Not every child looks forward to summer vacation the same way that their peers do.  Not every child counts down those last few minutes until the final school bell rings for the year.  While the majority of their peers are looking forward to a summer of grilling out, family vacations, and lazy afternoons by the pool – the abused child leaves school knowing that the next three months of their life are going to be anything but fun and relaxing.

School is an abused child’s safe place and their refuge away from the madness they call their home life.  School provides the abused child 6-8 hours of freedom a day; freedom from the physical abuse, freedom from mental torture, and freedom to relax and breathe a little bit before they have to go home and face their abuser.  An abused child knows fully well that an abusive parent will be less willing to leave marks on their body during the school year while under the eyes of watchful teachers and school counselors.  Even if they are bullied and teased at school, the abused child will tolerate it because anything is better than what they face at home every night.

Summer breaks for me were terrible for all of the reasons above and then some.  When that final bell rung for the last time in May, I trudged out of school as if my feet were made of lead.  How could I be as excited as my peers when I knew that I was facing three months alone with Mom with no break, no one to watch out for me, and no one to see the marks she left on me?  How could I be excited when I knew the mental and physical abuse I would endure during those three months?  I would turn green with envy as I would listen to my peers brag about the summer vacations they were going to take and the fun times with family that they were looking forward to.  I couldn’t comprehend their happiness and I already knew that our summers were going to be very, very different.

But do you know what would have helped?  Simple gestures by teachers like a note in the mail, letting me know that they hoped I was having a good summer vacation and that they were thinking about me would have made my days a bit brighter.  A knock on the door from a neighbor asking my Mom if she needed a break and getting me and my sister out of the house for a couple of hours would have been wonderful.  And a visit from one of my peers from school, even once a week, would have made me feel less alone.

Enjoy your summers – I truly hope that each of yours is filled with fun and happiness.  But don’t forget about those kids who are dealing with hell at home.  Simple gestures of kindness will make them feel less alone and hopefully help them get through the months they are stuck in the house with their abuser.

If you suspect child abuse – please call your local Child Protective Services or Law Enforcement agency so professionals can assess the situation.