Saturday, June 13, 2009

When Justice Fails the Children, PART V, Kristy's Story by Debra Sanders

When Justice Fails the Children—Kristy’s story
Part V

After K. wrote her email to me, I quickly clarified with Kristy that in no way could I be their counselor or therapist…to do so would not only be unethical, but illegal, as I was only licensed to work with school children through the age of twenty-one. I did tell her that I could be a supportive friend, but that if she thought there was even a remote possibility that she might someday press charges against her parents, then every single bit of our communication must be in writing. She must never, ever call me and I would not call her. We could use Instant Messenger or email, only. Later I would amend that to include text messages, which--if needed for documentation purposes--could be retrieved.

Initially this parameter was a bit difficult for Kristy to understand, until I explained it in these words:

"Kristy, I will never offer an opinion as to whether or not you should pursue charges, although I can assure you that I will support you in whatever decision you make. I think it would make sense to make that decision while working with a qualified therapist, once you find one. And here’s the thing…I know your parents well enough to know that if you press charges and they discover you have had contact with me, they will do two things in a courtroom. One, their attorney will first discredit your testimony by making you out to look completely and totally unreliable as a witness, due to the dissociative nature of your disorder; and two, they will try to convince a jury that I coerced you into pressing charges in retaliation for what happened fifteen years ago. So, as long as the idea rests in your mind that you might move forward with this, please know that it is for your protection that I am setting this parameter. As long as every single contact between us is documented, I will not worry about our having ongoing communication. It really is to protect us both." (august 25, 2008 email)

This Kristy understood, although even with all communication archived, she never stopped fearing that The Good Pastor and his Wife would somehow know we were in touch and harm me in some awful way.

“Kristy. Listen to me. I am not afraid of them. They have no power or control over either of us. First of all, you are an adult and they cannot hold you hostage ever again. And I am an adult, Kristy, and I no longer even work in schools—I am a writer, for God’s sake (or trying to work toward being one!) There is nothing they can do to harm my reputation or cause me pain. So that is one worry you can let go of, ok?”

Throughout all the months of our daily correspondence, that was one fear Kristy never completely released. Always, in her mind, these people held some sort of supernatural power that would allow them to find me and when they did, they would kill me. While, as I mentioned in an earlier section, fifteen years ago as the educational psychologist involved, I did indeed feel an inexplicable concern that The good pastor and his wife might cause me harm, I have to admit that when I read how accurately I had called that, it had a shocking, unnerving effect on my system. Shocking, yes, I wrote to Kristy, But that still did not mean I was afraid of them.

Kristy began telling me her history in two ways. One was through her emails and our instant messaging conversations, of which there are some one thousand pages archived. The other was through a book she told me she had started writing—her life story. Did I want to read it, she wondered?

“If you would like to share it, Kristy, then I would like to read it.”

So here is Kristy’s story (up to the age of 16), in her words and exactly as it was emailed to me.

***Prior to reading this, please be aware that it contains very graphic material and language. If you are easily triggered when reading reports of abuse, or if you are uncomfortable with reading graphic detail as offered in the first person, please do not expose yourself to the following reprint. As with all directly quoted material, no changes have been made to Kristy’s words, spelling or punctuation. With the exception of keeping my name as it is reads in the text, all other teacher and educator’s names and identifying information have been changed.***

“The Begining Early Childhood

I was only 4 almost 5 when my dad started raping me. I went by his room and the door was open he had just gotten out of the shower and was naked. Being a curious kid I asked him what the thing between his legs was and he asked me if I wanted to touch it. I walked over to him and touched it then he asked if I wanted him to show me what it was used for. I was very curious and really wanted to know so I said yes. He took me to my room layed me on the bed and told me to watch daddy make it big. Daddy stated playing with it and it did get bigger I laughed thinking it was so funny how it could do that. Then daddy asked me to kiss it I thought that was kinda funny too but I did it and daddy said it made him feel real good but he'd feel even better if I put it in my mouth. He told me every girl does that with their daddy so I did. It was way to big to fit in my mouth and it hurt my thoat but daddy just told me to relax and breath though my nose. Daddy rubbed my head and told me what a good girl I was and I was so happy my daddy loved me. Then daddy said you want to know what else I can do with "our toy" and I was so excited to be able to play more I said yes. Daddy told me to talk off my clothes and lay down so I did and then he put our toy between my legs and rubbed it their and it tickled so I laughed but soon it started hurting daddy told me it only hurts the first time and to relax again but I couldn't relax it hurt so bad when he was done I saw the blood and I wondered why our toy would hurt me like that. I tried to get up but couldn't daddy just walked out. Mom came in later and sceamed at me for being a bad girl and making such a mess she put me in a really hot bath and washed in between my legs really hard. I told her it hurt and she hit me and told me good.

After that mom would hit me a lot and dad would touch me and have me touch him. One day I crawled into bed with them in the morning and both mom and dad played with my privite area. When I was 5 mom hit me with a cast iron skillet and broke open my head the first of many stitches to the head I would recieve while living with them.

School Age

I first went to a school called XXX at 5 since after the rape I stopped walking. Noone could figure out what was wrong with me at first they said mentally retarted then they agreed I was just distrubed. I learned how to walk again while I was there and my behavor was normal so the next year I went to public school to kindergarden. That is were I met my first angel Ms W. She was a very nice teacher who cared deeply about me. I still would wet my pants so she always had a another set of clothes so I didn't have to go home everyday. One day I was in the bathroom while the other kids were at recess and Ms W didn't know I was in there and she walked in she saw the blood in my underware and just scooped me up pulled up my pants and held me on her lap. She never said anything just held me. I loved that teacher she was kind and gentle. The next week I was told she would no longer be my teacher that Ms J was my new teacher. Ms J never took any inserst in me and sent me home every time I wet my pants. I saw Ms W outside but she would never talk to me. The last day of school Ms W gave me one more hug and told me someday things will get better.

My first grade teacher was an older old fashon teacher named Ms T. She still paddled kids for misbehaving and I got it a lot. I took the blame for other kids and I never sat still. One day I spilt glue on the floor so Ms T sent me to Ms H the principal who called my dad. Dad came and gave me a spanking and I threw a tantrum I torn up every paper I could find and fell on the floor screaming. How could they not see what was a normal spanking would turn into a beating when I got home.

My second grade teacher was Ms S. She knew I had issuses and put my desk in the cornor away from the other kids. I was pretty quiet that year and just fell into myself. Kids teased me constantly because I smelled for I hardly bathed since the soap stung so bad on my wounds. That year I started special education classes and met my 2nd angel Ms P. Ms P was a younger teacher who really liked me she started washing my hair so I would look better. Of course when it was time to go home I put dirt in my hair afraid mom and dad would get upset and Ms P would leave. I saw here all the way though 4th grade till we moved and it was so hard to leave her.

My 3rd grade teacher was Ms R. She was like Ms S never took an instrest in me unless I was caught. I started stealing food from kids lunches for I was always so hungry and mom and dad would "forget" to make me a lunch. I also couldn't do homework at home so I would errase kids names off their work and put mine on it. When I got into trouble instead of going to the principal I was sent to Ms H who would then give me a talk and send me back.

My 4th grade teacher was my 3rd angel Ms L. She was very kind and took a special instrest in me. She made kids be nice to me and I felt smart in her class. She let me do homework wile the other kids went to recess and I got my first A in her class. One day while we were alone there was a pumkin on her desk and I was playing with it and by accident I broke the stem off I was certain she would hit me for that and she just said accidents happen and she glued it back on. I never got to finish the year with her as we moved to X but she gave me a book and so did Ms P. Ms P gave me Where the Side Walk Ends by Shel Siverstein and I treasured that book till mom took it and burned it.

I finshed out 4th grade in 2 different schools. First the church school that my dad was the pastor at but I never did my work and I was still stealing food. Now thats not ok for a pastors daughter to do so mom and dad took me out and sent me back to public school. I spent my last few weeks in that class.

My 5th grade teacher was Ms C she was to retire at the end of the school year and she didn't like me at all. Things were real bad at home that year I came to school with black eyes a broken colar bone and my nose broken. The resource teacher my 4th angel Ms C asked me if my mom and dad did this to me. I just nodded my head yes after school I heard my mom yelling at Ms C and Ms C saying she would turn them in. After that day I wasn't allowed to see Ms C anymore. I don't believe she ever turned in my mom and dad though.

The next year I was moved to a new school district. My 6th grade teacher was Ms B. Ms B tried to take a instrest in me but I started drugs and alcohol. I would ditch school every chance I had. Now where we lived was a upscale nice area but just a few miles away was getto. I would run there and hang out with some pretty tough kids. It a wonder I wasn't killed or kidnapped. Ms B tryed to get me to stay in school by having me hang up the flag at school in the morning. She told me how that is an honor and a privilidge and if I didnt do it the flag would not go up. That year the flag was hardly hung. The class was going on a camping trip and I almost didnt get to go because I ditched so many days but Ms B decided to let me in the end. I hated it while I was there nights were hard wondering how the other girls could sleep didnt they miss having sex with there dads? The 3rd day I acted out enough to get sent home. Ms B called my parents and then we had a talk. She asked me if everything was ok at home and if I was ever afraid? That really ticked me off how could she ask that doesn't she know what happens to people who get invovled with my family life. I started screaming at her and throwing things I got so worked up I wet my pants. She just sat there never got mad never told me to stop just sat there with a look of concern on her face. The next monday I went to school and saw her in a new light I started staying in school and working hard. Then the news broke we were moving again this time to YY. Once again loosing a teacher who cared. I finshed out 1 month of the school year in a class in YY. They also had a camping trip I went on but this time I was well behaved.

7th grade was very new to me you had several teachers and only for 1 and a half hours. That is were I met my 5th angel Ms G. She was a guidance counselor who didn't even have me for my name ended in T and she only had A-M but she took a special instrest in me. Home life was hard my sister was removed and made a ward of the state. That sister and I had gotten really close as we were my dads favorits. When she left things got bad at home the beating worse and the rapes more often. I was put into a class for emotionally distrubed kids. A half day class where we were always away from the other kids. I went home on the small bus. A lot of times I would hide from the bus hid in the bushes and when school got out I'd get on the big bus and go home. Any time I could spare a few hours from the home I would do it. Ms G started getting me from class and waiting with me for the bus. When she wasn't on time she would find me and take me home herself. One day she kept me at school and took me to the nurses office we sat on the cots for hours and she said if I needed to tell her anything I could. I told her what happened to Stephanie wanting to tell her what was happing to me but I couldn't find the words. She had me start seeing the school pyscholgist Mr H. One day I had had enough had to much I started running though the school looking for Ms G she was in a classroom in a meeting and she wouldnt talk to me. I slammed the door several times and then ran though the school the called the police and the paramedics and I ran outside. The paramedics finally got me and they took me to the hospital and checked to see if I was high on drugs. I was never allowed back at that school they sent work home for me to do and then it was sent back. I wish I would of trusted Ms G enough to tell her what was going on.

8th grade I changed school districts again and met my 6th angel. She is the one who truley believed and got involved. She never lost faith in me and always loved me no matter what she went though to try and save me. Her name is Ms Sanders. She was the school psychologist who saw me regurally until she was ordered to stop. However she wouldn't stop she knew in her heart I needed her so we wrote back and forth. I could ask her anything and she always had an answer. This was a lady who wasn't afraid of mom and dad and wouldn't leave me. I believed in my heart she would always be there I would have dreams that I would finally be saved and I'd live with her. I didn't know much about her just that she was kind. Her office was small and safe. Sometime we would just sit there and just look at each other we didn't need to talk we just need to see each other. I asked her once if she wanted to have sex with me she could and she didnt get mad she didn't say ok she just told me adults don't have sex with kids. Just when I was about to tell her what was happening we had to stop seeing each other and then she gave me my first letter. I might of wrote first I don't remember but I remember getting her letters. I don't remember what they said I just remember thinking this lady isn't going to leave me. Mom and dad hated her like no other she wasn't going to run scared from them and they had never seen that before. They told me that she would pay they told me that they would kill her. One day in school I had enough again I don't remember what triggered it but I wanted to die. I went into the bathroom and cut my wrist a janitor came in saw me and told the guidance counsolor Ms L who got me and called mom and dad I was sent to the first of many pyschatric hospital. A month later when I got out I wanted to go back to school and tell Ms Sanders all about it but I was told the school didn't want me back. Another angel lost. I never did go back to school after that mom and dad said I was in home school but they couldn't make me do the work. Mom did it for me a once D and F student I was now getting all A's.


After the hospitalization ending up at home 24/7 was pure hell. My dad moved into my room and there was no time I was safe. My brother was coming of age to where sex instrest him and he started in on me. The word no was never allowed in that house so I never even tried to stop him. I never blamed him as it was something he was taught from an early age that it was ok to use women and girls anyway he wanted. I looked at him as a victim too.

I still thought about my angels often more so my 6th angel. I was told every day that she would suffer and I believed that one day dad and mom would kill her. However I couldn’t get her out of my mind was she thinking about me too? Did she have any clue what I was going though? Did she even care? Why couldn’t I let her go? Every night we had to pray to dad for he told us he was a part of god. I was very afraid of him for that and I just knew it had to be true. He could tell me how I was feeling before I even said anything since god told him. One night I got tired of praying to him and I prayed to my angel Ms Sanders. I asked her to help me I knew what I was doing and the results it would cause but I hoped she would come in and save me. The results were painful I was tied down to the bed legs spred I was already naked by that time clothes were not allowed and my privites, breast and stomic were beat with a belt. When dad was done hitting me he raped me once again. Later that night I guess an hour later maybe two the kids and mom were made to come in with a rope in all their hands and they also took turns hitting the same spots. My angel Ms Sanders never came maybe she just didn’t hear my plea. That went on for about a month till I gave up she never came I never saw her she forgot about me.

Dad decided exactly how Ms Sanders could suffer he would make me tell a lie about her that even to this day I have never forgivin myself for. He told me I was to tell the school Ms Sanders molested me. Later he decided the school wouldn’t do anything so he said we would go to the State Troopers office. I was locked in the bathroom givin pencil and paper and told I could come out when I had written what she had done to me. Day one nothing writtin. I was let out of the bathroom to get beat and raped and put back in. Day three nothing written. That went on for 1 week 2 days. Mean while when someone had to go to the bathroom I had to get into the shower so that they could go on me as a punishment. I dared not turn on the water for fear they would hear that and they never told me I could so I knew better. I drank water out of the toilet and was forced to eat feeces. By one week 2 days I smelled so awful I was getting sick a lot. So I wrote Ms Sanders made me have sex with her. I cryed the whole time I wrote it knowing that crying could cause a beating but I was to worn down to care. I just wanted it to stop. That was good enough for dad he let me take a nice long shower let me have two pieces of bread and I got to sleep in the bed again.

At that time I was seeing a psychiatrist named Dr M. She was nice but I never trusted her. Before I went into her office mom would go in and when I was done mom would go in again. I knew nothing was kept from my mom so I told Dr M everything my mom wanted me too. The letter was taken to Dr M and she believed it right away. Every week I would have to come up with more lies to tell Dr M to satisfy mom. I started telling her things mom did to me just using Ms Sanders name instead of mom. I started feeling good about telling finally someone was lisenting to what was happening what was the harm saying Ms Sanders instead of mom I could tell my story and not have to go though more than I already was. The more I told the less the beatings got.

I thought it wouldn’t hurt anyone till I was told it was time to go to the State Troopers Dr M told mom she felt I was ready. No I screamed don’t make me do that what if they don’t believe me hoping and praying they wouldn’t. I had said the no word and after it fell out of my mouth I knew I was in for it but I just couldn’t go to the police. Once again a beating and I was locked in the bathroom. The beating was so bad I didn’t have to go to the police so I kept that up for 3 months. Finally there was no warning this time mom just took me. I didn’t have a chance to say no. The office was small there was a desk and a chair next to it. I saw the window and knew from tv it was a two sided window which ment mom could be watching me. The state trooper was neither kind nor mean just to the point. “ So Debra Sanders molested you”? “How did it start”? “What was she wearing”? “What were you wearing”? “ Did you notice any idinifying marks on her body”? “Scars Tattoos”? “ What color was her pubic hair”? “Was anyone else involved”? “Did you say no”? Questions just thrown out and I couldn’t answer them I sat there in silence. It lasted for two hours till the trooper told mom I did well and needed to come back again for more questioning. He said most kids don’t open up the first time. Now we knew the questions they would ask I was made to go over and over the questions with suitable answers. We went back a month later and I answered the questions. “She was wearing a dress can’t remember the color”. “I was wearing jeans and a shirt cant remember the color”. “She had scars on her breast”. Doesn’t everyone from getting whipped so hard it breaks the skin? “Her pubic hair red I mean brown maybe black I don’t remember”. “She made 2 boys watch”. “No I don’t know who they were never saw them before or after” “No I never said no are you allowed to say no”? Anyone should have been able to tell I was making it up. After that I never heard what became of it it was good enough for mom and dad they were two steps ahead once again and I knew finally that now there was no chance my angel would come back to save me. I was all alone in a world of darkness I wanted to die.”

That story was written by Kristy. On August 25 I received an email from K. and in her words,

"ms sanders you know why i said you had scars on your breast cause mommy put scars on mine with the cane i was hoping the police would know i was talking about me but they never did. i wanted so bad to be rescued but i knew mommy and daddy wouldnt allow that. mommy even put a hot curling iron in me after she was done with me cause i had a orgasim im sorry i did that mommy would hurt me if i did daddy would beat me if i didnt never could i be safe i couldnt do it anymore so others helped me. V is the fighter she can fight good she gave mommy a black eye a few times shes not sorry either. i never talk to anyone eles and please dont make me. i know kristy wants me back out but i dont like the world i dont want to live in it but i do want to talk to you. please dont tell mommy and daddy i talked to you love K.

At this point, I wrote Kristy and repeated that while I could support them and care about them, I could not be their therapist. In my own mind, I was questioning whether it would be somehow unethical of me to extend myself in friendship toward them; and soon thereafter, with Kristy’s permission, I did consult with her social workers and counselors to get their opinion on this matter (they supported our contact fully). My heart wanted to continue listening as Kristy told her story. My soul wanted to wrap itself around her in a protective embrace that would protect her from any more hurt in her lifetime. And the once-professional side of me nagged a little bit that fifteen years ago she had been my student and I her educational psychologist. Was there an ethical dilemma here?

I decided to put my trust in the fact that my intent was unclouded and that somehow I would know very quickly if there was a conflict or dilemma. What I knew for certain at this point was this: once again, I wanted to offer kindness to a girl whom I had long wondered about and often worried over. I had no illusions or delusions of rescuing her or “fixing” her anymore now than I had back then; but I did want to understand her story and I did I want to offer her my support and friendship in this unconventional written relationship we seemed to be developing. It had been several years since I had practiced professionally, and unless a miracle occurred that fixed my addled brain, it was highly unlikely I would ever find myself working as an educational psychologist in a school again. So, with the support of her social worker and open communication between all of us, I took a deep breath and allowed myself to continue to get to know this now-young woman, Kristy and the much regressed version of the girl I knew fifteen years ago: K.

I wondered how their system worked. Did they talk to each other?

TBC. Find out how Kristy managed this remarkable “disorder,” and how their roles had changed over the years and were changing once again. Read on to find out more about Kristy's life and to meet some of the "others" who lived within her.


  1. I find it troubling, of course, then realize that this is going on all around us and we have to wait until the children have the courage to come to us. My question is this: Would a child ever have the courage to come to me?

    You are blessed: A child trusted you.

  2. Thank you for your post. I do feel blessed. You will see, as this story unfolds,what an incredible gift Kristy gave me by trusting me. I am so grateful for this time I had with her...but there is more that I need to do for her....I need to help bring meaning to her life and that can only happen if justice is found. Please keep reading, writing and forwarding!