I Wish I Had Known to Call the Police

I saw a news story just now that triggered a lot of emotions. Here’s the story… after it I’ll tell you why it upset me. This story is courtesy of ABC Action News.


By Keith Baker

TAMPA, FL — Police say Hugo Esquitia was upset with his wife, the A/C wasn’t working and his crying 6-month old daughter when his anger took over.

Esquitia faces aggravated child abuse for what police say he did to the little girl.

He is accused of grabbing the child by the head and trying to yank her out of her swing chair. When that didn’t work police say he grabbed her by the arms and tossed her to on to a couch.

The child was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries to her head.

Esquitia is held in jail without bond.


There were a couple reasons this story caught my attention.

First, notice why he got angry – he was upset with his wife, the A/C wasn’t working and the baby wouldn’t stop crying. I would bet any amount of money in the world, in his mind – and what he has told his wife – it was her fault he got angry. If only she hadn’t made him mad, if only she had taken better care of the baby so she didn’t cry — then he wouldn’t have gotten angry. It’s all her fault. Why do I know this? I lived this story!

Another thing that grabbed me was the man’s actions. I don’t remember my husband, Gary, ever attempting to pick up one of his children by their hair (though hair-pulling was well within bounds), but throw them on the couch when he was angry? Oh, yes — often. I was always terrified they would break a limb or their necks.

I wish I had known to call the police. Somehow my children were never injured, so no emergency hospital visits ever drew the attention of the authorities. And Gary denied he was abusive; he was believed every time. He never admitted to throwing the children in his rages until we were in court during our divorce. But then, even though my attorney got him to admit it, Gary assured the court he had gotten help and had not been abusive for the previous several years. So the judge didn’t believe me when I said he was still abusive.

Well, it’s a little hard to throw a teenager who’s bigger than you onto the sofa! Gary didn’t stop the physical violence until they were big enough to beat him up — and one of them did it twice. Then he magically developed the ability to walk away rather than raise his fists. It didn’t stop the verbal abuse, but that stopped the physical violence.

Why didn’t I do anything about it? Oh, I did. When I tried to get outside help, Gary’s perfect facade and pleas convinced them I was using the “abuse” hot button to try to get out of my marriage. He also threatened to take the children and leave the state, to have me charged with child abuse (it would have been funny if I weren’t completely afraid he would be believed), etc.

So I stood up to him inside our marriage. I got in the middle to stop it every time (until they were so big I would have ended up hurt!) By then I had one goal — I was not going to lose my children to the courts because of this man. My children were my responsibility until they were 18. I might not be able to fix it all, but I could try to build a strong relationship with my children so they would have something to stand on later. And I had a covenant with God for my children’s salvation by the time they were 18. With the oldest, God pulled out a squeaker about 6 months before he turned 18. 😉 The second son accepted Christ when he was much younger.

But in hindsight, I wish I had known to call the police from the beginning. If I had there would have been an established trail of reported abuse and I may have gotten better help from the system; and many years earlier. When I see a story like that, all the old pain floods back. I wish, I wish, I wish…

5 Responses

  1. Danni~

    *hug* Yeah. I have a friend who go divorced last year. And because of church teaching about marriage, never reported any of the abuse to any authorities except her pastor & his wife, who did not help… but made matters worse.

    Hmm… now it is hard to convince people that he is abusive and although the boys don’t want to spend the weekends with their dad, the court has mandated it… bleah.

    Again… *hug*

  2. As far behind the train as the church is running on the issue of clergy sex abuse, we’re way further behind on the issue of domestic abuse. But I know I’m not the only one speaking up and, one of these day, it won’t be a secret scourge anymore.

    Pastors are technically required to report suspected abuse – though I haven’t met one yet who did. That needs to become common practice. Right now it’s literally unsafe to try to tell a pastor because they almost universally do exactly the wrong thing — try to get the “other side” of the story — which puts the abused in greater danger. It’s even trickier when that danger isn’t mortal – it would have been far clearer if I thought he might literally kill me. Sometimes I wished for that! Then no one would think I was crazy. But turning up the volume on daily meanness, restrictions, name-calling, rages, social isolation, etc. is just as deadly in the long run.

    — Danni

  3. Danni~

    Growing up in an abusive home, I understand the wish that they would just do something that other people could actuallly see. THat they would acknowledge clearly as abusive.

    I don’t know. Maybe if pastors were to begin being held legally liable for not reporting abuse….


  4. Dani,
    I too wish I had called the police on my husband when he was abusive with my son. One particuliar incident sticks out in my mind. My son was about 14 he had just had his tonsils and adenoids out a week earlier. He also had nasal surgery for a broken nose he had gotten at Boyscout Camp. I heard a noise out in the backyard, I was in the house folding clothes. I went out to see what it was and my husband had my son in a headlock and was punching him in the face. I started screaming at him to let him go. My son was in obvious distress. My husband said “he wanted a piece of me I’m giving it to him.” I said, ” for godsake he just had surgery let him go” I told him if he didn’t let him go I was going to call 911. By this time I was screaming at him hysterically, and I think he was worried the neighbors were going to see/hear what was going on, so he let go of him. My son was ok physically, but emotionally hurt and embarrassed. I should have packed up the kids and left him then, I also should have called the police. My husband is a menis. Last year I finally left him and had to get a restraining order, he violated it twice and went to jail. He was found to have 2 guns in the back of his car, even though he wasn’t supposed to have guns. I went thru hell, the kids are grown now. 21 and 18. I moved to another state just to get away from him. I’ve filed for divorce but he keeps contesting it. It’s been Hell. I just wish I had left years ago when the kids were small. Thanks for listening.

  5. Marsha,

    My boys are the same ages as yours. And I COMPLETELY identify with what you described. It was always their fault – “he wanted a piece of me…” I’d bet the boy never touched his father, all he had to do was say something “disrespectful” to get physically assaulted.

    My ex always said I was trying to castrate him (not those nice words though). If the kids said something “disrespectful” he HAD to stand up for himself or he wasn’t a man. “Stand up for himself” meant causing physical pain – his version of corporal punishment. That’s what he came out of DFCS-ordered anger management class with. At least, according to what he told me, that’s what they told him.

    When they were older, and Gary had gotten in minor trouble from children and family services, he would engage them verbally. The youngest one (A) learned very early to keep his mouth shut and his head down. That way he rarely got it once he was old enough to figure this out. To this day he still believes I was wrong to get a divorce and he told the judge during our divorce that he saw no abuse in our home.

    The oldest one (J) saw the injustice and tried to stand up against it (in child-fashion, which is generally not discreet!) This was considered disrespect. Gary would provoke the oldest until J would physically lash out – could be as “minor” as throwing something. That was all it took for Gary to bring out his fists and they’d be in a brawl in a flash. That happened until J won the fight a couple times and Gary went around with a black eye for a week or two.

    Once J started physically engaging with his father, Gary began to say he would call the police and have J taken away by the authorities because “technically” J started it. I had to fight him over that from the time J was 13 until he was 18. It was unbelievable to me that Gary felt we should just forgive and forget all his behavior but he was entitled to throw his son away when his son responded in kind. But the authorities certainly would have sided with him because he was VERY believable – they DID side with him when Gary told DFCS and later the court that J was a wild rebel brat. (In spite of the fact that J was a scout leader, became an Eagle Scout, received rave reviews from his bosses at work, and has generally been a responsible, hard working teen/adult — who only had a problem with Gary. He is practically the antithesis of a “bad” kid.)

    When J was 18 I told him he needed to go ahead and move out because it was never going to end as long as he lived at home. Fortunately, there were some safe options for him to live with family friends until I was out and on my own and he could move back home.

    Gary moved out of state as soon as I told him I was getting a divorce. I feel very, very fortunate. He also has been faithful with child support (once the court ordered it; not before) and was never physically threatening during this time. I’m almost certain he was relieved I did it. He wanted out but his religious beliefs would not let him be the one to do it. He never once tried to get me back or try to reconcile (he had been far nastier during our two previous separations).

    However, he did fight me for custody. And that fight was very ugly. I barely retained custody of our daughter. The legal process took 15 months and $14,000 for me – I’m still paying my attorney a quarter of my child support every month – a serious hardship since I’m surviving somehow on God’s grace alone. (To give you an idea, my rent and the attorney equal $100 more than my child support. I’m in school full time and cannot work and go to school simultaneously due to physical constraints. I literally do not know how God does it month after month.)

    But at least I have my daughter, which is worth any price (Gary paid his atty less than $2500 and she was vicious!) The only reason it ended then was because he wanted to actively date and remarry. So he quit fighting me.

    Gone through hell – yep, that’s exactly how I’d describe it. I, too, wish I had known more, earlier, and had the support I needed to get out ten years earlier instead of being manipulated by the church back into it. I am grateful for my daughter – who is literally a miracle. And I would have missed out on that blessing.

    God knows and that has to be enough at this point. But if I can help others get help faster through my experience, that will be a consolation!

    Hang in there. It’s so hard but it gets better eventually.

    — Danni

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