Martha's Story

November 25, 2009
It was a normal day in the 5th grade. Children were playing on the playground, teachers were grading work, and the principal roamed the school in search of delinquents. My best friends at the time, Diana and "Martha" pulled me under the playscape to tell me some “very important” news about Martha and about the bruises that have been created all over her. She told us the stories of how her father abused her, her siblings, and her mother. There was apparently no escape for her, not her room, not a friends house, and certainly not school. She told us of how the mental trauma of the abuse followed her everywhere, and left her wondering if her family is okay when she isn't around. Then she dropped a bomb by telling us that her father was an alcoholic. She said he didn't know what he was doing when he was abusing her family and how she couldn't report him to anyone because she doesn't want her or her siblings to end up in foster homes. On the other hand, she couldn't take it anymore. She told us of the beating the previous night, with a board and 6 rusty nails sticking out of it. Martha told the story in such detail, it seemed to play right in front of my eyes. The rusty nails of the board coming down on her pale white skin, bruising, and cutting into her. Blood streaming down her body, and it was a secret, well, until now. When she was finished, she made us swear not to tell anyone about what we had heard. Diana and I looked at each other and nodded. We stupidly agreed.

Life went on, but her story was always in the back of my mind. Always making me wonder if keeping the secret was the right thing to do. I knew it wasn't, but I didn't want to upset my best friend. So I did what I normally would do in a situation like this, consult my mom. She didn't believe me at first, until I told it exactly how Martha had told it to me. My mom's face was struck with horror. She said Diana and I needed to talk to Martha, and try to convince her to tell someone, an adult preferably. I did as she said, but Martha was not going for it. It would take a very long time for her to tell someone what was happening. The only problem was if this kept up, the daily abuse, her father may go too far and end up killing her, or that's what I thought. I begged her to tell someone, but that only made her mad, so I let it go.

The following week was Healthy Choices, a health program that the school did every year. Lucky for us, part of the lesson this year was how to handle abuse, both verbal and physical. At the end of the speech and movie, Diana and I were shaking in our seats, while Martha scowled at us. She knew we were on the brink of telling an adult. Diana shot up her hand, and our teacher called on her. She asked, “What do you do if your friend is being abused and refuses to tell anyone?” The teacher just shook her head, and said, “It's your responsibility as a friend to tell an adult about your friend's problem.” Then I found my hand in the air, and the teacher switched to me. I asked, “What if you swore not to tell anyone?” Again, she said, “You have to tell, it's for your friend's own good.” Diana, and I took that into consideration and ended up having a mini conference in the hallway with Martha. We told her that if she didn't tell the teacher today, then we would tell her tomorrow. She gave a huge, and loud sigh, and walked up to the teacher, and we knew she told her because they walked out of the room and never came back.

The next day Martha wasn't there, or the next, or the next. In fact she didn't come back until the last week of school. When she finally came back, she told us she was moving. Her father had been arrested and her family had moved in with their aunt. She told us that her father's trial was pending, that she has to testify against her father, and that her Grandmother was pressuring her into telling the court she was lying. We assured her that things would be better if he were in jail. She agreed, but that was the last day I saw Martha. I can't help but wonder if pressuring her to tell really did make things better, or if it just complicated her life even more. I guess I will never know. At least I know that the abuse stopped for a while.

Violence has affected my life by making me aware that I don't have to put up with it. I can do something to stop it. I'm prepared to help any of my friends and family in danger of abuse and other types of violence.

Violence can be triggered in many ways, like in this story it was caused by an alcoholic father, but there are many triggers like; anger, depression, revenge, etc.

The violence needs to stop, because many children, and adults are affected by it every day. Approximately 208 KIDS die from physical abuse daily, and thousands more are injured, not dead, but hurt. The physical abuse doesn't just hurt on the outside, it works its way into the persons head, and brands trust issues into that person, and many other life lasting problems.

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