Why All Adults Should Strive To Be Someone A Child Can Trust

I had an eventful weekend. It didn’t start that way. On Friday I wasn’t feeling very good so I stayed home and spent all day alternating between sitting in my desk chair for 20 minutes and laying down for a while. I couldn’t figure out if I was having massive allergy issues or if I was sick. I erred on the side of caution by taking it easy.

On Saturday I was still a little sluggish but better so I guess it was allergies. I decided to stay home again just in case. I was so bored! I tried for a while to plan my new novel but I was unsuccessful. I did manage to cook dinner, clean off my bathroom counter, and  some dusting.

My daughter planned to have a friend, who I’ll call “M,” come over to spend the night. It was her best friend, who is practically a part of the family, so even though I didn’t feel good I didn’t mind.

At some point in the evening my daughter comes into my room alone looking nervous. I need to insert some back story here. M has an awful, controlling boyfriend. This guy made her delete all her social media accounts except Facebook and only allowed her to use it if he had the password. He wouldn’t let her see her friends often and cheated constantly. I was terrified it would get worse.

So back to that night, it took her a while, but eventually my kid started talking. She said M’s boyfriend had hit M, multiple times. For a few moments I couldn’t speak. I’ve been pretty angry many times in my life, I admit to a hot temper. But I’ve never felt anger like I did in that moment.

The first thing I asked was if M knew she was telling me, she did. I asked a few questions but quickly realized I needed to be asking M. I had my daughter go get her. She came in with her head down and sat on the end of my bed facing me. This kid looked like she was prepared to get in trouble! My heart broke.

I asked a lot of questions, like how many times, what else did he do, how long, etc. She was hesitant but once she started answering the floodgates opened. It took every bit of self-control I had in me to not demand we go to her mom and call the cops NOW. The problem was she had already said she didn’t want him to go to jail, she wanted him to get help. I also realized if she was ready to tell her mother she wouldn’t have come to me first.

So I controlled my impulse and gently steered her in the direction I thought she should go. I felt, and still feel guilty about it. I felt like I manipulated her and she’d had enough of that crap.

Anyway, she told stories of how when she tried to leave the guy he would cry and beg or if that didn’t work he would hit her. One day he punched her in the stomach repeatedly and hurt her hand when she tried to block him. I could go on and on at what this little bastard did but it’s getting me all worked up again so I’ll stop. Suffice it to say, he was abusive, in all the ways.

As the conversation continued I was searching for ways to get through to her and finally found the two triggers. First I said, “I bet you haven’t felt like yourself in a long time.” She was shocked and agreed. Then I asked her what she would want to happen if it was my daughter who’d been abused. It was a lightbulb moment. She looked at my daughter, then for the first time met my eyes. “I would want you to go to the cops.”

She agreed going to the police was the right thing to do but was nervous at the idea of facing him in court. I couldn’t advise her. She’s 15, old enough to be questioned in court, but maybe young enough that she can’t be forced. I just told her to tell the police how she felt about it. Did I mention the boyfriend is 18?

Then came the hardest part of all. I had to talk her into telling her mother. She didn’t want to but knew she should. She said she would tell her in the morning. I said “I think you should tell her tonight.”

She balked. I offered to do the talking and she agreed. As guilty as I feel for pushing her to tell her mom, I know in the back of her mind it’s what she wanted. So the three of us got in the car and drove to her house. On the way there she said she felt guilty. I told her it was okay to feel that way as no one can turn off feelings. She seemed relieved to hear it.

It was hard to tell her mother but I imagine it was easier for me than it would have been for M. Obviously the woman was very upset but it went as well as it could have. She said the best thing she could have at one point. When she asked M why she hadn’t come to her, M said she was afraid to tell an adult and she’d only barely told my daughter that night. Her mom said “I understand but it was telling an adult that is going to get you the help you need.” It was another lightbulb moment for M. I wanted to fist pump at the mom!

We went back to my house and on the way I asked M if she felt relieved. She said she did.

I haven’t heard anything yet about what they have done. I know M’s mom planned to go up the school and I hope she went to the police. M didn’t go to school today because she didn’t want to face the boyfriend. I do know he already knows she told her mom about him thanks to her idiotic sister telling him.

The night she told me all this I managed to get her to change her password on Facebook. While she was at my house he logged onto her account, pretended to be her, and asked both my daughters what ‘she’ should do about him.

We talked about ways to avoid this guy and to never be alone in the halls.  I also told her I would be more than happy to drive her to and from school because she normally rides a bike. It’s the only time she’ll be alone.

I’m worried about what’s she’s about to go through but I’m so happy she’s took steps to escape the situation. I’ve always been the ‘understanding’ mom of my daughter’s friend group. So thankfully she trusted me enough to tell me, the poor kid has been so scared and confused for so long.

The rest of the weekend was taken up by writing group stuff and Batman vs. Superman ultimate edition. I am still not feeling great but I was able to get out of the house today to work on planning my novel for Nanowrimo.

I’m a little distracted thinking about M but I plan to do some writing this afternoon. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress.


P.S. Should I feel guilty for thinking about going to M’s mom or the police even if she didn’t agree? When I thought she wouldn’t do it, I was sorely tempted to do it myself.

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17 comments

  1. Wow, that’s a tough call Kristi,

    I’d have to work hard not to go directly to the police because that kid needs a lot more than “help,” but from this remove, I can see why you didn’t.

    Hang tough, so many good kids out there and you’re right to cultivate a culture of trust.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was hard for sure but I knew her mom needed to do it and she did. M will make a formal statement to the police today and get a restraining order. I’m so glad steps are being taken in the right direction. I doubt her ex boyfriend will actually go to jail but hopefully this will scare him enough to stay away and possibly knock some sense into him.

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  2. No one deserves to be punched, hit or told what so say. This girl is young, so is the boy. They both need help, and clearly not from each other. They needed an adult, and you were it.

    So why do you feel guilty? I feel that putting your heart to get trampled upon is a vulnerable, emotional place. Maybe that is what you are experiencing, more than guilt, you have a desire to do the right thing, and a fear of emotional involvement.

    In my sad experience, intervention is a form of love, a justice, but it is messy and it is tough on those who love. Do not hang on to results, do not obsess about past actions, move forward with plans for the next day and know that this part is easier for you, harder for the girl, and she will be confused, resentful, angry and overwhelmed. Let go of worries. Give this situation to authorities and advocate on a no-nonsense, warm, matter of a fact level.

    Be sure to let the mom be the mom. You have your own kid, she’s the one you work for, keep those boundaries. That’s my best advice, my heart goes out to all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Letting her mom be the mom was my top priority but it was so hard. Her mom has done exactly what she should. It took a bit of a nudge but now that the process has started she is all in. I imagine there could come a day where M is resentful, even though she asked for help, but I feel that the results are worth any unpleasant side effects for me or even my daughter. They will work it out. No matter what I’m so proud of M for taking that first step!

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      1. If M wants the same results as you, it will all work out, This is Ms opportunity to re-write her personal narrative.

        So happy that M and her mum are working together. Sounds like a team. I had unhappy hope of that a friend would break similar codependent patterns. Years later, we still are waiting, and hoping. Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow that’s a really tough position you were put in but well done you for stepping up like you did and getting her to tell someone else. She probably feels like a huge weight has been lifted and all those fears she had about not being believed or that no one could help will be gone. Hope you get some more writing done soon and have faith the girls mither will be able to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad too. I was so worried I handled it badly but M is happy with the way it’s working out. Maybe she’ll eventually realize that it wasn’t me or her mom that got her out from under the abuse. SHE did it by taking it to someone who could and would help her. She’s stronger than him!

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  4. You took exactly the right action with regard to M. Had you spoken to her Mom or the Police without her agreement there could well have been a lot of resentment there which would have stopped her trusting adults, cost your daughter MM’s friendship and/or sent M back into the arms of this worm who needs to be prosecuted.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m just glad it worked out the way it did. Also, I’m glad I didn’t freak out and yell and scream about the jerk who did this to her. I definitely learned I really do have a lot of self control!

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  5. Telling the police whether she wanted it or not would be the right thing to do. They know how to handle the situation including getting the mom completely on board, keeping the girl safe, and dealing with the school about the issue. You are a fantastic friend, Kristi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The good news is the mom went to the school and talked to the principal. He called in a police officer and now they are going to make a formal statement. I do believe I would have taken further steps if her mother hadn’t. I would have hated to cause a rift between my daughter and her friend or between me and the other mom, which would have hurt the kids but I’m convinced it would have been for the best. I suspect the mom simply didn’t believe the police would be able to do much. There is so much negative press about the police that it’s easy to forget all the good things they do. I’m relieved they did it despite any doubts.

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  6. I would have done the same, and if she hadn’t wanted her mother told, I would also have felt guilty for doing so… although I think I would have told M that it was happening, so at least she knew she was being borne along by events no longer in her control.

    Regardless, it’s hard to overcome the urge to stay out of other people’s business, even when they need it– good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I was on the verge of telling her I was going to tell her mom but she started wavering, then made the decision. I really believe if she hadn’t wanted her mom to know she wouldn’t have come to me. She just needed to be told it was okay.

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  7. I came to read this because, as a radically unschooling mom, I strive to be an adult kids can trust. One of the guidelines for situations like this is: What would you do if this was an adult friend of yours? Would you encourage her to increase her support network by telling a family member? Would you try to steer her toward getting law enforcement backup?

    If it were my friend, I would. I think you did the best you could for her, and you’re willing to keep on doing that. She came to you and your daughter for a reason. She needed someone older to guide her, because she was lost. I think she’s very likely less so now.

    I have a feeling you’ve helped to change her life in ways that may resonate for the rest of your life.

    I’d like to reblog this; but I wouldn’t want M to be made to feel naked and vulnerable when she’s already had more than enough of that.

    Liked by 1 person

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