Things That Matter

A 5-Year-Old Girl Was Abandoned By Her Parents And Found Chained To Her Bed In Mexico

More often than we might like, headlines tend to describe literal, living nightmares—and the recent story about a 5-year-old girl abandoned by her parents in Mexico is no exception. On January 3, a young girl was found in an empty house in San Luis Potosi, tethered to her bed by a rusty chain. Neighbors had heard cries for help coming from the house and notified the local police. When authorities arrived on the scene, they discovered that the girl was living in terrible conditions: not only was she alone, but she was surrounded by piles of trash and filth. Mexican newspaper Excelsior reported that investigators also found a small bucket near the bed, which the child was forced to use as a toilet. She had bruises on her leg and ankle from the metal cuff. After noting her injuries, police transferred her to a local hospital where and she was found to be in stable condition. As of now, the state prosecutor’s office is collaborating with child protective services and police in an attempt to locate the child’s parents.

Not much is yet known about this child (her name is not being released), and no arrests have yet been made. But what we do know is that her situation is not unique.

When searching for information about this story, countless results recounting nearly identical situations appeared, with headlines like “Girl, 6, Was Chained to Bed for 5 Years in Norco Home;” and “‘They’re Chained Up to Their Bed’: Hear 911 Call From Girl Who Escaped Captivity, Saved Her 12 Siblings.” Although each case offers its own twisted nuances, we can’t help but wonder: How is it possible that this horror story of captivity, abuse, and neglect is so common?

The tale that garnered the most media attention in recent years—mentioned in the above headline about a girl who escaped to save her 12 siblings—chronicles the experience of the Turpin children, all of whom were held captive by their parents over the course of almost three decades.

The torture and abuse enacted upon the Turpin children started as neglect, according to officials. In the beginning, the children’s parents would tie them to their beds as a form of punishment, using rope before later graduating to padlocks and chains. At first, the children would only be confined for short periods; but over time, these stints began to stretch longer and longer, sometimes spanning days or weeks, and the siblings—aged 2 to 29—would not be allowed to use the bathroom.

When the siblings were discovered by police in January 2018, almost all of them were severely malnourished. Evidently, when they were not chained up, they were fed very little food according to a strict regimen. Sometimes, the Turpin parents would buy food and place it in plain sight, taunting the children by prohibiting them from tasting it. According to Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin, at the time the siblings were rescued, one 12-year-old weighed what an average 7-year-old might weigh, and the female 29-year-old clocked in at a mere 82 pounds. The family dogs, on the other hand, appeared to be in good spirits and overall good health.

In spite of her emaciated physical condition, the 17-year-old managed to escape by climbing out a window and dialing 911 on a deactivated cell phone (federal law requires that all cell phones be capable of contacting emergency services, even those that are not operational). According to Hestrin, she and some of her siblings had been devising an escape plan for over two years.

So, statistically, how many victims of domestic captivity are able to share successful stories of escape? It’s tough to say, as there is no definitive number of children in domestic captivity, and it’s ultimately impossible to compare the numbers of known cases with unknown, still-active cases.

Plus, experts say that the potential consequences of attempting to escape often deter victims from even trying. Fear of violence and/or punishment—paired with psychological conditions like Stockholm Syndrome, which occurs when captives become emotionally attached to their captors—is often a major reason that captives don’t try to flee. Long periods of abuse can also lead to a loss of perspective in victims, causing them to feel grateful for any sort of lull in abuse and potentially falling into complacency or acceptance when the abuse is paused or slowed.  

Although the children mentioned above were held captive by their own parents, human trafficking—and especially the trafficking of young children—continues to be a pervasive global issue. According to the latest global estimates, 25 million adults and children are currently being exploited for forced labor, and that is not a comprehensive metric. The statistics surrounding the breadth of human exploitation are staggering, and if you suspect that someone is a victim of trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is the best resource. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take any and all reports of potential cases.

Domestic Violence Victims Have Been Using Code Words At Pharmacies To Escape Abusers During Lockdowns

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Domestic Violence Victims Have Been Using Code Words At Pharmacies To Escape Abusers During Lockdowns

@CiaoMaximilian / Instagram

As lockdowns continue to occur across Europe, Asia and the Americas, worrying reports of domestic abuse have spiked.

According to news outlets, women and men who are victims of domestic abuse are at risk for greater threats now more than ever. With so much of the world in lockdown, reports have said that many confined to their homes with their domestic abusers could become victims of the pandemic.
In a report by CNN, multiple studies proclaimed “that emotionally stressful events can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior at home. Researchers identified such spikes during the 2008 economic crisis, when major natural disasters hit, and also during big football tournaments.”

According to Lucha y Siesta women’s shelter in Rome, the crisis has made abuse all the worse.

According to an interview with Lucha y Siesta and CNN, one young woman had contacted the women’s shelter with reports of a controlling relationship turned violent. The unknown woman told Lucha Y Siesta that ” her partner of four years had always been controlling and abusive but had become much worse during the lockdown.”

With the current public health crisis overwhelming Italy’s resources the country has been forced to turn its direction towards fighting the virus as opposed to helping victims.

“The court procedures are working slower than usual because most people are working from home,” Simona Ammerata a woman who works for Lucha y Siesta and spoke to CNN explained. “The fear is that the legal decrees to protect women won’t be put in place in time.”

Domestic abuse searches have surged in countries across the globe. Not just Italy. Australia and the UK are among some of the countries to report these findings.

Refuge, a domestic violence charity based out of Great Britain has also rung the alarms about similar concerns.

According to CNN, victims of domestic abuse have been using trips to supermarkets and pharmacies to ask for help as strict rules about remaining in quarantine have made it particularly difficult for abused women to escape abusers.

Codeword: “Mask 19.”

Victims of abuse have reportedly been using the codeword “Mask 19” in interactions with pharmacists behind their local counters toa ask for help. According to Elle magazine, local authorities in Spain and the Canary Islands launched an action last week that supports domestic abuse victims in making reports. Those who are incapable of outrightly making complaints to staff about their abuse, are using the code “mask 19.”

Man Arrested For DUI After Police Chase With His Pit Bull Driving Down The Freeway

Things That Matter

Man Arrested For DUI After Police Chase With His Pit Bull Driving Down The Freeway

Jennifer C. / Flickr

A man was arrested for a DUI after police chased the man down the freeway while his dog was “driving.” The man, identified as Alberto Tito Alejandro, was arrested after the car he was in crashed. The incident happened in Lakewood, Washington, about 40 minutes south of Seattle.

During a statewide lockdown due to COVID-19, a 51-year-old man led police on a high-speed chase.

The chase down Interstate 5 reached more than 100 miles per hour. The police attempted to pull Alberto Tito Alejandro over after he hit two cars on the freeway without stopping. The man continued to drive down I-5 until police were able to corner the 1996 Buick and bring the high-speed chase to a stop. Police said that several people had called 911 to report the driver driving erratically.

When the police tried to corner the car, they made a shocking discovery.

Police noticed that the pit bull was in the driver’s seat as the dog’s owner was in the passenger seat steering and working the pedals. According to police who were there for the arrest, the man claimed that he was just teaching his dog how to drive. Police described the pit bull as a “very sweet girl.

The discovery is something that even the police did expect.

“I wish I could make this up,” trooper Heather Axtman told CNN. “I’ve been a trooper for almost 12 years and wow, I’ve never heard this excuse. I’ve been in a lot of high speed chases, I’ve stopped a lot of cars, and never have I gotten an excuse that they were teaching their dog how to drive.”

Watch the video of the high-speed chase below.

READ: Couple Livestream High-Speed Chase After Trying To Smuggle Group Of Undocumented Men