Testifying at Court

In a few days, I’ll be testifying on behalf of 10-year-old Joyful and 9-year-old Watchful. Boy, do I want to do right by them. But what is “doing right”?

Their mom has plead guilty to child abuse and now its time for the judge to hand down the sentence.

I’ve been asked to provide a victim impact statement, that informs the judge about how the abuse has affected the children.


So what should I say? I’ve thought long and hard about what a regular ol’ person like me can contribute. And here’s what I think.

The various professionals have written down in dry medical terms or “bureaucrat-ese” or legal talk what has happened. But I can speak with emotion from the heart. I can speak in plain, every day language that draws a vivid, true picture. As a foster family, we’ve lived together day in and day out and I’ve seen all the different ways the abuse has played out, big and small. I’m the one there when his self hatred gets the best of him and he starts punching himself. I’m the one there when she isolates herself from other young girls and sits alone for hours.

So while the professionals use fancy words like suicidal ideation and depressive tendencies, here’s the kind of thing I’ll say.

A few days ago, Watchful couldn’t sleep, so he and I sat in the living room at 4:30 in the morning and chatted. Some of the things we talked about were quite normal – like how much he likes his new Superman socks. Other topics of conversation were much more heart breaking – like Watchful’s desire to kill himself. His suicidal thoughts come up quite a bit; sometimes when under stress like having to go somewhere new he’ll be very specific about how he will kill himself – like jumping out a window or choking himself. Other times, it’s very casual, like it was on Thursday when we were exploring which career he’d like to pursue when he grows up and he calmly explained that he just can’t stand the idea of having to live for that many years and plans on killing himself “soon,” so really there’s no point in thinking about what job he’d like when he grows up.

Wish me luck. Better yet, wish the children luck!

8 thoughts on “Testifying at Court

  1. Dear Watchful,

    This is what I pray for you. That you will find the flicker of hope in your soul that will begin to grow under the very special love, care and tenderness of your mama and papa.

    I told my son who once shared your thoughts of not living long, and I told him this: “God brought you out of the worse life possible, God brought you to me, and will allow you to grow up to be an amazing man, who will one day testify of a salvation, not just by God, but from the horrors of this life. God has a work for you to do, and it is my hope that you someday fulfill it.”

    Hope, it is what every last human being holds onto when life just isn’t worth living. Dear, dear Watchful, hold on tight, and don’t give up. You are stronger within than you realize and you have people who love you dearly.

    I’m so sorry, this just breaks my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a difficult position to be in. May God help you to choose just the right words to say that will make the judge understand exactly what these children have been going through. And I also pray that they will both grow up to become strong, loving and amazing members of the community. You are giving them Hope. That’s a pretty powerful thing. Having Hope can change the course of your life. Watchful may soon realize that he too has hope!


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