We want to believe this is how it was; that the thin little girl with the long red hair and bright green eyes went home to a house like all the other children.
Therese was her name, she's been going to Penbrook Primary since kindergarten. On the first day of school she sliced her hand open with scissors. It was a fair cut too, but no tears, she didn't even tell her teacher about it. Just wrapped her skirt around her bleeding hand and continued to work.
Therese was a quiet child, moved slowly and would never let you touch her. In first and second grade she did it too, at lunchtimes she would take her pencils and paper into the playground and draw pictures. I used to watch her while I was on duty. There were lots of children that came up to her and asked her what she was drawing and she sent them all away, not unkindly. There were plenty of children interested in knowing her but she chose to stay alone.
She did stop drawing, in second grade her teacher looked for the drawings in her tote tray. From what I heard they were very macabre, which is unusual and he called her parents.
We didn't see her for a week after, when she came back I noticed the bruises on her neck and arms, a lot of the staff did.
When I asked her about it she told me she was running with scissors and fell.
She didn't draw at lunchtime anymore, just sat there. Occasionally she had a book to read but usually she watched the other children.
I was her third grade teacher, and the more time I spent around her the more certain i was that she was being abused at home. I tried to interfere but the process is so difficult, according to the laws he belongs with her parents and the evidence was so deeply based on suspicion...
Anyway, after I knew her parents were contacted she came back to school, her eye cut and swollen.
"I was playing with scissors" she told me.
Finally Therese let a girl be her friend, Lauren, a girl that came to the school in the middle of fourth year and from that day on it was always the two of them together.
For the first time ever, Therese seemed happy.
"Dad hits me. it's nothing, nothing really. I'm safe I promise. I'll get to leave soon enough, don't make me leave, please don't tell them.
Seven months after she came she left, Lauren that is. Shortly after that Therese was sent to the school nurse and admitted she was abused at home. I found her hurting herself behind the school hall, scissors in hand.
The nurse found old scars,cuts and bruises and cracked ribs under her uniform. She was sent to hospital and the police were contacted about the parents.
From what I heard the little girl panicked all the way there.
The rest of the story is difficult for me to tell. The doctors at the hospital found she was being sexually and physically abused and starved. The police arrested her parents and had begun to find her guardians when we got the news that she had killed herself in hospital.