Like I said above, it was a country town. Decent sized, but I never for the life of me expected there was so much DV and abuse of children in this town. There were 3 paedo.philes living there that were under Dept of Justice supervision! And more that we became aware of.
I even met one at a party. He was a friend's friends new BF. He made the hairs on my neck stand up and just grossed me out. 12 months later she was in our office because her 6yo daughter told her he was abusing her and her 4yo sister.
Like Witwicky said, it changed me too. How can it not? But I am glad I know the things I know, because I can teach my kids it's not only strangers you need to be aware of, that their body is their own and they can ALWAYS tell me if anyone touches them, no matter what that person says I will say or do. Teach them the correct names for their body parts so there is no confusion (ie kid telling treacher "Daddy touches my flower") and I know the signs to look for in them and their little friends. For those reasons, I'd rather know what I know than not know it.
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14-12-2011 09:46 #11
14-12-2011 15:16 #12
How did you get into that area? Especially so young, was it where you wanted to be? I'm surprised someone so young coped so well (or seems to have) I'm not sure I could at all.
14-12-2011 15:28 #13
You are taught to seperate the behaviour from the person. There are so many reasons why adults abuse children - d&A abuse, mental illness, stress, poor role modelling from their parents and a pattern of multi generational abuse.
I've seen and read some bad stuff and I'll be honest after I become a parent I just couldn't stomach it anymore. For all the abuse workers cop from the public, a vast majority are working long hours on a very average pay for what they endure, trying to make a difference.... and it isn't just what we see.... you grow tried of being abused by everyone around you. By parents that want to scape goat you rather than face the issues that got the child removed to begin with. From society that say they either under act or over act.
Child protection has shocking retention rates and there's a reason for that...
I started at 21 and ironically many workers are new graduates, the older more experienced workers know what the job involves lol
CP workers usually have a social work or psychology degree.
14-12-2011 15:35 #14
Pre-children I worked very closely with Docs and associated agencies in the most abhorrent area of human services. I guess for me the hardest thing was that due to confidentiality I couldn't speak about my work etc, but the most fundamental part of working in such stressful and highly distressing areas of work is to de-brief and because you can't (confidentiality) it is very difficult to sustain for a long period of time.
I found for me, I had to de-sensitise myself (as hard as it was) and keep it purely about work, but still with an empathetic (of course) way of dealing with what was before me on a daily basis.
I can tell you though, it certainly made me lose my sense of faith in humanity and it's taken a long, long time for me to not harbour those feelings.
I also think it really does take a 'special kind' of person/people to enter that kind of line of work, it's a seriously big burn-out profession and if you're not up to it can leave you in a right state.
14-12-2011 15:38 #15
Yeah I have a social science degree, majoring in criminology & psychology.
I love the particular area of work which I was involved in, but when I return to the workforce I will choose to work less with child cases - I think it would be a very difficult area as a mother. It was hard enough dealing with it when pregnant.
14-12-2011 15:40 #16
14-12-2011 15:54 #17Senior Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
Just wanted to quickly say thank you to those of you who've tackled this line of work, for however long.
14-12-2011 15:58 #18
14-12-2011 16:40 #19
They told me at the interview what sorts of things they dealt with, but I don't think I realised what it actually meant. But I started out as the Customer Service Officer but became more involved due to lack of staff and me wanting to, and then after a couple of years they gave me training and put me into a welfare support role where I was heavily involved with clients, Wards, kids etc.
Part of it might have been because I was young and wanted to save the world. I also started doing A/H Sexual Assault Counselling after maybe a year at DOCS as they only had a person in town 3 days a week, so trained a few people to go to assaults and support the assaulted person with whatever they wanted to do - Police, evidence collection in Perth etc. There were 3 of us doing that, and I was the only one that lasted. The other 2 couldn't handle hearing the accounts of what had happened.
I think I only coped as well as I did because of the person I am and the people I worked with. My boss was fantastic, supportive and was always there to debrief. She made that a priority. The other experienced SW were also fantastic. It was a couple of the Grads who I had problems with as they didn't always respect me or my role. Thought they were "better" than me because they had a piece of paper and I didn't. But they learnt that I was very good at my job, ran the office and also had the trust of the Wards of the state as I dealt with them as much as the SW's and Psyches did.
I remember one incident - we had taken a child the day before (parents were alcoholics, on drugs and used to beat him daily) and his father came into the office. He was a HUGE aboriginal man, and was yelling and screaming as he came in. The Grad had been at my desk (we were the only ones in the office) and so was there when he came in. After about 2 minutes, the Grad ran and hid under his desk! Obviously leaving me to deal with it.
The Dad was drunk, swearing, ranting and threatening us with violence if we didn't hand the kid back over. But you can't back down, so by the time the SW took off, I had already called the cops, and then told the Dad to leave and if he wanted to discuss things, to come back when he was sober, calm and he could talk to the boss. Took 10 minutes for him to leave, but he left just as the Police walked in. You just have to stand your ground, if you show weakness or fear, you are done for (especially as we only had a reception counter, no security or protection for us if things got bad). I was used to that sort of thing (and had heaps of training on conflict resolution and diffusion), the Grad wasn't. He was shaking like a leaf when I went to check on him (and thank him for his help!) and I reckon he might have needed new undies. He was the worst in his lack of respect for me (would leave detailed post-its on how to do the reports - yep, been doing them for 4 years, know how to do my job buddy and treated me like I was 5 and stupid), but not after that day because he knew I saved his bum.
So I think I lasted that long because of my co-workers, boss and because it was a country town. Sure we had some really bad cases, but maybe 1 every month or two. In the city it would just be relentless with bad cases on a daily basis. Plus, for every bad case, we had maybe 5 where we had helped people. Whether it was seeing a ward graduate, or a toddler who had been abused come alive under the loving care of a foster family, or getting a woman and her kids out of an awful DV situation, or even just helping someone get themselves out of a huge financial hole, the rewards were there. And they made the bad stuff worth it.
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14-12-2011 16:46 #20
Just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you that work in this sector. It's brought a tear to my eye reading your posts. What you have done takes an incredible amount of strength, passion and self control.
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