A friend sent me this link to an amazing group of people who are bringing something to children who have been victims of abuse, something that most of us can never deliver – the reassurance of safety. I have to admit that I used to have a pretty negative view of bikers, that was until my daughter became one of them! She bought aand discovered herself surrounded by new ‘friends.’ bald tattooed bikers now give her a tilt of the head, the slight wave of the hand or a smile as she rides past them.
This article just melted my heart. Thanks to all the heroes on wheels!
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 11-year-old girl hears the rumble of their motorcycles, rich and deep, long before she sees them. She chews her bottom lip, nervous.
They are coming for her.
The bikers roar into sight, a pack of them, long-haired and tattooed, with heavy boots and leather vests, and some riding double. They circle the usually quiet Gilbert cul-de-sac, and the noise pulls neighbors from behind slatted wood blinds and glossy front doors.
One biker stops at the mouth of the street, parks in the middle of the road and stands guard next to his motorcycle, arms crossed.
The rest back up to the curb in front of the girl’s house, almost in formation, parking side by side. There are 14 motorcycles in all, mostly black and shiny chrome. The bikers rev their engines again before shutting them down.
The sudden silence is deafening. The girl’s mother takes her hand.
The leader of this motorcycle club is a 55-year-old man who has a salt-and-pepper Fu Manchu and wears his hair down past his shoulders. He eases off his 2000 Harley Road King and approaches the little girl.
He is formidable, and intimidating, and he knows it. So he bends low in front of the little girl and puts out his hand, tanned and weathered from the sun and wind: “Hi, I’m Pipes.”
“Nice to meet you,” she says softly, her small hand disappearing in his.
Pipes – the bikers all go by their road names for security – steps back and another biker comes forward, also bent low and hand out, smiling. She has a long blond ponytail, and her name is Nytro. Next is D’Animal, his arms thick with muscles, a do-rag covering his head.
Rock, who is as solid as one, assures the little girl: “I’m really a nice guy.” She smiles. And then there’s Pumpkin and, whoa, the girl looks way up, squinting against the morning sun. “Hi, I’m Tree,” he says, and he’s as tall as one.
Sassy. Rembrandt. And then Harmony and Shiraz, and the child does a double take. Yes, there are two of them, twin biker chicks. Surely. Uno. Smiles. Tool. Mo Money. Bigg Dogg. Fat Daddy. Ghost Daddy. Father Time. And Trucker, who’s louder than all the others.
The girl chewing on her lip was abused by a relative, according to police reports – someone she should have been able to trust. He’s not in the state any longer, but the criminal case is progressing slowly, so he’s not in jail, either.
He still terrorizes her at night, even though he’s nowhere near. She wakes, heart pounding. The nightmare feels real again. She never feels safe, even with her parents just downstairs.
The unruly-looking mob in her driveway is there to help her feel safe again. They are members of the Arizona chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International, and they wear their motto on their black leather vests and T-shirts: “No child deserves to live in fear.”
This one is very afraid.
A tough image
Even kids know that nobody messes with bikers. Bikers look big, and strong, and mean, both in real life and in how they are portrayed on television and in films. They are easy riders, sons of anarchy, not afraid of anything. And they take care of their own.
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. “Golfers against child abuse does not have the same feel. The pink alligator shirt and golf shoes standing in the driveway doesn’t do the same thing.”
(No offense to golfers. Some bikers golf, too.)
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.”
Earlier in the day, when the bikers met in the parking lot of a nearby CVS/pharmacy, Pipes reminded them to be mindful of their emotions. That means no hugging unless the child initiates it.
“Nytro,” Pipes says, raising his eyebrows in her direction. Nytro hides her face behind her hands, and everyone laughs. She’s quick to hug.
And then 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.”