First of all, I just want to thank you for all the continued love and support you all are showing our family. It never ceases to amaze me just how many awesome people God has chosen to surround us with. Honestly, we had chosen for so long to not tell very many people about everything going on, because we just felt so uncomfortable. Shame that we couldn't "control" our son. Our pride was hurt that we couldn't help him. And we were so afraid of people telling us how awful we were, or how badly we were failing. So very afraid of people getting the wrong idea.
But then, after this last episode, I hit my limit. I couldn't keep on hiding what was really going on. The brave face thing? Yeah, that sucks. I decided that I was no longer going to hide the insanity. I couldn't - it was lying. My friends - even the random people on facebook I have never met in person - deserve the truth. And maybe, just maybe, if I'm open with what has been going on here, maybe some tired mom at the end of her rope will read this and know she's not alone. Because, even with some close friends supporting me, and even with my supportive husband - I have felt just that. Completely alone.
In 2012, Red full-on attacked me. It was late one afternoon, and I was asking him to talk about some of his feelings. He'd been extremely rude to his younger brother and sister earlier in the day. He lost it on me, and started punching me. I couldn't take anymore, and in a panic, I called the police, and Red was arrested. Somewhere in the process, I had hoped that we would be given the help we were so obviously needing with him, and what we ended up with was a very long path of doors being slammed in our face, and Red's more annoying nuances morphing out of control. He has a superiority complex and narcissism that leads him to believe that he can never be punished for anything - and sadly, it is kind of what happened. The judge sent Red through a diversion program, and that led to many case workers. We were able to get some short-term counselling, but not a whole lot past that. The diversion program is one of those things that is great in theory, but weak in reality. I sincerely hope that the program is able to help some children out there, but it did nothing for my own.
The next big incident was last summer. Red just kept getting in my face, being rude. I kept asking him to just leave me alone - that day at work had been rough, I had been to the store (one of my least favorite chores), I was in a horrible mood. No matter how many times I told him to back out of my face and leave me be, he just kept at it. After about an hour, he called me a particularly foul name, and that was my last straw. I reached out to slap his face (I never said I was perfect or faultless in this mess), and he ducked, I barely grazed him. Before I knew it, he was attacking me. He punched me several times on the chest and shoulders, and in the face. He busted my eye and mouth pretty bad, broke my glasses. We called 911 again.
When the police arrived, I told them what had happened. Hubby had been downstairs, so didn't see the attack. I told the police officers right off the bat that I had struck first, and one of them looked me straight in the eye and told me corporal punishment was legal in the state of Florida. That doesn't make it right, of course, but I felt somewhat validated. It certainly doesn't sound right now, but I guess that in my imperfect human-ness, I have my threshold of how much I could take. In hindsight, I know he was doing it on purpose. We've seen other instances in which he has intentionally manipulated and pushed to start a fight.
I went inside my house to treat my wounds, and try to calm down while the police talked to Red. Before I knew it, the officers were I'm my living room, handcuffing me, arresting me for child abuse. Red had told them that I had beat him fairly badly. He convinced them that I had injured him, and it was not the first time. He had no injuries - not a single mark on him - and they believed him. I was in hell. I spent the next couple of days in jail. I spent that time in absolute shock. And let me be very clear: it was not jail that bothered me. While certainly no trip to Disney, it actually wasn't that bad. I was just in complete disbelief that this was the level of crisis my family had gotten to.
Just a couple of weeks later, all charges against me were dropped. My attorney said that when the judge read through all the statements, he saw all of the discrepancies and knew Red had lied, and apparently admonished the arresting officer. The fallout is frustrating, though. Red still thinks he got away with fooling the system, and that he now has even more power over me - he could always just have me arrested again. I had to stop working with the children at church. The pastors know the depth of struggle we have dealt with, but others didn't, and it was making some uncomfortable. If you Google me, you'll see my mug shot, and the charges. I'll forever have to deal with that stigma of shame, and worry what it affects. It drive a huge wedge between my father and I. It took a long time to repair the damage done there. DCF was back in our lives after that, and I begged for them to find treatment for Red. They didn't seem to think he was "bad enough" to do anything about.
Are you freaking kidding me?
A couple of weeks after that, I was sitting in my father's living room speaking with Red about making some goals for getting his schoolwork done. I stood up to leave, and I said something about if he doesn't start doing his work, he'll never get caught up. He stood up and grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back and drove me to my knees. He must have hit me somewhere about 25 times in the head and shoulder. My dad kept screaming him to get off me and finally he snapped out of it, and ran into the other room.
When my husband came home, he was worried about my shoulder more because I could barely move it. I went to the emergency room, and they did x-rays, but didn't really look at my head. They wanted to call the police, but because we had a DCF agent already from the arrest a couple of weeks ago, I figured I would just let them know. The next day, I called the DCF case worker, and she was very dismissive to me, didn't seem to care. I was very ill all day long, and that afternoon, I sent a text message to a friend of mine that had known I had gotten hurt. She called me immediately and asked if I'd been drinking. When I told her no, she said I had a concussion and needed to go back to the hospital immediately. Hubby got home not too long after that and took me. They kept me overnight to observe me. I was in pretty bad shape.
Because I didn't report that attack to the police, and because DCF seemed so ambivalent, Red never received any repercussions for that attack. He constantly has it in his head that no one can ever touch him, or that he is absolutely above all reproach from anyone. DCF stands for Department of Children and Families - but they're not helping our family at all. They're not even helping Red, and he's the child in question.
Not long after that, DCF closed their case, and we were on our own. Red and I fell into a rhythm where we practically ignored each other. He has refused to do anything at all, no chores or schoolwork, he hasn't wanted to spend anytime with us. There is no family time. He even ignored us on his birthday, and we had planned on taking him out. He threw such a temper tantrum on Christmas, that we didn't even spend that holiday together.
Enough for now. There's only so much I can handle writing at one time, and I'm sure its hard for some of you to read all of this. Thank you, though, for reading, for praying, for encouraging, and for loving.