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Should I consider suing social services? Better question...could I?

(8 Posts)
ScoobyScoobySue Sun 02-Nov-14 19:30:07

I will try to keep this brief (name changed for obvious reasons).

I was brought up in care from the age of 4. My siblings and I were full wards of court until we were 18. We lived in a variety of different children's and foster homes, being split up when I was 8.

Around the age of 9 I started to show signs of disturbance and I attended an appointment with a consultant child psychiatrist. His recommendation was intensive therapy, possibly residential, as I was showing signs of a serious personality disorder. Without such intervention, he predicted a very difficult future for me - an inability to form relationships, hold down a job, possibly abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

This is where the story gets odd. Around about the same time, I was sent to live with a new foster mother - a single woman aged just 24! (No, I am not joking). She was a teacher at a local private school and, I suppose, considered herself an expert in childcare matters. Soon after I started living with her, she was asked to take me on a visit to some kind of residential facility of the kind the doctor recommended. She was horrified by the place and adamantly told my social worker that I couldn't continue to live with her if I went there....wouldn't fit in with her very upper middle class family.

Apparently, she and the social worker had a stand up row about it, and the upshot was that I was instead sent to a very middle class all girls boarding school. I lived there during the term, and went back to said foster mother in the holidays. This lasted for 3 years then a new foster family was found for me.

Although it was a good school, I failed utterly there. I did not fit in, and I knew it. I was very poorly behaved and achieved close to nothing academically. Eventually, I was expelled. spite of my obvious struggles at no time, not once, did any of the therapy recommended by the psychiatrist happen. In fact, I never saw another doctor again, except for things like tonsillitis. And, no surprise, most of his doom laden predictions have the alcohol and drugs.

I have never had a relationship that lasted more than a few weeks. Never. I have been unable to hold down a job for any sensible length of time and I have suffered extreme anxiety and depression for years. I hate myself and my life and have no idea who I am meant to be or why I am even here. I have no one and nothing, and I don't think I ever will.

It didn't have to be like this. I can't help thinking that if the doctor's advice had been taken, perhaps I had a chance.

At that time, social services were in loco parentis. If I had broken my leg and they had failed to follow through on treatment for me, I know I could have sued for that. What's the difference with psychiatric issues?

Sorry for such a long read.

Basically, can I sue them? I don't especially care about money, it's more about recognition of how badly (I think) I was harmed.

I am 45 now, so this is historical. Any thoughts very gratefully received.

TY smile

26Point2Miles Sun 02-Nov-14 19:37:57

It all sounds a bit vague... Showing signs of 'disturbance'... Recommendations by a psych. Don't think there can ever be a guarantee

InfinitySeven Sun 02-Nov-14 19:48:05

Do you have a copy of the psychiatrists report?

I'm afraid that they usually read very vaguely - it might recommend treatment because you could face problems, for example, and that leads a lot of opportunity for SS to say that they liaised with your foster mum/school to look for signs of disturbance and found that the therapy was not necessary.

You'd need to read the report and be very sure that you have a strong case, which could be a struggle.

That is the difference between physical and psychiatric illnesses, unfortunately. If you'd broken your leg, treatment would be 100% necessary. Nobody would recommend leaving a broken leg, or suggest a different type of treatment. There is a single, recognised course of action. Legally, there would be no argument that SS could think leaving a broken leg would benefit the child.

Therapies are a lot more subjective. They can be recommended but not help. They can worsen matters. Legally, there is a lot more room to argue that leaving the therapy and allowing you to bond with your foster family/friends, while being carefully monitored, was beneficial.

SqueezyCheeseWeasel Sun 02-Nov-14 19:59:47

Look at the risk vs the reward. What will suing realistically do for you? Will successful legal action change things for you ? Is it likely that the stress of the process of legal action could be damaging to you? What are the chances of winning and what will that actually mean for you day to day - will you be able to function any better, psychologically? What about if it fails, how will you cope? Only you can have an inkling as to those answers.

It might be better to take a look to your future. Seek therapeutic help as an adult, maybe look at adult learning courses if that's something you want to revisit (you mention missed opportunities in education as a child), perhaps a bit of volunteering a couple of hours a week to build confidence, skills and your social circle.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't look into taking action against the Children's Services dept in charge of your care as a looked after child, but more that perhaps be aware that it is likely to be an arduous process which is not guaranteed and may not be the emotional 'silver bullet' you seem to seek.

FixItUpChappie Sun 02-Nov-14 20:04:49

Biological parents make good and bad decisions just like foster parents/Social workers do. I think it's interesting (not necessarily wrong, but interesting), that people often speak of wanting to sue SS and not their parents. I say that as a person who's own parents made any number of poor decisions.

I'm not sure a legal process will really make you feel better or enhance your life. it's too too bad you were never linked to counselling as a child though I suppose there's no garauntee it would have resulted in a different life. The reins are yours now - why not seek services for yourself?

professornangnang Sun 09-Nov-14 18:40:49

Sue I have no advice but know that you are worthwhile and your life is worthwhile.

quietlysuggests Mon 10-Nov-14 00:01:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Catsarebastards Mon 10-Nov-14 00:07:30

OP when did you find out about his recommendation and prediction? Was it recently or were you aware of it when it happened?

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