Hypothetically, a crisis is in motion
My kid has a best friend. This person has been a best friend for a couple of years. My kid spends a lot of time at best friend's house, but best friend is rarely if ever allowed to spend time at our house. Or any else's house, for that matter. It isn't us, it's BF's family, which appears a bit sketchy. Mom is out of the picture for salacious reasons, dad and dad's mom are raising BF. OK, got that so far?
BF has a lot of issues. Self-esteem is at the top of the pile, but there are many others. I happen to like BF, but when I see BF I'm often telling BF motherly advice that seems to be totally missing from BF's life. If BF, for example, is feeling poorly, BF will call me for advice. BF asks for school advice from me sometimes. BF doesn't seem to have any adult advisors to turn to.
Today, my kid was very very upset most of the day. At dinner, my kid was so upset that my kid ran upstairs in tears. This is not a usual occurrence. I sent other kid away, and talked to my kid, and what came out really disturbed me.
BF is being physically abused at home. BF's father hits, evidently a lot. Grandma is unable to help because, hypothetically, he hits her too. It turns out that BF's father is a bit off, not just sketchy, but clearly not mentally healthy. Which kinda makes sense, although my kid has kept most of this information private and has not shared this with me, which is unusual. It just fits in with all the strange information I've heard from my kid over the past couple of years. One week BF is moving cross country, next they aren't. One week BF's dad has a new business, next week, not so much. Crazy mother, crazy father, history of abuse. Adds up to a very sketchy family.
The catalyst for all this is that BF had a 'dinner date' tonight with BF's love interest and love interest's parents. They tried to call BF to solidify plans and BF kept hanging up and saying that it wasn't a good time to talk. BF was crying during each phone call. So love interest went to BF's house to take BF to dinner, and BF's dad was hitting her right in front of love interest. Love interest scuttles off with parents, who do nothing.
Love interest calls my kid in tears, my kid admits that the abuse has been known for some time to love interest, and then love interest talks to his/her parents, who don't know what to do. So they do nothing.
I'm from an abusive family. My father beat the shit out of me as a kid. Often. I know what it did to me. I know how dangerous and dysfunctional it is to grow up in a family like this. Like my father, BF's dad has the "don't tell anyone what goes on inside our house" policy, which, although common, is incredibly damaging. It teaches mistrust.
OK, deep breath here.
I need to think through what I should do with this information. My options are, hypothetically:
- Call police and have them go to house next time there appears to be physical abuse
- Call DSS and report abuse to them anonymously
- Call father and tell him I know what's going on and if it doesn't stop I will involve DSS
- Take BF aside and tell BF to contact me the next time there is abuse so I can call for help
- Talk to Grandma and tell her I know what's going, etc.
- Do nothing, mind my own business, and let my kid suffer with BF
Obviously, all of these options are difficult and will involve some ugliness on our part. First, hypothetically, the only people that know about the hypothetical abuse are my kid, me, love interest, and now love interest's parents. It will be VERY obvious who will report this family if I do it. And I do fear repercussions. This isn't a stable family, and in the time I've 'known' them (I don't know them at all) I've had serious doubts about letting my kid remain involved.
My kid reports that BF wants friends over all the time because Dad is not abusive if other kids are in the house. Thus, my kid has never hypothetically witnessed the physical abuse. Because my kids are not up on hitting, having not experienced that themselves, they aren't great judges of what is and what isn't physical abuse. But because BF is virtually a prisoner in their home, the abuse isn't easily observable by other parents that might be suspicious and looking for it. So I question restricting my kid from BF's house, even though I'd much rather my kid not be involved. But BF needs someone safe to talk to, right?
What I do know is that this is a situation that is untenable for me. Having been that abused kid, I can't just sit back and allow it to happen as the adults in my life did to me. I need to tell someone. I'm going to discuss this with our family therapist this upcoming week, but I'd like some words of wisdom here. What do you think I should do, and what would you do? Stumble It! JBlog Me