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to be disgusted and furious with the attitude of this social worker WWYD?

(105 Posts)
inatrance Wed 06-Jul-11 00:54:59

I am so angry about this I can't think straight so would appreciate any thoughts to help me know what to do next. Apologies in advance for huge post.

I am friends with one of the mums at dd's school who has a child who was in her class. Originally (a couple of years ago) she turned up at school with her face a complete mess (black eyes, bruises) which was why we became friends as I obviously suspected she was being abused and engineered a conversation where she confided that this was the case.

Her P is a vicious, evil bully and has put her through the sheer hell of emotional (and sometimes physical) torture for years and I have supported her as much as I can in the time that I have known her and encouraged her to involve Women's Aid. They have recently allocated her a support worker.

The other huge problem she has is that her P is a heavy drinker and has encouraged her to also develop an alcohol problem. He has used this to threaten her and control her (telling her it's her own fault he treats her so badly because she drinks, tells her that she will lose her son because of it etc) and this is part of the reason that she has been too terrified to leave and has become trapped in the cycle of alcohol dependency. She has tried (and succeeded) repeatedly to stop drinking and has done brilliantly, going to the local Drug and Alcohol dependency unit daily, seeing the D & A counsellor and getting a job. Every time she does, and she starts regaining her strength and independence, her P steps up the abuse and intimidation, often in front of their son and knocks her back down until she is back in a mess.

Only the shit hit the fan a while ago as someone reported that she had turned up at school drunk. Social services got involved along with the school and have been unsympathetic to the other issues at play and have made it ALL about her and her drink problem, encouraged by her H who has been invited to meetings to discuss my friend, which of course has played right into his hands in convincing her that it's her own fault that she is being abused.

Until today I honestly thought this was because they were unaware of the facts.

I went to pick up DD and saw her P with their son and a woman who I have seen my friend with recently. I had a horrible feeling and sent her a text to see if she was ok. She sent a message back saying no and asked me to call her.

I rang her and she was in a state, drunk and sobbing down the phone. He had attacked her last week and the neighbours had rang the police, her P was arrested and held then released on bail. I went round and she was covered in huge bruises with a massive black eye. He had attacked her in front of their son.

Yesterday the police and ss had turned up and told her that as she was drinking her son could not be returned to her and he is now at her 'friends' house. I say 'friend' because this is the woman who I had earlier seen with her H and son.
She had no contact numbers or names for anyone from either the police or ss so I spent the next couple of hours trying to find someone who could tell me what the hell was going on.

I eventually got through to the social worker who had been dealing with it and she was incredibly hostile from the word go. I was polite and professional and tried to explain that the reason I was calling was to find out what was happening for my friend and to inform them that this violent man who also has a (worse) drink problem than my friend and who has proven himself to be dangerous had been spotted with their son and to find out whether they were aware of this.

She would NOT let me finish and kept talking over me and when I tried to explain that my friend was legitimately concerned and said that I had known her for a couple of years and seen what he has put her through, she then turned it back on me and began questioning why I had let this go on if I knew what was happening!! When I said about the P drinking she asked me if I personally had ever seen him drunk, implying either that my friend was lying or that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other. She basically made her contempt clear for my friend and was utterly unsympathetic as to WHY my friend is drinking and showed seemingly no awareness for the complicated nature of the situation.

When I politely but firmly asked her to let me finish (I repeated this several times) she said that she was ending the conversation, then she put the phone down on me!!! shock

I could understand it if I was shouting at her, swearing or being abusive but I swear I was not. I was being polite and professional but assertive and I still cant' believe she was unprofessional enough to actually hang up on me. I had thought my friend was blaming herself when she said that ss thought it was all her fault as well, but it appears that she was right.

I did also speak to the police who were brilliant and I think there is a multi agency meeting tomorrow to discuss the child and what to do next. I am still fuming about the unprofessional way she spoke to me and about her whole attitude and I'm stuck as to the best thing to do. Should I complain? Will this make matters worse? I'm getting more help for her tomorrow but it seems that ss have already decided who is the 'bad' parent and for my friend it seems that her worst fears have come true.

Thanks if you have managed to read this far, any insight would be much appreciated.

KaraJS Wed 06-Jul-11 01:06:15

If your friend had a drug and alcohol councillor maybe they can help? Did your friend confide in them how her h was treating her? If so maybe you could get them envolved as an independent person who can verify what you are saying,

giraffesCantZumba Wed 06-Jul-11 01:20:11

So friend and her P still together?

It sounds a very unstable environment for the child - 2 drinking parents and witnessing physical abuse to his Mum (this is classed as emotional abuse as he is seeing this).

While it is really sad she is in this situation, is this really the best for her ds? She needs to get away from him and stop drinking. It might be that she needs support to do that. This might be the best thing that has happened to her! A new and safe life for her and her ds.

giraffesCantZumba Wed 06-Jul-11 01:23:32

"Every time she does, and she starts regaining her strength and independence, her P steps up the abuse and intimidation, often in front of their son and knocks her back down until she is back in a mess."

So it seems she is able to d well when no or little interference from P. Therefore hopefully with extra support she can get away from him for good. SS want to keep families together where possible in my experience.

hairfullofsnakes Wed 06-Jul-11 05:01:44

I feel sorry for the child who has Put up with this - why did she not leave for the sake of her child at least? Hopefully with some intervention things will improve.

hairfullofsnakes Wed 06-Jul-11 05:03:45

Oh and if you are unhappy with the social worker complain go her manager. Don't let her attitude go unchecked

gtg Wed 06-Jul-11 07:40:06

I grew up in a house similar to this. I was the eldest so it was my "responsibility" to help my mum. he was my sd but the parent of my younger siblings.

I really hope this is the wake up call your friend needs to ditch this loser. it is hard to leave an abusive relationship but i cannot stress the affect this will have on the dc. My mum finally left after twenty years of it, she is now in a stable relationship and is working for the first time in her life.

I myself ended up in an abusive relationship from the ages of 15-19 (so the cycle does continue despite always thinking that will never happen to me) and had my eldest dd. I left when pregnant with the help of Womans Aid. I am now happily married to my DH who has never raised his voice never mind his hand.

I really hope things work out ok for your friend and her dc.

marriedinwhite Wed 06-Jul-11 07:45:31

Nothing absolutely nothing makes domestic violence, physical or emotional right. Neither does anything make being drunk at the school gates right or allowing a child to live with it. Oh the poor child. He clearly needs to be away from both of them and they both should have only supervised access. He clearly should not be allowed to live with the mother until she has sorted herself out. It sounds as though the social worker was trying to establish clear facts and those are important if the right thing is to be done for the child. Presumably if a witness could say the father was also a drunk it could change the decision about whether the child could stay with the father.

I don't think this should be about you and your opinon but about what is best for the boy. Your friend has neglected him, maybe not intentionally but that is what it is. For the sake of her son she should have left this man years ago.

Goblinchild Wed 06-Jul-11 07:50:27

You are right to try and support your friend through this, but I'm pleased that the child has been protected finally. If it's been going on for years and the situation is deteriorating, then he needs to be kept from further harm.
So, the boy is not with his father as far as I can gather from your post?
He's with SS?
Maybe they have't made up their mind about who is the bad parent. They both sound unsuitable to have responsibility for a child ATM.

Goblinchild Wed 06-Jul-11 07:51:45

The partner needs to be held responsible for his violence and abuse, will the police be prosecuting him? Will the SW back your friend up in court?

HelloKlitty Wed 06-Jul-11 07:52:43

I think you have been a very caring friend...amazingly supportive...but that there's only so much you can do. Your friend should have taken her son and gone to women's aid long ago....

Shakirasma Wed 06-Jul-11 08:08:06

You sound like a lovely friend.

SS deal with facts and cannot afford to take sides or show bias, or get involved on a personal level.
The facts are that this little boy needs help from them. His father is a violent drunk, his mother is a drunk, and she has not protected her son by removing him from the situation and sorting out her life away from this abusive figure. So SS have had to do it.

Those are the facts they are dealing with, and social workers must hear every day about how there is a reason for this that and the other, it's his fault, her fault etc.

Whilst you, who is involved emotionally, would find her attitude unpleasant, all she is interested in is the child's welfare and tbh I think you have to be a bit hard faced to work in childrens services or you wouldn't be able to do their job.

What you can do now as a friend, is provide all the emotional support you can whilst encouraging her to do whatever SS require of her, including standing on her own two feet to get away from this man, and getting clean and sober in order to be fit to have her son back.

fiveisanawfullybignumber Wed 06-Jul-11 08:18:55

I too would complain about the SW's attitude. She's not seeing the bigger picture, the mother needs support to get away from her P. See if the police and other workers would help back your complaint, or at least give the relevant info if you went to her superiors.

oohjarWhatsit Wed 06-Jul-11 08:21:10

i am sure the sw is limited as to what she can discuss with a random who phones up saying she is a friend

you could be anyone as far as anyone knows, you could even be trying to gain info for the husband

at least the child is safe, even if the two parents want to screw up their own lives sad

oohjarWhatsit Wed 06-Jul-11 08:21:11

i am sure the sw is limited as to what she can discuss with a random who phones up saying she is a friend

you could be anyone as far as anyone knows, you could even be trying to gain info for the husband

at least the child is safe, even if the two parents want to screw up their own lives sad

oohjarWhatsit Wed 06-Jul-11 08:21:12

i am sure the sw is limited as to what she can discuss with a random who phones up saying she is a friend

you could be anyone as far as anyone knows, you could even be trying to gain info for the husband

at least the child is safe, even if the two parents want to screw up their own lives sad

oohjarWhatsit Wed 06-Jul-11 08:21:41


Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 08:31:02

I am a SW, from their POV it is a CP issue and you may not like it but your friend is also being abusive and neglectful towards her son. There comes a time that you have got to stop seeing the adult as the victim and focus on the child.

SS have done what is right, they have removed the child away from a harmful environment, is he placed with a family friend? They should have first tried to place him with family then friends.

Her way of life is not acceptable, if they (and they are both alcoholics) want to live like that, it is upto them, they have no right to drag a child into it.

This may be the wake up call that she needs, if she is still choosing her DP, then i am sorry but the child should not be returned.

You could have been anyone and the SW is right that how you see it doesn't matter, the fact is the situation cannot carry on, the child is the victim here and has the right to a stable life without anyone giving them a sob story. If your friend now wants to change, they will put in support but it clearly cannot be with her DP, so it is a simple (personally speaking from a mums POV. not SW) choice.

Any other avction would continue to enable their lifestyle, you may not be aware (and you didn't know about the two incidences) of what life is like for that child behind closed doors.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 08:40:09

SS haven't decided who is the 'bad parent', they have decided that the DS is at risk.

The police may have been brillant, but then they are not known for their sympathetic approach to women and children in DV situations.

Making a complaint will not make a difference, it won't be upheld, the SW has done nothing wrong. Discussing the case could be putting the child, your friend and the foster carer at risk.

They are dealing with a very violent man, are you willing to defend this until your friend, or her son (if he gets in the way of 'a fight') until they are seriously injured or killed?

duckdodgers Wed 06-Jul-11 08:42:04

I have to agree with what birds has said here, as much as you explain your friend is drinking to deal with her problems the end result is the same for the poor wee child - chaos and a dysfunctional environment - of course Social Services will remove the child at least temporarily and then see what can be dont to help this family.

Its easy to say she should just leave but of course its never that easy in my experience (Im a Psychiatric Nurse) and the reasons women stay in violent abusive realtionships are complex. That doesnt mean that eventually she will not be able to leave - its just she needs help - and it does sound that your friend is involved with services now that can help her leave this abusive relationship.

I realise it must be frustruating as her friend to feel "helpless" but you can only do so much - she is in no fit state to be looking after her child just now either.

Butlinsbabe Wed 06-Jul-11 08:46:00

The child was at risk in that environment and is now safe even though that must be heartbreaking for his mother.
Hopefully now this will give her the final push to leaving this man and starting afresh with her son.
You sound liek a great friend.

slartybartfast Wed 06-Jul-11 08:47:16

just a thought - aside from this great advice here, how about - rather than phoning you write a letter to children's services. outlining the drunkeness and violence of the father

LornaGoon Wed 06-Jul-11 08:52:23

Although social services try and keep families together, ultimately the SW is working on behalf of the child not the parents. So from that perspective the SW didn't do anything wrong. Children's social workers have to be pretty hard nosed individiuals considering the stuff they have to deal with.

The main thing is that your friend's child is safe. Now your friend can concentrate on sorting other aspects of her life out. She needs to show SS that is what she is doing. You sound like a supportive friend to help her do this.

maypole1 Wed 06-Jul-11 08:54:59

To be hones agree with the last few posts and I do take issue with op blaming this guy for her friends drinking yes he has been abusive although it dose leave me to question if their not fighting each other as drunks do rather than him beating her, because Their are many women who are married to drinkers and they don't simply start drinking themselves .

And the op is simply overlooking the fact that separate from the abuse the friend is not doing her job as a mother very well

Turing up to the school
Drunkshock possibly swearing, stumbling in front of her child and others also and their both drunks I would imagine a huge chunk of the family income is spent on this the child was right to be removed

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 08:55:43

Also change has to come from within (i know that is cliche), SS cannot walk in and solve her problems, they will put support in place, if she will not accept that help, then she should not have her son back, the time has come for the choas to end.

Would you rather SS ignored abusive situations as long as the mother has 'reasons' to live like that, how else are they going to make her see the reality of what they are both doing to their son.

Her DP may be the way that he is and she cannot change that, but it is her choice, to stay that is keeping the child in that environment, if she wants to stay, she is an adult unless she fails the mental capacity act (which she won't) they cannot force her to leave, the child cannot,stay with them.

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