Lauren Kavanaugh was raped, tortured, starved, and forced to live in a closet for five years. Kavanaugh was 3-years-old when her mother and step-father first locked her inside a 4-foot by 9-foot closet. They also withheld food and only allowed her to see the light of day when she was taken out to be abused.
The Athens, Texas, woman, now 21, is currently attending community college and studying to be a counselor for abused children. Lauren Kavanaugh was rescued from the nightmare ordeal after her mother and stepfather shared their "little secret" with a neighbor. The horrified neighbor quickly alerted police and the child was rushed to the hospital.
Barbara Atkinson and Kenny Atkinson, Lauren Kavanaugh's parents, were ultimately arrested on multiple felony injury to a child and are serving life. They are not eligible for parole until 2031. When Kavanaugh was rescued from the closet, she weighed 25 pounds – about the same weight as the average 2-year-old. She was suffering from malnutrition and was potbellied.Lauren Kavanaugh was rushed into emergency surgery, as her organs were shutting down. The tortured, raped, and starved little girl was also fitted with a colostomy bag. Doctors used a feeding method which was developed to aid Holocaust victims, due to her little body being so starved.
Police investigators revealed that Lauren Kavanaugh suffered years of sexual abuse, leaving her tiny body significantly damaged and in need of a multitude of reconstructive surgeries.Lauren Kavanaugh had this to say about the five years she spent inside a closet and the abuse she endured when permitted outside its confines.
"One day mom was so sick of me sobbing that she grabbed my arm and told me, 'get into the closet.' I was huddled in there for hours under a rail of dresses and shirts. I thought it was a punishment. There was no water or food, just darkness."Kavanaugh recalled being allowed out of the closet sometime later and was raped for the first time.
"They put country music on blaring to hide my screams. After hours of abuse, I was bundled back into the closet, confused and in agony. From then on, it became my new home. I couldn't do anything in the darkness. I slept in there and had to use it for the bathroom. The carpet was drenched in urine and I lay under a thin, wet blanket."Lauren also recalled being burnt with cigarettes and tortured when let out of the closet. There were other children in the home who were not harmed in any way. Kavanaugh recalled hearing them laughing and playing in the house as she huddled inside the filthy closet, stomach panging with hunger.
"I had to eat anything I could find in the closet and I was only let out for torture. One day mom ran me a bath and pushed my head under the water. Another time when I was six, mom put a bowl of macaroni and cheese in front of me. She told me I could chew it but then had to spit it back out."Lauren Kavanaugh was given up for adoption by her mother when she was a baby, and was taken in by Sabrina and Bill Kavanaugh. Eight months after living with the Kavanaugh family, Barbara Atkinson decided she wanted her child back, and petitioned the court for custody. Due to the Kavanaugh lawyer not completing the necessary paperwork terminating Atkinson's parental rights, Lauren was eventually sent back to live with her biological mother. After her rescue, Bill and Sabrina Kavanaugh took Lauren back into their home and officially adopted her.
The five years of torture and rape had taken a huge toll on the little girl, even after she had finally been placed into a loving home. Afraid that the food and water offered would disappear, she hid parts of her meals, and was fearful of being drowned when placed into the bath.
Lauren Kavanaugh battled depression, suicidal thoughts, and struggled at school. She was later sent to an alternative educational center after getting into a fight. She recalls the school change a turning point because she began residential therapy and met other abuse survivors.
What do you think of Lauren Kavanaugh's years of rape, torture, and starvation at the hands of parents?
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