Dead Girl Walking – AudreyAnn Moses

“DEAD GIRL WALKING” … What’s In A Name

Can you imagine being ridiculed and neglected your entire life by everyone…even your family? Why… because of the name you were given by your parents…a name that represents abandonment and death.

(Mrs. Janedoah Smith Burton is sitting in my office, with a black eye, a broken arm, and a two-year-old child clinging to her neck.)

        “Hello, Mrs. Burton. My name is Dr. Roxanne Matthews. How are you feeling? Could I get you something to drink, coffee, water?”
        “No ma’am. I’m fine.”

        “I am a Christian Life Coach. My specialty is personal growth and transition. It basically means I help people make positive changes in their lives, if that is something they want to do. Is that something you may be interested in?”

“Maybe … I guess so … I don’t know.”

“Don’t worry, most of us are not sure which direction is the right one to take, especially after dealing with the type of trauma you have had to overcome. As a Christian Life Coach, I will help you find the course you feel would be right for you and your child. What we discuss is between you and I unless you decide to tell someone or give me written permission to do so. We have childcare here that can take care of your baby while we talk. They will be right here in the next room and you can look in on her as much as you need to. Is that okay?”

“Yes ma’am, that’s okay.”

“So, we can start by telling me why you were referred to me today?”
(Quite agitated) “I’m sure the social worker already told you, but I guess you want my words. I have this neighbor who walked around passing out her Jesus papers and being nosey. Anyway, one night I ended up going to her house for help. I asked her if I and my baby could come in. It was cold and raining and my husband had locked the door and I didn’t have a key because my purse was in the house. She let me in, but I could tell she was turning her nose up at me in her head. I guess she remembered she is always leaving her Jesus papers on everybody’s door and how would it look for her to claim to be a Christian while she is rolling her eyes and turning up her nose at me and my baby. You know what I mean, Dr. Matthews?”

I smiled, “Yes ma’am I know what you mean. So if I might ask, why did your husband lock the door with you and your baby still outside?”

(With an embarrassing smile) “He was drunk. He’s always drunk. He is the same age as me, but he acts like an old geezer drunk like he is 40 or something.”

(I’m sure I raised an eyebrow at the thought of 40 being identified as old and geezer)
“Makes me sick. It’s not my fault he got hurt and didn’t go to college to play soccer. It’s not my fault, it’s his fault. He lost his scholarship. Then I got pregnant and he married me. So neither of us went to college. I didn’t tell him to marry me. He said he was gonna marry me and take care of me and the baby proper like. My momma was glad because she already had a bunch of grandchildren running around because my trifling sisters and brothers don’t take care of their own children. That’s not my fault either. Nobody told my momma and daddy to have eight children and 59 grandchildren. Nobody. What were they thinking that they were only gonna have eight grandchildren? NOT! All of them, except one, have three or four kids. I’m not having no eight children…I can tell you that RIGHT NOW!”

(Mercy, I was praying my outside face wasn’t repeating what my inside voice was saying…Mercy Me!)
“Anyway, he locked me out because he wanted chicken for dinner when he got home from work and I made meatloaf ’cause that’s all we had. He was screaming and pacing the floor like that naked man in the caves that Jesus had to heal. You know who I’m talking about, right! Mrs. Johnnes, that’s my neighbor, gave me a paper about him and about how Jesus can heal crazy people. Well, I wish he was here now to heal my crazy husband! Anyway, I went outside to get away from him and calm down the baby and he locked the door and wouldn’t let me back in. That’s how I got locked out and ended up at Mrs. Johnne’s house that day. It was just by luck I had my phone in my pocket. He eventually called and said to come in the house, like he had no clue why I was out there in the first place. Crazy, don’t you think?”

“I don’t have a job right now. He is always blaming me for something dealing with money. I told him that just because I don’t have a job someplace doesn’t mean I don’t take care of things around the house. Also, because I don’t work, we don’t have to pay for daycare. Do you know what he said to me? (Eyes closed heavy sigh) I’m trying not to cuss in your office Dr. Matthews since you are a Christian and all. He said that I would be paying for daycare out of my paycheck because I was the one who got pregnant. (Another heavy sigh) Can you believe that mess! Like he wasn’t there inside me like a jackhammer having a spasm! (She was not smiling, so, I did not smile). Anyway, after he said that, he stormed out the door cussing, like he always does, and drove down the street. I sat there for about an hour fuming and crying because how could he say such a thing and think it was alright? How would he act like I got myself pregnant and this baby is not his responsibility too!”

“As it got on towards dark, I realized that he would be coming in drunk, cussing and hitting on me, and then try to make me have sex with him again. Dr. Matthews, have you ever had sex with a drunk? Disgusting! Anyway, I knew what I had to do and fast! So I packed a few things for me and the baby and I called my sister to come to get me, but she wouldn’t cause she has another boyfriend and he is sleeping over there. I knew I couldn’t call my momma with all of her grandchildren running around. So, I did the next best thing. I went to Mrs. Johnne’s house again. It was dark by now and I was afraid he was gonna see me before she came to the door. I banged on that door FOREVER. Finally, she came to the door looking like she was asleep. Who goes to sleep at 8:00 in the evening?! Christians I guess? They don’t have much else to do. Anyway, she clearly didn’t want to let me in, but she did and she let me stay there for about three days.”

“You know what, Dr. Matthews, I was hoping he would not come home because he had been hit by a car or shot by another drunk in a bar someplace. Unfortunately, that did not happen, and the same day I decided it was safe to go home and get a change of clothes, he showed up claiming he had been all over the place frantically looking for me. He is such a liar. He had not been looking for me because if he was, Mrs. Johnnes would have been the first place he looked. Anyway, I knew he was at the bar every night, and I guess at work during the day. I never understood how those shipyard people could allow a stone-cold drunk to work on those ships every day. I’m surprised they did not fall apart as soon as they turned the darn things on.”

“Anyway, he started acting like he was so sorry like he always does. Then one thing led to another and we ended up in bed, well not physically in the bed. We were still in the front room, so on the couch. The first time I just let him, the second time I said no because I had to go back to Mrs. Johnne’s house and get the baby. He got mad and started beating me and throwing me all over the place and pulling my hair and…”

(Now she is clearly distraught, crying and pacing the floor. It is clear these were not love-hurt tears. These were angry, why-didn’t-someone-shoot-him-in-the-bar tears.)
“I don’t know what made Mrs. Johnnes come to the house, but I’m glad she did. I’m not mad that she called the police. He would have killed me if she had not called for help. I’m so glad I left my baby with her. Who knows what he would have done to her?”

        “Mrs. Burton do you feel you have someplace safe to stay for the next few days. We can make arrangements for you and your baby if needed.”
        “I’m good, thank you. I will stay in my house or by Mrs. Johnnes since he is locked up.”
        “Dr. Matthews, I thank you for listening. No one ever listens to me…never. Other than my baby and Mrs. Johnnes, nobody cares about me either.”
        “Call me if you need me. Have a great evening.”
        “Yes ma’am. Thank you.”

        (Her session time was over, but I allowed her to sit for a few minutes to calm down. I would have continued the session a little longer, but I had another client waiting and Mrs. Johnnes was waiting for her in the lobby. With her husband in jail, she was safe, for now. I scheduled her next appointment, gave her my card and told her I look forward to seeing her on our next visit.)

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