Category Archives: abuse

“Day in Court”

I was 15 years old, visiting my Dad in Edmonton Alberta during my high school Spring break in Washington State. Strangely He and I went on a shopping spree. Blue plaid suit, deep blue shirt and a white tie. 

The next day we got up early. Dad standing in front of me shirtless freshly shaven, smelled of Aqua Velva, and his fine thin brown hair still wet. A lit Export “A” cigarette hung in his lips, the neglected ash fought the forces of gravity as he struggled to complete a full Windsor knot in my new tie. Looking me over, it was if he was searching for something he had lost long ago. 

Securing each button on his dress shirt, his “Born to Love” jailhouse tattoo on his chest slowly disappeared from sight…….
Sitting in a narrow hallway of a provincial court, for what seemed hours, little did I know, I was to be Exhibit A in his “day in court”. Dull humming of the flickering fluorescent lights was interrupted by a “Click, Clack” as the court door opened. “Raymond, come in here”. Wincing I entered the brightly lit court room. Unaccustomed to the tie, my throat tightened as I saw a room full of serious faces. I sensed that a dialogue had been taking place and I was about to become part of it. My ears were ringing, I felt like I was looking through a fisheye lens. My Dad glancing at me with out making full eye contact. (He was somewhere else mentally) “Raymond,tell everyone how old you are”. 

I blurted out, “15 years old sir”. 

All eyes were on me, still oblivious to what was going on. Through the fog, my Dad was pointing at me, I heard “Your Honor, this how I looked!” “This is how old I was when I was arrested for joyriding in a jeep and sent into general population”! Still a bit puzzled, Dad gave me a quick glance of reassurance, and escorted me back in the hall. 

The story continues with me coming to understand the high level of abuse and mistreatment my Father experienced as a teen while in “custody”. During one particular incident he was forced to clean up the room directly under the gallows. 

I hadn’t heard these details until I was sixteen and with his death shortly after that, I put these stories away. It was too much to carry as a teenager. 
If this was my Dad’s “day in court”. Why had I felt judged? Why did I feel the weight of the chains that seemed to still bind him? 
Was the click of the courtroom door the securing of an emotional lock for which I had not the key? 

What had I done? Answer? Not a damn thing! 
As a teen, part of the burden was simply knowing that injustices such as these even existed. Wanting to rectify the injustice against your loved one is only natural and I had to accept the fact that this was HIS “Day in Court”. Those were HIS choices, and not mine. I would and still have many of my own mistakes to pay for.

There is importance in speaking out against injustice. Getting a “Day In Court” may seem ideal but a sobering fact is that justice as you perceive it may not prevail. 

Secondly, understand who “The Court” is before asking for them to pass judgment. Otherwise, be not surprised when “the judgemental” judge you. 

Finally, as a Dad of 5, the only one wearing a blue plaid suit to MY “Day in Court” will be me.




The Obituary 

I learned that you are dead. 
Although words say you have passed, your cruel deeds committed by you to me as a child still lingered for decades.
You might have softened and treated your own children better than you treated your foster children. 
I had a condition you judged as a plea for attention. Rather than love and understanding you provided physical and verbal abuse. 
Perhaps you learned cruelty from those that mistreated you. I have pity for you or anyone in that circumstance if that was the case. 
Perhaps you thought you taught discipline and tough love. You were mistaken. 

I learned from you how it was to feel neglected and mistreated. 
Because others that showed me what unconditional Love was, I was given the gift of learning that not all in the world were evil and cruel. 

With this gift I have strived to the best of my ability to choose Love. 

Love has the power to break all chains, yes, even the chains that until this point attempted to bind me, even from the grave. 
Dedicated to all child victims and survivors of abuse, neglect, and those many many upstanding Foster Parents that instill Love and understanding to those in need. God Bless You. 


14 years old

Your arm was around me

You were my hero

I noticed the strength in your arm

I felt safe and loved

The veins in your arm were pronounced, bulging, appearing to be at capacity of their designed function. I commented that your strength was that of a body builder. 

You responded that they were like that from a treatment to keep them from collapsing from your days of drug abuse.

My thoughts shifted from admiration of your physical strength to your honesty, humility and intent to have your son not repeat the mistakes that held you captive so many years ago. 

My Loving Father circa 1979


“Forgive others and you will be forgiven” ,”Forgive and forget”.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. 

All familiar phrases. We love to provide this advice to others.

Others that we might not have any idea what they have experienced. 
Then, as he only can, C.S. Lewis hits you between the eyes with, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea… Until he has something to forgive.” 

Recently myself and loved ones experienced deep emotional wounds caused by those who we had thought to be trustworthy friends, almost like family. As merciful time has provided some healing of these wounds, a mental inventory tends to naturally take place and much like hitting the refresh button for a website, an evaluation takes place on the status of personal relationships. Personally as I described in an earlier post, “Human Nature”, A simple approach to the worthiness of a personal relationship can be evaluated by what others do while you are at your most vulnerable.if they cut your jugular, this is a reflection of their character and more importantly, NOT YOURS. At that point it’s not about forgiveness, all that matters is having enough self respect to sever ties to that person. Although it may sound harsh, to engage with them is to engage with a fool or a drunkard. 

Ethical Line

Recently I came across a few forums supporting the argument of not taking up the offenses of others i.e. ….fight your own battles. Additionally, 1Thessalonians 4:11 states:“Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you”. 

In other words mind your own business. I couldn’t agree more. 

However, human decency dictates that it is your responsibility to stand up for those without a voice or being treated unfairly. In my humble opinion, that should be your business. 

Years back I took an ethics class where the curriculum was structured around ethical questions such as your stand on abortion, corporate accountability, etc… What I truly enjoyed about the class was there were no wrong answers/opinions. 

The objective was to peel back the layers of laissez faire positions on posed ethical questions. I was surprised by the level of passion throughout the class as we became ethically self aware. Recent events in my life have brought me to a similar place, I felt spirituality mature enough to stand with those I felt had been wronged and although it happened to be my job to protect them, it was much more than that. Not only was it my ethical responsibility as Christian, even more so as a fellow human being. 

My position doesn’t mean I am right, but simply striving to be true to where l feel an ethical line should be drawn. Peace and may God have mercy on us all. 

“Margie” Abuse or Discipline?


As I type that name I want to scream! No words can describe the level of terror this woman woman inflicted on us 3 kids.

Flash-bash, MidSixties, British Columbia, Canada: To memory, Margie first showed up on the scene in ’67. We lived in a small house on a corner lot of St. Paul Street in Kamloops, BC, Canada. “We” being, myself, my two older siblings, (Danny and Lorraine),Dad, Margie, and a red Doberman named Flint.
Dad still had a heroin monkey on his back, not much food in the house, lots of parties, and cold pizza for breakfast. On our coffee table stood a jackass cigarette dispenser. When it’s tail was lifted, a smoke(Canadian for cigarette) would slide out of its butt.

Periodically, I would watch Dad shooting up at the kitchen table. Bob Dylan was usually playing in the background. Gentle Ben, starring Ron Howard’s older brother was the latest hit on the black and white TV. Amusing to think how enthralled we were with a series about a black bear while living in the heart of Grizzly Country.
Our house was covered with coarse white aggregate. On sunny days the blinding white rock made it difficult to find the door knob without danger of searing a cornea. The dirt streets and the alleyways were lined with metal trash cans where my older brother would find himself looking for food on his way to school in the morning.

Flint lived in a makeshift shelter under the backstairs. Being 4 or 5 at the time, I was terrified of her. Looking back I now Realize that if she had wanted to eat me, I would’ve been gone long before then. Regardless of her intentions it was Danny (always looking out for me)who would hold her back as I quickly run past her shelter. Flint had a habit of breaking loose and hopping our “white picket fence”( the irony). She would not quite clear the fence , scraped her ribcage, which seemed to always be raw or scabbed over. . Consequently, I think ole’ Flint had finally succumb to infection and didn’t live long after that .

Other than a few old pictures, I couldn’t remember much about the day to day with Margie. She and Dad were never married and that spring, she became pregnant. Not long after that, we moved to Vancouver. Margie was 17.

At first we stayed in Margie’s Moms small house located behind a Royal Bank. Margie’s Brother Kenny, and sister Honey, Margie’s mom , Margie, Dad and us kids were all squeezed in there.
As the saying goes, you may not remember all the details but always remember how you felt. In that house, you could almost always cut the tension in the air with a knife. It was a “kids are seen and not heard” household. They must have had dogs as I remember sneaking in one of the bedrooms shoving my hand into the bag of Purina dog chow and eating a snack. No doubt I would eat it today if I had nothing else . We definitely didn’t feel welcome. Margie’s Mom was strict and harsh. Honey, Margie’s younger sister was a mean spirited sort. She physically abused and terrorized us whenever we were under her “care”. She amused herself by not allowing Lorraine to use the bathroom. Telling her that if she said anything she would beat the crap out of her. Lorraine would always rush to the bathroom right before Honey came home. Dad hadn’t a clue.

Not long after , our new Sister was born in Dec. ’67 we moved into the lower level of a duplex building . The entry was under the staircase of the apt above.

Being an ExCon , Dad wasn’t much of a 9 to 5 guy. He either slung beers, or hustled up money at the pool halls. When Dad was there, he was quick with a joke and was not afraid to express his love . I can only imagine what it was like for Margie. Being 17, living with a newborn, a heroin addict, plus of his 3 kids. Margie probably wondered what the hell she had gotten herself into.
Margie had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona, She couldn’t do enough for us and Dad while he was there but, once he left , the abuse would start. She would lock us outside in the cold while we knocked at the door. Her reasoning was, we wanted to go outside to play in the snow so bad, we could stay out there. I used to wonder if my tears would freeze . Finally when she would open the door , she would slam us to the floor. “Teaching us a lesson”. Another time she swore I was lying about something and wouldn’t admit it. Her form of justice was to hold my hand inches from a red hot stove coil demanding I tell the truth. For a 5 year old , Knowing I hadn’t lied, scared me even more. I think about it to this day when I see a red coil…

Being on the other side now provides the opportunity to ask why would someone treat kids this way. Postpartum? Was she simply applying “discipline ” as she was taught? Had my Dad beaten her and this was her helpless revenge ?
This entry puts Margie and her relations “parenting”skills on trial. Being a parent, myself, calls for a look in the mirror. The closest I can come to understanding Margie’s level of rage was when my first son was about 4. He was so stubborn and rebellious at times. We as young parents would escalate the discipline . Ask, then raise our voice , then a swat on the butt. This approach varied in effectiveness. A moment of clarity came for me, (I don’t want to speak for my first wife) when, I applied a few lessons from a PET(Parent Effectiveness Training) course I was taking at night. It talked about needs levels in relationships. For example, they taught marriage is a 60/60 relationship. Always putting the extra 20 % in the bank when times got tough. With respect to kids, it was helping them express and then acknowledging their feelings. And yes, they had needs as well. The textbook, “feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are” approach. Light years away from the “kids are seen and not heard” mentioned earlier.

Back to my little Tyler throwing a fit and mad as heck in his room. A simple, “so did that make you feel angry? question to him. It was as if he was touched by a sense of feeling understood. The relaxed look on his little face indicated a connection had been made. ” yes , he said , I am angry”.
I am not proposing that this was a magic bullet and smooth sailing from that point on. Just one simple tool. A bolt cutter perhaps , used to break the chain of abuse. God Bless.