What Is Child Physical Abuse?

bigstock-Sad-Abused-Boy-with-Anger-Shad-37972027The following article is a partial reprint from the Humane Association. “The mission of American Humane Association is to ensure the welfare, wellness and well-being of children and animals, and to unleash the full potential of the bond between humans and animals to the mutual benefit of both.”  

What Is Child Physical Abuse?

Defined as non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child, physical abuse is the most visible form of child maltreatment.


An Abusive, Abandoning Mother, Fast Becoming a Lush.

Kimmy & MeMy daughter, Alex, and Ty’s twin brother, Jess, had age-appropriate sicknesses and little childhood traumas that needed tending, but Ty’s hearing, eyesight, lack of speech, and overall delayed developmental issues were so huge that they became all-consuming. Every day, I struggled with bills, scheduling demands, sick children, and now a controlling boyfriend who wanted attention and sex. Just like when I was married, these stressors caused severe physical reactions. At least once a week, I had either an ulcer attack or spasmodic gastritis so painful that I spent all night on the bathroom floor.

Fast losing ground in a number of ways, the final straw came the day my health insurance premiums doubled. The premiums shot up to $350.00 monthly, which was more than my monthly child support checks. I was scared to death. My son’s problems demanded that I maintain health insurance. My stress became apparent to everyone around me. I was losing weight, not sleeping, and stuttering more frequently, and my drinking and smoking increased.


“Dangerous Men, Abusive Relationships; Abusive Men, Dangerous Relationships”

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Friendship and The Blue Suit


Peter Graves Greg Morris Lynda Day George Mission Impossible 1972.JPGIN DECEMBER OF 1972, my daughter had just turned five, and her twin brothers were four.  The long and embittered divorce proceedings were finally ending for Bill and me. My now ex-husband contested my half-interest in all our assets, stating that I had not worked outside the home and therefore deserved nothing. The role of mother or housewife didn’t represent anything of value in his mind. He was enraged  by the eventual fifty/fifty financial split. A few days after the divorce was granted, he came to my apartment brandishing a gun. He pointed the gun right at my head and said, “I’ll be keeping my eye on you, and you best understand that I have absolutely no qualms about using this.” I was too fearful to tell the police or anyone else—not the first time I buckled to the pressure of a threat or harm.

The day after his threat he promptly departed for sunny California for an eight-month period to live with his friends Christopher and Lynda Day George.

Lynda and I met when we were nineteen.  Our husbands went to college together, and had worked together on several “want-to-be” films. Whether it was our innate shyness, our lack of self-esteem, or our then-narcissistic partners, we bonded immediately. Perhaps it was our yet-undisclosed backgrounds of poverty and abuse that created a kind of familiarity that fostered our attachment. We had both had multiple fathers, alcoholism, abuse, knock-down drag-out family fights, little money or food, and pressure  from our mothers for financial support while we were still in high school. Some would call our growing-up lifestyle hard times; others would call it trailer-trash.


Marie, My Friend

Marie $ Dawn


When I see old reviews of the humorous and touching 1988 movie Cocoon: The Return, I can’t help but think of my friend Marie. She was a professional makeup artist for television and motion pictures.  In the late sixties I even got to watch her work when she invited me to lunch on the set of the then-popular television series Gentle Ben.




rag doll legs crossedNINETEEN AND TWICE-MARRIED, I had become a woman lost. There was no me to be found anywhere inside. Like an obedient puppy, I did what I was told to do. Whipped by life, I had become unable to make even the simplest decision on my own. For example, if I was driving and came to a stop sign, and wasn’t sure which way to turn, I would cover my face and sob while my car sat in the middle of the intersection. All of my previous coping mechanisms had failed me. Hope had failed me. I had failed me.


Stealing Booze and Crash-Landing (part two)

joey at mm furnral (5)




Within hours of Joey’s departure, I was drunk. All I cared about was escaping the pain. Running away always seemed to be a solution, like when I was a little girl and ran to the arms of the eucalyptus trees. I threw clothes into a suitcase and got a cab to the bus station, where I boarded a Greyhound for New York City. Why New York? Who knows?

Two days later, disheveled, hungry, and with little money, I checked into a sleazy hotel in New York City. In sheer panic, I called my supervisor and quit my beloved job, pretending a lengthy family emergency.

Just prior to my entering the six-week stewardess training program, I had begun dating a handsome man sixteen years my senior. We were introduced by a mutual friend. Bill held a Bachelor of Science degree and was a showroom  manager  at the Miami Playboy Club. Suave and debonair, he began pressuring me to marry him within weeks of our initial meeting. Although he was thirty-six, he had never married. I took his interest in me to be true love. I did not return his attention with a feeling of “love,” but  I was interested in his seeming maturity, self- assurance, and sincerity. I had half-heartedly  considered his offer, pondering if after my first marital experience I would ever feel comfortable with a man of worldly experience.


A New Me but for the Chickens

ugly chickenON JULY 4, 1955, the New York Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox seven to four. Marilyn Monroe graced the front page of Tempo magazine, which could be purchased for fifteen cents. Marilyn’s bathing suit was labeled with the words, “Beware of Danger.”

It would be seven years before I would have any reason to pay attention to any of these happenings. The day of spectacular fireworks and bodacious flag flying was also my tenth birthday, and we were moving to a new house in a brand new neighborhood, not one of those converted barracks.

I was enlivened with the prospect of a new start, a new life away from the house without grass and the accusing eyes of the neighbors who knew of the shame within the house with no paint. I can recall with great accuracy the desire to recreate myself, to make a new me to match the new neighborhood. I thought and thought about who I could become and how to go about creating an acceptable me. I wanted people to smile when they saw me instead of withering their faces up like a prune.


A Filthy Old Horse Named Dolly



Swayback3The only thing that made those weekend visits to my dad’s bearable was a neighbor’s filthy old horse named Dolly. I thought her to be very sad, and she was horribly swaybacked, but somehow we understood each other intimately. Dolly allowed me to climb up onto her weary, old, bare back, where I would slide down to the lowest part to feel cradled. She and I, ever so slowly, would walk way out into the big pasture, where we would daydream our way through the day. Sometimes I would cry into her matted mane while she nuzzled my neck. I always brought Dolly any carrots I could find when scavenging in the dumpsters. Like the big old eucalyptus trees and broken dolls I befriended, Dolly never cared about my filthy feet or matted hair. We became good friends over the three years I was forced to go to that wretched trailer.


Saved by solitude and the old horse Dolly DOWN FROM the rugged granite mountain ridges some twenty miles north of the Mexican border and seventeen miles east of the Pacific Ocean, one can only guess at the breathlessness of the early mission padres seeing the basin below. They named the valley El Cajon. The name means “the big box” because that is how the flat valley floor seemed. The eventual agrarian heartland would prove a perfect support for citrus, avocados, grapes and barley. It was near these foothills that I learned to love solitude and an old horse named Dolly, and to devour mounds of mashed potatoes. It was also where I learned to hate tumbleweeds, tarantulas, and the effects of alcohol.

The family composition shifted when I turned seven and my big brother was eleven. Mother, hospitalized for several weeks with complications from jaundice, followed by months of bed rest, presented the opportunity for Howard to find himself a new woman. Even before the divorce papers were filed, he was gone.