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Raise your voice against child abuse

Recently you may have read an article titled “For how long will we look the other way,” by my good friend Danielle Ellison. In her article she mentioned a 2-month-old boy who was abused by his biological father. What you do not know is that that baby is my son.

This story is not comical, nor is it romantic. It is the truth — raw and unpreserved truth.

Let me start by posing this question: Is it wrong to ask for justice?

My life changed when my beautiful baby boy was brought into this world. I never knew that complete and utter perfection could exist in a 7-pound, blue-eyed boy. Then, unexpectedly, my life changed again, and not in the way I thought.

May 22, 2013, is a day that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. Any questions I had about my fiancé were answered, any doubts I had about my relationship were clearly brought to light.

My son was taken to Oregon Health and Science University with multiple fractures throughout the body, strangulation, retinal hemorrhages in the right eye, and subdural hematoma to the right side of his brain. I remember everything so vividly. I remember the hallway to the pediatric intensive care unit, I remember the color of the walls, I remember the smell of sterile medical equipment, and I remember seeing my defenseless baby asleep, covered in casts and monitors.

“I’m sorry; he is too broken to touch right now.” the nurse stated.

I couldn’t nurse my baby. When he would cry I couldn’t pick him up to comfort him; all I could do was wait for doctors to tell me the next step to take.

My son was taken for a full magnetic resonance imaging appointment. My mother held my hand as I sat and cried and prayed that they would tell me he was going to be OK and that I could take him home. Sitting in that dark room his neurosurgeon walked in and told me that the bleeding had stopped and that we were going to be able to move to a new floor.

Later, I received a phone call from the detective that was assigned to our case. His words were so haunting that I couldn’t even walk straight. To hear him confirm that my ex fiancé had a history of abuse in the form of sexual offenses made me go mad. I was upset, I was confused, I felt betrayed, abused, and destroyed. I was angry, in a form that was foreign to me.

Today my son suffers from shaken baby syndrome, epilepsy, cortical visual impairment, cerebral palsy and developmental delays. Our days are filled with medication, physical therapy and doctor visits. After a year of legal battles involving bail hearings, district attorney meetings, plea bargains and court dates, my ex-fiancé was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for assault, not child abuse. Four and a half years for almost taking the life of a 2-month-old baby. A baby who had no idea what was happening to him, no way of protecting himself, and no voice. Can you call that justice?

Shaken baby syndrome is defined as an “injury to a baby caused by being shaken violently and repeatedly.” However, what you may not know is that shaken baby syndrome hardly ever has any visible signs. To look at a child you would have no way of knowing that there were broken bones or retinal damage. My son had old fractures and new fractures throughout his body, on top of severe head and retinal trauma.

You cannot put a time frame on a crime such as child abuse. There is no expiration date for altering a life, and there is no explanation that can justify why someone would decide to harm an infant. No child ever deserves to experience that kind of pain.

I am a single mother to a child with special needs, but I am a mother nonetheless, I am also a mother who is determined to make a difference. I am determined to have my story heard, I am determined to see my son learn to walk, I am determined to raise my voice. Now I ask you to raise yours.