A Grandmothers story

My beautiful 2yr old granddaughter followed me into the kitchen, stood by the fridge, pulled her leggings and pants down, arched her back. She pointed up between her legs, and said, “daddy hurt here”.

This was the start of a terrible journey of deep distress, shock disbelief in the child protection team, law, social services life and us.

Fear was always with us — and still remains.

Fear is a terrible power for fundamental change in children and adults. It creates bullies and victims. It is fundamental, we learn to manage fear. To use fear as a positive challenge for change—not to become a victim as I did—to my ongoing remorse. To be effective in stopping child abuse, be it physical, psychological, or sexual—we must manage our fear. Use it for positive change to allow all our children to grow into psychologically healthy adults. The burdens of hatred, blame and impotence are too heavy to carry and stop us being effective.

There were many signs along the way. My granddaughter was only a few weeks old when she could not be comforted by a cuddle. There were the distressed screams and real fighting when you tried to change her nappy. The terrible night terrors – the list is endless.

Her father appeared ‘so good’ with her- a new man as we thought. Wanting to feed her and to change her nappy in the night-always downstairs. Having a bath with her. Encouraging my daughter to full time work (while I was many miles away, nursing my sick then dying mother). Also during that time moving to another area, away from where I lived and where my daughter knew no one.

I had only been in the area myself, two months before my granddaughter was born. My dream house-thatched cottage with inglenook fireplace- bought for a song from a builder. Who, we later learned, from local children visited our garden that first summer and ‘entertained’ children in the cottage! The cottage was about five minutes walk from where my daughter was living. When I returned following my mother’s death, they were more than five miles away. I was also many miles away from friends and colleagues who knew and trusted me-who could advise and vouch for my integrity. My daughter had lost confidence in herself and seemed afraid. She was leaving my granddaughter’s father-she only found the ‘courage’ because there was an equally similar man waiting in the wings…Perhaps he and my granddaughter’s father knew each other, part of the ring. He got her down at her lowest point. It is clear looking back in time, that from my granddaughter’s birth he no longer wanted or needed my daughter. Subtle psychological abuse was the tactic. It was as though everything had been very carefully planned- not just by him as his range of intelligence is too limited. My daughter, granddaughter and dog moved in with me. We were reeling from my granddaughter’s disclosure plus many more she made to my daughter and I. When her father had ‘phoned three days after they had moved in, then came to the house my grandaughter was hysterical. My son and ex-husband were with us, as we had anticipated this situation. So he went, a coward as well as a bully, we knew he was.

My granddaughter refused to wear clothes, drew over herself including her genitals, was frightened when people knocked at the door, hid behind us from people, stuck to me like glue when people came to the house, constantly touched her genitals. She had become disturbed and sexually precocious when we bought her a Tele-Tubbies video. Stomach punches of shock continued after the disclosures. The phone calls, first abusive, then silent ‘caller with held number’. The statements up to thirty pages long full of terrible lies, about me and my family, from him and from his mother. Notes my daughter had made privately as part of her psychotherapy, that had been ‘lost’ before she moved in with me, as exhibits on his statements- we became defenders of our truth instead of guardians of the facts. Innocently you presume total truth will be enough to protect a child. In law this is not so.

On December the eighth at the first court hearing, we were presented with more statements, pages long that had to be read and commented on.. The lies were so blatant that we presumed that he and his parents would be charged under the law for perjury. But no ‘this thing happens’, we were told afterwards. The wonderful lady Barrister who had been representing us could not make the February court case. So her male colleague stepped in. We went expectantly to meet him the week before the trial expecting to be briefed. My daughter was crying when she came out. I went in and was told I was lying. Our legal representative had judged the case. I argued, logically and emotionally. The young solicitor looked shocked, empathic and emotional. She also had fought hard for us. So the next week at the court the father of my grandchild was given open access again.

The horror started again as my granddaughter started acting out situations, ‘smelling roses round daddy’s bed, bag between her legs ‘to stop water getting in my bum’. So my daughters emotional balance faltered again. ‘But mum I can’t tell the solicitor because the barrister said she would take a couple of months to settle down again after seeing her father again.

We had requested Health Visitor monitoring. We requested urgent advice from the local Child guidance team. The health visitor, who was near to retiring age, had obviously had no training or experience or had been mis-led. When my daughter and granddaughter were told to move away, by the new solicitor in April, the District Nurse went on sick leave then retired. The child-guidance team put us on a six-month waiting list, we weren’t urgent enough! Social Services refused to visit us because we were on the Child Guidance waiting list! Within six weeks of his having opened access (two night overnight stays per fortnight and mid-week overnight stays he often took her to his parents.) My granddaughter was demented, my daughter an emotional wreck. I had to pack their bags. My son took them away. I was left with the dog, which had become ill he had been on the visits with my granddaughter and developed behaviour problems. After the initial relief of my daughter and granddaughter going away into hiding, I couldn’t sleep. My mind was like a kaleidoscope of demented thoughts. Fear he would find them and harm them. Fear that my granddaughter would never again regain her mental health and emotional stability. Fear he would have open access again. I wanted to kill him. I hoped he would break into my rather isolated cottage so that I could kill him. I hated, I blamed, not only people who had let us down but also myself. I was suddenly ill emotionally and physically.

I was summonsed to court to tell the judge where my daughter and granddaughter were. I was severely reprimanded by the judge for ‘causing distress to the father’!!. This was to be a continuation of the saga. The ‘phone calls started again court cases were held by him for the ownership of the dog. More psychologically abusive, pages long statements to read and respond to. The dogs (yes I have two) to be walked. My daughter’s dog to take to the vets and care for particularly after his castration. He had become uncharacteristically aggressive to youths and young men. I was on my own; I had only two new friends I could trust. I didn’t trust the ‘phone and there were only two old friends I felt I could fully confide in., who lived all those miles away. My eldest daughter couldn’t cope with the situation any longer. My son was as supportive as he could be was studying for his degree in his third year at university. I cried deep-distressed tears of despair that welled up from my very soul. My faith in good truth and light were the only things that kept me going. That and the fact I knew we still had to fight for my granddaughter’s right to a normal life. One morning I sat on my ‘thinking bench’ in a corner of my garden and just knew like a light voice that I had to move back to the area where I was known and respected- move back home. Just a month later I had moved. Just by coincidence an empty terraced cottage by a beautiful river had come on the market the day I phoned the estate agent. It has truly become my home. My father lives with me now, as he can no longer manage on his own. His loyalty was tremendous. However bizarre events were he never doubted me. Without his financial help I could not have managed the court cases the bridging loan until I sold the other property. I have been here for two and a half years. It has been a hard and painful time but we have made it. My beautiful granddaughter is happy at school and spends many weekends with me. My family and I are back together with more understanding of us and of life. My friends are wonderful. I am never alone or lonely. I now have invaluable full support of professional advice my GP has been and is wonderful with my father and me; yes I am home now at last. My daughter was far from emotionally secure. It has been and still is too much for her to deal with emotionally she had a good solicitor who advised the right things. She had a series of interviews at a specialist unit for child abuse. A psychiatrist’s report confirmed that she is mentally normal. My granddaughter’s father was always trying to prove that my daughter was mad in his statements. A good GP helped enormously with her emotional needs. Unfortunately my daughter has a dyslexic disability which causes problems with assimilating information. Clearly there are often confusions. When the centres report came through she burst into tears sobbed and for the first time clung to me, devastated saying mum they have said horrible things about you they have mis understood me again. Neither my family nor I have been allowed to see the report. My daughter refuses to read it again.

Well it all went to high court in London in November. The psychiatrist from the centre who wrote the report. The barrister for my granddaughter and my daughters representativesand me. (She continues to be swayed what is she afraid of). Neither my family nor I had been interviewed by any professionals prior to the court case (although I had been told that the psychiatrist at the unit would interview me). It was soon after this nearly two years ago-I still had the dog that I realised that closely supervised visits would again lead to open access again. A one-day court case turned into three. I was exhausted. Each day I was told I would be called to the stand. On the tird day I was. My daughter’s barristers asked no questions beyond my name and address. The Barrister acting for the opposition was bullying and arrogant in manner. I was asked questions for a very long time, which I was determined to answer objectively. I became totally exhausted. The polite woman barrister acting for my granddaughter then asked questions. My mind went blank. I came out and sobbed I had failed my granddaughter. That lunch time my daughter was trying to comfort me. At the end of the trial that afternoon she was the opposite. Clearly not wanting to talk to me. I phoned MOSAC next day as I thought I was going out of my mind. Last year 18 months later I talked to my daughter ‘Oh, I was told by the judge not to consider her father to be as bad as I thought he was, not to discuss the case and to get on with my life’. My daughter had been swayed back and forth by each professional she had encountered. To my granddaughters cost and mine.

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