Part of a multi-segmented series on Denial
Some names, dates, times, and places have been changed to protect privacy
After court on November 4, 2019 DCYF has done what they normally do with parent(s) in my situation; they start to either expand length of visit time or give you more time with your children in various ways depending on the status of your case. It is a very mixed message and a negative message they send: hear something negative about yourself and be rewarded for it.
Most parents I see enter the system are either strung out on some type of drug, detoxing off one, and/or psychologically and emotionally beaten down so low they would not know kindness if it bit them. This type of dysfunction does not bring much kindness. I was once one of them; however offering them kindness does not hurt. Most parents need to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it; some even need directions. I applaud those parents for asking and taking it when they need it. I did need this at one time; I do not anymore.
I hit my proverbial bottom and have had a lot of mental health help so once my depression cleared [the fog cleared] my feet hit the ground running and I have not looked back. I do need guidance and help yes; however, in other areas I am quite grounded and know what, where, when and how. I do not come running begging and kissing a** in response to myself being ignored; I have a totally different answer to it.
This article touches on a few of the behaviors of emotional abuse. I touch on the ones as they relate to myself in the case with shelter care and dependency with my daughter. The links have more information about other behaviors of emotional and psychological abuse. If you think you might be in a relationship with emotional abuse check the links out or call a local counselor to talk about it.
I have to give DCYF credit for finally stepping up to seeing what I have and am continuing to accomplish; however, the behavior by social workers (SW) is mentally and psychologically abusive. I left abusive relationships’ because I did not want to be treated that way, and am currently having it held over my head by DCYF as part of the problem.
Codependent behavior, and staying out of the domestic violence (DV) cycle is very important to staying mentally and psychologically well for most abuse survivors. Most of the parent(s) that are involved with DCYF are either coming out of a DV situation or have been in one. Why would DCYF think it is acceptable to treat people that way?
Emotional abuse is an attempt to control, in just the same way that physical abuse is an attempt to control another person. The only difference is that the emotional abuser does not use physical hitting, kicking, pinching, grabbing, pushing, or other physical forms of harm. Rather the perpetrator of emotional abuse uses emotion as his/her weapon of choice.
Psychological abuse involves a person’s attempts to frighten, control, or isolate you. It’s in the abuser’s words and actions, as well as their persistence in these behaviors.
Humiliation, negating, and criticizing
These tactics are meant to undermine your self-esteem. The abuse is harsh and unrelenting in matters big and small.
They pick fights, expose your secrets, or make fun of your shortcomings in public.
Everything that you tell DCYF is put into a file that is then put into court documents. Nothing is private anymore in your life. Some social workers twist what is said and turn it into something that it is not.
My daughter’s favorite food is pizza and we get take-out or delivery once or twice a month, depending on if I can afford it. We had had pizza the night before she was removed from our home so that is what she told the investigative supervisor that she ate for dinner. How they are using it? That is all I ever feed her. A few of my very embarrassing medical issues are in court documents. It was humiliating to have to tell them that to begin with, but to be put into court documents for the Assistant General Attorney (AGA), Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), whichever Judge is reading the case that day, and whoever else is involved in the case-it is embarrassing. Especially when it is read in open court and anyone can be there.
You tell them about something that’s important to you and they say it’s nothing. Body language like eye-rolling, smirking, headshaking, and sighing help convey the same message.
In court on Monday, November 4, 2019 I laid it all out there. My emotions, what I had done, why, and what I had done and was doing to fix myself. Their response? The AGA looked at me and sort of snorted with this look of dismissal when she brought up her response to my declaration, to the Judge.
I have had nothing but trouble when it comes to my wishes being respected concerning Lil One and her not going to FF (Placements) church. Lil One told me she was going to the Sunday night church and I emailed the social worker about it.
An exchange happened over the next week about a lot of stuff between quite a few of us; none of which included telling me that she went to church on Otherday nights. SW says that I am to tell Lil One she will not be going to church anymore. We had the discussion already but we would have it again, about Sunday services.
Nobody had informed me she was going to church on Otherday; so why would I think to explain to her she could not go to church on Otherday ? I had no idea what she did on Otherday . Nobody would tell me, including Lil One. They all assumed at this point in the emails I knew because I guess they knew so I did, right? No, I would have said something earlier about it if so. I found out when I saw Lil One on that Thisday and she told me she was going to be singing the next day at church. I was surprised. This is what I received and I am the bad guy:
In my #*^#day 5:32pm email to all parties I wrote, “I have instructed Ms. Placement to leave it to Ms. Younglove to explain to Child why she can no longer go as it is not Ms. Placement’s place to do so.” So, it was Ms. Younglove’s duty to tell Child she would not be attending yesterday and I had hoped that explicitly instructing Ms. Younglove to do so would not be necessary. My optimism was, sadly, misplaced, and Ms. Placement is now having to nurse Child through the emotional fallout, which is unfair to her and Child both.
Social Worker, personal communication, October 17, 2019
Belittling your accomplishments.
Your abuser might tell you that your achievements mean nothing, or they may even claim responsibility for your success.
The AGA has always claimed no change in circumstances in court even when there was. On Monday, November 4, 2019 the Judge’s ruling was partial change in circumstances, the cleaning of the home only. The work I have done on myself meant nothing in the courtroom that day.
Control and shame
Trying to make you feel ashamed of your inadequacies is just another path to power.
Tools of the shame and control game include:
They might close a joint bank account, cancel your doctor’s appointment, or speak with your boss without asking.
In all the court orders change in visits are supposed to be worked out amongst parties; myself and DCYF. I have tried to get them expanded and moved and had either no response or received a “no” until this past week. I have no say in the matter; it is up to DCYF not me. I have to take them before a judge if they do not want to expand visits or move them.
Accusing, blaming, and denial
This behavior comes from an abuser’s insecurities. They want to create a hierarchy in which they’re at the top and you’re at the bottom.
Here are some examples:
Denying something you know is true.
An abuser will deny that an argument or even an agreement took place. This is called gaslighting. It’s meant to make you question your own memory and sanity.
This really did surprise me as DCYF cell phones are logged and anything in them in considered state property and evidence. I heard a social worker tell her client that one day. My lawyer had called and left a message on the SW phone the day after court and I emailed her the next week. When I received this, I choked on the water I was drinking.
I wasn’t aware of any home visit needing to be done so checked to make sure that I hadn’t receive phone messages, texts, or emails concerning such a thing. I also just consulted with my attorney to make certain that I wasn’t remiss in complying with a court order that addressed it.
Social Worker, personal communication, October 9, 2019
I have tried repeatedly to get a referral for an evaluation from the start of this case. I can forward you the emails if you like?
I can also forward you the messages I’ve sent you since I found out your name and contact information. I’ve been emailing you since October 7, 2019.
L. Younglove, personal communication, October 9, 2019
They might say something like, “You owe me this. Look at all I’ve done for you,” in an attempt to get their way.
Her shoes…Lordy Be; I go into it further down. After the visit on October 8, 2019 my inbox was full of confirmations of Mr. Placement had just been spoken too and Lil One would not come to visits in the blinking shoes again. I still did not return the shoes and told them as such. Again, they told me I was told it would not happen again why was I being so difficult? This is not their words but the insinuation was there. It is unfortunate they cannot see their lack of action is the reason I took action. This was what the supervisor sent me after a few email exchanges when I refused to agree to return the shoes. Instead explaining to them the reason I took action was because of their continual lack of action was putting my health in danger of me having a seizure and Lil One seemed to be the only one concerned about my health.
We hear you about your health issues. Ms. SW will contact the visit agency and make sure they are aware that Child cannot wear those shoes. Regardless of where the shoes were obtained from, please return them.
Supervisor, personal communication, October 9, 2019
Goading then blaming.
Abusers know just how to upset you. But once the trouble starts, it’s your fault for creating it.
After the court was over on November 4, 2019 the GAL said in a very good Eeyore imitation that my daughter should not have to clean her room. When did it become neglect or abuse to have a 6-year-old clean up her own floor? It was clean when we went to sleep. It is common for her to wake in the middle of the night and play for about 10 minutes then go back to sleep. It is cleaned when she gets up and life goes on.
Keeping her floor clean and her bedding on her bed was the only thing she ever had to do. She makes forts with her bedding, which she has numerous blankets, all over the house. It is ok, she is a child and enjoys it. The rest I helped her with: dirty laundry out of her room; books on her book shelf; toys, color pencils, and chalk in the toybox not her bed.
Denying their abuse.
When you complain about their attacks, abusers will deny it, seemingly bewildered at the very thought of it.
I asked repeatedly for help with this case, referrals, etc. The shoes *sigh* Lets back track. I have Epilepsy and have not had a seizure in over a decade. I take medication for my seizure disorder and stay away from triggers. Child(ren) like flashing shoes, clothes, and toys. Mine included. All she knows is that I cannot be around it and it will “hurt me.” That is all she needs to know; she is too young to understand the complexities of a seizure disorder and the consequences involved.
October 8, 2019, I get to the visit and Lil One has her flashing shoes on, the ones that can trigger a seizure in me. I have not had many visits since this case started and this was the third visit she had showed up to in those shoes. In the first visit I said something to investigative social worker, in the visit room at the department. I emailed two supervisors after the second time it happened on October 1, 2019 requesting that she be in different shoes on visit days. FF have had plenty of chances to rectify this situation during the first dependency in 2016 and the past year she’s been spending most weekends at their house.
We were all early and I had to use the restroom. I emailed the Shelton Area Administrator (SAA), CC’ing the Social Worker, her supervisor, the other supervisor, the GAL, my lawyer, and my parent advocate:
I left you a voicemail earlier today concerning my case.
I’m emailing you now because I showed up at my visit with my daughter and nothing has been done to address the flashing shoes. She’s in the same shoes she was last week. I am attaching the email that I sent to everyone last time requesting it to be addressed.
L. Younglove, personal communication, October 8, 2019
This is the forwarded email that was sent to both DCYF supervisors and GAL that was attached to the other email:
Child keeps showing up in shoes that flash. Ms. (placement) is aware of the flashes triggering seizures for myself. I also made this known to the department when she showed up for one of the visits at the department.
This happening puts Child in a bad position knowing her shoes can “hurt me”. She told the visit supervisor today it makes her sad. She’s 6 and cannot make these decisions for herself yet. Someone needs to be responsible enough on visit days to do it for her. Obviously, it’s not happening.
L. Younglove, personal communication, October 8, 2019
By the time the visit was over I had decided to send her back in the shoes I had purchased for us to learn to tie shoes in and the flashing shoes were coming with me. I had been more than reasonable with all of them over a long period of time.
Placements response over the past year when the shoes showed up at my home where “I forgot” every time. In the previous dependency my daughter started showing up at visits in similar shoes. Placement was notified about it and requested not to put Lil One in those types of shoes. It continued with the excuses made for her that FM had a lot of children in her household. They were an active foster family at the time and had many foster children in the home so. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I let it slide and the visit supervisors intervened. We always had visits where Lil One could safely remove her shoes, in case she had blinking shoes on.
After the visit was over and the next day the social worker, her supervisor, and placement exchanged 5 or 6 emails about the shoes. DCYF wanted to discuss nothing but the shoes concerning my case:
The return of a pair of shoes the most important thing needing to be addressed in this case, in y’all’s opinion?
Not setting up an inhome visit as myself and my lawyer have requested via court, phone, and email? Or speaking with my counselor to see how I’ve been addressing my issues?
L. Younglove, personal communication, October 8, 2019
Emotional neglect and isolation
Abusers tend to place their own emotional needs ahead of yours.
Many abusers will try to come between you and people who are supportive of you to make you more dependent on them. They do this by:
Shutting down communication.
They’ll ignore your attempts at conversation in person, by text, or by phone.
Most of the emails I have sent DCYF social workers and the GAL have gone unanswered. Phone messages, included. It was not until I sent the email to the Shelton Area Administrator concerning the shoes that I started receiving messages back. And it was about a pair of shoes, for crying out loud.
In the beginning of this shelter care and emailing the investigative social worker repeatedly concerning a referral, her response was that she was not my social worker anymore. When I asked my lawyer if he knew, he was given a tentative name but could not get clarification from the supervisor. It has only been the last two court dates that the social worker I have now has been in court and she barely looked at me and left. I am told she is a nice lady and a helpful social worker; that is not been my experience with her.
When I got the visit tonight Child said we were having Sunday visits at home. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise at this. Visit Supervisor confirmed that you and her had had a conversation that visits could be at the house. Visit Supervisor just texted me that they cannot because you have to have approval. From who?! What?!
My daughter now thinks she’s going to see me on Sunday at home. Please, please tell me what is halting visits at my house? Or expanding them?
I have done everything asked of me, that I could, plus more. I could not afford the eval nor get Initial Social Worker or Supervisors to get a referral going no matter how many times I called or emailed. I’ve been going to counseling and doing nothing but working on myself. Working on myself to figure out what has led to this disaster. I just want to move forward, not backwards or stay stuck in a rut.
L. Younglove, personal communication, October 15, 2019
I never received a response to this nor have I received my in-home visits. When she testified to it in court November 4, 2019 that I was getting them; I told everyone I was not getting the visits at home. Things have started to change; I am told I will have in-home visits now and three visits a week. We will see.
They’ll look away when you’re talking or stare at something else when they speak to you.
During the first dependency with Lil One the initial social worker would look up and away when I talked to her. She was about 3 inches taller than myself. Then she would smile and wave catching someone else’s attention walking off as I am talking to her. She did this constantly. I stopped checking in with her in person and started emailing her. It was just rude and disrespectful behavior and I did not deserve to be treated in this manner.
Keeping you from socializing.
Whenever you have plans to go out, they come up with a distraction or beg you not to go.
I believe I touched on this in an earlier article. During the first dependency they wanted my schedule so they could work everything into it. They did not do that; they fit everything I needed to do to get Lil One back into the slots where I had AA meetings, committees I volunteered on, and service work I did for AA. The committees I volunteered on changed their times around for me, and myself not realizing what DCYF was doing at the time, told them and my schedule changed again. Hindsight is 20/20.
Trying to come between you and your family.
They’ll tell family members that you don’t want to see them or make excuses why you can’t attend family functions.
I have not seen much of Lil One since this has started.
The family that Lil One is placed with at the moment are fundamentalist Christians. I have nothing against that. To each their own. I do not want my child taught that. In the first court hearing, which the FM attended and heard that my rights were to be respected and Lil One was to not go to church with this family. I found out she was going to “night church.” When I asked the investigative SW about it, FM told the DCYF that it was up to them to find a place to put Lil One when they went to church. This one is the one that the GAL calls the book club. I was unaware she was going to the Otherday night service until recently. FM told Lil One it is a song club and that is what Lil One relayed it to me as. The GAL said after court, and in emails, that church is what they do as a family and if Lil One is not included she will feel left out.
Well, she is not their family. She is supposed to be in a visit with me during that time. FM refused to set up visits on that night and the department would not do two visits in one day. Bottom line I was not asked if they could take her to their church initially, I said no to her going to that church before this case started and the judge agreed. Why were we still arguing about this?! This is why.
The department had refused more visits and GAL has shown to be more supportive of her being involved with her FF siblings and friends at the church in Olympia than she is keeping the bond with myself and her friends here at home. I refuse to back down and let her be slowly removed from my life and myself slowly removed from her heart and mind. I will not allow them to replace me, nor disrespect me and walk on me like they did last time. I was a doormat in the first dependency so I could get her home and it cost me: her, again. We are doing it differently this time.
As you know Mr. Placement is a pastor and church is our life.
I was aware of the Sunday morning change however was not told about any other changes.
Child has friends at the Olympia church and looks forward to going and seeing them.
She loves the club that she has attended since she was 3,
is not ok for her to be apartof ?
Sent from my iPhone
Placement, personal communication, October 14, 2019 at 3:18 pm
The courts stated my wishes should be respected and the GAL recommended the visits be during church functions.
Child should never have been going to it in the first place. Visit supervisor are supposed to transport the child to and from the visit. She currently picks up Child from school before a #pm visit on Thisdayat !:30. We tried to get Otherdays but Ms. Placement refused. Child can be transported by the VS from after school. Or Child can stay in after school if another time needs to be set. After school program ends at *pm. A visit can happen on Otherdays . For this case to move forward her schedule will be disrupted on some level.
L. Younglove, personal communication, October 16, 2019 at 4:46 pm
I was not informed in any of this. Child has been going with us to church since she was two. All I was told was that she did not want her joining us on Sunday mornings. And her visit would be then.
Placement, personal communication, October 16, 2019 at 5:28 pm
I pushed to have the visit moved to a different day after this mess was solved and this is what I received:
..I will not entertain switching visit days and times around again.
Social Worker, personal communication, October 17, 2019 at 9:18 AM
They see you hurt or crying and do nothing.
The willingness to break a bond between a mother and a child and insert that child into another family so readily as a permanent member of the family is scary. If I was not doing anything it would be different; but I am. Knowing that for me to bring Lil One home I need their cooperation and they chose to ignore me and blame their lack of action on me when a court date comes around.
I understand their role is to put parents in as much real-life situations as possible to see if the parent can overcome whatever deficiencies they have and still parent their child(ren) safely. Where is that line to be drawn [in DCYF behavior] when a parent is following court orders, advocating for themselves, and doing the right thing and this behavior is still done?
The only person that is going to cooperate with them are victims of abuse; not survivors. Survivors are going to appear combative to them and have more issues in their mind’s eye. I was once told by an ex-cps worker that cps workers will only work with parents that seem willing to do what a social worker wants. If they appear to fight, or disagree with them, in any way they will not help them. When I walked into court that day and read the petition, seeing FM lies I called her out vocally to her and told the GAL that she lied. He told me he believed her.
Since then there has been no cooperation unless I tattle on them to a boss. I will not tolerate their behavior; it is unnecessary to emotionally abuse and devalue a human. Why does DCYF have the right to be allowed to act like this?
Image credits: Featured, be Always Ladies