The young prosecuting attorney called me into his office.
“Take a look at these,” he said, handing me a stack of photos.
We’d just left the courtroom where a sex offender was given less than five years for sodomizing an 8-year old boy and raping a 12-year-old girl. The deal was offered in an effort to keep the children from testifying against their own mother.
The photos were graphic. (Albeit, no more graphic than the number one book being read by moms all over the country right now — 50 Shades of Grey. Porn has made an official move into the mainstream book clubs.)
There were dozens of pictures of the offender having intercourse with the girl. Close-ups and long-shots from a doorway.
And the same sort of photos of the young boy performing oral sex on the man and him on the boy.
Guess who was taking all those photos?
I don’t know how that man, a man who had been in the home less than 24-hours, convinced those kids to do the things I witnessed in that stack of photos. I suspect they did those things because their mother told them to.
Disturbed and disgusted by the injustices he’d been privy too, the prosecuting attorney quit his job that day.
He never came back to the courtroom.
The sex offender was sent back to jail with barely a slap on the wrist.
She lost custody of her children but was never charged with any crimes. The last I heard she married one of the police officers who worked the case and moved off to the Northeast where she and he had another child.
I think of that mother nearly every Mother’s Day because the case was settled the week of Mother’s Day all those many years ago. I had young children at home then. Children the same ages as that young girl who was raped as her mother stood by snapping pictures.
I spent that week praying that God would erase those visuals from my mind.
But they’ve come back.
I remembered them in Cullman, Alabama as the pretty and poised lady hugged me and said, “My three-year-old granddaughter has been abused by her mother’s boyfriend.”
I remembered them as the lady with the fragile smile approached me in Fairhope, Alabama and said, “I was one of those abused children.”
I remembered them when the EMT stood before me in Seneca, South Carolina and told me about the little girl with the severely burned genitals. “She’d been scalded from front to back,” he said.
I remembered them when I opened the email from the 80-year-old in New York who wrote to say that she ran away from home at age 14 because her mother had abused her, and allowed her to be abused.
And I remembered them when the doctor told me of the young mother who’d found her own mother “doing funny things to her newborn granddaughter” and remembered that she’d done the same to her.
The only thing that Americans glorify more than the American flag is mom.
If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with a good mother, you ought to appreciate how very unusual such an upbringing is any more.
There are millions of children among us who are being neglected, abused, molested, and exploited by the very women who gave birth to them.
Hallmark doesn’t make a card for those children. There are no holidays in which we honor abused kids for surviving.
We, in fact, demand that abused children move silently among us. We don’t want to know that mothers are responsible for the bulk of child abuse in this nation.We don’t want to think of abused children at all. Child abuse makes us feel yucky.
We loathe being educated on matters that may convict or compel us.
We are all about pleasuring ourselves.
We only want hard when it involves masturbation of the mind.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder. MacAdam/Cage.