Updated: Apr 24, 2020
As a survivor of traumatic childhood events, the livelihood of children for whom home is not a safe place and who are feeling the repercussions of being trapped in an emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive home environment are weighing heavy on my heart. For me, there were years where my hours at school were a sanctuary. The inability for children to attend school has cut many of them off from the place where they spend the only safe and carefree hours of their day.
Children are innocent victims and witnesses to thousands of instances of domestic violence each year and these traumatic events have lasting effects that bleed into their lives as adults. School is not only their only safe place, but is often the only place where they receive proper meals and and vital nutrients. Stress levels are heightened in the homes of Americans across the country right now due to the financial fall out of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving children susceptible to abuse, negligence, and a lack of nutrition. My heart aches for the children who are feeling and carrying a large portion of the burden of this moment in history.
Children of addicts and those who suffer from untreated mental illnesses are especially at risk at this time. They need our help. I can recall a time in my youth in which our neighbors dropped groceries on our doorstep while our family was undergoing a difficult time. The task of attaining or affording groceries at that moment seemed unfathomable for our family. I will never forget those tender souls who acknowledged the hardship we were enduring with a simple act of kindness that got us through those days with groceries we could not have otherwise afforded. Please consider donating to the myriad of funds, such as Feeding America to help keep food in the mouths of those who are in need of healthy meals at this time. We need one another right now.
Understandably, the financial hardship of this global pandemic may make it impossible to donate. That’s okay! You can also help by sharing the National Domestic Violence Hotline, or the local phone number for Child Social Services in your area and saving it to your phone. You never know when the time to utilize that number may be. Keep your ears open. If you hear someone in trouble please call 1-800-799-SAFE.
The characters of the film I will be releasing this Sunday April 19th, Crying Wolf, are a product of adverse childhood experiences, and what we see in the film are a brother and sister bonded by trauma, who have formed an unhealthy attachment to one another in order to cope. Though the childhood experiences of Izzy and Jacob are not explicitly mentioned in this film, the film itself is a sliver of a much larger story, a novel which depicts much of the emotional trauma they endured as children and how that manifests into a very complex adult relationship that prevents them from forming healthy attachments. I will include a small segment from that larger story below if you care to contextualize.
Rather than ask for a financial contribution for viewing the film, my hope is that it may inspire its audience to help children who may be suffering traumas at home RIGHT NOW, by donating, taking the time to spread awareness by sharing the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE), and/or checking in on children you feel may be subject to neglect or at risk for abuse.
The fictional characters of this film are survivors of trauma, but they are merely fictitious representations of a very real problem. Adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) can lead to depression, suicide, co-dependent adult relationships, addictions, PTSD, and many many more mental and physical health problems that often do not present until adulthood and are then very confusing to untangle and lead to a startling number of premature deaths. The film’s title is taken from the original short story about a young woman who threatens suicide each time her brother leaves her for more than a few days, unable to cope with the world without her only touchstone in the aftermath of traumatic childhood events. There are REAL children out there who need our help RIGHT NOW. I hope that this film might generate a conversation that will lead us to share resources for helping those who are suffering.
As always, thank you for your love, tenderness, dedication, and care in helping me to address one of the underlying hardships of this pandemic. I hope that this small piece of art can help inspire aid and tenderness in our own backyards. Please remember that children do not have resources for help. If you see or hear something, please do not look the other way, or write anyone off as bad parents. Our judgement is not helpful. We don’t know what obstacles those parents may be facing, addictions they may be fighting, or mental illnesses that have gone untreated, but what we can do is help the innocent children who are caught in the web by making an anonymous call. These babies deserve safety, nutrition, and love. So much love.
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in more than 200 languages. All calls are free and confidential.
Child Social Services
Reporting someone to social services is nothing to fear. ... Further, social services will not take any action against the person you report if they find no evidence of abuse or neglect. In fact, the report and the ensuing investigation will never become a part of the individual's record.
Excerpt from the Crying Wolf Manuscript.
Jacob and I had been playing in the sprinkler in the backyard with the neighbor kids when Jess' screaming put a halt to our laughter. Jess had come home from a month in New Mexico on a job and found our mother lying face down on the ornate rug in a puddle of vomit. Her fists clenched tight around handfuls of pills.
Life had sat a little heavier on our mother when Jess was away. Different. She barely spoke. Hardly broke free of her room. Her hair slick with unwashed shine and eyes searching some far off place. She was cutting her own hair again. Jake left sandwiches by her door. Untouched.
Jake and I slipped in and out of the house in silence as not to disturb the slumbering creature in that dark bedroom. We gave her a wide and gentle birth, careful not to trigger a forgotten landmine that might signal her toward rage or an hours long disappearance by car.
Following Jess’ screams, I’d stood dripping on the front lawn in my yellow bathing suit and bare feet. My mouth hanging. My fingers gripping the hem of Jacob’s board shorts, as we watched the lights on the ambulance turn on as it backed out of our driveway, taking our mother and her lover away.
Jess, like a phantom, had boarded the vehicle in haste. A body without insides. Capsized by fear. Her eyes had looked right though us. Lost in a sea of children, wet with hose water. Adult hands grabbing at slippery arms and pulling their beloveds homeward. All Jess could see was our mother.
We stood motionless in the grass a long while after everyone had gone. We watched our street become a giant shadow as the sun fell, flushing the sky with pink and orange as goosebumps plumped on our skin. I was 9. It was the first time I saw what love could do to a person.
— Jennifer Parkhill