Thursday, February 25, 2010

Something to Get off my Chest II

Yesterday, my day started waking from a dream I would rather not have had. It was and still is considered a “sweet dream” that only succeeded in providing me with a deep longing for what isn’t my reality. I find those dreams much harder to recover from and it takes me a few days to shake off the feelings experienced during that short time frame.

While still attempting to recuperate from said dream, I was needed in court for one of my two cases. It was dismissed from the docket against my recommendations which didn’t upset me as I had asked for an additional 3 months only to allow mom and daughter some transition time in order to get used to a new routine and schedule. I felt mom needed it more than the daughter. But the judge disagreed hence the decision she made, though not lightly.

Outside the courtroom, I approached mom and foster mom, stating they wouldn’t need to see me anymore either. It was an attempt at a pleasant peace out. Foster mom instead used her hand to signal a sweeping motion while she told me to “Go home!” Yeah, if only that’s how easy it was.

I know I’m not in this job to make friends with the parents. In fact, I feel I’m going to make more enemies because I am in their lives due to them being under the court’s watchful eye. This means I report truths, even if they are hurtful. My voice and opinion are geared toward what is in the best interest of the child and that is all.

What bugs me most about foster mom’s reaction is that she lost all objectivity in the case because of her close friendship with the biological mom. I feel she wanted biological mom to get her kid back so bad, she is/was willing to give of herself whatever it took to make that happen.

As a social worker, this bugs the shit out of me.

Just a few short hours later, the other intern and I attended a group supervision then a MDT (Multiple Disciplinary Team) meeting. This is a time when detectives, SWs, CPS, DSS, RNs, MDs and LCSWs get together to discuss certain cases that might be tricky. Most often these are sexual abuse/assault cases, often with small children but some teenagers. A significant majority are young girls. In this particular meeting we got to briefly here the stories that brought 5 young girls, all younger than 7, to the attention of the police detectives. I wish I could say it was “simple abuse”, but it wasn’t. The good thing is these girls are young enough that with proper therapy they’ll be able to move passed this incident without it interfering with their social development.

However, sometimes we get those moms who believe the boyfriend/husband over the child. And those piss me off. At the same time, one has to understand there is a whole dynamic attached to this seemingly simple problem. Most of us think we would ditch the guy, yes? It’s not that easy especially when mom’s are dependent on their boyfriends/husbands almost exclusively. There is an entire family system that needs work much like that of families experiencing domestic violence.

If mom fails to provide a safe place for the child, CPS can remove the child from the home.

This posits a nice segue into the case we re-reviewed after the MDT meeting. I can’t say anything about it because it’s high profile and high risk. But when you have 3 children who did not ask for their parents during the first 1.5 months in foster care than 2 of them cried when they found out they were being returned home, it breaks your heart. Even more so, it rips your heart in two knowing the justice system failed them so miserably.

Something I learned from this though is DSS stays on for an additional 6 months after cases have been dismissed from the docket. This is to put family stabilization services into place in order to help the children and parents adjust to being together again.

And CPS can still investigate the family, keeping the case open as long as possible.

There are times that, as a single mom, I really don’t understand the concept behind any sort of abuse. I do recognize how easy it is to lose control of your temper at one point. However, purposely antagonizing your own children because you feel like it makes me physically ill.

So then I got to pick up Peanut and go back into life like everything was fine.

I had 2 pieces of yellow cake with chocolate frosting for dinner.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Something to Get off my Chest

Weeks ago I read the series from The Sexist on groping. They talked about why men grope, women's reactions to being groped and so on. They did a thorough job covering a topic where men seem to think they have indeterminable rights to a woman's body, that our bodies are without boundaries, seen or unseen.

I have been dating a guy-type ( J*) for almost a year now. J* likes to pretend the world is a happy place and nothing bad happens. He also has a daughter who is going to be 10 very soon. I've often mentioned he should talk to her about the birds and the bees, but most importantly, enforce the notion that her body belongs to her and no one else.

As J* and I started getting serious, and my conscious self began to comprehend I could one day be partially responsible for his daughter's well-being, all the times I have been touched by strange boys/men began to resurface. Call it PTSD or whatever diagnosis you want, realizing her life experiences with the opposite have a 50/50 chance of being similar to mine brought on a sense of urgency.

Because J* is male and hasn't had the pleasure of experiencing intense vulnerability with a dose of feeling out of control over his own body, he doesn't understand why I push him to talk to his daughter about her body. I could do it, and I've offered, yet ultimately it would mean so much more coming from him as he represents the gender who might very well become the offender.

So I started sharing stories of my experiences with him.

I told him of the time I was about 11 or 12 years old and playing in this large area of dirt and trails (eventually condo's were built and the dirt was taken away). This area was only a few blocks from my house. On that particular day, me, my sister and our friend rode our bikes so we could travel faster and get the rush from going up and down the "hills". At some point we stopped and 3 boys joined us for whatever reason. We chatted, they bragged, then one of them got off his bike and walked around our group, grabbing my ass in the process. He and his friends chuckled, his friends high-fiving him when he returned to his original spot. What happened next I'm not sure, because all I remember is feeling very afraid. I got on my bike and hauled ass home, the boy who grabbed my ass hot on my tail. As my house came into view, I remember feeling relief when I saw my dad was outside. I rode into my driveway and the young pervert rode off to find his friends. To this day I wonder what would have happened if he caught up to me or if my dad hadn't been outside.

Unfortunately, my experiences with groping didn't stop there. Throughout my life beginning at that point I've been poked, prodded, picked on, touched, felt up and then some all because boys' (and eventually men) have believed they have that right to my body. It hasn't happened nearly as much these past handful of years, but it still happens.

Another story I shared with J* was when I was in the 7th grade. We were allowed to hang outside for 30min or so after lunch and since we are kids, many of us partook of this luxury. One of the boys who apparently had taken a liking to me, decided to graze my not-quite-formed breast as he walked passed. I believe it was when he threatened to do it again that I took off running, hiding behind trees and eventually near a group of teachers, hoping that would stop him. It did. I did not move from that spot until it was time to go back inside.

I've tried expressing in words the intense loss of control, and huge vulnerability, having a stranger or friend grope you presents. I think it's much more damaging to one's psyche when someone you know does it because you live in fear that it could happen again.

A few weeks ago, me, J* and the kids were leaving the roller skating rink. J* had my keys in his pocket and I kept asking for them as I wanted them in my hands before we got to the car. He couldn't understand my urgency which is understandable because I realized I was freaking out due to the vulnerability I felt for not having my keys in my hands ready to unlock the doors once I got to the car. Because for a woman, this hesitation could get her raped and even killed.

And then I realized I hate that I have to at-risk myself for a dude's inability to control urges to which I did not contribute.

Yet I still cannot seem to impress upon J* that girls grow up experiencing life in a completely different way because, very simply, we have vagina's. His daughter has a personality that makes her more susceptible to this type of thing happening as she is more introverted and keeps a lot to herself.

So I worry. And worry. And worry some more.

Then today I sat in on a MDT (Multiple Disciplinary Team) meeting where 6 cases were discussed, all of them girls who had been sexually molested or assaulted by their mothers' SO's, 5 of them under the age of 7.

So I worry. And worry. And worry some more.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

What did I miss?

Since mid-December, we've gotten a total of 26" of snow. That's virtually unheard of around here. Thankfully we finally figured out the world doesn't have to come to an end every time it snows so life got to carry on as usual over the weekend. I don't have any pictures to share this time since, eh, it's old news now. We're supposed to get more wintry stuff tomorrow through Wednesday. Yay us.

But in the middle of all this snowmaggedon/snowpocolypse type weather, things like the Superbowl have been happening in warm sunny Miami.

Rep John Murtha died due to complications from his gall bladder surgery.

Lots of feminist-minded people have been taking down the sexist/misogynist/racist/homophobic ads that ran during the Superbowl. So I don't have to.

Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips will be teaching a college class whilst in OK.

NY's Governor Paterson doesn't want to give up the fight.

Did you know Scott Fujita of the new Super Bowl champs is my kind of liberal, use my money for good kinda guy?

And Twitter is an absolutely fabulous way to obsessively wait for Glee episodes to begin in April. I need some happiness to keep me sane.

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