What Do You Tell a Mom Who Is Afraid?

Her son was brutally mauled. Months after the attack, the boy’s face is heavily scarred. Kids taunt him and neighbors make antagonizing comments to him and his mother because the dog owner was popular in the community and people have taken the dog owner’s side. After retaining me to deal with the dog owner and his insurance company, the mom isn’t sure she wants me to go forward. She is afraid that these recent incidents will continue and do lasting damage to her boy. Here’s what I told her:

Hi [name removed for privacy reasons] –

In 2005 a boy named Benjamin went with his father, Frederick, to look at a vacant house. The prospective tenant had a pit bull which the tenant tied to a fence next to where Benjamin was sitting. Frederick and the dog owner went into the vacant house and Benjamin pet the dog.

As he later told me, suddenly the dog’s eyes narrowed and fixed on him, and then the pit bull lunged at his face. The animal took it in its powerful jaws and began shaking its head back and forth, ripping away both of the boy’s face, so that his cheeks were hanging off.

Benjamin’s scars were very obvious 18 months after the accident. As time went on, they faded a great deal. He became one of the most popular kids in his high school. Today, he is in college and his hobby is acting in student films. I saw one of his movies and he’s a very good actor!

Kids like Benjamin recover – what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I have personal knowledge of this because I was crippled with polio when I was 14 years old. I had to deal with all the teasing from other kids and even angry remarks from adults who couldn’t understand why I would not participate in sports, or walk faster, or cross the street faster, or climb the steps of the bus faster.

[Your son] will be fine at some point. Until then, he will react predictably and negatively to unthinking, fearful people and their conduct and remarks. This is part of being catastrophically injured. People do this to other people. But we deal with it . . . in time. Time is the great healer.

Nothing has or will injure [your son] like that dog. It is THAT wrong which we are going to deal with. When we are through dealing with it, [your son] will end up with a major advantage in his life, because he will get a great head start as a result of what we will do for him.

There will be rough moments along the way, but this is going to turn out the way it should, and he is going to end up stronger for it.

Be strong for him. You’ll be out of the woods in not too long.