Businessman travels state in 18-wheeler to raise awareness about child abuse

Roseanne McKeeJ-C Correspondent
Businessman travels state in 18-wheeler to raise awareness about child abuse

On Sept. 10, businessman Rodney Timms, owner of Western Flyer Express, who is a child abuse survivor, stopped in Pawhuska with his 18-wheeler as part of his 77-county tour of Oklahoma to raise awareness about child abuse and prevention efforts. The truck is a mobile billboard for two organizations dedicated to ending child abuse: the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) and Calling All Hearts.

“My goal is to do one thing — to be the voice of the abused. Because they can’t talk. I can talk for them,” Timms said in a phone interview Sept. 9.

Timms said: “Oklahoma is third in the nation in child abuse deaths. Our laws are not tough enough.”

Timms believes even after child abusers are convicted, the sentences are too lenient.

“We’re putting children back in harm’s way. It’s happened to too many people around me. There are not enough people raising awareness about it,” Timms said.

“They estimate that there about 12 million cases of child abuse every year. Only one-third of child abuse cases get reported because in the rest of the cases, the children are threatened not to tell what has happened to them.”

Timms experienced this firsthand. The abuse Timms suffered as child at the hands of his father was a family secret.

In his book “My 3 Angels,” Timms said: “We were threatened with our lives if we said anything to anyone about what a monster he really was. When my dad was around other people, he was a ‘good old boy.’ Everybody thought he was a great guy … Most people never saw that side of him. I have friends and family that to this day don’t believe he was that way.

“Everything I did I got beat for and things I didn’t do. He told us he was going to give us three beatings a day whether we needed it or not. It’s a miracle that I’m here.”

Regarding the problem of child abuse, Timms said: “We lose five children per day that are killed as a result of child abuse. Eighty percent of those are under four years of age.”

According to Timms, “less than one percent of child abuse cases ever make it to court.”

In the interview Timms added, “When I was abused, the only laws to prosecute child abuse were animal abuse laws … It’s not much better these days because somebody’s getting hurt or killed every day.”

Recalling his childhood abuse and how he coped, Timms said: “I really have to thank God I made it through it. The worst part about it was the pain. It is one of the worst things anyone can ever put a child through. When I was about eight years old, I thought that if I laid down on the floor, I’d lose control of my body functions and just die, but it didn’t happen. Then I got this idea to switch the alphabet around in my mind and create a language to take my mind off of the pain.”

Another source of comfort was his dog. “His name was T-Bone, he also got kicked. He’d stay under the porch with me and I’d cry and he’d whimper. I wouldn’t have made it without my dog.”

Timms believes domestic pets provide comfort and healing to child abuse survivors. He explained, “I was in Wagoner County the other day and they brought out a golden retriever named Cody. They bring this dog into the court room to be at their feet as they testify. It’s someone to be there to let them know someone’s there to care.”

Writing also became a coping mechanism during his childhood.

“I was a pretty smart kid and I started writing poetry,” Timms said.

His first book, “Calling All Hearts” is a book of poetry describing his personal childhood journey from age four to fifteen.

“I get the poems at three or four in the morning and I have to get up and write them down. If it hadn’t been for God I’d never made it because he was my only hope,” Timms explained.

The aftermath of his childhood abuse followed Timms into adulthood. He has written about this in his upcoming book soon to be released, entitled “Contract Killer.”

In the book, Timms describes his feelings as a young adult: “[t]he scary part of abuse is that I wanted to be a contract killer as a result. I wanted to kill somebody. I take people inside what my mind was thinking. Child abuse is eroding this country from within. People don’t realize it. It’s not affecting them, so they don’t want any part of it. People are going to need to wake up. We’re creating homemade killers.

“Ninety-five percent of all mental health problems are caused by abuse. Wouldn’t you think people would wake up,” Timms said.

Timms shared an account of a man in Oklahoma who was convicted of 12 counts of child molestation but received only a suspended sentence because he was 75-years old at the time of the conviction.

“We need to get judges in there who are strict,” Timms said.

In addition, he recommends that the Oklahoma Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) institute a three-member board to review child placements. He is working with his senator to advance this idea.

Timms said: “The DHS placement needs to have a three-member board of who should have that child.” These recommendations would then be given to the judges in charge of approving the child placements.”

This would correct a problem Timms sees in the courts: “The judges are not basing the decision on where the children are better off.”

Timms has also established a foundation to bring awareness to the subject called Calling All Hearts.

“I want to fund attorneys to help women to keep their children from the dangers of their spouses,” Timms said.

“We have to get on our feet stand up and stop it. … You won’t find many people who will even talk about it. Men don’t talk about it because it’s not the macho thing to do. I was 35 years old before I could even talk about it. I spent all that time blaming myself because that’s what was pounded it into me,” Timms said.

He described his life pattern to that point: “When the going got tough, I always gave up because when I was a child and teen, I couldn’t beat it. I felt like that little ball in the pinball machine that got kicked around.

“My dad died of cancer in 1983. I was 28. I sat down and bawled because, I knew he didn’t love me and that broke my heart. To this day my mom won’t have anything to do with me because I went public with the abuse.”

However, Timms ultimately found a way to leave his dark past behind.

“Two things changed me. I got these two things inside of me and they wouldn’t let go of me.

“I couldn’t stay with any job, but I had a hobby of buying and selling vehicles.”

One day as Timms waited in a businessman’s office to complete a car sale, something on the man’s desk caught his eye. It was a list entitled “The ten worst mistakes ever.” The one that struck Timms the most was — ‘giving up.’

Timms took this to heart.

Thereafter, a comment by his pastor cemented this idea.

“The pastor said, ‘So many people quit, when their blessing is right around the corner.’” Timms described starting a business with his son only to have it fail.

“My son and I had started a trucking company. We went to bankruptcy and lost everything but our house,” he said. However, the story did not end there.

“In 1996, we started over and our trucking business did 88 million last year; and we have 400 trucks. Because I refused to quit, and I wanted to quit so bad, my son is 44 now and he runs the company, which allows me to do this. We built quite an empire by not giving up.”

Speaking of his son, Timms said, “I thank God I have my son and I tried to raise him right.”

“I’ve overcome it, thanks to God,” Timms said.

For more information about Timms’ foundation called Calling All Hearts, his work with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and his books, visit his website at www.callingallhearts.com. To arrange to have Timms speak at your next community event or to join him in combating child abuse, e-mail him at rodneytimms@yahoo.com.