Not all heroes wear capes: Local mother advocates for victims
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — When Stephanie Dischinger began to find noticeable bruising on her infant son after being left in the care of a close family member, she had no reason to suspect anything.
“He had never shown any violent tendencies,” Dischinger said. “On Nov. 28, 2014, I found out that I was very wrong.”
Returning home from work, Dischinger found her son lethargic and fussy with evidence of abuse.
“When we arrived at Urgent Care, it was found that his fontanel was bulging,” said Dischinger. “He was taken to radiology for a CT scan of his head, where it was found that he had acute and chronic bleeding on his brain. This means that (he) was hurt that day and also in the past.
“We spent a week in the hospital, him and I, and he made a miraculous recovery. When he was discharged, the fluid wasn’t absorbing like it should because of the bleeding on his brain, so his head was expanding at a rapid rate.”
The day before her son was to have surgery to halt the swelling, the doctor noticed that the progression had dissipated, and the surgery was cancelled.
“Because of how awesome he recovered, I felt like his story needed to be shared to give more awareness about child abuse,” said Dischinger. “Child abuse is a very sensitive subject. Not many people like to talk about it because it is awkward and embarrassing.
“For me it’s embarrassing because I left my son in the care of my husband at the time, who I never would have thought would have been capable of such an injury.”
Dischinger remained quiet about the incident at first but over time became empowered to do something more.
“(It) inspired me to do greater things for the families and children that are not so lucky,” explained Dischinger. “The chances of him surviving without any effects were less than 1 percent. I feel his story needs to be shared to promote awareness and help prevent these terrible acts of abuse.
“We need to talk about this because it needs to stop.”
The mother turned advocate began posting online and soon began working with the Marshfield Clinic Child Advocacy Center (CAC).
“We got to talking, and we decided to create more awareness with the Be A Hero 5K,” said Dischinger.
Proceeds from the 5K will benefit the Be A Hero foundation with plans to begin a support group through CAC.
“There is nothing like that in the area,” Dischinger said. “When I was going through the emotional piece that I had to deal with after (my son’s) abuse, I realized that there needs to be something.
“It is happening way too often, and there really is no one that you can talk to about it.”
To register for the Be A Hero 5K, visit active.com. To find out more about the Child Advocacy Center, go to marshfieldclinic.org/specialties/pediatrics/pediatric-support.