Christa Pike was the victim of severe, repeated physical and sexual abuse, violence, and neglect that began when Christa was very young.
Christa Pike was the victim of severe, repeated physical and sexual abuse and violence that began when Christa was a young child. She did not receive the medical and psychological care and attention she needed from her family or state actors.
Growing up, Christa suffered an “almost unbearably abusive background,” according to Dr. Jonathan Pincus, Professor of Neurology at Georgetown University. Christa was repeatedly beaten and abused by her father, maternal grandmother, and several of her mother’s boyfriends, including one boyfriend who was charged with assault for punching Christa in the face.
By the time Christa was 18, she had been raped twice, physically abused by at least seven different family members, and sexually abused by at least three individuals. There are strong indications that Christa had been sexually abused by her grandmother’s boyfriend starting at the age of two. When Christa was 9, she was raped by a man who lived near her family. In both instances, state actors failed to report the incident or take action against the signs of abuse.
Not long after, Christa attempted suicide by overdosing on Tylenol. She was then diagnosed with depression, but never received proper medical or mental health treatment. At age 12, Christa attempted suicide again following the death of her beloved paternal grandmother, the only person she felt was truly kind and nurturing toward her in childhood.
At age 13, Christa was physically and sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. Following the assault, Christa was removed from her home by the TN Department of Children’s Services but returned home after only three months with minimal follow up. At age 17, Christa was raped again by a stranger. Hospital records confirm the rape, but only minimal investigations followed from local authorities.
Upon entering the Job Corps program, Christa entered a toxic atmosphere of violence. According to an application to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, while the Job Corps is marketed as a “government-run residential program designed to help troubled teens gain job skills”, in actuality, “the administrators who ran Job Corps tolerated violence and neglected their young residents”. Students regularly carried razor blades or box cutters for protection. Lacking a sense of security and stability likely deepened Christa’s underlying trauma.
While Christa’s adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) do not excuse her actions, they offer an explanation for her compulsive actions that evening.