A parent campaigning for recognition of child to parent violence and abuse within the legal system in the state of Florida, recently posted this video on youtube.
I am told that the animation was made with the full knowledge of the young person concerned, and that her mother, Heather, is keen that as many people view it and hear her story as possible. She would also like to hear from people who recognise her position and would like to join with her in lobbying the state legislature.
No matter how often I hear stories such as this one, I continue to be taken aback by the detail of the abuse, the overwhelming difficulties in obtaining help, and yet the continuing ongoing deep love that a parent expresses towards their child in this situation.
Wherever you live in the world, I imagine you will be able to identify with some of the issues that are raised: the “invisibility” of the issue of child to parent violence, the difficulties around budget cuts and thresholds, and the focus on the protection of the child FROM abuse. Some of the problems faced by this family are also particular to an insurance-based health care system, and so more confusing to those of us in Britain for instance. Likewise the insistence that a parent accepts a child return home to live with those they are abusing – or face neglect and abandonment charges.
But wherever a family lives, what is needed is an understanding of children’s violence to parents as a distinct issue, that needs addressing as well as and alongside mental health or juvenile justice issues. Perhaps incarceration is not the answer, but then there is a need for alternative provision that recognises the risks to health and welfare – and even life – for families; that responds to the up-ending of authority within families, and offers a way back to healthy, respectful relationships.
If you would like to respond directly to Heather, you can contact her via her twitter account.