How would you feel if a gang of leather-clad bikers turned up outside your house – and stayed there? Concerned? Probably. But when this happened to one vulnerable U.S. teenager, no one could have predicted how this encounter would change her life for the better.
From the age of ten, the girl, known as FA, had been the victim of child abuse. The abuser was someone very close to her and the terrible mistreatment she experienced would have a profoundly damaging effect on her life.
The man responsible for this horrific crime was her step-father. “It was my husband, her step-father, somebody that I chose to bring into our family,” said her mom, known as Mother Duck, in an interview with Yahoo.
The abuse took a huge toll on FA. No longer was she the fearless, adventurous kid she had once been. She could hardly eat or sleep. She was living a nightmare. Something had to give.
By the age of 12, after years of suffering, FA had almost given up hope. She finally revealed to her mom the terrible abuse she had been experiencing. Her mom pressed charges against her former partner, but there would be a long, anxious wait before the trial.
For three years, FA and her mom feared for their safety as they waited for the trial to begin. FA was showering with her clothes on and paranoid about security, checking all the doors and windows in the house.
Then one day, they came. “They” were a group of bikers, headed up by a man who calls himself Tombstone, and they had just pulled up in front of FA’s house. But what were they doing there?
“I remember going out on to the balcony and there was just all these bikes,” FA told Yahoo. “There were these huge tall men in their vests and boots, with beards. They looked very tough.”
But despite their intimidating appearance, these road hogs were here to help. They belonged to a group called Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), an organization intent on empowering the victims of child abuse.
A group of BACA members, sometimes 50 strong, will roll up on their bikes to the home of an abused kid. It’s a show of force, a protective force that it is hoped will help make the child, who has suffered so much, feel that the world can be a safe place again.
The kids become part of the BACA family. They are given their own road name and leather waistcoat and they get initiated into the biker gang. Now who wouldn’t feel safe with these guys as your buddies?
It’s the tough outward appearance of BACA that makes what they do so effective. “We’re a rough lot and we are scarier than their perpetrator, we are scarier than their demons – it works,” said Tombstone, president of Los Angeles BACA, in an interview with Yahoo.
“The transformation in them is incredible,” said Tombstone. “It’s physical, it’s visual, you see them going from an abused child to an empowered child. They smile more, they laugh – it’s really something to see.”
When BACA arrived at FA’s house, they stayed all day and night – taking their vigil in shifts. A few days later FA couldn’t sleep. Tombstone took a sleeping bag from his bike and put it the trunk of FA’s mom’s car. She slept there soundly all night.
“It was incredible to see my daughter, for the first time in three years, relax,” said Mother Duck. It was clear that the arrival of BACA was having an amazing effect.
But BACA didn’t stop at staking out her home. They would take her to school on the back of their bikes, always on hand whenever she wanted them. They were giving her the confidence she so desperately needed.
“People would see me pull up because I was with so many bikers,” said FA. “I’d tell them, ‘those are my bodyguards.’ I felt like I was the coolest person ever.” Her transformation was amazing.
As the trial drew closer, FA was feeling nervous, but the big-hearted bikers were always on hand to support her. “I was testifying against my step-dad. I felt like I could have passed out just from his glare,” she said. “I looked over and BACA was there giving me the emotional support I needed.”
No longer a scared little girl, FA went on to graduate from high school with honors. She attended college and even managed to work full time while doing it. And all this was thanks to a bunch of scary-looking bikers.
“BACA pretty much turned me into the woman I am today,” said FA. “I’ve been able to overcome so many things that I know I wouldn’t have been able to without them.” The mean-looking bikers of BACA are living, breathing and rolling proof that appearances can be deceptive.