9-year-old South Korean Girl Jumps to Neighbour's Balcony to Escape Abusive Parents
She was reportedly chained up as punishment for disobeying her parents.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some 3.9 billion people were in some form of lockdown. It has lead to increase stress among members of the family—kids and adult alike. For some, dealing with financial strains and a new normal of being indoors 24/7 could have taken a toll on their mental health, among other factors.
And based on worldwide trends, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling said that stress and social isolation caused by COVID-19 lead to more cases of family violence.
In Singapore, there also been a 22% increase in police reports related to family violence since the start of the Circuit Breaker period in April, according to statements from The Singapore Police Force (SPF) on 14 May.
When stressful incidents such as domestic violence occur, children are placed in a vulnerable position.
Fled Home to Escape Abusive Parents
It is said that children are inherently resilient, in spite of stressful and traumatic events.
However, for a mere 9-year-old child to think of escaping from her abusive parents, the stress must have been unimaginable.
A South Korean girl resorted to jumping over to her next-door neighbour’s house while barefooted, via a fourth-floor balcony, reported the Korean Herald.
Her mother and siblings were at home, while her stepfather was out during her escape on 29 May 2020.
While she managed to land at her neighbour’s apartment, it was empty then. She subsequently left the building to seek help.
Chained Up by Parents as Punishment
The child was said to be found on a roadside in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province by a neighbour who later called the police.
She did not just sustain bruises, cuts and blisters on her body. However, further examination reports revealed that the girl suffered from “several broken bones.” She also displayed symptoms of severe anaemia.
The girl revealed to police that her stepfather (35) and mother (27) chained her up as punishment for disobeying them.
A metal chain was placed around her neck for two days, according to local news reports.
It was only removed when she had to use the bathroom, do household chores or eat. To which, she was given only one meal per day.
According to the 9-year-old, as told to the police, she also went through other acts of ill-treatment including:
- Being hit by a metal stick
- Her feet being burned with a glue gun and heated metal chopsticks
- Parents attempting to drown her in the bathtub
Parents May Face Child Abuse Charges
The girl alleged that she had been “subjected to constant abuse” from the time her mother received her in 2017.
Prior to that, she had spent two years in foster care. No one, including her teacher and neighbours, knew about her situation at home, reports said.
The girl was said to have concealed her scars and bruises under her clothes.
While investigations for the case is still ongoing, police said that both parents may face child abuse charges.
The girl’s stepfather has also admitted to some of the allegations but denied others.
How Domestic Violence Affects Children
When it comes to the impact of domestic violence or abuse in children, it can often lead to serious long-term consequences—both physically and mentally.
According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, while some children find their own coping strategies, others do not show obvious signs of stress.
And these effects or symptoms can vary from child to child, depending on his/her age.
Children in preschool
- Increased tantrums
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Show signs of terror (e.g. stuttering or hiding)
- Exhibit signs of severe separation anxiety
- Could feel guilty about the abuse and engage in self-blame
- Low self-esteem
- May not participate in school activities or get good grades
- Have fewer friends than others
- Get into trouble more often
- May experience increased headaches and stomachaches
- Fighting with family members
- Skipping school
- Engage in risky behaviour (e.g. unprotected sex, using alcohol or drugs)
- Low self-esteem and having trouble making friends
- May start fights or engages in bullying
However, that’s not to say that children who live with domestic violence cannot recover and heal from their experiences.
Fostering a strong relationship with a caring, nonviolent partner can help children gain trust and get back on track. The key here is to take steps to ensure that they feel secure in your presence, as well as in the family.
Encourage them through every step of the way, and be there for them.
Where to Seek Help
In the event that you or someone you know might be facing domestic violence or abuse case, Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) can help.
They will be able to assist you on the next steps, which could include getting a Personal Protection Order (PPO), helping you plan ahead to protect yourself and your children from family violence, as well as learning how to recognise if someone is facing family violence.
Lead image for illustration purposes only, via iStock.