Nine years ago I sat in a ob-gyn office looking at a pamphlet on domestic violence. I thought my partner is not the problem, but I am a domestic violence victim nonetheless.
During that pregnancy my adopted daughter kicked me in the stomach. During those years she subjected me to verbal abuse, kicked, punched, and hit me. We called doctors, the police, mental hospitals. Her anger was explosive and violent, but nothing she has ever done is worse than the things her brother did in secrecy.
Back then I did research. There was no support or process for parents attempting to pursue legal avenues of protection against abusive children.
I persisted. I attempted to get her charged with assault. I asked the police to take pictures of the marks she left.
They told me she was too mentally ill to be incarcerated. They told me to tie her up.
Juvenile court dropped the charges.
When I look back to the long-ago beginnings of my relationship with these two very broken people I see that their violence defined the relationship throughout. When young children with stories of neglect and abuse act out we may think there are solutions for caregivers in consistency, therapy, research, and time.
I never found those solutions. I found that their problems were bigger than us all, that I was lucky to have survived at all. Despite all our good intentions the advice I wish someone had given me twenty years ago—
Over my shoulder I hear the PBS lady tell my sons about blizzards, how they are just snow storms unless the wind is strong and fast. Here in Texas we have driving rain, not driven snow, and it is the percussive light which wakes the dogs in the night. Poised for a fight. Hurricanes have the eyes of Quint’s soulless sharks as they roll across the landscape of childhood and wakefulness I will momentarily regret the home I left in fear. Regret what I did not leave there. Regret what I did, but not the winds. The winds around the eye, the deceptively calm eye, of every storm that changes the landscape
They are out there somewhere still, three, sometimes four, figures and a dog who has long gone, gone past the snake on the path, gone past all the wounds of time, leaving snapshots of a good dog all the while the children howl full wind