Friday, July 09, 2010

Keeping Them Safe

One of the girls is acting out again. I don't think she will ever be a completely safe child. She is on meds to curb her libido and they aren't stopping her urges. I know most people think, "How can you keep her there?" or "How can you be sure other children are safe with her there?". The fact is, there is a chance in any family that has children that have survived sexual abuse that you will have some acting out. She is safer in our home because we know. We have taken special precautions to protect the other kids.

Remember when we discovered we had a predator in the house? I believe that was October 2008. Right before we finalized the adoption of the sibling group. I was a mess, at first. I loved this child. I had been completely snowed by her. I feared the rest of my children were in danger and I needed to figure out a way to keep them safe, even if it meant she had to go. The therapists that specialized in sexual abuse felt we cold mange.

We did many things to make our home safe. We moved her to her own room and bathroom. All the children were required to dress and undress in the bathroom only. We turned the video monitors back on with the focus on her. We paid attention to the things that got the kids excited or wound up and stopped those activities. Things like Hide and Seek, any chasing games, playing house is a trigger for one of my kids, personal space is a biggie, no shared blankets ever, no hands under the blankets, and there is always 3 or more kids playing together. Those are the general house rules but the child in question is kept close to an adult or in their room when they can't be watched. They are allowed to play with all the kids, just never alone with any of them. It is important for them to have interaction that is safe and appropriate but monitored.

I think the single biggest help was talking as a family. No secrets. We openly discuss (no details) what is going on with who. We talk about ways to be safe. We talk about how to handle specific situations. We give permission to protect yourself and examples. We talk about feelings towards each other without consequences. We talk about their past and how they are recreating it with each other. We talk about how these behaviors are not normal. We use that word because it does have an impact. Acting out sexually with your siblings is not in any world, normal. We talk about how to show your love in a more appropriate way. We do not freak out when they tell us they have a "tingly feelings". We talk about masturbation being normal and healthy as long as it is alone. We praise them for talking about these things with us and not acting out.

It's been a long time since we have had any incidents. The addition of the new kids has triggered some activity. Being completely honest, I'm not surprised but I am angry. The one acting out has been clear all along that she was struggling. She will now be videoed and recorded at all times that she is not with me. It makes me sad for many reasons but she is not a predator. She is acting out around others and crossing lines. She is manageable.

I believe that almost any child that is not predatory can be managed in a home with certain precautions in place. It isn't easy but can be done safely. I think a parent that educates themselves and their family about this can make this work. I have worked with well over 100 children in a residential setting that were predators and I have seen my own child work through this.

Some worry about the victim living in the same house with the child. Our experience with our sibling group has been amazing. We empowered the other children. We have watched them grow closer in a more appropriate way with a lot of guidance. We have seen real healing that could never have happened if we had given up. We have seen remorse and empathy that was not there just a couple of years ago. I was skeptical, at first. I have spoken to each of my children numerous times about it and I think it would have done more harm for them to lose another family member. They now consider that child the safest one in the house. This child has openly, on her own, begged for their forgiveness and promised to keep them safe. They trust her because she worked very hard in therapy and has kept her promises.


Anonymous said...

Tudu, you do such a great job! And I love that you share this kind of information with us. I know I've learned a lot from you and your kids. I don't know if they realize what an impact their and your honesty has on others, but it's huge. Thank you.

Tudu said...

Thank you. I worry sometimes that I say too much. We agree, as a family, to share most things to help other families. I read them comments you all leave when I think they need to hear them. Most of the time, the kids don't care if I put their name but I decided this time and this subject I should keep them protected. Most of you know who I'm talking about, if you have followed very long.

Carmel said...

Tudu I am in awe of the committment and openness you have with your children. You are such a blessing to them.

I know it is akward to accept praise, especially when you know that you get from the experience just as much,if not more, than the children. But there are very few people who would willing walk the path you have choosen and that alone makes you an amazing mother and person.

Jodi said...

It's very clear to me that you love all of your kids and will put everything on the line to help keep them safe for themselves and each other.

I think I recall the previous posts about the child with the boundary issues, and she has come so far. She truly should be proud of herself and the strides she has made. I'm sure she'll be able to have a normal relationship as an adult because the rest of you stood by her.

robyncalgary said...

these words truly warmed my heart and made me feel so proud (if thats the word im looking for) of your daughter-

"they now consider that child the safest one in the house. this child has openly, on her own, begged for their forgiveness and promised to keep them safe. they trust her because she worked very hard in therapy and has kept her promises"

what a statement of hope and success, though there are stumbles and obstacles, i feel such love and admiration for that sweet girl <3

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Thank you for sharing so honestly about how you manage this issue in your home. We are constantly on guard and overseeing our kids interactions...we too have identified triggers and listen and watch for the subtle signals that let us know we must redirect play or step is exhausting sometimes...but talking openly about is is an important part to the healing process. Thanks.

Kate said...

After following your blog for so long, I think I can take an educated guess on which child struggling now. Your daughter who came out of her past behaviors should be so proud of herself. I remember all the posts regarding the situation and then reading about her now, what a long, long way she's come.
This news is heartbreaking, but if their sister can get through and past her behaviors, the other children struggling can also. Especially with how dedicated and amazing a mother you are. To go above and beyond to keep these children safe is so inspiring.

You are ALL amazing<33333

L said...

As someone who was sexually abused as a child and teenager--and who, as a child went through a period where I acted out towards other children, it strikes me as nothing short of amazing that this precious girl has come to a point in her healing where she realizes that what she did back then was wrong --and WHY she did it, and then had the courage to ask for forgiveness! There are grown adults who harm children who NEVER apologize! To this day, I wait for my perpetrator to apologize to me sincerely. It would make such a huge difference in my life and my healing. But no apologies from him. Please tell your daughter she is amazing and congrats on all her hard work! And also, Tudu, YOU are amazing! Your family is just such an inspiration to me.. Even though I do not have children unfortunately--but reading your blog--your family's struggles and triumphs, helps heal the old hurts within me and for that I thank you! Lori

Integrity Singer said...

You know you're awesome but I'll say it again, 'you're awesome!"

I'm sure your pdoc has told you but with Sissy's latest bout of voices talking to her and some sexual acting out, the pdoc says that sexual ideations are common with psychotic and schizophrenic behaviors. But I'm sure you knew that.