Thirteen years ago, during this holiday weekend, CPS completely failed me and my siblings.
Let’s back up a couple days, I can’t remember the exact day but a day or two. It’s mid summer and we live in the middle of nowhere on a small lot of land. The house is old and though there are houses around, no one lives in them…if they do, they never show themselves. My mom and stepdad, who’ve been gone a while, are finally home and they brought the girls (his kids) with them. While we’re all excited and enjoying our time together, we’re also all on edge. And then it hits. I refuse to put away my sisters clothes because she’s old enough. In turn, my mom attacks. She reminds me that I’m an ungrateful little shit, that there’s no use for me in this world and then she’s on top of me. She’s not only screaming at me now, she’s beating me. And then the words come out: “I could kill you”. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so terrified in my life but I responded with force to go for it. It goes on and on and then I have a machete to my neck. I keep telling her to do it but my brothers and sisters are screaming not to. And then it all ends…we’re put in our respective rooms, the girls in one boys in the other, and told to shut up and not make a sound for the night.
Fast forward a couple days, July 2nd. My step dad comes home and is in a mood. He loads my brothers and I up into the bed of the pickup with the garbage cans and proceeds down the 55mph highway. 15-20 minutes later we’re in the driveway of his ex’s house and he’s dropping us off. Not a care in the world that my face is swollen/black and blue…or that we haven’t eaten.
Excited to come to some sort of “normal”, we spent the evening shooting off firecrackers, laughing, and telling stories, my brothers gorged and I ate and then threw up. We tried to feel normal. As normal as we could. She had friends over so it made it all the more fun…and then once everyone went home she did something I thought no one would ever do, she called the cops. They came and did a report and promised that CPS would be back in the morning. And they did. They came and they lied and then they sent us back.
They came in and seemed so warm, so kind. She promised each of us that if we talked we’d be kept safe. She promised that she wouldn’t talk to my mom. She said if we didn’t talk, she couldn’t help us. She promised that if we bared our souls of the things that were happening, action would be taken and we’d never have to fear our mom again. So, we opened up. We told her. And then we sat in the kitchen as she told us she was going to have to contact our mom and with a snide giggle turned away. Turning back, she informed us she felt that we were all lying. Our story was too fabricated and that she believed my brothers and I plotted my black/swollen face to get back at my mom. And then she went and talked to my mom.
While it might be dramatic, it will forever be the day I believe that CPS almost killed my brothers and I. Why? Because when CPS gives abusers access to the kids that just told on them, they give them power. They give them the opportunity to make sure the kids never speak again. Once we returned home to my moms, it was hell…and it started off with a passive aggressive, “Did you really think they’d believe you” as we were walking down the street.
We weren’t removed and CPS didn’t show up again until a year later when they were forced to place me. I ended up with the very same caseworker that handed me over to my abusers a year earlier and while she claimed remorse, she didn’t show it.