Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

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Feral children stories are almost never happy ones, but only a few happen to be as terrifying as the case of Genie Wiley.

Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

Feral children stories are almost never happy ones, but only a few happen to be as terrifying as the case of Genie Wiley. The girl was isolated and abused, and she never fully learned to speak. All attempts to help her learn failed in the end. Her case taught us much about the brutal consequences of child abuse. However, many people have questioned how the girl was treated in her life, and whether there was something that could've saved her.


Few facts about Genie Wiley are cheerful ones. Even as an infant, her life used to be a wasteland of abuse and neglect at the hands of her father. After she was rescued in 1970, her life was still a perpetual struggle of confusion, stress, and later further abuse. Her tale as a feral child is deeply disturbing.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

ZoneA/YouTube


Be aware that some of the content below is graphic and distressing. And, alas this story doesn't have a happy ending.


Genie Wiley, as researchers have called her, was born in southern California. When she was an infant, she was diagnosed with a form of mental delay. After that, she pretty much disappeared from public view entirely, for alarming reasons.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

annefrankly1/imgur/UGC


Her father snapped when his mother died. He quit his job, started to hide his family from the world at large, and mistreat his kids, especially Genie. He felt disdain for her, maybe because she was frail and a little slow as an infant. So, he started to isolate her from not only the outside world but from her family as well. He discouraged his wife and the other kids from speaking with her and finally locked her in a room with no sunlight. When that wasn't enough for him, he even confined her to the basement. He would only speak to her to bark or growl at her and refused to interact with his daughter in any other way. She was rarely fed or given water. That was the little girl's life for more than ten years.


Isolation wasn't Genie's only problem. She was punished for making noise and for acting out, particularly around feeding time. If she couldn't easily chew or swallow her food when fed, her father would shove her face into the plate and refuse to feed her anymore. If she attempted to communicate by making sounds, she was beaten with a large wooden board. At one point, her father had even hit her with a baseball bat, all before Genie was even twelve years old.


As she approached her teen years, Genie was still isolated and treated like an animal. She was frequently dirty and unbathed; her father tied her to a potty chair so that she could relieve her bowels somewhere else than the floor. He'd then leave her like that for days and days on end. The abusive father kept his daughter from escaping by creating a make-shift straightjacket for her to wear at almost all times. When she wasn't tied to the chair, she was confined to a sleeping bag or a crib. Later, researchers observed signs of inappropriate sexual behavior that suggests the girl might've been sexually abused too.


Sadly, Genie wasn't the only one to suffer that kind of heinous abuse. Genie's father never wanted children and disliked them immensely. Even with that intense dislike, he had four kids with his wife and started to mistreat all of them little by little. At first, he was beating his wife and didn't allow her to leave their house. These beatings became so serious that the woman was left partially blind.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

Kelsey Orleck/YouTube


When Genie's mother became pregnant and had her first kid, a daughter, her husband showed signs of aversion to sound. When the baby cried, his father found it disturbing. He put the infant in the garage, where it caught pneumonia and eventually died. Their second child, a son, was born with a congenital disability and died at only two years of age because of severe neglect. The couple had one more son, John, who, despite his Rh incompatibility, survived and remained healthy. The boy was raised partially by his grandparents, but he still was forced to be quiet, because of his father's hatred of sound. Then, Genie was born into an already terrifying and abusive house.


While Genie's mother was not the best parent, it was her actions that eventually did save the poor girl. Genie's mother had attempted to interact with the kid when she could, although she suffered severe beatings most of the times. She also tried to give Genie extra food, but the girl often couldn't eat. Nobody was allowed to leave the house, apart from Genie's brother to go to school. However, one day, after an argument, the mother decided to run.


She took Genie and left while her husband was out of the house. As she was blind, Genie's mom decided to try to get help for the blind but went to the social services office accidentally. A social service worker instantly noticed that something was severely wrong with little Genie. She looked like she was around six or seven years old, while she was thirteen. Then, the social service workers contacted the police. They took Genie into custody, where she shortly became a ward of the state.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

Kelsey Orleck/YouTube


When Genie finally got to the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, she was in terrible shape. A team inspected her and found her malnourished, filthy, and weak. She weighed only 59 pounds despite being thirteen years old. Her whole body seemed to move strangely. The teen walked awkwardly, spat all the time, and could not straighten her limbs all the way. Her muscles were unbelievably underdeveloped, and she couldn't feed herself. In fact, when they fed her, she couldn't chew and had trouble swallowing. Genie was entirely incapable, and responded only to her name and maybe the word "sorry," but didn't speak at all herself.


The second step of that assessment was to check Genie's cognitive abilities. Testing her was hard because she couldn't speak or respond. However, when they managed to assess her, the doctor who examined her said that Genie was "the most profoundly damaged child I've ever seen." As her assessment showed, she had the cognitive level of a one-year-old.


As you may expect, Genie's case attracted the scientific community's attention. There had only been few cases of truly feral children to study, so she presented a unique opportunity. Researchers and psychologists began trying to teach Genie words, allowed her to explore the outdoors under supervision, and taught her how to walk, move and behave in public. The girl initially had significant problems, such as masturbating in public, urinating and defecating, and couldn't pick up words. However, she embraced exploring and quickly started to learn how to dress and recognize shapes and objects by name. She started stringing words together and even expressing thoughts. When they asked her what happened in her previous home, Genie spoke in a halting manner:


Father hit arm. Big wood. Genie cry ... Not spit. Father. Hit face — spit ... Father hit big stick. Father angry. Father hit Genie big stick. Father take piece wood hit. Cry. Me cry.


It was a major improvement, but, unfortunately, this was as far as Genie's language development could progress.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

annefrankly1/Imgur/UGC


Research on the girl has long raised questions of morality. Scientists weren't abusive to her by any means, but it's been questioned whether her therapeutic recovery was mostly constant testing and pushing to learn how to speak. On top of that, many of the scientists got close to her, and they might have even used her as a means to an end.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

Kelsey Orleck/YouTube


The researchers were continually arguing over how Genie's care should go. One particular researcher, Jean Butler, sometimes allowed Genie to stay in her house. When there was an outbreak of measles, the girl was quarantined there, and Butler soon started to restrict access to her. Other members of the team noted that Butler seemed to be obsessed with Genie, and claimed that the researcher wanted to be the next Anne Sullivan. They suspected that she wanted to use the girl to become famous. Butler applied for foster custody, which was subsequently denied.


Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade

ApolloEight Genesis/YouTube


Interest in the case dwindled, and funding dried up eventually. Without any real results, the scientists lost contact with Genie who was left in foster care, and later placed back with her mother.

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Thinking Humanity: Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade
Abusive Father Kept His Little Daughter Locked In A Basement For Over A Decade
Feral children stories are almost never happy ones, but only a few happen to be as terrifying as the case of Genie Wiley.
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