Longing to go home to Marblehead Massachusetts

Kidnapped children long to return home to Marblehead Massachusetts

On June 30 1992 I left my home in Marblehead Massachusetts to go to Minnesota for a scheduled visit with my father. Even though I was only 7 years old at the time I knew, suspected or feared that I would never return home to 234 Washington Street in the old town of this quaint little New England seaside village. 18 years and several journeys later we are finally preparing to go home to Marblehead.

I remember my mother promising me that summer that we would be coming home after a short visit to Minnesota but at the same time my father had an entirely different promise. He promised that we would never see our mom again. He threatened that he was going to kill us or kill her but he was determined to destroy our mother one way or another and he almost succeeded.

Two months before our departure for the dreaded visit my father he would call our home in Marblehead every Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Sometimes he was friendly. He would ask how our day at school was and he would tell us that he loved us and that he missed us. He would regularly end the conversation by cursing and threatening to kill our mother. When I cried he threatened that if I hung up the phone he would tell the judge that our mom wouldn't let us talk to him and then he could take us away from her. So I would stand there in my soft cotton white nightgown with pink roses, staring out at the clock on the steeple of Abbot hall listening to words and scenarios that would inspire nightmares in grown men. Sometimes my father would shout "tell her... tell her now!" I remember standing there with one barefoot rubbing the other. "Tell her!" he'd holler "Or I will come down there now!" I could barely get out the words through my tears "Mommy he says he's gonna’ kill you again!"

"How can he keep doing this?" she screamed and fell to the ground by my feet, crushing one of my toes. I stood there looking at my crumpled mother on the floor, listening to my father's violent words in my ears, wondering when would be a good time to pull my little foot out from underneath my mom. Things became more confusing when I once saw my 9 year old brother throw one of his new toys on the floor. I wondered why he would break one of his favorite toys. I felt abandoned when my mom got up and went to my brother and hugged him. I felt bad for him because he was standing there with tears running down his face holding the toy he just broke. My mom didn't even get mad at him. She hugged him and comforted him but I felt like I was left alone in the grips of a monster.

“Mommy” I squealed just to make sure that she wouldn’t forget about me. Of course she came running, almost tripping over my brother as she dragged him under her arm. She ducked her head to peek through the living room window of our second story apartment to the clock on the steeple of the town hall. The big hand was nearly approaching the 3 but it wasn't time yet. Our mother wasn't allowed to take the phone away from us anymore, even when our father was swearing at us and threatening to kill us or her. My mom whispered for my brother to take the phone and I buried myself in her lap. I would routinely put my hands over my ears so I wouldn't have to hear my father's threats to my beloved brother.

A few minutes later mommy whispered "Okay it's time." My brother blurted out "Its 8:15 -bye" and he hung up the phone and let loose like it was going to bite him. Our mommy had a standard regiment of apologizing for our father and for her inability to protect us from him. She would chant over and over again "It's okay... you are safe now." Eventually our sobs would subside and I would dare to open my eyes. I would search for a view of the town clock to be reminded that it would past bedtime and I would stare at it wondering how much longer mommy would let us stay up for extra hugs and cuddles.

The calls kept coming twice a week. The death threats continued and the old clock on the steeple of the town hall became our savior. The minute when the 'big hand reaches the three" we were allowed to break free from our father's verbal abuse. Despite the biweekly tirades we received from our father we loved life in Marblehead.

Marblehead was good to us. The very day we moved into Marblehead the local paper showed up unexpectedly taking photos and welcoming us to our new life without violence. Our mom began smiling, laughing, making jokes and making friends. We didn't have a lot of money but our mom was resourceful. She would buy material that was on sale and make matching mother and daughter dresses and even matching shorts for my brother. One of the boutique owners across the street from our house marveled over our outfits and made an agreement with our mom that she would make dresses to sell in her store and we would be able to keep the extra beautiful fabric for ourselves. I had the nicest dresses from the whole school. Sometimes my mom would even receive a cash bonus and she would take us directly to the ice cream shop or the pizzeria on the corner.

Our mom had also created her own healing plan for us. After school we walked to the waters edge every day. We gathered stones and then we assigned them the name of something that was bothering us and then pitch them one by one into the ocean. "I didn't like it when my dad kicked me in the head." I don't like it when my dad hits me." I am afraid when my dad says that he will kill my mommy." Each time my brother and I dared more and more. Sometimes I would hesitate and look at my mother and wonder if I really dared to mention the times my father would suffocate us. I didn't want to hurt her but I was in the process of purging. I felt bad for her when my brother once said "I don't like it when mom doesn't protect us." For a while our confessions escalated and we confessed all of the horrible things our father did to us but eventually we ran out of horror stories and made normal kid complaints like "I don't like going to bed early." And "I don't like eating vegetables."

Life in Marblehead was peaceful and the happiest I had ever been in my young life. Once we had found safety it was unimaginable that we would have to go alone with our abusive father again. I am grateful that we had that time to heal and that I have fond memories of my childhood but it made it all that more painful when the judge reversed custody to our father citing that our mom was interfering in our relationship with the man who beat us. I lost everything that day; my home, my bedroom, my dog, my town my mom and whatever self confidence I had.

After 18 months of begging our mom to rescue us and court supervisors ignoring our bruised and battered little bodies, my brother and I ran away from our fathers house and met our mom at the local video store. I begged my mom to take us back to our home in Marblehead but she told us that it wasn't our home anymore. Our toys were packed up and in storage and we were going away where they could never find us. We ended up in a refugee camp in Europe and three years later became the first American to receive asylum in another country. We lived in anonymity for 14 years until we were found by the FBI. All kidnapping charges against my mother were dismissed and we finally got up the courage to report at the American embassy in Amsterdam where we started the re-identification process. Tears filled my eyes when I was sworn in and congratulated for being an American again.

Things are coming round and I am awaiting the arrival of my first American passport. I am proud to be an American and I am excited that I will finally be able to come out of exile and return to the only home I have known, Marblehead Massachusetts.

1 comment:

  1. I will have to find my way to Marblehead just to meet you two fine ladies. I am so happy for all of you. Let The Healing Begin!

    Love you Ladies,