You may laugh at some parts but other parts you’ll find shocking and disturbing; that’s the point. That’s the point because it’s how we experienced it Tuesday afternoon. The conversation got so disturbing and distressing that two of the three involved just started laughing. The only identifiable emotion to express was nervous laughter.

Here we go, Tuesday afternoon….

So, the conversation was between me and two strangers, both women. We sat in the physical therapy office talking about the behavior of children today. The older lady with the bleached bouffant hair said that today you’re not supposed to spank kids but sometimes they need it. The skinny lady said, “That’s right. You can baby proof but you still have to teach your children. People don’t teach their children anymore, they just let them run the household.” The bouffant lady then said,”My granddaughter always plays with herself.” She began to demonstrate with hand gestures.

Yup, that’s what she said. She hit us square between the eyes with that information. I leaned on the arm of the chair with my chin in my hand. She went on, She does it all the time. Day, night, sleepy, happy, sad, it doesn’t matter. She always plays with herself.
Me: That’s too much information. Why are you telling me this?
Bouffant: It’s all the time! They’ve tried spanking her and taking away her toys. It’s been so much that she’s damaging her urethra.
Me: Okay, why are you telling me this? I’m rather horrified.
Skinny girl looks like she wants to slink under the chair.
Bouffant: Her father made her a straight jacket so she can’t touch herself all the time. It’s a homemade straight jacket.
Me: I’m sorry, what? Um….(I look off to the distance)
Bouffant grandma attempts to justify the straight jacket by telling a story about the little girl hitting the dog with a stick. She’s six years old, the grandma said, and she called the cops on her father saying he was beating her brother, now Child Protective Services are at the house checking. We’ve tried to tell them she needs to be spanked everyday.
Me: Child Protective Services are involved? That’s a relief. Do they know about the straight jacket?
Bouffant grandma: She lies. I told my son he never should have taken her in. She’s my daughter’s child, not his. We should have known she’d be trouble, her mom’s an alcoholic Schizophrenic.
Me (with increased volume): GOOD LORD!

Every, single ounce of restraint was used while listening to her describe confinement and how the little girl isn’t allowed to have contact with her older brother. Me: Is this little girl living in the basement?

It just went from bad to worse. I suggested to her that maybe, just maybe the child has OCD and that she might need to be seen by a professional to manage any potential mental health issues. She just kept giving stories about how bad the child is and how spanking and restraining are the only things the six year old understands. Now, restraining a child is legal in Indiana depending on manner, time restrained and the needs of the child. I don’t know if masturbation is considered a reason to restrain and I’m not certain if a homemade device falls within legal boundaries.

Bouffant grandma talked about another granddaughter who was said to be severely mentally impaired but that working with her and allowing her to play with her brothers and sisters helped her adjust to today’s world. She talked about the little girl in the most endearing terms. Finally she was called by the doctor. Skinny girl and I looked at each other laughed, a very nervous, uneasy, in shock kind of laugh. We couldn’t believe what Bouffant Abuser just said.

I have to shake my head because it’s clear that there’s a good child and a bad child. A child loved and adored and a child looked down on and separated from others. My family didn’t go as far as to separate me from my sister but I was labeled the bad one and my sister the good one. I was the smart one and my sister the stupid one. I was the ‘fat’ child, my sister was the skinny one. Stark lines were drawn to describe us, lines which also made clear which child would receive the most abuse and public shaming.

Skinny girl and I agreed that it’s a good thing Child Protective Services were called. Maybe the little girl has a chance, maybe.

As if all Bouffant Abuser said wasn’t enough, before the lady got through the door with her doctor she turned to us and said, “Lets pray Trump wins”. I thought two things. 1) that explains the torture. They probably waterboard the child, too. 2) I’m on candid camera. This isn’t real! This is not real. Nobody does this kind of crap and talks about it in public. Oh wait, my mother did….she did because it was so horrible that everyone thought she must be kidding. She wasn’t. She wasn’t!

I could have easily laughed off the TMI, but once she added the abuse and separation it wasn’t funny anymore. It was, as I said, horrifying.

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2 thoughts on “When strangers talk about child abuse openly

  1. Omgoodness I’m traumatized reading it I can’t imagine sitting through it though I know I would have, outta shock and training. Lord bless that child I will add her into my chain of good thoughts daily. This happens to me a lot, I’m approachable and charming, it’s also the reason I don’t mind not going into the world as much anymore. Not that I want to live in a bubble just that myself is tender and tired and prone to feeling too deeply. I don’t watch tv for the same reason. I’m impressionable…I have a vivid empathic imagination. I use it to do my job, I do it well. I just can’t with the world sometimes I just can’t. Big love. Always.

  2. That lady looked half way normal until she started talking. For every fool you can, see there are 20 you can’t see. This low estimate makes me wonder; is my not playing well with others really all my fault?

    outta shock and training…exactly! clearly she couldn’t hear what i was saying to her. “I’m horrified.” I did say it flatly. The only time I raised my voice was when she got into how they should have known the child was going to be trouble. We all have a threshold for pain and she crossed mine!!!

    This happens to me a lot, I’m approachable…… I’m approachable and that’s a problem.

    empathic….. It’s too hard to mix and mingle for long when being empathic to a fault. I feel so intensely sometimes I think it might break me.


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