Child Abuse Victims Experience in Poetry

Daddy... It hurts 

My name is Chris
I am three, 
My eyes are swollen 
I cannot see, 
I must be stupid 
I must be bad, 
What else could have made 
My daddy so mad? 
I wish I were better 
I wish I weren’t ugly, 
Then maybe my mommy 
Would still want to hug me. 
I can't do a wrong 
I can’t speak at all 
Or else I'm locked up 
All day long. 
When I'm awake I'm all alone 
The house is dark 
My folks aren't home 
When my mommy does come home 
I'll try and be nice, 
So maybe I'll just get 
One whipping tonight. 
I just heard a car 
My daddy is back 
From Charlies bar 
I hear him curse 
My name is called 
I press myself 
Against the wall 
I try to hide 
From his evil eyes 
I'm so afraid now 
I'm starting to cry 
He finds me weeping 
Calls me ugly words, 
He says its my fault 
He suffers at work 
He slaps and hits me 
And yells at me more, 
I finally get free 
And run to the door 
He's already locked it 
And I start to bawl, 
He takes me and throws me 
Against the hard wall 
I fall to the floor 
With my bones nearly broken, 
And my daddy continues 
With more bad words spoken, 
'I'm sorry!', I scream 
But its now much to late 
His face has been twisted 
Into a unimaginable shape 
The hurt and the pain 
Again and again 
O please God, have mercy! 
O please let it end! 
And he finally stops 
And heads for the door 
While I lay there motionless 
Sprawled on the floor 
My name is Chris 
I am three, 
Tonight my daddy 
Murdered me 
And you can help 
Sickens me to the soul, 
And if you read this 
and don't pass it on 
I pray for your forgiveness 
Because you would have to be 
One heartless person 
To not be affected 
By this Poem 
And because you are affected, 
Do something about it! 

Tie a Knot

Your days drag into night
All filled with doubt
You’re in way too deep
Can’t find your way out

This doesn’t seem what life should mean
Where did it all go wrong
Something inside of you makes you hang on
You just don’t know for how long

I know where you’re at my friend
I’ve walked in your shoes
Please believe in what I have to say
Life is the only choice you need
To get you through this day

So when your days are filled with darkness
And your nights caught up in fear
Please hang on with all you’ve got
To this life we hold so dear

Look to the simpler things
And clear your mind
Solve your troubles one by one
And peace you’ll find

When you feel you’ve come to the end of your rope
Tie a knot and hang on
Better days will surface soon
Just tie a knot and hang on 

Respect is a Word

Respect is an essential word.
People need to respect themselves, others,
their possessions and the natural world.
Building a healthy respect for yourself
makes you feel good about who you are,
what you’re capable of doing,
and enhances your value as a human being.
Self-respect creates a set of personal guidelines
that help you to make solid decisions,
conduct yourself honorably,
and present yourself with poise and confidence.
Having respect for other people is also essential.
It enables you to keep an open mind
to alternate ideas and opinions.
It reminds you to interact with others
as you want them to interact with you.
It opens the door to acceptance and camaraderie,
and it fosters reciprocal respect.
By respecting one’s possessions,
people learn to appreciate their belongings.
Clothing and homes and vehicles
last longer and offer years of comfort and security
when they are properly taken care of.
Special acquisitions provide decades of enjoyment
when cared for in a respectful way,
adding to their value and reverence for future generations.
And finally, practicing respect for the natural world
is essential for the continuance of life on Earth.
Natural resources must be used conscientiously.
The purity of the air, the land and the waters must be sustained.
Living creatures should be allowed to live free
or cared for in sanctuaries or other appropriate settings.
The bounty of the land should be treasured and shared.
Respect is a universally beneficial word
to practice, to hold onto and to give away.
Respect is a word
meant to enrich the quality of life.

Perri E. Hogan

Ms. Onondaga

I pass by your obscured, damaged loveliness and wonder why you’re hiding – downcast – faint traces of bruises mar your haggard visage. What has he done to you? You remain broken, ashamed and abandoned while Man has moved on to abuse other watery bodies.

For years you’ve suffered slights, insults and mockery. You’ve been downgraded- your spirit pushed deeper into the toxic muck. Your bright joyous bounce has been battered into a slow-lapping sludge.You became stagnant – no sparkle across your surface, no glide in your movement – shut down, shut in, shut off and shut out. Heavy metals weighed you down and trampled your exuberance.

Man first hid you away to keep you for himself. Later, you hid yourself – a horrid, scarred, poisoned, shocked and used up body – until the destruction ended.

Just lately you’ve been peeking out from behind those reedy curtains - your liquid skin is clearing – the scars are fading, and a slight playfulness sprints across your white-capped waves.

Laura Peer

The Sands of Time

the sands of time are slipping through the cracks
these moments flying by so damn fast
I'm trying to hold on be strong before it unravels and fades away

because how long will serenity, the happiness last today?
cause i don't know we're standing on a tight rope just waiting to fall again, fall again, fall again

i look into your eyes so filled with love not a trace of the hate I've seen before but it won't last
you're a ticking time bomb just waiting to blow. So try to hold on be strong before this unravels and fades away.

because you don't know how long the love, the happiness will last today.
We're standing on a tight rope just waiting to fall again, fall again, fall again. We fell again.

Our little girl walks in so forgiving and her eyes usually so bright
but not this time her heart is burdened watching her parents fight
and I don't know what to say watching the tears stream down her face then i realize

the serenity the happiness never lasts. and now i know the stakes are much too high.
standing on a tight rope waiting to fall isn't worth the price it's time to say good-bye

the sands of time are slipping through the cracks these moments flying by so damn fast
now I'm trying to move on be strong letting the tight rope unravel and fade away now the happiness is bound to stay.

These are My Pieces

These are my pieces, but not my whole.
I am more than this flesh and blood.
My skin does not portray who/what lies beneath.
My smile does not really show how I feel
and my eyes do not allow you to see my depth.

I am no longer an object of someone else’s will,
but a prisoner to my own body.
My body does not feel like it belongs to me.
For so long it was not given a say
and was forcibly maneuvered by another.

Even my mind seems to be dictated
by my own body's sensations.
A simple touch of my arm can trigger a memory.
My hand hesitates to make contact
with even ones I love.

All of these pieces while built together, feel disjointed.
My lips long for a long compassionate kiss,
but my hand will freely push it away.
My arms cry out to be wrapped in another’s,
but my body quickly tightens
responding to a perceived attack.
My body while flaunted is self-conscious
of how it will be judged.
It is a vessel of unknown.

Each touch is a switch
that triggers a new or old memory.
A personal home theater of years past,
many showing reruns that had long been forgotten
or simply waiting for the right time.
My home movies are nightmares
that give understanding to my body's reactions.
Unlike nightmares, I can not wake up
and say it was just a dream.

I have tried to rationalize
with both my mind and body, but it yields to the past.
They are a great puzzle
that I am slowly piecing together.
The picture of who I am
becomes clearer with each piece,
and like most children’s toys, the result is often
not as spectacular as you had hoped.

Can I see who I am becoming
without finishing the puzzle?
The pieces have slowly come together
to create a gruesome picture of who I was.
The pieces cannot be reconfigured
to change the ultimate image;
my picture of my past will always be the same.

The only difference now lies
in how I choose to view it in the future.

Heather Cutler-Young

These are My Pieces Revised

These are my pieces but they are not my whole. I am more than this flesh and blood. My skin does not portray who/ or what lies beneath. My expressions do not necessarily show how I really feel and my eyes do not allow you to see the depths of my soul.

I am no longer an object of someone else’s will. I am not a prisoner of my mind or body. While a simple smell, touch or sight may trigger a memory I no longer allow my senses to control the me that I have become. I seek affection from the ones I love and now feel comfort in their embraces where before I felt shame and fear.

While all of these pieces built together may seem disjointed, they are the me I was always meant to be; the me I deserve to be. I am a collage of many pieces. Separately the picture alone has no meaning or significant worth, but together it forms a beautiful and distinct representation of something bigger and better than its original piece.

The puzzle is finally finished. It took 30 long years in the making.

It is an eclectic montage of who I am and all that I aspire to be. A survivor, a daughter, a wife,  a daughter in law,  a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a mother, a teacher, a pacifist, a perfectionist , a romantic, and a bleeding heart liberal. I am the me I was meant to be.

The pieces have slowly come together
to create a gruesome picture of who I was.
The pieces cannot be reconfigured
to change the ultimate image;
my picture of my past will always be the same.

The difference now lies in how I view myself and my future.

Heather Cutler – Young


I was made shattered.
A ruined soul now exists
where a whole person

I break plates and glasses,
smashing them for release;
The fractured pieces litter the floor
and I can’t help but relate
to each broken fragment.

I’m the broken vase that lies on the floor,
the spilled water decorating the tile
with the tattered roses
begging for

The body is soft and supple,
able to absorb blows.
Identities are fragile
and difficult to repair.
My self is destroyed.

I’ve put the pieces back together with glue-
that’s progress-
but the glue is still curing and the pieces
don’t fit together quite right.
I’m not okay.

We work with
available light
to mend the fractured soul.
Like plates, I am the
product of human efforts.

You made me shatter.


A captive, hostage of his vicious anger.
The facade of his caring baby blue eyes
now contorted with vicious cruelty.
My once unbroken body
now a mess of tangled hair,
busted and bloody lips,
fist and finger-shaped

My former fiery soul missing in action,
his prisoner in this agonizing tango.
Our war.

Breath, hot enough to melt me.
Fists mold my flesh into his putty,
knife caressing my throat, prolonging the agony.
His violent words, stab me,
force me hostage, as the
bombs explode around me
and my life fades slowly
before my eyes.

Please don’t kill me.
I beg, like a bloody wounded doe.

I’ve change my mind…
Please, just kill me.
His refusal to spare my death
propels him, the tortures continue.
I see his bed, the puddle of blood,
as my final resting place.

Though our battle rages in the darkness,
when the sun begins to rise,
the yellow rays bring promise of life.
In conceding to his war tortures,
a treaty is forged.
He gently kisses my cheek and whispers
this tug-of-war is our little secret.

Blind Date

Big, brown, bottomless eyes in the mirror.
and never again mine.
Any reprieve from this brutality,
his inexhaustible hatred.

My once graceful dancer’s arms
now churning
in desperate and sloppy cartwheels.
My impotent blows
no match for his rigid steel frame.

My rapid breath escapes my body,
taking with it my simple life.
But I need it back.
So I struggle to catch it, claim it again;
take it down to the deepest part of my soul
where I will be safe,
before I am consumed inside the insatiable oven of my rapist’s rage

The Kindness of Strangers

Bloodied and broken she rises
Hands clenched, her face pointed up toward the sky;
Tears sting her eyes but she wills them away,
Resolving once more he will not see her cry.

She looks in the eyes of her children,
Knowing her pain has become part of them,
With soft words to offer them comfort,
She gives of herself as she's dying within.

Swiftly she puts things in order,
Washes the blood and gets on with her day.
At least this time not much has been broken,
A small piece of her soul is all she throws away.

But each time is worse than the last time,
And it's getting much harder to mask how she feels;
Some make-up will fix up the outside,
But inside it seems like the wound never heals.

I promise you that she is frightened.
I swear to you she never asked for this pain.
Sometimes when you get dragged down too far,
It just gets so hard to get back up again.

Let us show her the kindness of strangers;
As strangers so often turn out to be friends,
Then, as friends we can guide her to freedom;
And rejoice in the person she becomes –
when the pain finally ends.

Leslie Root
who found freedom with a little help from her friends


Trying to be their shining daughter
I polished and lifted saddles
Shoveled out stalls, carried water and feed
Sponged and wrapped bruised flesh
Brushed my bay gelding to a sheen

Handsomely costumed and schooled, my brothers
Bridled massive steeds through their paces
Presenting the judges sleek performances
That masked the boys who taunted
Disrupting my sleep like cobbles in the bed

Shelves of silver cups
Belie cold black hours spent
Stowed under the eaves of our farmhouse attic
Bound by brothers who
Threatened worse if I revealed my terror

Ignoring walls covered with prize ribbons
Mother mended breeches
Father just raised the bar as I
Rode through fields of indifference with a
Wound which has not bled

Sally Gould

Do You?

Do you think of us at Easter?
Do you think of us at Christmas?

Are you mad at yourself for going away,
or happy that you have moved on without us?

Do you get upset when you think of us,
and sad because you’re missing out on us?

Do you think of the pain you left us with?
Well do you?

Do you care about what you did?
Do you feel guilty for how you left things?

I hope you are good
because I am great - we are great.

Does it hurt you to know
that you had nothing to do
with our happiness?

Tell me . . .
does it suck to be you?

Samantha McCormick

My Children’s Eyes

You're the monster under my bed and in my closet
yet I can't seem to let you go.

You creep into my most private moments
and I'm not sure I could lose you in a crowd
if I tried.

I'm helpless to the hurt you've caused me
and the one I love,
as helpless as I am when you appear
in my nightmares.

Someday your memory will leave
the inside of my eyelids
and I promise you will not exist
in my children’s eyes.


Garden Elegy

I touch the broad leaves of the blue hosta,
inviting her to come with me,
explaining that she needs to escape.
Fennel, fragile and lush, clings to the fence.
Peonies bleed petals.
Hyacinth bulbs hide under dirt.
In an empty pot, I find a snakeskin,
coiled and glistening.

I memorize the contrast of bright and dark,
the rich clumping of flower and leaf.
I want to hold this garden safe inside of me.

We dig every hosta,
scoop loose earth to cover roots,
pile plants into plastic bags.
We work fast to save as many as we can.

I untangle the deep roots
of the rosebush she transplanted as a bride
from her grandmother’s house in Michigan.
We lift smooth stones
that came from the bluffs of Lake Ontario,
carried home on picnic days before
the marriage began to taste bitter.

Sweat blesses our necks, our breasts, our silence.
We pull plants from the earth, one by one.
The sage. The daphne. The bleeding heart.

Sometimes the safest
gardens are the ones we tend in our dreams.

I know these ferns
have heard her cry.

Janine DeBaise

The Attic

In the attic I hide,
Fearing the rage that keeps
banging on the door,
Knowing that outside the storm
gathers its strength.

Sweat mingles with tears.
I taste the dust in the air
as it falls upon me.
My face now covered with
darkened streaks of fear.

There is no shelter to slip away to.
With reddened face and glaring eyes
you pace before your prey.
I must face your wrath.

She arises within me to open the door.
You greet her with your fists of power
hitting, slapping, kicking,
And choking your punishment upon her.

There now on the floor, curled up in a ball,
Lies the little girl lost within my soul,
Bruised, broken and shattered.

Once again we have survived,
Only to be told, “get up, go wash your face”.
Bruises don’t wash away.