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Question
Posted by: anon | 2009-07-27

Sister' s children in abusive home-WHAT DO I DO!PLEASE HELP!

Hi There,

I bumped into my estranged sister' s oldest boy (12) at the mall yesterday shopping with my parents...This boy looked so depressed, pale, thin &  unhealthy so we decided to treat him to a movie...

Half way through the movie, he started whispering to me that he ran away from home &  they never noticed &  he can' t sleep because he sees flashes of things he has seen.(wouldn' t tell me of what but I know what it is), he also asked me if I am being bulied?I am 27 btw, he has also been moved from school to school &  is on his 5th school &  was expelled from his last school for fighting ... His father (the reason I no longer have contact with my sister) told him that " if anyone says anything funny to him, he must hit them until they bleed" . He constantly lost focus when I spoke to him &  he seemed in another world..Very sad.

I am fully aware that my sister &  her husband have a very emotionally &  physically abusive relationship for over 20 years &  am aware that the kids see it. I also know that they struggle financially, as they now have 5 children &  keep on moving schools. I also constantly get calls from Creditors who are looking for them.

A friend of mine, whom attended the movie with us &  is a child therapist, said that he portrays text-book depression &  for a child that age, needs serious attention immediately.

What do I do? If I speak to my sister, she will just slam the phone down on me, if I call child services, they will most likely split the children up &  thats not what I want. I' ve had two of her oldest beg to stay by me due to all the conflict they encounter... Do I have any rights to acquire custody of these children? What avenue should I take to help them? Please please assist. I am worried about their safety.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

He certainly sounds like a very sad and potentially depressed and disturbed child, probably in need of care and perhaps treatment. Its hard to grasp the sale of the problem. Focussing first only on this boy --- he may himself be abused. You say he told you he had run away from home and they hadn't noticed ? Had this happened in the past, or was he as you spoke indeed a runaway, and maybe in need of food and shelter ? And you don't know that the other children are not in a similar state. Discuss the situation with the local child welfare agencies, who will then have a duty to investigate and take action. If you are able to help care for the children in any way, you can let them know that, and ask to at least keep contact with them so they don't feel so abandoned. Child services ought to try not to split the children up, though with a group of 5 that might be difficult. Separating them for a time would be unfortunate, but leaving them with untreated depression and neglect, perhaps abuse or worse, is a much worse option. There could be options ( welfare can inform you ) of your being asked to take custody, perhaps foster the children or some of them. Your instincts are right --- one cannot ignore such warning sins of something so wrong and so sad, with children.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Kay | 2009-07-28

You are doing the right thing. I was also sad when reading your post. Why have 5 kids when you are unable to look after them. Your sisterly relationship might take a fall but right now you cannot care about that. I really respect and admire you for your efforts as I myself would not know what to do. Many parents today dont want to get involved and that is so sad. I know they might have their reasons but still! Good luck! I will pray for you!

Reply to Kay
Posted by: Gracie | 2009-07-27

You should contact Child Welfare without delay .... nothing can be worse for the children than the circumstances they presently find themselves in! I was so sad whilst reading your posting - how can children be made to suffer like this? Sister or not - your obligation is now towards the children since you have knowledge of the alleged abuse going on in their house (I won' t refer to it as a home - a home is where one is felt loved and protected!!) Please don' t leave it - let the Welfare investigate, things might be worse than you realise. You have the opportunity now to make a change in their lives - if it were not for the fact that there are 5 children possibly suffering, I would say leave your sister to sort out her problems, but you cannot turn your back on those children ... the young boy has told you what is going in - how would you feel if something happened to those children? They need to be protected against their parents and anyone else who could be abusing them! Good luck I hope you make the right decision. Calling the welfare may not seem to be the best thing to do, but someone needs to be made aware of what is going on in that family.

Reply to Gracie
Posted by: Lady man | 2009-07-27

I think you are doing the right thing and the way you go about trying to solve the situation. Good luck.

Reply to Lady man
Posted by: anon | 2009-07-27

Hi Doc,

Thank you so much for your speedy reply. Much appreciated.No, he was with my parents this weekend so I gather he had run away on a previous occasion. My parents are financially unable to assist so feel powerless but don' t speak of it either...I know that the boys grandfather from his father' s side has been convicted of child molestation so abuse is likely.

I will try to contact the boy through " mixit"  &  invite him &  his brothers/sisters around for the weekend...During that time I will try to engage them in a conversation about the current situation &  If they would like to stay with me. Thereafter, if necessary, I will contact child welfare..

Reply to anon

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