As 2013 begins its slow descent to its final destination, please put your seats in their upright position. I wanted to thank all of you who read my blog. It has been a scary year, full of self-doubt and revelations. I’ve have more V-8 moments than I could count! But I couldn’t have gotten this far without you.
This post is dedicated to all of “those people” who place themselves at risk to protect others from harm. From an outsider’s perspective, “those people” are the tattlers, the dirty rats, the spill-beaners and secret-tellers, and or/liars. “Those people” can’t be trusted.
“Those people” are called mandated reporters. There are many of us out there. Some of us look official and others are disguised as ordinary people. We all share one common goal. We are watchful, and sworn to report. Whether the abuser is friend or foe, our lover, our family- no status will protect the abuser, even if we desperately wanted to.
Certain employment positions place us in the awkwardness of being a mandated reporter, whether we want it or not. By law, we cannot turn the other cheek. By law, we can be held accountable if we do. And so long as we maintain our job that keeps us in the role of mandated reporting, we are bound to an oath to report abuse or suspected abuse of children, disabled and elderly.
In all seriousness, many mandated reporters were once victims of abuse themselves or were witnesses. Whether consciously or not, we swore we would never let anything like that ever happen to another person or child. Two of my close friends are prime examples. One was severely beaten by her boyfriend and not long after, she enrolled in college to be a social worker. My other friend just landed a job as the one who shows up on doorsteps with the police to remove abused children.
I would never call myself an angel by any means. My halo’s crookedly hung, my wings are PTSD clipped and surely my rags are far from snowy white. Some days I’m a penny short to rub two cents together. I could be making more money, doing something that means less, but somehow I keep coming back. As much as some days my stomach churns walking through the door, I am a part-time private home health care worker. As soon as I signed the dotted line, the Mandatory Faerie waved her magic gavel, and wa-la- I became a “those people”.
Sometimes I get labeled just a “housekeeper”. Other days, it’s a blessing that they have guaranteed help to cook meals, help with personal tasks they can no longer do, and someone to cry on when they’re hurting badly. Their life is not ideal, their friends or friend-of-a-friends are unsavory, and they get used often. They are vulnerable to financial, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. And it happens all the time.
Being a mandatory reporter.. well, it’s a hard thing to do. You get scared. You don’t want to get involved but you’re compelled to, morally and legally. It’s risky, and it doesn’t always pan out. You are protected by law, yes, but your name is not always anonymous.
This year I reported a man who was financially and sexually abusing his wife, and because children were involved I was under oath to make the call and turn over all correspondence as evidence. I’m in contact with the wife sometimes, and her life is slowly improving. I had guided her through some negative perceptions of herself sexually, and she was able to discover self-love even though she was getting treated badly.
I remember the first time I ever reported abuse. At the tender age of 10 I was a witness. Age 12, I spoke into an investigator’s microph0ne recorder, helping to uncover a child sex abuse predator who had been molesting a handful of children in our area. As many times as his time was near parole the families rallied together, protesting, and the predator spent the rest of his life behind bars.
What I was too young to understand then – but do now- is that our experiences in life set us on a targeted course. One day I realized that every event in my life pointed to what I am now, and what I do.
I’ve become one of “those people” and I’m okay with it.