Two years ago I witnessed a tragedy that changed my life forever, many people have heard the words "Shaken Baby Syndrome" spoken, but nothing can prepare a person for seeing what happens to an infant after they have been shaken with their own eyes.
I am very close to a young boy who was shaken by his "father" when he was only six weeks old. I still have flashbacks of seeing this tiny little baby laying in his hospital bed kept alive by only a machine, his head swollen beyond recognition. I can't go into all the details of what I witnessed, both out of respect for privacy for the victims of this horrible tragedy and my own personal well being. While I have not been officially diagnosed I believe I likely have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of what I witnessed and simply hearing about any sort of child abuse at all even if it is just a spanking can trigger flashbacks. I think nearly everyone gets disturbed when they hear about child abuse on the evening news, but for those of us who have actually witnessed the effects of Shaken Baby Syndrome it goes beyond feeling disturbed, a story on the evening news can make us feel our previous tragedy all over again.
I absolutely hate hearing the words "Shaken Baby Syndrome", but I want people to be aware of what it is so I am glad the media covers it sometimes even though when I see stories about it I feel a great deal of pain. Today when I heard the words "Shaken Baby Syndrome" in the news however in a context in which it should have never been I was not only hurt, I was infuriated.
George Zimmerman's lawyers claimed today that Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin because he was worried that Trayvon would give him Shaken Baby Syndrome. There are real victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome, but George Zimmerman is not one of them. The real victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome are not 28 year old men, they are infants who don't carry guns and were completely defenseless at the time they were attacked. I won't go into too much graphic detail on what a real victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome looks like, but I will say you sure as hell don't need an "enhanced" video to see the injury.
It sickens me that a 28 year old man like Zimmerman would use fear of Shaken Baby Syndrome as an excuse for shooting an unarmed child. Simply hearing the words "Shaken Baby Syndrome" can trigger PTSD in those who have witnessed actual cases of it, and Zimmerman's lawyers are exploiting a horrible ailment brought about by violence against infants in order to justify violence against a child. To make things even more sickening on the same day that Zimmerman put forth his "Shaken Baby Syndrome" defense his lawyers announced they are opening a web site where people can donate to pay Zimmerman's "living expenses", in other words Zimmerman is using this not to raise money for actual victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome but rather for his own personal profit. As a person who is close to a real victim, seeing something like this exploited not only to justify violence but also for personal profit sickens me.
If you want to know how close I was to the child who was attacked, both him and his mother moved in with me for a year after the incident and I was one of his primary care takers for the first year he was out of the hospital. While this child does not live with me any more I still take care of him regularly and in fact had him with me nearly the entire day today. I don't want to go in to much detail about his current condition, but I will say he is doing much better than the doctor's initially expected he would do but he still faces enormous challenges and he will have to face many of those challenges for the rest of his life. While I believe he can still live a good life, I highly doubt he will ever be able to live independently and he will require a caretaker most likely for the rest of his life. I don't want to go in to any more detail than that but if people are curious I will provide the link to the newspaper article from when his "father" was sentenced.