Kankakee, Illinois, USA
March 18
That One
Columnist for Kankakee Daily Journal, Host of The Ron Jackson Coffee & Conversation Show Saturdays on WKAN 1320AM, or wkan.com, justrondering.blogspot.com. Public speaker(Youth, women in unhealthy relationships) Author of " How to Handle Your Man"

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MARCH 5, 2009 9:35AM

Domestic abuse experts, what do I do about this?

Rate: 27 Flag

I have known her since she was 12, bright, ambitious, caring and a Halle Berry in the making. Her only goal was to get a job so she could help her mom get off drugs and they could move out of the homeless shelter.

Our goal(my after school youth program) was to keep her motivated and keep teen age predators away from her. We thought we did ok, except for the occasional hickey.She is now 17, still bright, and looks like Halle Berry wishes she could.

We lost daily contact with her a little less than a year ago when they found a place to call home. At the time, and since age 15, she worked 2-3 jobs while maintaining honor roll grades. Her friends say she is still on pace to graduate but not maintaining her high GPA.

Their home is with a man who is said to be 37 but looks 57. The mom says the man is her daughter’s boyfriend. Oh, besides sleeping with her, he beats her, too. According to the mom, “She(the 17 year-old) just won’t shut up. She thinks she is grown and that sets him off. She knows that we depend upon him, and we ain’t going back to no shelter.”

Before you advise me, I have several, police, legal, judicial and social contacts. However, should anyone intervene, the mom will say the man is her boyfriend and her daughter’s stepdad.

The mom also knows the age of consent law of our state.

How do you stop a mom from pimping her own daughter? Especially when the daughter idolizes her mom.

This is NOT a joke, and it just came to my knowledge yesterday, March 4.

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This one sounds like child abuse. Would they incarcerate the mother and put the child in foster care? Just terrible.
I think Lea has the only outcome within our system. The other option is having a guardian ad litum appointed by the court to help make some decisions about treatment and care.
Lea&OEsheep.. Child abuse has to be substantiated, and the child nor mother will testify or cooperate.

Last thing this child/almost adult wants is to be away from her mother again. In most instances this child is the "parent" or more responsible one.
BBE, it'd be awfully nice if you had something useful to contribute. Is she still in school, or are their teachers she trusts? Or better yet, friends who were on the honor roll with her? As humiliating as it might be, one way or the other, outside people are going to be involved.
Unfortunately, this child is not going to be able to put herself first and kick mom to the curb. I have no wisdom, just rage and sorrow. Rated.
Sounds pretty dismal. Legal rights and human rights are not always the same thing, and this sounds like an example. Hopefully, the "good stuff "she got in the after school program will someday be enough to make her want to get out of this mess. It sure brings out the anger in me when I hear/see things like this.
Nielpaul...She needs to let her mother rot in hell while she persues her own life and hapiness.
I agree, but that will never happen.

We have put out a message to have her return to the Center next week to visit us. Hopefully, we'll have better grasp on whatever if anything we can do.
Saw this type of thing a lot when I worked in adolescent medicine. The parent (if you can call him/her that) knows nothing about how to be a real parent and often truly resents the daughter for his/her own selfish reasons.

The daughter may be beautiful but is only seen as valuable for her outward appearance, since that is where the emphasis is put. Also she didn't receive support and nurturance with regard to her non-physical attributes from those of most import in her life.

So this kid stumbles along with this daddy/lover doing all this crap to her until either she's too old, too drug addicted, saddle with too many kids (Amy T would blame her for that as well), or dead, unless (and this is a big unless), someone she loves and respects shows her another way. A model that she can glom on to and get support and love when she has her little successes.

I used to provide that role for some of my teen patients, and I still hear back from them about how I saved their lives (when actually working with them saved mine). Yet despite the successes, I always focus on the ones that I lost. The ones I could not reach since they would need an absolute parentectomy in order to have even a sliver of a chance.

OK, I've gotten long winded, but I've been a warrior in this battle for a long time. No easy answers except for the fact that she needs a whole new paradigm shift in order to make her way. That's an easy answer but not an easy solution to enact.

Now I need coffee.
In my state, there are different standards for actually charging someone with a crime vs. removing a child from a home for an investigation. Statements made to people by the mother or the daughter might be enough to trigger that. It also would be interesting to determine how she's working 2-3 jobs without violating child labor laws.

At 17, though, she's not the in the group in which most interventions are successful. The best you can hope may be that some of what she learned from you will help her someday.
At 17 she can still be removed from the home whether she cooperates or not. The likelihood of this is dependent upon how active CPS is where you live. We all know that some places don't care. Allowing it to continue could wear her self-esteem down since she has been carrying such a heavy load for so long.

CPS could take her sheets and test them you know. Whether or not they would, that's another question.
By the way, I once shared a room with a 14 year old that was 6 months pregnant when I met her, by her own father. A really nice girl who had been through hell.
Well, this is exactly what my foster daughter's mom did to her, and they were white folks and he was a bank president. She complained when her father raped her at the age of 13, and mom said, "He's not asking you to do anything I don't do, so shut up. He pays the rent."

It's all too common a story.

As for what to do, it doesn't really matter if mom says he's her boyfriend, the police are perfectly familiar with boyfriends who molest teen daughters. It's illegal, and they expect both adults to deny it, because that's what mothers and boyfriends do.

However, there's not much you can do as long as she wants to stay in the situation. For the police to intervene, she has to be willing to tell the truth.

What you do is you talk to her. If it were me, I'd tell her she could come home with me, right now, today, and we'd get help for her mom but not while he's living there. You may not be in a position to do this. Get help from other people.

A lot of folks are talking about "services." Services are not necessarily a good thing and they don't always help. There is a very good reason kids are afraid to get involved with them, and that's because foster homes can be terrifying and abusive and the system can be worse than living at home with a 37 year old boyfriend. If you can, help without going to the police.

Good luck, keep us informed.
Thanks everyone. I have touched base with one of my contacts to test the legal waters in a "hypothetical" way. Also, we put word out for the kid to visit our Center next week.
I would be as much of a friend as you can be. Maybe lunch once a week? phone calls? just be there for her.
Counseling for the daughter, some kind, some way. She needs it. She needs to know that what her mom is doing to her is not right. That parents aren't always right.
This is setting her up to think this is what love is, this is how relationships are, this is how to raise your kids.
I wish I had more for you. I've done some work with parent counseling, some at a safe house for domestic abuse victims.
I wish I had more for you. This child is in danger and needs to removed from the home.
Very sad, but sometimes you just can't save people from themselves.
I do have some experience with this, as a rape/crisis intervention counselor. I'm not sure if this is true from state to state, but here there is such thing as mandated reporting - meaning anything an underage person (18 in many cases) HAS to be reported to Child Protective Services. While we are very upfront about this in our counseling services, we also have a specialist who works privately and confidentially with teens - so the teen doesn't have to tell us and can go straight to private counseling.
Anyway, hotlines and teen services might help this young person begin to articulate what is happening to her.
(Not to get into details about our specific services, but sometimes we simply "discourage" someone from revealing their age, thus sidestepping the mandated reporting - this helps us keep a survivor on the line, and hopefully get them involved in other services. Teenagers will bolt if they think they're going to be betrayed or exposed - for good reason - so our philosophy is to keep them engaged.)
I don't know what your role MANDATES you do, and I'm unclear if you still have direct contact with this victim.
Use all of those resources and do your best, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this and bringing light to this complicated world of teenagers, abuse and DV. Rated, of course.
This is going to sound like a cop out, shitty answer, but keep in mind my job is a bit different than yours. After dealing with my share of at-risk youth and finding myself too often powerless to change their lives outside of school, I take with me these two biblical stories:

1. We are responsible for going after the lost sheep. You sound like one of those shepherd, as am I...and that's a good thing. But if you find this a losing battle because of this girl's self-defeating decisions, remember the second story I take with me.

2. We're told that some people will simply not hear what we have to say. If that's the case, we are to walk away and wipe the dust from our feet. Otherwise, I've learned that we burn out on what we perceive as our failures.

Don't let your well run dry. Good luck
What are the state laws? Some states will prosecute even if the victim changes their mind.

I would say report it anyway. Put them on notice. The likely thing is that authorities will act first and think about it later. It might be enough of a break from mom to help her realize her situation better. It will at least let her know that the law (and not just talk) is on her side.
Good luck with this Rijaxn, the fact that you care enough to post about such things is a start. I trust that you'll find the answer, if there is one.
noahvose and lorimarie. Well. It is very true that one can lead a horse to water, but drinking it is another story. In this case, she's 17 and obviously confused so putting the onus on her alone to make this difficult heart rending decision is simply inviting tragedy. She needs a friend and counselling and help immediately.

Thanks for the post. I feel for you and the girl. Good luck.

Oh, and if you want Dr. Amy's opinion? It's the girl's fault for not leaving. Yeah, sorry, still a little bitter about that post, especially after reading this heart rending tale.
rijaxn- I request you remove my entire rational, thoughtful and informative post from this discussion.
I wish I had something constructive to offer, but I haven't a clue. Sounds like the boyfriend needs to have a visit from cousin Vinny, if you know what I mean.

Thumbed. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out if you can.
Stella...Finding that group is the challenge.
I have those agencies at my disposal.
The prob is the girl(almost an adult) most likely wont cooperate out of fear of losing her mom.

Bill, Cousin Vinny would be the most expedient way to handle his one.