The title of this post is Living in the Shadow and I'm going to go out on a limb here and talk about the unmentionable, the topic many of us are leery to talk about, the topic that carries fear with it...dealing with a child protection agency. As a parent who has an abusive ex-partner, I know this shadow all too well.
There is no doubt that there are people out there who are negligent or outright physically and mentally abuse their children...you only have to turn on the news to hear proof of this. Then there are those of us who become involved with a child protection agency just because we entered a shelter.
I called the police to my home the morning of the day I entered a shelter myself. I didn't know at the time that the police would have to notify the agency because my children were in the home at the time of the call but when I learned of this, I assumed that that would be the end of it. Well it wasn't, in fact it was the beginning of what I can only call a really, really long road. I have spent the last two years trying to prove that I am not the monster someone has made me out to be and in fact although the file was only recently closed, I know that it could just as easily be opened up again.
I was at work the other day and one of my patient's mom's was sharing with me the nightmare that she has been living recently...wow, I could identify with so much of what she was saying. You see, so often we go about our daily lives perhaps feeling like we are alone in what we are dealing with, yet with a statistic of 1 in four women being affected by domestic violence at some point in their lives, we know that that can't be true - it sure feels that way sometimes though.
Experiences like this are what strengthens the community between all of us. If you have gone through a similar experience or if you have supported someone through it, you can readily identify with that overwhelming feeling of powerlessness.
A child protection agency is charged with the responsibility of protecting children, in fact they are mandated to follow up on reports of possible abuse and this is an opportunity rarely missed by the abuser. Think about it, how many of you out there have been investigated because your partner told them that you were "mentally ill" and that he feared for his children's safety while in your care? How many of you have been investigated for being physically abusive towards your children? How many of you know that your abuser often puts in complaints after the kids have either been there or just returned home? Or possibly the worse scenario: how many of you have children who have lied to the authorities about you because they are desperate to gain the approval of that other parent?
I'm interested in your responses because I think that this is conversation that needs to be had. We are not bad parents and we don't deserve this level of harassment and abuse. Let's openly support each other in this regard, we need to know that there are others out there feeling the same. I'm really looking forward to hearing from you and if you don't have any stories of your own then perhaps you might have words of encouragement for those in the thick of it. Thanks everybody.