How I coped when my daughter was removed from our home
When my daughter was removed from me due to CSE I didn’t feel as if I had any control over the situation. My daughter made a disclosure to the social worker about what was happening and the response was to move my daughter out of the area for her own safety.
I was told that it was a temporary measure by social care. I was told by the solicitor to go along with what was being said.
I felt as if I had no control over what was happening and no idea about what the longer-term plans are.
My daughter has never been returned to my home and many years later I am being told that social care will keep responsibility for her until she is 18 years.
I can’t tell you how hard this is. I want to share with you what I’ve learnt so that maybe it can help you and maybe you can do things differently.
Push for communication with the social worker
I know that social care can be blaming towards parents and that you are likely to have numerous social workers, but you need to push to keep communication open. I felt very powerless and as if all the control had been taking from me. It’s important to sit down with the social worker and hear what they think is needed. It’s important to push for timelines and the next steps and when the current situation is going to be reviewed and find a way to get this written down.
It’s important to ask questions and request more information about child sexual exploitation early on.
My daughter was placed in local authority care out of area and I keep asking what are you doing to support her in dealing with what’s happened. I have researched about therapeutic units and keep pushing for my daughter to get the kind of therapy she needs. I would suggest that parents push for therapeutic units if their children are being removed from their care. My daughter has become vulnerable because of what happened. She controls her eating because it’s the only thing in her life she has control over. It’s important to get social workers to understand that a child affected by CSE needs to have some sense of control.
When my daughter was first placed in care, the unit treated me as if I posed the threat. I had to speak English to my daughter (which isn’t what my child and I speak at home) and the staff at the children’s home listened in. These are the kinds of things you can challenge social care about and highlight through the solicitor to the judge.
To parents I’d say try and keep as much parental responsibility as possible, rather than letting social care take it.
Direct your solicitor
I just went along with what my solicitor said and he said to go along with social care. I’d tell parents to think about what it is you want and work with your solicitor to communicate that in court, whilst showing that you are willing to work with social care. I am currently looking to challenge social care’s decision to keep care of my child until she’s 18 years.
Stay in contact with your child
When your child is removed it can be so difficult. Your child may be angry at you.
My advice is keep going, keep the contact and keep trying to communicate with them.
I write letters, send jokes, stories, parcels, mandala colouring books, call her daily and I send video diaries of me at home so that she still feels part of it. There can be good days and bad days, but try and hold on. Sometimes she doesn’t want to talk and just stares at the camera if she’s having a bad day- I just talk on those days. Social care thought it was better for my daughter not to have contact with me, but I disagreed and pushed for it. I’d say keep trying to be part of your child’s life.
You can lose friends and family through this. Many of my friends got angry with me and said, ‘why aren’t you doing more?’ I was doing everything I could. People who aren’t in this situation may not understand. I’m more careful having people around me and I am not as sociable as I was before. I don’t have the strength to keep explaining to new people where my daughter is. I just say she’s in a private school. It’s good to find support. I went to Pace’s Parent Network Day and I just cried and cried- it was so good to connect with other parents who shared my experiences and understood. I’d really recommend it to other parents.
My daughter met a peer at school who was being sexually exploited and introduced my daughter to her abusers. I didn’t see the signs- my daughter being out and not telling me where, my daughter returning to our home strangely calm, my daughter being really angry at me. In Australia, parents are supported prior to High School in spotting CSE. We can be researching and looking at good examples across the globe and trying to get good strategies put into place.