Hi Everyone. I (Yojana) am not sure how to start this blog, nor how my thoughts will unfurl, but please, stay with me because this is an important topic. I wrote this some weeks back, and am finally ready to publish it.
My sister works with small children and she periodically calls me with funny tales of their crazy stories. She sometimes calls to complain about the parents/guardians and to get my opinion on certain situations. This last call was one I was not looking forward to but knew will undoubtedly occur.
There is this sweet innocent child that after a year of being in my sisters program has now opened up to her and started to confide in her. It is apparent that this child is being mentally abused, and quiet possibly physically abused, by a parental figure. My sister has had training and knows how to look for the signs and what to do in these situations. As is required, she has contacted the local DFCS and explained the situation to them. Their response? They cannot open any investigations until there is physical proof of abuse, they must SEE bruises on a child, they must have proof of sexual abuse, the child needs to be more straight forward and recount extreme situations, and if needed must be guided in their conversation.
This is messed up. They are pretty much saying that mental abuse is not abuse, that the situation must get so dire that there are physical bruises on a child’s skin. Do you know how hard a child must be beaten for bruises to appear? So, physical abuse that does not leave any markings – or long lasting markings- is not considered abuse? How long does this poor child need to suffer through physical abuse? What if the abuser gets progressively more violent? At what point will they actually “open an investigation”? A poor child has to go through hell and practically be on the verge of death? That is how we get these poor babies getting killed at such a young age. Because nothing was done before.
Mental abuse is abuse. A child cannot defend themselves and relies on their parents and adults in their life to keep them safe. How can someone defend themselves if they are constantly being berated and felt unloved and worthless? They are left with insecurities and possible mental health issues. This abuse is not physical and therefore not apparent, but it impacts their life long after the abuse has ended.
How many people realize they are being mentally abused? How many people are physically abused and hide the signs? How many hide and cover up the bruises and defend their abuser? How many are sexually abused and don’t report it nor speak up? How many just want it to end and forget it ever happened? How many are ashamed or afraid to speak up? How many have been told not to say anything or their situation may become worse? How many have been guilt tripped into not saying anything because the abuser may “get in trouble”?
This poor child was told not to say anything because the abuser would get in trouble and sent to jail. They are being guilt tripped into not saying anything because it will be their fault. They are practically being told that their situation will become worse if the abuser is exposed. Come on!! The abuser knows they are doing something wrong! They are guilty and decided to threaten the child! How is this not admission of guilt?
Despite being threatened, this child chose to confide in my sister. Chose to speak up. Unbeknownst to them, they are being brave and seeking help. They have told my sister “I don’t want to go home because I get hit,” “I am scared of all the scary movies I HAVE to watch, the scary people from the movies are going to come for me because I misbehave,” “I didn’t get any sleep last night because of the scary monsters.” When my sister confronted one of the parents, they responded with “Oh, that’s nothing. Just being a child.” No. You are scaring your child, telling them they misbehave and are going to be taken and killed by the scary monster. You are the reason for their sleepless nights and nightmares. Your responsibility as a parent is to protect them and chase away any scary monsters and make them feel safe.
DFCS will not take action. They told my sister to get the child to say more. All the training my sister has received has told her otherwise. She has been told not to “guide or help” the conversation along, but instead, allow the child to speak freely so as to not taint any possible investigations. She has spoken with the parents, her supervisor, and the proper authorities, yet her hands are tied. This child is comfortable enough with my sister to talk to her without fear of what my sister may say or do. She is seeking help and my sister cannot do anything. All she can do is watch and give her encouraging words.
I just hope the situation doesn’t get worse. I hope this child doesn’t look back one day and hate my sister for not doing anything to help (although she has done what she legally can.)
This is one of the reasons why people lose trust in authority figures. We seek out help and get dismissed. We learn to fend for ourselves and hate anyone with power.
So, this is my plea for anyone reading. Please, do not dismiss anyone who needs help. People ask for help in different forms, please recognize it and actually do everything in your power to help. Please, do not dismiss children for being children. If your child is telling you they are being abused by a family member (or anyone else), please, take their side, please realize how hard it is for them to say something, please realize the abuser will more likely try to justify it and make their claims seem insignificant because they are a child. If you see or know of someone that is being abused, please, stay in contact with them. Please, make them feel loved and cared for. Please, tell them they are important and worthy. Please, be their safe haven. Please, do not let the situation get too far. Please, try to get help for them. Please, do something.