“I Carefully Chose My Words and Explained to Them that Normally Children are Not Abused, and that It was Wrong, Illegal, and So On”

In reply to the question “To the Nurses/Psychiatrists of Reddit, what is something that a patient has said or done that still haunts you? [Serious]” on AskReddit, Hodaka wrote this:

“Psych lawyer here. Many years ago I started out investigating child abuse/trauma cases for the state.

“I once interviewed two teen sisters in their new foster home shortly after removal from their previous domicile. Documentation indicated they were physically abused on a daily basis. After some small talk, I asked, ‘Well, how do you like it here?’

“‘It’s really nice. All we have to do is clean up after ourselves, like put the plates in the sink, and keep our clothes in order.’ After saying this (and adding a few other minor details), they both stared at me with an intensity that I will never forget.

“One sister started stammering, ‘Like… uh… when is it gonna happen?’ I responded, ‘What do you mean?’ She blurted out, ‘Like… you know…’ I was clueless. The fear was etched into the face of each sister. As the words sputtered out, they […] drew closer to each other to the point where they were almost hugging.

“Call it intuition (or whatever), but I immediately understood that they were simply trying to ask, ‘When will we be hit — or punched, or abused?’ They actually thought that all kids were abused on a daily basis, and they couldn’t understand why it hadn’t yet happened in their new foster home. I carefully chose my words and explained to them that normally children are not abused, and that it was wrong, illegal, and so on.

“Here is the part that I’ll never forget. For roughly the next five minutes, there was the weirdest pause that I have ever encountered in any conversation. They hugged each other, they gasped, they were in shock. I saw more emotions in those five minutes than I have ever seen on any case since. It was like pushing the fast forward button (halfway) on the DVD player, and looking at the faces of people on the TV screen.

“Finally there was a lull. They both looked at me and slowly asked, ‘What’s gonna happen to us now?’ It took a couple of very long minutes to formulate a response.

“Post script: I’ll answer before you can ask. I wanted charges, but they were never brought forth due to the fact that the previous ‘parents,’ who were not bio parents, immediately signed the children over to CPS [Child Protective Services]. Later I tried to bring ‘back door’ charges via housing violations, etc., but the state wouldn’t budge.”

Note by David Bruce: Child Protective Services did some good here by taking the sisters out of an abusive home.

Source: Mazhar-Fakhar_, “To the Nurses/Psychiatrists of Reddit, what is something that a patient has said or done that still haunts you? [Serious].” Reddit. 16 December 2015


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