I have been lurking around for the last couple days, but I wanted to properly introduce myself and my situation. I’m still not entirely sure why I am posting this, other than some deep need to share this experience with a group of people who won’t gasp and look at me like I have three heads. It’s so difficult when you are going through this because people around you have such a hard time dealing with your reality, even if they have the best of intentions, that to some degree it becomes this thing that you don’t even really know how to talk about it anymore beyond the inevitable fight in front of you. I apologize in advance if this becomes a book in length or I start rambling. It feels like the emotions from it all are finally hitting me this week. For the last five years, I have been helping my partner raise his extraordinarily difficult son. I have been a peer counselor for vulnerable women for almost 20 years, and have helped many people through difficult situations, but I still don’t think I had any idea what I was really getting myself into with this one. At first, we suspected that his son was dealing with potentially mild autism and a history of abuse, neglect and overexposure from his mother (to what degree we are still not entirely sure because he protects her). He was having many of the issues I have seen many of you talking about with your children – stealing, constant lying, manipulating, refusal to follow rules, screaming, fighting with other children, refusal to cooperate in school, etc. People would regularly describe him as “evil” (in a nonreligious kind of way). Additionally, he was having bizarre issues like painting with feces in “the scary place” (his closet), defecating under his bed, saving bottles of urine and blood (from a chronically bloody nose that he eventually had surgery on), etc. Thankfully most of those particular bizarre issues went away with time, though we could never quite get him to clean himself after he went to the restroom. However, we eventually found out he was abusing my cat (and had a history of abusing his bio mom’s dogs), and he started to become violent and extremely manipulative towards everyone around him. He was constantly making aggressive motions towards his teachers (“shooting” them with his fingers, etc.) and they became terrified of him. He had no concept of appropriate boundaries with authority figures at all. He was eventually put into an observational program within the school district to assess the situation after he stole my 9 inch kitchen knife and brought it to school, and was then transferred to a specialty school that specifically deals with kids from the local psychiatric hospital as a day student. While there, he assaulted the principal and multiple teachers. He broke his hand punching the wall, and continued assaulting teachers with his cast. At home, we lived in a prison. There was locks on every door and every cabinet in this house except for his bedroom door and one bathroom door, but that didn’t stop him from breaking in through the windows or ripping the doors off of the hinges. He was ever more creative about how he got around things so we wouldn’t notice he had access. He assaulted his father on numerous occasions (at times because he was protecting me from becoming the target), all because he didn’t like an answer we had given him or didn’t want to pay the consequences of his actions. Mind you, his father is an ex-bouncer and is massive at 6’5”, but that didn’t stop him from attacking him. The cops refused to do anything when they were called, only telling us we needed to “beat him” (this was from three different cops on three different occasions) and that it was an issue for his psychiatrist/counselor. Meanwhile, the psychiatrist and counselor both told us to call the police. We tried everything, followed recommendations, constantly researched new resources. Not one thing ever changed the trajectory of the truly problematic behavior. The police didn’t even arrest him when the principal at the specialty school called them on my stepson because he admitted to trying to kill his father and threatened to kill me. The principal called me in a panic that morning because he had told a little girl on the bus that he was trying to kill his parents, and she got scared and told the principal. In the process of talking to her, it dawned on me that he had tried the night before. He was on restriction again, and I was in the process of making some coffee for his father. He heard me in the kitchen and called out that he wanted to take the coffee out to his father out in the driveway when I was done. I assumed he was trying to be nice to get off restriction, so I let him take it out. He came back in a few minutes later saying he needed a different cup of coffee because his dad wouldn’t drink it because it smelled funny. I was in the middle of cooking dinner, so I just told him to go back to his room and didn’t get back around to coffee until much later. When his dad came inside, he was still commenting about the weird smell in his coffee because it was unlike anything he had smelled before. The principal called me back a little bit later and said that he had admitted to trying to create a poison from roots in the yard and had slipped it into his dad’s coffee with the intention of killing him. When the police were called, he changed his story to that he was just trying to make him sick, but fully admitted to intentional action. They would only submit a report to juvenile hall, which did result in a charge. When I called his diversion counselor (from the charge for bringing a knife to school) to let her know about what happened, she promptly cleared his initial charge even though he had violated every aspect of the diversion contract. After they refused to arrest him, we panicked, calling everyone trying to figure out how to keep ourselves safe. The county sent an in-home counselor to the house to assess the situation, and the only thing the counselor offered was to take him out to a movie the next day “so we can have a break.” I repeatedly asked him why he thought taking him out to do something fun the next day would in any way address our safety concerns. The child was trying to create poison to kill us (probably harvesting the materials while we were sleeping, even though we slept in shifts), and you want to take him out to a movie? We made the decision to take him to the hospital for psychiatric hold at least to give ourselves time to figure things out. They only kept him for about four days before trying to release him as a “model patient” and we couldn’t find any answers after an exhaustive search. The only answer we were given by a number of people was that we could refuse to pick him up and force them to turn him over to CPS. His dad wasn’t quite ready to do that, so we still had every intention of picking him up until his father got there and he made it quite clear he still intended to kill his father right in front of the discharge counselor. His dad got up and left at that point. The last 6 to 8 months have been a whirlwind. He ended up at his bio mom’s for a few months, even though we let CPS know of the history there. He caught multiple more charges for assaulting his stepdad, trying to burn the facility they live in down, and molesting two little girls (I have cried myself to sleep more than once over the last one) while living there. He has been in front of a judge at least a couple times since then, and they still refuse to put them either in a psychiatric hold or jail. His mom made the decision to turn him over to CPS after that, which I don’t blame her at all for. She has done so many things at his expense, but he is just out of control at this point and she did make a real effort. Then, about a week ago, CPS literally just dropped him off in the driveway and left, saying his contract had been revoked. Queue a huge, dramatic scene involving parent advocates, police, his bio mom (who had just gotten back from chemotherapy), etc. Thankfully his father is not legal owner of the property and I am, so I was able to refuse to let him on the property. Now the state is trying to charge his parents with neglect, which is just hilariously ironic to me. I had figured that when he was out of the home, my anxiety would get a lot better, but I think when you are going through something like this, you kind stuff it in order to deal with what is in front of you, which is always something. Even with him out of the house, it is always something. After he left, his father couldn’t even look at his bedroom for quite a while, so my mom and I went in there to clean up. We ended up having to tear all the drywall down, because he had spit repetitively on every inch of every wall in his room, torn holes to try to watch me dress in my room, and drawn symbols in what I can only assume was feces. Since then, it has been a journey of trying to process everything and figure out where to go from here.