Teen’s life turned into a nightmare after her friend’s stepfather punished her for using the phone. Cindy Redmond, a 14-year-old girl from North Wilmington, Delaware, never anticipated that her life will change forever when decided to answer a phone call at a friend’s house.
It was a thrilling evening for Redmond as she eagerly accepted an invitation to dine at her friend’s house. Sitting at the kitchen table at a friend’s family dinner, she saw it as an opportunity to experience a grown-up dinner party and escape from her usual family dinners. Little did she know that her life was about to change forever, all because of a seemingly innocent act.
Cindy’s cell phone rang, as the family dinner was about to begin, and everyone was eagerly waiting for the food to be served. She answered the call oblivious to the stepfather’s unwritten rules. She didn’t know that this infuriated her friend’s stepfather, who felt disrespected by the teenager’s use of a cell phone during dinner. He chose to take matters into his own hands and teach her a lesson she would never forget.
In a split second, the irate stepfather grabbed an airhorn he had nearby and, without any warning, blasted it right in Cindy’s face. The loud noise left her stunned, her ears throbbing with pain. A simple admonition would have been enough, but this man had chosen a more drastic approach. Cindy cried out, clutching her face, as the pain became unbearable.
And ever since, the pain hasn’t left.
Days passed, and the relentless pain did not subside, the pain is so intense that the 14-year-old, who lives in Delaware, can no longer attend school at all. Cindy said, “It felt like a giant pop in my head and ears, and from then on my ears hurt like someone was stabbing me or I’m getting burned.”
Eventually, Cindy told her parents about the incident, and they rushed her to the emergency room. From there, the doctors diagnosed the young girl with hyperacusis – a rare hearing and incurable disorder that causes severe pain from everyday sounds due to neurological and inner ear damage.
The condition has left Cindy with a permanent feeling of pain and pressure in her ears that “feels like someone is stabbing me in my ears.”
Cindy’s life was forever altered by that cruel blast from the air horn. She had to withdraw from school and now receives homeschooling. Social events and the prospect of a future job have become unthinkable, as the slightest noises cause her immense suffering.
Like ice clinking in a glass or the sound of voices on the TV creates a pain level of six, it can take Cindy up to two or three days to recover from the pain caused by being exposed to prolonged noise or high-pitched sounds. To cope with the pain, Cindy often wears earplugs and earmuffs.
At first, Cindy was filled with rage, but that emotion soon transformed into profound sorrow as she came to terms with her new reality. “Having hyperacusis is like walking into a bear’s cave,” the 14-year-old said. “You don’t know what noise is coming your way next. It’s a living nightmare.”
Despite the irreversible damage caused by the stepfather’s reckless action, Cindy’s mother, Laurine, decided not to pursue legal action. This decision led to Cindy losing friends who believed she was faking her condition. Laurine hopes that sharing her daughter’s story will encourage parents to be more understanding and measured in their responses to children’s misbehavior.
The stepfather’s decision to use an airhorn as punishment was grossly excessive, and Laurine hopes he will never resort to such methods again. A simple request for Cindy to put away her phone would have sufficed. Instead, he chose to inflict lifelong suffering on a young girl whose future was forever marred by a single, thoughtless act.
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