This is beautifully written and very touching. But we need to be very clear on why this UNNAMED DAD was able to maintain his campaign of abuse for so many years. It's because the authorities did not hold him accountable. Even though the mother had good reason to believe she would be killed for "telling," the authorities would not keep him in jail, so the abuse just continued. And when--finally--the father was forced into real prison time, the mother lost the kids to foster care. What we need to explain is why the system failed this mother and her children so completely. And how we can change that.
Harris: Pounding, screaming and crying
In my opinion In these eyes
By Tyree Harris Columnist
Published: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 28, 2010 02:10
Editor's note: Because of the nature of his story, the subject wished to withhold his real name.
Twenty-year-old David Coleman doesn't even dream normally. At night he succumbs to the pounding, screaming and crying that became the soundtrack of his childhood.
Some nights he sees his father beating his brother.
Some nights he sees his father choking his mother.
Other nights he'll watch his father sexually assault his sister.
Whatever he sees, he wakes up from it all knowing that these visions aren't just sick and twisted thoughts - they're memories.
Coleman can vividly recall the first time he saw is mother being beat by his dad. He doesn't remember what for, but he knows she was beat so badly, she was incoherent.
"It was like she was comatose for hours," Coleman said.
When they tried to get her attention, she just lay there like she was dead.
Coleman was just 3 years old when this happened.
Beatings became such a common event, he grew numb to them.
"We didn't have anything normal to compare it to," Coleman said. "It was all we knew."
By the time he was 4 years old, the abuse carried over to him and his siblings.
"It started off as discipline and then it started growing into just violence," Coleman said.
He spent all of his childhood being punched for leaving a glass on the table, kicked for not cleaning his room, having his hair pulled for asking for something and being thrown around - for no reason at all.
There was no limit to the pain; the abuse would go on for hours into the night.
Coleman's mom was unemployed and his father was a drug abusing, gang-related hustler. The father of eight children, his dad learned to beat his family from his father, and his father learned that from his father. It's practically genetic.
"(My father's) childhood was way worse than mine," Coleman said.
For years, Coleman and his family would be victims of abuse. His mother couldn't report his father to officials because if she did, she knew she would probably never live to see another day.
They were walking on eggshells. Anything they did could've earned them a three-hour beating.
But one night forced his mother to finally step up to the father: the night she found out he was sexually abusing her daughter.
That was her breaking point. She reported the father, the kids gave reports and the dad was arrested.
Everything appeared to be working against him, but after a five-minute conversation with him from jail, the mother scrambled to repeal her accusations and denied the children's reports.
Coleman can only imagine what his dad said to threaten his mother into canceling that case.
After spending several months in a shelter, his father got out of jail and they were forced to reside with him yet again in a small trailer.
They knew the repercussions would be heavy. His father punched his mother while she was breast feeding his baby brother. Coleman was thrown across the trailer and his uncle had to keep his father from bashing his mother's face in with a large camera.
In the father's eyes, the family betrayed him. So he grew more relentless than ever. His anger was especially unleashed on Coleman's half-brother. Because he was not the full sibling of the other kids, the dad instantly alienated him from everyone and made all the other children beat him up.
If the kids refused to beat him up, they would be beat. If the kids lost a fight to the half brother, they would be beat.
The father abused the half-brother worse than anyone else, both physically and psychologically. Not only was he beat, but he was unable to go outside, play or even ask to go to the bathroom.
The years of abuse left his brother with a loss of control of his bladder, a broken ankle and epilepsy.
He had to start wearing a helmet; half of his brain was dead.
Because his father had to call the ambulance one night after Coleman's half-brother was abused, the state found out about it and arrested the father for child neglect and abuse. He was supposed to serve 16 years, but they reduced it to 13 because of "good behavior." He will be out in 2013.
All the kids were dispatched into the foster care system and Coleman eventually got into a decent enough household to get him into the University. Today he is a psychology major hoping to go into law.
Twenty-year-old David Coleman is doing what he can to escape his past, but every time he falls asleep, he is once again that same helpless 3-year-old, watching his mother take the beating of her life.