They Sometimes Kill Children Don't They Ch 2
As She stood on the back seat looking out the back window of the car, watching her home burn to the ground, little Gwen felt really sad, and missed the days in her old home somewhere else. As she grew, she’d find out that her old home had been in San Diego, California, where she was born. She missed the warm sunny days, and the soft, pretty dresses that Mommy used to dress her in until the mean man came into her life.
After that, he angrily cut her pretty hair, took away her lovely dresses, called her a boy, and beat her if she cried. What was happening lay outside the understanding of a 5 year old.
Life after that was joyless and sober. One thing was for certain. Almost every night as he drove up the ½ mile long driveway, she knew that a beating was coming. Stepfather was raised in an Amish family, and was so severely beaten by his father, that one night he ran away to his grandfather’s home. From comments she heard from him from him in subsequent years revealed that his grandfather was nearly as bad as his father.
Stepfather was born in 1913. In WWII he served as the driver of an amphibious landing craft in the South Pacific. Somehow, he did not go into the Navy until near the end of WWII.
I was born in March of 1947 and met him some time in the late fall of 1949. That is when he cut my hair and took my nice clothing. He wanted to make me a man, and in actuality it never worked very well. I remained very small through my High School Years, not weighing over 100lbs and quite short until I was in my Senior Year. He tried to make me a Man, but it just was not there.
With the constant beatings and berating by my stepfather, I simply gave up in school; knowing that if I made D’s and a couple of C’s, I could squeeze by. There was no concentrating on homework with all the tension and the oppressive atmosphere. I graduated 3rd from the bottom of my class with a 1.95 GPA. You could say I was shat out by the American educational system; ignored, without value, to be gotten out of the way. I would not understand until years later, that this injustice would fill me with sufficient rage to help me to succeed in spite of them. For the rest of my life, it would always be a subtle fight against “them”.
Around 1961 I was having a lot of burning in my eyes and begged my Mom to take me to the Doctor. I simply did not understand the financial pressure she was under and argued with her. She threw a beer bottle at me, hitting me in the right eye. We were both out of control emotionally, and I ran out the door to leave home. My memory of the incident is foggy, and somehow she ran over my bike to keep me from leaving. Head strong, I left anyhow and went down to a friend’s house to spend the night.
The next day, I appealed to the school counselor for help and he called the police and child welfare people, who placed me in a temporary juvenile detention home. The girls were housed in the upper floor of an old house, and the boys were in a long low structure that had been a chicken barn. It did not smell of chickens but the coarse screens were still over the windows, and glass had been placed inside.
I don’t remember a lot of detail about the days I spent there. At night, I learned that there are things that are more painful and degrading than being beaten half to death. I only remember the pain and blood next morning. The rest is concealed behind a veil of horror.
When the time came for the counselors and my mother to meet, she was so angry that she completely cowed them. I was given an ultimatum to get in the car, and since the counselors were silent, I did it. For the next two years, I was grounded and allowed to only go to school, come home and be in my room, only coming out for meals. There were no friends, phone calls or outside activities. I learned that the only way to survive was to be absolutely compliant, no matter what I thought. The time spent reading and day dreaming was isolating but not painful. I developed Passive Aggressive personality traits that I fight to this day.
In looking back, I must have “forgotten” about wanting to be a girl in the active sense very soon after that beating in the family room. I must have been around 5 or 6. Oh, when I secretly played games and daydreamed, “Gwen” was very much there deeply hidden in my heart. I have often wondered what it would have been like with a family where the siblings did not hate each other, where Father loved me and where Mother was not distant.
In looking back, Mother suffered unspeakable abuse by her Father. Her abuse was made worse because he was a lay pastor at church, but would go out and get drunk on Friday night. I do not know the exact nature of her abuse, but from hearing her occasional comments, one can only imagine. My stepfather did also at the hands of a stern Amish family near Lancaster, PA. Years after he grew up, he tried to have an Amish farm with us. He did not attend church, and was violent, especially toward me. So, much of what he taught lacked any credibility with me or them. My 6 siblings and I all tried to understand why he singled me out.
He beat and abused me nearly every night from the time I was 4 until around 15 when he came after me, and I picked up the hatchet to defend myself. He of course knowing how to fight took it from me and got ready to beat me. “You will have to sleep sometime”, I told him. It was the first time I ever stood up to him and that seemed to shock him. He did not beat me that night nor after.
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