Young abuse survivor learns to love


Angela Cain/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Domestic violence took the lives of 75 men, women and children in Indiana last year. Some children survive the violence, but they have lifelong injuries.

Nine-year-old Sadie seems like an ordinary girl at play, but she once had little to smile about.

"She had the gamut of abuse.  Physical, mental, she was neglected," said Bridget Morales, Sadie's adoptive mother. "Her primary abuser was her biological parent, her father."

Her life so full of the twists and turns of abuse, Sadie is forever altered. She suffers permanent damage.

"She has a traumatic brain injury from the abuse, from being beaten," said Morales.

Her brain injury has left Sadie with special needs. She attended a special needs camp over the summer.

"Her diagnoses are Attention Deficit, Oppositional Defiant Communication Disorder, emotionally handicapped, borderline intelligence," said Morales.

The damage of child abuse is not unfamiliar to Bridget Morales. For years, she worked in a social service agency helping child abuse victims.

"If they don't have that love, or someone that cares for them, they're a lost soul," she said.

Bridget and her husband Mike found and adopted Sadie earlier this year after she spent time in foster care and in a group home. 

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It was very difficult. All of her issues showed up and it showed up quick," said Morales.

Sadie, who seems so fearless, was actually full of fear. She was slow to trust her new parents, and she had a lot of anger.

"She was screaming at me and I just wanted to say, 'I'm not the one that abused you, dear,' but she trusts me and she trusts Mike, and so she tests us big-time," said Morales.

To help us understand Sadie better, Bridget took us deeper into the darkness of Sadie's past. She says Sadie was almost drowned, hit by a car twice, sometimes starved, and "there is sexual abuse in the background. She was locked in the basement with bugs, so dark spaces really freak her out."

This type of abuse is almost unimaginable.

"I'm going to cry, but she's been through a lot. I want to help her where she's at.  Just want her to have a normal life," said Morales.

An abused child's life can spin out of control and Bridget Morales says the abuse penetrates their heart.

"It goes in the heart and they protect it because they're damaged. It's broken. We might put bandages on it, but there's still that wall," she said.

The wall is coming down for Sadie.  At the end of a very dark tunnel, there is light and love.

"I got hurt the other day and she will care take for me. She'll give me water. She's a very loving child. She wants to love," Morales said. "We're seeing the benefits now. She's a sweet little girl."

"I love to dance and sing!" said Sadie.

"She likes pink. She wants everything pink. She wants her hair done. She wants her nails done," said Morales.

A little girl is slowly recovering from a lifetime of abuse with the help of a new Mom and Dad.

"You hear all of the stories of abuse. Children are abused. But you never hear what happens to them after that, and there's children waiting," said Morales.

Bridget Morales says those children are waiting for a foster or adoptive home, and waiting, like Sadie was, to be loved.

If you know of a child who is being abused, you can report it anonymously. Call 926-HELP for information.  If you want guidance on being a better parent, call 1-800-CHILDREN.

Shattering the Silence