Child Abuse Victim Launches Awareness Campaign
by Sheli Ellsworth
When Marion Elizabeth Witte of Ventura decided to write about her own child abuse, she knew that she was not alone. Over 800,000 children in America are victims of abuse and neglect annually. According to childhelp.org, five children die every day because of child abuse and neglect. Those who survive – the walking wounded – make up 60% of the drug rehab population and 31% of female prisoners. Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as juveniles, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime. “The lifelong psychological damage to children with these experiences is immeasurable,” Witte says.
Witte’s own story, Little Madhouse on the Prairie: A True-Life Story of Overcoming Abuse and Healing the Spirit (Angel Heart Publishing, 2011), has its roots in immigrant grandparents who struggle to make a living on the harsh Midwestern plains. Unbelievable hardship resulted in alcoholism and violence, passed on to Witte by her mother’s wrath. “The publication of my memoir is part of the first phase of my goal – awareness.”
The crux of her story maintains that once the actual physical abuse stops, the psychological damage lingers. Even after Witte graduated from college, became a CPA, and had her own family, she knew that there were still wounds to be healed. Psychologists know adults, abused as children, will carry self-esteem issues, problems with judgment and decisions, as well as trust and intimacy difficulties, until depression, divorce, drugs or drinking force them into recovery.
“I share with the reader the circumstances of my youth, and then take the reader on a journey I pursued to heal from the past, and the pitfalls and successes of that process,” Witte says. Her honest and compassionate dig to untangle the origins of her unhappiness, draws it readers into the dissection of a plethora of negative adult behaviors and may explain why “we behave in an emotionally immature manner,” Witte maintains.
Witte founded the Angel Heart Foundation in 2005, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for children’s rights and whose creed is “All Children Deserve a Safe and Just World.” In 2007 she sold her business to fund her child advocacy activities full time. The
foundation’s website, angelheartfoundation.org, is intended as a gateway for information about their platform on children’s rights. Their three-pronged approach includes awareness of the issue, empowerment of the children, and family strengthening.