A brief telling of my family’s story
After our daughter (who was 3 ½ at the time) told us what happened with the babysitter, we immediately called the police and the teenage boy was charged. He and his family were court ordered not to be in any contact with us. They did not comply. We needed a safe place to go, to get our bearings, to calm down and figure out what we needed and what our next steps were. We had friends who were able to help by giving us their timeshare for a local resort but what we found was that it was isolating and difficult with a preschooler and toddler who weren’t sleeping in their own bed or playing in their own space. We spent thousands of dollars on therapy, which the government provided $2500 for because my daughter was a victim of a crime. I was experiencing PTSD because I had unresolved trauma in my past. We got behind with our bills and mortgage payments. My husband couldn’t work overtime, I couldn’t work at all – between my own weekly therapy sessions, our daughter’s play therapy and family therapy, there wasn’t time or energy for extra work – and I couldn’t afford daycare which the therapist told us that we should only put our kids in a government funded daycare because they have the most stringent background checks since we now were at greater risk.
When we decided we needed to move (since the boy lived right beside us and just seeing him re-traumatized my daughter never mind the fact that his parents intentionally did things to make it impossible for us to live in peace in our own home) the bank wouldn’t help us because our credit scores were too low, my husband’s income had gone down and our mortgage was behind. We couldn’t sell the house because we didn’t have enough equity to cover the real estate fees or the mortgage penalties. Christian friends of ours who worked in real estate and mortgage brokerage would not help. We literally exhausted all our options and ended up declaring bankruptcy.
It’s not hard to see how at least some of the decisions we made created more problems, but in the absence of any reasonable alternative (even in hindsight), it’s the way it had to go. Our extended families were not only not helpful but hurtful. We were not very connected at our church who was going through their own transition at the time. When the new minister came, he was helpful – he at least cared, but he really had no idea what to do with us. No one did. It’s a miracle we survived.
We were in active crisis for close to eight months before we found some relief (after we moved). As Dr. Norman Wright points out, “experience and research show that a crisis ends and balance is restored within a maximum of six weeks. This means that help needs to be available during this time frame, or the person may choose solutions that are detrimental or counterproductive.” p.132 I’m sure this was at least partly the case in our situation. The consequences of that prolonged crisis was significant loss (hopes, dreams, belongings, friendships), the experience of poverty, the very long hard road of rebuilding a life with ongoing set-backs due to related and new crises such as the court case that took almost 3 years to conclude, having to testify in court as well as my (then) 4 1/2 year old daughter and after all that, hearing the verdict “although I believe something happened, because there were some discrepancies in the evidence, I find the defendant not guilty.”
I can’t say exactly how the outcomes of our story might have changed had someone intervened early on and remained supportive throughout. A crisis intervention in my case might not have changed the fact that we had to move, or having to testify in court, but I wholeheartedly believe that the consequences could have been minimized. Families are suffering, often in silence because of associated shame and guilt. This should not be the way.