This is a story of something that happened in 1993. A student begged me to “Please do something to help this girl,” so I met her.
The color of her face was terrible, around her eyes were dark circles, and it was clear that her appearance was that of someone with a dependence on drugs. Furthermore, her lips were torn and her eyes and cheeks vividly showed that she had been severely beaten recently.
When I offered to call the police or an ambulance for her, she stopped me with desperate effort.
I listened to her reasons and was shaken.
These awful acts, the one who had done such violent things to her, was none other than her father.
She was an only child whose father was a government official who had lost his mind to drinking and gambling. His family life had also completely collapsed because of his actions. When asked about her childhood memories, she could only speak of going to the horse track, or bike track, or harbor where her father would be on the races, and of her mother’s crying figure are her father yelled and beat her. When she was in elementary school, her mother began working in a Snack (think like Strip Clubs with karaoke) in attempt to salvage household expenses. In the end she ended up running away and eloping with one of her regular customers. What’s worse, the girl then had no choice but to live alone with her father. When she was entering her first year of Jr. high school, her father began sexually assaulting her. He continued his abuse for many many years. Every time he returned home drunk, he would deliver more and more abuse onto her. If she fought him, he would move to more drastic forms of violence.
Soon, she joined a (juvenile) gang. There she was introduced to paint thinner and, to heal the pain in her body and heart inflicted on her by her father, she used it. What’s more, she sometimes used sex hotlines to sell her body to men and used the money to buy more paint thinner. As to not be caught by the police, she could only sniff paint thinner at home. Her father never stopped her usage either. For him, when she was high on paint thinner, it meant that she would not and could not oppose his sexual advances and abuse.
In this reality two years passed. During that time she had two abortions because of her father’s constant sexual abuse. Living in this terrible life made her leave her home twice to seek out the mother who threw her away. There, in her mother’s new home, she felt uncomfortable and unwanted, so she felt she had no choice but to return to her father.
Around the time she graduated from Jr. high school, her father’s lived failed because of over drinking and he quit his job. Due to a lack of income, the girl could not enter high school, but instead began working at a boxed lunch shop. At the same time she worked nights at a Snack found by her father. The Snack was his favorite one, and he came nearly every night to drink and paid for his drinks in advance from her paycheck. She never saw her paycheck (lit. she never touched her paycheck).
Her father’s abuse escalated. If he didn’t like something, he would get angry at her, kick her, and all out attack her. Cut off from the rest of the world, she couldn’t ask anyone for help, so she continued to live out these hellish days.
When I heardher story, there was no way to calm my spirit. I immediately called a child abuse center and took her there. There I explained that her father was the worst kind of criminal who could not be considered human and did not allow a human existence on his own daughter. She never agreed nor disagreed to my statements (lit. she never moved her head). She remained under the protection of the center while the police made a move on her father.
She then remained under the warm protection there for a month of pure safety. She looked after the other children there and soon they began calling her their “older sister.”
“Sensei, this is the first time I have been able to sleep peacefully.”
When she said this, I thought about her life until then and became sad.
Her father’s investigation by the police proved his violent acts and sexual abuse. The police strongly encouraged her to press charges, but she ultimately could not take any action against her father. While the police and myself felt extremely disappointed, no matter what we said or did her decision would not change.
We called her mother to the child abuse center and informed her of the matter at hand, but she broke our hope with her “I can’t damage the good life I have now, so I cannot and will not take her back” attitude.
After a month of being admitted to the center at the recommendation of the staff she began working as a nurse’s assistant. The following year she entered a night high school I had recommended and made it her one goal to get her nursing qualification. Just like a fish put back into water she was reborn and did her best. She washed her hands of paint thinner, cut herself off from her old gang friends, and began walking a new life. I was very happy and proud. Once a week, on her vacation day, we would meet for dinner and talk about many things, but I soon began to see the brightness in her eyes fading.
Then this happened to her.
After her first month working at the hospital, I received a phone call from her in tears.
“Sensei, this morning a patient I became close with passed away. Until now I have been in the morgue praying. I…to help their soul reach heaven…I opened the morgue window a little.”
Being touched by her natural kindness, I felt a pinch in my chest.
The truth is, about half a year later, something in her changed. Around that time I began receiving less and less phone calls from her. What’s more, every time I would offer to meet with her, she would brush me off with “I can’t because I’m tired.” I became worried and called the head nurse at the hospital she worked at. It was then I learned that she had not gone into work recently.
I then went to visit her dorm but she was no where to be found. No matter how long I wanted, she never returned home. I waited at the entrance of the dorm in my car until morning for her. When dawn broke, she arrived in the car of a middle aged gang member. When I saw his face, I knew he was not a good person.
I invited her into my own car where the two of us talked. At first she said this:
“Everyone is playing and having fun…am I the only one not allowed to do so? Am I not allowed to fall in love? In the afternoon, I put all my energy into my work, having a little time to do what I want is a good thing, right?”
“If that’s the case, it’s fine to play. But, is 16 really an age where that behavior is appropriate?”
“Even though everyone else does….sensei…you are terrible.”
That was the type of cry she had. No matter how much I tried to reason with her, she would never hear me out.
It soon became time for her to leave for work, so I told her, “At any rate, today you should go to work at the hospital and return back to your dorm as quickly as possible.” The next day we would try to speak again.
However, after this day she disappeared.
I searched desperately for her, but I could not find her. I regret that I did not ask her her boyfriend’s name or gang hangout.
The next time we were able to meet was three years after our initial meeting.
She was being taken care of at a hospital and has asked to borrow her friend’s health insurance card over the phone. That friend then called me.
I then accompanied that friend to the spot they were meeting her at and we were reunited.
It was as if she had been expecting me to come, and she explained everything that had happened since her disappearance.
She had run off to a different middle aged man’s apartment. He was a member of a gang and was a stimulant drug dealer. There, she was crammed with drugs and sold into prostitution. From her customers she received a serious STD.
“I was always searching for you, but I couldn’t find you. I was always praying that you at least could find happiness with your boyfriend.”
She dropped her head and spoke to me in a small voice.
“But, it is already too late for me. Look at what I have become. I have no where to go.”
“That’s not true. What do you want to do? Do you want to try and start over again with me? First, we have to get the proper medication to treat your disease.”
I took her to a hospital with a medical expert on STDs where we explained her situation and she was admitted to the urgent care ward.
Two months passed peacefully. Because of her strong wish, I did not attempt to lay a finger on her recent boyfriend. When she finished her treatment, she then entered a drug dependency prevention program. In terms of her life style, she was under the protection of a public welfare institute and specially trained human relations doctors, so all there was left was to wait for her to be released from the hospital.
However, she again vanished.
She disappeared with a middle aged man she met at a drug dependency prevention meeting.
At that time, I finally took notice of something. She had been seeking out men who were treating her with the same kindness that her father had. She had been longing for the same attention and love, no matter how sick the notion. For I, who had never thought about the effect of her emotional trauma, had done nothing but move her around. I had not realized what the real problem was. I do not regret that it took me so long to realize this, I only felt how powerless I was. What could I possible do to help her?
Two year later, she came to see me again.
I felt like she did not have a well put together face, but she still appeared before me. She was certainly seeking me. Just because of this, I was able to feel happy.
“Sensei, will you still look after me? Will you not abandon me?”
“Of course. Ok, let’s try to start over again.”
At present, we still communicate on a regular basis. She fell in love with a young man whom I trusted, got married, and is doing her best to raise a beautiful child.
The three of them seem to be creating a very warm home.