Down with the sickness: my grandmother’s reaction

Down with the sickness: my grandmother’s reaction

Hello all!

I hope your week is going good. Tonight I introduce you to the second part of one of Red man’s story. I encourage you to read the first part here before. In the first part, the Red man began telling us how he got new school clothes (a rarity for him) and how after daring of his brothers, he got them as dirty as they could be. We heard about a piece of his childhood, his relationship with his brothers as well as his kokum (his grandmother) who raised him. Tonight, let’s focus on the second part of the story, this time a story of child abuse. I want to warn you that this is not an easy one to read. My heart broke more than once while reading it. The Red man was nervous about sharing that one as he thought it would affect my opinion of him. I will explain more after you read the story. Brace yourself for a reality that was only too present in many houses and communities. And still is today. Let’s look at a story of child abuse, down with the sickness.

Where were we again?

We left it off with the Red man having fell into a pool of stinky dirty water and asking his brother to go get him clean clothes before his kokum saw him. He then sent his brother to the house fearing his grandmother’s reaction to his now ruined clothes.

Eventually he agreed (his brother) to sneak into the back of the house and fetch me some dry clean clothes. My hate for him only increased as he crept into the back door, seconds later, followed out by my enraged grandmother. He had ratted me out!

little boy

“Skanuk kosanuck awaa”, you dirty rotten son of a bitch, she muttered between closed false teeth. “Get in here now!” she screamed like some sort of banshee or bat out of hell. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, a nervous twitch that started at the base of my spine crept up my back like a fast moving feather that tickled and repulsed at the same time. Goose bumps popping up everywhere. My heart raced and beat like a drum in my ears as I limped toward the back door.

stock photo angry old woman

I knew what was coming and I knew it was going to be bad. It was always a great mystery: what would she beat me up with next? I had seen it all. I walked with my head down, limping, my bare foot stepping on every rock in the yard. As soon as I was within arm’s reach, her hand shot out and grabbed my large stretched ear. “Get in here you little bastard, you are going to pay for angry womanthis”, her sneer made me weak at the knees. Flashes of violent episodes, reference matter for what was to come, call it what you will, but instinct told me that I needed to get out of my cold wet clothes. The whipping would then hurt less. She pulled and pushed me like a rag doll, my ear like a leash, where the ear went the body went. She threw me into the bedroom and slammed the door shut. I pulled off my clothes in 2 or 3 seconds flat, I put on jeans and a long sleeve shirt, aka armor against the impending attack. Fully clothed, I jumped in bed, got under the covers and pulled them over my head. Safety, security, my good bed provided it all. Even though I knew that I was going to get it, I hoped, for a minute, for a miracle and began to pray for one.

small child under covers

credit: Getty images

And I prayed….. but it did not work

“Please God, please Jesus, help me out here. I will be good, I promise”. The door then crashed open and the beast stood there screaming in Cree and English. The blankets came flying off from all around me, leaving me exposed to the harsh elements. I raised my arm up to block my face and peeked around, just in time to see the foot and a half spark plug wire in her hands. It came down a second after the blankets were drawn but I knew where it was going to strike. Like a boxer, she would always go up and down, up and down. Only sometimes could she surprise me with an unexpected blow. I would keep my eye out on the weapon so that I could move just enough so that it never hit me in the same spot twice.

child praying

It always seemed to hurt more nonetheless. I tried to block the first blow with my forearm but it caught me just behind my shoulder. The pain was 10 times worst than expected, as it seemed to go all the way to the bone. I closed my eyes and lost all control. She hit me over and over wherever she pleased. Each blow felt like an explosion in my head. But I knew one thing: the more you cried, the more you got it. The beating lasted only for 2 minutes, but time stood still. It felt like it lasted for 2 hours. Then it was over and she stomped out of the room slamming the door shut. I pulled the blankets over my head just in case she came rushing back in. My skin was a mess of goose pimpled tormented painful flesh. It burned and ached everywhere. I rubbed my arms and legs with the palms of my hands to heat up. The chill of the water was still there.

spark plug wire set

Spark plug wire

The aftermath

The spark plug wire really packed a lot of punch. Every spot it hit left a half egg bump. I cried as quietly as possible, hoping that the beast would leave me alone. I could hear her endless monologue in the front room. It was always the same. “You dirty rotten son of bitches want to kill me” yadda yadda yadda. My bedroom was next to the bathroom and I needed to pee. I left the comfort and safety of my good bed and crept into the bathroom.

After I used the toilet one of the hardest things to do after a brutal beating was to look at myself in the mirror and I would. I had to, I felt compelled. If nobody in the whole world had empathy or sympathy for you sometimes you have to have it for yourself. So I took off my shirt and avoided eye contact with myself. In the mirror, the examination of the purple, angry red and bluish green bumps began. It was all that I allowed myself to look at, I avoided eye contact with myself until there was no more reason not to do it. As soon as I locked eyes with myself tears rolled out and distorted everything.

child crying

And the question remained

“Why” the question was barely audible. Only a whisper of a cry. “Help me God, help me”. The grumbling was still going on in the front room and I was sure that the beast knew that I had left the confines of my room. I was once again vulnerable to attack. I gathered myself and crept back into my room. I lay under the covers, in pain all over. I prayed to God, Jesus and the father whom I didn’t know, a father I had never met but my father nonetheless. In my imaginary world, he would come along one day, full of love and kindness and rescue me from this terrible situation that I was in. I did not have a choice but to live there.

I did have a choice but I knew that there was a consequence worst than the terror that I endured. I would be taken away and put in foster care. Even worst than that, I would never see my family again or so I was told.

sad child

Suddenly, the sound of the door flying open froze my body stiff. When the blankets were once again ripped from my body, I lay curled up in a fetal position, my arm instinctively shooting up to block my face. I peeked through the bend in my arm. “Look at what you did to me. You little bastards are trying to kill me”. She held her arm out for me to look at. There was a half grapefruit size bulging contusion on her wrist. When the spark plug wire moved to strike me again it had such harsh force that it injured her. “Look at it, look at it or you will get some more” she threatened. I dropped my defensive position and looked directly at her injury. I momentarily looked at her and saw that she was seriously feeling sorry for herself.

The rage I was feeling inside

The thought that she blamed me for hitting herself brought out a great hatred deep inside of myself. When she walked away and slammed the door behind herself, a rage unlike anything I ever had sent me into fantasy mode. I clenched my teeth and screamed silently, the pent up frustration had to be let out. I wanted to fight back with every ounce of hatred and rage that had built up over my entire life. Into the imagination I went:

My kokum stood in front of me with her injured wrist held out for me to see. I sprang out of bed and angry childgrabbed her by the waist and pushed her toward the far wall. The old house we lived in was in rough shape. There was only a piece of gyprock between my bedroom and a long descent down the basement staircase. I was 10 or 11 years old but I had the physical strength of an older young man. In my mind I was even more powerful. Her body crashed through the wall with ease. While we were airborne, I climbed her body. We landed on the wooden staircase, my feet firmly planted on her chest. I rode her body down the stairs like a surfboard. At the bottom, a rake, shovel and various gardening instruments were waiting for her, to come crashing down on. As she plowed into the tangled mess of rusty metal, I began to jump up and down on her ruined body. Blood seemed to drain out of her body as I looked at my kokum’s bloody face.

But I loved my kokum

A sadness worse than any I had ever experienced rocked my body. I loved my kokum, how could I be thinking about hurting her? What would I do if she were gone? The thought of her dead made me cry uncontrollably. I held my knees , buried my head in between my legs and cried. I stayed awake until the wee hours of the night. My mind was always racing, dreaming and scheming ways to fix my broken life. I had to face the night, and the nightmares that came with it. I was not safe even when I slept. In the morning, with only a few hours of sleep, I awoke too…


There you have it. Part 2 of the story. Part 3 coming up in the next few days. The Red man shared this part of his story because he wanted you to hear it from a child’s perspective. He wanted to share his story of child abuse, down with the sickness, so that people understood what it does to a child. And it was not an easy share. A few of my thoughts:

The Red man was nervous about me reading this story. He was worried I would judge him for imagining himself hurting his kokum. When I said to him: It’s normal that you would as she put you through hell. His answer was: It is? It’s not just me?

And the answer is no it’s not just him. He wanted to hurt his grandmother just like she hurt him. But at the same time, she was his everything. And without her or if he talked about the abuse, it meant being in foster care and losing his family. And in the Native communities, there was nothing worse than being placed in foster care. Because then, all connection with one’s family would be lost. It meant going into the “white world” and risking never coming back home. Because the reality of it is that the majority of Native mothers losing their children in the system, do not get them back. Or it takes significantly longer for them to get them back. Is there a solution here? Is there a lesser evil as they say? I don’t have the answer to that one. But losing all cultural beliefs and every family member is not the solution. Helping the families, helping the parents, that might be the solution. Not taking the kids away but rather helping the family as a unit.


What are some of your thoughts on all of this?
All my Relations

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18 thoughts on “Down with the sickness: my grandmother’s reaction

  1. ido

    Wow Emily,
    A great post and captivating story.

    My heart really goes out, all though i know there is nothing to do now, as its all in the past.
    I just think about all the helpless kids that suffer from this today, and really hope stories like this one would vanish from the world.

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Ido
      thanks for taking the time. It is in the past but healing is still happening today. 43 years of it. Here we see the story from a child’s perspective, how it truly affects them. I am grateful to have that insight into his experience.

  2. Matt

    Beautiful story. I think it’s totally true, as adults we forget some of the language we use to other adults is downright “disrespectful” to children in a sense. A solid eye opener. For a minute I thought this was going to be a music review of the song “Down with the sickness” boy was I wrong!! lol

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Matt
      thanks for taking the time to read the story. His grandmother was certainly disrespectful toward him. In many ways. I chose that title as the song is also about child abuse. So a good fit.

  3. rhonda

    omg!!! spark plug wires!what type of abuse did his kokum suffer that something such as those would become weapons of abuse? So sad that the chain has not been broken. Is therapy the key to ending this misery?

    1. Emily Post author

      Oh you make a very good point Rhonda. The transmission of abuse from one generation to another. His kokum also suffered her fair bit of abuse. Her story will come soon. I don’t think there is one key that solves everything. I think it is about putting the broken pieces together, maybe in a different order. And experiencing a different type of love, one that is consistent and good. And talking about it, including with some who have been through it and survived. To see that you are not alone.

  4. Yvonne

    Hi Emily, it’s sad to read about the sufferings and trauma a child feels when he is abused. Sorry, I had to skip certain parts of the story as it was too graphic. I imagined I would have retaliated if that was me. In my opinion, all child abusers should be hauled up and jailed.

    1. Emily Post author

      It is a very graphic story Yvonne, you are absolutely right. His grandmother also went through a lot of abuse. So here we have abuse passed down from one generation to the next. And stopping the cycle is sometimes difficult.

  5. Jason

    Hi Emily,

    This is indeed a very sad story to read, but it is an important one.

    Many children all over the world face the similar or worst abuse like this. It is very brave of the Red man to share this life experience with the world.

    I am glad that I read this so that I may be informed of what is taking place in the lives of so many people worldwide.

    Thanks for posting Emily.


    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Jason
      It is quite a story indeed. Unfortunately, he is not alone in that situation. I hope this brings some awareness to child abuse. thanks for reading

  6. Johnathan Tarter

    Very enraging but enlightening story about severe child abuse. While this a more severe form of child assault, it’s pretty obvious to anyone that isn’t a victim to normalcy and traditionality conditioning/programming that there is constant and ongoing child assault and abuse around us every single day that is cloaked under the pitiful cover of a euphemism called ”spanking” and the aforementioned types of conditioning.

    Yep, all around us right now and no one is making much of a fuss about that. All emotional upheavals and triggers are severally dampened or destroyed by the aforementioned states of mind. Not being able to see what is going on in objective reality from a plethora of excuses and head games. No consistent or objective morality in the minds of the scum that commit these acts. Stockholm Syndrome in the grown victims that say their parents assaulted them because they love them. Oh I can go on for hours but maybe this short intro will awaken some of the Stockholm Syndrome crowd or some of the child abusers.

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Johnathan
      you are right in what you say. I would add though that abuse, especially child abuse is very complex. It is not unfortunately a black and white thing. Meaning that it will affect a child’s sense of self, their development and their relationship with their caregiver and anyone else in their life. Just like in the case of the Red man. Who tends to see everyone he loves as either very good or very bad depending on the moment. But that is just my observation. His goal was to bring awareness to child abuse and its repercussions on the child.

  7. Shaz

    Thanks for bringing up an important yet oft-neglected matter in our world today. As you rightly said, there are so many out there suffering. May God bless them all and give them the relief and happiness they so deserve! Amen!

  8. Clark

    Sadly, such going-ons are happening in the world right now. Child abuse is terrible, and everyone needs to play a part in putting an end to it. Knowing that somebody is abusing their child and not doing anything is as bad as the act itself.

  9. Shweta Roy

    I have gone through the exact same feelings what the Red Man felt when he went to the bathroom!! I grew up with an abusive mother who didn’t treat her daughters well. All these years I tried to get her love by doing chores beyond my age, then giving her expensive gifts, now that she is old I tried to take care of her needs but no feelings of love and affection from her. I grew up thinking that if I do things for people and care for them beyond my capability I will get love and attention. Did the same thing with my marriage too but unfortunately I am stuck in a selfish and mean relationship and ended up being physically sick and tired because no one cared for me when I had my kids. Had to struggle all by myself. I go for counselling now and this has helped me understand and identify my feelings and I find peace in caring for my little kids. I plan to teach them the Red Road way of life. Many thanks Emily!

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Shweta (what a beautiful name!)
      Growing up without that love that is so important and so desired is a trauma in itself. The Red Man certainly had a hard road and continues to struggle today. But it seems like you sought help and are now taking care of yourself. That is so important. Keep on on your healing journey.


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