Sometimes, when you spend as much time alone criss-crossing the country as we do, human connection can be lacking. When we meet someone, even if it is by phone during a radio interview, we can find a kindred spirit. When you grow up in a very abusive home, as I did, you become a very good and quick judge of character, too.
Through the power of technology I was privileged enough to meet Rodney Timms, founder of Western Flyer Express, a 2,500-truck fleet out of Oklahoma City. He was being interviewed by Women in Trucking’s Ellen Voie on Sirius XM’s Road Dog channel. And while building a company to the size of Western Flyer is impressive, that’s not what prompted me to write about Rodney today.
We connected for less than three minutes on the phone during his interview, yet I knew right away I had to do something to help his cause. Like Rodney, I grew up in the home of an abusive father. When I was two, I attempted to step in and stop my dad from beating my mother, and when my aunt tried to get me out of the middle of it, he stabbed her in the top of her head with a fork, almost killing her.
My dad was a violent alcoholic, and much of my early childhood has been blocked out because of what I lived through. Finally, in my mid-40s I was diagnosed with chronic PTSD due to that childhood trauma, and began to learn how to identify and combat the issues I struggle with every day because of it. While I spent years self-medicating to drown the pain and guilt, the anger issues I struggle with daily take a thousand times more effort than getting clean and sober.
Fortunately, Christ saved me from myself. And through His grace, some meditation techniques, and EMDR therapy, I have been able to control those issues significantly better than when I was younger.
I felt a connection with Rodney because of his own personal testimony. He has not only built a successful trucking company but has used his resources and talents to establish All Truckers Together Against Child Abuse (or ATTACA), whose mission is to raise awareness about child abuse and protect America’s children.
During Voie’s interview, Rodney told his own story with abuse and how he has made it his mission to fight this disease in America. Rodney has written books about his experience and has talked about the three people in his life who helped him when he needed it most. And when asked why he used a version of the term “attack” for his foundation, here’s what he said: “We are attacking child abuse.”
He also shared some very disturbing statistics.
In the United States, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. More than 3.6 million referrals are received by child protective services every year, involving 6.6 million children. Nearly 5 children die from abuse and neglect every day. Kids Count Data Center discloses that 18% of children in the U.S. experience physical abuse and an astounding 9% undergo some form of sexual abuse. This, of course, does not account for the unreported cases.
If someone, anyone had stepped up for me, perhaps years would not have been wasted to get myself to the place where I am today. I showed many of the signs of abuse for many years — changes in behavior, such as increased aggression, anger and hostility, changes in school performance. I often got into fights at school and on the football field, and became a bully to my own brother. Unwilling at times to leave school activities, I did much of everything I could think of to avoid going home — sports, parties, even sleeping in my car.
Attempts at running away: I ran away from home six times, the first when I was eight, and I tried to join the Marines at sixteen.
Disobedient or insubordinate behavior: It is never a good thing when local law enforcement knows you by sight and where you live.
Attempts at suicide: After several attempts, with risky behaviors like 180 mph on my motorcycle, car surfing, alcohol poisoning, walking in traffic on I-5 outside of Oceanside, Calif. … I still had to overcome suicidal ideation years later.
By educating spouses, teachers, neighbors and others about child abuse, ATTACA hopes to bring awareness of this disease to the forefront and embolden children or anyone else who may witness the signs of abuse to report what they have seen, and hopefully save lives.
Rodney could not have a better community to bring his cause to. I have never met a trucker who did not have a big heart for a good cause, and if you combine that cause with the need of children, you have an army of volunteers who will be willing to step up and help.
So, I am putting this challenge out to all of you. Stand in the gap, and help bring Rodney’s cause to fruition. Like me, I hope every trucker reading this will become a member of ATTACA.
Let’s make a stand for kids.