Grand Publishing Copyright 2011

| Contact

| About

Chapter One - Excerpt

Six Days of Torture

My name is Ursula Sunshine Assaid. I'm five years old I'm a big girl now. My Mommy's name is Susan and she's from New Zealand. We live with Mommy's boyfriend, Don, in Altamonte Springs, Florida. My Daddy, Tom lives in California. He named me when I was born. He made my middle name Sunshine so my initials would be U.S.A. Mommy works at a restaurant in Orlando, Florida, so she is gone a lot. Don doesn't work much, and Mommy says I have to stay home with him. I'd like to tell you a story. It's about the last week of my life...

Monday

"I'm hungry," Ursula whimpered as she awoke. Startled by her own voice, the child cowered in bed. The little clock by her bed showed the hour hand at six.

I mustn't let them hear me. If they don't hear me they'll let me stay in bed. I don't want to go in the back yard again. I don't want to.

Ursula curled her frail body into a ball and tried to lose herself in the covers. Time passed without her being aware of it. Hunger gnawed in her stomach and would not allow her to sleep; sleep she so desperately needed for her abused body. Her mind made a desperate attempt to block out all conscious thought, in an effort to protect her from the nightmare that had become her life these past two months. She felt the covers being pulled away. "Mommy?"

She looked up, her large brown eyes filled with apprehension. Her voice was almost a whisper as she askedthe slim woman standing over her,"Am I going to school, Mommy?" "No," Susan Assaid replied, her voice was quiet, her mouth drawn in a stern line. Ursula's fears confirmed, she begged in a whisper, "I don't want to go in the backyard again, please."

Susan turned away from her daughter, her face pinched with worry, marring her normally pretty features. She started rummaging through the dresser, pulling clothes out at random. "You mind Don today. You hear me?" Susan turned her head toward her daughter long enough to see the small child nod in agreement. "I want you to be real good so he won't get mad. I don't want to lose him, He treats me real nice. Not like those others."

"Better than Daddy?" the child asked wide-eyed. Yeah, even better than your daddy," her mother reflected. Ursula watched her mother move gracefully, but silently, around the room, her brown hair pulled up into a knot on top of her head.

I like it better when she wears her hair down, then she stays home with me.

Clothes were laid on the bed for Ursula and she slowly dressed herself in a blue T-shirt, pink shorts, white socks, and tennis shoes. She tried to put off the time that she would again have to stand under the tree in the backyard.

Ursula looked up at Susan, wishing her mother didn't have to leave and go to work. Maybe things would be different if she stayed home. Don had been nice to her before her mother had started working.

I'm so hungry.

Once again she took her post under the tree in the backyard. She had been standing by the tree for hours, every day, for more than a month. In the beginning she had toys and a plastic pool to play in, but Don had taken everything away. He had told her she was bad and that she had wet in the play pool, but she hadn't. Don didn't like her and said that she had lied. She thought he was the one who had lied.

The sun beat down on her even though the yard was shaded. There were at least four oak trees and one pine, but it didn't keep the Florida sun from reaching her. Her young body started to perspire and her blondish-brown hair became matted on her forehead. Flies buzzed around her. She fretfully slapped at the black pests, causing them to rise momentarily before they returned to attack again. Her mouth was dry and felt cottony because she was thirsty. All thoughts of hunger were forgotten.

She scuffed the toe of her shoe in the sand and watched the puffs of dust rise up and cover her white tennis shoes. Her eyes moved from one object to another: a tree, the leaves on the tree, a neighbor's yard, and the ants crawling past her feet. She counted them until she reached as high as she could go and then started over.

Her small body twisted and turned in discomfort. She had been made to stand until two or three o'clock in the morning the past few days in punishment for messing her pants. She hadn't meant to do it but he wouldn't let her in the house. When Don saw her clothes he made her sit on the toilet with her underpants over her head until long after her mother had come home.

I hate him, I hate him!

Her thoughts were the only form of rebellion she had as punishment was swift in coming if she opened her mouth to protest.

He's watching me. I can see the bedroom curtain move. He must have gotten up right after Mommy left. Why does he always watch me? Why won't he let me come in the house?

She watched the shade move across the yard as the sun changed its position in the sky. The day grew long and lonely. Her small, frail legs were tired and she was so hot. She heard the doorbell ring inside the house.

Could it be Mommy? Did she come back home?

Ursula summoned all the hope within her small body that her mother had come back and she would be freed from her prison under the tree. Her shoulders slumped in disappointment when she heard voices inside the house. It was only Don's friend. Don showed his friend where he was making Ursula stand. He moved the curtains just enough for the two of them to look out at her.

"I made Ursula stand up the whole weekend as punishment because she messed her pants," he bragged. "That's why she's not in school today. We couldn't get her up in time. Usually I make her go right to the tree and stand under it when she comes home from school. She needs to learn how to mind." Don looked at him expectantl "I guess so," his friend shrugged. "You never did tell me what the doctor said about her checkup."

"The kid's too small. She needs to eat more He said to cut down on her liquids. He says she is small for her age, under four feet tall and her weight's down. She only weighs 30 pounds. So I cut out her liquids." Don shrugged as if it was a small matter. Out under the tree Ursula continued to hear the mumble of voices. She couldn't make out everything they were saying but once in a while she could hear Don tell his friend about her.

He was mad at me again last night. I tried to be good after he let me get off the toilet. I didn't lie! I didn't! I couldn't help it if I swallowed some water when I brushed my teeth. I didn't do it on purpose. Why doesn't he like me anymore? What did I do? I want to be good. I don't lie. I don't!

The curtains in the front room moved suddenly. Two fingers gripped the side of the fabric and a thin sharp face peered through the opening. Ursula watched. She held herself still until the fingers released the fabric and she was once more alone in the backyard without Don's eyes peering at her. Her legs trembled yet she knew she didn't dare sit down. Sitting down would make him angry and she tried not to think what would happen if he became angry. She felt the urge to go to the bathroom. She crossed her legs, whimpering plaintively.

Oh please, please don't make me have to go potty.

The pressure became unbearable. Trying her best not to disgrace herself again, she knew only too well the outcome if she did. Minutes passed, minutes of agony as the pressure in her small bladder grew until she knew she couldn't stop it any longer. She held her small hand between her crossed legs but warm liquid still seeped between her fingers and dribbled down her legs. Her whimpering became loud enough to be heard. Ursula's small face turned white.

I'm bad, just like Mommy and Don said. I wet my pants. They told me not to wet my pants.

Slowly the tears welled up in her brown eyes and spilled down her face. She removed her hand from between her legs, bringing it up and staring at it before she wiped it on her shorts. She uncrossed her legs and squirmed at the uncomfortable feel of wet pants and legs and her shoes filled with her urine. She wiggled her toes within her shoes trying to relieve the squishy feeling. Staring at the house in desperation, she knew it was only a matter of time before Don ordered her inside. The tree became a refuge for her, the only safe place in her narrow world. She saw him peering out at her through a slit near the top of the front room curtains.

I want my Daddy. Why doesn't my Daddy come take me away? I'll be glad when Mommy comes home. I can't help it if I wet my pants. I'm so scared. I'm afraid. He always watches me from the window just before...Mommy... please come home, Mommy Im so scared.

"Ursula, get in here!" Don yelled. Her body jerked as her little feet moved forward slowly. She tried to hurry, knowing she must obey him or risk adding to his anger. Sobs escaped her dry throat.

I've been bad. I know I've been bad. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

"You wet your pants, didn't you?" he demanded as she entered the house. "No," she answered, her voice more a plea of denial than defiance. "You're a bad girl! You know you wet your pants. Now you'll have to be punished!" he yelled as he towered over her. His eyes were filled with a frightening gleam.

She watched as his tall wiry body moved toward the television. His large frame hid the screen as he reached for the brown belt on the top of the set. Her heart began pounding rapidly with fear as she saw his strong hand grip the leather strap and raise it over his head.

When she felt the sting of the belt on her buttocks, she jumped involuntarily. Again, the belt came down, causing pain to sear through her body. Again and again she felt the blow of the belt on her legs and buttocks. Her tears flowed freely as she pressed her hand to her mouth to muffle the sound of her crying.

"Get into the front room and stand in the corner! Keep your hands to your side. Don't move until I tell you. You little brat!" his voice echoed coldly throughout the room. Ursula moved slowly. She held her little body in a rigid stance, her hands held stiffly by her side even while sobbing. Her shorts became a source of torture for her. The urine chafed her skin and her shoes continued to feel wet and squishy.

I wet my pants. Big girls don't wet their pants. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Ill be good.

She became aware of Don standing over her, a piece of soap in his hand, with his friend right behind him. "Eat this, now! Bad girls must eat soap. You're bad, you lied," he sneered as his large hand moved nearer to her mouth. Ursula's eyes were wide with fright. She hated the taste, but she was too afraid to tell him. The hand in front of her shoved the soap into her mouth. A tangy, sour taste covered her tongue and the back of her throat. As she bit down, the sharp perfume scent shot to her nostrils and taste buds. She tried to forcethe soap down her dry throat but the white substance squeezed between her teeth and clung to her tongue, gagging her.

She watched him fearfully. Something in his face, an almost fanatical look of glee, kept her from spitting it out and asking for water. Long ago she learned not to ask for a drink because he would not give it to her. Finally, the awful substance was swallowed and lay heavily in her stomach.

Time seemed to stop as she was forced to stand at attention until her already-tired legs trembled and her feet burned in the wet shoes. Her stomach revolted as more and more soap was forced upon her. She ate until she could hold no more and then vomited. "Get your clothes off. You're a mess! You're a brat! Do you hear me? A spoiled brat!" Don turned and started pacing the floor. His face was tight with emotion. "I will make her mind. She will obey me. I will control her," he muttered as he paced. He looked at his friend. "She will learn to obey."

Ursula had been standing naked in the front room for hours when she heard her mother come home. Sometime in the hours she had been standing there, the friend had left.

Don left his place on the couch and went toward the bedroom. She could hear Don and her mother talking in the other room. She didn't dare turn her head to look, for she would feel the sting of the belt on her bare bottom. She cautiously shifted her feet and smelled the sharp ammonia odor of her urine. She still had not been allowed to wash herself after she had wet her pants.

The small hope she harbored that her punishment would end faded when her mother and Don came into the room and sat down on the couch. Don's voice bellowed out, "March, Ursula! While you're at it, I want to hear you say your ABC's. You better get them right, do you hear me, you little brat!" Ursula looked to her mother for support but Susan showed no emotion. As usual, she remained at Don's side, not looking at her daughter. Ursula lifted her tired feet and moved her aching legs, trying to do as she was told.

"A, B, C, D, E, F," she recited as she marched from the front room into the dining room: around each chair that Don had pulled out, thus providing a wider area to march around. "G, H, I, J," she continued, crawling under the cafe doors leading to the kitchen.

"Clean up the mess your brat made," Don ordered Susan as he pointed to the carpet. Susan quickly got up and went into the kitchen. She paused long enough to wipe Ursula off before returning to the front room. She stooped down and cleaned the vomit from the carpet. Looking at him fearfully, Susan quickly put away the rag and disinfectant. She did not pause in the front room but scurried on into the main bathroom. She grabbed several beach towels and covered the front room carpet, then docilely took her place beside him, a weak smile on her face. Ursula entered the front room again.

"K, I," she paused, "N?" Don's strong hand curled into a fist and he swung at her. His fist buried itself into her small stomach, taking her breath away. "You're wrong! Start over again and get it right this time." Don's face was twisted in anger.Ursula tried to straighten up and do as she was told. She had been bad again. She had forgotten the rest of the alphabet.

I'm not supposed to make Don mad. Mommy likes Don better than the other boyfriends we've lived with. If I make Don mad he might leave and Mommy would cry. Why did I forget? Why am I bad?

"I'm sorry." Her voice came out in a low whisper from her aching chest. She tried again as she headed for the dining room: "A, B, C, D, E," she continued around the chairs and crawled under the cafe doors into the kitchen. "F, G, H, I, J, K, L." She faltered. "N?"

Don again clenched his strong hand into a fist and hurled it into her stomach. Her body curled itself around the fist as her head jerked back. Pain exploded in a red haze before her eyes. Her stomach, already heavy with the soap she had been forced to eat, heaved up into her throat. Fear of being hit again made her swallow the sour vomit. She took small, gasping breaths until she could continue with her marching. She tried desperately to remember the rest of the letters.

"A, B, C, D, E." Her path took her again around the dining room chairs and on into the kitchen. "F, G, H, I, J, K, L." She was sure this time. "M!" She didn't miss a step or mis¬pronounce the letter.

The hours passed in a haze for Ursula. She was very tired. She continued to drag her feet around the rooms he had designated for her to march in. At some time during that hazy period she became aware of Don and her mother preparing their dinner and eating. They sat on the couch and ignored her as she marched by. Rarely did the two adults speak to each other. The only sound in the house was her voice reciting the alphabet and the low hum of the television set. Ursula had been forbidden to watch television weeks before that night.Their dinner over, Don looked at Ursula. "Let's hear you count to twenty."

The brown leather belt lay near his hand on the couch. She was so tired now that she didn't absorb what he had said. She continued to recite the alphabet until the belt snaked out and struck her bare bottom. Her mother sat beside Don on the couch and watch silently.

"Not ABCs! Count, you little whore, count!"

Ursula flinched as the belt connected and her body burned. Tears welled up in her eyes and slowly ran down her face. She was too tired to make a sound other than what was demanded of her. Her throat burned from the many hours of reciting and from the effort to keep from crying aloud so she could continue to count. Repeatedly, her tired mind refused to come up with the next number in sequence and Don lashed out at her in punishment.

As she passed through the kitchen, her nose picked up the lingering aroma of their dinner and her stomach rumbled in protest. She had not eaten all day or had anything to drink. She looked longingly at the faucet, wishing she could reach the tap and let the water pour down her parched throat.

I can't, I was bad, they told me so. I don't deserve anything to eat or drink, not a bad girl like me.

Ursula continued to march and count until late into the night. She no longer worried about her nudity. She was stumbling now. Don continued to beat her with the belt because she was unable to concentrate. Her words were slurred. Her body was trembling ...

....

Table of Contents

PART ONE - Ursula Sunshine: A Childs Story

Chapter 1

Six Days of Torture...........................................................2

Monday.............................................................................2

Tuesday..........................................................................12

Wednesday.....................................................................22

Thursday.........................................................................28

Friday..............................................................................37

Saturday..........................................................................42

Chapter 2

A Childs Death................................................................51

Saturday Night................................................................51

Sunday............................................................................55

Chapter 3

Fugitives on the Run.......................................................60

Chapter 4

The Betrayal...................................................................67

Chapter 5

Profile of a Child Abuser.................................................75

Donald McDougall..........................................................76

Susan Assaid..................................................................79

The Sentencing...............................................................82

Someone Heard..............................................................83

The Circle of Violence Epilogue.....................................84

PART TWO - You Can Help Stop Child Abuse

Child Abuse and Neglect................................................88

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect..............................93

Leaving Your Child Home Alone.....................................97

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect..........................101

How the Child Welfare System Works..........................106

Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect......116

Child Maltreatment 2006: Summary of Key Findings.....125

Toll-Free Crisis Hotline Numbers..................................128