PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – We often report on cases of child abuse, but the stories that are seldom told are what happens to the victims months, or even years later.
The physical and emotional scars that are left behind can last a lifetime.
Heather Abraham spoke with a young woman who has battled those scars for nearly two decades.
She was 2-years-old, smiling, even though she was severely burned. It was caused by a day of horrifying abuse by her babysitters.
Now 20-years-old, Marlayna Wright is still reminded of it every day.
“Every day I get out of the shower. I look in the mirror. To anyone else a scar they have from when they fell off their bike might just be a scar. But, to me, it has a deeper story and a deeper meaning,” Wright said.
This is not just a story of abuse, but the journey a victim must then take.
On May 23, 1994, Wright’s mother left her with neighbors, Wanda Vining and Lee Jones as she had done in the past.
While the exact details of what happened inside that apartment may never be fully known, Wright suffered second and third-degree burns after being scalded with hot water.
Doctors also noted bruising on her back and internal bruising to her liver and pancreas.
“I don’t know how many x-rays she had that night. We were there all night,” Wright’s grandmother, Faith Baird, said. “But, it was three days before we knew if she was going to be alright or not.”
It’s still hard for family to revisit those painful memories. Especially for Baird, who had to clean her granddaughter’s burns three times a day for four months.
“The screaming. When I talk about I can hear it, literally. It was terrible,” Baird said.
Baird kept a scrapbook so that Wright could learn about what had happened.
“It’s a burn scrapbook. My grandma made it so I could remember a little bit,” Wright said.
The book is full of newspaper clippings of the trial. After years of legal issues, Vining and Jones did serve some time in connection with the case.
After two surgeries as a child, Wright is now seeking the advice of another doctor, to try and rid her body of the scars that she has carried with her for 18 years.
“The most common way to do that is by doing what’s called a skin graft. The area that’s now left open will be covered by skin,” Dr. Paul Rollins said.
Dr. Rollins, a plastic surgeon, feels that there may be hope to remove some of the scar tissue. The surgeries Wright had when she was seven and eight, were unsuccessful and too painful for a child to continue.
“It hurts. I know she doesn’t want those scars at all. I had taken her before and they told her there was nothing they could about the scars,” Dr. Rollins said.
Even 18 years later, Wright still wonders why this happened to her.
However, she feels that she has overcome the abuse. She is now studying journalism at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
She hopes that her story reaches those who have suffered in silence and encourages them to not let the abuse defeat them.
“You can be a strong, beautiful confident person no matter if you have scars on your face, your body. You can move on and have a good life. They didn’t get me down. They didn’t,” Wright said.