Corner Boy is Alive

Picture this:

A small kid, seven years of age, peeking around a hall corner at his local school.  He is looking at two friends, one a boy, the other a girl.  Standing with his two friends is the father of one of them.  The boy–Corner Boy is what we will call him for now–wears a silly grin, one that’s somewhat mischievous, but not in a bad way.

“What?” his male friend says.  He, too, wears a silly grin, but his is more knowing.

Corner Boy peeks at them because of the girl. He ducks behind the wall when he sees all three of them look his way.

Smiling, Dad leads the two friends toward up the hall, sneaking up on Corner Boy.  They round the corner and see him, silly grin and all.  They laugh.  The two boys pick at each other.  The girl knows it’s about her, but doesn’t seem to mind.

The three kids and Dad walk to their classroom, where Dad and son exchange a hug and a handshake.

“You have your own handshake?” Corner Boy asks.  His mouth drops open, as if it was something he had never seen before–a dad and son acting like they could be friends.

“Yeah.  I’ll show you,” Son says.  They do the handshake again, complete with smacking palms and bumping knuckles and a little finger wiggle at the end.  “You try it.”

Corner Boy shakes his head.  “No.  I don’t know how.”

Dad kneels down–he would regret that later, seeing how he has a couple of bad knees, one of which hasn’t been right for years–and he says, “Why don’t we do our own?”

“Okay,” Corner Boy says.

They slap palms once, knuckle bump, then do the finger wiggle.  Three simple motions.

Corner Boy smiles.  So does Son and Girl and Dad.

They go to class.  Dad walks away.

For the record, it’s the first time Dad saw Corner Boy smile, and at that point, he had known the child for three years.

That was this morning, May 16, 2013.

Rewind a month, back to April 18, 2013.

Before that day, Corner Boy had mean tendencies.  He was bossy.  He was also somewhat of a little bully.  Though Corner Boy and Son were friends, it was a volatile relationship, with Son being passive and Corner Boy being aggressive.

On the night of April 18th, Corner Boy’s dad tried to kill his mom.

He beat her.

He stabbed her multiple times with a box cutter.

He told her ‘I’m going to kill you now.’

He tried to cut her throat.

He ran over her legs with his car.

He told her, when he was done with her, he was going to kill their son.  That would be Corner Boy, the little child peeking at his friends with that silly grin on his face.

Take that in, folks.  Go back and read it again.  I left out a lot of details on purpose.

On the night of April 18th, Corner Boy’s dad tried to kill his mom. 

He beat her.

He stabbed her multiple times with a box cutter.

He told her ‘I’m going to kill you now.’

He tried to cut her throat.

He ran over her legs with his car.

He told her, when he was done with her, he was going to kill their son.

A few statistics for you.  Annually, over 36,000 reports of domestic violence are reported in the state of South Carolina.  An average of 33 women die from Criminal Domestic Violence each year in my home state.

Only 33, you say?  That averages to almost 3 women per month.  In my opinion, that is 33 women too many each year.  Let’s look at the number a little differently.  36,000 incidents reported a year equals 98.6 incidents <i><b>PER DAY</i></b>.

Let that sink in.

Those numbers make me sick–physically–to my stomach.  And that’s not including all the incidents not reported.

Corner Boy is in the second grade.  He spends his day at the same school, in the same classes, as my son–his friend–and the young girl he was peeking at.

After finding out about his dad, about how that man beat his mom for eight years–the entire length of Corner Boy’s life–everything made sense.  He did things based on what he saw.  He did things based on what went on in his family.  He did what he thought was accepted, what he didn’t know any better than to believe.  Why?  Because his dad acted this way toward his mom, and probably, him.

For the women out there who are reading this:  If you are in an abusive relationship, whether you are married to the person or dating them, please, get out.  Abusive men don’t change.  They will continue to be abusive.  They say, ‘I’m sorry.  It will never happen again.’  Then they get mad about something, and guess what?  It happens again.  And again.  And again.  They will take out their frustrations on you and your children.

Please, don’t believe that your child needs a father, and that the only reason you stay with him is so your child wouldn’t grow up without a daddy.  It is better for a child to not have a father in his life, than for that same child to see his mother (or themselves) beaten, raped, and/or murdered.

Because you have a child is NO reason to stay with a man.  It is the exact reason you should leave an abusive relationship.  If you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for your children.  They didn’t ask to be part of an abusive household.  Give them a chance.

For the men out there who might read this:  If you are one of those abusive men, you are a coward.  You are a punk.  You are weak.  That’s right.  Weak.  If you abuse your spouse/significant other, or your children, you are nothing.  You are not a man.  Men take care of their families.  Men take care of their children.

You want to know what a real man is?  My dad.  My dad is a real man.  He overcame a rough childhood, an abusive step dad, and not a mom who wasn’t much better.  He left home at a young age, and when he had children (four of them), he made certain to take care of us, to make sure we learned about life.  Not once did he beat us.  Yeah, we got spankings, but if you knew my siblings, you would understand, we deserved them.  After his children grew up, my parents adopted three of their grandchildren.  When he should be enjoying his retirement, he chose to be dad all over again, and doing a damn good job.  My dad is a real man.  He didn’t shirk his responsibilities, and he didn’t make excuses.  And he never abused us.

Men, if you’re not taking care of your family, if you’re beating your wife and children, and they are living in fear of you, then you’re nothing but a weak, spineless P.O.S.  Feel free to quote me.  You have no clue what type of damage you are doing to your family, especially the children.

After dropping my son off, I got in the car and headed for work.  I turned my MP3 player on.  The first song was so appropriate:  Father of Mine, by Everclear.  As a father, who often feels like I’m not good enough for my children, this song reminds me that there are kids out there who have it far worse.  I can’t give my children the things they want, and we don’t live in a nice house, and sometimes the cars don’t work right, and…and…and…and so what?  I give my children love.  I let them know Daddy is there for them, I protect them, I provide for them, I love them regardless of what happens.

There are so many children out there who are like some of the lyrics to that song:

Father of mine
Tell me how do you sleep
With the children you abandoned
And the wife I saw you beat
I will never be safe
I will never be sane
I will always be weird inside
I will always be lame…

That song always pisses me off.  Not because of what it is about, but because of the truth that comes with it.

Corner Boy was lucky.  So was his mom.  They are alive today.  I got to see him smile, to hear him laugh, to do a handshake with him, to watch him walk into his classroom.

But what if his mom wouldn’t have managed to jump out of the car?  What if she hadn’t been able to get to a stranger’s house who set her on the floor, called the police and got out his gun to protect her if needed?  The mother would be one of those 33 women killed each year in South Carolina.

I don’t want to know the numbers on how many children die from abuse each year.

His father is currently in lock-up, awaiting trial for criminal domestic violence (the third time he’s been arrested for this), and attempted murder.  I hope he goes to jail for a very long time, and the other inmates find out about what he did.  They don’t like these types of things in prison.  They will show him what it’s like to be in his wife and child’s shoes.

We need to shine a light into the dark world of Criminal Domestic Violence.  We need to bring these people out of the shadows for the world to see.  We need to support the victims of CDV, let them know they are people with value, that they are not damaged goods.

I think about my son’s friend.  He was fortunate.  Maybe there was an angel watching over him.  But how many women are not so fortunate?  How many children live in fear of an abusive parent or guardian?

It has to stop.

It has to stop…