A child who has been abused by someone bigger and stronger knows too well what it feels like to be small and vulnerable. BACA shifts that balance by putting even bigger and stronger people – and more of them – on the child’s side.
And if those even-bigger and stronger people are scary-looking too, perhaps with flaming-skull tattoos, chains on their belts and scars of questionable origin, so much the better.
“The biker image is what makes this work,” says Rembrandt, 54, who is tall and wiry strong. […]
What Rembrandt knows is that a biker’s power and intimidating image can even the playing field for a little kid who has been hurt. If the man who hurt this little girl calls or drives by, or even if she is just scared, another nightmare, the bikers will ride over and stand guard all night.
If she is afraid to go to school, they will take her and watch until she’s safely inside.
And if she has to testify against her abuser in court, they will go, too, walking with her to the witness stand and taking over the first row of seats. Pipes will tell her, “Look at us, not him.” And when she’s done, they will circle her again and walk her out.
“When we tell a child they don’t have to be afraid, they believe us,” Pipes says. “When we tell them we will be there for them, they believe us.”
[…]Pipes says, more sternly this time: There will be no crying.
“I don’t want to see any tears coming out of your eyes, and the child doesn’t either,” he says, making sure everyone is looking at him when he says it.
“Remember why we’re here: to empower the child. If you can’t handle it, keep your shades on.”
These tough bikers have a soft spot: aiding child-abuse victims. Anytime, anywhere, for as long as it takes the child to feel safe, these leather-clad guardians will stand tall and strong against the dark, and the fear, and those who seek to harm.
The bikers aren’t looking for trouble. They are there so the kids don’t feel so alone, or so powerless. Pipes recalls going to court with an 8-year-old boy, and how tiny he looked on the witness stand, his feet dangling a foot off the floor.
“It’s scary enough for an adult to go to court,” he says. “We’re not going to let one of our little wounded kids go alone.”
In court that day, the judge asked the boy, “Are you afraid?” No, the boy said.
Pipes says the judge seemed surprised, and asked, “Why not?”
The boy glanced at Pipes and the other bikers sitting in the front row, two more standing on each side of the courtroom door, and told the judge, “Because my friends are scarier than he is.”
This whole piece is so worth your time