The School Counselor: Next Time There’s a Bruise…

I’m furious.  I’m beyond being furious for personal reasons – I’m furious that this type of mentality exists and that it puts children even more at risk rather than helping to protect them.

To explain… After a really hard weekend for my children where it struck me that my ex’s behavior is cycling worse and worse and worse… I called CPS anonymously on Tuesday.  The CPS person urged me to file a report so they could at least call the school counselor and have them interview the kids so they could determine if there’s a reason to open a full investigation.  Despite their urging to file the report – here’s the CPS quote that really impacted me:  “It’s okay for parents to smack their children around, as long as they don’t leave marks.”  Yep… that’s the law in our country.  Terrible, isn’t it?  It’s okay for a 250 pound guy to hit a 65 pound child out of frustration… just don’t leave a mark that remains long enough that anyone might see. (oh, and then after that happens, don’t forget to teach the child about antibullying and if they hit someone at school – give them detention.  Nice mixed messages).

CPS also asked “if he’s left marks in the past – why didn’t you call?”.  So, I explained to them:  a.  if it’s me reporting – my ex will use it against me to show how I’m an overprotect mother who is just ridiculously trying to get even with their ex; b. CPS didn’t help the last time we worked with them as they were entirely fooled by my ex saying I was an overprotective, overreactive mother, and c. that it exposes what my children have been sharing with me or others and this puts them at greater risk with their father as he will be angry about it – and that my kids may stop talking about what happens after that (which makes it difficult to monitor their situation).

They then suggest that either I file the report or I call the school counselor and ask them to interview the children.

I called the school counselor – expressed my concerns about the behavior getting worse, and asked if they would talk to the children.  The counselor did and my daughter reported the raging – calling her and her brother “fuck you, assholes and idiots”.  She described her father repeatedly hitting the steering wheel in the car with fists as he drives when angry.  She described that he mostly spanks, but sometimes hits her on the back, and squeezes their arms so tight that it leaves marks on them.  The counselor tells me she needs to confer with the other counselor and will get back with me.

This morning, she tells me she did speak with the other counselor, and… “the next time one of the children come home with a mark or a bruise, you need to call CPS yourself.” 

Now here’s what makes me mad, beyond my personal situation:  This mentality of “next time” is the reason why so many children are sent BACK to abusive situations after they’ve found the bravery to speak about what’s happening to them… and then something horrific happens, and the same adults say “I can’t believe that happened.  We didn’t see that coming. I had no idea.”  The books for children in abusive situations instruct them to tell a trusted grownup.  BUT that doesn’t mean the trusted grown up can do anything (as in my case) or will do anything (as in the counselor’s case).  So then what is a 65 pound kid to do? Or a 42 pound one?


21 Responses to “The School Counselor: Next Time There’s a Bruise…”

  1. Seriously says:

    I deal other this on a yearly basis. This time my kids told another family member that their dad hits them, hits them in the head and spanks tbem. But because there is never a mark, nothing can be done. My kids dad is a habitual pot smoker and try say they won’t test for drugs because they’Lloyd never no when he smoked. He has admitted to 2 online underage profiles, but it’s not against the law so they won’t do anything. We just got through with the 4th allegation. This time my kids now 5 & 6 disclose the hitting and tell the CPS worker thy are afraid of him and feel unsafe with him. The CPS worker closed the case telling me my house is clean, his house is clean. My kids dad seems descent and I seem descent and he is spanking and hitting within the State’s allowance. I asked her what about the emotional well bring of my kids? My kids usually cry before thy go. My daughter has beenot in state approved counseling

  2. N says:

    Hi there, I have been following your blog since i found it this summer and it has truly help me with my situation. I’m so sad to hear of this physical abusive and that it is so difficult to protect our children from harm. And it is so infuriating as a mom because that is our job! I’m praying for you and your kids!
    It really makes me sick to send my 3 year old with her dad. As of right now there seems to be no physical abuse towards her but I know that he is clearly capable on his ‘bad days’. He is going to court in the near future for a domestic batrery charge that happend about a few months ago from a previous girlfriend. (Hoping he goes to jail but he probably won’t :(). And recently has attained a new girlfriend! Its so unbelieveable to me how this is possible. Hes in his 30’s and lives in his parents basement, just now back to work after 2 months being off since putting himself in the hospital for drinking too much (again!). (But he is the victim here?…makes me sick). This is how good he is a being a narc I suppose. And by everything I read he is totally textbook n.
    I hate to think of what her mind and eyes are being filled with over there…but it has also made me relie on God to get through this too. And I hope that she will see Jesus in this at some point and learn the boundaries I didn’t learn until it was too late. That she will have a redemptive story to tell her children, and that I can be here to support her and we can really put Gods love, grace, and forgiveness in to pratice. And boundaries!!! Did I say that already? 😉
    It is so difficult but keep up the good work your doing. And your kiddos will see that you are for them no matter what.

    • A three year old in the care of someone like that is unimaginable. The courts and child protective services should know better by now. It kills me that we can chose who is safe to take care of our children for daycare and for babysitters, and they even have accrediation processes – but we are unable to make that choice when the caretaker is the “parent”. Being a parent shouldn’t give any of us unquestioned rights to our children, but I understand that it is a touchy subject to many and of course very debatable.

      I digress.. but I am going to put up a post on information that Barry Goldstein provided me regarding research that shows how domestic violence impacts children and the connection with custody and visitation. Also look up the organization This organization can’t help individually – but it reflects a growing awareness of the impact on the children – thank God.

      I’m sending you positive energy and prayers for protection for your little one.

  3. J says:

    Oh my heart is broken for you and the kids. I do not understand the system and what the point of it is when these children are ignored and pushed back into an abusive situation. I am praying/sending vibes of protection and being heard for you and the kids. I wish a stranger would see it and ask the children and report their father so it would be taken seriously!

    My own exN had CPS called on him this week after my dd told her counselor at school that her father looks at her privates when she showers and sleeps with her. Nothing has come of it yet, i was informed most likely nothing will because of the divorce and how since he doesn’t have legal custody they will assume it’s me trying to plant it in the children’s heads! So frustrating.

    • Thank you! The counselor told me after this that she is going to have the school social worker call us, so I’m hopeful. It absolutely bewilders me and annoys me to no end that legitimate complaints are dismissed based on some false notion of divorce making a difference. We get divorced for a reason! If the other person was a saint, we wouldn’t of asked for the divorce!!

  4. StrongerMe says:

    My ex is now dating someone that works for CPS. He has her snowed. And he is patting himself on the back because he could be worse. Sure, you could be addicted to crack. Here’s your cookie.
    The beating on the steering wheel…my kids have seen that. And yet, scaring the kids is no big deal.

    • OMG. Did he put an ad out “wanted: co-dependent personality who will feel sorry for me. Working for CPS a plus.” ???

      • Heather says:

        Well – that might make sense actually. Like she went into CPS to work out her own childhood abuse issues and now she has found a real life man to “fix.” My own co-dependency issues kept me connected to my NARC for the 6 years despite the fact that he started treating me like crap as soon as I got pregnant.

  5. Heather says:


    1) Always focus on resiliency with kids. Also how old do they need to be in your state before their opinions are taken into account. Safety plan.

    2) My reframe is that in some ways by being so abusive to the kids, he’s doing you a favor. My ex buys them all the shit they want, has no rules, never disciplines, and basically seduces them. So basically, I end up being the bad guy b/c I’m actually parenting them rather than being one of them.
    At least in your case, he’s being so evil to them that as soon as they have any say, they will clearly tell the court that they want to be with you. Find the date and tell them about it. As soon as you are such and such an age, you’ll be able to say you never want to see him again…

    3) Don’t go CYFD. They suck. If he abuses the children get an OP on their behalf. Most states give these out very freely. Then ask for the kids to be evaluated in court clinic if your state has it. By 8 in my state the kids start having a say (in my case, this will be bad because he’s extremely abusive towards me and just neglecting towards them…and tells them/gives them everything they want…so he really sucks as a parent but they won’t see it that way).

    4) get to know neighbors.

    5) You have to be as manipulative towards staff as they are. You should be nothing but sweet towards CYFD workers, school counselors, etc. PD’s take a moment to pick up on so he’ll charm them in the beginning. Your job is to out-charm. No emotion. It’s a chess game always. They are pawns in your ultimate goal of protecting the kids. This took me a bit of time to figure out. Thank god his sister yelled at my attorney in front of the court clinician. But everyone in my case from teacher to court clinician to CYFD worker to whatever is a pawn towards protecting my kids. If they are useless, I put no energy into them. If they start “getting” how sick he is (teachers have really clued into this thank God, I then make myself focused on making their job easier by giving them clues on how to contain him. Also, I really give them proper respect for their jobs and ask a lot of their advice. I’ve found myself to be really enamored with my co-parenting therapist even though she’s on no one’s side and kind of sucks regarding the PD part of my ex. Because her advice regarding parenting in a divorce is generally right on even though she doesn’t “Get” him. It’s been hugely helpful. This is a chess game. Your kids are strong. They will prevail over this even if the system sucks and this will teach them how to be more effective adults. This will happen because you are such a great mom who is smarter than your Narc ex.

    6) When you start beating him at his own game it’s such a head rush, you’ll want to do it more and more.

    7) He destabilizes b/c he’s not getting ego stroked by something that used to ego stroke him. So give him those ego strokes. Don’t fight with him directly, undermine him indirectly.

    8) get to know those neighbors. Offer to drop off the kids and find out who is in those houses. Offer to join them tricke or treating this year. Drop your number off in “just in case” they ever need to contact you. Ask for their numbers “just in case” you ever need to contact them. Just to be helpful of course. You think he’s a great parent an all that. Really he’s a loving wonderful dad. Oh? He screams at them sometimes? Hey…would it be too much to ask to keep track of when they hear the screaming. He’s great except when he goes off his meds and to help him continue being great, sometimes we have to help him by keeping track of that stuff. Oh? he screamed at you one day? Would they mind telling you about that? Those relationships take time to build of course.

    9) NPD = excellent triangulators. Be sneaky. He can’t know this is coming from you. You have to undermine him via other people. What I get in doing this is that then he has conflict with them. And then they come back to me and tell me how crappy he really is. And then I have an alliance.

    10) I hate to say it, but I still do some parenting towards him if he’s doing well w/things. In other words, I’d still like to see him succeed if he could. So if he’s doing what he’s supposed to do, then I always give him the ego stroking b/c I know that’s good for the girls. I have some friends who really don’t recommend that I do this and I have to say it’s had mixed results.

    Anyway – keep your head up. Your kids will survive and thrive.


    • (First.. thank you!!) 1. I believe they have to be 12 or 15 in my state, but their voice can come in through a therapist, really. We have safety planned. 2. You are absolutely right, it is a bad thing that is also good. 3. What is CYFD? We don’t have court clinics, and I can’t do an OP here. State laws are soooo different!! 4. Neighbors – he lives in a gated community 30 miles away. I’ve been there twice (once with police). I have tried to contact neighbors via facebook but haven’t received a response. The kids know the neighbors through the neighbor’s dog. 5. My ex steers clear of the kids school, and I am hugely thankful of that as it helps it to be a safe haven for them. The teachers at after-care and school know me well. That’s good too. I don’t cry wolf much, on purpose. 6. Beat him at his own game… I’m trying to figure that out!! Can’t wait to do so. 9. I will have to think of how to do this. My ex is a lump of coal socially. The only time people believe him is when he starts whining how I keep the kids from him and how they are the best thing that ever happened to him. 10. As for parenting him… I can’t because then he thinks I might want to reunite with him and he’ll start hitting on me again. It’s disgusting. He is definitely psychopathic as well as narcissistic. 11. You rock!!

      • Heather says:

        3. CYFD = CPS
        4. neighbors sounds like not worth the ffort
        5. LUCKY. man mine has signed up to teach computer science there. He totally screws up my oldest whenever he “helps” out in the classroom.
        9. Mine is extremely charming and manipulative. So this is simply about being more likable than he is for you, right?
        10. So that’s dangerous that he starts hitting on you again. There are some women who seem to be able to string that along (I have a very good friend who is successfully co-parenting with her NARC ex by doing this…so far for 3 years). He confuses basic kindness for romantic interest. Mine confuses basic kindness for weakness, so he just takes advantage of me. He basically ignores or is abusive towards me. This is something I’m finding really easy to deal with over time.

        You rock too. I think you’re doing really well with your kids.

  6. Julie says:

    I feel really sick hearing about this and seeing the picture. I hope that things get better for your children. It really scares me to think what does on in my exs house also. My child is younger and cannot yet tell me everything. So basically these counselors are refusing to help? Instead they want u to report it? Isnt that illegal for a teacher to refuse to report child abuse? (Penn state, Sandusky?). I know what u mean about the NPD taking out their stress on others, I’ve heard their rages equated to the rages of 4 year olds.

    • In my state – it reads that “suspected” child abuse is supposed to be reported, so I’m not sure how they don’t see that they should report it. My daughter’s attorney hasn’t reported because she doesn’t want to blow the whistle at this level of abuse because she figures it will do more harm (keeping my daughter from talking and breaking her confidence… which is her therapist’s means of protecting the kids) than good. She figures that CPS will screen out the call and not investigate. I wish I could understand the counselor’s reasoning, and may very well ask her what her rationale is for not reporting. As for being younger… my kids started these visits at age 2 and 5, so I know what you mean. I have a similar picture of two thumb marks, one on each knee, that I even took to court. My guess is that the ex was annoyed that our son (as a baby) wasn’t laying still to change his diaper and held his legs too tight. One good thing that has come of this is that my children are VERY good at relaying to me what happens in their day – school or dad’s, because we talk about our days so much.

  7. KJ says:

    Mandated reporters passing the buck…WOW! That is so extremely sad. My heart breaks for your kids. Keep telling, keep fighting, eventually we can only hope that someone will listen! My exN actually told CPS that my son make the marks on himself (welts all over his back) and the CPS worker BELIEVED HIM! How do you make welts on your own back???

    We have had two calls both against my exN, one from my parents when my son ran away because ex threatened to “kill him” and he ran to their house and the other from my sons therapist who saw the welts two days later. He doesn’t talk to me about it, so I had no clue that he had been “beat”. When my ex locked him in the basement for 3 hours, they believed my son was being a difficult teen and it was all a misunderstanding. Now my doesn’t talk about any of it anymore, to anyone, he comes home and is mute…why bother when no one is able to help him and the abuse is allowed to continue. It is a sad sad situation and three years later I still am sick to my stomach and cry when I am forced to send him to his “fathers”. My child is 16 so I can not imagine the fear that smaller children go through.

    Keep fighting you are doing the right thing for them!

    • I really wish your 16 year old had a say in it all. There’s a kid who has put videos on the web of the sexual abuse he is enduring because he is court ordered to be with his father – I believe he’s around he same age: I still can’t believe that someone 2 years away from voting age can’t vote for their own safety. It would be abuse in a domestic volence case… so why not kids?

  8. Jenni says:

    Ugh!!! It makes no sense at all. Is it possible to call the police if they are in his care and you know it’s going on right then? Unfortunately, they have to witness the police showing up, but they need to see that someone can control their dad. I feel for you and the kids. Awful.

    • I don’t have any way of knowing what’s going on and when. He lives in another county and I don’t know any neighbors. My kids and I have talked about safety planning and if they need to, they can either call 911 from their phone, or leave the house together, and go to a neighbors house to find help.

    • KJ says:

      Wisconsin (where I am) is not a right to choose state for kids. The childs wishes are one of the 15 “points” they take into consideration when determining placement. I was told by the Family Court Counselor, my OWN attorney, and the GAL that unless he is burning him with cigarettes or sexually molesting him (with genetic evidence, ya gross) then then there is no reason that my ExN should not have visitation. I about threw up. I personally would rather someone hit me for 20-30 minutes rather than 48 hours of continued emotional torture.


      Till he is 18! 🙂

      I am really glad that your safety plan includes leaving the house because the cell phone is the first thing my exN removes from my son when things start getting bad.

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