WHERE IS HOPE? Part 2.
Part 2 of 2
12 year old Charlie sees Joanna's paintings and drawings online and likes them. He leaves a compliment on her page and she replies on Messenger asking if he knows the boy in her paintings. Charlie writes that they're best friends and she responds that he can contact her if Josh ever needs help.
Now 14, Charlie is bike riding alone as Josh was called in early by his father. Charlie parked the bike against the front of his house. Josh's bedroom is over the fence and one floor above. Charlie hears someone crying softly and ignores it at first. About to walk inside, he hears someone pleading "No!" and he recognises Josh's voice. Charlie feels panic rising and runs inside. He tries to explain to his parents, but they have no idea of the problems next door.
Charlie calls the police, but his story is not convincing. His last option is to call Joanna. He apologises but feels scared for Josh and has nowhere else to go. She takes the details and tells him she will contact the right people.
Within an hour the police arrive. Josh is found in his bedroom severely beaten, drifting in and out of consciousness. His pain is visible, his brown eyes distant and head held low. The police send for an ambulance while they question Kelvin and his wife. Both deny family involvement in Josh's injuries. Later the police interview Josh in hospital and he also denies family involvement. He concocts a story about being bashed in a random attack. Kelvin is not charged.
The incident is publicised on social media and numerous people read of a link to Joanna's artwork. Kelvin, the father, is shown social media posts by a work colleague. He knows it's over. He can never control Josh again. Kelvin will never relinquish control so he wants Joshua out of his house and out of his life.
The day Josh returns home from hospital he's told to pack his bags by the end of the week. Josh suffered physical abuse but the damage to his mental health is far reaching. A Not For Profit group commented on Joanna's artwork and stories. They work with children and young adult victims of domestic violence. Joanna arranges a meeting.
Josh meets the counsellor from the Not For Profit at the café. Josh is frightened to leave home at 14 but he knows this might be the fresh start he needs. At the meeting he is told about accommodation, the chance to start dealing with his condition and counselling to help him begin the long recovery process.
Then a young woman walks to the table and asks if she could join them. Josh stands. "Hi, my name's Josh. Please, take a seat."
She says, "Hi Josh, I know who you are. My name's Joanna and I painted your portraits."
Josh sees her face to face for the first time. The emotion wells up in him and his throat is choked up so he hugs her with gratitude. "You saved me, Joanna," and he cries. Joanna learned so much since predicting his relationship with his father 7 years ago in this very café. She helps more people now with her knowledge. "You saved me as well, Josh" and her tears are falling.
This was based on a true story and is dedicated to the men and women of the Not for Profit sector and their inspirational work in our communities.