The 20th Century started with horses, simple automobiles, and freighters, but ended with high speed trains, cruise ships, global commercial air travel, and space shuttles. The century saw a major shift in the way that vast numbers of people lived, as a result of changes in politics, ideology, economics, society, culture, science, technology, and medicine. People’s view of the world changed significantly as they became much more aware of the struggles of others, and as such, became increasingly concerned with human rights.
The demands of urbanization, industrialization, and immigration, lead to the development of various organizations that would protect and preserve human rights. Children and Family Services was one of those organizations that is responsible to better the wellbeing of individuals who come from unfortunate situations, including outlawing child labor, ensuring that fewer children are making state wards, more children are being placed in family settings, and that there are more timely permanency objectives.
Though the laws may vary from state to state, in all states the Division of Children and Family Services’ primary goal is to ensure child welfare – particularly to protect children from abuse – or is it?
One such child – now and adult – tells a very different story.
Edward Mashek contacted usedview.com on July 27 2013, with his story. Not only does he tell a story of how the very system that was supposed to protect him and his siblings, had placed them in harm’s way, but he claims he has evidence of how authority figures lied and manipulated the system, in order to cover up their failure to do a job which they were paid to do.
“I am a survivor, but that is all. I have never been allowed to live. I never got to be a child. Perhaps most shocking of all is the fact that the parents, the ones who beat me mercilessly and then condemned my own use of violence, the ones who the state approved to adopt children, the ones who got paid with tax dollars to take care of foster kids, do not deny these allegations. They simply claim that they did the best they could, and refuse to take any responsibility for how their children turned out.” Mashek said.
Mashek was almost killed at birth, fact which landed him in foster care. The foster family eventually adopted him.
Mashek said that for years he was being medicated for being Bipolar, even after a test clearly states that he was not Bipolar. The correct diagnosis was PTSD, yet he was never told, and never treated for it. He only found out about it in 2009 after he got his medical records released. Mashek talks about other horrifying abuse, he suffered at the hands of his adoptive parents, as well as from some bullies in school. Despite his cries for help, and reports to police, doctors, and school teachers, no one ever did anything to stop his batterers.
“I was being beaten and tortured by age of five. At the small local school where one of my parents taught, the abuse began in first grade. By the time I was 6 or 7, I was living in fear on a daily basis. Fear my parents would beat me for something I didn’t do. Fear that the older kids who routinely beat me would find me again. Fear that every day I woke up might finally be the day someone actually killed me.”
Mashek says that due to the great number of beatings he received, pain became normal, which made the people doing it, try that much harder to get a reaction out of him. School bullies would choke him longer, and kick him harder. At home, the weapons got bigger, the violence more intense. He witnessed his siblings suffering the same abuse at the hands of his mother. On one occasion he got beaten with a 2×4, until he admitted to something he had not done.
“In fact, no one ever got in trouble for a single thing that was ever done to me. My parents’ response whenever I would tell them about something, was: “learn to get along,” “walk away,” or “ignore it.” If I tried to defend myself at all, I would get in trouble for that as well. I heard all kinds of excuses for this over the years: “boys will be boys,” “it’s a normal part of growing up,” “they’re just playing.” Funny, how those always seem to come from the ones giving, rather than receiving the abuse.” Mashek said.
Mashek said that the same bullies that tortured him on a daily bases, raped him at knife point when he was about eight-years old. When he told his mother she told him to keep quiet and not tell anyone because, people will make fun of him. The rape was only reported by Masek’s mother to a psychiatrist, when Mashek was 16-years-old, as an excuse to have him committed because she could no longer physically control him.
Instead of reporting it to authorities as required by law, psychiatrist Mark Diercks went along with the adoptive mother’s wishes, and institutionalize Mashek, instead.
“My mother’s attempts to control me and protect herself, kept me out of the military, out of college, and stuck in the area that contained nothing but evil memories for me.” Mashek said.
Masek’s misfortune did not end with the abuse. After graduating, Mashek was arrested for riding in a stolen car, which he said he did not help to steal. The court-appointed attorney instructed him to plead guilty, and not knowing any better or having anyone to look out for him, he complied.
In an attempt to get control over his life, in November 2010 he went before the Nebraska Pardons Board in an attempt to clean his record.
“I surpassed all their requirements by a great deal, had not been in any trouble since 1996, had earned four college degrees and a certificate from Georgetown University, and had actually completed an internship in Washington, D.C. I also had three witnesses show up to testify on my behalf, one of whom was one of the officers who had arrested me.”
John Gale, the Secretary of State of Nebraska, told Mashek that he would not grant him a pardon because he believed that Mashek was still not take responsibilities for his actions, when Mashek was trying to explain the environment he grew up in. “If you had really had things that bad, someone would have done something about it.” Gale told Mashek.
Mashek said that to this day, he still struggles with simple things that seem easy for other people, such as going on a date, or having any friends.
“I attribute that to never getting to be a child or learning the things you are supposed to, during those years. I can’t remember ever being happy.”
He blames the perpetrators, and the system that allowed it.
“This did not happen in an inner city slum. This is not a Hollywood movie. This is the heartland of America, small-town USA, the family next door. My parents lived in a town of about 1300 people where there were no secrets. They are middle-class, college educated couple, whose parents were never divorced. They were licensed by the state as both –teachers and foster care providers – and they were allowed to adopt four kids. Of those four, three are now convicted felons, one a registered sex offender, and the one who isn’t, may be the worst of us all. Every single one of their grandkids is suffering – some from abuse, some from physical disabilities stemming from drug use – and if nothing is done, this cycle will come full circle, again.”
“When Your Life Is Not Your Own” – is a book written by Mashek as a plea for justice, a cry for help, a call to action, and for those who still suffer, to let them know they are not alone. He expects to release the book sometime in the spring of 2014.