What Happened To Dexter (And Other Shopping Horrors)

I’m uncertain as to how to properly trigger warn the story to which I refer in this post. Aggressive anti-gay sentiment and action on the part of a burly stranger against a toddler, and it could be so much worse but there is a hint of violence. I’m glad that I read it but I am seething and also going to take a clonazepam and fantasize about justified homicide for a bit. Sorry—I don’t like chocolate, so that’s how I make myself feel better.

I read this story, by Katie Vyktoriah. It is well-written, and describes her wonderful son, Dexter, and a frightening and haunting outing that they took just a few days ago.

I’m not going to go through the story itself because it is a good idea if you read it. There are wretched people in this world.

This story could be a lot worse. Most upsetting stores-and-children anecdotes involve a parent abusing a child or a situation in which the parent is clearly abusive. Those are the stories that reinforce the suspicions that plague me at all times. Those are the stories that keep me up at night because that child, and millions like him or her, are trapped in homes like that, in legal systems too restrained by the democratic process and sickening cowardice to do anything about it—or allow anyone to do anything about it.

I’ll be honest, one of the many reasons for which I hate going to stores such as grocery stores during the daylight is that there are children there. I don’t dislike children—I’m good with kids and I’ve worked with children. But I always suspect parents of being bad parents—and, specifically, abusive—until proven otherwise. Every time that I see a child with a parent, I’m (usually subconsciously) looking for sharp looks or frightened expressions that might be clues that domestic violence is a part of their life. It’s not like on television, where victims of domestic abuse have inexplicably broken arms and black eyes and have fathers who look like drill sergeants. For every scenario like that, there are countless more situations of domestic abuse in which marks are rarely, if ever, left on the victim. Monsters who rule their homes through terror and violence.

And I am never surprised by them. Ever.

Do you watch Game Of Thrones? During the tense moments when Sansa is at Joffrey’s mercy, do you find yourself tensing up, holding your breath, waiting for what cruel thing he will say or what capricious act of violence he will order?

I do, too. But I feel like that many, many other times.

That level of apprehension is how I feel when a parent whom I do not yet trust is interacting with a child. Always. I become incredibly anxious, to the point where I’ll avoid watching a television show. And to the point where that is one of the reasons for which I am more comfortable doing my grocery shopping as close to midnight as I can manage (though there are endless benefits to this).

When I have friends whose parents I know were never violent, that’s great. It’s a relief.

And then I have friends who had violent parents. And I know that there are millions more out there, as confirmed by surveys and common sense. In many of these cases, the abuse goes unnoticed or unreported. In so many others, people are uncertain if it was even a crime.

Most articles about child-abuse will get someone or another defending the abuser or the abuse itself, excuses ranging from “well she’d had a long day” or “that child needed discipline.” There are people out there who are willing to give a voice to defend this horrifying evil that has been a reality for billions of humans—likely for as long as humans have existed.

I know that not every child whom I see experiences some form of violence at home. There’s a chance that as many of half do not. I am well-aware that both my natural tendency to consider various possibilities and my PTSD are tremendous factors in how I experience the world. That does not make child-abuse any less evil, or any less a nightmarishly widespread part of reality.

I can honestly say that that story really struck a chord with me, because I am so accustomed to suspecting wrongdoing on the part of the parents (and so often that suspicion is reinforced by confirmation), one usually thinks of strangers as a threat for child-abduction.

I am pleased that Dexter has a mother who (from what I gather) is a good mother. She certainly acted appropriately in the situation that she describes in the article. Calling the police is something that I strongly recommend—if he could be identified from the security tapes at the store, he could at the very least have his life turned upside down for a while. He could be identified by the press. Most importantly, if that wretched creature has children of his own, charges of assault on a random toddler in a store should most certainly trigger an investigation.

Tragically, current US law will not allow for this man to be fed to sharks (even though Shark Week is only a few days away). But the toddler in question, Dexter, is not trapped at home with this man. Dexter’s story is distressing, but will not haunt my thoughts like so many other stories do.



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