Panic Child: A Harrowing True Story of Sexual Abuse and Neglect


The traumas of childhood neglect and sexual abuse cannot be left behind when victims mature into adults. Too often, those adults repeat the crimes once perpetrated against them, depend on substances to dull the pain of memory, or choose partners similar to the adults who once abused them. Is there a way out of this darkness?

Carol D. Levine, in her heartrending and yet hopeful memoir, Panic Child, reveals her childhood of parental neglect, sexual abuse, and the stranger who ...

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The traumas of childhood neglect and sexual abuse cannot be left behind when victims mature into adults. Too often, those adults repeat the crimes once perpetrated against them, depend on substances to dull the pain of memory, or choose partners similar to the adults who once abused them. Is there a way out of this darkness?

Carol D. Levine, in her heartrending and yet hopeful memoir, Panic Child, reveals her childhood of parental neglect, sexual abuse, and the stranger who raped her, and her ascent from the depths of this terrible childhood to a life of service to children who suffered their own nightmares. The strong and steady voice of author Levine is the most powerful reminder that nobody is obliged to repeat the sins of those who harmed us, and that with support and a will to overcome trauma, we can heal from the deepest wounds and live loving, healthy, productive lives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781449050290
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 3/28/2010
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,085,304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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A Harrowing True Story of Sexual Abuse and Neglect
By Carol D. Levine


Copyright © 2010 Carol D. Levine
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4490-5029-0

Chapter One

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!!!

I was running as fast as my little feet would allow me. My brother, who was almost five years my senior was far ahead of me. He was yelling in the wind, "You'd better do better than that; Daddy's coming down the street towards the house. I can see him!" I thought, "Oh my God, he'll surely hit us:' Our care was left in the hands of Maude the babysitter who just simply didn't watch us. Mommy got home from her job after Daddy got home. My mind was racing.

Maude was standing in the doorway with a look of fear and anger on her face. We had stayed with our friends too long. We were just reaching the steps that led up to our house when Daddy saw us. "Hey," he screamed! "What are you two doing down here on the sidewalk?" "We were just playing daddy," I said. "Get in the house!" He yelled. We both ran up the steps forever grateful that he believed me. As he passed Maude, he glared at her, but said nothing. When he was out of her sight she held her nose and made a face. We knew what that meant, Daddy smelled again of alcohol.

Our father was a full-blown alcoholic who was as mean as the day was long. Almost every night my mother and father would yell and fight scaring the hell out of us. Sometimes, I would creep down the stairs to see if Daddy was going to kill Mommy. He certainly said he would many times. I wasn't sure what that actually meant; after all, I was only five years old. My brother was very frightened of my father, and would pull the blankets up over his head and pretend that he was sleeping when my parents fought. One night as I watched with horror, my father had a heavy black skillet in his hands and he was yelling "Now I'm gonna bash you in the head!" My poor mother was helpless. She fell down to the floor holding her head waiting for the possibly fatal blow from the frying pan. My father stood over her and mocked her calling her very bad names. I stood in the hallway that faced the kitchen and started to scream at this monstrous man who was almost six feet tall. I screamed "Stop Daddy, stop!" He spun around and saw me. He had an ugly look on his face that made me stiffen; I felt like I couldn't breathe. Oh my God, what have I done? Now he's going to get me! I stood frozen with fear not knowing what to expect next. He came over to me and pinned my little body against the hallway wall. He was hurting me, but said nothing. Suddenly he let me go and left the house. I honestly believe I saved my mother's life that night. I looked at my mother who was a small woman in stature, and even though I was only five, I knew this was very wrong. She called to me and said, "I'm so very sorry you had to see that." I thought to myself, "So am I." In the hallway was the phone that stood on a little table. Mommy said, "Come here my brave little girl, I want to show you something." She took me by the hand over to the phone and taught me how to call for the police. In those days the phone was quite simple to use, lift the receiver off and dial 0. Perfect! Now I get to put Daddy in jail the next time he's bad! That's what Mommy said! What is jail?

I loved the daytime when Mommy and Daddy were at work. It's true that Maude didn't watch us the way she should have. We would get up in the morning and put on the clothes that Mommy laid out for us, get dressed, push down some hot cereal that Maude had made, [yuck] and off we would go. It was summer and when you are very young, every day is a new day that is filled with wonder and excitement. I had a friend who lived quite a few blocks away from our house, and every day I'd go to her house and we would play for a while in her yard. Then we'd backtrack and go into town. We loved going into town. In those days storeowners would take damaged merchandise and put it out back of their stores to be carted away. One of our favorite stores was the stationary store. Many a day we would sneak around the back of the property and go through boxes of thrown out goods. We did this very quietly because we didn't know if we were doing anything really wrong or not. Oh, what treasures! I remember many pencils and crayons not to mention paper of all sizes. "Mission accomplished!" My friend yelled. "Shhh," I said. "Someone will hear us!" We grabbed our treasures and ran down the many blocks back to my friend Amy's house. On the way back we ran into my brother. He said, "Hey dope head, don't be late today, remember how Daddy gets!" He went on to tell me that he saw Daddy put a bottle of booze under each couch pillow, and tonight might be really bad. My friend shuttered, "Why does your father drink so much?" she asked. I just looked at her and said nothing. After all, how would I know? The whole block knew that he was a drunk. I was too young to feel shame, or maybe I was just numb. I thought to myself, if I get home earlier today, I'll throw out Daddy's bottles of booze and that'll make things better. I did just that! At day's end, I walked into the house right past Maude and gathered up Daddy's bottles. Maude stood there with a look of shock. "What are you doing?" she asked. I didn't answer her. I took the bottles outside to the ally way that ran alongside of our house, and proceeded to smash them against the wall. Maude followed me out of the house and watched in horror as I destroyed daddy's bottles. She yelled, "You're crazy! Your father is going to beat the hell out of you!" She was probably right. Suddenly what seemed to be a good idea, turned out to be a bad one?

I went to my bedroom and sat on the bed feeling very frightened. What was I thinking? Even though I was only five years old, I could visualize how Daddy would respond to this and I started to cry. Oh, why didn't I think about this first? I knew that Daddy would be home soon. There was nothing I could do but wait and pray to God that Daddy would only hit me once or twice. I had an aunt who was very religious. She had told me that if you close your eyes really hard and ask God to help you, he would hear your prayers. I closed my eyes and said, "Lord, this is Carol here; I promise you if Daddy doesn't hit me very hard, or not at all, I'll never take his bottles again." I heard a door slam. It was only my brother. He came running into my room and started to yell at me. "What are you nuts? Maude just told me what you did." I told him "It's your fault; you said tonight would really be bad because Daddy had bottles of booze under the couch pillows, so I got rid of them!" We stood there looking at each other each with our own thoughts and feelings of doom when sure enough Daddy came into the house. My brother went to his room. He was not going to be a part of this!

I stood in the upstairs hallway, I couldn't move. I heard Daddy tell Maude that she could go for the day, and my mother would pay her for the week when she got home from work. "Be back on Monday" he said. I was quite sure Maude was thinking "Yes, if I'm needed." I stood in the hallway waiting for Daddy to discover the missing bottles, and of course his screaming, screaming in the morning, screaming in the evening, screaming all day long. I wondered at times if his throat ever hurt him. It seemed like I stood in the hall forever. I was actually starting to get tired of standing there. Suddenly I heard what sounded like a loud gasp! Uh oh, here it comes! "Carol, come down here right now!" he shouted. I thought, "Why didn't he call my brother too?" Very slowly I started to go down the steps expecting to get thrashed. He looked at me. I found it very painful to look at his face. I was so filled with fear. I certainly couldn't look into his eyes, as I was afraid of what look he would have on his face. "Carol?" he asked, "Did you take my bottles of wine?" I felt like I was going to pee my pants. I actually felt myself start to shake. "Yes Daddy," I whispered. For what seemed to be an eternity, there was a silence that was so thick it could cut the air. Finally I heard him sigh. He said, "Don't ever do that again, or I'll hit you so hard that you'll never walk again. Go to your room and do not expect to eat tonight." That was it? Wow, there really is a God! No beatings like he gave Mommy.

My father left the house leaving my brother and I unsupervised. My brother crept out of his room and actually seemed disappointed that more didn't happen. "Boy, you sure got off easy." It was true, if my brother Jimmy had done that, he would have gotten hit. My father liked me better than my brother. We both knew this but never spoke about it. However; my father's main target for abuse was my mother, and like clockwork that night was no exception. I stayed in my room that night and only heard a little of what was said. I did hear him mention my name, and of course I knew why.

Chapter Two

Saturday! Saturday was actually almost always good times and a good day! We would all get into the car looking our very best, and go to my grandparents' house. These were my fathers' parents. My grandfather was a very successful florist and considered to be one of the best flower growers in the world! I actually have pictures of him posing with well-known movie stars. They lived in a house that was like a mansion. I loved going there. Every room was like an adventure. Their living room was called the ballroom. It was a huge room with highly polished floors, and had a beautiful chandelier that lit up the room. I loved to go and look at it and imagine I was a beautiful lady, dressed in a gorgeous gown, dancing the waltz with a handsome partner, spinning me ever so gently around. The dining room was a long wide room with a beautiful dining room set. The table had clawed feet, as did the chairs. My grandmother would have many fancy dinners in that room, with hired help of course. Everything had to be perfect! On one particular night that I'm sure was the topic of many a conversation for years to come, a certain little girl waited for all the grownups to finish their meals and go to the ballroom. Then I walked around the table and every glass that had wine or a mixed drink left in it, I sampled! All of a sudden, I felt like I could fly! I ran out of the dining room and went into the ballroom, where everyone who was anyone was dancing. I started to dance too! I spun around and around. I felt exhilarated and free. I shouted, "Look Mommy, look what I can do!" All of a sudden I fell to the floor and threw my guts up. My head was spinning. There was a silence, and then a roar of laughter. This isn't the attention I wanted. My mother came over to me and pulled me to my feet roughly. "What did you do," she asked? I pointed to the dining room, and then to the glasses. "Oh my God" she said, "She's drunk!" I heard another roar of laughter. "Where are the maids?" my mother asked. "Why didn't they clear the table?" Looking back, I hardly think they had time to. My mother calmed down and said, "Well, I guess I know where we're going." She went and got our coats and home we went. She was very sad. I never did that again.

On sunny summer Sundays we would go swimming. My parents had one spot in particular that they would take us to. Over the years my grandfather had purchased a log cabin in upstate New York. We all loved going to the cabin, it meant more good times for the most part. You see, even though my grandfather was very successful, he too was an alcoholic. My father and he would drink and have awful arguments. My mother and grandmother would take my brother and me out for a ride to get away from the fighting. When my grandmother insisted on driving, it was always an adventure. The lady did not belong behind the wheel of a car. One day she pulled into a gas station to get gas, and when she put the car in gear to leave, she accidentally put it in reverse hitting all the cans of stacked oil! The cans went flying and rolled everywhere! My brother and I looked out the back window and saw the gas station attendants screaming and yélling, shaking their fists at us. At first we were humiliated, but then we started to laugh hysterically. My mother didn't think it was so funny, and my grandmother went gaily on as if nothing happened. One thing about my grandmother, nothing ever bothered her. She was probably one of the funniest people I ever knew, and she was afraid of nothing. I would have loved to be just like her. She brought me a lot of joy just by being herself.

Chapter Three

The summer was almost over and that meant school. My brother loved school and I had not yet gone, so I was a little worried or maybe even a little scared. I had a new dress to start the big event and new shoes as well. However the shoes were horrible! I told Mommy that I hated them and that they didn't fit right, and she said, "Don't worry, no one will notice:' Daddy had taken me for a walk the day before school started and he saw them in a window. "Carol, don't you think those are great shoes?" he asked. I looked into the window and felt shocked at what he thought was nice. "No Daddy," I answered. "I don't like them!" I could see that he was getting mad. He grabbed my hand and said, "You're getting those pretty shiny black shoes!" I thought, "I won't wear them, I'll show him!" My father marched us into the store and went over to the sales person. He demanded that he get the shoes from the window display. No one asked about size or whom they were for. The man simply said, "Your wife will love them." He paid and we left. Now you can imagine how big they were! At that moment I felt a new feeling for my father. I couldn't quite put a label on it, I knew it wasn't fear; it was something else, something not good.

I went into the school by myself, like a big girl, to a teacher who was waiting for all the new arrivals. We were all filled with anticipation. Everything was going well until we were told to get on the floor and form a circle. It was story time. Under ordinary circumstances this would have been fun. I looked down at my new shoes that flopped as I walked. I could barely keep them on. I knew that someone was going to see them and surely make fun of me. We all did as we were told and formed a small circle. Before the teacher could start, I heard a little girl start to laugh and point at my shoes. I tried to pull my dress down over them so no one else could see them, but try as I might it was impossible. I heard more laughter coming from someone else. I felt like running, but had nowhere to run to. The teacher came over to me and bent down. She pulled my head up which was looking down at the floor and whispered in my ear, "It might be a good idea not to wear those tomorrow." I wanted to die. How could I tell her I had no other shoes to wear? I thought the day would never end. Mommy showed up and I told her what had happened with my shoes. She sighed, and said, "I'll see what I can do." That didn't sound very promising. I walked into the house, had a few cookies and went to sit on the steps outside.

Suddenly Maude walked by. She looked at me sitting on the steps and stopped. "Hey pumpkin head how was your first day at school?" I looked at her and started to cry. She said, "Hey, you never cry, what's wrong?" I started to tell her and she got a look of anger on her face. "Stay here" she said. Lucky for me Maude had sisters younger than herself who always looked nice and well dressed. She came back soon with a pair of shoes that fit pretty darn well. I felt oh so relieved and grateful. To me that was one of the kindest things anyone had ever done. I ran into the house and said "Mommy look!" "Maude gave me these!" Mommy was happy too, but didn't know how Daddy was going to take it. What will I say when your father asks about the other shoes? I thought for a minute and took off to my room. There they were the ugly black shoes that caused me so much grief. I bent down and picked one up. I didn't know quite what to do. Then it dawned on me. Daddy couldn't expect me to wear shoes that were broken. I took one shoe into my parents' room and found the scissor. The shoes had a thin strap that went across the foot that would have been all right on someone who took a women's size six. I took the scissor and cut the strap in several places. Done! No more ugly shoes.

The next day, everything went well in school for me. I missed my friend Amy because she went to a private school. Her mother and father had more money than we did, and a lot more kids to care for. They all went to a Catholic school. I came from a family that was much divided. Some of the people in my family were Catholic and others were Protestant. This caused a lot of division amongst family members. Most of my friends were Catholic. As far as I was concerned I felt at home in the Catholic Church. Somehow it felt natural for me. Thinking back to Amy, I longed for the days and times that we would run the streets like wild little Indians. Those days were gone, but never forgotten.


Excerpted from PANIC CHILD by Carol D. Levine Copyright © 2010 by Carol D. Levine . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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