"THE CHILD ABUSE MAN" STORY
Donora, Pennsylvania and Portland, Oregon
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Register-Guard
Box 10 188
Eugene, Oregon 97440-2188     

 writer: Eric Mortonson
Sunday, June 14, 1992
       RGLetters@guardnet.com
 

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The Paul & Paula McLaughlin Story
http://www.efn.org/~scan
SCAN: Stop Child Abuse Now since 1975

Bold Italics indicate words written by Paul from his booklet in 1975.
This is the story from the Register-Guard Newspaper.
Posted with permission.
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Please Read On

  

The Child Abuse Man

I GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN CALLED DONORA, PENNSYLAVANIA AND THIS IS WHERE MY LIFE STARTED TO ROT AWAY.

Paul and Paula were born Oct. 13, 1948. The Child Abuse Man says the 13th was an unlucky day.

They were the youngest children of (father) and (mother). They had an older brother Tommy, a sweet severely disabled boy,  who was born with "water on the brain". They had an older sister, and an older brother.

Margaret (the sister of the mother) had just been in Donora hospital a month earlier, delivering her first child. The hospital staff remembered her and so it was her they called regarding her sister.

"I can remember word for word what they said",  Margaret says.  "They said, 'your sister is in the hospital.' I knew she was due and they said, 'Are you sitting down?' and I thought they were going to tell me she was dead.  They said, 'She had twins and we can't locate her husband.  Do you know where he is?"

Margaret and the other sisters rushed to the hospital to be with her. When they got there, the nurse told them the rest of the story.

"She doesn't want the twins," they said. "She didn't even name them."

The sisters named the babies Paul and Paula. "We talked her into keeping them," Margaret says. "Maybe we shouldn't have."

Margaret went to see the babies at her sister's house about a month later after they were born.

ONE TWIN ALMOST DIE. (PUSHED DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS & UNDERNOURISED)

"When we (sisters) went in the house in November," Margaret says, "there was no fire (heat), and she had them wrapped in a blanket.  When she unwrapped them, my sister and I started to cry.  They looked like birds, scrawny little baby birds."

One of the little birds nearly didn't make it through childhood.

"Patient was admitted here on June 30, 1951, at the age of 2 years following a fall at home," a doctor wrote in a report. "He was brought to the hospital where physical examination revealed multiple contusions over the entire body and severely contused head. He also had persistent vomiting during the first week of hospitalization here and appeared to be anemic and undernourished."

The Child Abuse Man spent 48 days in the hospital.

"The doctor said, 'This little boy's not going to make it'," Margaret says.

PAUL CAME FORWARD TO REVEAL HIS STORY TO A RELATIVE

Margaret's voice over the phone from Syracuse, N.Y. is cool and flat as she tells the story.  Approaching 70, a successful accountant, it's a story she tells reluctantly.  She wants people to understand that the rest of the family wasn't that way and that no one really knew what was going on.  "When Paul contacted me, maybe four or five (1985) years ago, and sent me this book, I couldn't believe it.  It upset me so badly when I read the things he said.  It was almost unbelievable."

But she went back to Pennsylvania just three weeks ago and took Paula aside. "Look," she told Paula.  "Paul's been telling me these things , and I want to know the truth."

Paula hugged her. "Aunt Marg," she whispered, "believe it.  Everything Paul told you is true."


DONORA IS SOUTHEAST of Pittsburgh about an hour's drive.  It was a steel town, like most of the small communities tucked into the valley along Pennsylvania's Monongahela River.  The father worked at a steel mill for five years or so and spent perhaps 10 years on and off working for the railroad, but his children and relatives remember him being out of work much of the time.

He was short and heavyset, maybe 200 pounds, and he presided over a house full of pills and guns.  He threatened Margaret's sisters more than once when they came to call, once meeting them with a rifle at the top of the steps. "Git", he said, and the sisters got.  When they wanted to bring the family food and clothing they often had to leave their bundles at the bottom of the stairs.

He was quick with cutting words and quicker still with the stick that leaned against the refrigerator in the kitchen.  He was at once secretive and vocal choosing when he spoke to badmouth everybody and everything.  He eventually came up with a catchall explanation of human behavior: "it's the people."

DAD IS A VERY SMART PERSON AND HE WOULD KNOW JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING FROM THE PAST. WE WOULD BE WATCHING TELEVISION ABOUT A WAR MOVIE AND DAD WOULD TELL US THINGS THE PERSON ON TELEVISION WOULD'NT MENTION, OR BEFOR THE PERSON ON THE TELEVISION WOULD SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT. DAD WOULD KNOW ABOUT MOVIE STARS AND THE DATES. DAD WOULD TELL US, TRY TO REMEMBER PEOPLE, PLACES AND DATES IN THE PAST.

(Mother) was a small woman, strangely immature.  Like a teenager, even as a grown woman.  Giddy, sometimes and given to jumping around and carrying on.  She didn't get along with her husband.  She tried to divorce him once, but he begged and pleaded, and she took him back.  She told Paul and Paula that he was not their father.

DAD AND MOM WOULD FIGHT ALL THE TIME AND WOULD CALL EACH OTHER NAMES. I HEARD DAD SAY TO MOM TO GO TO YOUR LOVER, OR MOM WOULD SAY SOMETHING LIKE, WHY DON'T YOU GO TO YOUR GIRLFRIEND.

"Mom just can't say no to a man who wants her bad enough and has had intercourse with quite a few men, some of whom I saw in action,"  dad wrote to Paula in 1972.

TRIED TO KILL THE TWINS:

Dad's letter to Paula had a conspiratorial tone. "Am finding out from what little I overhear and from question here and there that mom has been telling people I was the one that mistreated both of you" he wrote. "Keep quiet about this until I get more data to be positive...... Best to keep quiet and find out all you can and remember all she tells you. Ask sly questions and maybe you will get the truth from her."

Dad said, "she tried to kill both of you and make it look like a accident and put the blame on me and it almost worked."

"They fought all the time," Paula says. "He was constantly beating my mother up and everything, but when dad was working is when the abuse started to us. The minute he walked out that door to go to work, Paul and I would get so scared. We knew she was going to do it. She did it almost every day and about two to four times of daily beatings.

Mom would stand at the stove, glaring at Paul and Paula and flicking the gas burner on and off. Her mouth would form the silent words of warning, "You wait."

IT WASN'T ONCE EVERY MONTH OR EVERY OTHER SIX MONTH, IT WOULD BE ALMOST EVERY DAY. IT WOULD BE TWO OR THREE TIMES A DAY. IT WOULD BE ALWAYS THAT NO ONE WOULD BE HOME TO SEE THIS. DAD WOULD BE OUT OR BROTHER AND SISTER WOULD NOT BE HOME WHEN THIS HAPPENS. NO ONE ASK ABOUT OUR RED MARKS ON OUR FACES. SCHOOL TEACHERS DID NOT KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON OR ASKED QUESTION. I GUESS NO ONE KNOWS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE BEATEN UP AS A SMALL CHILD. I GUESS NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT BATTER CHILDREN IN THOSE DAYS.

BEHAVIOR OF A CHILD FROM SEVERE ABUSE:


Visitors often marveled at how well behaved they were because Paul and Paula would sit SILENT and MOTIONLESS on a couch when company came. THE CHILD ABUSE MAN says they were afraid to move. The same thing happened when they played outside. If he and Paula saw their mother watching them out the window, THEY WOULD STOP PLAYING AND STAND STILL. THEY KNEW THEY WOULD GET IN TROUBLE FOR HAVING FUN.

MORE WARNING SIGNS TO LOOK FOR:


"It was only him and I," Paula says. "My dad was rough with my sister and with my brother, but THEY NEVER RECEIVED WHAT WE RECEIVED.  Never. Even our HANDICAPPED brother Tommy.  We were envious of him, jealous of him.  We weren't allowed to have anything.  On Christmas morning we weren't allowed to get out of bed and go to the Christmas tree until the afternoon.

WE DID NOT ACT LIKE NORMAL CHILDREN. WE DID NOT RUN, LAUGH OR GET EXCITED WHEN WE SEE THE CHRISTMAS TREE OR TO FIND OUR CANDY ON EASTER MORNING.

Older sister says, "They would come home from school and get sent straight to the corner until it was time to go to bed.

"It's really a horror story; it really is."

AS I WALK ALONG WITH MY PARENTS, GOING TO CHURCH, I WOULD BE VERY AFRAID OF MY PARENTS AND ALSO ASHAMED OF THEM. I WOULD SEE MANY PEOPLE ON THE STREET OR IN CHURCH AND I WOULD CRY INSIDE OF MY MIND FOR HELP. I WOULD SAY TO MYSELF, "LOOK AT ME, I AM BEING HURT." I WOULD ALSO SAY "HELP MY TWIN SISTER, WE NEED HELP."

Their mother was particularly obsessed with daily bowel movements. She would order them to sit on the toilet for hours and would demand to see proof that they had gone. If they did not go on demand then enema treatments were given. To fool her Paul and Paula shredded chunks of foam padding that they pulled from beneath the carpet. Dropped in the toilet, the foam sank to the bottom of the bowl and resembled loose stool.

Sometimes she woke them at night and made them stand in a corner for more than eight hours. To make them stop watching television, she poked them in the eye or stretched their mouths open.

Once she split Paul's head open when she struck him with the spiked heel of her shoe.

"We used to run away", Paula recalls. "He ran away this one time without me. They brought him home and beat him and beat him. My mother took a can of pepper and poured it down his throat.  My sister is the one who saved his life, because he was choking.  She saw him choking and got him some water."

NO CPS/RED CROSS ONLY


Twice the Red Cross removed Paul and Paula from the home and placed them with foster families in the Donora area.  Each time they were eventually returned.  Paula remembers staying for a short time with a family that lived on a hill near the McLaughlin's house. THE CHILD ABUSE MAN say's he doesn't remember being removed.

Paul and Paula didn't resist the physical abuse. "We were too petrified to move," Paula says.

OLDER BROTHER AND SISTER DID NOT ASK FOR OUTSIDE HELP


"We were kids at that time, too," sister , says. "We couldn't help them. Me and my oldest brother tried to step in when we could. We would physically get into it with my mother."

"Paul always thought she was possessed by a demon, by the devil," Paula says.

WE WOULD HAVE A BIRTHDAY CAKE THAT MOM WOULD MAKE FOR US. BEFORE BLOWING OUT THE CANDLES, MOM OR DAD WOULD TELL US TO MAKE A WISH AND TO KEEP IT TO OUR SELVES. I ALWAYS WISH THAT I WAS OLDER OR NOT LIVING WITH MOM OR DAD. I WOULD ALSO WISH THAT I WAS DEAD OR LIVING WITH ANOTHER FAMILY.

I THOUGHT THAT PAULA AND I WAS TO STAY SMALL FOREVER AND NEVER TO GROW UP AND LIVE IN A WORLD OF PAIN AND HATE. I THOUGHT ONCE YOU WAS BORN SMALL OR BORN LARGE THAT A PERSON WOULD STAY SMALL THAT WAY FOREVER. I THOUGHT I WAS TO BE SMALL FOREVER AND TO BE PUNISH FOREVER.


PAUL'S MISSION STARTED IN 1975


PAUL WAS DIAGNOSED as a slow learner and was placed in Special Education classes with his handicapped brother, Tommy, who was retarded. Paul didn't graduate from high school until he was 21, upon which he promptly joined the Army and left home.

He was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash; and while in the Northwest met his first wife, Donna. When he was discharged, they moved to Portland. He held menial jobs at a hospital and at a clothing store, and in 1975, on his birthday, he began his mission work and to write his story.

WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IT TRUE AND NOT MADE UP, the 36 page booklet begins. TRUE TO EVERY DETAILS THAT I CAN REMEMBER.

He took to working the streets of Portland and Washington state trying to talk to kids. Sometimes he held a sign for drivers to see.

In June 1978 his brother Tommy died of a gunshot wound. It may have been an accident. Paul and the other children suspecting the worst, gathered in Donora for the funeral.

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPEN BUT I GUESS WE WILL NEVER KNOW. SISTER , CALL DAD AND MOM INTO THE LIVING ROOM AND ASK THE SAME. DAD SAID IT WAS THE PEOPLE. I GOT UPSET AND TOLD MOM AND DAD THAT THE ONLY PEOPLE IT WAS THEM, THE PARENTS.

I FEEL THAT TOMMY TOOK THE LAST PAIN FOR ALL OF US AWAY IF HE DID BY TAKING OWN LIFE IF HE DID.

YOU ARE SAFE NOW TOMMY AND I HOPE THAT I CAN FOLLOW YOU TO A SAFE PLACE TO HIDE FROM ALL WHO HURTS GOD CHILDRENS, the Child Abuse Man concluded.

He finished the booklet in October of 1978, on his birthday.

By then the volunteer hours on the streets of Portland had taken a toll on his marriage. Donna divorced him.

In 1990 the Child Abuse Man remarried and moved to Eugene. He met his wife, Elizabeth. through a dating service. They live in an condominium in south Eugene. The doctors have told Paul he can't father any children.


PAULA ADVANCED with her class, married as soon as possible and left home.

She lives now north of Donora in McKeesport, Pa. She has three children ages 18, 21, 22, and credits them with helping heal the scars of her own childhood.

"I made a vow after I had my first child that I would never, ever treat them like I was treated," she says.

"Paul and I may have gone through hell, but I also feel what Paul is doing in the community is helping other children, waking up the world to what child abuse is all about. So many adults have problems today because they were abused as children and never were able to deal with it."

Mom now in her 70's and living by herself in Donora, is said to be childlike in her ways. Her voice over the phone takes on a little girl's lilt when she asked about Paul. She acknowledges punishing him but says it was for the "things he did." He messed in his pants and smeared it on the wall, then she says, "Lord knows I regret everything I did to my children. I am brokenhearted about it.

"I punished him, yes," she says, her voice breaking. "I didn't try to kill him, and I didn't try to kill her. He was in a stroller, and he did go down the steps in a stroller....I would have never killed none of them, no matter what they did. My husband was very mean. Now he's resting in peace in heaven.

"Everybody's blaming everything on me." she says, crying." "If they want me to take, I'll take the blame. I even had a son that was retarded because my husband beat me up when I was carrying him."


PAUL SAYS he's asked his mother to explain why she abused the children.

"She always says God and her know the answer," he says.

"Has she given us a sign that she sorry? Not really," Paula says. "No, she's never given us a sign.

THE CHILD ABUSE MAN is planning a trip to Pennsylvania in August. Paula is looking forward to her brother's visit. , has made plans to come home from Goose Creek, S.C. at the same time for a rare reunion.

Paula thinks the four of them should sit for a portrait. Will their mother be invited?

"No" Paula says.

PLEASE HEAR MY CRY FOR HELP TO HELP STOP CHILD ABUSE.
I AM NOT THE FIRST TO BE ABUSED,
I AM NOT THE LAST TO BE ABUSED.

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