DCFS – Department of Child and Family Services
I was in a situation about a year and a half ago where I was put in a tough place. I was living in a home where the owner of the home was abusing a very young dependent. The other people living in the house had witnessed the abuse before but were unwilling to report the abuse because of repercussions to them. I had the choice to either ignore the abuse and watch the child continue to be put in dangerous situations, or report the situation and have everyone else feel the backlash in a rash way.
Here is the story with identities removed, though those that were associated with the situation or that know me well know exactly who these people were.
People in this story:
Female Head of Household (abuser)
Mother of child
Child (3 year old male)
(Couple and 14 year old daughter)
Day care teacher
DCFS case worker
Non-important side people
I was told stories about situations that had happened before I had moved in. Stories of yelling at the child for no reason, of changing rules on him, of rewarding bad behavior and punishing good behavior. The list was ridiculous. I knew the other people well and I knew that sometimes things with these people were blown out of proportion… So I tried to tell myself that things weren’t as bad as they said that they were.
I will skip unimportant background for lead up to this.
All of us renters were hanging out in a bedroom watching a movie when we heard the slap echo down the hallway. The male in the couple jumped up about as fast as I was and we were running neck and neck toward the sound. We both saw the FHoH raise her foot to the child, who was sitting on a pillow, and kick him hard enough to send him sliding across the floor. The child screamed, the man yelled, I yelled and reached for the child as the man put himself between her and us.
She claimed that she had not done what we had seen her do. It’s possible that she did not realize that she had done it, but she had left marks on the child.
I was furious.
I tried to give the situation the benefit of the doubt. I contacted the child’s mother and told her that if she cared about her son, that she would get herself in a safer situation (stop doing drugs) and come and be a mother to her child, for his safety. I told her that I was only giving her one chance.
Initially she returned. She woke me up at 3am and asked me what happened. Then she took off with the child. She had taken him with her so that she could still do drugs. When they finally returned, the child was sick, had no shoes, and his socks were soaked.
I was done.
This is not how to raise a 3 year old.
So, I emailed DCFS. I knew that I had no other option and, having been abused as a child, I could not watch another child go through abuse. (In between the time that she took him and the time that he was returned, I had talked to several people that I knew about what was going on. Each of them told me that they would contact DCFS as well. I don’t know how many of them did in the end, but I know that I was not the only one. Some of these people even saw some of the abuse first hand.
DCFS took forever to respond. The first day the caseworker showed up (luckily it was only the renters and I home) she asked about where the child went daily. He happened to be at preschool currently so she was off to visit him there. The renters were not pleased with me initially. I was told off a bit. But I was not going to let them make me feel guilty for what I had done.
A few weeks later the DCFS case worker returned and found the FHoH alone with the child (who had bruising). The child told the woman that it was paint. FHoH somehow found out that I had been the one that turned her in. She screamed at all of us. Initially the Couple tried to take the blame for what had happened, but I couldn’t stand her yelling at the wrong people. So I yelled right at her that she was right all along, I had done it and I would do it again.
She kicked us all out.
I was told later by the other renters that they had been scared. They felt guilty for not reporting it, but one of them had been in the foster system and had, had a very bad experience.
Sadly, the people of the house were able to weave a lie and the child was not removed from the situation. However, eventually the mother was sent to jail and then was put under house arrest and a forced “rehab” (via house arrest at a location separate to where she had been living) the child was in a safer environment.
So, while I cannot guarantee that foster care is the best option for an abused child, or that DCFS will be able to do their job properly. Reporting child abuse is always the best option. If you know or think a child is being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused please contact the Department of Child and Family Services closest to you.
Because of that situation, I am also in a much safer living arrangement and I can focus on me.
I am unable to provide more details about this situation at this time. However if anyone has any questions about anything mentioned here, feel free to visit me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org