When the cops arrived at the door, Zoe knew that her family would finally be saved from her abusive father. But she also understood that everything she knew was about to be taken away from her, and she had no idea how she was going to cope with the change.
Zoe is a little girl who lived with her mother, brother and father. However, her mom was in an abusive relationship with her dad. Sometimes fueled by drink, he would be prone to angry outbursts. In addition, Zoe and her baby brother could often hear him shouting.
Sadly, Zoe had grown used to the domestic abuse that would take place in her family home – even when her father would push her mom around. “When someone hurts you so bad, it stops hurting at all,” she explained in a heartbreaking short film.
Instead of dwelling on her situation, though, Zoe would complete the chores that her distraught mother couldn’t. She picked up the laundry, for instance, and she cared for her toddler sibling. In general, the schoolgirl tried to distract herself from her terrifying situation.
However, it was impossible for her to block out the pain all of the time. And in the video, which has been uploaded to Vimeo, she admits that when she saw her mom being attacked, the hurt would come rushing back. She tried to comfort her mother once, but her dad simply chased her from the room, throwing a school book at her as she left.
Worse still, sometimes Zoe’s dad would come for her – and one time he beat her so much that he bust her lip and left her with bruised eyes. Fortunately, that’s when the cops stepped in.
As the police took her abusive father away, Zoe’s mother ran after him, apparently unable to bear the thought of being without him. However, she failed to notice little Zoe running away also. Yes, child-protection agencies took Zoe and her little brother into care.
Much to Zoe’s horror, though, she and her sibling were separated. In an instant, her whole family unit was destroyed. And although she was now safe, the scared little girl felt more worried than ever.
“It seemed like the same thing that held me up forced me down,” she explains in the video. “The world turned upside down and order disappeared. Nothing was how it should be. And a heavy sadness filled my soul.”
After an attempt to reunite Zoe and her brother with their mom failed, Zoe was taken in by a foster family. Still, she found it hard to readjust to her new life and began to misbehave. Sometimes, she was so out of control that her foster parents had no choice but to restrain her.
“All the other stuff seems so much like nothing, compared to wanting the most important things back again,” Zoe says in the Vimeo video. “Like wishing you could see your mom smile again and hear her singing that one favorite song that always calmed you down. Or if you couldn’t have her back, at least get to take care of your baby brother because you know he needs you.”
That said, Zoe soon began to see the light, and she slowly started to relax in her second foster home. Indeed, she finally felt like she could trust the life she had as well as the new people around her. In short, then, she started to feel at home.
“Slowly, seasons changed around me. And it seemed, this time, that maybe the world would not be pulled out from under me again,” Zoe explains in the video. “Feet safe, roots starting to grow. Little buds of hope forming.”
But sometimes things would still trigger the painful memories of Zoe’s past, and for what seemed like no reason, she would lash out at her foster mom. She didn’t mean to upset the lady, but when she heard her talking on the phone one day, she felt that she wanted to risk her life being changed all over again.
So Zoe packed up her few belongings and planned to run away – and yet something stopped her. The little girl realized that none of this was her fault. “It’s not because of me and doesn’t have to be what defines my future,” Zoe says in the video.
The moving film ends with Zoe being reunited with her little brother. Unsurprisingly, then, the little girl’s story has touched many hearts around the world – despite the fact that the whole story is fictional.
The film, named ReMoved, was made by Nathanael Matanick and released in 2014. It was originally made for the Christian 168 Film Festival, where it won the Best Film gong. It went on to win Best Film at the Enfoque Film Festival in Puerto Rico and was also shown at the Santa Barbara Independent Film Festival.
The aim of ReMoved was to raise awareness of the reality of the care system. Matanick also hoped that the film would provide some support to new foster parents, and it seems to have resonated with many people who have had similar experiences.
“I watched this as the beginning of our journey into becoming foster parents,” commented one viewer on Vimeo. “Through the entire video I wanted to reach out to both her and her brother and take them in and show them what love is meant to be. I am so moved and know that we as a family are on the right path to help those in need.”
Becoming a foster parent will undoubtedly have its challenges. Nevertheless, understanding children in care can hopefully make the task slightly easier. And despite the struggles, giving a child a loving home is bound to be one of the most rewarding experiences a person could ever have.