I vividly remember my first internship, working with kids and teens who had been severely abused. Within the first hour on my first day I was given a pile of charts to read to get myself acclimated with the kids I would be in direct contact with on a daily basis.
The first chart I opened described a young female who had been tied to a dog leash outside her family home for days. She slept, ate, and went to the bathroom in the backyard and as a result, was taken out of the care of her severely sick parents and placed in a foster home. At the foster home she was sexually and physically abused and was then placed in a group home, under guardianship of the state. The chart was opened three years prior to my reading it and when I read it, the girl was only nine years-old.
I excused myself from the office after reading that story. I vomited in the bathroom, took a breath, cried for about 15 minutes, washed my face, then went back to the office and started my first day. There was nowhere I would have rather been.
That child was the most difficult child I had ever come into contact with. She was violent and cruel, she was socially inappropriate, had horrendous judgment, and highly sexualized behavior. She told lies about almost everything and, on a daily basis, threatened anyone who came near her, including me.
It was when another child in the home called this girl “evil” that my opinion about what it means to be evil became clear, and it is this: evil is sickness of the soul in disguise. It isn’t natural, it’s man-made, often mistaken for something it’s not, and created by the soul-sickness that came before it. It’s unintentionally passed down from generation to generation through trauma, lies, and abuse and is unfairly bestowed upon some after traumatic events that occur, beyond explanation.
My belief system around ‘evil’ is likely the reason I feel so passionate about certain topics, news stories, and comments about people in the media and otherwise. It’s also, I suspect, why I have yet to share my opinions on the Casey Anthony trial.
The truth is, I can’t help feeling something for Casey, the young mother accused of first degree murder of her toddler, Caylee Anthony. I feel sadness, I feel empathy - I feel something. And feeling something for Casey beyond hatred and disgust isn’t very popular.
My feelings towards Casey have nothing to do with whether or not she killed her daughter, which in my opinion will never truly be known, even after the verdict is disclosed. My feelings are connected to my inner knowing that whether Casey did or didn’t commit this crime, she is a severely sick person whose sickness has manifested as evil -- in the media, in the pictures, and in her behaviors -- which means there’s more to the story. There’s more information, there’s more history, there’s so much more that no one knows. She’s not just an evil, heartless accused killer without a reasonable seed. No one is -- there’s no such thing.
Rarely are the stories of filicide, or the deliberate act of a parent killing their own son or daughter, publicized in the media. But when they are, like the Casey/Caylee Anthony case, it’s as if the world is beyond shocked that things like this actually happen. But they do happen all the time. Filicide is the third leading cause of death for American children five to fourteen years old.
Just as it’s our social responsibility to make sure Casey suffers deep consequences if she did in fact kill her daughter, it is also our social responsibility to be aware of what’s going on beyond the latest episode of Nancy Grace. Abuse is breeding abuse, anger is breeding anger, and people are having children who have zero clue how to treat another human being, let alone a child.
But, rest assured, evil isn’t real. Evil is soul-sickness in disguise and like a cancer, no one was just born with it. There is a seed, a starting place, a beginning. If we’re willing to admit that behaviors like murder and abuse don’t just appear out of thin air for a lucky few, then there is also treatment.
Even after the Casey Anthony trial comes to a close and a verdict is announced, there will always and forever be unanswered questions and numerous unknowns. The one thing we know for sure is that this is a sick story. And sickness comes from somewhere it always comes from somewhere.