The ‘Girl In The Closet’ And Her Life Of Abuse

Dubbed by the media because the “Girl in the Closet,” Lauren Kavanaugh was remoted and abused mentally, bodily, and sexually by her mom and stepfather between the ages of two and eight.

On June 11, 2001, law enforcement officials arrived on the dwelling of Kenneth and Barbara Atkinson in Hutchins, Texas. They’d acquired a name that Barbara’s daughter, eight-year-old Lauren Kavanaugh, was being abused, however nothing may put together them for what they noticed once they walked inside.

Dallas County District Attorney’s OfficeLauren Kavanaugh was eight years previous and weighed simply 25.6 kilos when she was rescued in 2001.

The first officer on the scene thought that Kavanaugh was a toddler as a result of she was so small. The younger lady was rushed to a hospital in Dallas, the place horrified docs discovered that she was the dimensions of the common two-year-old. Officials shortly started investigating how this presumably may have occurred — and the reality was far worse than anybody anticipated.

Lauren Kavanaugh had been locked in a closet for six years, and the Atkinsons solely took her out to sexually abuse and torture her. Her organs had been shutting down from hunger, and her decrease physique was crimson and peeling from sitting in her personal urine and feces for months at a time.

Many specialists believed she would by no means lead something near a traditional life, however Kavanaugh shocked everybody when she graduated from highschool in 2013. Though she consistently struggles with the trauma of the unspeakable abuse she suffered by the hands of her personal mom and has even confronted authorized problems with her personal, Kavanaugh continues to attempt to transfer on from her previous as “the girl in the closet.”

Lauren Kavanaugh’s Birth, Adoption, And Return To Her Biological Mother

Lauren Kavanaugh was born on April 12, 1993, however her mom, Barbara, had already determined to offer her up for adoption. Sabrina Kavanaugh, the girl who hoped to boost Lauren, was within the supply room, and she or he later recalled to The Dallas Morning News how excited she and her husband had been to welcome the child into their dwelling.

“That was the happiest day of our lives,” Sabrina stated. “We loved her before she was born, I guess you would say. We had a room for her and her little clothes. It was awesome.”

Lauren Kavanaugh As A Baby

Dallas County District Attorney’s OfficeLauren Kavanaugh was a contented child till her organic mom, Barbara Atkinson, regained custody of her in 1995.

Sabrina had been launched to 21-year-old Barbara a number of months earlier, quickly after she’d found she was pregnant. They met up quite a few instances main as much as Lauren’s delivery, discussing the logistics of the adoption. “She was certain she wanted to give it up,” Sabrina remembered. “She didn’t even know who the father was.”

For the subsequent eight months, Sabrina and her husband Bill raised Lauren like she was their very own. But in the future, they acquired a discover that Barbara was submitting a petition for custody of the toddler. It turned out that the Kavanaughs’ lawyer had by no means filed the paperwork to terminate Barbara’s parental rights — and she or he was decided to take Lauren again.

Doris Calhoun, Barbara’s mom, informed The Dallas Morning News, “Barbie had every right to change her mind. A mother who makes a choice to give up a child has not abandoned that child — it is a loving choice. That’s a caring choice, it’s a wonderful choice, and she is a great person to have made that choice.”

The courtroom quickly awarded Barbara and her new husband, Kenneth Atkinson, increasingly more time with Lauren. For the subsequent 12 months, the Kavanaughs needed to slowly quit the kid they’d raised as their daughter though they believed the Atkinsons had been abusing her.

At one level, Sabrina Kavanaugh seen that the realm below Lauren’s diaper was shiny crimson. “I don’t think it was diaper rash,” she recalled. “I think Kenny was already sexually abusing her because she wouldn’t let us touch that diaper.”

Mugshot Of Barbara Atkinson

Public DomainBarbara Atkinson and her husband Kenneth had been finally sentenced to life in jail for the abuse of Barbara’s daughter Lauren.

Sabrina took Lauren to the hospital, however docs refused to carry out a rape package. The Kavanaughs then submitted 45 photographs to the decide as proof, however he informed them, “You’re doing more harm to this baby with all these pictures than that mother is ever going to do.”

In 1995, Judge Lynn E. Markham awarded the Atkinsons everlasting custody of Lauren. For the subsequent six years, the little lady would face unimaginable abuse.

The Torturous Life Of ‘The Girl In The Closet’

After Lauren Kavanaugh was rescued from the Atkinson dwelling in 2001, docs testified that she’d stopped rising across the age of two — the exact same age she was when she was returned to her organic mom.

Detective Sergeant David Landers informed The Dallas Morning News, “It started out with Barbie just putting Lauren next to her on the floor on a pallet. But Lauren would get up and go into the other room and get into stuff, so Barbie started putting her in the closet with a little gate across it.”

“Then, when Lauren got old enough to push it down, Barbie just shut the door.”

The Closet Lauren Kavanaugh Lived In

Dallas County District Attorney’s OfficeThe carpet of the closet that Lauren Kavanaugh was pressured to stay in for years was so soaked in urine that the law enforcement officials’ footwear received soaked in it as they had been investigating.

For the primary few years, Lauren was nonetheless taken to household occasions along with her different 5 siblings. Barbara’s mom Doris later recalled that Lauren consistently tried to eat something she may discover when she was at her home, and Barbara informed her that Lauren had an consuming dysfunction.

But after Thanksgiving 1999, when Lauren was six years previous, Doris stopped seeing her. Barbara at all times stated she was at a good friend’s home, and Doris by no means questioned it.

In actuality, Lauren Kavanaugh was locked in her mom’s closet, surviving on chilly soup, crackers, and tubs of butter that her older sister typically sneaked in to her. On the uncommon events she was allowed to go away the closet, she endured even worse torture than the loneliness she confronted inside.

Both Kenneth and Barbara Atkinson sexually abused the younger lady beginning when she was only a toddler. Lauren’s sister, Blake Strohl, remembered listening to the lady’s screams from the bed room and pondering her dad and mom had been hitting her.

When the Atkinsons weren’t raping Lauren themselves, they rented her out to pedophiles. The first Halloween after her rescue, Lauren screamed when she noticed somebody dressed as a clown and requested, “Are you taking me to the Candyman’s house?” One of the boys who usually raped her had at all times worn a clown masks and known as himself the Candyman.

Lauren Kavanaugh confronted agonizing bodily abuse from her mom and stepfather as nicely. On the uncommon events that she bathed Lauren, Barbara would maintain her head below the working faucet till she couldn’t breathe, laughing the entire time.

Lauren Kavanaugh The Night She Was Rescued

Facebook/Morbidology PodcastLauren Kavanaugh on June 11, 2001, the evening she was rescued.

She would additionally place a bowl of macaroni and cheese in entrance of the ravenous youngster and inform her, “Chew it, but don’t swallow.” Though Kenneth and Barbara had 5 different kids who confronted numerous types of abuse, Lauren was the one one who was usually denied meals and locked away.

Barbara later informed Child Protective Services, “I never loved Lauren. I never wanted her. When my other kids hurt, I hurt. When Lauren hurt, I felt nothing.”

After six years of fixed abuse, Kenneth Atkinson determined to inform somebody about Lauren. Whether it was resulting from a sudden change of coronary heart or a vicious act of revenge after he came upon Barbara was dishonest on him is unclear, however in June 2001, Lauren’s lengthy lifetime of solitary confinement lastly got here to an finish.

The Emotional Rescue Of Lauren Kavanaugh

On June 11, 2001, Kenneth Atkinson informed his neighbor Jeanie Rivers that he wanted to point out her one thing. He took her to the bed room closet, opened the door, and revealed the key that he and Barbara had been retaining for over half a decade.

Rivers later stated, “What I pictured was a monster, a little bitty monster. She was so frail and without color. Her arms, they appeared to be no bigger than an inch wide to me. She was naked.”

Lauren Kavanaugh In The Hospital After Her Rescue

Dallas County District Attorney’s OfficeLauren Kavanaugh remained within the hospital for 5 weeks after she was rescued.

Rivers and her husband known as the police, who rushed to the house. Gary McClain, the primary officer on the scene, later stated, “I walk in and I’m looking for an eight-year-old, except I saw what looked like a three-year-old sitting there. So, I immediately ask, ‘Where’s Lauren?’”

The younger lady was lined in cigarette burns and puncture wounds, and she or he complained concerning the bugs in her hair. When police requested her how previous she was, she replied that she was two, “because that’s how many birthday parties I’ve had.”

At the hospital, docs found that she weighed simply 25.6 kilos. Her esophagus was clogged with plastic, carpet fibers, and feces, and her genitals had been so mutilated from the years of sexual abuse that her vagina and anus had been just one opening. She required a number of reconstructive surgical procedures to restore the harm.

One physician stated of Lauren: “We’ve had children who’ve been beaten. We’ve had children who have been starved. We’ve had children who’ve been sexually abused and neglected and psychologically abused. But we’ve never had a child who’s had it all.”

Because she’d been locked in a closet throughout her most vital developmental years, Lauren’s mind had atrophied, and most specialists didn’t suppose she would ever stay a traditional life. Dr. Barbara Rila, a Dallas psychologist who handled Lauren quickly after her rescue, later stated, “If you would have asked me then, I would have told you there was very little future and hope for this youngster. I’d never seen a child who was so very broken physically and emotionally.”

Bill And Sabrina Kavanaugh With Lauren

YouTubeBill and Sabrina Kavanaugh with Lauren throughout her restoration.

But because of the work of Bill and Sabrina Kavanaugh, Lauren’s authentic adoptive dad and mom, the “girl in the closet” quickly began to expertise life outdoors of her four-by-eight-foot field.

Lauren’s Reunion With The Kavanaughs And Her Long Road To Recovery

When the Kavanaughs heard what had occurred, they shortly reached out to see if they might undertake Lauren once more. The first time the eight-year-old noticed them, she requested, “Is this my new mom and dad?”

Lauren struggled to regulate to her new life. She wasn’t potty educated, she didn’t know find out how to use a fork or a spoon, and she or he rigorously guarded her meals as a result of she was afraid somebody would take it from her. The first time she went outdoors barefoot, she screamed that bugs had been biting her toes — as a result of she’d by no means felt grass earlier than.

But the Kavanaughs labored intently with Lauren and her therapists, and in July 2002, 13 months after Lauren was rescued from the Atkinson dwelling, Bill and Sabrina Kavanaugh formally adopted her.

Lauren’s life has not been simple since then. She struggles along with her psychological well being, she was raped by her cousin’s husband when she was 12, and she or he was arrested in 2018 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old lady herself, in line with CBS News. She was discovered unfit to face trial, and she or he was ordered to be dedicated to a psychological well being establishment.

Sabrina And Lauren Kavanaugh

YouTubeLauren Kavanaugh along with her adoptive mom, Sabrina.

Meanwhile, Kenneth and Barbara Atkinson are each spending life in jail for felony damage to a toddler, in line with PEOPLE.

Through all of it, Lauren has tried to be taught from her tragic expertise. “I don’t want to be like my parents,” she informed The Dallas Morning News. “That’s my focus. I have that fear of turning out like them, because every day I feel it. I have that rage inside like my mother. The only difference is, I’m trying to control it.”

After studying concerning the tragic abuse of Lauren Kavanaugh, learn the way Ariel Castro abused three ladies for a decade. Then, go contained in the horrific story of Elisabeth Fritzl, the Austrian girl whose father locked her in a basement for twenty-four years and compelled her to bear his kids.


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