This child had an exceptional school attendance record never missing a day from school. She started developing headaches and cramps that were affecting her school attendance.
All three children had stayed with me for the weekend and we had a good happy time together. A few days later I called unannounced at the children’s home to drop something off to them. I was shocked at the change in the physical appearance of my middle child. How she could change so drastically in just a few days deeply concerned me.
I also knew that she couldn’t talk to me when I telephoned them for I knew that their mother was always standing by them and listening to the call when I phoned. When the children were being very guarded and mono-syllable in their responses I knew that their mother was close by. The children would confirm this for me. Disturbed by the poor health of my daughter I managed to communicate by Facebook. We had the following text conversation which I share with her permission:
I'm worried about you and want you to know that you can talk to me at anytime. I realise it may be hard when XXXXXXX and xxxxxxxxx are around, or when your Mum is listening over the phone. It does concern me that you seem to cope ok when you are with me at the weekend, but looked so ill yesterday. Anything you type won't go any further, and it may help if you feel you have to bottle things up to protect every one.
Love you lots
I think I am just stressed out, I enjoy things more with you but at mums house It just stresses me out. I really want tlive with you. love you twxx
I'd love thave you all here all the time - the only thing that worrries me about that is the upheaval of changing school.
Love you xx
yeah I know ,
how far Is xxxxxxxxx txxxxxxxxxx?
13 miles...20-30 minutes by car - we could work something out. Does your mum know you're stressed?
it might help if you can say that tthe doctor's without your mum knowing -- does mum leave you alone with the doctor?
nope she sits there with me, I could tell student reception maybe?
it would probably help you if you could talk tsomeone other than me or mum, ideally perhaps asking tsee the doctor alone?
you know what shes like, she won't let me talk tthe doctor alone
how does student reception work?
well miss xxxxx says I can talk ther anytime about anything
it might be a good idea ttalk ther as soon as you can. The only thing i don't want thappen is for your schooling tbe affected
I will talk ther tomorrow
Tell her she can contact me anytime. I want the best for you all
Ok I will, I know you dbut it won't help my school work at all if I'm stressed all the time
Someone (whether me or the school) needs ttell your mum she's stressing you out and it's affecting your schoolwork..
Perhaps it might help you tthink of all the different ways in which she's stressing you out and list them
Its everything really, but recently it been the fact that she thinks I was skiving and I can't believe she would think that little of me, you know that I am not the type of person tmiss school, sshe obviously don't know me as well as I thought
It breaks my heart xxxxxx, we have three amazing children and I'm sproud of all you and how you're coped with everything. I didn't want tleave when I did, but was given nchoice. You need tsay all this tMiss xxxxxxxx and whatever happens, I'm always here for you. If it means moving in with me, we will work it out sthat school is unaffected.
I will speak tyour Mum if you want me too, but she may just think I'm trying tcause trouble sit may be best from school..You know how she re-acted when i tried tspeak ther about xxxxxxxx
nits probably best if you don't tell her, I know you didn't want tleave but I know you had to, If I move in with you then I will maybe just have twake up a bit earlier, That is the thing I love school (sounds weird) but its the best school I have been to, you can guess that from my levels and stuff, I am going ttell miss xxxxxx tomorrow and I will tell you how it goes around this time
I don't want you tleave that school either...if you end up living here, I'll make sure you still get tschool..
I love you smuch, I think you're totally amazing and I'm really proud of you. xxxx
thanks I love you too,
I'm going now sI will tell you what happens tomorrow
Bye and be brave
Love you xxx
I tried ttell miss xxxxxx that I am stressed but she said I need a letter from my parents for some reason, sdyou think you can write one and give it tme at the weekend on the quiet?
Hi xxxxxx Of course I can
Love you lots xxxx
hi xxxxxxx Missing you. School phoned me today, really glad you're able ttalk tthem. I love you lots and will always be here for you. I'm really proud of you, you are an exceptional young lady.
yeah did they tell you what they said tme;
they said they were going tphone you,
email my teachers sthey can keep an eye on me,
contact the school nurse about my stomach pains and,
a school counselor is in for one day sthey put me on the list sI can talk ther,
I was waiting for ages for the lady tcome and talk tme but the only reason she did on Friday was because my friend xxxxxxxx went ther without me knowing and ask if she could come tme straight away because she could tell I needed ttalk tsomeone, and that was nice of her, I am really lucky thave friends like her
It wasn’t too long after this that I left the church ministry, found a house near the school. The eldest child came to live with me as described in part one of this blog. A month later, my middle child telephoned me from a friend’s house distressed. She’d reached breaking point and couldn’t cope with her home life anymore. She’d made the excuse of going to see her friend. Once she reached that safe haven, she’d decided that she couldn’t return.
I went to collect her and asked her if her mother knew where she was. She said no so I said I’d telephone her mother to let her know where she was and that she was safe.
I made the call and said that I’d been asked to collect our middle child from her friend’s house as she was extremely distressed and upset. Her mother said that they had had an argument. I informed my ex-wife that our daughter was determined that she didn’t want to return there. I then suggested that the best course of action would be to let our daughter stay with me overnight and then review the situation in the morning when tempers had subsided.
My ex-wife seemed to agree to this approach, however just before midnight she telephoned me, asking me what was happening and when I said that we had agreed that our daughter was safer staying the night with me, she launched into an abusive tirade accusing me of kidnap and issuing all manner of threats against me. I hung up the telephone because I didn’t need to listen to such rubbish and everything that could have been said rationally had been. My daughter was safe and had made her choice, her mother knew where she was and there was nothing else that could be done at this point.
Since moving in with me, this daughter has not experienced any more health issues and has excelled at school keeping minimum contact with her mother.
This article was first published on Ian's blog, The Silence of Domestic Violence.