The little girl cowered in the corner of the restaurant. I peered over the booth.
Something wasn’t right.
That’s when I saw the peeled long stick at her mother’s side. The girl moved, and like lightening, it shot out from the mother’s side and caught her legs.
Her tiny little legs.
She was no more than four years old. Her legs were marked up and down with red marks.
My heart hammered. Everyone in the fast food restaurant was quiet, watching.
“See,” the mother said. “Look at what you did. You made everyone stare at us.”
I expected people to stand and speak out, but they suddenly became interested in the food. I can’t say that I knew what to do any better. The woman had three children with her, and a large, towering man.
When the mother’s back was turned, the oldest boy pushed the little girl in the corner and made a face as if to say, “I got you.”
My husband put his hand on my knee. “Think before you react,” he said.
You see, he knows me. My first reaction would be to grab the stick out of her hand.
So, I slipped out, watching in dismay as she struck the little girl two more times in quick succession, then grabbed a slightly older sibling by the back of his hair and yanked it hard.
I stepped outside and called 911. They said it wasn’t an emergency.
I had watched them climb out of the car, so I took down the tag number, as I searched for other numbers to call. I called a local police station and asked them what I could do. They switched me to a child welfare department, where I explained the situation for the third time, praying that the family wouldn’t leave the restaurant before I could find answers.
I didn’t even know there was a hotline I could call. I do now.
The lady in the welfare department listened patiently, asking questions. I could tell they had heard so much worse. My story of a mom carrying a stick, beating a child in public, an older boy who pushed her in the corner, was far from the worst she had recorded. I heard the clickety-clack of her fingers on the keyboard as she asked questions.
We were assured by the welfare agency that a policeman was on the way, and that the agency would follow up based on their recommendation, and then I was given a case number where I could follow up.
Later when I called I discovered nothing happened. The police showed up, gave her a warning, and then left.
There’s a warrior mom in me that says that little girls should be safe. They should be loved. They should giggle in public, and be safe in their momma or daddy’s arms. They should not feel that adults will just look the other way when they have red marks up and down their tiny legs.
Sadly, this little girl is only one of many who endure abuse, or who are sexually molested, or neglected. It goes beyond a parent who loses her temper (we all have) or who is tired and needs a break.
These are a few current statistics:
•A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the U.S.
•More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
•Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
•More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
•Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
•About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the cycle of abuse.
While I have always believed in encouraging and strengthening our families, more than ever we need a generation of warrior moms to rise up and become advocates for those little ones who cannot defend themselves. But also to love families who are in crisis.
Where might we begin?
We care. We have to see beyond our safe bubble. Within a radius of your home there are families ill prepared, or in crisis, or addicted, or in poverty. . . and children are affected.
We can’t offer excuses, like, “They should know better” or “I don’t want to get involved” or “that’ doesn’t happen in my neighborhood.”
We pray. As you call out your children’s name in prayer, do you call out a neighbor child’s name as well?
We open our homes. Yes, it creates mess and it’s noisy, but when you love your children’s friends, you create a safe haven. Maybe it’s one night a month where all the friends can hang out. Or it’s play dates in the park with a neighborhood mom. Perhaps it’s ping pong and snacks for your teen’s friends after church or a ball game.
We do something. We act, rather than react with words or condemnation.
That might be coming alongside a mom who needs help, because not all cases are abuse; sometimes it’s just not having support. There are many moms who wake up in the night to care for a child, go all day, and rarely have a break.
Maybe it’s working with a church or community group that helps a mom or dad with parenting skills. Not every person is raised in a caring family, and how can you be a good mom if no one showed you how, or if you were abused and it’s all too familiar?
Perhaps it’s caring about moms and families even when yours are grown. Your experience and encouragement are so much more valuable than you know. It could be giving a new mom two hours of blissful sleep or a meal.
And it’s reporting abuse when you are confronted with abuse. We can’t ignore it.
But Suzie, nothing happened when you did it.
To this day that causes me sadness, but I have been assured that her name is in the system now, and maybe another person — a grandmother, a neighbor, a teacher — will do the same thing and action will be taken.
Just because the results were not what I hoped doesn’t mean that I stop responding to abuse.
Are you a warrior mom?
What step will you take today to love a child whose not your own?
How can you love a mom who needs encouragement, and who feels she’s just on the edge of losing it?
What organizations in your community or church are helping families or children in crisis?
What would would have helped you (as a child or as a parent)?
Here are some helpful resources
Today I pray that you’ll join me at Moms Together, a group of over 16,000 moms from 29 countries on Facebook. We are there to encourage each other, to be a community. To be warrior moms for each other, because motherhood is amazing, but it’s also tough sometimes.
Each day at Moms Together we offer something of value to our moms — great guests with helpful tips and encouragement; giveaways; practical information, prayer, and friendship. We need each other!
We’ll be talking about this topic today, taking it deeper on Moms Together.
Maybe you know someone wants to be a good mom, but she’s got some parenting baggage from her own childhood.
Would you invest in this resource for her? The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future — this tool is for those who may have not received the nurturing they hoped, but who want to give their child something greater. It’s practical.
Transforming. It’s packed with tools to help you grow and tons of encouragement that you can become the mom you want to be.
And if you know a mom of teens, or a community or church that works with teens? Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know – This book offers insight from teens around the nation who share what they are facing, what they don’t tell you but wish you knew, why they might not talk and how to open the doors of communication, and so much more practical information and tools that can help you parent your teenager, but also relate with your teen’s friends or teens in your neighborhood
Just before reading this I read in your Word from 1 John 5:14, that we may take up all confidence before You, that whatever we ask according to Your will is heard by You. Lord, I confidently believe that it is not your will for this little girl to suffer such abuse. I lift her to you now, knowing you will send an army of angels to protect her. Lord, remove such suffering that will damage her future. Extend your hand to her, that she may know You, Lord, and become a daughter of the King, worshipping you and leading others through Your presence in her life. I pray for the woman she will become and the children she may one day have, Father, that because of your Love for her, many will be added to Your Kingdom through her testimony.
Lord, I place her family in Your hands as well. Send the right people to them, that will lovingly show them the error in their ways, but ultimately lead them to your peace and hope. Father, I ask this in all confidence of the God You are, knowing Your will shall be done. Lifting through the holiness of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Amen and amen, Wendy. Thank you so much for that powerful and beautiful prayer. I’d love for each of us to begin to pray that over all our children in our nation, and beyond.
Amen! Such a beautiful prayer!
This article brought tears to my eyes. It has touched me in a very personal way. I was a child who sought and found refuge in neighbors homes. And, I am a mom who brought an abused child into my heart and my home. She was just 4 when she showed up at my door. She was hard to love, but God told me, “you need to love her.” And, He gave me His love for her. Something wasn’t right we knew it, but we didn’t know what. Eventually, we learned her mom was a drug addict and the boyfriend an angry alcoholic. We had her in our home and with our family whenever possible. We made phone calls. Apparently, with no results. (We did find out later, she was in the system and one more phone call would have had her removed from the home.) But God had other plans. I made another phone call and was directed to the “wrong” person. She asked me, “Why don’t you take her.” She told me step by step how to proceed. My husband and I agreed if we ever felt like she was in danger we would move forward. Shortly afterwards we petitioned a judge for custody. He granted it. But, a few months later he turned custody over to grandparents who we hadn’t known about. My heart was broken, but I knew we had done what God asked us to do. People would tell us how blessed that little girl was to have us in her life. But we always responded that we were the ones who were blessed and made richer by our time with her. It is hard. Most people turn the other way. But, these children need our love, our prayers and to be in our homes and to go with us to our churches. Before we petitioned for custody, I went to her school and told her principle about our concerns. She thanked me and told me that she wished there were more families like ours, because she had dozens of children in her school who needed a family to intervene in their lives. Our love, our prayers, our care and concern are powerful instruments in the hands of our loving God!
Thank You Cathy and your hubby for being Love Warriors to reach out of your comfort zone to save this little girl’s life. I know you made a life changing impact on the direction of her life. As you shared our lives too our blessed when we reach out to the hurting children and love them as Christ loves us.
I love you Suz, for all you are and all you do. Thank You sooo much for making this an important topic.
40 years ago I was that little girl abused in horrific ways, and dreaming of the day the abuse would end. Praying that someone would notice, and do something. One day a babysitter noticed the bruises. My first response was to hide them and make excuses, but this wonderful lady listened to the LORD telling her to not turn away, and to seek the truth. She did. She comforted and supported me, prepared me that she would speak to my mom, and make sure that my sisters and I were safe and would not be hurt again. I wish I could tell you there was a happy ending, that the abuse ended that day, but I can not. The thing is that this Warrior Momma let me know that I mattered, that people really do care, and it gave me the strength to endure the abuse, and one day when I was a teen I was able to stand up to my abuser and tell her to stop. The physical abuse stopped, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse continued on until I was old enough to leave.
Sometimes the bruises are on the inside, deep in the soul, but if we are willing to open our eyes GOD can show us how the little girl with the sad eyes is silently crying out for help.
What can we do? Love her. Give her a hug, and even though her is messy, and uncombed, and her outfit is old & stained look beyond that and tell her that she is beautiful. Pray and ask the LORD how you can love her and help her. You may be the one person who reaches out in love and gives her a reason to live.
What am I doing today? The love that was given to me by Warrior Mommas I am giving to other little girls in need. I know that some of my child’s friend’s home environment are not filled with GOD’s Love, not a place where I would want my daughter to have to endure. The LORD filled my daughter’s heart and mine with compassion to reach out to her friend and ask her friend to church, to kids choir, to activities to give this little girl love and to show her another way of life. The LORD is doing great things and has created a little Minivan ministry where lives in our minivan are being blessed in countless ways. Whether you drive a SUV, Minivan, or Sedan — if you have room for one more you can save a life by showing a child there is another way to live, and surround that hurting child with people who love her and long for her to be apart of GOD’s Forever Family. My spiritual family who GOD brought into my life throughout my life saved my life, and changed my life. Because of their example of love, because they loved me as their own I can give to my child a Legacy of Love.
The smallest expressions of love make a world of difference to a hurting child. As GOD’s Family we have the power to change the world one life at a time.
Blessings to you Warrior Mommas who love the hurting children of the world,
Co-Founder of http://www.Giving Dreams Wings.Com
As I read this account of physical and emotional abuse I cringed and felt anger welling up inside. My husband was that little girl and his siblings were that little girls siblings – joining in the abuse. Some one to pick on because, hey, if a child can keep the light on someone else then they’re safe – maybe. To this day my husband longs for his family to love and accept him but they don’t. Terrible childhoods mold a child and in many cases condemns that child to a life “without love”.
There’s a book I read called “Nobody’s Boy” by Grover Wilcox. It curled my hair as I read what adults and children can do to an innocent. Yet, this child grew up determined to never do that to a child. Sometimes that happens but not often. My husband chose to never punish a child because of what happened in his life.
Yes, mothers and grandmothers must stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and must be a voice for the voiceless. Like you, I would have been ready to “take things in hand” but I know that would only bring more pain to the child later.