“The system…”

People say “the system” is flawed when they talk about social services.  They say that social workers ignore abuse because they are sloppy, and lazy and don’t want to make an effort to do something about it.  They ask the question, why report child abuse when nothing is going to be done about it anyway?

In recent days, I have come to understand that, yes the system is flawed.  No, abuse is usually not found in initial investigations.  Yes, it is frustrating when you know abuse is occuring, and nothing is done about it.  But I have also learned that “the system” is only as good as the citizens of its community, and without solid reports of abuse that can be substantiated, social workers are often “working blind.”

Survivors of abuse know that abusive parents are very good at hiding abuse.  We also know that abusers can stop abusive behaviors for 10 days (which is the length of an investigation),  if they know they are being watched.  Abuse is often not witnessed by social services for this very reason.  People often turn their backs on social services when their initial referral does not result in the immediate removal of children from abusive homes.  They do not take into consideration that the family may have been very compliant with the demands of social services, or very good at hiding the abuse.

One thing most people do not realize is that abusers will get sloppy ~ they will do something that cannot be hidden at some point.  Yet, if there is no one to report it, social services cannot make an attempt to document it.  The more reports that are made, and the more contact social services makes with a family, the more likely they are to catch abuse and the parents will be held responsible for their actions.

I am sick of hearing, “they won’t do anything.”  Failure to report abuse is neglect.  It is willfully turning your back on a child in need and creating an environment where abuse is tolerated.  I think that we can either sit back and complain about “the system” and leave them to do the best they can with the small amount of information they can collect through family observation ~ or we can be their eyes and ears and watch for visible signs of abuse and neglect, make reports, and help them out by ensuring that they have enough information to make a case and protect the children who are being hurt.

I believe…

Each and every day I choose to believe.  It is what keeps me going – it is my salvation.  Believing brings me hope and helps me to breathe again.  What I believe is not as important as the fact that I do.  Without belief – there is no hope, without hope – there is no joy, without joy – there is no life.

There was a very dark time in my life when I did not believe.  All hope was lost, and darkness closed in on every side.  I was drowning, and my lungs were burning for air. I was lost and I could not find my way out.  All I wanted to do was sit down in a corner somewhere and die.  That is all I could think to do.  It was the only thing that could end the emptiness that I felt inside.

Fortunately, I soon learned that we have a choice – live or die, lay down or fight.  Each and every day, we have the ability to make a difference – not only in our lives, but in the lives of others.  We can be the bringers of hope.  We can restore life.  In fighting the darkness in ourselves, we create light – a light that we can share.

For those who feel lonely – I cannot make your problems go away, but I can promise you that if you choose to believe, dare to hope, and stand in defiance against the darkness, life will find you, and you will never wish to let go again.

Apologies…

One week, and all is quite.  My father has not replied to my e-mail, which means he is either angry, did not receive it, or he refused to read beyond the first line.  There was a time, when no response would have left me waiting on pins and needles, wondering if I was a terrible child and if I would ever be able to fix the damage I had caused.  However, that no longer is a concern for me – I am confident that I am a good daughter, and I know that it is not my place to fix the broken mess that my family has become.

Earlier today, I told my mother about the e-mails, and my response.  She has always been very careful not to speak negatively about my father, and she was very reserved when I told her what I said.  However, she did agree that it was good that I had the chance to tell him how I feel – without having him interrupt me, tell me how wrong my feelings are, or just completely ignore what I think.

Ahhhh…..sweet peace.  How nice it is to know that, no matter what he thinks or feels about my response, he finally knows that I have concrete reasons for not wanting to communicate with him.

A note to my father…

Ok, I don’t have a copy of my letter to my father, but here is the basic jist of what I said (please forgive me if it doesn’t completely make sense because it is very late….):

I really don’t know what to say except that I appreciate your apology.  I know that sounds harsh, but I never thought I would hear those words from you.

When grandmother died, what happened with you and my brother at her funeral really upset me.  It was like watching every hateful moment you had ever had toward mom all over again, except it was through my brother this time.  At that time, I decided that the three of us needed to sit down and talk things out.

Then, at Christmas, when you “jokingly” threatened to whip me, at the age of 26,  for not wanting to be in a picture with my brother and his new family, I realized that things would never change.  I could not believe that you would  threaten me, joking or otherwise, with something that had hurt me so deeply as a child.  It was then that I understood that, if I was ever to save myself, I had to walk away.

I know it hurts you to hear this, but I have been hurt by you many times too. 

There are many things that you do not know, because I knew I could not trust how you would react.  Because of your idea of love, you spent all your time trying to “fix” me instead of trying to figure out what was actually causing me to be broken.

Seething…

Ok, the more I think about all of this, the angrier I become.  When my father sent that message, he was expecting me to just say, “Oh, ok.  I understand now that abuse is love, and it’s ok because you were trying to keep me from being f***ed up when I got older.”  Well, maybe those were not the exact words he was looking for, but he was going for that general effect.

What I can’t believe is that, somewhere in his messed up world, he actually believes that leaving bruises, embarrassing me in front of my peers, telling me I was not loved, and constantly berating me would cause me to become a healthy, well-adjusted, successful adult.  He actually wants me to believe that he is the victim of unjustified anger, and that I have treated him terribly for things that I misunderstood!!!!!!

To top it all off, his son has followed in his footsteps and is now treating his two children the same way, and it’s ok.  Grrrrrrr.  There is a war coming.  It is seething inside of me, and this time, it will not be halted once it has begun..

Apologies from my father…

This morning I received the following e-mails from my father:

Hi {term of endearment}! I’ts been quite a few years since you’ve been to our house so we were wondering what we’ve done that is so bad you don’t want to see us. As you get older you can look back and see lots of things that you could have done differently. We see many thing that we should have done another way, but we can only say we’re sorry for those things and move on. We love you very much and nothing can ever change that. {We} are sorry for anything that we’ve done that may have caused you any sorrow. I as a child, thought my parents hated me, but realize now that what I thought was hate was love and concern for my wellbeing and safety in the future. We ask forgiveness for those thing we did that you thought were wrong and want you to know how much we love you.

********************************************************

Hi {term of endearment}. {We} were thinking of you and we thought we would just send you a few lines.
It’s has been so long since you’ve been to the house we were wondering what we’ve said or done that has caused you not to want to have a desire to come see us.
I know we did a lot of things wrong when we were raising you. You only have one chance to raise your children. It’s after their grown and left home that we see our mistakes. Hope you can forgive us for our mistakes. We love you and always have and will. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

WoW!!!  Talk about a slap in the face to jolt you from your safe little world!! 

Apparently he got my e-mail address off of one of the headers from an e-mail my sister-in-law sent, and decided that he should just send a blanket apology to fix it all.

This is the first apology I have ever heard from him, and it did break a major barrier because it gave me the opportunity to tell him how I feel without him telling me how wrong I am for feeling that way.

Yet I can’t help but feel a tinge of the very old and familiar “It’s you, not me” in the line that says, “We ask forgiveness for those thing we did that you thought were wrong…”

I did respond to his e-mail and tell him exactly how I feel and why I have not been around.  It was nice to get it off of my chest, and although I do not feel it will change anything – I believe it will help me move forward.

Unfortunately, my e-mail did not save my response – so I cannot let you read what I said.  I will try, however, to recreate it later, if he does not reply with a copy of it.

Love & Hugs,
Kylee

I fear…

In the past few years, I have made great strides in coming to terms with my experiences as a child, and the effects that they have left behind.  Over time, I have come to understand that many of the things that I believed to be true about myself were incorrect because my perception had been marred by the beliefs of my abusers.  I have become someone who is comfortable in her own skin, and who believes that she is worthy and worthwhile.

And yet, there are still moments (like today, when I was watching Ice Princess) that I fear so many things about the person I am, and who I am to become.

What do I fear?  I fear…

That I will never be good enough
That I will never be anything more than mundane
That I will never make a difference
That I will never be unique
That I can never aspire to accomplish my hopes & dreams
That I will always be inadequate

Those are the things I fear.  I know that my fears are irrational – that they are a by-product of my childhood.  I have been conditioned to believe that failure is inevitable.  I have been taught that it is shameful to fail.  That is why I will not reach for anything that I am not positive I can accomplish – for I will surely fall and it will break me. I was broken for the first twenty years of my life, and I just don’t think I could stand to be broken once again…

And then I go on with daily life.  I suck it up, forget that I am afraid, and return to the struggle of maintaining a life that is safe and secure.