Saturday, April 6, 2013

Yep Yep Yep

I feel so unqualified to write this post. I have a good life. I grew up with loving parents and a cabinet full of Land Before Time VHS tapes.
This is Ducky. If you're a child of the nineties (or eighties, or whatever we're calling that zero decade) you should remember her.

This is Judith Barsi, the voice behind Ducky in the first movie.
She was also Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven.
Judith wasn't famous. Aside from The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven, most of her work was commercials. Still, at the age of nine she was making over $100,000 a year, enough to buy her family a small house. There were only three of them: Judith, her mom, Maria, and her father, Jozsef.
Jozsef had a rough life. He fled Communist Hungary when he was nineteen, got divorced by his first wife after he threw an iron skillet at her, started drinking, and then met Maria. Judith's career didn't make him happy. He kept drinking and abused both of them.
One night the Barsis invited their neighbors to a party in their new home. The conversation pretty much stayed on Judith the whole time and Jozsef became jealous. He told a guest, "Judith's just a kid and she had more money in the bank than I'll ever see. It makes me sick. Some day I'd like to strangle the little brat."
Before Judith and her mom left for the Bahamas to shoot Jaws: The Revenge, he held a knife against her throat and said, "If you decide not to come back, I will cut your throat."
On July 25, 1988, Judith was asleep in her bed. Jozsef came in with .32 caliber pistol and shot her in the head. Her mom heard the gunshot and came running down the hall. Jozsef shot her, lit the house on fire, and then shot himself.
Judith and Maria were buried in unmarked graves. It was another sixteen years before her fan club raised money to buy them tombstones.

Like I said, I feel so unqualified to write this post. I thought I'd start off with some numb statistics. You don't care that 3.6 million cases of child abuse are reported each year. They're numbers too big to grasp. Unless you know someone living through this, it's not your problem.
Then I remembered Judith. I hope this one story can reach you in a way numbers can't.
Abuse is a serious problem. Judith is remembered because she's a celebrity, but there are so many others who get forgotten. April is National Child Abuse Month. My challenge to you is to reach out to anyone who looks like they're having a rough time. Especially the children. Sometimes all they need is a friendly voice, a pat on the shoulder, a reminder that someone cares. Never underestimate the power of your own words.

"And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."
-Mark 9:42

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