Things have been especially awful the past few weeks...
I finally took Brenna to a counselor for her night terrors and panic attacks a few weeks ago, to see if we could get help finding ways to cope. Everytime I asked her father to please give me her medicaid number to take her somewhere for this, he would argue that she wasn't experiencing these things at his house so he saw no problem. I finally decided to just pay out of pocket and sought help. During her initial 2 hour session, she disclosed that her father had never stopped sexually abusing her all these years, since the investigation when she was 3. She told the counselor about the abuse and also that she thought he was now doing it to her little sister. She asked the counselor to please help her and said she wanted her dad to go to jail.
An agent with DCF came out and did an interview with her a few days later. She again reported the abuse, though from the info he gathered, it sounded like the last time he sexually abused her was in 2nd grade (about 12 months ago) so they can't consider it a current threat, but do believe there is a possible transference of victims to the 4 year old sister. He said unfortunately these sexual abuse crimes with children are the easiest crimes for these men to get away with. It literally takes DNA to put them away and get the children out of harm. DCF then had to hand the case over to Seminole County (just like last time).
I had to bring her to be interviewed by another counselor where a Seminole County criminal investigator and cpt investigator, along with a specialized counselor watched behind a mirror. She made a third disclosure, so they opened a criminal and also a cpt investigation. They told me to go ahead and keep her even though it was her father's custodial time with her. They said they were going to ask him to come down for an interview along with his other two kids. He of course denied all of Brenna's disclosures and they got no disclosures from the other two children in the house, so the criminal case was quickly dismissed over to the state attorney, as they said it is now just her word against his.
They gave me a list of specialized counselors telling me I should start taking her to someone on the list, instead of the lady she had just started seeing. They also said I needed to make Brenna available for phone calls from her dad at any time he wished to talk to her. I was cooperative. I explained to Brenna that her father would be calling for her soon. She was very afraid of his anger now that he would know she had told on him. I assured her that he would be in his best behavior with everyone watching him so closely right now, so he was sure to be very nice to her. When he called she slipped back into her sweet, high-pitched little girl voice. (Which was later described to me as one of her defenses.) In the meantime, not knowing how things were going to go with scheduling and me working Monday-Fridays, I was proactive and enrolled her in a gymnastics, tumbling, cheer camp that she was really excited about, paying for a full week up front.
I made an appointment for that following Monday evening to start with her new counselor off the list. A woman with 23 years experience dealing with child sexual abuse victims. Brenna made some very descriptive disclosures to her. That counselor said she suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder from the years of abuse, which is why she is experiencing panic attacks, bed wetting and problems concentrating in school. She said she has no doubt from what Brenna told her that her father is abusing her and the other children are in danger over there. She described other forms of abuse including screaming things like "You're crazy!" directly in her face as loudly as possible to psychologically break her down into thinking the abuse didn't happen and to disuade her from telling on him. Also using scare tactics and then bribery to make her feel like an active participant of the abuse, making it less likely that she would tell with embedded fear and guilt for accepting his gifts.
I reported her session disclosures the very next morning to the cpt investigator. But she didn't seem terribly interested in it due to the fact that the cpt team already had their meeting before an advisory board scheduled regarding the case, and she would give me updates later. I expressed urgency that she call the new counselor for her testimony right away. She was very dismissive and ultimately went before the board later that afternoon without having heard it at all.
The cpt officer then tells me I need to bring Brenna to the sherrif's office for another interview. There she doesn't conduct an interview, but instead tells me that Brenna is to go back to her father! I broke down in tears immediately and demanded to know why and what was to happen next. Any time I questioned their decision to throw her back into the abuse, the investigator would throw his rights as her father in my face. Apparently as a child, she has no rights herself!!! The investogator would act like anything Brenna had told me (or that I myself had experienced living with the psycho) about the awful nightmare of a situation over there was b.s.! Then to top it off she asked me to give up my scheduled visitation that week because this perp missed his time with her while they were conducting the investigation on him!!!! I didn't respond with an answer, but the investigator acted like it was a done deal and I really didn't have much of a say in it anyways. She then went to get Brenna to bring her in, so I could let her know what was going on. She told me to collect myself so my daughter wouldn't get upset seeing me so emotional! Well excuse the crap out of me for having a difficult time with all of this!!!!!!!! I spent the next 15 minutes struggling to get a reign on my tears. Brenna finally came in, saw my face and knew that she was going back. She teared up and came over to get a hug from me. The officer acted like she was looking out for Brenna by giving her her phone number to call if she needed anything at all while she was at her dad's for the next week and a half. I explained that she has no access to a phone because he has the only cell phone in his possession at all times. I pointed this out earlier, saying Brenna had told me on several occasions that she has no way to call 911 in an emergency without going through her father. The investigator sneered at me saying she had several times during the investigation been able to talk to the girlfriend with no problems. I explained that not once in the 5 years that that woman has been with him had she EVER been allowed to answer the phone! That he was only making things appear a certain way for the sake of the investigation. He did the same thing last time. He knows exactly what to say and how to respond to everything to not be convicted. It's not brain surgery to figure out what he's doing now! The investigator finally agreed to ask Brenna's father to allow her to bring the cell phone I brought her for our house with her over there.
By the next day he had promptly pulled her out of camp saying she had no reason to go because he is home all day with her. I couldn't get him to answer any of my calls after that, nor was she able to answer her cell phone after the first time he walked in the room in the morning and she was on it with me. It was turned off after that for the rest of her visitation or left behind when they went places.
I confronted the cpt officer about all of this on the phone the next day and said that I never agreed to give up my time with Brenna. She threw it back in my face that I didn't respond, so they had already allowed for it and I had to honor it. I explained that considering the emotional state I was in at the time that was hardly fair. She did her sneering voice at me again asking what was so important that I had planned for us that weekend. I said I wanted to continue with our normal activities of going to Farmer's Market and Science Center and also thought it would be good to start going back to the Unitarian Church we used to go to. She laughed out loud and mockingly asked me when was the last time we went to church. I told her it had been several years, but I felt that during this difficult time it was good to seek more positive community support and that the children used to enjoy the religious education classes there. She said that was ridiculous. If we had waited 3 years then it could wait one more week. I expressed that in the light of current events it was especially in her best interest to spend at least some time with me this weekend so she didn't feel completely trapped after sticking her neck out to tell many people about the abuse only to end up being sent back into the environment. I also expressed concerns about his obligations to keep her in counseling. She said that he had already agreed to cooperate by taking her that Monday. That right there was my only relief in all of this.
In response to me telling her that he had pulled Brenna out of camp, even though camp was something that the investigator herself had asked me if I was going to look into two weeks prior when they had me keeping her, she now defended his right to pull her out of it (despite me paying for a full week). She said that since he had missed his time with her the family probably just wanted to spend extra time with Brenna now and that was understandable. Then she threw in a jab at me, asking just exactly what kind of camp was this anyways. I told her that I had called her right after enrolling her and told her where it was, what it was and how excited Brenna was about it, and at that time she had said that was very good for her. I became sick of the jabs at me when pleading for my daughter's rights in all of this and finally yelled at her that I couldn't believe they were now penalizing me and my daughter for this man having been investigated by them for being a deviant pervert! She demanded for me to calm down. I told her to please excuse me for having emotions, being a worried sick mother knowing my daughter is back in the hands of a pervert. I said that this was certainly not easy on anyone, and to that she agreed with, sounding sarcastic.
So I have to resume our regular custody schedule. They're not necessarily closing the door on the case, but it sure doesn’t do much for Brenna's well-being! From what the counselor told me this past Monday, she is currently seeing 7 girls who have fathers doing the same things to them, but the father’s are given full access to these kids because of the way the system is set-up! It is truly one of the easiest crimes to get away with here! She said half the time with how severe these cases are, they almost pray for these kids to catch an STD from their dads for the legal system to finally have enough evidence to put these perps away and get the abuse to come to an end for the children to begin healing! The case isn't necessarily being closed but WTF! She's being forced back into a really harmful environment for the sake of this perp's rights!!!! I'm so disgusted with the system here! It blows me away!
Anyways... I hardly ate anything last week nor slept. I was a hsyterical balling mess, not really much for communicating with anyone... And now I'm just plain irate about all of it! It needs to change! These children need to have rights to a healthy life! There is so little attention brought to this issue and only other moms going through it have any idea of just how strongly Florida's legal system is protecting these perps paternal rights over the children's. This has to STOP!!! It shouldn't take such extremes as an std, severe mauling or death to get these children protection! A father's custodial rights should not have precedence over these children's lives and emotional well-being!
If anyone knows any other moms in Seminole County or Florida in general experincing this kind of legal blockade keeping their children in a dangerous environment, please, please ask them to get in touch with me...