We knew our daughter, Marie, had been sexually abused, neglected and physically abused before she came to live with us. She and her sister had been removed from the family due to reported sexual abuse. Her sister disclosed details. Marie insisted nothing happened. Marie was returned to her mother with the admonition that the abuser leave the household. Marie had always steadfastly defended her mother and insisted nothing happened.
The effects of the abuse was clearly evident in Marie’s psychiatric diagnosis. She had post traumatic stress, and would freak out at times and become like a wild animal. She would spit, bite, swear and kick with a wild look in her eyes. She was hospitalized several times for this, and taken to the emergency room countless times. Each time she would have to be restrained by 5 or 6 people. At the emergency room, she would be put in restraints. One particular hospital put her in adult restraints, and she slipped her arms out and punched a doctor in the fact. Then they put her in soft children’s restraints and she ate right through them. It was heart breaking and scary to watch. With psychiatric care and lots of medication, her outbursts have lessened.
Marie had promised her mother she would never let me love her and she would never disclose what went on in the family. It took her three years with us before she would let me touch her, and she called me by my first name not “mom”. (She had promised her mother she wouldn’t.) The only time we ever had any physical contact was when she would curl up in a ball in my lap in the rocking chair and I would rub her back. She loved this activity, and even though she is 13, we still do it every day. About a year ago, through family counseling, Marie said that she loved me not her birth mother. We explained it wasn’t an “all or nothing” thing…that she could miss and love her birth mother and love me also. She seemed to be relieved that we weren’t asking her to “trash” her mom or not care for her.
One day two weeks ago, Marie and I were sitting in the rocking chair watching tv. I’d taken the day off work because it was the end of the summer and there was no one to watch her during the day. We were “bonding”. She turns to me and says (in American Sign Language because she is deaf,) “I hate my birth mother. I love you.” I said my typical response. “You don’t have to hate her, you can still love her and love me also.” “No”, she signed, “I hate her. She let her boyfriend have sex with me for money and she didn’t stop it.” We talked about the details, which I will not disclose in this blog. But she definitely had had sex at the age of 6. She detailed her embarrassment, her shame, the pain and her anger. She indicated she wanted the man to go to jail and her birth mom to go to jail because she let it happen. She was adamant. I was calm on the outside and mortified on the inside. On one hand, to bring this up now might be more traumatizing, on the other hand, she’s been traumatized for so long that it might be a relief. Then she said the one thing that convinced me it was right to report it, “I don’t want him to hurt other girls like he hurt me.”
Marie e-mailed her “old” worker from the Department of Children Youth and Families. She was blunt. It said “man had sex with me. Mom knew. Want man and mom in jail.” We have never heard back from the worker.
I called the police station and reported to a police officer that we wanted to report sexual abuse, but we needed a sign language interpreter. He told me to talk to his boss, and the call was transferred. I talked to the desk sergeant, and he told me to call back on Monday and talk to the desk sergeant because he would know how to make arrangements for this. I called back on Monday and told my story. He indicated they would not provide an interpreter until I first filed a claim. I said I couldn’t file the claim because I wouldn’t want it to look like I was putting words in her mouth. I said they needed to get an interpreter. He was adamant I file a report first. I called the Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing and left a message. I did not hear back from them. I then e-mailed an interpreter we had used on several occasions, a wonderful woman who had spent much time interpreting for Marie when she was hospitalized. She reported to me that I had to have an interpreter certified for legal matters, otherwise it could be contested in court. There were 2 in our state and one was female. I called the Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing again and left a more detailed message. I have still not heard back from them and it has been almost 2 weeks!
I made an appointment with my daughter’s primary care physician, a wonderful guy who worked in the community free clinic. (He had delivered Marie and had been her pediatrician before she came to live with us. I took her back to him and was amazed at his compassion for others.) I had arranged an interpreter through Marie’s medical insurance which has always been great about providing interpreters. We explained to the doctor why we were there, and he delicately did an exam on Marie. He told her she had not been permanently damaged and took blood and urine tests for STDs. (Who would have thought??) He said he would check on the legal ramifications of reporting something 7 years after the fact. In Marie’s favor was the fact that the police knew who the gentleman was and he had been arrested and convicted in the abuse of her sister.
A week later and still no word from anyone. Every morning Marie would wake up and come and ask me “Is today the day we go to the police and the man is arrested?” and I had to keep telling her that I was “working on it”. We went back to the doctor and he indicated all of her tests came back negative, (thank God!) He asked me if I had made any progress on reporting it and I said no. He had done research and gave me the name of a program that helps children who have been sexually abused. They provide an advocate and a lawyer, and everything they do will stand up in court. I called them on Thursday. The woman who coordinates the program is on vacation so it will have to wait until another week or so. I am very frustrated at the roadblocks and the wait, but we WILL persevere and report the abuse. I will do everything I can to have the man who repeatedly raped my little girl go to jail.
Marie has been strangely content with herself. I think she had held it in for all these years and it has been a big relief to get it out. She does not seem traumatized. She seems angry at her birth mom and her boyfriend. She and I are in for a real adventure with the legal system, an adventure that I, as a parent, wish I never would have to take. Six years old…can you believe it??? I know I am naïve, but it is amazing to me that there are people out there who could be so cruel to a sweet six year old girl!