I am in the middle of a personal dilemma that I have never encountered before, and i would like some opinions...or maybe some help from others that have dealt with these issues before. If you have personal experiences in any of these areas, I am interested to hear what you have to say.
My son (8 years old), really likes this little girl in his class. He tells me a lot about her and before even meeting her I found myself wondering and even worrying about her a lot. I have never thought about a kid I did not know as much as i did this little girl. He kept telling me that she follows him around, but does not talk. she does not talk in school, but seems to have latched onto him. I was the same way when i was little, and I was being abused in every way possible, so i believe that is why my thoughts kept going to this little girl when he kept asking me why she follows him but will not talk to him.
Well, he invited her to his birthday party last weekend and she came along with her parents her older sister. The parents are very dirty looking...I suspect mental problems for the father as he walked through the roller rink all day with his entire belly hanging out and just seemed off to me. The mom seems very nice, but most people I admit would not talk to her because of her appearances. I am not someone who looks at appearances and I am not judgmental, but even i wondered about them as it looked like they did not even brush their hair before coming. they did seem to put more effort into their girls, but you can tell they don't have much and are poor. That didn't bother me, and I found the mom to be very nice at the party.
Through the day I had several interactions with this little girl and she would not speak to me or anyone else, but she would smile at me, she opened her coat and showed me her t-shirt which she seemed proud of, and she followed my son around all day and he helped her learn to skate, they really seem to be sweet on one another. The older daughter did talk quite a lot, but she is difficult to understand. I don't know if it is just a speech problem or something else, but I wondered if this is why the little girl never talks. Yet, the older daughter would not skate with my daughter who is the same age and would not speak to other kids, but she spoke to me and her parents.
I could tell they need help, so I gathered a huge trash bag of clothes that no longer fit my daughter and I looked the mom up on Facebook and sent her a message...I opened it by sending her pictures of her daughter and my son that I took during the party. She responded back and was very nice...so I asked if she would like some clothes that no longer fit my daughter and she said yes. I had clothes that would probably fit both of her girls and honestly I have been looking for someone to hand down to, as i have someone that hands down to my son and it is very helpful.
I was going to meet a friend of mine at the park yesterday and invited her to come by, and I put the clothes in my trunk. Her and the girls came out of their van and played for awhile, but her husband stayed in their van until my friend and her kids left. Then suddenly he came out and stood right by us the entire time, I almost felt he did not want to leave me alone with his wife or something...again, he gives me a creepy feeling, his entire belly is hanging out of his clothes, and he seems to be "off" somehow. the girls will whisper to their mom, will not talk to anyone else, and her older daughter seemed very unsure about playing with my daughter (they are the same age), and would not talk the entire time she played with her. The mom kept telling me that her girls only play together usually and are inseparable, and it is just weird for her older daughter to play separate from the younger daughter (who continued to follow my son around but not talk to him). Even the older girl was not talking this time. At one point the husband left in the van for a minute and the younger daughter whispered to her mom something and she assured her he would be back. i could hear a bit of a speech issue when the daughter whistpered, but she seemed much clearer than the older daughter, so I am still uncertain as to why she doesn't speak out. Both girls seemed very unsure of themselves playing at the park, they were stand-offish from the other kids, the litle one kept running to her mom and whispering and the mom kept telling her to "go play while you can" and "go while you have the chance." The big sister kept staring at the little sister, just very protective, and neither of them talked to anyone the entire time they were there.
Just before the husband got out of the van the mom said she was cold but did not want to go home, then started talking about her neighbors giving her problems, but seemed to be really nervous. i was uncertain if she was trying to tell me she did not want to go home for a reason or if she was just nervous talking to me, I did not know what to do!
My friend left the park quick and was not sure about them. I know it is because of the appearance...which I know a lot of people cannot see past that, but I am really trying because for some reason these people are heavy on my heart.
My question now is what I do from here. For some reason this little girl is on my mind ALL the time. I could not sleep last night because I was thinking about why they do not talk, could something be wrong with this father, was the mother trying to tell me something by saying she was cold but did not want to go home...I just cannot push them from my mind. That is not like me, I am not someone who latches to other people, but these people are just heavy on my mind and heart right now.
I don't really want to get mixed up on one hand because this father really just gives me a bad feeling and I have not liked being around him. But on the other hand that intensifies my worry for these little girls and makes me wonder if this woman needs some help. I know people like my friend would never give them a second glance because they are clearly very poor and do not take care of themselves...but I saw loving qualities and exchanges between the mom and the daughters and just feel somehow they need help.
My husband is telling me to mind my own business and my friend has said they are hard to look at pretty much and told me to be careful...but for some reason they are on my heart. How do I approach this? Am i just emotional becuase the little girl reminds me of myself at that age? Or could there really be something there?
She is inviting me to her house, but i don't feel safe going there because her husband gives me such a bad feeling...so I figured the polite way out is to suggest I can pick them up and they can come here and hang out for the evening sometime.
Any advice on how to handle a situation like this? Do I need to back off and just mind my own business, assuming I am sensitive due to my own childhood problems? Or how do I move forward getting to know them while keeping safe form this man i do not trust or have a good feeling about? HELP! i have never had anything like this before, but these people are so heavy on my heart for some reason. I could not even sleep last night as I was worrying about them...and I don't even know why I am worrying! I just have this strong sense that I should not turn away from them even if they are "undesirable" by most people's standards. What would you guys do?
03-05-2012, 10:48 PM
It sounds like they could use a friend.
03-05-2012, 11:31 PM
I'm with you here. Something seems VERY VERY WRONG about this situation.
I've heard a lot about this and the first thing everyone and every article I have EVER read says that you need to tell someone IMMEDIATELY.
From the way you described it, it almost seems like the father is either sexually/emotionally/physically abusing all three of them. I could be completely wrong, but that's the way it comes off to me.
If it were me, I would call child services immediately and give them an anonymous tip. They know what they're doing and can investigate it further. They should be able to tell if something is going on or not.
Hope this helps!
03-06-2012, 12:12 AM
Midwife-- yes, I will be her friend, but i am wondering if I am right to worry about more or what I do if I feel something is wrong...I think maybe they need more than friends but i keep second guessing myself and just don't know what to do.
tesse---that is how I have felt since before I even met them, but for some reason I second guess myself, and especially when it calls to calling child services on someone. I feel like maybe i need to get closer to her and just get a better feel for what may be happening...but then part of me says "stay away, that man is scary, and what can you really do to help anyway?" I am just confused, but no one has ever been on my mind like this before so I have a very strong gut instinct that something is wrong in this situation. I just don't know if it is my bleeding heart for children or if something is really wrong there. I would not want them to know I called, either. Or even suspect that.
03-06-2012, 11:42 AM
I would call child services. I worry that if you wait and become better friends with the mom and feel out the situation more that not only is that more time for abuse to continue, but I feel like it's more of a signal that you are the one who called if you wind up calling. There was a party recently, they were out with you and your friend, it might not have been you.
I would also try your hardest to get the mom and the girls out of the house often. If you continue to meet in public areas or in places you feel safe then I think the husband is less of an issue, however creepy he may be.
This situation brings me back to one that has haunted me for years. I was good friends with a girl who lived in the townhouse behind me. She was a happy, good child. A few years later her mother QUICKLY married a man who creeped me out. And he brought his children into their home. Things changed. His children were already off but soon my friend and her brother were off too. They were oddly sexual for children 8-12 years old. The boys were allowed the join sleepovers. The father would find flimsy excuses to come downstairs half naked during sleepovers (if his pants were a fraction of an inch lower, he would have been indecent. To the point that I now know he obviously shaved his area) while his wife was asleep upstairs and he would hang out with us. Grown man hanging out with 11 year old girls. The children began to only associate with themselves and I found myself out 4 friends. One day a couple years later I saw police cars outside of their home. A few days later I tried to call my friend and their number had been disconnected. I soon realized the mother and husband still lived there but all of the children no longer did. That's when it hit me that something seriously wrong must have been going on in that house. I was too young to realize just how wrong some of the things that happened in that house were. There is no doubt in my mind that at the very least my friends were sexually abused. God only knows what else. It haunts me that I didn't know to tell someone.
Anyway. My point is if you don't report them to child services, you might regret it for the rest of your life. Even though I didn't realize the full scope of what was wrong with that family until I was older, 16 years later it still makes me want to cry that I didn't help even though I didn't realize why they needed help.
03-06-2012, 11:53 AM
That's why I said call them anonymously.
I agree with Daki. I think the more you hang out with them, the more obvious it will be that you were the one that called. Maybe give it a few more days and call so they wouldn't suspect you, if you're really that afraid of them finding out.
03-06-2012, 01:08 PM
Have you tried talking to your son's teacher as the little girl is a classmate? The teacher might be able to provide additional insight or your concerns couple with those they may have may prompt the teacher to contact CPS as many are legally required if there are credible suspicious regarding abuse.
If you are unsure if the teacher has contacted CPS, you may still contact them yourself anonymously citing any thing the teacher may say to make your concerns more valid. CPS will surely speak with any adults that interact with the children outside the family.
03-07-2012, 02:51 PM
It sounds like this woman and her family is striking a chord with something about you and your past. You seem to have have a very caring and sensitive heart. There may also be something unspoken in your son that causes the youngest daughter to want to reach out to him. It might sound like a cop-out, but if you're the praying type, I highly suggest that you use this as your first method of attack.
The suggestions to call CPS obviously come from a place of concern, but please please please be careful with filing anonymous tips.
You should only call CPS if you have witnessed direct abuse and/or neglect.
In most states, after an anonymous tip is placed, a social worker will be sent to the home to do a general walk around the property and make sure conditions APPEAR TO BE safe. As long as the father doesn't outright touch or abuse the women in plain view of the social worker, they will have no cause to investigate him further. He could be the biggest scumbag on the face of the earth, but they can't arrest him for just "looking creepy". Plus, if there is abuse taking place, this suspicion and investigation may anger/frustrate/humiliate him, causing him to retaliate by abusing the mother/daughters even more.
I would try to interact with the mother more and learn more about her story. Maybe invite her and the kids over to your house without the father. Ask if there's someone she trusts that can help her out in her situation. Does she have relatives in the area? Are there local shelters for women? Is she a member of a good church? These are concrete things you can do to try to aid the mother and give her the confidence/courage to get out of the situation if it is indeed unsafe.
03-07-2012, 10:41 PM
Anyone know about those with speech or hearing problems? Is it normal for kids with speech and/or hearing problems not to talk or to be very shy about talking? Thanks for chiming in if you know or have some experience in that area.
Well, my hubby and son are going on a boy scout camping thing Friday night, so I contacted the woman and asked if her and the girls want to come over for a "girl's night" and just hang out with me and my daughter. I made certain to call it a girl's night and offered to come pick them up, since she cannot drive. I do not want this man coming into my home when my husband is not here, so I figured this would be a safe way to get her out of her house with the girls and let's see if they ease up or if she will talk to me, or what I can find out about her.
It is also kind of a test to see if he will let her go without him, she told me at the park he has to take her everywhere and she is mostly just at home all the time.
She messaged me back and just said that she would love to come, but she has some things to do on Friday and maybe we could meet somewhere. She didn't say anything beyond that. I think I will respond back that I will call her and we can work that out.
She has opened up to me through FB chat a bit...she told me that her first husband (older daughter's daddy I believe) cheated on her, she came home and found him in bed with her best friend and she left him. Then she married this guy, who I believe is the father of the younger girl that does not speak at all.
I do not want him in my house, and do not want to just give my address for him to drop her off. I really really just am uneasy about him. I don't want to call children's services because I have no proof of anything and I really fear once they go out there it could get worse for them, if there is something going on. I don't know that the teacher would be able to tell me anything due to confidentiality, but that is a good idea I may try to email her and just try.
I asked my son last night if this girl was at school and asked if she talks to the other girls in the class. He said she does have one friend that is a girl, but they don't talk in words. I asked what that means and he said they talk with hand motions. Then he said that actually the other girl talks with hand motions and mostly this little girl nods her head. So, maybe there is just a speech problem ... but she can talk, I heard her whispering to her mom, and they did not use sign language at all at the park.
Oh, and the older daughter would not take her coat off at the skating rink, so I am going to look for signs of bruises or scars, etc. surely she will take her coat off when in my home...it is supposed to be very warm out that day and evening.
I'm going to have her over Friday and see what happens. I plan to get some clothes together that might fit her and send them home with her. I just am not willing to call children's services with no proof and risk it getting worse for them in some manner.
Jacks Big Mama
03-07-2012, 10:52 PM
I'm so glad that you are trying to figure out how to help these people instead of just ignoring them because of how they look and act. Most people would just walk the other way, and completely forget about them. Kudos to you for caring. (Isnt sad how people just don't care anymore?!)
On the other hand, I do not agree with just calling CPS because of a hunch. If you were to call CPS right now, would you feel as if you actually did anything to better their lives? Probably not. You would never know the outcome of the investigation, so you'd always wonder what happened. You would mean well, but all you would do is have an overworked caseworker come out, maybe even in several months due to budget cuts and lay offs, and open a case file on the family. The father may have lost his job and is just so depressed that he doesn't care what he looks like, and may just be socially awkward. On the other hand, it is possible that abuse may be going on, and once you are able to confirm that it is, or really feel that something is going on after speaking with the teacher and others who have dealt with the family, then I would call CPS. The teacher may be able to provide you with some much needed insight. Of course, at any time you witness, see or hear anything from the kids that is serious, I would definitely call CPS, or Law Enforcement if you feel it is warranted.
For now, if I were you, I would try communicating and befriending the mother through Facebook. Hopefully you can build up a rapport with her and she will learn to trust and confide in you. Just be careful because her husband may check her messages. I would start out with basic conversation about the kids, etc. and see how she responds. The husband may just be overly protective of his family, especially because they do not know you...yet.
All in good time, hopefully you will be able to get to know this family and be a positive influence on their lives. Sometimes just knowing someone cares makes all the difference!
Best of luck to you! :)
03-08-2012, 12:37 PM
You make a good point...they don't know me very well either! Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly and I will feel better about the situation. I am really hoping nothing is wrong and it works out...I am hoping!
03-08-2012, 01:01 PM
I absolutely think you're doing the right thing. She will appreciative your friendships & you're giving her a safe place to open up. It sounds like she may not have anyone or anywhere else to turn, if necessary. You're very kind :). Please do keep us posted. Last thought- great idea keeping your address withheld.
03-08-2012, 02:20 PM
First of all, be careful how much you say through facebook. You don't know if the husband has access to her account.
If she doesn't speak at all, surely this has come up in school. Is it possible you can talk about this with the school counselor?
I saw this show last night (untold ER or something) where a boy came in to the ER with multiple fractures of different ages all over his body. Immediately social services was called to which the distressed parents kept saying, he fell off his bike. No one would believe them and charges were filed against the father. Turns out after more tests at the hospital that the kid has brittle bone disease and there's no abuse. I just felt awful for those parents.
I'm not saying that's the case here, but to call CPS immediately, I don't know. I'd rather have a discussion with the school counselor first. You're right- they most likely won't be able to tell you anything, but you can certainly say things to them.
03-09-2012, 01:18 PM
It does make a lot of sense that the little girl would be slow to speak if she had hearing difficulties. So glad that you are reaching out to this family. It sounds like they could use a good friend.
Will be thinking about you today!!!
03-09-2012, 01:33 PM
You seem like a very kind and caring woman and I admire you not turning your back on them because of their appearance or some strange behavior. It does sound like they need a friend but I feel for now till you know they better is to make outside/public play dates. I wouldn't go to the house and actually what is your 'gut' telling you? Listen to it!
That was so sweet to think about passing along the clothes to her. That was so generous of you.
Do not take this family on like it's going to be your job to figure them out and help them. The best thing you can do is be there as a friend, someone who can listen if and when she might want to open up.
But whatever you do....be sure that you don't put yourself or your children in harms way. Some of your story scared me a bit. I don't want you getting yourself hurt.
03-09-2012, 02:28 PM
It seems off but are you sure the man isn't deaf or something? Could that be why his daughter doesn't usually speak and uses hand gestures to talk to the other girl in her class.
I think it's great you want to help but there may not be anything harmful going on and you might bring them lots of trouble under the guise of friendship if you start making reports b/c someone "seems off" and you don't understand their family's interaction. Be honest, do you really want to be their friend or do you just want to get close to see what's up with something that strikes you funny? Will you continue to be friends if you don't find anything wrong? Do you really see yourself being this woman's long term friend?
JMHO but you're overstepping by pretending to form a friendship with this woman out of a judgement that b/c their looks and way they relate remind you of your own past hurts. You have already set up a "tests" to test their reactions. That's just not right, especially if you're going to report them for not passing your "test".
I don't agree with reporting unless you witness abuse. The last thing a struggling family needs is people making accusations that endanger their family unit. What happens if the children are taken even temporarily and put into foster care where something bad does happen to them? What besides seeming off to you have they done? If you're gonna go that far, you might as well tell someone where you are going(just in case you go missing, which is unlikely but your post insinuated you think the man is capable of such a thing) and visit her at her home without your children to talk. You might just find out that things are fine and they have shy children b/c they are shy people b/c of esteem about their finances.
03-09-2012, 04:31 PM
This family definitely seems off and I don't want to downplay your concerns because I'd probably have the same ones in your situation, but I did want to put it out there that there is such a thing as 'selective mute-ism'. It's an anxiety disorder and not unheard of in young children.
My DD has a very good friend that suffers from this and is often confused with being shy, scared or abused. She is none of those things - comes from a happy, healthy family with 'normal' siblings. She just won't/can't speak publicly. She whispers to her parents and siblings and to a couple of VERY select friends (my DD being one, but it took a long time of my DD being friends with her). She attends intensive therapy for her anxiety and is making slow progress. It's been very baffling and frustrating to her parents.
Good luck tonight - I hope it goes well for you and you are able to make some headway.
03-09-2012, 05:55 PM
I don't know what to tell you. I never had to deal with "strangers" or "people with kids."
The few times I came across abused women, I had already become friends with them through another area -- volunteering for instance. And in growing close over many months, THEN it came out they were having probs being abused. They were married but no kids.
I usually point them to www.speakoutloud.net and hand them the tactics list.
Then I try to just be a friend. They are not always free to leave. You may want to cruise through the site yourself and read the "how to be a friend" segments.
If you are going to be her friend, be a friend then but be prepared for it to get weird... not not.
If you are concerned but don't want to get tight -- talk to the teacher that you've noticed this kid has latched on to yours and seems a bit unusual. And perhaps the teacher may want to look into it. That's enough heads up and let's hope it it just hearing probs and not stuff like abuse.
Since you haven't seen abuse yourself, I do not know about calling your town's DCF.
03-09-2012, 06:24 PM
I have nothing to offer except perhaps the mom and daughters are embarassed by the dad's appearance and perhaps their own which is why the older girl wouldn't take off her coat. If they are poor and aware of their personal selves, that could play a part in their behavior. Just one thought on one aspect of what you're describing.
When I was a kid, we were poor, but from a poor neighborhood and didn't know the difference as we were all in the same boat. These kids, they probably see the difference and it may shame them some.
03-10-2012, 01:29 PM
Okay, so she resisted me picking her up and said that her husband wanted to drop her off and I could take her home, that way he knew where she was at. I said I was okay with that but stressed that it was a girl's night, and even my husband would not be here. I had another friend come over with her little girl as well, so it was really like a girl's night. We got snacks and I bought some frozen pizzas and we rented a few movies, took a walk around the town hall in our little town, etc. It was a nice evening, and I was so desperately searching for cues that they are alright, I don't want anything to be wrong. i don't want to call on anyone for their children...I would not want it done to me, but I think in some cases it is needed. As of this moment, I really feel I have to children's services,to the core of my being I believe something is happening, something is wrong, not only to these girls but the mama as well, I am literally worried sick for all three of them:
1. When her husband dropped her off I walked out onto the porch to greet them. She got out and started to let her girls out, and was saying that they brought a lot of stuff. I walked out toward their van and was going to help them get their stuff and she was waving me to go back and saying they got it, they got it. I tried waving at her husband, but he would not wave back and seemed to be staring at me. She got her stuff and walked toward my house, but they left the side door to the van open. I tried to tell her, but her husband was already getting out of the van and did not look happy...but honestly, my kids have done that to me and it is frustrating!
Since I had started to tell her she left the door open she turned back as he was rounding the front of the van and he gave her this mean look, like very tense, and then he saw me watching I think and looked at me and smiled and waved. I still had a bad feeling about him, but I do know those things can be frustrating and wasn't thinking much about it.
2. She was asking me what I do for a living because i work from home and I told her. She waited until we were in my car alone (my friend had all of our girls in her van following behind us) and she asked if I could teach her to do what I do. I told her I would help her, and then she asked if she could somehow keep the money with me or in a Paypal account and not let her husband know she has it. I told her that was possible and she said her husband spends every dime she makes, he doesn't work, and she would just like to save up some money. I told her I would help her and see if she can learn it, but I don't want to keep her money, she could set up paypal account and just not tell him about it maybe. I don't want to be holding her money, she needs to find her own safe place to keep it if that is what she needs to do.
3. Her girls did open up some and were talking throughout the night. At one point her older daughter said "i hope we can stay here all weekend. I don't want to go home." Later in the morning when we were packing to take them home, her younger daughter came in and was whispering "i don't want to go. can't we just stay?" I was right next to her and could hear it. The mom kept telling her to go and get her stuff, stop talking, shushing her. The girl kept coming back and at one point said "Just ask her if I can stay. I don't want to go home." The evening before the mom had told me that they can stay as many nights as I wanted them to because she did not want to go home. This was making me very uneasy, it was like none of them wanted to go home. I felt guilty taking them home because I knew they did not want to go...they were very vocal about that, but i didnt' know what to do! We are struggling some ourselves and don't have room to move another family in...they have to go home, but what do you do when they are not wanting to go home?
3. The mom told me that this was the first time she has ever been away from her husband in 11 years of marriage. She said he does not like her to make friends, will not allow her to get her driver's license, and she cannot go anywhere unless he takes her. When I said "well, he cannot forbid you from getting a license, can he? What if you told him you wanted to?" she seemed to have the mindset that she can't because he won't allow her to. She said she has a sister in a town not far from us, but he will not even allow her and the girls to go visit her, she is only allowed to visit his family there in their little trailer park. She has not been allowed to visit her sister since shortly after she got married. The sister offers to pick her up but he will not allow it. She said where they live is an isolated trailer park and everyone in the little park is her husband's family. They are very dependent on his daddy (the girl's grandpa), and she said they cannot go anywhere or do anything unless the grandpa agrees and gives them the money. She had tears in her eyes at one point telling me that besides work she cannot leave their little trailer. i really feel she was reaching out for help, but was watching her words and not saying too much. I was not sure how to respond, so I did more listening and just letting her get it off her chest.
4. The older daughter (10 years old) changed into a pair of sweatpants with holes in the knees once we were here, making pizzas, in for the night. She started running all through the house on all fours, barking, sniffing the floor, just going really fast on hands and knees all throughout the house. The mom explained that when they are at home she is not herself, she is a dog. She pretends like she is a dog, and she has to change into those pants because they already have the holes worn from doing it, so they are the only pants she wears at home or is allowed to be a dog in. She did not stop this the entire night. She would play with my daughter and the other girl here (both her age), but she would follow them down like a dog. It seemed like as a dog she would talk and was happy, when she was on her feet and walking like everyone else she barely spoke a word. I really feel this is a coping mechanism.
5. I told the mom I had some clothes I no longer wear if she wants to try them on. As we were going through and she was telling me which ones might fit her she told me that she has never had clothes of her own. Her husband does not believe that women should wear anything expensive, so he goes to the flea market and buys 3X to 4X sweatpants that fit him, and they share them. She said he figures why should they spend money on clothes if she wears his size...but she does not! She is literally living in his 3-4X sweatpants, but she was trying on and fitting my 16 pant that I cannot fit into anymore. I sent her home with a bunch of clothes and she commented that "they won't know what to think of me, I may not be able to wear them but to work, or they will think I am big headed." These were not fancy clothes, as I am not rich either, just blue jeans, t-shirts, etc. But she feels she cannot wear them around home because of what this family will think of her. She said they have 3 pair of sweatpants that her and the husband share, and a few t-shirts, and her husband believes that is enough because he spends every dime she makes on himself. She did not say what on.
6. She told me her husband never drinks, not a drop of alcohol ever. Then later was very concerned with wtaching the time and finally said she needed to call her husband because he might get mad if she didn't check on him, he doesn't like to be alone. So she called and my cell phone you can hear if you are sitting nearby. it sounded like a normal conversation, then he started yelling and she went out of the room and cam back when she had hung up. She started laughing and said that he was at a friend's house and they were getting drunk and she just hoped he got home okay, because soemtimes he gets too drunk and it makes her nervous when he drives them home. She said at least the girls aren't there this time..but she had told me earlier he does not drink. I believe this is what he is spending her money on.
7. When it was time to leave for me to take them home she said she had to call her husband and make sure he was home because she does not have a key to their home. I made a light comment that it is her house, she should have a key, and she nodded her head and said "I know, but he won't let me go anywhere without him, so he says I don't need one."
7. While we were gathering all of their stuff her daughter was practically begging to stay, she did not want to go home. I had a small table where they had cookies, cupcakes, etc. out the evening before, and I walked into the room and her younger daughter was stuffing all of the cookies into her coat pockets, her pant pockets, and she jumped and threw them back down when I turned the corner. I told her it was okay, got a bag, put all of the leftover snacks in there, and told her she could take them home. She smiled and stood back against the wall, and seemed happy then, but the way she jumped and started throwing it all back down told me something is not right. She was trying to sneak them all home.
8. As we were leaving, the older daughter told my daughter "try to invite me over a lot, okay? Like all the time. I don't want to go home."
9. The mom told me that her older daughter does not like to take her coat off because she is developing (as is my daughter and most girls their age) and she does not want anyone to look at her. She said she wears her coat even at home when they are in their house, and she sleeps in it, and in the summertime she insists on wearing a jacket no matter how hot it is out. She said the younger girl insists on wearing her bathing suit in the bathtub and they don't like to change their clothes for bedtime, they just want to wear what they have on. She was telling me this in a chit chatty way, but to me it screams that something may be happening to these girls. Are they hiding their bodies? I have met a lot of my daughter's friends (many very poor as well, we are not in a rich area), and I have never heard of or seen any of them being this way. There has to be a reason for it!
10. When I went to bed everyone was asleep already. I woke up at 7 AM to the mom crawling in bed beside me! It kind of freaked me out because she just climbed in and started talking, really fast, like something was bothering her or she felt it was her last chance to talk, I'm not sure. But, she started telling me that the school had called CPS on her because her daughter wore two different shoes to school. She said that they didn't have shoes for her to wear on gym day (they have to wear tennis shoes on gym day here), so they had somehow found two different shoes that fit her and she was wearing those. She said the teacher sent her a note home about it and then the next day gave her daughter a brand new pair of shoes. Shortly after she said children's services were knocking on her door and her husband was irrate, and she just knows it was that teacher that called because her daughter doesn't have shoes for gym. She said that she hopes they close the case soon because her husband's family does not like the social workers coming into their community. I really sensed this was bother her, enough she climbed into my bed early morning and just started talking about it. I asked her if there was any other reason that they need to be involved and she paused and then said. "I don't guess so, I don't know really." which is a strange response. I told her I am willing to help her in any way I can, just let me know.
10. When we arrived at her house, I honestly feel she could not leave this place if she wanted to. it is a small trailer park close to my house, but I never knew it was there. It is down a gravel road tucked in the woods, a series of small, falling down trailers all owned by her husband's family. There were two men standing outside her trailer talking to her husband, one dressed head to toe in camo with a gun in his hand (I think it is hunting season so I didn't worry so much about that)...but they gave me this look, like in the movies when someone rides in a town they don't belong and everyone gives them that look...it was exactly like that. I immediately felt weird. They watched us pull up to their trailer and then the husband came over to us and the other guys left. One said "I'll talk to ya later" like he was leaving, but I noticed he was standing down the way watching us around the corner of a trailer. I helped her put the clothes and everything I gave them into the house and I told her bye, told her husband bye. He was laughing and joking and seemed okay, but I still just had that feeling like something was not right. The man watched us from a few trailers away the entire time, peeking around a corner, and soon as I pulled out he headed back for their trailer.
When I left, i was in my car and had it started, and she came back out with her older daughter. Her daughter went toward the car to say bye to my daughter so I stopped. Then she called her younger daughter out and she waved. and they stood there watching us pull away and I did not want to leave them there. I just wanted to cry.
Have you ever been to a place that felt bad, like a sadness or something? I have never felt it in my life, but I knew they did not want to go home and now I realized why.
11. As we were pulling down the little gravel driveway toward the trailers her older daughter started to say something and the mom immediately told her to shush and the girl looked down and got quiet again. All she got out was "and the landlord tore down--" but the mom immediately told her to shush and that was the end of it. She had already told me way more than I ever thought she would just be open about, so this had to be something bad, but I don't know what it was she wanted to say.
12. While we were standing out in front of the trailer getting her clothes and stuff out of my trunk, I was not even thinking and just said to her girls "did you show your daddy your pretty nails?" because we had painted all of their nails and toes and put little stickers and glitter on them during the girl's night. My kids would have shown my hubby and I was not even thinking that the relationship is not the same with them, so I just said it, trying to include him. Both girls put their hands out to show him, but they both looked down and did not make eye contact with him. I realize I have never seen them go near him or speak to him, this is the only interaction with him I have witnessed. He was smiling and saying "ohhh ok" but they both stared away, one at the ground and the other off to the side, and they ran away immediately after showing him. this tells me something is going on, they would not look up at him and it seemed to be a tense moment that they were asked to interact with him. I am just so worried that I somehow got them in trouble or made it worse because they got out of the house, got their nails done, and maybe this will work out bad for them?
So, I have not witnessed abuse, but I strongly believe something is happening to these little girls! I know the school had to have more reason to call than what the mom told me. We are not rich people, we go to a poor school where a lot of people are very poor. They have a lot of donated stuff that they give to kids all the time. They would not call just because they cannot afford shoes..they give shoes to a lot of kids. We also have a program where they feed kids lunch throughout the summer becasue a lot of people struggle with food in our area. I just know there is more reason for them to call and I strongly feel I have to call. I feel better that there is alraedy an open case, because they won't see that I meet them and suddenly the social worker is on their doorstep, they are already going out there. I am just going to call and ask to speak to whoever is over her case and just tell her what I was told by this mom and express my concern. Maybe it can help with the case they are already working through. I have never had to do this, but I was literally crying and shaking after dropping them off, because i did not want to leave them there. I wanted to ask her "do you want to go to a women's shelter rather than going home?" and I don't know why i didn't just say it. I just didn't know what to do or what would make it worse for them, better for them, whatever.
I really do like this woman, and her girls are so sweet even when acting like a dog and refusing to speak. I am going to stay in touch and maybe invite them back over one day, if the husband will allow them to. i feel I did this wrong. i should have offered to take them somewhere other than home! I don't know why I didn't do it.
03-10-2012, 02:35 PM
Is it possible for you to go to a women's shelter and ask a counselor there for advice on what to do?
03-10-2012, 02:38 PM
That is a really good idea. I am going to call one that I know of in a nearby town. Thanks for the suggestion!
03-10-2012, 03:57 PM
My heart just breaks for them ... I have tears in my eyes reading this. You're in such a difficult situation. I truly think you are already doing so much and helping them feel that they have someone else to turn to. Personally, I would make the phone call. Just talk to them & since yhwte is already an open case, it may be what they need or the extra push to look closer. This is just so sad :( God bless you for your kindness! That is what this family needs.
03-10-2012, 04:13 PM
I'm going to go back against my normal self that tells me to wait until you see something, but this seems like so obvious a case that you have to call someone.
Obviously CPS is involved already. I think you're right about the mother holding back about why the school called. That actually helps you in a way. Certainly an anonymous tip would help push CPS, and since they're already involved, they won't think it's coming from you. (hopefully)
I agree with calling a woman's shelter for their advice. I would also call the school. They won't talk to you about it, but at least you can fill their heads up without them saying a word.
I feel for you, I really do.
03-10-2012, 04:35 PM
Thanks for the input everyone. I feel sick to my stomach, cannot concentrate on work, I have a headache, i am so worried about everything right now and am not sure I made the right decision. I did call CPS and had a long talk with them. I left my report anonymous but with a phone number so the caseworker can call me if needed. They said the caseworkers are not supposed to say who called, but that most people reported will assume who they think it is, so there is no saying that they won't accuse me and that I should be prepared for that. He also said that even if there is an open case on them, if they decide that my report is valid or reason enough to add to the case, that they are legally required to tell the family that another call has been received for them. Since they were just at my house last night, that made me very worried that they are going to know it was me...especially because she told me so many things that I am pretty sure she has not told anyone else, so if they go in armed with this info I might be the only one who could have possibly told. BUT, if the situation is as I think it is, I don't think the mom would tell the dad that she told me all that, so maybe if she knows it was me but wants the help she won't tell him it was me. Gosh, he is so scary, and the men watching me drop them off was so scary, I worry about my family now. I went back and forth to call or not..but honestly, why would she tell me all of this, not knowing me, if she was not reaching out for help? This is the only way I can help.
The social worker first said for me to tell him the basics of what is happening without identifying the family. It was a long talk and I still managed to leave some things out, I was so nervous and upset. He told me that there are certainly a lot of red flags for someone like me, and there are red flags for him, but that they are bound by the law and he cannot guarantee that the caseworker will think this is a reason to open a new case against them. He said he was taking detailed notes and would write up a report, it would be passed to the caseworker on their case if there is an open file, and either it would sit there as additional info, or it would be entered as an additional case, in which case they would have to inform the parents that a new call has been made against them. After hearing the details, he urged me to enter the report, but said that I had not directly seen abuse, she had not told me "we are being abused," so there is no guarantee that the caseworker will act on it. He said if what I reported does not add new details to the existing case, then it would just be left noted that I called and verified what they already had reported, and no new case would be filed.
He also told me to "be very cautious" having them in my home, that I should meet with them in public places. He said that he thinks I have gotten myself in too close and that it sounds like this may be more than I even realize, and that I should protect may family and be careful. WHAT does that MEAN? Do they tell everyone that? Does he know the case and is telling me something? He specifically said "I am not criticizing you, I know you are well meaning and didn't know what you were stepping into, but I fear you have gotten in over your head and are in closer than you want to be." then he added "closer to whatever this may be, which I am not saying it is anything." I am so scared now. Did I do the right thing? Will they know it was me and should I fear for my own family? I just don't know at this point.
anyway, the older daughter has now friended me on FB and has been talking to me. I am just torn and sick to my stomach. I have never had to deal with this before, and I want to help them, not hurt them. I want to see them come out stronger, happier, and healthy. Whatever that means or takes.
03-10-2012, 05:07 PM
I am glad you are trying to help the lady. when you meet her ask her is there any mailaddress which only she has an access. Ask her if she wants help for speech therapy for girls. Whether there is anybody out there who harrases her etc.
But, do not trust 100% to what she says. Help her to stand on her own feet..do some part time job. Charity cripples people and then they feel it is their right. See whether there is any help available in local church after school hours. If the girls remain somewhere out of the house while mom works somewhere it will help them. They may talk to people in church.
03-10-2012, 05:29 PM
Ok, I don't know if they say be careful to everyone or not. There's probably a few things you can do right now though that might help and are good in general.
Have a talk with your 8 year old. Make sure he understands he goes with no one anywhere except you. Does he know how to call 911? All that kind of stuff.
Does your husband know the extent of what has happened? If he doesn't, he needs to know right now.
It is probably still a good idea to call the women's shelter and get some information, in case someone does decide to open up to you you'll have that information ready for them.
03-10-2012, 05:33 PM
One more question and an idea.
She said she has a sister in a nearby town, but is not allowed to see her. Is it possible to find out who that is and talk to them?
That's REALLY becoming involved though - and not sure if you want to go that far.
03-10-2012, 05:51 PM
Vex--I thought about trying to contact the sister, or the husband has 3 older daughters (2 over 18) that live in another state and I thought maybe they are on her FB page...but I don't want to do that. i don't know what these people know, if they would help her, what the relationships are, I don't want to make it worse for them in any way if something is happening. there are a lot of people with her same last name on her FB page, but I think that is her married name. i don't know the maiden name, so I don't know who to contact.
I have decided not to pump for info. I don't want to feel like I am a spy or something, or for her to realize it was me and feel I was just spying. I really want to help in any way I can, and that includes helping if they do take the kids, or get her out of there, if they end up at a shelter, whatever, I have decided to be there for her as much as I can without putting my own family on the line.
I am just confused why she laid all of this on me now...she doesn't know me very well but has been saying things like "I don't want to go home" since the first day we met. I could not live with myself if I was her only source of help and i did nothing.
I have been thinking about what to tell my kids. I don't want them to know much, I don't want them to change how they treat these girls at school, but I want them to be aware at least.
My husband does know. he has not met this woman beyond the birthday party, she has not talked to him, so he just knows what I know. I told him I am worried if something goes down this peed off daddy is going to show up at my house. He doesn't seem too worried at this point, but thinks I did the right thing going off what happened this weekend. It's just a hard spot when you sincerely believe soemthing bad is happening to children and a mother, but not know for sure or what it is, etc. This is a hard spot to be in. I am intimidated by the father and the men outside their trailer...so no doubt she is too if there is something going on.
03-12-2012, 12:52 PM
I third the advice about the women's shelter. It would be great to put the woman in contact with a trained professional who is able to help her take control of her life.
Right now, it sounds like you have become her life line and the guy at CPS was probably trying to caution you against allowing her to lean too heavily on you for support. I wouldn't read too much into what he was saying, but please make sure that you are YOUR husband are on the same page about any further actions concerning her and her family. Don't drive yourself crazy, but it might be worthwhile to have a contingency plan for what to do if the father or any of the other guys from the trailer park DO show up on your doorstep. Might even be worth letting your local police department know, just so they have a record of your concern.
It is a gift that you are showing such concern for this woman, but in the end, only SHE has the power to change her life. You can support her and give her the tools, but the will and desire to act must come from inside her.
Hugs and prayers.
03-12-2012, 01:37 PM
I understand the situation is a tough one. But just on the speaking issue- I spoke maybe 20 words to other ppl from 0-13. I could speak perfectly in two languages, but never felt I had anythign to say. I enjoyed my quietness and solitude. I had a lottt of teachers take me aside and give me Iq tests ( i had higher then them lol) and ask me about my family life. They thought my parents might have been up to something too, especially since my parents english is bad and their accents thick and the teachers couldn't understand them, but I was just a quiet kid. I still don't speak a lot unless im either drunk or I know you well. Not saying this is the reason the kids are quiet, but i know a lot of ppl jumped to conclusions about me because I was quiet as a kid. just something to ponder on the speaking issue.
also social services is not something you should inflict on a child without proof. I had 'interviews' with the SS as i call them as a kid cause of my quietness and it just made me trust ppl less and scarred me for life. Imagine you're just a happy little kid coming home from school and there are men in suits waiting for you. Just cause you don't 'fit in'. My family never did fit in with the town ppl. They weren't dirty. But their culture was different. Therefore ppl assume somethings wrong and call SS thinking they are such good ppl when in reality they are traumitizing a quiet kid. just my rant.
also the belly hanging out of the shirt thing sounds like every single uncle i have. they are good men and quiet too. they just have huge guts and dont have the common sense or are too prideful to buy a bigger shirt. lol.
-as for hiding her developement, i got my boobs are 9. my 9th bday present was a Bra. I cried. I hated being a girl. I was 9, what was the good of it? just extra clothes and kids picking at me for wearing a bra. So I hid under hugeeee hugeeee band hoodies and coats. I didn't show my boobs off til I was 20ish.
But after reading everything you've said it sounds like a poor struggling family. No idea whether the fathers actually abusive or just a controlling arsewad but if i lived in a trailer i wouldnt wanna go home either