I have a complicated situation. I have to say, I now have experience on all sides of abuse. It’s an ugly picture. I’m in the midst of piecing my own life together while at the same time I have a vindictive “baby momma” attempting to make my life a living hell- shaking security and family.
Growing up, eventually I did know there was a such thing as CPS. Though there were a few points of “weakness” (as some protectors call it) to tell a teacher, though small bits seeped, it was never enough to get attention. In fact, by the time I made it to my first therapist in my early 20′s, I didn’t speak to him for 3 sessions. I would answer basic questions like name, or address or what school do you go to. But nothing remotely personal. This was just my personal experience. I never made it to the system, never filed charges nor dealt with the police and court system in prosecuting an offender.
However, I learned about secrecy. I saw how small towns turn the other way and protect “their own” though apparently I wasn’t their own. Then when I did student teaching, again in a small town, I witness a small boy being verbally harassed by two teachers. I mean imagine the picture of a small five year old boy being verbally teased and harassed by a 40 something and 50 something year old woman! When I became a teacher I swore I’d never let a child go through what I did. I went to my supervising professors and told them and guess what they told me? They told me I’d never be believed because these were two respected and tenured teachers. Which sounded oddly like what I’d heard growing up. I couldn’t tell then because it would only hurt the family and no one would believe me anyway. They told me I could pursue it, however, I would not graduate. My tail tucked between my legs I thought of the bigger picture and thought at least I’ll get my degree and then I can make a difference.
So, I’ve been the one abused and I’ve witnessed abuse. Now, I complete the circle by being accused of abuse. See, all these years, I was pissed there were people who claimed “false allegations”. It seemed such an evil process for the abused. However, I have to say this is a pitiful swamp to be stuck in. All allegations have been unsubstantiated. At least this part they get right. However, she can continue playing this “game” and there is nothing I can do, or so I’m told. This is the “black hole” of protecting the children that I have found. I don’t know how to fix the problem, but I see it now. I don’t know who to tell, I’ve found a few names of people involved at the level needed, but even so I’m not sure I want pulled into something that could cause my family more grief (because this woman is easily triggered and when she’s triggered she strikes).
So, CPS gets a call and they take the information. Now, a few years ago, my husband called CPS because after talking to his sister who is a social worker, we determined there was a strong possibility there was some sort of sexual abuse happening. One of the first questions the CPS worker asked was “Do you know how the perp is?” The answer was, “Not sure because it’s not happening in our care but it’s someone her mother knows.” So that led to the second question of, “Are you and the child’s mother divorced?” The answer of course was yes and the call ended. The CPS worker said they do not get involved in custody disputes.
So, now, we have a mother calling on a father and all of a sudden, CPS takes names, address, numbers and every shred of information they can get. CPS and now even local police have made calls boldly taking a case in hand that sounds horrid and within 30 seconds they are shaking their heads that things aren’t adding up. Then we talk and they start asking about visitation, lies that have been told, history, etc and they all comment, “Oh it’s another one of these custody dispute cases.” Technically it’s not a custody dispute. Technically it’s a case of mother doing what she has to in order to get father out of her child’s life. She has tried everything else, so now she’s gone “nuclear” as they say.
I saw this happen twice before. My first stepmother did this to her kids. She convinced them their father molested them. She wanted him out and for her, her kids & my dad to be an exclusive family. Dinner table conversations were indoctrination. It went badly, especially since my dad left her and the kids quickly became unstable.
The second time a friend of mine was in a custody dispute with her ex and she pulled some of this- but never went nuclear (at least while I was there). She mostly stayed in sabotage.
So, the attorney tells us that while there is a law against false reporting, she has not yet seen a judge or prosecutor do anything about it. They want reports, not people to be afraid to report. So because we are in the midst of a vindictive person, we’re supposed to act like we are swatting flies- irritating but nothing you can do. I don’t know how a “normal” person reacts to this…but I’m not slightly irritated. I mean do you know what it feels like to be accused of something that you know is false?
So, here’s the bottom line. Here is the problem. See, when CPS and the police come knocking on our door, they have a report that a child has been abused. When they see it’s a vindictive allegation over custody/visitation they simply label the file unsubstantiated. When they do this they get rid of the file after 30 days on one level and after 6 months the record is no where to be found. So when she calls in 6 months it’s like the previous allegation doesn’t exist. Also, apparently she can go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction too.
That being said, what is missing here? Did you catch it? A report was made that a child was being abused. The child has stated she was abused. It was clear the people accused of being her abusers are not the ones who abused her. It was clear the accusation was because of custody/visitation disputes. So everyone walks away. How is this “protecting the child?” Shouldn’t the next question be “Why is this child saying this?” ”Why is this mother saying this?” ”If this child is exhibiting mental illness symptoms shouldn’t she be monitored to be ensured she is getting the help she needs whether she was abused or not and if not, why lie and try to get your father convicted of a major crime?” This child is screaming for help (whether she realizes the help she needs or not is another story). Here she is screaming, and no one is there. We can’t get to her. Her mother has pulled her out of school too! And CPS closes the case and walks away. It seems to me, they aren’t “protecting the children”, they are simply deciding on the allegation. I get that they are “overworked” but isn’t this causing more work for them? If the first time they had spent more time on the case, then maybe the 2nd call wouldn’t have come through and wasted even more resources. And according to her therapist, there will be plenty more accusations coming. They say nothing about her mother taking her out of school because she was failing or because she didn’t want to go. They say nothing about her lying and stealing. They say nothing about her inconsistent stories or the fact that she is saying the same thing her mother says. Why not protect the child? Why not spend a bit more time on the case and think about it and actually get the child the help they need? This child isn’t a box on a form. Neither are we.
Until CPS really tries to help the child instead of pushing papers, there will continue to be many children fall through the cracks and end up as the scary statics you hear on the news and there will be many people’s lives ruined by false allegations who are already grieving the loss of a living child. This isn’t about one person, the effects ripple large as I haven’t even included others affected.
I find it sad and I want to do something. I see the problem. I know more laws will probably only be more of a nightmare. This isn’t a checklist- this is life.