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Domestic Abuse and Care Proceedings - the AWR case (another mum on the run)

(320 Posts)
johnhemming Sun 21-Dec-08 18:52:37

Hopefully this won't happen to any of the readers, but another mum on the run story has been publicised in the Sunday Telegraph

Here -escape-social-workers.html

I have put additional information on my weblog here

This is a case which will interest anyone who is looking at how to contest Hague Convention proceedings in public family law.

I know of two cases like this. The other one has been publicised in The Times, but I cannot find it at the moment.

Camilla Cavendish has also written about DV/DA and Care proceedings

pantomimEDAMe Sun 21-Dec-08 21:17:15

Just adding this to 'threads I'm on' so I can come back and read it when I've got a minute...

pantomimEDAMe Sun 21-Dec-08 21:31:02

Tragic. And very worrying that SWs are persecuting women suffering from domestic violence.

Clearly she was mad to get back together with her abusive husband but if it's true that Irish SWs say the eldest boy (and presumably the baby) are happy and settled now, what purpose would be served by dragging the poor kid away from his mother?

JollyPirate Sun 21-Dec-08 21:37:31

We don't know the facts though.

SWs are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

johnhemming Sun 21-Dec-08 23:17:39

>SWs are damned if they do and damned if they don't.
Because the decision making system is so random. This is not an argument for keeping the decision making system in secret and unaccountable.

They are damned for taking children into care that should be left with their families and damned for failing to remove children where the evidence exists to justify removal.

The interests of the child should come first, but in this case the interests of the courts come first.

ScummyMummy Sun 21-Dec-08 23:26:15

How do you know for sure that the people you champion are not potentially putting their children at risk in ways you know nothing about, Mr Hemming? I agree with you that the family court system should be more open and accountable, as long as it can protect confidentiality and am glad to see that this is finally being tackled by the government. However, the very fact that this reform if needed means that you do not necessarily know all the facts about individual cases, surely?

johnhemming Mon 22-Dec-08 08:13:35

I look at the documentation produced by the local authority and courts. This gives me a good understanding.

As far as this family are concerned they have been visited by the Childrens Social Workers in the area of Ireland in which they live.

JollyPirate Mon 22-Dec-08 08:32:32

Do YOU know the facts then John? Can you honestly - hand on heart say that you KNOW that Social Services are making a huge mistake here?

I don't know the facts - they sound horrendous but I long ago stopped believing the press hype about these cases as misinformation grows out of all proportion.

johnhemming Mon 22-Dec-08 08:43:19

>Can you honestly - hand on heart say that you KNOW that Social Services are making a huge mistake here?

pantomimEDAMe Mon 22-Dec-08 08:55:27

Press hype? Good old-fashioned investigative journalism of the sort that is increasingly rare as it is very expensive. Publishers don't want reporters tied up in long, complex stories when they could be rattling out 100x as many based on press releases. The BBC dumped Rough Justice - a programme that had freed dozens of victims of miscarriages of justice who would otherwise be rotting in jail.

Hype applies to celebrity stories, or stories based on companies dreaming up dodgy statistics like 'equations' for the perfect night out or perfect bra or silly surveys. NOT exposing potential miscarriages of justice.

Investigative journalism - turning a spotlight on the failings of those in power, whether corporations or the state or any other body - is a vital part of our democracy. Holding the powerful to account is what journalism SHOULD be about.

But the cases before the family courts are very tricky to cover. Huge (expensive) legal risks for newspapers and broadcasters. And when no-one monitors what's going on, that's when vulnerable people who have few resources compared to those of the state, or big business, suffer.

Look at thalidomide - if it weren't for the Sunday Times insight team, the drug company would have got away with it. More recently, look at the Cardiff Three, or Seroxat causing suicide in teenagers and children.

newname2008 Mon 22-Dec-08 08:56:07

I have namechanged to tel you about my experience with SW and domestic violence in 2000/1.

My Dc were 3 and 1.

I was with an abusive partner it built up for a long time and then he beat me up ,I ran to a neighbours and called the police they took him away I was in contact with the DV officer from the police the day after and she was briliant ,I was aware that ss would probably visit I was not aware that they were going to make my life hell and that if I ever became involved in DV again I would rather put up and shut up then get help .

The SW visited 3 days after she was very abrupt ,and handed over some forms with my dc names on telling me I must sign them or risk having my Dc took away (her words) I was happy to sign anyway there was no debate she just had a bee in her bonnet ,the next time I heard from her I was shopping she rang and asked me to get home she wanted to visit I told her where I was and that it would take an hour to get home she said "not good enough get here now ,or I can take your children if you do not allw me to see them"
Instead of soing home I went to my GP's and sat and sobbed in the surgery my GP went mad and rang some people I never saw this woman again and the next SW was very nice ,I just think she saw me as a young mum ,council house ,DV issues and took a dislike to me I agree that her attitude was hopefully a one off.
After this I attented every meeting with the social workers ,the poilce who attended came along and my health visitor ,the police commented on how I had done exactly the right thing calling them and my HV mentioned that my dc were clean happy and well fed as did a report from my sons nursery, they never spoke to my exdp they wrote and asked him to come for a meeting he never did ,they never assesed his home ,they never followed up any concerns I had about him ,but would often just turn at my house to check up (on what I don't know) they made my life hell for a year until the police and HV both put in an official complaint about my treatment .I had done nothing wrong I had been hit once away from dc and I ahd reported him the first time and threw him out ,he never stepped foot over my front door again.
When eventually challenged the SW in charge of my case (who I never met) admitted to my HV that there was no evidence to justify all these visits and meetings .
I got a letter of apology for any distress they may have caused myself or my dc during 2000/1 ,and that my name and my dc names would be removed from their computers .This was in 2003.

I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn't had the support of police ,Hv and my GP ,my children may not have been with me today because the SS seemed to want to blame me for something another person ahd done to me ,it still affects me to this day I have this awful need to prove myself as a good mum ,I dread a knock at the door ,I get paranoid if my children have a bruise or mark .... They have ruined my life , I regret ever ringing the police I would rather have took the beating and taken the dc to my parents the next day and asked them for help .

newname2008 Mon 22-Dec-08 08:56:42

Sorry thats long .

pantomimEDAMe Mon 22-Dec-08 08:57:42

There are only two journalists really covering the problems with the family courts - Camilla Cavendish and John Sweeney. If you are unfortunate enough to have your children taken away based on a false premise, you had better hope one of them finds out about your case, otherwise you are doomed.

The courts - any court - are not perfect, they will never be perfect, they are run by fallible human beings. That's why you need investigative journalism to uncover those occasions when they get things wrong.

newname2008 Mon 22-Dec-08 08:58:44

Sorry for typos too .

pantomimEDAMe Mon 22-Dec-08 08:59:06

I'm so sorry, newname, yours is a tragic story.

AWR Mon 22-Dec-08 16:18:37

Hi everyone, I am the lady in this news story.
Firstly i would like to say that the reason i got back together with my ex partner was because the CAFASS guardian ad litem who represents the children in court proceedings believed that social services had not worked with us as a family or giving my husband any help with regards to his drink problem.
She also recognised that there was no domestic violence when he was not drinking and as our son was already incare we should work together as a family as she also had said in her report that my son wanted his mum and dad to live together and be parented by both.
In her report to the court she reccomended my son come home if the father took antabuse from the doctor and worked with the NHS comminuty alcohol team. She believed he posed no risk when he was not drinking, which i agree with.

I was desperate to get my son back and with her supporting this idea i went with it in the hope of getting my son back and my husband better.
Unfortunately at the next hearing the social services solicitor tried and succeeded in making a fool of her (social services dont tend to support families staying together especially women who have been invloved with DV.

Anyway my son did not come home on that occasion and the guardian told me not to worry and that she would keep on trying aslong as husband was doing his bit.
As you can imagine not having your child home for christmas not to mention that social services were constantly with holding contact, ii was distraught and terrified and could not help being bitter towards my husband. He lost his new job as a result of supporting my grief and the burden of his guilt ended in him drinking which eventually tore us apart and a bad argument then more DV.

Lets face it any family under the strain of those circumstances are lightly to fail,which is what the guardian said in her report would happen if our son was not returned home and we monitored as a family.
She was right, so i do defend her on that score.

What i dont think she realised is that social services have such a hold on judges and they have their plan and thats it,she should have supported an exclusion order in the first instance. Then could have gone onto giving her opinion about the family reuniting if gieven help. That would have proetcted me from DV and my son from foster care, unfortunately it was too late at that point and everything went down hill from the day he went into care.
I have a youtube video you can see it here

AWR Mon 22-Dec-08 16:21:40

excuse spelling its my wireless keyboard honest!

JollyPirate Mon 22-Dec-08 16:50:27

AWR - I stand corrected - just seen your Youtube video (and read your post above).
Is there any way people can support you through this site? Lord knows I struggle with SS at times (work with families facing DV on a daily basis but not as a SW) and getting support for women and children.sad

johnhemming Mon 22-Dec-08 16:51:25

Anyone who wishes to help could email me at and I will forward emails to AWR.

pantomimEDAMe Mon 22-Dec-08 17:31:07

thanks for posting, AWR. So sorry for everything you've been through.

johnhemming Mon 22-Dec-08 17:48:23

This story has similarities in that you have another "mum on the run" (save that AWR is no longer "on the run") with two children. Note that it links to a court judgment.

In thise case everyone has access to the court's explanation of the ill treatment of the child by the system. It is then a question of judgment as to whether people feel this reveals sufficient cause to remove an 8 year old (as he now is) from the family and have him adopted into another family.

This case was one where dad was imprisoned for 14 months for driving mom to the coast.

JollyPirate Tue 23-Dec-08 07:23:23

I meant to bump this last night - it's worth reading the links and watching the YouTube video.

Upwind Tue 23-Dec-08 13:38:54

Thank you for sharing your story AWR

Best of luck

johnhemming Sun 28-Dec-08 09:05:06

A further story today

Nighbynight Sun 28-Dec-08 15:54:23

Good luck, AWR. and thank you, John Hemming, for helping to publicise these things.

Here's my story:
Abusive, violent ex husband, now lives around 450 km away.
Social services wanted to become involved with our family, but kept their distance after I indicated that we didn't need their help.
In 2007, ds2 got an abscess, and the hospital couldn't find the cause of it. Abscess dragged on for a year, with hospital emptying it 4 times, and carrying out various checks, all of which turned up nothing.
Ds spent 2 months in hospital during 2008, school work was sliding, whole family disrupted.
While ds was still in hospital in september 2008, hospital social worker pops up one day and tells me that he needs to be moved to the psychiatric unit, as they think that his abscess could be due to psychiatric problems.
I say "nonsense" or words to that effect.
Over the next few weeks, pressure grows to move ds to the psychiatric unit. At this point, I get a lawyer.
Hospital calls council social services to a meeting in the hosptial.
By this time, I have moved my son to another hospital in another town, so I don't attend the meeting myself. I send my lawyer.
She comes back, and tells me that the meeting was a trap. A document was prepared for me to sign, which looked like a simple permission for the council social services to see ds's records, but in fact, would have given them the power to move ds to the psychiatric hospital. A place seems to have already been booked at the psychiatric hospital for him, because they rang during the meeting.
In the other hospital, things are going well, the probable cause of the abscess is found, ds has an operation, and returns home. The hospital says, that the cause was a very small, and very deep, hole in his gut, that was leaking stuff into what became the abscess cavity.

Since then, there has been what you might call skirmishing with the social services. They are pushing strongly to visit our house, talk to ds's teacher (like they need permission, everyone gossips like crazy in our town!) and get involved with our family.

No reason has ever, at any stage been given, as to why all this happened.
Speculating with friends, we favour the theory that the first hospital accused me behind the scenes of munchhausens syndrome by proxy, ie they said that I caused the abscess, because they couldnt find the causes of it.

Behind the scenes, it has just grown and grown. I am not sure what we face from social services in the new year, as the matter isn't officially closed.

I just hope to god that I dont have to take any of my children to hospital again.
We are british, but in Germany. If I hadnt had very good advice from friends, and from the lawyer, as well as from a human rights group, I could also be on the run now as well.

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