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The Escape 18/11/2009

Posted by Sir Ralph in how it came about.
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Susan was gone. About two o´clock she left our home, uttering “I am gone now.” What was that supposed to mean? In former similar events, she went for a walk or through the garden and returned very relaxed. We had hoped that it would be the same this time.

The cause didn´t stand for an easy outcome. When we entered Susan´s room we found it in a chaos of torn paper and clothes scattered about on the floor and in her backpack a bar of chocolate and a bag of chocolate sweets which Ruth had put on the living room table in order to take them with her to work the following day. Furthermore, we found in her room a box with apples cut in half, three of Janet´s brushes and my headphones among used underpants. Did she plan her escape?

How ofted had I tried to help Susan with tidying up her room and keeping it tidy. Sitting on her bed and reading or talking with her was all I had to do. In vain. Hardly an hour had passed and chaos had taken over, again. How much chaos would there be in her head and in her mistreated soul! I wished we could have organised some sort of help for her. So I made a clear decision: I would now contact now mental institutions with a good reputation for treatig traumatised children. I really should be able to get professional help for Susan.

At half past four, I phoned the Children´s Emergency Hotline. This is a national institution run by the fire brigade. They put the caller through to the local emergency hotline. The official on duty recommended me to inform the police. The police told me it would be best to search for Susan at locations which would be familiar to her. So Janet and I set off to her best girlfriend and learned that both of them had gone to see a third friend of theirs. So we started following the hint.

The girlfriend´s mother was a nice person, but a bit naive. She wouldn´t have believed that the other two kids didn´t tell their parents where they went.

When they returned, the police had already arrived. They had to assure themselves of everything being ok. Susan didn´t feel guilty in the least. She declared that she had informed us when leaving and that she would have returned home.

Was that merely a good show? Or had she really forgotten about the cause of her leave? It seems so. She denied taking away the sweets from the living room. She couldn´t remember. It was as it always had been.  She did something, couldn´t remember and relapsed into her shadow personality when being confronted with real situation. Than she either becomes aggressive and rampages about or sits there in silence and not listening to anybody. We could not see any progress in her development. We knew her problems, but were lacking competent help that would lead to an improvement.

The Turning Point 15/11/2009

Posted by Sir Ralph in Introduction.
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Sunday. Like most sundays with a nice breakfast at the kitchen table with Susan and Janet. The plan for next week had been done. We hoped for the weekend to be finished without stress and hecticness, after yesterday was calm. All the same, all was prepared. Susan´s clothes were mostly packed into boxes in order to prevent her to spread them out on the floor of her room or cut or tear them. It will have to happen next week. Only I didn´t know what really was going to happen. All my efforts had failed. There was literally no more chance to help her. I had called two mental institutions for children which are able to treat traumatised children. They couldn´t accept her firstly because of lack of capacity and second because we live outside the area for which they are responsible. The responsible institution only offers general therapeutic treatment; not a word about special trauma therapy. This, however, was out of question.

Another possibility would be to accommodate Susan in a housing group offering therapies and could assist Susan in becoming more confident and coping with her multiple traumas. Years of depth psychology treatment had not brought about any visible results. Susann is twelve and at the beginning of puberty. Still no chance. All local housing groups are lacking capacities. Furthermore, they don´t take me serious as a foster father; some institutions insist on an application by the youth welfare office in charge.

Then it all happened at once. We asked Susan to clear the table. “No, I won´t. Why me?” Another attempt to convince her. Then it was all happening. Susan was shouting and rampaging. “You are so mean, so nasty.” Then she fell silent, sitting at the table without listening. My wife Ruth and Janet, Susan´s sister, were trembling and weeping. My heart was beating. I knew all of Susan´s problems, her multiple personality, and I knew that half an hour later she would be the dearest, most affectionate girl. The time between her aggressive outbreaks, however, was decreasing constantly and was ruining our family. All explanations of Susan´s behaviour wouldn´t do any more. We felt left alone amongst all this chaos. Something had to happen.

After Susan had disappeared in her room, shouting and crying, slamming the door like mad, I took the chance to gather Ruth and Janet around the kitchen table. Janet was all in tears. “If she won´t go, I´ll go.”, she was wispering.

We knew that we had to take Janet´s intention very serious. Janet had concluded to take her life into her own hands and to cooperate with us. Since I had managed to convince the headmaster of one of the last comprehensive schools in the region with a very good reputation to accept her into the beginners´class, she showed commitment and changed to be most sensible and grown-up, maybe even a bit too much. Traumatised children tend to take their lives and fate into their own hands, and seem very much like an adult. This goes especially for children like Janet, who had to care for their siblings for years, when their parents were unable to care for them and neglected them.

Something had to happen now. We decided to part from Susan to make our own situation endurable. We consented to take Susan to the emergency ward of the local children´s home. We needed some relief to be able to cope and go on. So I called the children´s emergency hotline. This is a switchboard of the fire department who pass on the caller to the local authority emergency service. We talked to the official on duty, and he took up contact to the emergency unit of the children´s home. The person in charge called us back and we notitied her that we would arrive with Susan during the next two hours.

It was all up to us, now. Susan had calmed down, as expected. We invited her to join us at the kitchen table. I started to explain the situation very calmly.

“Susan, you know what has happened today, and that this cannot go on as it is. Janet is suffering from the situation, and so do Ruth and I, and you do, as well. What we need, first of all, is some distance from each other. So we have concluded that it is best for all of us to take you to the emergency unit of the children´s home.

She nodded her head in silence.

“We will now put together the things you need and set off after that.”

Nodding, the head bowed. Ruth and Janet exchanged expecting, curius glances. Nothing happened.

“So let´s begin.”

Ruth and Janet gathered together the packed clothes. Boxes were filled. Susan got together the things that are important to her, while I collected those things which are necessary like the passport, the health insurance card and her spray against asthma.

Then, Susan entered my office in the basement. “Can you print out some of the photos of our holidays, Dad? I would like to take them with me so much.”

I was fighting my tears while the printer was working. There was no way back. Still, was this the right decision? Had we tried hard enough? Why did we only get refusal instead of support from the authorities? On the other hand, we had to protect Janet. It was all so very sad.

Finally, we had managed. We loaded everything into the car and drove off. Janet had filled a pencilcase with pens and given it to Susan, together with some things for her to remember. The situation unwinded during the ride, just as if a heavy burden had been taken from all of us.

The lady in charge was very nice and understanding. Ruth, Janet and I explained the situation and Susan´s problems first.Then, Susan joined us after having inspected her new room. She now had to sign an application for being accepted in the institution. She did so without batting an eye. A short, cordial farewell, and we were off. The three of us.

The evening passed in haunting quietness. Nobody talked about the day. That day had changed it all. Legally spoken, we had done now what we always had tried to prevent. We had given Susan into the custody of the youth welfare office. We would notice only later, what that meant. We had to give Susan into the custody of professionals, hoping that she would get the assistance she needed. So from now on, we would only have only few influence on how decisions would be made in regard to Susan. We would be referred to that fact many times in future.