From a Parent to Other Parents:
Here are a few tips that I would like to share with parents about our experience that may be helpful in their own situation. (You can read about Tara's experience on this site at Twins Suffer Child Abuse: A Mother Speaks Out.) Some of the information is what we wish we had done previously or have taken into action. Hope it provides some helpful insight for parents:
NANNY CAM: I strongly urge parents who have live-in/live-out caregivers to invest in a nanny cam. This is not undermining the trust of your children's caregiver - this serves as a reassurance that the caregiver behaves the same way in front of you as well as when left alone with your children. You can also use this to compare and validate when asking how their day was, what they did, etc. Remember - your children are most important and should always come first! Don't worry about offending anyone over the sake of your children's personal safety.
EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT CHILD ABUSE! My husband and I were not fully familiar about child abuse. When the signs were there - we did not recognize them or understand what was going on. Education is key to prevention and to stop it sooner than later.
TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCT! Remember, if the situation doesn't feel right - you are probably right. These offenders are masters at manipulating people and calculating their plans. They will say or do anything to avoid getting caught. This can be difficult to determine especially if your children are too young and your caregiver is their primary line of communication. If you feel a different sense when the caregiver is giving you an answer about something in question, keep your eyes wide open and trust your gut instinct. Watch your children's behaviour closely - they will tell you, but in different ways of communication. Education about child abuse is key here!
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! If you have reason to suspect child abuse is happening - contact authorities. Document questionable activities and your child's behaviour/disclosure including dates, times, etc. You may be interviewed by different people and it can be overwhelming to remember all of the details. Your best bet is to take your journal with you (or a computer print hand-out) to the interview. If they question why you have everything "too organized" tell them that you are "overwhelmed with emotion during this process and want to make sure nothing is missed during the discussion. It makes everyone's job easier."
KEEP DOCUMENTING! Remember, the authorities may be experts in their field, but YOU ARE THE EXPERT ABOUT YOUR CHILD(REN) and their best advocate. If the authorities feel there is not enough evidence to continue an investigation - keep documenting your children's disclosures, behaviour changes, etc. including dates, times when possible. We are learning more about this frustrating process and have learned that you almost have to catch the person in the act to appease the investigation. We are keeping a documented journal for the future. Down the road, if our children remember the abuse and wish to press charges at that time we will have this information tool to pass on to them while standing by their side again. Today's efforts will not go in vain. We've filed all their black colored drawings, log book, appointments, disclosures, etc. ***one thing to note: it is advised that you log "spontaneous disclosures" and direct questioning to your children should be avoided.
DEALING WITH ANGER/SADNESS: If I need to cry, I cry in the shower where my children won't hear me. If I need to vent I visit this wonderful & valuable website or talk to a trusted friend. It is so important to maintain a happy and loving environment with your children. They sense a lot more than you may realize - and you do not want them thinking your sadness or anger is their fault.
MOVING FORWARD TO A BETTER SPACE: Moving forward to a happier peace of mind is a good thing. Deal with what you need to deal with and move forward. Remember, the sooner you can move to a more positive space - your children will follow. They are relying on you to be a leader and want to feel safe and secure again soon. Trust me, I know it's very difficult to leave the anger behind - but remember, moving on does not mean you are minimizing the situation or pretending it didn't happen. You will feel stronger and more empowered to handle situations effectively. Your wellness is a product of what you think and feel - keep visualizing where you want you and your children to be, and your thoughts will take you there before you know it.
Note from Darlene: The volume of contributor submissions has now made it impossible for me to comment personally (especially in great detail) on each and every contribution. If I haven't left you a comment or one that is in-depth, please do not take my lack of a personal response as a slight, or as a statement that your story is somehow unworthy of my time. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, could be further from the truth. If there was a way for me to respond to all of you at length, I would.
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