How not to be haunted by things happening to other children?(26 Posts)
Poor DH came home last night completely traumatised by a horrible child abuse case he'd read about - a 17-month-old who'd ended up with a broken spine (SENT HOME FROM HOSPITAL when dr didn't spot it, beaten again and died later IIRC).
Our DS (PFB, of course) is 14 months so it really hit home. DH cried over it. This is a man who used to have a police-related job in which he saw horrific things (dead bodies, on occasion) and wasn't affected this badly.
My heart's breaking for DH and for the poor little boy. Got me thinking - what should I have said to him, and is there any way to avoid being haunted for days every time you hear about things happening to children?
It's impossible to be impervious to this sort of thing. I've heard stories which have stuck with me for years - it's so sad. The only thing I did which made me feel a bit better is donate to the NSPCC and also make sure that not only do I not make the same mistakes to my kids but be open to talking to other parents who may be under pressure - often these things happen because the parents are socially isolated and have substance abuse problems.
I wish I could give you a better answer but I can't. I'm in exactly the same boat - I am simply haunted by the horror, fear and pain of these poor, abused children and feel such anger that such abuse is not spotted by the authorities/general public and something done about it.
The one thing that does provide me with some comfort is that these children are no longer experiencing pain, both physical and emotional. It's not much comfort when you consider what they went through but it's the only thing that keeps me going sometimes.
That case has traumatised me too, Frazzledgirl. I think WMMC is correct and I think it is wonderful your DH is able to express his feelings to you like that. I don't think there is an answer, in a way it is kind of normal and right to be so haunted by these terrible things, because they are so awful and it is only right to recognise them as such. The world would be a much colder place if people didn't care about the fate of children.
My dh is a policeman and while drugs, accidents, petty crime and similar are easy for him to compartmentalise, child abuse or things happening to children in general are the ones that he struggles with. I know when he comes home and doesn't come to bed or is quiet that it has been one of those days. Sadly, I told myself at first it would be a rare occurence. Horribly, it's a weekly thing. And it's made worse by the insider perspective for dh. When he's been called out for the 3rd time that week by the child of an alcoholic parent who is beating their spouse, he starts to move from sadness to anger.
I think it's right and natural to feel a visceral reaction to these things and the only way dh finds to deal with it, is to channel it into his parenting and his work. Recognising that the banality of day to day parenting is a wonderful thing compared to the horrific alternatives, keeps you involved and motivated in providing the best you can and challenging it at work makes him a better policeman.
Oh my god, i'm glad i'm not the only one who felt like that Frazzledgirl after reading about that poor 17 month old. It made me well up too and its been on my mind since...i could still cry over it.
I just can't understand how anyone can do that to anyone but especially a poor defenceless little child like that. It broke my heart to read it too...the pain this child must have been in...there are some very evil people in this world.
You could try turning your distress into action? Volunteer, donate, campaign, make a difference in the area you've been upset about?
I was so relieved to see this thread, I feel exactly like this. I was reading about ggglimpo's Maude, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Also, if I hear about a child contracting a serious illness it affects me for days.
I have to just remind myself that these things are very rare. That's all I can come up with.
I think if something happens to a child the same age as your own it can really affect you.
I watched a program about Ben Needham when DS1 was 2ish, the same age as Ben when he diasapeared, and it really upset me for a long time. I was also really upset hearing that a dad had died on 9/11, and it was his child's first day at nursery. It was also DS1's first day at nursery, and one small coincidental similarity really made me feel for that family. I think it's just a human thing.
I didn't think we were alone, but it's so good to see all these posts.
I am proud of DH that he could feel this way and express it. The things that bothered him most were knowing that despite all the suffering he was put through, the little boy probably still just wanted his parents' love and approval.
And while we were discussing the night before how upset we'll be if DS gets left out by kids at nursery or something (we are pathetic, I know), the best he could hope for for this other little boy is that he died quickly.
That's when he broke down. I'm welling up again thinking about it.
That was a horrific case, and there is no way to dress that up. I found myself wishing that I had not read it, and then thought, "hell, I am only reading about it, a seventeen month old child had to endure it, and then die. Without any love or comfort." I have broken my spine and I tell you, it is unimaginably painful, and I was surrounded by loving family to comfort me and excellent medical care to alleviate my pain. Even so, childbirth was like a scratch by comparison.
I cannot even begin to speculate as to how anyone can bring themselves to do that to a small child, it is perhaps wrong of me but the only consolation (and it is no consolation really) is that assuming they are not in fact mentally ill and headed for Broadmoor, a very nasty time awaits them in prison.
It is a form of torture to read about things like this. I donate to NCH - it's not much, but there is a saying: For evil to triumph it only matters that the good do nothing.
I feel the same way, frazzledgirl. I saw that story and it just made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. There was also another one in America about that woman that microwaved her baby to death, I almost vomited when I read that.
I just want to go back in time and rescue these kids, to show them a bit of love and give them lots of cuddles, god a tear is coming to my eye just thinking about it.
I think donating to the NSPCC is a great idea, at least that is doing something about it I suppose.
fg, your dh sounds like a good policeman and a great dad. I aggree with other posters,it's natural and right that we should feel like this, and the best thing is to make use of that, by channelling it into whatever we can (in his case, his work and parenting)
BUT, I do think that people who are exposed to more of this sort of thing, like him, should be able to get more support- there should be opportunity at work to debrief, etc. Does that happen?
MLE, he wasn't a policeman, it was just a related job but I know he was offered counselling after seeing traumatic stuff. I don't believe he took it up, because as other posters have said, he's pretty good at compartmentalising.
He can't do that with things about children, especially now he's a daddy (and a great one).
It's horrible, isn't it? I know the change is right and natural and part of becoming a decent parent, but I just feel like I'm a mass of exposed nerves these days.
The line I heard that sums it up for me came from Charlotte Church (FGS!): "I think once you have a child you become a mother to all."
I do think, though, you become less raw with time, your ds is only 14 mths and parenthood is still relatively new to you.
I feel the same way - often I despair. These hideous things just sear the soul.
The little girl left alone and starving in a room above a pub in Sheffield and so many others -I just want to gather these children to me. I cry so easily when I think of them.
I donate to the NSPCC - wish I could do more.
What must the perpetrators' own childhoods have been like? How have they grown up without compassion? Why do they not love and cherish their precious children? It's incomprehensible.
I cry over these stories too. Those poor little things suffering like that is just hideous. I work with children, and just cant understand how anyone can show a child such cruelty.
I also donate to NSPCC, and join in their mailing campaigns to MPs.
I was thinking again today about a case locally that was reported months ago. Little boy around my dd's age (under 2) was left on his own in a flat all weekend (from Friday until he was found on Monday).
I was upstairs for 10 minutes cleaning the bath today and dd was chattering away and I thought about the horror she would feel if I didn't come back for days
It's making me cry again now! I'm going to look into volunteering for something like Home Start when I've had dc2, to feel like I'm doing something.
I don't think there is a way to not be haunted by the terrible things that happen - not if you want to hang onto your humanity that is. You just have to do the best you can and use your opportunities to help where you can.
Earlier this year the teenage daughter of a friend took my younger to kids to Macdonalds (go ahead shoot me!) whilst dh and I supported dd1 at a theatre project. She was lovely with them, very confident and happy in her life and when we met up and got the kids and I watched her walking to the bus stop I remember thinking how confident she was and what a lovely woman she was going to grow up to be. On our way home we met a lad of the same age. His face was covered in blood and he smelt of alchol. He had been in a fight, phone smashed etc. We wanted to ring his parents but he was living with foster carers and didn't know the number, we wanted to take him to A&E but he wouldn't go. The best we could do was help him clean up a bit and then give him a lift to where he wanted to go. The contrast between those kids was so stark. It made me sad and it still makes sad.
That is sad, NL, I have that too, when I see my kids or friends kids, who have everything going for them really, it's just so not fair.
Riven, I saw that story on the front of the Daily Mail, and my first reaction was like yours, (not as strong none of my family have a disability) but then I thought are we getting the whole story? And especially, what was the mother's mental state, what support was she getting, the paper said she was 'ashamed' but who says so?....not AT ALL excusing what she did but thinking there must be more to such an awful tragedy than what the paper said....I also thought, what is to be gained by putting this on the front page? who is helped?
I can't get stuff out of my head - I hate it -
when I am changing DS1s nappy at times stories of horrific child abuse flash through my mind and I hate that.
I know when I read things like this in the paper that it's going to haunt me for ever but I can't make myself look away. Part of it is feeling that these children deserve to be remembered - irrational and pointless maybe, but I still do it. I remember a little girl called Ainlee who was killed by her parents a few years ago. I read the reports of the case and then reread it, and I just found it so hard to comprehend. She was a lovely smiling little girl - at what point did her parents stop feeding, washing and caring for her and instead decide to torture her so badly she died? It's like you read the words but your brain just can't make sense of it.
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