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Mindset Seems a Twisted Dilemma
posted November 5, 2007
GUEST COLUMN – The stepmother thought the
three children were sneaking snacks, therefore to punish them she beat
them. She beat them with a wooden stake, the type used to mark the
corners of property boundaries, before resorting to a belt after a
warning from an Aiken County Family Court judge.
“The judge said she couldn’t beat us with the piece of wood anymore,”
the young woman said.
While the beatings went on, the biological father of the children stood
by and did nothing, an all-too-often response, some social workers say
about a new parent moving in the household and starting to discipline
The young woman agreed to talk to me if her name was not used. She
feared doing harm to her father. Her relationship with her dad had been
improving in recent months, but, she said, “we still have a long ways
The children’s troubles, according to social services documents and
records provided by a family member, started early in their lives.
The biological mother abandoned the family when her twins - a boy and a
girl - were less than a year old. She also left behind another girl,
older by two years, who later fled the home in search of calmer
“She thought we were coming home and having snacks after school,” said
the stepdaughter, now the mother of her own set of twins, about the
events that started the beatings.
The stepmother would lock the children out of the house until she and
the husband came home from work, usually late in the afternoon or in
early evening. It was a practice followed, rain or shine, at the whim
of the stepmother.
The young mother, who endured numerous beatings for several years
before leaving the home for good at the age of 16, reacts to punishment
with the same strange rationalization shown by other abuse victims in
She weighs her own guilt before condemning the stepmother for the
beatings she took. She wonders what things she could have done to be
beaten with a wooden stake, and she admits she “wasn’t a Little Miss
Now married, raising a family of her own and out of the reach of the
stepmother, the young mother worries about her father’s health and
state of mind although they rarely see each other.
“I am afraid she is going to kill my daddy with her behavior,” she said.
“My real mother walked out on us when I was 11 months old,” she said.
“She deserted us several times, and he (her father) was afraid if my
mother got custody she would leave us with someone else.”
The young woman said her father, after several years of attempting to
raise three children alone, remarried. That’s when the real trouble
began for the siblings She recalls the beatings started shortly after
her father brought his new bride into the home. The violence went on
for nearly six years, despite numerous court hearings and DSS
“We (she and her brother) ran away and ended up at Helping Hands, and I
ran away again after that,” she recalled. “We just got tired of the
beatings.” Finally, at the age of 16, she left for good.
The young woman remembers one time when she ran away. Her sister had
left, her brother was in a foster home and she had to face the
stepmother’s wrath alone. She took to the road, got as far as a county
store, had a flat tire on her bike and called a relative.
“My aunt said she couldn’t come get because my stepmother probably
would sue her, so she called the law,” the young woman said. “I don’t
blame my aunt because she (the stepmother) is always threatening people
“The law came out and called my father and stepmother, but wouldn’t
come get me. They said I had run away, and I could get back home the
best way I could.”
The young woman said that during the years at home she and her brother
would get accused of all kinds of things, and when we did them we would
admit them. That was when the beatings would start. But the beatings
came even if they professed innocence.
“Once I asked her why she beat me like she did, but she hit me over the
head with a wooden stake,” the young woman said. “I had bruises and
broken skin. My father allowed this. He didn’t do anything to stop it.
Then the judge told her not to beat us with the wooden stake anymore.”
The young woman said she still loves her father, but she doesn’t go to
his home if at all possible. “I see her (the stepmother) only if I have
to,” she remarked sadly.
Family Court papers and Department of Social Services documents
obtained by the young woman, who allowed me to read them, are an awful
reminder of the bad things that can happen to some children.
An Aiken DSS case worker, the first one assigned to the children’s
case, wrote a warning that went unheeded in a report he filed when the
twins were 13. In summation of his report, the case worker said, “The
minors cannot be protected in this environment.”
The case worker’s findings supported the young woman’s story. He said
an investigation revealed that all three children had been abused, and
the agency met with resistance from the stepmother and father while
trying to intervene and help the children.
The case worker said the oldest child was the first to flee and did so
because of the “harm she was receiving from her stepmother.”
The DSS staffer’s report also noted:
“The children have been forced to sit on their front porch from the
time they get home from school until their parents return home from
work around 5 p.m.
“About two days ago they were allowed to enter the home after school,
but when their parents returned home both minors were beaten because
the stepmother thought some peanut butter was missing.”
The young woman told me she was getting over what happened to her and
her sister and brother, and she deals with her painful memories by
showering affection on her children.
“I don’t ever intend to allow them to be treated that way,” she
remarked about her children.
(Editor’s note: The above story is one of a selection taken from Carl
Langley’s first book)
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EdgefieldDaily.com and cannot be reproduced, rewritten or redistributed
without the expressed written permission of Edgefield Daily.com
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