When to advocate and when not to?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by exhausted, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Today we had a family session at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). The therapists asked to talk with my husband and I alone. Things have not been very good the last few weeks at this place and we have had to advocate for our daughter (you can see my forced diet posting in teens forum). This is not her first rodeo in fascilities and we have had to advocate for many health issues like an impacted tooth, sinus infections, not giving her medications as scheduled, refusing to follow through with doctors orders, allowing her to be victomized ect.

    Never the less, the therapist is concerned that we advocate for our difficult child and she feels that our 16 year old needs to do it on her own. We agree... however, when she tries to advocate and it falls on deaf ears i.e; she is not believed, her issues are not resolved, or she is ignored (once waited 2 weeks to see the doctor and we finally had to take her and she had a severe sinus infection and pnemonia), We think it's time for parent help.

    Its an institution-therapist wants us to give them the benefit of the doubt.....I just can't do it! Not after all the horrid experiences we have had over last few years.

    Unfortunate for us and difficult child, our daughter is a victim type-she was placed in this situation by the abuse she has suffered and she seems to almost be a magnet for abuse. Just today the girls in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) circulated a paper with a picture of my daughter and they drew weapons stuck into her. Staff told her to use a skill and deal with it. We asked to speak with the unit supervisor right during this family session. She told us she would get on it, but then turned to our daughter and told her this is happening because your involved in mean girl stuff-are you kidding me??? I wish my daughter even had a mean bone to stick up for herself! The only people she is ever more than passive with is my husband and I. I have bawled my eyes out for 2 hours, pretty unusual for me.

    I don't know what to do_Our difficult child doesn't trust them, nor do I. Why would we? Of course she will tell me first, I'm the mom. She often asks me how she should handle it, thats a good thing. I always give her a chance first. If things are not resolved, is it bad for me to step in?:dont_know:
    I think they know they have messed up and they are trying to get us to back off.
    I just feel as if I'm doing the right things, but being kicked in the gut for being an advocate for my kid.
  2. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I think you are doing the right thing in teaching difficult child to advocate for herself, and you should absolutely step in if things aren't resolved. There are times I still step in for Miss KT (when asked, because she's a "grown-up"), but in my opinion, if the difficult child is trying and just needs that boost, you boost.

    Many hugs. Hope the staff gets on board ASAP.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    :consoling: I don't think it's wrong of you to step in.
    "I'm sorry, exactly what skill would they recommend here?" If your daughter can't ask that question, I think you should. I cannot think of any way she could deal with this herself. Aren't they ALSO supposed to be teaching the other girls that this is NOT acceptable behavior? I would also aks them how exactly, your daughter is involved in this "mean girl" activity What did she do, what is her role in all of it?

    To 'play along' with their desire for difficult child to self advocate, you could tell her that if on the first try she doesn't get her needs met, she has to try again. If the needs are still not met, then you step in. I don't know all the details, but could that be a fair 'compromise'?

    What I don't understand is if you - the PARENTS - have a hard time getting through to these ppl to have her needs met, how do they expect her to do it on her own?
  4. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    My question exactly! We did agree to the "broken record" strategy in therapy today. But I think 2 times is quite enough. Until they are willing to do the work of sorting through her needs, I have little faith that she will have much luck asking for what she needs.

    As for the "use a skill" thing, that is a lazy, undereducated, staff response.
  5. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    i cant speak to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) thing since i dont have that experiences, but i absolutely can say our experience with self advocacy falling on deaf ears equals yours.

    in my opinion, you have no choice but to step in if yours isnt being heard. i find it disgraceful that these kids are being "taught advocacy" and no one listens. mine is a lot younger than yours with different issues, but i can tell you there was an instance here where she "used her words" and actually pre-told an adult that "i'm gonna blow"....and the adult told her to stop being a smart alec.

    so when "she blew" i most certainly gave someone an earful, along with complementing mine on doing the right thing when an adult *did not*.

    your daughter's issues are significant enough to warrant your intervention--any Residential Treatment Center (RTC) worker who ignores a sick child should be fired on the spot, so i personally think you should continue YOUR advocacy for your child. (here, in my world, i can assure you that a drawing of anything with weapons sticking out of it is massively taken seriously--it is *not* something for kids to work out).

    you are a great mom.

    dont forget it.
  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with the others-it is definitely right to step in. What a shame that your daughter is trying to advocate for herself and they are not responding. Hugs.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I only have experience with substance abuse Residential Treatment Center (RTC) so I'm not experience qualified to respond to your situation. on the other hand, I do know there is a wide variance in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s and methods used. I can't tell you how much I have wished that my easy child/difficult child never spent time in the first facility..it was not right for him and did my harm than good.

    If you feel uncomfortable with her environment then I would listen to my "Mom Gut" in deciding whether she is at the right placement. Even with my difficult child's I tend to think kids "read" their contacts
    pretty accurately. Dissing parents doesn't sound therapeutic to me. Good luck & hugs. DDD
  8. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Question - exactly what are they teaching the girls that did that drawing? How are they being handled?
  9. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I looked at it this way - as the parent, the buck stopped with me. Yes, I wanted thank you to advocate for himself, but let's face it - the kid couldn't advocate his way out of a paper bag. When he wanted my help, I would try to coach him but usually it ended up with me having to do the advocating. That's my job, responsibility, and obligation.

    An Residential Treatment Center (RTC) *earns* the benefit of the doubt, and I wouldn't hesitate to let therapist know that. Your Residential Treatment Center (RTC) would be in the hole in terms of earning it in my book, because they have failed to listed to difficult child's concerns *and* are not facilitating her self-advocacy. Telling her to use "skills" isn't going to cut it. Those skills need to be broken down, point by point, into as many steps as it takes for difficult child to start to get it.

    I think the tendency is to blow off residents' complaints and concerns. I'd let the therapist know that as soon as you see Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff appropriately addressing difficult child's concerns, you'd be happy to step back. The whole drawing incident? Give me a break - that's bullying and intimidation. difficult child isn't the one who needs to use her skills - the artists are. I do have to admit that the supervisor's statement to difficult child about her essentially inviting this because she's involved in "mean girl" stuff is familiar and not surprising. Residential Treatment Center (RTC), in our experience, was a different kind of moral world. At least equal weight was given to precipitating events as was given to end-result events. I can't say I disagree with them - thank you could provoke peers to the point of full out riot, and then play the victim. *He* was the instigator. It's a very rough, street-wise logical consequence kind of thing.

    You have to be able to have some confidence that difficult child is safe and well cared for. I wouldn't give advocating for difficult child a second thought, and I'd be really fast in shooting down any Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff member who questioned the amount of advocacy you do - if they were doing their jobs, ensuring her safety (mentally, physically, medically), listening to and validating her concerns, *and* teaching her effective self-advocacy skills, you wouldn't have to do it for her. Period.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Even if this was a grown kid I would advocate. Sounds like they don't like you finding out when they screw up.

    This "advocate for herself" thing must be big these days because they tell me at school to let my daughter do it too. Same wording: "She has to learn to advocate for herself." Sometimes she can, sometimes they ignore and we have to step in. It's our call, not theirs. JMO
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Do you have an attorney? Are you willing to get one even for the short term? I personally would have blasted them for telling my child she needs to use a skill to handle a terroristic threat drawn by a MOB of girls. That drawing was not "fun" or "healthy expression" of anything. It is, and was created to be, a threat telling your child that this is what is going to happen to her. Having been the victim of abuse she has learned to be a victim. Victims ATTRACT abuse like magnets. You simply cannot just tell a victim to "use a skill" or to "handle it yourself". They are not CAPABLE of doing this.

    Your daughter can advocate for herself about as well as she can write her name is urine using a male private part. I would use the correct anatomical name and tell the idiots at this place that. Cause it will stick in their minds - both that you won't hesistate to use an analogy that is shocking and memorable and that past abuse makes her unable to cope.

    Right now this place would have maybe, and only maybe, ONE more mistake before my child would be gone if there was a way to get her out of there. IF it is court ordered, I would have an attorney all up in their faces. I am SURE that allowing other children to terrorize and threaten and abuse her is NOT therapeutic in any way, shape or form. I am also sure that when she asks for medical care and it is denied to the point that she ends up with pneumonia and other serious, potentially life and long term health threatening problems then the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is both legally liable AND liaabel in civil suits for pain and suffering.

    Given your daughter's past abuse history, she needs to be under very close supervision NOT NOT NOT because she is going to mess everything up but so that she can be walked through the steps of healthy living and healthy ways to interact and advocate for herself. In NO way is she getting this and I would be finding out who the top dog at the facility is and hwo the top dog at the company or government division that runs the place is. I would also be calling my attorney (finding one if I don't have one - heck, even look for a law student at a law school in your state or a savvy paralegal who can help advise you) and my state and fed representatives. If needed, I would borrow a page out of marg's book and take a few books, bag of snacks, thermos of coffee, even a small pillow and light blanket because the airconditioning can get cold this time of year and I would be camping out in the office of one of those representatives until they were willing to step in.

    You NEED to call the local domestic violence center this week. Make an appointment to talk to someone about how a program to help your daughter learn to advocate for herself should be set up. Get them involved in devising steps that can help her stop the bullying by staff and residents at this place. Then go and DEMAND that the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) start working that program. It may be that you need to contact someone in the higher up level of this place to do it, and if so, go to the very top. Ignore the people in the middle. If they were doing their jobs you would not need to do this. (If you need help finding the top people, pm me all the info you have on the facility - including name of the place, address, any mailing addresses, name of the director, any hospital affiliation, etc....... It may take a couple of days but I can try to find it if you need help.)

    You also need to let these people know that you are keeping records, with the names of staff and residents who are terrorizing your daughter and you will hold them legally accountable for any abuse your daughter suffers as they refuse to listen when she tries to advocate for herself, as staff members with NO medical or psychological training put her through intense humiliation and emotional pain with the consent of the doctor who co-conspired with her by not asking ANY questions about if she had a medical condition causing the medical problem the untrained staff member diagnosed her with or even if the medical problem or behavioral problem existed (and the staff member isn't qualified to diagnosis a behavioral problem either) but this was used to torment, humiliate, bully and further victimize your already traumatized daughter. Because of their lack of staff supervision you daughter was harmed emotionally and socially and was made a target of further campaigns of terror by the residents and teh staff (both trained and untrained) refuse to either listen to her when she asks for help or show her how to help herself and stand up for herself in those situation. IN fact, by not listening to her they are making her a further target of the residents, thus the staff is complicit and fully responsible in a legal, criminal and financail sense for the trauma you daughter has experienced.

    It very well may take legal action to make these vicious people treat your daughter the way every human deserves to be treated. They are condoning the actions against her by not helping her, esp as they let a staff member make her a target by that forced "diet" that was really just abuse of the worst kind.

    Is there ANY way you can get her out of there and into a better place?? If nothing else, she NEEDS help from a domestic violence center to deal with the victimization, or a group that specializes in helping those who have been abused in other ways. I am NOT saying that she was hurt by you or husband, just that she has to deal with the trauma of abuse of some kind and she has to learn to not be a victim who is an abuse magnet. DV centers are the only place I can think of that do this with real skill and frequency other than sexual abuse counsellors. But I don't know how she was abused so I don't know which is most appropriate. I do think the abuse by the staff members with the diet and medical neglect constitute domesticc violence because that is her home right now.

    (((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))) Cry at home, we know how this hurts. But it is time to put bite into your bark and stop listening to stupid people who tell you, in their role as tdocs, to abandon your daughter to their abuse so that she can somehow learn something. Personally, given the abuse she has experienced with them heaped on top of past trauma, I would be at the burning bed point or close - the point where I started lashing out just to make the people who kept terrorizing me dead so it would stop. ANd I would be going for dead because I would believe that if they were breathing it would keep happening. I have been there and it IS what I thought. I know it isn't "rational" and I know it is how I reacted. I ended up not doing it, but it was very very close.

    You might explain to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) people that if ONE person in any school in the country drew that picture of your daughter with weapons, they would be expelled and criminal charges of terroristic threats would be filed (it has happened in many schools with kids from elem to high school). If a group di dit they would likely be brought up on charges and expelled and the entire staff of the school would be evaluated to see why they allowed it to happen - and some people would be fired most likely.
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    Ah, YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! DD1 is NOT allowed to draw "anything she wants" at school for this reason. She doesn't do it as a threat, but for her own self expression, just like her poetry, but the admin looks at it as a threat and it is NOT ALLOWED
  13. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Thank you all for your support. I have really milled around with what to do. I can't stop being mad as heck. I am going in Monday(and it won't be pretty) to see the director. I actually like her very much-she knows I'm a mama bear. My guess is she has no idea what is going on. I will give our lawyer a call. I have to tell you that there is so little he can do. In this state the system is a mess-they have just come out of a very long court ordered reorganization and were being watched and monitored. Every way I turn there are road blocks. Our judge is a great child advocate and I am wondering if I can get to him. The DBT skills are great but I don't understand how teaching them and then not letting them use those skills is helpful.
    I talk to her each night and she is holding on. She begged to come home. We have court the 22nd of this month. They told us she isn't ready but I am so worried about further abuse in these places. If I knew she would not run, I would have her home in a second. The trouble is, when she gets triggered she runs and gets in dangerous situations. At the RTCs, it's always these less educated people who are so damaging to her-I never have access to them and they spend the most time with her.The girls pick her out within a few weeks and hack away at her-has happened in every placement. She doesn't have to say a word.