By Christine D. Patterson
Child abuse is a silent stigma for many children around the world. While composing the manuscript for The Shadows of Nikki, I, the author, went through numerous emotional states; I also felt deep empathy for this woman. I had to walk away from the book on several different occasions. I walked into this woman’s life and felt a sadness that I never experienced before.
I could not understand why the juvenile justice system swept Nikki under an invisible rug so many times. Even though this story took place over forty years ago, the system still has not changed. Families still struggle with not just abuse, but with being family period. Mental health services have been cut down to the bone for these families. The young adults that are pushed out on the streets by the state when they come of legal age have no blueprint of how society expects them to be. Most become homeless well into adulthood. Scars from their past are like the footprints they leave when they roam the streets endlessly from dusk till dawn. If only we would take the time to listen, we might realize that it is not the wind we are hearing, it is the silent void in a child’s heart.
Society needs to stop turning a blind eye to this matter. These children are still human beings, not the castaways that society believes are problems that time will get rid of. This is why I, the author, wrote The Shadows of Nikki. We must take the time and increase our awareness for these families and children. The cycle needs to stop, and we as a society can break it with the power of understanding and caring for these children. Today, there are a handful of programs for these children; but it is not enough. One must realize that these children, many of whom come out of the system, are the future of our world. This should be the number one priority for all of us as a society.
As I stated in the book, there is no reward in writing this story. Fame and reviews are not what I wrote it for. I wrote it because this little girl never knew what unconditional love was. She never had a voice or a chance for a normal future as an adult. I have chosen to give some of the proceeds from this book to Fostering Media Connections, because they listen to the children of today. This gives me and Nikki the hope for this and future generations out there who are suffering from abuse. Perhaps the next generation of young adults will know that someone hears their cries in the night.
You must not only listen to a child with your ears; you must listen with your heart as well.
Christine D. Patterson is the author of The Shadows of Nikki.