Hannah and Jack lived with mum alone until Jack was 3, mum’s relationship with their dad broke down and he moved away for work. They lost touch after a year. She met and married their step dad 8 months after that. He was lovely at first but once they were married the emotional and psychological abuse began. Mum and step dad work but in very low income jobs and mum was part time. Mum gave up work when she was pregnant with Harry. This is when the abuse escalated. The financial abuse began slowly as step dad was now the only wage earner. When mum was 7 months pregnant the physical abuse began. Over the next 4 years mum lost contact with extended family, she has borrowed money so many times and not paid it back that they are fed up. She has one friend who she has known since school that knows of the abuse but mum has stopped speaking to her as she keeps telling her to leave. Since then Charlotte was born and then Ethan. Hannah and Jack stopped visiting extended family as this would cause big rows in their house and mum would sometimes get hurt. The other 3 children have never really known their extended family.
Hannah, 18, is a high achiever however she has no close friends even though she is liked by her peers. She is thought of as nice but a bit odd as she has never gone to parties she is invited to and most people don’t even know where she lives. She secretly self harms and no one is aware of what she is doing except her brother who caught her once. Her doctor is also aware as she contracted an infection and had to have medication. She did not tell her doctor why she was doing it but she has agreed to be referred to a counsellor. There is a long waiting list however and it could be six months before this is in place. She is very protective over all her younger brothers and sister. She wants to leave home and possibly go to university; but is worried about what will happen to mum and her siblings ifshe does. She knows the abuse is wrong but is afraid and does not feel that she has anywhere to turn.
Jack is 16. He has run away several times since he was 13. He also received several beatings at the hands of his step dad. He did start to stand up to his step dad and hit back, however when he did this mum received worse abuse so he has learned to shut up. He underachieves at school and is constantly truanting. Mum tells the school ‘I don’t know why, look how different his sister is’. He is bullied at school but is desperate to fit in somewhere. He has started hanging around with known trouble makers and young people who are often in trouble. He has started a relationship with a 15 year old girl who he truants with. During an argument she slapped him. He slapped her back harder and made her nose bleed. She is now referred to as ‘his bitch’ amongst the group. He doesn’t quite know how he feels about this yet….. he hates his step dad but is now acting like him. He is also protective over his younger siblings but feels the house is calmer if he is not there and struggles not to get involved in the arguments. He is ashamed of what is happening at home. He is resentful of his mum for staying there. He has not told anyone what is happening as he feels like he should be the one to protect the family.
Ethan is 18 months old. Mum concentrates mainly on this child. Affection is given to Ethan when dad is not there as dad gets very jealous. When dad is home he spends a lot of time in his cot with a few toys. Mum dare not show him any attention when dad is there as dad will use threats against him or mum will be abused for showing him too much attention. He used to get upset but he is quite used to it now with just the odd outburst. He has not begun to talk yet. Not even single words. Health visitors have asked for another hearing test just to rule out any problems even though the one at birth indicated excellent hearing. He gets frustrated and bites his siblings. Mum is afraid as dad has threatened to bite him back. He attends all his appointments with mum and there appears to be no unusual bruising. However mum is afraid to leave the baby alone with dad.
Charlotte is 4. There are several delayed learning processes with Charlotte. She has not reached her learning developmental goals and is very small for her age. She is often mistaken for being much younger. She cries a lot but not in front of dad. She is just starting reception class at school and did not go to pre-school despite encouragement from the health visitor. Health visitors have expressed concern and have liaised with the school to provide extra support within the classroom. Mum has complied with all the requests from the health visitors including regular checks and vaccines. She has not been hit by dad but was hospitalised once for a broken foot. They said she fell but the reality was that dad stamped on her foot when she tried to run away from him. She loves being in school and is forming a very strong attachment to her classroom assistant. She tries to cuddle her all the time and it’s beginning to become an issue as this is against child protection policies. She is very close to her older sister and really looks upon her as a mum. She is afraid of her nine year old brother.
Harry is a bright 9 year old but does not put much effort into anything. He is always fighting or hitting other children. Other children are afraid to be friends with him but his teacher can’t help but like him. He does get very emotional when the teacher asks him why he does it. He replies with ’I don’t know’. His teacher is trying to build up a trusting relationship with him to see if she can get to the bottom of it. He has a close relationship with his dad and dad will often ask him questions about where mum has been and who she has been talking to. He receives treats off dad when he passes on any information. He is encouraged by dad to tease his younger brother and sister to the point of tears or a fight. He has also started hitting out at mum. He wets the bed several times a week and dad makes fun of him when he finds out. He looks up to his older brother and feels torn between him and dad as he knows they hate each other.
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