"It has four windows, two down here and two up here; oh and a door!"
I drew the picture as directed. "Okay now where are you?"
"In here" he said pointing to one of the windows.
"Is that your room?"
"Yep, I have a TV in my room! I like watching movies." he said with excitement.
"That's awesome!" I replied.
"Who else is in your house?" I questioned.
"My mom and my brother- they are over here" he said pointing to another window. "And the bad guy."
"A bad guy?" I asked pretending surprise. "Where should I put the bad guy?"
"Right here, in my bedroom."
I continued the conversation, being careful not to lead the conversation with the 4-year-old boy I was interviewing. As the questions continued, his answers confirmed our suspicion and reports of sexual abuse that had occurred when he was still living with his mother.
I hated this part of my job. I hated finding out what awful and often unimaginable things happened to young innocent children. Abuse, neglect, drugs, absolute filth; I saw it all during my time working for DCFS (Division of Child and Family Services). Parents acting out on kids, kids reacting and acting out on other kids-- I was there to try and stop the cycle.
I got good at shutting it all out, at turning off my emotions and almost pretending like it wasn't real, though I dealt with and treated it as real as it really was. I learned to hold in the tears, to shut of my emotions. When I "retired", the dam broke, tears coming so easily, cheesy commercials, during a sweet song....
Thankfully over time my emotions regulated back to a more normal and controllable level.
I worked this job before I had children which I believed helped in shutting it off as I would come home to just Eric. If I had come home and saw my own little babies and thought of the things that were happening to babies out there just like them, I think I would have lost it.
I don't talk of my previous job too often as I try and keep those memories locked safely tucked away. But sometimes things happen that swing that vault wide open and it is all I can do to not scream, to not break down crying and to not pull my kids in close to never let them go.
But I know... I know I can't do this- so instead I love them, I teach them, I empower them with knowledge of who they are and who they can be. I teach them about lies and tricks that may be told and that they can say no. I try to really listen to them so that they know they can always talk to me no matter what big bad scary things may happen. I am there for them, I would give my life for them.
I try to close that vault, try to have faith and a prayer always in my heart that they will be okay. Love your children. And please if you know of something or even suspect something may be happening to a child speak up and say something as every child needs someone to watch over them.