Leaving the kids with two relatives—Ivan and Adele, I headed to the movies with friends from high school. As I left the house my 20-month-old daughter, Hannah, grabbed my leg and wouldn’t let go. Ivan entered the room and told me I was making the goodbye worse by prolonging my leave.
I thought about his comment. I did prolong the goodbye and that was causing my daughters behavior to escalate. I trusted Ivan and Adele with my children. Ivan was a well-known leader in the community. He was an only child, raised by his father and grandmother in the south. He held a good job and was currently working on his master’s degree. Adele was known in the community for her outstanding baking and sewing skills—winning blue ribbons at the fair. She grew up in a large family on a farm in the Midwest. After they married, they settled in the Pacific Northwest, had five children, and lived in a beautiful home in a post card neighborhood.
When I returned home my four-year-old son, Jordan, ran into the room and gave me hug. But Ivan and Hannah were gone. Adele explained, “Ivan wanted to give me a break from watching both kids so I could get dinner made.”
Her answer troubled me. I didn't plan or give permission for Ivan to take either child anywhere with him. Suddenly, the front door swung open. Ivan walked in carrying Hannah. Her eyes were glassy as if she’d been crying and her face flushed. I reached my arms out to hold her but she flung herself onto the floor into a temper-tantrum.
“What happened? I glared at Ivan.
“She's almost two isn’t she? She’s having a temper tantrum! She’s been misbehaving.” Then he abruptly marched out of the room.
I asked her for a hug but she nodded—no. Her diaper was sagging so I coaxed her to lay down so I could change it. When I removed the diaper I saw diaper rash and a tiny puncture on the back side of her thigh.
“What is this?” I called out to anyone in the household, to answer.
Jordan was the first to respond. “She sat on a sewing pin that was in the carpet!”
Adele came into the room and stood perplexed, looking at the puncture. “When did she sit on a pin?”
The explanation for her marks seemed reasonable. But I remained troubled over my daughter’s behavior and physical mark on her body. As the hours passed, my concern grew more intense as I thought about Ivan taking Hannah without my permission and returning with her visibly upset. It seemed as if Ivan was keeping details of the day from me. I just didn't know what he was hiding. Learn more here.
What are signs of child abuse?
Signs of abuse may include:
Sudden change in behavior, observable changes on their body—bruises, irritations and rashes, small punctures, scratches etc., emotional resistance to being with a specific person. Communicating or drawing maltreatment.
Reasons to respond responsibly on behalf of the child: Child abuse is a crime.
If a child discloses, or you discover and/or suspect call your local law enforcement and talk to a juvenile detective. Click to read more about disclosure, discovery and suspect child abuse and responding to abuse at government resources.
Be safe. Be accurate. Be brave.