Life hadn’t ever been easy for Jennifer. In elementary school, she had been diagnosed with ADD, and by the time she was in eighth grade her family physician had found a medication that worked for Jennifer. It was at the same time that Jennifer began to change. Her teachers couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and Jennifer wouldn’t talk about what happened. When the teachers asked Jennifer’s parents, they told a story about how Jennifer’s maternal grandmother, whom she had been close with, had recently died. The teachers didn’t question the story since Jennifer had mentioned the death to them. In the years since, nobody had seen any major changes in Jennifer. She seemed to be functioning at the level of a high school student. As a sophomore at Chemical City High School, Jennifer was proving to be a great student. Her teachers had nothing but glowing praise for Jennifer’s work in their classes, and her friends thought that Jennifer didn’t always get along with her parents, which was perfectly normal.
One late November day, as the gray clouds covered the skies in a way that could only mean that snow was coming, Jennifer sat on the bus staring out of the window. A few snowflakes had begun to fall, and it was cold. There was nothing better than the first snow of the winter, going sledding with friends for the first time, and enjoying hot chocolate when done playing in the snow. Having arrived in her neighborhood, Jennifer climbs off of the bus, and walks home through the flying snowflakes. Several snowflakes land on Jennifer’s eye lashes as she walks up the driveway. Inside the house, Jennifer sets her backpack down, and heads upstairs to her room. It was there that she closes the door behind her, and sits down on her bed. It was there on the bed, that she looks into the mirror she had sitting nearby. It doesn’t take long for Jennifer to do what she knew would end the pain that she had been feeling since she was eighth grade. As the pain disappeared, Jennifer found herself laying back on her bed and realizing that this was the end of everything she had hated about this life. Moments after Jennifer passes out, her parents arrive home from work. They hadn’t planned on leaving work early, but when they found out that there was a massive snow storm on it’s way towards Chemical City, they took off to avoid having to drive in nasty weather. Having taken off their jackets, hats, gloves, and shoes, Jennifer’s mother heads to the kitchen to start making dinner, and her father heads upstairs to find Jennifer. It was in Jennifer’s room that he notices the needle.
“Honey! Call 911!” yells Jennifer’s father to his wife, “She’s OD’d!”
Jennifer’s mother comes running with phone in hand. As she watches her husband try to revived Jennifer, she tells the operator what they know from what they can see. Within minutes EMS was in the room, and narcam had been administered. They wheel Jennifer out of the house and into the ambulance with her parents watching. Jennifer’s parents jump in one of their cars and follow the ambulance to the hospital. Having parked they rush inside to find their daughter. In a bay, a doctor and nurse stand over Jennifer, watching how she reacts to their overdoes protocol. It was clear that they had done exactly what was needed to do to save Jennifer from certain death.
“I’ll be back.” Says the doctor the one remaining nurse in the room
“Want to talk about it?” asks the nurse of Jennifer
“No.” Replies Jennifer
Several minutes pass as the nurse watches Jennifer intently. Jennifer finally looks up at the nurse, only to see a look that reminded her of a look that she had always wanted to see on her parents’ faces. It was a look of concern and caring.
“I don’t want to talk about what happened today.” Says Jennifer as the tears that were always under the surface come close to escape
“You don’t have to talk about it. But talking would make things easier.” Replies the nurse
“What use would that be? My parents would continue to fuck me over.”
“Have they been doing things to you that you don’t want them to do to you?”
“Yes. My Dad has been forcing me to have sex with him, and my Mom hasn’t let me eat dinner with them since I was in middle school with them. Sometimes she won’t let me eat anything but dog food.”
In the lobby, Jennifer’s parents were asking if they could see their daughter yet.
“I’ll go tell your parents that they can’t see you yet.” Says the nurse, “That’ll give us a chance to figure out what’s next.”
“Okay.” Whispers Jennifer
Outside of the ER bay that Jennifer was in, surrounded by curtains, the nurse talks with the doctor to let him know what was happening. It was thanks to the news of Jennifer’s abuse that the doctor goes to head of Jennifer’s parents while the nurse makes a report to child protective services about what she had just learned.
“Is Jennifer okay?” asks her mother, “Is she going to survive?”
“Is there any sign of why she od’d?” asks Jennifer’s father
“She is awake and talking and will survive. We’re still talking with her to find out the details of why she did what she did. Until the psychologist is done talking with her, we’d like the two of you to stay out here or at home. THe moment that the two of you can talk with her, we’ll let you know.”
“Thank you so much for the update.” Says Jennifer’s mother
The doctor heads back to the room that they would do the rape kit in. CPS sends a social worker out to the hospital to begin the investigation. It didn’t take more than ten minutes for the social worker to drive across town to get to the hospital. During that time, the rape kit was started as another way to prove the abuse. With the rape kit done, the hospital staff moves Jennifer to a private room. This meant that Jennifer would be able to talk with the social worker, and with a psychologist without having to worry about someone listening in to their conversations. The longer that the social worker talks with Jennifer, the clearer it becomes that the abuse that Jennifer had endured for years had effected every aspect of Jennifer’s life, and that there had been clear signs that everyone around Jennifer had missed. Having gotten the information from Jennifer about what had happened, the social worker heads to talk with Jennifer’s parents who were still siting in the lobby waiting to see their daughter.
“Hello, I’m a social worker that is working with Jennifer. I’d like to talk with the two of you to get a better feel for what we can do to help her.” Says the social worker from Child Protective Services
“What can we do to help?” asks Jennifer’s father
The social worker begins asking questions about Jennifer and their relationship with her. They both admitted to the fact that they weren’t always present for their daughter. The also tell the social worker that they thought that their daughter had been sexually active with one of her classmates. Yet they didn’t admit to any wrong doing.
“I can tell you that your daughter isn’t up for any visitors tonight. We’ll see if she’s up to see anyone tomorrow.” Says the social worker at the end of the interview
“Thank you for taking the time to get to know our daughter and for doing what you can to get her whatever would help her get better.” Says Jennifer’s mother
“You’re welcome.” Replies the social worker
The social worker then informs the hospital’s staff not to let Jennifer’s parents anywhere near their daughter. Based on the rape kit, what Jennifer had said, and the way that her parents had been acting the child protective services social worker had reason to believe that Jennifer was in danger from her parents. If Jennifer’s parents got near Jennifer, it was likely that they would hurt her, or do or say something that would cause Jennifer to try to hurt herself again. Back in the hospital room, a psychologist had just walked in too talk with Jennifer to do a psychological assessment of Jennifer.
“Hello. My name is Kate and I’m a psychologist here at the hospital.”
“Hi.” Replies Jennifer, clearly grumpy
“How are you feeling?”
“Want to talk about it?”
“No.” Replies Jennifer, clearly certain of the fact that she didn’t want to be touched or talked to.
Kate, the psychologist sits down in a chair next to Jennifer’s bed, where she sits quietly, watching how Jennifer reacts to her sitting there in silence.
“Do I have to talk to you?” asks Jennifer
“You don’t have to, but it would help, and it would make getting you out of your parents custody easier.” Replies Kate
“What do you want to know?”
“Did you intend to overdose?”
“Because I didn’t see any other way out of a crappy situation.”
“Had you ever told anyone about what had happened to you?”
“No. Nobody ever listened to what I had to say unless it was about what we were talking about in one of my classes.”
“Had anyone ever asked you if your parents were abusing you?”
“I’m so sorry that nobody ever asked or recognized that you were being abused.”
“Are my parents still here?”
“No, they just left to head home.”
“That’s fucked up. They get to go home, free people even though they fucked my life up.”
“I know. The good thing is that the social worker got their DNA so that it can be compared to the DNA found during your rape kit.”
“It always hurt so much when my dad raped me. I don’t understand how he could do that to me.”
“It doesn’t make any sense, but he will be charged the moment that the DNA is matched. How long did he do this to you?”
“Too long. He started when I was in eighth grade.”
“What grade are you in now?”
“I’m a sophomore at Chemical City High.”
“Are you dating anyone?”
“Nope. I never have.”
“Is there anyone at school you like?”
“Not really.” Replies Jennifer before whispering the next phrase, “I’m gay.”
“Does anyone else know that you’re gay?”
“Only my parents.”
“When did you tell them?”
“When I was in eighth grade.”
“How did they react to you coming out to them?”
“They started treating me differently. My Mom started feeding me dog food regularly, and my Dad started raping me.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“You shouldn’t be sorry. My parents should be rotting in prison.”
“I just feel bad for what you’ve experienced. I wish I could go back in time to change what you went through.”
“Yes. I know how hard it is to come out to your parents. You can never know if they’ll accept you for who you are.”
“How do you know this?”
“Because I’m gay, and remember what it was like leading up to and after I came out.”
It was clear that the fact that she was talking to a person who both was gay and had a career surprised Jennifer.
“How long does it take before I’ll be okay being gay?”
“It varies from person to person. But I have a feeling that you’ll be okay much sooner than you realize. The fact that you’ve already come out because you wanted support from the people that were supposed to protect and love you forever says a lot.”
For a full hour Jennifer and the psychologist talk about life, where Jennifer had been, and what would happen next. As Kate, the psychologist, was about to walk out the door of Jennifer’s hospital room, she stops and looks back at Jennifer. There was something about Jennifer that was different than so many of the other young people that she talked to. Kate couldn’t explain how she knew it, but she knew that someday she and Jennifer would spend part of every single day together outside of the hospital. Jennifer lays down on her hospital bed, and wonders what it was like outside. Was it still snowing out? It was at home that Jennifer’s parents house, that they were sitting at the kitchen table talking having finished eating dinner.
“How are we going to get out of this?” asks Jennifer’s mother
“What do you mean?” asks Jennifer’s father in return
“They have our DNA, and there was DNA on Jennifer when they did a rape kit.”
“It isn’t mine. She had to have been fucking someone else besides me.”
“You used a condom, right?”
“So we have nothing to worry about?”
“No we don’t.”
Jennifer’s mother takes a deep breath. They clean up the kitchen and head off to bed for the night, unaware of the fact that Jennifer’s father had left a piece of hair on Jennifer when he had forced himself upon Jennifer while waiting for EMS to arrive that afternoon. Outside the snow had stopped, and everything was covered with white fluffy snow. The snow was killing the sound of any cars that were out. Most people were at home and asleep, glad to have a warm place to sleep. In the hotel room, Jennifer slept the best she had slept in years. She didn’t have to worry about her parents. She didn’t have to worry about what would happen when her parents tried to come to see her as there was a police officer standing watch outside of her hospital room. As she slept, Jennifer dreamed about playing in the snow as a child.