In the midst of a four book series, which I have almost completed, I have been working on multiple projects. One of the projects that I have completed is A Woman's Afflictions. Three best friends have been together since their teens, but all three have made different choices on the direction their lives take.
Paige, a senior social worker for the state of Georgia, strives to make the difference in the lives of the traumatized children and teens that she works for. Many of the children are in foster care, or in orphanages. And while most people view her work as rewarding, Paige lives an alternative lifestyle, seeking to fill the void in her heart left by a tumultuous past.
This is an unedited version of A Woman's Afflictions. Read on and enjoy the excerpt from the chapter, A Run Away...
I sat at my desk staring at the file in front of me. As a senior social worker it was my job to connect children and families with resources needed to live a productive life. I was also called in to handle clients who had severe behavioral issues, and those who had severe traumatic incidents in their lives.
I was very familiar with the current child whose case file sat before me. She had been in nine foster homes in less than two years. Her mother had been murdered by her father and her mother’s family didn’t want to take her in. According to them, she had a multitude of issues they didn’t want to take on. Her father appeared to have no family. So, the child had been put into foster care. The first family couldn’t deal with her because she was constantly wetting the bed at the age of 13 and her reoccurring nightmares caused her to scream out loud in the middle of the night.
The second foster home had begun neglecting her after they had a child of their own. This wasn’t anything uncommon. Sometimes families who couldn’t have children wanted to adopt and started out as foster families first. But when they have children of their own, they decide they no longer want the foster child. They want to return them, as if they were products from a store that didn’t work, or unused or damaged goods.
The third foster family had been a nightmare. Allegations of sexual abuse arose from one of the other foster children in the home. An investigation into the allegations revealed not only was that child being abused, but so was the child in my case file. She had been raped repeatedly during her stay there by the teen foster brother, and it came out that the foster father had been molesting her, as well.
The fourth, fifth and sixth foster families were overwhelmed by the complications she brought. If she wasn’t fighting the other children, she was physically destroying the home. Her behavior grew worse from there as she bounced to her seventh, eighth, and ninth foster homes. She was now dealing with complications stemming from seeing her father murder her mother, and from being raped and molested. Her promiscuous behavior in the last three homes created complex matters for the foster parents. On a few occasions she attempted to approach the fathers in an inappropriate manner. Eventually she was kicked out of the last three. She was currently residing in a temporary group home until we could determine her next step.
She was waiting in the lobby with her caseworker to meet with me. We were going to determine whether we needed to place her in a group home, or if we needed to implement other alternatives for her. I needed to address her promiscuity. She had been diagnosed with a couple of STDs on a few different occasions. And if we didn’t get matters under control now, I was afraid of what her future might look like.
I closed the file and took a sip of my coffee. I was ready to start my day. Walking into the lobby, I spotted Gail Hawthorne, the case worker and beckoned her and her client into my office. Trying to discuss her options and consequences of her behavior with her was to no avail. She was obstinate and didn’t want to talk to either of us. She sat sulking, staring out the window behind me the entire time.
After our meeting was finished, Gail and I sat in my office, while her client sat in an adjoining office under supervision.
“I recommend she goes to Angela Simms Home for Girls or the Mattie Simpson-Billings Home,” Gail advised.
“Why the Billings Home? It’s an orphanage for young children, not a group home.”
“I know but there is a couple that started off as volunteers, and now they’re on the board of directors. Courtney and Pierce Brennen have started a new mentoring program for orphaned children who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. It’s designed to help them with the healing process, reconnecting to society and discovering the gifts they have to offer. I believe it would be instrumental in helping Madison recover from her past,” Gail advised.
I thought it over for a moment. “Well, my concern is that she would be exposed to males, as well. With her promiscuous behavior I think it’s advisable to place her in an all girl’s program at the time. At least until we have had the opportunity to address these issues and put a plan in place to help her overcome.”
“I agree, but with round the clock supervision we can definitely prevent her from having any more episodes,” Gail countered.
I detested her terminology. What did she mean episode? She wasn’t a schizophrenic or a person with an illness like epilepsy. She didn’t have episodes, she had promiscuous behavior. The child had suffered abuse, and as a result she acted out her feelings of pain, hurt, anger, and love by the use of her body as a weapon. There were no episodes! I struggled to rid my intonation of disgust. A voice in my head reasoned that I possibly could have been taking this a little more personal than I should have.
“Gail, she cannot possibly have round the clock supervision. And that type of thinking is a fallacy. The system is understaffed and underpaid. No matter what they tell you in those homes, make no mistakes about it, they do not have the resources or time to dedicate to any one particular child. Don’t get me wrong,” I said holding my hand up to ward off her comment, “I’m sure they mean well. And I have heard nothing but great things about the orphanage. But what you’re suggesting to me is close to impossible. We cannot continue to let these children slip through the cracks. That orphanage isn’t the place for her at this time. If we fail her now, we will be just another kink in the system. She needs to know that she can trust someone. If she can’t trust her social worker, who can she trust?”
“I understand, Paige. I really do, I just thought—”
“Don’t think about it, Gail. It’s your job to know. You have to know what’s best for your client, and place her in the environment, which will foster growth, structure and healing for her.”
“So what do you recommend, Paige?”
“I recommend the Angela Simms Home for Girls. I have researched it, as well and that was my first and original thought. She will have daily counseling there, be placed on work detail, in a male free environment, and attend classes daily. They have mentors and therapists to pair them up with to help her on the road to recovery. We have to do everything possible to keep her out of the juvenile system. And right now the decisions she’s making is putting her on track there. When is her next doctor appointment?” I asked.
“In two weeks on the 17th,” Gail replied.
I consulted my calendar and thought about it for a moment. “You are escorting her there correct?”
“Okay, I will meet you all there. What time is it?” I realized I had that day opened so far. There were no appointments currently scheduled.
“Umm, 10:45 that morning,” she replied. Gail looked shocked. She knew I was in effect prepared to take this case out of her hands. She was already on probation for not handling a previous case properly. I was looking over her cases with a firm hand. And I had no plan on relenting any time soon. These girls couldn’t fall by the wayside. They needed someone to fight for them. I knew what it felt like to not have someone fight for you. Eventually you were no longer the victim, but you victimized those closest to you. The cycle had to end.
The rest of my day went that way and I couldn’t wait to get home. It was one abused or unloved child after another. Some with hope, and others with what some would say was no hope. But I believed in them and wouldn’t give up. The job of a social worker is never over and sometimes you get calls in the middle of the night. It took its toll on you emotionally and physically. Because I had dedicated myself to this line of work, I had no time for relationships, or family. I focused solely on the job and enjoying myself after hours. The job left me empty inside, too empty to give myself to others. My job could be rewarding when we saw positive outcomes, and at other times it could be draining. Or at least I wanted to believe it was the job doing that to me.
I was soaking in the tub when my cell phone rang. I grabbed a towel close at hand and wrapped it around myself. Walking to my bedroom I glanced at the caller ID. A smile slowly spread across my face. I needed him tonight. I hadn’t heard from him in about a week. But that was not abnormal, Rodney popped in and out of my life as it suited him. And I allowed it. He was just what I needed. He didn’t ask questions, never held me accountable, and he didn’t feel he had the need to explain himself to me. He wanted one thing and one thing only. He was my thug in the dark, and I loved him for it.
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