Tag Archives: family incest

Incest: Stages of Grief and Recovery

13 Sep

INCEST: Stages of Grief and Recovery

The stages of grief when incest is disclosed vary from other types of tragedies–in part due to the horrendous nature of the crime and is committed by a family member.  Intervention incrases the trauma to mothers.

Mothers are referred to as “hidden victims” and, as such, usually do not receive the supportive services and therapy victims receive.  The family structure may be broken.  Agencies intervene increasing the truama and stress. Prosecution or lack of prosecution impacts the grief and recovery.  The emotional and behavioral impact on the victim and siblings are a factor.  Grief and recovery can resemble a roller coaster ride.  Incidents may create triggers that resurrect the initial emotions with the same intensity as when they first happened.

Shock was my first reaction when my daughter’s therapist disclosed the incest.  I felt like a nuclear bomb dropped in my lap.  Time stopped.  The meaning of incest didn’t register.  It was too horrendous to absorb.  Questions rattled around in my mind.  Who could have sexually abused her? What happened?  When? Where?  As moments passed, I sat motionless, speachless–in shock–while the room moved in and out like an accordion.

Emotional numbing often follows shock. Fear can cause emotionally numbing; fear that a flood of painful emotions will kill you or that you will become hysterical or that you might suffer a mental collaspe.  Numbing can manifest as paralysis—impaired thinking, inability to make decisions; can’t get out of bed; can’t feel emotions; or can’t function.  The world you knew prior to the incest has crumbled.  Life may feel unreal like being stuck between two worlds–the world you can never go back to and the world that lies in the future, beyond the tragedy.

Confusion is common.  Thoughts such as: What do you mean, incested?  That couldn’t have happened.  I would have known.  Who would have incested her?  How could I miss something like that?  When a tragedy occurs, at first it is unbelievable.  It is difficult to comprehend.

Denial can be a result of fear of the repercussions to the perpetrator and family.  Adhering to these beliefs make it difficult to move beyond denial to believing the victim.  Moving through fear requires support and reassurance.  Mothers particularly need assurance that it isn’t their fault.  Moving past denial is a process.  Immediately, find support before shutting the door on believing the victim.  It is important not to express immediate thoughts of disbelief to the victim.  It takes incredible courage for the victim “to tell.”

In some cases you may feel sympathy or concern for the perpetrator (partner or child) particularly the fear they may go to jail or prison.  The heart doesn’t immediately close the door on concern or love for a family member.  Coming to terms with the fact someone you love has sexually abused your child is a process requiring time and support.  Everything you thought or believed about that person is challenged.

Denial or  disbelief is usually automatic.  The reality and the consequences to your life and family cut the heart like a knife so it is easier to disbelieve.  I was no exception.  Unconsciously, I didn’t shut the door on the possibility my daughter had been sexually abused.  Instead, I allowed that it may have happened.  Although denial hadn’t cemented itself in my mind, I didn’t immediately accept that my daughter had been incested.  What I didn’t do was blurt out what I was really thinking.  “This couldn’t be true.  You’re mistaken.  I would have known.”  When I was able to speak, I hesitatingly asked questions of the therapist.  “How do you know for certain?  Why didn’t she tell me?  Wouldn’t I have known?”  The therapist’s answers seemed shrouded in dense fog but I allowed that her answers might be true.

Self-Blame is a common response, followed by shame and guilt. What did I miss?  How could this happen without my knowledge?  Why didn’t she tell me?  It’s my fault this happened to my child.  Often those thought are accompanied by shame; the shame associated with incest.  Incest is the ultimate taboo.  Often thoughts such as I’m a bad mother; no one can know; I just want it to go away; it can’t be true follow; what will people think of me.  You may want to hide.  A physical reaction such as nausea can overcome you.  If the perpetrator is your partner, the ball game changes.  The idea that your partner engaged in sexual acts or was intimate with your child is a horror that defies any reality.  A parent can feel dirty.  Beliefs about the relationship crumble.  Trust rushes out the window.  A thousand other thoughts race through your mind like a ticker tape.  Often your partner is immediately removed from your home leaving behind a huge emotional and financial void for both you and your children.  Life as you knew it is shattered.

The single most important words I can say to an innocent parent after disclosure is, “IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.  YOU ARE NOT THE PERPETRATOR.” It doesn’t matter if you have personal issues; if you have made mistakes as a parent; if you drink too much; if you spanked your child; if you are not a perfect parent; if you have emotional problems; if you didn’t have sex with your partner.  You did not cause, participate or invite the perpetrator to sexually abuse your child and you did not commit the acts of sexual abuse to the victim. Seven years after disclosure, I still struggled with blaming myself.  After intensive therapy, eventually I was able to truly believe it wasn’t my fault.

During that first year, I didn’t experience the common stages of grief.  I remained numb to the rage and grief.  I buried my feelings in a deep cavern because I believed if I allowed them to surface they would literally kill me or I would suffer a meltdown.   So, I remained numb.  I functioned each day and, to the outer world, no one suspected what lived inside me–crushing grief.

Anger surfaces at varying and reoccurring times.  Anger can manifest as boiling rage at the perpetrator. Anger is caused by deep wounds.  Anger can be the fuel that gets you out of bed each day.  All your energy can be focused on punishing the perpetrator; maybe wanting to kill them.  Anger may subside and resurface with the same intensity as when the incest was first disclosed.  A trigger can revive the anger.  Examples of triggers are when a perpetrator goes to trial; if a perpetrator isn’t prosecuted; when a perpetrator comes up for parole; when a perpetrator is taken off the sexual offender list; hearing the victim recount the acts; watching the affect on the victim; if the victim wants to reconnect with the perpetrator.  Anger can consume you.  Many people get stuck in anger and rage as they become constant companions.  Healing comes from within not from outside you.  Whether a perpetrator is prosecuted or not, does not have to impact healing.  My son was never prosecuted but I realized that he would always have control over my life if I didn’t find a way to heal.

Relief may follow disclosure.  In cases where a child is acting out or has a sudden shift in behavior that is unexplainable or you’ve noticed behavior between the perpetrator and victim that makes you feel uncomfortable, disclosure can be an A-ha moment like  “This is what caused the behavior change.  This is why I was felt uncomfortable with certain behaviors I witnessed.”  As a parent you may have searched for explanations for the behavior change without a solution.  After disclosure, all the tumblers fall into place and you understand what has precipitated the behavior changes or confirms that knot in your stomach.  My daughter had a sudden shift in her behavior when she turned thirteen.  She was congenial, well-behavior gregarious and had a smile that lit up the world when suddenly she became hostile, anger, violent and enraged without provocation.  In the days following disclosure, I understood the source of the extreme changes.  While there was relief, an overwhelming crushing sadness smothered me.  It was a dual-edged sword.

Every one of the reactions occur with incredible intensity and can occur repeatedly.

Grief comes from the betrayal of trust, the loss of love, and the obliteration of the future you envisioned.  Grief comes from having your child’s innocence stolen and you can never give it back.  Grief comes from the knowledge that your child has been violated in the most horrible way possible.  When a parent fully comprehends the violation and devastation to their child, the depth of their loss and their anger can deepen into rage, despair and depression.  I couldn’t think about the actual acts my son may have committed to my daughter because, if I did, I believed I would lose my mind, kill him, or go insane.  If a parent remains in the stage of grief, their chances for full recovery are slim.

Each of these stages can make denial appealing.  In reality, denial is never a better option.  In the long-term you suffer immensely from denying and burying the truth.  Disbelieving the victim usually results in alienation from your child which causes pain and suffering that can last a lifetime.  Reach out and get help before you settle on denial as an option.

Finding a turning point toward healing requires support: a place where you are fully accepted without judgment or blame; a place where you can talk about the range of emotions.  Healing requires accepting what you cannot change.  You can never undo what has been done.  Forgiveness comes in its own time or it may never come.  People may say you have to forgive but you never forget.  My belief is that you do not have to forgive.  Acceptance is more important.  Accepting incest has happened and your life will never be the same doesn’t mean giving in to despair.  It opens the door for healing and rebuilding.  Trust may take a long time to be repaired.  You can move forward and find a new life.  People who heal successfully usually reinforce their own inner resources with some belief or meaning beyond themselves.  For me it was the knowledge that it wasn’t my fault and realizing my passion of helping other mothers.

Building a new foundation for a life after the incest of your child is a step-by-step process.  The stages of grief and recovery gained incrementally and slowly.  They are relatively predictable.  The best news is that we can navigate these stages and arrive safely on the other side of this life tragedy—building a new life after the incest of a child.  There is HOPE!

A Shattered Life

13 Aug

When I emerged from the therapist’s office, the world I faced had dramatically changed.

The street stretched out like ribbons of taffy melting in the heat. Misshapen cars appeared minuscule as they inched forward in tiny, halting movements. A veil had slipped over the world. Only an hour had passed but it felt like a century.

I found the car, started the engine and pulled out of the driveway onto the street. The vinyl steering wheel felt foreign in my hands as if I was inhabited by someone else. I stared at my hands which felt disconnected–severed from me. The Jordan that drove into Longmont an hour before was not the same Jordan driving back to Ft. Collins that summer day in July.

Without warning, I emitted a wounded shriek as I pounded my fists on the steering wheel. “Not Casey, not Casey.” My brain was about to explode. I feared I would unravel. I reigned in the tears by violently shaking my head from side to side. Casey’s face appeared to me in the windshield—staring at me while a single tear slipped from her eye and flowed down her cheek. I pounded the steering wheel again, screaming, “How could this have happened?  Not my Casey. How could anyone do this to a child?” Sorrow flowed through my veins as if I’d been injected with pure grief. I feared giving in to my feelings–the hysteria–certain the pain that would kill me. “Oh my god, I’m going crazy,” I shouted to the beat up interior of the Subaru. I felt like a wounded animal racing in a crazed pattern to avoid a bullet so my life would be spared.

At that moment, my gaze locked onto an on-coming black pickup truck with over-sized tires. The truck seemed to be beckoning me–casting a hypnotic trance. When the truck was within 10 yards, I had an overwhelming urge to turn the car into its path. What seemed like eternity, I remained in a nameless space, unable to commit. The truck sped by me in the opposite lane–breaking the spell.

Inside, I was unraveling in no particular pattern like a cat playing with a ball of yarn. I panicked. As a result, I sealed the opening of the dark cavern where the sorrow resided and sealed it up. It was an unconscious decision;born out of a desire for self-preservation.

Releasing me into the world that day was irresponsible–criminal. I was left to my own devices. But Casey’s counselor had no choice. There were no resources at her disposal for referral; no group, no mentor, no advocate, no compass, no therapist or agency to ease my transition into the world I’d left behind. I needed a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, a skin graft;to temporarily cover the wounds while I absorbed the meaning of incest and the implications to my shattered life. The terrain has changed without warning. In the moments, minutes, hours after the incest was disclosed I had no tools to cope with this devastating tragedy. To cope, I denied the word incest to myself and buried the consequences like a dump truck covering up a contaminated landfill with fresh soil to disguish what lay underneath.

In retrospect, a book, a guide, a compassionate ear, a handbook, another mother who lived through this tragedy would have meant as much to me as winning a million dollar lottery. When your world crashes down on top of you, crushing you, smothering you, how do you continue to breathe? No one existed to provide an answer. So I drove home.
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Life Doesn’t Wait

12 Aug

No one offered me an alternative, so I returned home.

As the car eased into the driveway, the kids rushed to greet me.  The Subaru and I developed a bond on the way home—the worn interior held my secret grief.  Although my arms were as heavy as granite, I forced myself to return their embrace.

When my partner Colin’s hand sought mine, I recoiled as if I secretly knew nothing could console me and any attempt represented nothing more than a superficial gesture.  Nothing prepared me to disclose the incest to Colin or my children, family and friends.

Do you blurt it out?  Oh, by the way, my son incested my daughter? Maybe you slip it into a conversation or launch into a rage or defend yourself while blaming others or provide a lengthy explanation that dates back to her childhood or simply fall apart in front of them or hide the truth for eternity?  Our family resembled a soap opera.  Too ashamed to tell Colin, I resolved to set it aside for later that night.

For the remainder of the day, I pretended to be present when I had actually drifted away into my own secret hell.  Later that night, Colin positioned himself next to me on the bed as he draped his arm over my shoulder.  The time arrived.  The ingenious method I concocted to tell him was to get it over quickly.

With bravado, I blurted out the facts—sexual touching, Casey was five; she remembered two incidents; those memories were clear and detailed; involved Jake my oldest son; other memories of further abuse were blocked which is common; no doubts that what she recalled happened; and finally, carefully avoiding the word incest, told Colin, the bottom line, Jake molested Casey.  When I finished, I rose abruptly as Colin’s arm hit the mattress.

“ This has been the cause of her behavior?  Oh, my God.  And, you never knew?”  He meant it to sound like a question.  But I knew it was a statement disguised as a question.  It would be the first time but not the last time someone subtly suggested I must have known, for which I developed a fine tuned sense of radar.  Flooded with rage, I said nothing and neither did Colin.

In the following days, Colin attempted to smooth the wrinkles in our relationship.  I think he understood I was hurting someplace he couldn’t touch with words but I wish he had tried.  Instead, he did what he was capable of doing; supervising the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and occasionally hugging or touching me as if to remind me he cared.  Nothing mattered.

Unconsciously, we presume each day will be like the last—contain the same routines and potential for joy.  But recapturing yesterday is only possible in fairy tales. A crazy insanity possessed my daily existence.  Every area of my life was destroyed but I remained oblivious to the ruin.  I had been handed a sentence—one that killed my spirit.  Life goes on regardless of tragedy and I was expected to show up.  Life didn’t wait  until I was ready.

__________________

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Chapter 7 – Blame

11 Aug

Life slowly faded away.

I affixed myself to an olive green chair with wafer-thin material on the arms.  It doubled as my security blanket.  Occassionall I startled the kids with a grumpy outburst causing them to jump like startled criminals caught in the act of a crime.  Colin ran hot baths for me, rubbed my back, and handled anything remotely stressful.  Nothing felt good and I felt nothing.  My heart had been severed from my body.

The therapist’s comment about Casey telling her older sister, Taylor, about the sexual abuse, hounded me like a toothache.  Why didn’t Taylor call me?  I mustered the courage to call her in California.  After three rings, I was tempted to hang up when I heard Taylor say, “Hello.”  We exchanged the appropriate polite platitudes before I posed the haunting question.  “Casey’s therapist told me she called you and told you Jake molested her.  Why didn’t you call me?”  My hands were trembling.   Taylor carefully emphasized each word as she spoke.  “Uh, I thought Casey told you.”

“Why would you assume she told me?” I retorted.   The tone in Taylor’s voice changed.  “I don’t know Mom,” she replied indignantly. Then she added, “Besides, Mom, why are you calling me now?  Casey called me over two weeks ago.”  What. Everyone knew for two weeks but me.

Momentum was building.  “Didn’t you think I should be told?”  Immediately, without hesitation, Taylor said, “No, I thought you knew all along.”  After ten blank seconds, I dropped the phone on the base.  All the blood in my body rushed to my head.  Taylor assumed I allowed Casey to be sexually abuse and turned the other way.  Piercing my heart with an arrow wouldn’t have hurt as much.  Taylor and I didn’t talk about the issue again for a year.

When I contacted Liz Lemy, Casey’s social worker, her first response was to say that she assumed Casey told me.  “I contacted Casey’s therapist and the police.  That is all I’m required to do by law.”  She proudly stated her position as if the Pope Himself had given her absolution.  Later, I discovered that, In fact, the law did require her to contact me.  Then I connected the dots.  Liz Lemy didn’t call me for the same reason Taylor didn’t call me, they believed I knew about the abuse; I allowed it to happen.  Liz’s mission was to save Casey from me.  Although I brushed off her insinuations like dried mud on a shoe, it didn’t erase the shame and humiliation that filled me.

After I obtained the name of the detective who investigated the sexual abuse—Dave Lindstrom–I contacted him to inquire about the status of the case.  He replied, “The case is closed.  We aren’t prosecuting.”  Before I could respond, he proceeded to explain his well-thought out, logical explanation. “Your daughter can’t remember many of the specifics.  That makes her an unreliable witness.  Plus, we can’t use the department’s resources to prosecute an out-of-state perpetrator especially since the last incident of abuse was supposedly about four years ago.  There is no immediate threat of further abuse since your son doesn’t reside in the home.”  He spoke with such confidence that he almost convinced me.  I felt intimidated and vulnerable plus, I didn’t have an inkling of my rights or the law so I hung up the phone.

No one cared if I was told.  I was nobody except, possibly, the enemy.  Yet, my heart was broken.  I gave birth to Casey, nursed her, held her hand when she got stitches, tucked her in each night, posted her special projects on the refrigerator and loved her.  I was her MOTHER.

Incest is the ultimate taboo; the bottom of the snake pit within the realm of sexual abuse.  Incest crosses the coveted boundaries of the sacred family; the place where a child should be safe and protected.  If the aim was to find someone to blame for allowing incest to happen, I was directly in the line of fire.
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Turning On Myself

10 Aug

Life swirled around me like dust devils in the Mohave Dessert.

Colin relentlessly insisted I go to the park until he finally succeeded in prying me from my security blanket, an overstuffed burgundy chair with threadbare arms, where I’d resided for the past two weeks.  I sat on a park bench watching children climb on the playground equipment; father’s tossing their child in the air; parents pushing their child in a swing; and mothers bouncing babies on their knee.  I couldn’t participate.  Instead, I turned my body away from the scene and pretended to watch something behind me to avoid eye contact.  When I felt safe, I secretly observed their antics.  I was plagued by the thought that these parents might possess Superman’s x-ray vision, allowing them to penetrate my facade.

I feared I’d be exposed for what I was—a criminal.  Where did I get that idea?  From a vast array of complex ideas that formed my concept of morality, decency and more importantly, good mothering, that had been instilled in me from birth. These values formed my propensity to judge, criticize and blame behavior that fell outside my bias. In this case, I had extracted my own concept of what constituted criminally negligent behavior and applied it to myself. The scene on the playground contained normal parents.  I was not normal; not any longer.  I was stained in a way nothing could remove—set apart by the shame-filled incest label.  I knew that if I told any of these parents my daughter had been incested, they would back away from me as if I had a deadly, contagious disease they could catch.

Surely any one who knew about the incest of my daughter would blame me. After all, I blamed myself.  The questions, “What did I miss? Why didn’t I know? How could this happen in my home?” churned in me like a boiling cauldron. I continually questioned my mothering. The abuse had to be by fault. Maybe if I’d… fill in the blanks. My reasoning was not logical.

Casey was in the room when Dawn told me about the incest.  An awkward,  lengthy silence ensued.  A voice broke through the stagnate air.  It was mine.  “Are you certain, Dawn?.  If Casey was molested I would have known. I would have known,” I repeated with resolve.  After all, how could such a horrible act occur in my home without my knowledge. If it did, it would be my fault. I swiftly pulled these conclusions from me like a rabbit from a magician’s hat.

Yet, I allowed for the possibility that it was the truth. Casey had been sexally molested. Denial hadn’t set in. I was still exploring the possibility. This saved both my daughter and I.

In the days after the incest was disclosed, I couldn’t think about what Jake had done—I couldn’t.  The pain would demolish me as sure as if I’d been struck by a wrecking ball. The knowledge remained elusive as an image shrouded in a dense fog. I shoved the feelings down into an internal abyss until I couldn’t remember them or retrieve them even later when I wanted to.

At the next therapy appointment, I dreaded facing Casey. Words seemed insufficient given the magnitude of what she endured   “Casey, I don’t know what to say.  Nothing feels right.  I am so sorry.  I had no idea.”  Empty words continued to pour from my useless mouth. Whatever I said amounted to throwing words into a roaring waterfall and watching them shatter on the rocks below.

I groped for the right response in a territory unfamiliar to me. Words were not sufficient to express my sorrow and my attempts felt fraudulent. I am externally grateful for Dawn’s kindness when she broke the tension filled silence.  “Don’t blame yourself Jordan. It’s not your fault. Signs of sexual abuse are subtle and, even if signs are present, they don’t necessarily point to incest. They could be attributed to normal childhood or adolescent development. Perpetrators are masters manipulators and coerce the victim to keep their secret. Perpetrators have been known to threaten the victim to ensure their silence. Then there is something called the code of silence within families that reinforces secrecy.” Dawn continued to detail aspects of sexual abuse that was foreign to me. “Victims virtually never tell a parent. Incest is the most under reported crime and a complex crime with no simple solutions.” These facts were meant to comfort me. Instead, the words floated in one ear and ran out the other. Nothing resonated.

As a consoling parent, I felt grossly inadequate.  Shame, blame and guilt tormented me for years.  It would require a formidable effort and an arduous journey of healing before I accepted that Dawn’s expertise on the topic of incest might be true.

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Intervening Agencies

9 Aug

Child Protection Services (CPS) intervened when Casey disclosed the incest.

A case file was opened with Child Protection Services and Denis Martin was assigned as our case manager.  Denis reminded me of Detective Colombo—frumpy, bumbling, scattered and unorganized.  His greasy black hair framed a colorless face.  When he spoke, his lips barely moved.  The bottom edge of his argyle sweater hung in uneven patterns around his hips.  His hazel eyes were as dull as unpolished silver.  I assumed he was harmless so I dropped my guard — a mistake.

Denis was required to conduct weekly home visits as a case manager. Five weeks and counting, Denis hadn’t conducted one visit.  This oversight was a blessing.  Then, unexpectedly, one dreamy-paced afternoon, Denis called.  He wanted to schedule a home visit as soon as possible.  The urgency in his voice made me nervous.

Child Protection Services terrified me.  During my evolution as a parent, I learned that involvement with CPS was a bad thing.  The source of that knowledge was elusive.  Yet, parents know that CPS removes children from their home, places them in foster homes, and sometimes revokes a parents’ right to custody of their children, permanently.  Case workers have the power to deny a parent the right to visit their children. They often detail requirements that make it impossible for parents to regain custody of their children.  CPS has power.

The day before Denis’ scheduled visit, I got up early and systematically scrubbed the house with a variety of cleaning products I purchased the day before.  Colin accused me of over-doing it, saying the house stunk, to which I replied, “Are you kidding.”  I forged ahead in a frantic panic.  I rearranged the furniture, scrubbed the walls, shampooed the carpet, washed the curtains and the kids, ironed the kids’ outfits for the visit.  I coached the kids on how to behave, cautioning them not to volunteer information or discuss specific topics.  Trevor required no warning.  He wasn’t going to talk to anyone from CPS.  The guilt I felt at coaching them left a knot in my stomach but I had no regrets.  In my defense, my actions were born out of self-protection and self-preservation.

When Denis arrived, he refused to sit in the chair I offered him, indicating his preference to stand.  My legs were trembling.  I prayed he wouldn’t notice.  He wandered through the house inspecting the rooms.  After probing Colin and I on a few selected topics, he asked the kids questions about their bedtimes, consequences for misbehaving and what they did during the day.  Trevor glared at him; remaining mute.  Then he left.  What a relief.  Still, his visit was baffling.  To my horror, I discovered his ulterior motives for the hasty visit.

Colin was in the midst of a divorce and had filed for custody of his 5-year-old daughter, Maggie.  Colin hired an attorney and had a pending court date six weeks after Denis made his unexpected visit.  After the visit, Colin’s attorney called to inform him that Denis Martin’s name mysteriously appeared on the witness list for his ex-wife, Shana.  After a few inquiries by the attorney, including a call to her attorney, he learned that Denis had been meddling in Colin’s divorce for several weeks.

Shana was an expert at being a victim and tenacious at getting what she wanted.  When she learned that Denis was our case worker, she called him, seeking information and support in her efforts to gain custody of Maggie.  Denis, in turn, engaged in several phone conversations with her, including divulging personal information about our family.  The two of them formed an unholy and unethical alliance.

Denis was on a mission to unearth information he could use against Colin and I the day he made his home visit.  It was the single and only time Denis made a home visit. His motive wasn’t about Casey or our family but his desire to help Shana obtain custody.  I was outraged and disgusted.

Later I confronted Denis and, surprisingly, he admitted his involvement; disclosing his personal bias that young children belong with their mother as though that fact justified his behavior.  Denis didn’t apologize.

In court, Denis answered questions on the stand about the incest of my daughter and whether that fact created family instability and whether I was a fit mother.  Forced to sit in the courtroom and listen to his derogatory statements and opinions, I felt ashamed.  The incest lay exposed.  Then he offered his professional opinion that Shana deserved custody.

Denis violated the prime principle and foundation of CPS—a client’s right to privacy.  Secondly, he violated his ethical responsibility.  His role was to advocate for our family. Denis breached the rules and ethics in favor of his empathy for a mother who might lose custody of her child and a deep personal belief a young child belong with their mother.

Denis had never meet Shana.   He knew nothing about her agoraphobia, bed wetting, paranoia, obsessive/compulsive behavior, panic attacks, codependency to the point of stalking Colin, and she weighed over 300 pounds.  That is not to say that Colin didn’t make his own mistakes in the marriage.  None of these facts were material. Denis breached the department’s basic premise of a client’s privacy rights which was mandated by law.

Denis was a prime example of using a position of power to act on his personal agenda.  CPS empowered him to remove children from their homes; to make critical decision about a parent’s custodial rights; to place children in foster homes; to vacate their parental rights.  How do you place decision-making power in the hands of one person who sees fit to violate his client’s rights. How do you trust a system that allows a case worker to violate the foundation on which their organization operates?

I felt violated.  My personal file and information about my family had been disclosed, not just to anyone, but an adversary, someone who could use that information to hurt me and my family.  Nothing could take that back.  Nothing could make it right.  I’d been victimized by a system designed to protect my daughter and my family.

Six weeks later, after Colin obtained custody of his daughter, I filed a grievance with CPS.  At the hearing, a psychologist humiliated me with questions such as was I merely seeking revenge because my daughter had been incested; was I angry that CPS was involved in my life; was I seeking retribution because Denis testified on behalf of Shana; was I focused on Denis to avoid my responsibility for the incest.  After incurring over two hours of humiliation, a supervisory committee met. Denis was removed as my case manager.  He wasn’t placed on probation or fired.

The incident embedded in me a well-deserved permanent distrust of CPS and case workers.  Wounds piled up on top of wounds.  Pain overlay pain.  Like a tiny ball of snow gaining momentum and size as it tumbles downward, it culminated in one gigantic ball that took years to unravel.
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Casey’s Comment

8 Aug

I just want to thank my mom for being there for me no matter what was happening in my life.

My mom has been my main lifeline throughout the years. She has never judged me or my behaviors. I have truly put my mom through hell and back more times than I could ever count, including the years I was angry with her, and yet she still loves and supports me.

My mom is an amazing woman and I love her so much. I have been revictimized by men throughout my life because of the choices I made in my relationships. The incest robbed me of  my self-esteem. I blamed myself for the abuse. I hated myself. I never dealt with my sexual abuse when I should of and because of that I have chosen abusive men to be romantically involved with. I got into trouble with the law thanks to my last relationship because of my fears to stand up to him.

I am thankful for where I am now and I want help. I regret that I didn’t make that choice years earlier. I am building a very healthy support system now. I will never get involved in another abusive relationship. I have lost everything time and time again and this last time was too much for me emotionally. I lost everything except my life. I have really learned a lot in the past year and I am ready to look toward my future.

My mom is everything to me and I am so thankful she has always been there. I am sorry mom.

Yes, I am talking about Jordan. She is an incredible woman and so strong.

- Casey

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