed as those from intact homes.  Boys fatherless from birth are three times as likely to be jailed.

This is not intended to cast aspersions on single or divorced mothers.  It is simply to point out that fathers serve a purpose above and beyond procreation (a concept that seems lost on our society). Continue reading

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Red Carpet

Red carpet at 81st Annual Academy Awards in Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, Author Greg in Hollywood (Greg Hernandez), Source Flickr (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime.  She smiles.  She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that.  She eats up the attention.

Many abuse victims are just the opposite.  We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us.  Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.

Why is this?  Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting?  Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?

Staying at home seems so much safer.

Rejection

If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection.  Often, this centers around our looks.  Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us.  Our nose is too large or our hips too wide.  We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.

If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.

We do not actually believe that will happen.  But we fear it, all the same.  Fear does not require a rational basis.  Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.

Monsters

Still, there is a clue here.  We’ve known monsters.  Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have.  Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects.  Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation. Continue reading

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Spring

Daffodils, Author Bernard Spragg. NZ, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/34423824293/, (PD)

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and…all the trees of the forest sing for joy” (Ps. 96: 11-12 NIV).

Spring, the season of hope and new life, is here again.  The trees are in bloom, the first tender shoots pushing their way out of the soil, and the children decked out in their Easter finery.

Greeting cards may giddily proclaim the equinox, as if God had not ordained it.  But Spring is more than just our chance to air out the house, lay down mulch, and pull the patio furniture from storage.  It the season that points us toward resurrection, the victory of life over death.

That has special meaning for abuse victims.  We are all too familiar with death and darkness.  The battle with evil is fought (or re-fought) everyday.  It has been part and parcel of our lives for as long as we can remember.  If the abuse has passed, we continue to wrestle with its scars.

Which is why we are astonished by the beauty of daffodils.  Light and life may be foreign to us, but we long for them the way a seed buried in the ground longs for the sun it has not seen.

“ ‘He is not here; for He is risen, as He said’ ” (Matt. 28: 6).

Only one Man in history conquered sin and death.  But He conquered them – absolutely and irrevocably – for the rest of us, even the abuse victims.  Most especially the abuse victims, the outcast, the downtrodden, the poor, the abandoned and forgotten.

We commemorate Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death at Easter.  There is no celebration more profound.  Christ arose from the tomb – once and for all time – to offer us hope and life eternal.

Little wonder that the earth, itself, sings for joy!

Originally posted 3/27/16

Happy Easter!

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Fractured Lives, Part 2

Prince performing at Coachella Music and Arts Festival (2008), Author penner, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/penner/2450784866 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We continue our look at the lives of rock stars who have spoken publicly about their abuse.

Prince

“My mom had stuff in her room that I could sneak in and get…books, vibrators.  I did it.  I’m sure everybody does…”

-Prince [1A]

Prince Rogers Nelson a/k/a Prince called the film Purple Rain (the story of a tormented boy with an unhappy homelife) his “emotional biography”, but was contradictory when speaking about the abuse he endured as a child [1B][2].

Prince’s epilepsy was viewed as sinful, and an embarrassment by his parents.  Exposed to pornography early in life, he was thrown out of the house at age 12 when his father, John Nelson, found him in bed with a girl.

“Don’t abuse children or else they turn out like me.”

-Excerpt from the song “Papa” by Prince

Musically, Prince was a perfectionist, driving all the musicians with whom he worked hard [1C].  The musical polymath, known for sexual lyrics, is thought to have bedded dozens of women during his lifetime.  He died at age 57 of an accidental fentanyl overdose [3A].

Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2016 [3B].  Many artists including Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Usher, and Alicia Keyes have cited him as an influence [3C].

Continue reading

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Fractured Lives, Part 1

Axl Rose, Author Dineshraj Goomany, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgoomany/7334557068/ (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

What do Axl Rose, Sinead O’Connor, Prince, and Madonna have in common?  As their fans know, these acclaimed artists have all experienced abuse of one kind or another.

Axl Rose

“I feel that child abuse and sexual abuse…is kind of the key to why there are so many problems in the world today.  The more books I read on it, and the more work I do on trying to overcome the problems that I had in my childhood that I accepted…I knew it was crazy, but I accepted it as normal behavior for my life, and I realize now that it wasn’t normal behavior, and it’s caused me to act in many ways because it’s what I was trained, it’s what I was taught, it’s what I saw.  My formative years were very ugly.”

-Axl Rose [1]

William Bruce Rose, Jr. a/k/a Axl Rose – frontman for the band Guns N’ Roses – had a troubled childhood [2][3].  Sexually abused at the age of two by his biological father, Rose was later physically abused by his stepfather.

Understandably, Rose developed difficulties with authority, becoming a delinquent in his teens.  He was often self-destructive, intentionally overdosing on painkillers in 1986.  His personal relationships have been tumultuous.

Musically, Rose sometimes exercised suffocating control over the bands with whom he sang.  For a time abandoning his career, he spent years in near isolation.

Despite all this, Rose was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.  Guns N’ Roses have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide. Continue reading

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Along Came a Spider – Trafficking at an Elite Eastern College

Platycryptus undatus, jumping spider, found in Virginia, Author Kevincollins123 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Lawrence Ray a/k/a Lawrence Grecco and Isabelle Pollok have been charged in a sex trafficking and money laundering scheme involving Sarah Lawrence College students [1][2][3].  Amazingly enough, Ray was the parent of a student at the exclusive institution.  Pollok was a student there at the time.

Apparently, Ray presented himself as an advisor and confidante to his daughter’s classmates, extorting them after having gained their confidence.  Pollok allegedly abetted the scheme.  Both have pleaded not guilty.

A Father Figure

Against school policy, Ray moved into Sarah Lawrence’s townhouse style, on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates during their sophomore year in late 2010.  No one, however, reported him to authorities.  According to the indictment, he then began “therapy” sessions with the roommates during which he assumed the role of a father figurre.

Blackmail, Extortion, and Prostitution

Over the course of a decade, Ray and Pollok are alleged to have manipulated students into providing explicit photos, embarrassing personal information, and false confessions.

Five students were then blackmailed, and pressured to perform manual labor.  At least one is said to have been forced into prostitution, with Ray collecting over $500,000 from her over the course of 4 years.  Physical abuse is, also, alleged. Continue reading

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Addicted at Birth

Week old infant weighing 430 grams,
Authors Aneta Meszko and Marcin Meszko (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING: Graphic Images

“In America, a baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes [1A]”.

In the past ten years, over 130,000 children in the United States have been born with drug dependency inherited from a mother on heroin, methamphetamine, or opioids [1B].

Infant Detox

Called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, this dependency causes poor feeding and suck reflex, with slow weight gain; vomiting; diarrhea; sweating; muscle cramps, seizures, and twitching; irritability; sleep problems; yawning, stuffy nose, and sneezing; along with shortness of breath [2][3].

Infants, in other words, experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms their mothers do [4]. They cry inconsolably from the pain.

While one study found that pre-natal drug exposure was not associated with increased mortality, it did find significantly higher mortality rates among low birth weight infants positive for cocaine and opiates [5].

Lack of Care

In one case, a baby in Oklahoma died after her mother, high on methamphetamine and opioids, put the 10-day-old girl in a washing machine with a load of dirty laundry [1C].”

The risk to addicted newborns does not stop there. Infants all too often die after being released home to mothers struggling with drug addiction.

Reuters has identified at least 110 such cases [1D]. More than 40 infants suffocated. Another 13 died after swallowing fatal doses of heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and other opioids.

In three-quarters of these cases, the mother was implicated in her child’s death; in other instances, a boyfriend, husband, or other relative was responsible [1E]. Continue reading

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Gender-Based Violence

Sukuma women and children of Tanzania, Author paulshaffner, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The following is excerpted from an article by Lynn Monahan titled “Fighting Gender-Based Violence” in the June 2020 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“When she was only 8 years old, Ghati was sold by her older brother to a 55-year-old man, who put the orphan girl on a motorcycle and rode to his house… There the man raped her.

After two weeks of daily assaults, Ghati escaped while the man was working in his fields…The man was later arrested and eventually sentenced to prison.

Ghati, a pseudonym to protect her identity, was…placed in a shelter [in Tanzania] under the care of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

‘What the center does is support vulnerable children,’ says Sister Annunciata Chacha, the director of the shelter called Jipe Moyo, a Swahili term meaning To Give Heart.

Jipe Moyo, a program of the Musoma Diocese, cares for children who have been living on the street, children who run away from domestic violence, children who flee from female genital mutilation (FGM)…sometimes called female circumcision, and girls escaping from child marriages…At the center, the children receive care, counseling and education…”

Continue reading

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Trash

Dumpster, Author Eion-Ray Patterson, Source https://www.dumpsterrentalscolga.com/ (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A South Carolina woman, Alyssa Dayvault, 32 y.o., was convicted of two counts of homicide by child abuse for having killed her infant children – a girl and boy, born in 2017 and 2018, respectively [1A].

The Public Defender claimed that Dayvault had intended to give the children up for adoption.  Instead, Dayvault hid both pregnancies from her mother and boyfriend, ultimately disposing of the children in trash bags.

Dayvault apologized in court to her two remaining children, but seemed oblivious to the harm to her dead infants.  She was sentenced to 40 years.

Numb

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17: 9).

We have, it seems, grown numb to the needs of our children.  With 9 months to decide the fate of each of her children, this woman committed infanticide.  Then did it again, a year later.  The children were simply trash to her.

And Alyssa Dayvault is not alone.  A Michigan woman, Antoinette Briley, 41 y.o., was charged with the murder of her twin sons in 2003 [2].  Evidence suggests she, too, discarded her newborns in the trash. Continue reading

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A Side Order of Rescue

Image © Acabashi; Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0; Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Florida waitress, Flavaine Carvalho, took action to rescue an abused boy whose family was dining out at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant where she worked [1].

Carvalho noticed that the family had ordered nothing for the boy.  When she asked whether there was any problem with the food, the waitress was told the boy would be eating at home.  This explanation did not seem satisfactory, in light of injuries on the boy’s face and arms.

Taking the initiative, Carvalho fashioned a sign reading, “Do you need help?”  Then positioned where the parents could not see, she surreptitiously held it up for the boy.  When he nodded, Carvalho called police.

On questioning, the boy described having been abused by his stepfather.  The 11 y.o. asserted he had been tied up, handcuffed, struck with a broom, and hung from a door.  Bruised and markedly underweight, the boy had been denied food as a punishment.

The boy’s stepfather was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.  The boy’s mother — who had not sought medical attention for him — was charged with neglect.

Both the boy and a 4 y.o. sibling were removed to the custody of Florida Dept. of Children and Families.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21 NASB).

The Bible encourages reasonable discipline, appropriate to a child’s age and level of understanding.  It does not condone starvation or torture.

[1]  People Magazine, ” ‘Do You Need Help?’  Florida Waitress Used Secret Sign to Rescue Boy after Noticing Abuse:  Police” by Steve Helling, 1/15/21, https://people.com/crime/florida-waitress-used-secret-sign-rescue-abused-boy/.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453).
The hotline is available 24/7 in over 170 languages.
Calls are confidential and toll free.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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