When I look back on my years of working with victims of violence, one young boy stands out. His story changed my life. I will never forget the day he said to me, “Why should I tell you anything? My dad would find out and things would be worse for me. You can’t help me.”
He was right. We couldn’t help him, in spite of our tireless efforts. No matter how we approached advocating for him in family court and with the Division of Children and Family Services, we failed. At times, we even made the situation worse. Eventually the corrupt family judge banned our staff from the courtroom.
I have included in this post a picture this child drew. It is heartbreaking to know that a child would be forced to live with an abusive father. But it happens every day in this country. According to one conservative estimate, more than 58,000 children per year are ordered by family courts in the United States into unsupervised contact with a physically or sexually abusive parent.
Do we have the moral and political will to do whatever it takes to protect vulnerable children? Can our communities and our faith communities find way to advocate for abused children? Can we help end this national shame and protect the children? God grant that we never hear the words, “You can’t help me.”