Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Closing Down Blog

With the publishing of this post I am closing down my blog. I have not decided whether this will be temporary or permanent, however I feel the need to step back and regroup. The articles to date will remain on the site for the foreseeable future.

I know that my fellow survivors will continue to heal and find encouragement on other blogs and forums. May we all band together, tell our stories, and BANISH THE SHAME!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Evidence of Things Not Seen

For most people, the idea of discovering something about your own childhood after you become an adult is ridiculous. However, for those of us who grew up in the foster care system, it is always a possibility. After all, who really remembers all the foster homes, all the schools, and each and every abusive incident? Additionally, many children are “spared” information by well meaning social workers or our own families lie to us about the circumstances that led to either placement or returning home.

As many of you know I have been working to help my brother get some dental work he needs due to an abusive incident from childhood. As I have been sifting through the layers of documentation I discovered a public record related to this particular beating. A legal document showing that my mother was on probation for Felony Aggravated Child Abuse from the time I was eleven (immediately following this incident) until right before I turned eighteen. I was stunned! It was like a shock to my system. For the next couple of days I would repeatedly return to that document and just stare at it. There it was in black and white- my mother was on probation for felony child abuse.

First the lies came flooding back. My grandfather telling me the charges had been dropped. The years and years of my mother telling me I had a wild imagination, that certainly if she had beaten my brother that badly they would have kept her in jail. How, obviously they had decided she hadn't done anything wrong since she was never punished! This may be hard to understand if you haven't been in such a warped relationship, but even though I knew these were lies, they still ate at me. She wasn't in jail. I saw no evidence that she had been punished. I had no contact with my brother from the day he was taken to the hospital until many years later. I only had my memories of the event. It has only been in the last few years, well into adulthood, that I actually learned how badly my brother had been hurt. This piece of paper was validation that I had been right all along.

Next came a flood of memories. All the times after this, when I was put into foster care. All the times I was returned home. By the time I was a teenager I was telling social workers, police officers, teachers, I had even called the child abuse hotline. The social worker who told me I was a liar because Jewish parents don't abuse their children, or the one who told me he has sending me home because my cause wasn't “a priority” because I was old enough to run away if she hurt me.

I was already known as a “runner”, someone who runs away regularly. At one point, I was even placed under a “no-run” order, which meant that if I ran away, I would be sent to juvenile detention! I was running away to protect myself and I was the one who was going to end up in jail! No one believed my mother was abusing me, yet it was a matter of public record that my mother was on probation for child abuse!

As you can probably tell, my emotions are still running fairly high right now. I'm angry and frustrated, and most of all hurt. I don't understand why no one believed me all those times. But, I can't go back and fix it. I can only hope that now, with computerized records, this kind of glaring error won't be made.

Well, I can do two more things. One, I can ask each and every one of you to listen and believe children when they confide in you. Please try to help them as much as you can. Even teenagers need protection! And, two, I can show my mother's true colors right here and now, with the wonders of the internet. I hereby, offer up this public document as proof that my mother, Shayne Benkendorf, is a child abuser.