It’s been a while since I last wrote a post and this is because I’ve had much to deal with over the past few months. Saying that, my worries pale into insignificance in relation to what my sister is going through right now.
I’ve debated with myself over and over about writing something so personal and so painful, but having been part of the @familyprotection community for nearly 2-years I feel duty bound to use this experience for a good purpose. Hopefully my families turmoil will serve as a warning to others who have to deal with a situation such as the one that has poisoned my families spirit.
Over a year ago my 3 year old niece made a comment to her mum(my sister) that shook the whole family and began a process that has changed our lives forever. It was whilst my sister was lying in bed with her daughter, reading bedtime stories, that this infant child disclosed information for the first time that her father was sexually abusing her. My sister and her child’s father haven’t been together for years and had split up after he was treating her badly during the time she was pregnant with my niece. From the time they broke up to just before these revelations came to the surface things just seemed commonplace. The two parents didn’t really get on with each other but they tried to be amicable for the sake of their only child. Some arguments were worse than others and only once did I ever have to take my “big brother” role and warn the father about his behaviour. Truth be known, I actually got on with my nieces father and sometimes felt sorry for him when it seemed my sister was being over protective. Nowadays I am ashamed to have judged things the way I did and regret not standing by my sister when she first told me about what her daughter had said. The thing is, you just don’t want to believe that someone you’ve known for years could be capable of such heinous acts and I remember actively looking for alternative explanations for why his daughter would say “Daddy dives in my bum”. If I had a time machine I would go back to the moment I was informed and deal with this matter privately. Sadly that isn’t possible and instead our whole family is now dealing with the reality that comes from doing things “properly”, the way you’re told you should deal with situations like this. I remember having reservations about my sister contacting the police about what her daughter said, solely because I knew this would have to involve Social Services. Through my time reading and writing posts in the @familyprotection #, I knew that Children’s services were corrupt. That being said, this seemed a very straightforward case and I kept my concerns to myself. At first things did happen in the way you’d hope they would. The police took away the father for questioning and Social Services seemed to be supporting my sister. But then everything changed once the police failed to find any conclusive evidence against the father...
Once the police had stepped away, it seemed that the disclosures made by my young niece were instantly dismissed. By this point there had been several disclosures, as the young child gained confidence in confiding in her loving mum. Regardless, this meant nothing to Social Services and with no physical evidence the Father was free to reconvene his pursuit of access through the courts. He wanted overnight stays and equal access and this terrified my sister. She knew her daughter was telling the truth and had not confused her recollections, which is not the case with myself and everyone else on the outskirts. We were still in denial and without a smoking gun we all clung onto the hope that this innocent little girl had not gone through such traumatic events and had somehow got it wrong. By this point though it was already too late and the deadly claws of the SS had sunk too deep to be able to let go. Maybe they felt foolish for supporting my sister’s claims and when the police couldn’t confirm things they had justify their expenses and somehow balance the books.
As a family we all supported my sister and although we couldn’t get the father out of the picture we began to become even more involved in proceeding. This is when we noticed that attitudes were changing towards my sister and reports weren’t being written correctly. The social workers played down all of the accusations made by my niece, changing her words to make for a less distressing account of events. This all led to the father being granted “in the community” access to his daughter and due to the diluted evidence the judge was given I can’t really blame him. One person who is much to blame is the CAFCASS officer who was appointed to be the child’s voice. My sister had made an official complaint about this person for not documenting events truthfully and since that moment she found herself another enemy, whilst the father found himself an unexpected ally. The CAFCASS officer was all in support of the Father being given this community access and certainly swayed the judges decision. My sister was now powerless to stop the inevitable and it wasn’t long before the police were knocking on the Father’s front door...
On his first contact, he decided to take his daughter swimming and it soon became apparent that this privilege should never have been allowed. A week or so after this event my poor niece had blood coming from her bottom and my sister rushed her to the GP’s surgery for an examination. Cut a long story short, it was confirmed that her child had been sexually abused. Immediately the Father was taken away by Police and his access to his daughter removed until the police investigation concluded. At this point everyone’s doubts of abuse were obliterated and as a family we came together like we should have done in the first place. It was a weight off our shoulders because this surely meant that the danger had been contained and anyone with an ounce of common sense would put 2 & 2 together. With the earlier disclosures made by my niece and now with the medical evidence coming so close to when the Father has been reintroduced it seemed very straight forward, an open an shut case or so you’d think...
Yet again, the police claimed they couldn’t find enough evidence to arrest and yet again the Father was set free. To say we were all devastated was an understatement and I remember saying to my sister that even if the courts were crazy enough to grant him access I would personally send him packing if he came near my sister’s house. While my niece had gone through Hell, we knew that whilst she was with her mum she was protected. This seemed obvious to all, which is why it felt like a dagger to the heart when we attended the family courts shortly after and heard the judge blast the child services for allowing a child to be placed in such a perilous environment. To the judge the facts were plain and simple. Here was a child that had been abused and here were two parents blaming each other for that abuse. With the police washing their own hands of responsibility, the judge said he had no choice but to demand the child be placed into an ICO(interim care order). At first the social workers refused to agree to the judges decision. They had spent much time monitoring my sister as a mother and to this point had never raised any issues with her parenting. I think they were as surprised as anyone else about the judge’s decision, but their initial stance to this held no authority. I still remember the phone call my sister made to me, informing me that her daughter was about to be taken away from her. She was very upset but also in shock. She held it together incredibly well and had the sense to name me as the person she wanted her daughter to stay with. Obviously I didn’t refuse but my willingness stood for nothing due to the ineptness of the SS. As it turned out, this unforeseen decision posed a very serious problem...nobody had been risk assessed...well almost nobody.
As it turned out, at one of the Fathers contacts with his daughter he had brought along his alcoholic mum to the contact centre. Apparently at this contact his mother was assessed and this made her the only person able to be named as my niece’ carer. We have since found out that this assessment was neither adequate or official, but it was convenient enough to get the SS off the hook and not make them look completely stupid in front of the fuming judge.
This event happened in November 2019 and this meant that our family has just gone through its saddest Christmas and new year ever known to us. Just to clarify things from our point of view, we are certain who has been abusing our little angel and now we have to deal with the fact that this young girl is now living with the person closest to the perpetrator. The father and his mother are too close for comfort and he has always visited his mother daily. With this ICO in place the paternal grandmother can no longer see her beloved son outside of his contact times, which are 1.5hr for 2 days a week...you really think they are going to stick to that arrangement?? My sister has it quite bad because she was granted the same amount of access, which had to be supervised by the mother of the person she accused of abuse(I’ll let you guess how good that atmosphere was). Not surprisingly, these initial contacts were terrible and this “responsible adult” was abusive, divisive and obstructive. On top of that I was so worried that the father would be going round outside of his contact hours that I decided to camp outside his mothers house on the first day. This decision earned myself a restriction order from the court and I’m no longer allowed to enter the road where she lives. This restriction turned out to be meaningless, as the contacts got so bad between my sister and the carer that they now take place at a mutual venue. This is better for my sister and much safer for her daughter because they aren’t supervised by someone in denial of her sons crimes.
The biggest loser in all of this is my sweet little niece who has just spent a Christmas and 4th Birthday without seeing her Mum, nor the relatives she was used to seeing every day. She now spend all her time with a grandmother she barely knew. The first few days were full of tearful phone calls, one of which was 6 minutes of hysterical crying down the phone. Since then the carer has demanded the phone calls be stopped due to how upset it makes the child(she fails to realise the situation itself is what is traumatising her own granddaughter).
As you can imagine, my family has been devastated by this turn of events and we just prayed that the decision would be reversed as soon as possible...Because even the Social workers disagreed with the judges decision...or at least they used to...
If things weren’t as bad as they can get, it was now time for the SS to kick my sister while she is down. The SS have now decided that the judges decision was correct and the child should in fact be removed from her abusive parents(plural). Now while they and everyone else knows the police aren’t willing to convict they still have to justify removing a child from both parents. One parent they can say is probably a danger due to being a sexual pervert but the other parent(my sister) needs to be kept away for emotionally abusing her daughter... Apparently, according to SS, telling your own daughter that you miss her is classed as emotional abuse...having your daughter examined or even requesting an examination is also emotional abuse, according to the SS... In fact, it seems anything my sister does is now judged as being abusive.
As a family we dread what’s to come next but we live in hope somebody will see sense. We are currently trying to get our local MP involved. We have made official complaints to the highest link in the SS chain, but that came to no avail. According to the director of SS, all is above board and there is nothing to see here. Due to the Father throwing accusations at my family to deflect his own guilt, it means I am not eligible to be considered as a carer for my niece until I’m ruled out of the “pool of perpetrators”.
This is an awful situation and one totally void of justice and common sense. What guts us all the most is the fact that all this has come from my sister trying to protect her daughter. She reported a crime and now she is being treated like a criminal. As I said at the start of this post, if I had a time machine I would have dealt with this very differently. Unfortunately for my family and I, that is not an option anymore. Nevertheless, I can warn anyone else who faces a similar situation what can be the pitfalls of what seems to be “the right thing to do”...
I’ll end this post by sharing a link to a very useful group on Facebook who give advice to people fighting against the Family courts. It’s both shocking and sad to read just how many people are going through the same ordeal as my own family.
Please support @familyprotection as the problems they fight against are all too real and far too common.