By | March 23, 2009 77 Comments

When relatives suspect child abuse

A woman contacted Lovefraud seeking advice in dealing with an extremely disturbing situation. This woman, we’ll call her Rosalyn, suspects her sister-in-law of child abuse.

Rosalyn has been caring for the child regularly ever since she was small, and the girl is now starting school. The little girl if fine in Rosalyn’s care, but when it’s time for her go home, when Rosalyn says, “Mommy’s coming to get you,” the child starts crying and carrying on.

Several times Rosalyn has noticed that the child had bruises. “How did your hurt yourself?” she asked. The girl said she didn’t remember. Other incidents also have Rosalyn concerned about her young niece’s wellbeing.

Rosalyn sees behavior in her sister-in-law that makes her think the woman is a sociopath. It’s not a conclusion she came to lightly. “It took me about a year to figure it out,” Rosalyn said. “I’m pretty sure that’s what the problem is.”

The woman is still married to Rosalyn’s brother. But when Rosalyn tried to talk to her brother about her sister-in-law’s behavior, the result, she said, was “shoot the messenger.” Rosalyn’s brother did not want to discuss her concerns.

So, worried about her niece, Rosalyn called Lovefraud. What should she do?

Father in denial

Rosalyn told me more that makes me think that her concerns are legitimate—details that I am not including in this article. It also sounds like her brother is a caring man who is in denial or under his wife’s control.

Many of us have had to stand by helplessly as someone we cared about was being manipulated by a sociopath. And many of us were that person being manipulated, while our friends and families tried to talk sense into us. The hard reality is that, until someone involved with a sociopath is ready to see what is going on and take steps to leave, there is very little others can do. That appears to be the situation with Rosalyn’s brother.

Call the authorities?

Rosalyn asked if she should call the authorities. As heartbreaking as it is, the answer may be no.

Rosalyn is not operating a licensed daycare facility—if she was, she would be legally mandated to report any suspected child abuse. Rosalyn is simply babysitting her niece regularly.

Rosalyn does not have proof that her sister-in-law is harming the child. So if she called the authorities, it would probably backfire. First of all, the sister-in-law works in a profession that most people would find to be incongruous with child abuse. Secondly, her brother does not see, or at least admit to, a problem.

This is a married couple that is living together. If the child doesn’t “remember” how she got hurt, the mother denies any wrongdoing, and the father says there is no problem, it is unlikely that Rosalyn will be believed.

Resist the temptation to disparage

Rosalyn asked if she should “plant seeds” in her brother’s mind that there might be something wrong with his wife. Again, this is very risky. Here’s what Dr. Leedom wrote in a previous blog post, ASK DR. LEEDOM: How can I get my _____ away from the psychopathic con artist?

The sociopath will set up situations that narrow, yet intensify, the range of emotions your loved one feels. Be as much of a source of warmth and encouragement that you can. Try to resist any temptation to disparage the sociopath. The responsibility for recognizing the evil in the sociopath has to come from the person him or herself. If the person complains about his/her life, do not react emotionally, instead be a good listener and point out the feelings you see. If you become angry and say to the effect, “How dare he/she treat you this way!” You will see your loved one defend the sociopath, and make you shoulder the emotions he/she should be having about the situation. Instead, your loved one has to personally own all the negative feelings about the sociopath.

Rosalyn’s brother is still in the fog, that place of confusion created by the sociopath. Suppose Rosalyn had a “heart-to-heart” with her brother, accusing his wife of child abuse. Suppose the brother then confronted his wife. The woman would convincingly deny any wrongdoing, and then convincingly attack Rosalyn, forbidding the child to ever see Rosalyn again.

Maintain contact with the child

This would be the worst thing that could happen. At least, with Rosalyn, the little girl is safe and happy. She gets a respite from whatever may be going on at home. So the most important thing is for Rosalyn to maintain a connection with the child.

It may be best for Rosalyn to take no direct action to contact authorities, warn the brother or confront the sister-in-law. Instead, it may be best for Rosalyn to bite her tongue, keep her eyes open and make sure she can keep babysitting the little girl.

Rosalyn, should, however document everything that happens. She should keep careful records of any behavior the child exhibits that might point to a problem, photograph any unexplained injuries and videotape the child’s acting out.

By doing that, Rosalyn may accumulate evidence for when the child gets old enough to say what is happening to her, or the brother begins to come out of the fog, or the mother screws up—which she will. Then, her documentation may help free the child from an unhappy situation.

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This is the sort of complex, awful situation that a sociopath tends to set up: any of the normal “right actions” can backfire, making the situation even worse. I feel so badly for Rosalyn and the little girl in this.

I also wonder about the legal implications — does Rosalyn risk being targeted for having suspicions and NOT blowing the whistle? And, I agree with your assessment of the consequences of the obvious actions. Such a terrible bind!


I was thinking that Rosalyn could call her state’s child abuse hotline and report anonymously. The problem with this approach is if she’s the only one who has noticed the abuse, it won’t her sister-in-law and brother long to track it back to her. Then, they will probably retaliate by keeping her niece away from her.

Is Rosalyn’s niece in school yet? If she is, then that provides Rosalyn some protective cover — in most states, school teachers are legally required to report suspected abuse.

Every day that goes by, the child is being more traumatized. That’s the 800-pound gorilla in this room.

She’s black and blue. She doesn’t want to go home with her mother. She won’t discuss what happened to her (when most children are delighted to show you their booboos and tell you how they got them.) Her father not only refuses to discuss the problem, gets emotional about his refusal.

This doesn’t look like a hard equation to put together. The question is not what Rosalyn should do, but how to get this child out of the situation and into protection.

Rosalyn is a close relative who sees the child on a regular basis. Whether she is paid for childcare isn’t the issue. Her exposure to the child is. She is in a position to report the situation, and she should. A case needs to be opened by social services. The first report is where it begins.

I feel for Roslyn because it sounds like she is the only one who knows or can make the call. And the one thing that might help is for her to expand the world of those who know. Maybe she should start inviting people to lunch when the little girl is there, and let them start asking questions too. She can tell them what she knows and what she’s done so far. If there are other relatives, they should be exposed to the child too. Rosalyn doesn’t have to say a word, if the other people don’t pick up on the problem. She can make her decisions as she goes along. But the more people who are aware of the situation, the more support she’ll have in the long run.

The other thing that would probably help is for her to start talking to the child, telling her that she is a good girl, that she deserves to be loved, and that it’s a bad thing if one person hurts another person. Someone needs to start counteracting the learning of childhood trauma. She doesn’t have to be too direct or overt about it. She could talk about other people, tell her that she saw another little girl with a booboo and she helped her put a band-aid on it. Or talk with her about cartoons they watch, and say how bad it is when people hurt each other. Just start establishing an environment of different values.

I was an abused child. I think that one of the reasons I was able to separate myself from my parents’ craziness was because I had a grandmother who thought a lot of me, and who kept talking about life that was different from the life I had at home. She helped me see that I could judge other people’s behavior. And she helped me believe that I deserved to be loved.

It didn’t change the fact that I carried a lot of baggage from my childhood. But I think it planted a seed that was able to bloom later, when I was ready.

The other thing is that I agree with Lianne’s advice about not directly confronting the husband. But the same kind of indirect expression of values may also help there. It may remind him of who he used to be, and what he really believes. It may also help to tell him how wonderful the little girls is, and Rosalyn sees the virtues of her father in her.

We all know how hard it is to extricate ourselves from a sociopath, especially when we’ve been emotionally starved and beaten down with belittlement. Emotional sustenance sometimes helps a lot. Telling someone that they’re worth something, that we trust them to do the right thing, recognizing their achievements, it all counts.

But the bottom line in all this is that it sounds like that little girl needs protection. And the real issue here is how that’s going to happen.


Is Roslyns relationship with her brother a close one? Is he acting out of character by not wanting to “get involved” with her concerns… That would be a red flag to me if it were out of character – if he had a close relationship with his little girl.

I say if the child is in school to call child protective services anonymously offering only the school name and address by means of investigating claim – thereby opening the possibility that any number of people could have contacted them, not just the Aunt.

Furthermore, the Aunt can the school guidance counsellor and express her concerns in confidentiality and ask her to please look into it for the safety and welfare of one of her students. They take this very seriously and will likely have the school nurse see her.

I dont think she should mention anything further to the brother or sister-in-law and I agree she should remain on neutral ground offering a safe have for the little girl while authorities investigate.

And the Aunt should be prepared to be investigated as well simply by standard protocal if she is a caretaker. My heart goes out to this little girl, I hope she finds safety and comfort from harmsway soon.


I’ve had surprising, even very good results researching potential sociopaths. Many county courthouses have online systems. I don’t worry about lots of speeding tickets, but resisting arrest after driving under the influence or multiple restraining orders merits concern. Just an idea.


I work with abused and neglected children in a large city Department of Social Services and I agree 100% with Kathleen Hawk and learnthelesson -the aunt must call child protective services immediately. Yes, she can report anonymously, but she must report. It appears this child is in danger- she has bruises; is afraid to go home.

It’s too bad that the aunt might be risking her relationship with her brother if he realizes she made the report, but an innocent child could be in danger- how would she feel if the child sustains a serious injury? And, yes, if the child is in school and they suspect anything they are mandated to report. So is the pediatrician so the aunt may want to contact both of those.

Child protective service workers will interview the child alone and they are skilled at asking the right questions. Of course, some children will not tell on a parent, but the report still must be made

Elizabeth Conley

Roselyn must report the abuse, but she’d better be smart about it.

She’s got to get the bruises and the social worker together.

The aunt shouldn’t call social services because she’s feeling confident or courageous on a given day. She needs to be shrewd about this. Roselyn should call social services when there’s physical evidence to confirm her suspicions.

Then the call needs to be anonymous, and state the child’s name and school. In this way the child can be examined at school, and teacher’s can be made aware of the suspicion. Then the teachers will start to be more alert.

A paper trail needs to be established. When Roselyn’s brother finally figures out what’s going on, he’ll need help. If Roselyn’s brother separates from his wife and loses custody, Roselyn will probably lose all contact with the child.

Teacher’s and child care workers make egregiously silly accusations of child abuse and neglect all the time. If there’s real cause, they’ll report it along with the dozen or so goofy accusations they’ll make over the year. They’ve been trained to look for evidence of child abuse, and they tend to make a lot of frivolous reports. Chances are Roselyn’s sister in law will assume it’s the teacher’s who are catching the abuse, particularly since the investigations will be centering around school.

It’s not unusual to have social workers parading in and out of the school every day. Sometimes these cases are even batched and handled on a single day of the week. It’s a circus, but that can work in the child’s favor. With all the confusion, it’s unlikely the sister-in-law will realize who the tipster is.

Elizabeth Conley

I’ve been thinking about Roselyn and her niece all day. I hope everything comes out all right for this little girl. I hold out the hope that this is simply a misunderstanding.

Personally, I’ve seen no proven child abuse. Mostly I’ve seen misunderstandings based on differing cultures, education and income levels. As a result of these misunderstandings, there’s been a lot of conflict between good parents and well meaning social workers. For this reason I’ve never reported child abuse. Erroneous reports cause serious heartache.

Whatever happens, let’s pray the outcome of this case results in happiness and safety for this little girl.


Child Abuse is real. I have worked in this field for a few years in numerous capacities. I have seen things that don’t seem real or possible but sadly, not everyone in the world is like you or me.

I say… report the suspected abuse.

Many of the cases I have seen have had a long history of reports starting when the child was young. Though the early reports may have been stamped “unsubstantiated”, it doesn’t matter. Over time, the reports show a pattern.

In one case, the same child that told his teacher in preschool, “I have a bad Daddy. I need a new one” later becamse the child (10 yrs old) that was punched in the face by his Dad… a single man that adopted the boy from a foriegn counrty as a baby. The father’s explantion of all the bruises when the child was in preschool was “I tripped while carrying him upstairs to bed and fell on him.”

Rosalyn should consider discussing her concerns with the school and ask them to keep an eye out for things that don’t look right. Kids sometimes have bruises.. and other times, they have a “picture” of Mommy’s hand across their face or the imprint of a belt buckle on their backside.

In CA, you may spank your child with an open hand only.
You may not use any hard objects.
And you may not leave a lasting mark.

I am sorry but I don’t agree that Rosalynn should not report this.

Meanwhile, perhaps Rosalyn could look into what it might take for her to become a Foster Parent for the child so that she can try to avoid the child going into non-family Foster Care.

Elizabeth Conley

Aloha Traveler,

I think we have a misunderstanding. I absolutely believe that Roselyn should report this. I outlined how and why in excruciating detail in a previous post.

Looking into whether Roselyn could become a foster parent for the child is one of several responsible, serious solutions to a complex problem.

I would like to see anonymous reporting of child abuse replaced with confidential reporting. I’ve seen frivolous report after frivolous report, with a heavy toll of damaged reputations, distrust and social isolation for the parents and children effected. Often staggering legal bills have been accrued as families have fought to keep together and stop the harassment. Many people have simply moved to a new community for a fresh start.

If you have sincere reason to believe child abuse is occurring, you have to report it. Reporting it confidentially, and stating a willingness to help investigators later, indicates you’re sincere and responsible.

If you just don’t understand someone or don’t like them, distance yourself. Don’t use social services to harass them.

There was a time when malicious mischief and slander were serious crimes. Now they’re protected behavior. That’s wrong.


Dear Donna – The child is in pre-SCHOOL. There are directors and teachers and nurses. Anyone can call CPS . All the same rules apply in preschool. There is no need for this little girl to have to be abused until kindergarten – oh my, its such a sad thing.

Children die in CPS, as well as die on the inside and lose their lives at the mercy of their abuser before they get help. Sometimes the answer to situations is not necessarily the what ifs but the what is!!!! Of course anything could happen – but whats the smartest thing to do??? FOR THE CHILD!!!! IN THE MOMENT!!!!!

Get awareness to CPS, let the mom know there is concern from public officials that her child is in danger – even if the child doesnt get removed – the mom might choose to lay off her, if only until Sept… til school. Preschools are not benign to this sort of thing – they have rules in place – people alert them all the time. Plus preschools have psychologists on board too. And there is the choice to call the pediatrician – they can help too. There are other avenues then doing nothing at all.

September wont be any different, the same officials will get involved, with the addition of a counsellor.

I feel sp incredibly for the Aunt…but you yourself said the brother is in denial and imagine if she contacts him and he shuts her down.shuts her off and then in Sept the girl has a broken arm and she wants to do something – she wont be able to! Please reconsider. brainstorm. come up with a solution that safely brings AWARENESS to the right people.

None of us can sit back in fear in the face of abuse. Put yourself in the little girls shoes in her home, everyday from now until September. Its her life, her mental health and her physical health at stake every passing moment. The Aunt has to do something more than wait. She has been patient and waiting and exercised patience and investigating long enough. Im sorry, but Im thinking of my nephew in NJ – I would call preschool anonymously and report it . report it . report it.


Donna – I didnt see the connection of the family friendship with the people running the preschool. If that is the case, she can choose to call CPS directly and give the name and address of the preschool location. She doesnt even have to talk to the owners of daycare.


Lastly, when I think of preschool – I think of my childrens who had directors, teachers and a nurse. A daycare is a different operation – but boy do they have to adhere to child abuse awareness -rules/regulations too. I vote to put an anonymous report into cps with location of preschool/daycare. It WILL BE investigated and by the grace of god the child wont fall through the cracks…but its so woth trying. Thanks


If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should call your local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency or the CPS agency in New Jersey listed below. Here is the toll free number to call in New Jersey:

New Jersey (NJ)
(800) 792-8610
(800) 835-5510 (TDD/Hearing Impaired)
If no number is listed for New Jersey, or if you get no answer call:

Childhelp® USA National Child Abuse Hotline
TDD: 1-800-2-A-CHILD

Childhelp® USA is a non-profit agency which can provide reporting numbers, and has Hotline counselors who can provide referrals.


My children and I are finishing up lunch and heading out. But , as I sat at lunch table I looked at them, especially my 2nd grader. And I tried to imagine their little cousin being here and seeing bruises on him (I would imagine it would have to be in unusual places not the standard knee, shins and arms that often come along with active kids…but bruises in less likely place…and him crying everytime Mom came, (I would have to be experienced enough to know the difference between normal and general bouts of tears because he genuinely loves being at my house so much with his cousins because he is only child –vs. being able to determine that it was a fretful, scared crying or clinging that he didnt want to go with his Mom because he was afraid. And Donna also mentioned she was told “other incidents also have Rosalyn concerned about her young niece’s wellbeing” along with not having the childs father ever express any comments or concerns about his wifes behavior with the little girl…

If everything collectively pointed to the fact that I was concerned that my nephew was being physically abused – I would feel obligated to contact CPS. And I would do so in a way that I state/make it known that I only feel comfortable giving the childs preschool address as a means of investigating my suspicion – so that my relationship with my nephew is not severed during the investigative process – I would make sure my privacy is protected for HIS SAKE, not mine.

I have no history of physical abouse in my background. So I dont have some connective reason to make a plea for action. And yes, I would worry it might prove to be a waste of time, or that perhaps absolutely nothing would come out of it in terms of the little girl remaining with the mom…but I would know when I look at my nephew in the eyes that I did something to try to make a difference for the safety and wellbeing of an innocent child. Id trust myself that I was doing the right thing. The mature responsible thing. Especially not reacting right away, but taking the measures Roselyn did… collectively over months, things adding up, noticing behaviors and her brothers reaction to her concern… and I would hope if ever in my absence from my childrens lives…that if a family member noticed anything alarming about my children that they would have the strength and courage to report it to Child Protective Services. This is one situation, where I would rather be wrong or mistaken. Then be right and afraid to get the child help.

There is no judging here. Everyones situation is different, but as I sit here with my children I am certain that it would be my obligation and desire to contact CPS on behalf of my nephew – who absolutely cant protect himself. Thats what family and friends and teachers etc. are for – an added safety net for children.


In every recent case of a child being severly abused or killed the most common comment I have read is people asking why no one reported or did anything about it. There are NEVER any 100% guarantee’s that the officials will do the right thing. But as KH pointed out every day is another day that goes by with more abuse happening to that child. I many of the sexual abuse cases I have been involved in people have stayed silent even though they had suspicions and it was awful and NEVER turned out to be helpful. And there is a reason why mandated reporters HAVE to report it even if they only suspect abuse. If people hesitate to report because of the “ifs” then hardly anything would get reported. At least if it is reported the person knows they did the right thing and at least tried to help the child. But if child was to get seriously hurt or killed what then?

Ox Drover

It is so HARD to make the “right” calls in some of these situations….first to “define” abuse, and there are so many things that ENDANGER a child as much or more than bruise (of which the bruise is only ONE “symptom”).

A friend of mine has an X-DIL who is a FLAMING BPD (at the very least) who keeps her first grader and 2 yr old up til midnight almost every night, fails to feed and bathe them regularly, lives with a drug addict (takes drugs herself) and gets into knock down drag out, bloody fights with her live in BF, etc. Rages constantly etc. and in general lives such a chaotic live that the kids are suffering, especially the 6 yr old who is having behavior problems in school, etc. already.

My friend loves her grandkids, and knows what a P or a BPD is and recognizes what her X-DIL is, but feels powerless to effect any real changes. The X-DIL tries to embroil my friend in her drama rama using the kids as “bait” and my friend does her best to stay out of it, but even seeing the kids requires she associate with this woman…and you know how difficult boundaries are to set with these people, and of course how vengeful they are if thwarted…so it is a fine line she walks….Call the law and report the drugs? Call the school counselor? Call CPS?

CPS doesn’t always take away kids who are beaten, so are they going to take away a sleep deprived, poorly nourished kid in dirty clothes, whose mother never cuddles him?

Too many times the abuser of young children, sexual or physical walks, and the emotional abuser amost always walks. I can only pray that there is a hot spot in hell for these people…Jesus said that anyone who “offends one of these (children) would be better off with a mill stone tied to his neck and tossed into the sea.”

I wish I had the “right” answer–I wish I had any answer, and I am not sure there is a “best” answer even…it makes me very sad. Doing what it takes to stay in the life of the child in some cases, I think, may be the only possible answer, because if you are out of the kid’s life they will have NO refuge, and I think some refuge and love is better than none.

Elizabeth Conley

Ox Drover,

“who keeps her first grader and 2 yr old up til midnight almost every night, fails to feed and bathe them regularly, lives with a drug addict (takes drugs herself) and gets into knock down drag out, bloody fights with her live in BF, etc. Rages constantly etc. and in general lives such a chaotic live that the kids are suffering, especially the 6 yr old who is having behavior problems in school, etc. already.”

What you’re describing is by far the most common style of child abuse I’ve seen. Legally, I guess it’s child neglect. It’s profoundly damaging psychologically, yet almost never solved by social services.

Most kids’ ticket out is a relative who accepts custody when the unstable parent has a crisis. What’s the chance of your friend’s son getting custody of his kids?

Our family knows the ex DILs game very well. We’ve got one in the family. To reach out to her son is to become embroiled in her drama. There are no easy answers. To our shame, she probably has custody because we’ve helped out so much. It took some of us 45 years to realize she was the disordered one. All I can say in our defense is that she talks a really good game.

At least your friend has her eyes wide open.


While the CPS may or may not do something the more reports they have on record the more likely they are to see a pattern and the more likely action will be taken.

Psychopaths use and count on these type of “grey” areas to be able to continue their behaviors with no one speaking out. And seeing as a person can stay in the life of the child by reporting it anonymously or by having the school or other professional report it.

As someone who was raised by an abusive psychopathic mother these kind of things strike a nerve with me. To steal a quote from Tolkien -“Advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.”

Ox Drover

Dear Elizabeth,

I don’t wish anything in the way of a crisis on this “mother” but one is bound to happen, her BF and she are both disordered (Gasoline and fire relationship) so he may actually hurt her badly or worse, but the grandmother and the father will and are able to take care of the children so if and when it comes they are there. Unfortunately they live out of state from the mother and children so contact is limited at best.

The mother’s mom, who passed away last year, was the primary care taker before her death, so the kids’ situation has deteriorated. All too common a situation. All too sad.


So it is a fine line we walk when we are either aware of or suspect a child is being neglected or beaten…

And while pacing back and forth on that fine line… what to do??

Call the law and report the drugs? Call the school counselor? Call CPS?

CPS doesn’t always take away kids who are beaten, so are they going to take away a sleep deprived, poorly nourished kid in dirty clothes, whose mother never cuddles him?

Well if I was the child – I would pray every night someone found the courage to at least try to call anonymously and take a chance that the law, the counselor, or CPS will bring attention to it, possibly causing the offender to stop or hopefully cause the removal of them from my life…every nite a child is praying the grown up mature responsible adults in the world – take that chance – and walk the line for them.

Its a no-brainer for me…. none of the whats ifs… but what is… what is the thing to do that offers the best possibility of getting the child out of harms way?

Not choosing to turn away – choosing to place the anonymous call – and praying the childs prayers get answered from there..

Ox Drover

Dear Learned,

If by placing that “anonymously” placed call will result in the child being taken out of the “baby sitter’s” care so that she now has NO respite from her mother and the mother won’t let the child see her aunt any longer, how has that helped the child? In this situation, with the father in the FOG, and it is pretty much a given if there are no SERIOUSLY broken bones and the child is not old enough or too fearful enough to tell the CPS workers what is really going on, they are NOT going to take that child away, so the mom is going to figure where the “report” came from.

I recently reported about my P-son in prison having access to a cell phone. I begged the prison adm to NOT let him know where the information came from, but I have reason to believe that A) they did tell him where the information came from and/or B) he figured it out, so I will no longer have access to any further information about his access or not to cell phones…I’m not sure I did myself any good in reporting it. I thought long and hard about reporting it, but decided I would take the chance on him figuring it out, or them telling him. Doesn’t matter now, cause the “cat” is apparently “out of the bag”—and the thing I can see is like Dr. Leedom pointed out, reporting this is not likely to do some good, (in this situation) and it IS likely to keep the aunt out of the child’s life and at least for 8 or 9 hours a day, the child has safety, nurturing and love and concern, and the aunt has the chance to DOCUMENT any injuries that leave bruises etc. I am afraid I have to agree with Dr. Leedom on this one.

Call the CPS. Start a file.

Whatever the collateral effects, this is the beginning of the one thing that can make a difference. Challenging the custody of this child by an abusive parent.

Whether it turns immediately into rescue, it is a beginning. Whether it contains the threat of separating the child from its one source of outside input (which is not true in this case), it gets this information out into the world. As I and I’m sure BloggerT and other children of abuse can attest, the great conspiracy to keep silence is what works against these children. The people who can create a list of fearful reasons of what might happen are not helping.

Yes, the CPS might not act. Or if they do act, they might not do the right thing. Or they may do a half-assed job as they often do, because they overworked and underfunded. But as it stands right now, if that child is being abused (and our information certainly leads to that conclusion), then no report equates to nothing happening.

It’s clear the husband isn’t going to do anything. There is no one to spirit the little girl away and go underground. There is no news or evidence anywhere that anyone ever questioned this. And it will just keep on.

What is being created here, if she survives, is one more lifelong victim or one more sociopath. Which means that, if LoveFraud still exists 15 or 20 years from now, we’ll probably either see her here or see one or more of her victims.

If we don’t have any other sort of global commitment here — that is, a commitment beyond our own healing — I think we have the commitment to stop this. Not in the prison systems or on a therapists couch when the “gift keeps on gifting” creates the next generation of victims, but while we can possibly do something to give this child a chance.

This is not sentimentality. This is actually what is happening here, the future is being created.

I can’t see any alternative, given the current legal situation. Call the CPS. Start a file. It is the only available option.

Apologies for my bossy tone. This upsets me.


Dear Oxy –

It is all circumspect. Who knows what will happen. Who can predict. The call to CPS can come from anyone- the Aunt IS protected – CPS is going to the DAYCARE – anyone -from other parents to teachers to any number of relatives – could have placed the call. A bruise or broken bone makes no difference to me.

When the child is in the room with CPS, they know the questions to ask, they know the signs the responses the actions/reactions if even a shadow of doubt is placed something will be done- – how do you know Oxy that little girl wont break down and cry and say the truth at 5 or 6 years old – how are so many children in CPS?? Just reporting it offers valuable, safety and protection and paves the road for more and more reports….building up at least

Again it is a fine line – one that I would have to go with the what is, not the what ifs. All of us can SUMMIZE that reporting this is not likely to do some good (in this situation) and so the answer is just to keep counting the bruises as they come in and jot them on paper, etc.

But I can summize that I have no idea how it will turn out, but the only way CPS can get involved in and potentially save a child (as they have saved many) is to receive an anonymous call from a mature responsible adult who has been witnessing suspected child abuse for what now, at least over a year, its unclear to me how long. And that at the same time as most summize nothing good will come of it – I summize and see the good that has come out of it for so many children whose Aunt, teacher, family friend made that painful difficult anonymous call. Hanging up knowing they did something – but not knowing what the outcome will be or if it anything will change…

And further, the child would get respite from another caregiver/babysitter. Thank goodness we all dont have to agree here at LF.


Kathy – I didnt read your post until just now. wish I could articulate as well as you. But nonetheless I agree with you on this and it upsets me – not all of the differing opinions – but the process in life, all of our lives of walking a fine line daily – with everything.

Yeah, I find it almost unbearable that we’re actually discussing this as though there were choices.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been really upset by something going on here. I’m going to give myself a time out, and go back to work on my work stuff.

I love you all. I respect your concerns. But this just comes too close to home. If I worked in children’s services, I’d probably burn myself to a cinder.


Oxy, Kathy, Donna, Roselyn….

There is no right or wrong…

There is only the knowlege of what is happening – a bruised fearful child. An Aunt who felt so compelled by it to reach out to LF Organization.

An opportunity to ACT ON IT – based on the system that is in place for an abused child.


No summizing at this point. Roselyn has done the leg work, the record keeping, the sightings the reaching out.

Time to take a chance ultimately possibly giving this child a chance.

Not time to accept that 7 or 8 hours a day is enough respite to warrant a beating later on that night.

Take fear out . Take speculation out. Put reality in. CPS


lastly, if this were one of us with a sociopath physically abusing us – and a relative came here and asked us for advice. Would anyone of us say, stay on the path you are on?? or would we say do whatever you can for yourself to get out get away.

We would feel comfortable telling the blogger whose ex broke into her home and threaten to beat her – we would tell her to go back home – and just be thankful and happy for the times she gets a respite from him?? Or would we tell her go to the authorities — go to the police — its a long haul tough road but do it!

What are we doing here ?


Donna mentioned in the post that there is other circumstances that lead her to suspect the woman may be a sociopath. I think the best option for Rosalyn to do may be to report her suspicions, but to make it clear to the social service agency that they are only suspicions and she feels that she should make a report because of how serious the situation is if indeed there is abuse occuring. Although it would be difficult, I think out of respect and love for her brother she should first sit down with him and tell him how strongly she feels about this and that she wants to give him a heads up before reporting it. Even though he will be upset, this is the only way to do things since going behind his back would be a betrayal towards him I think. And it is a betrayal towards his wife if there is no abuse occuring. There are people in prison that were unjustly accused of and convicted of child abuse. Remember the 8os and 90s when there were social service workers planting ideas in children’s heads. But not reporting serious abuse could lead to horrible results for the child, needless to say.


Anytime a child appears in front of anyone with bruises ,or fear, there can ONLY ever be speculation that there MAY be abuse. Unless it is actually witnessed while its taking place, which is rarely the case. So many many times anonymous calls are made to CPS they are based on suspicions only. In this case, we know its been longstanding, and on top of concerns for physical abuse, Rosalyn has concerns of Sociopathic behaviors. Every call received by CPS is received to be a concern not an accusation. Something to be investigated. And there are concerns that turn out to be not validated or warranted and ones that fall through the cracks.

I respectfully disagree that Rosalyn should reveal her intentions to her brother. Her loyalty is to her neice at this point. She did approach her brother at one point but his reactions were less then understanding, concerning or receiving… I feel that Rosalyn is not betraying her brother in any way,or going behind his back, infact she went to him once already, this is about her relationship with her neice/a potential child abuse victim.

Remember all the years children have been saved by CPS, the good social workers commited to helping a child — maybe this little girl will get one.. just maybe…. who knows… but wont ever know if nobody places a call on her behalf.


Rosalyn has spoken to her brother. He is not responsive to this information.

There is no doubt he would feel betrayed if he knew that Rosalyn made the call. But betrayed by whom? Her brother is apparently standing by while his child is being abused. If he wants to make Rosalyn the bad guy here, it just shows how disordered his thinking is. Rosalyn didn’t put him in this spot, or cause him to be in a situation where he has to choose between his child and his wife. He is ultimately responsible for his own behavior, no matter how much influence his wife has. And if he ever gets his head on straight, he will thank Rosalyn.

Besides, as I said, she already made the effort to get him to take action. She has no obligation to warn him that she’s going to continue to try to protect his daughter.

As far as the rest of this goes. horror stories about unjust convictions — and the fact that they are more prominent in your mind than the dedicated work of people who choose to protect children for a living — is evidence of the very effective PR of the organizations that support abusive parents. They have done their best to invalidate first-person testimony by survivors and to make it difficult for therapists and case workers to present their findings. These are not nice people.

Finally, what “respect and love for her brother” does someone feel when they know he is standing aside and let his child be abused? The fact that he is not doing the physical damage doesn’t mean that he’s not contributing to the emotional damage. What do you think that child is learning from the parent who says and does nothing?

I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you. This man deserves to be woken up, but not by Rosalyn. She’s tried once, and he blew her off. She needs to take this to the next level.

Ox Drover


I worked in the public clinics (family medical practice) and believe me I kept the hot line going to CPS (or in our state DPS) and it broke my heart every day! I also worked in elder care and I kept my line hot to the Adult Abuse Agency which made me GRIND my teeth to the gums at the lack of their doing anything. I told one worker that the way I interpreted their “services” was that if they came into a home and actually SAW a family member setting fire to the bed they would interpret it as “Keeping the patient warm.” UGGGGHHHHHH! (ONE OF MY SOAP BOXES TOO, along with child abuse!)

I have seen situations where the only person in the family concerned with the child was the ONE EXCLUDED from contact with the child because they DID make that call and were promised no one wouuld know who called. Since, I understand it, in THIS case, the aunt is the baby sitter, so there is no day care worker who could have reported it, it would invariably come back to the aunt’s door.

This, I think, many times, is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, and the CHILD is the one who loses no matter what happens. Even, unfortunately, taking a child OUT of an abusive household is TRAUMATIC for the CHILD. My prayers are for this child and all the other children who are in abusive homes–mental, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, all damage a child.


Remember when you believe in something, you stay commited to the cause. Well, I am willing to stand behind my position on this topic.

I am very respectful of everyone posting here. I can see and accept every point of view.

I have no idea what Rosalyn will do. And I have to respect her for her choices and her own personal situation. It has to be very difficult.

All i can do, is offer her my advice, my view, my opinion. Along with everyone else.

My sister is my best friend. I love her. But if over the course of 2 or 3 times my nephew walked in my home bruised and afraid to go home and there were other incidents of mental illness. I would call CPS. I wouldnt even put myself in a position to confront my sister, I would know she is not well, not healthy and in no place to be approached by me to discuss it. I would anonymously let CPS know and provid his daycare address …and once she brought it to my attention I would have the wisdom and sensitivity to remain silent but let her know Im concerned for her and him- and based on the findings of the investigation – if I would have made a mistake (its one I could live with forever) or I would know my next step would be to help my sister get mental health help through the legal system once my nephew is out of harms way. I would explain to her once she gets help, medication, etc., she can try to restore her relationship with her son…. (I hope they offer the opportunity for the child to go to a relative before foster care – but I have no clue – does anybody know that answer> for Rosalyn if she chooses to report the suspected abuse?


Oxy – the child is in preschool.. but the owners are friends with the mom…


For every day the child is removed from receiving bruises on her body at the hands of her parent – she is winning – just a little bit – but she is winning. Her journey from then on might not be all roses, but it will be without bruises on the inside and outside of her body and soul.


I am going to rest my peace of mind and put my trust in god hands with this one.

Has anyone seen situations where the child was pulled from the home and actually so thankful that she started smiling again each day, once her life was settled after the storm and upheaval had passed…

Not always is the child damned if you do —- but the child is always damned if you dont, and in some cases …well never mind….

God bless everyone for their insight on both sides of the fence… and concerns and collectively all of our well wishes for Rosalyn and her neice.


Well – I just spoke anonymously with a wonderful counselor and told her I recently became aware of someone suspecting child abuse asking for advice….

She said, please suggest to that person to call us, we know all about CPS we work with them directly and we can answer any and all of her questions… She also said yes there are thousands and thousands of rescue cases with little children that far outweigh those horror stories.

And she said the privacy and anonyminity (sp) is highly protected more than ever before! BEST OF LUCK!! Here is her number:

Childhelp® USA National Child Abuse Hotline

Childhelp® USA is a non-profit agency which can provide reporting numbers, and has Hotline counselors who can provide referrals

Ox Drover


CONGRATULATIONS, you did something none of us even suggested, you looked up and put the number for a service this woman can call and at least get advice and maybe some comfort! Good for YOU!!!! Here all of us smart folks didn’t even think about that and YOU did!!!! TOWANDA!!!

I also didn’t realize the child was in pre-school.


Dear Oxy,

This one was a tough one for all of us…. no easy way to turn… the little girl is very very blessed and lucky to have such an attentive caring and loving Aunt. I hope we were all helpful to both of them..xoxo

I just got this today from the “Darkness to Light” group ( I thought it might be of interest some of the people who posted on this topic

A Big Step Forward for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention!


The federal government (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) just put out a stimulus grant solicitation to develop, improve and expand local mentoring programs. One of the criteria that will be used to “grade” applications is whether the program will include evidence-based sexual abuse training for volunteers and staff.

This is a first! It represents a BIG step forward for the child sexual abuse prevention movement.

If you are involved with or know anyone in a local mentoring program, please let them know that the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training is evidence-based and will meet the requirements of the grant – and, most of all, it will help them protect the children they serve!


Donna Anderson:

My brother & I have always been very close. I have always been able to “read” him. Last week, an opportunity presented itself and I took advantage of it. I did something that you and Dr. Leedom warned me would be VERY RISKY.

I did it anyway, because what my sister-in-law is doing to my niece is more than I can stomach. I called you one day almost hysterical about some of my deepest concerns.

Anyway, let’s just say I presented some info. to my brother in a very neutral, factual, & non-confrontational way. I think it may have worked. I think he is starting to come out of the fog!!

It has only been a week. I think he is still processing much of what he has learned. But there are changes in his behavior that are very encouraging to me!

My biggest fear was that he would take away my niece from me when I presented the facts, but he never did. I am still babysitting. PRAISE GOD!

What do I do now? Just wait? Do I initiate a conversation with him? How do I proceed?



P.S. You and Dr. Leedom are right. If you are going to try something like this, you better have a damn close relationship with the person you are trying to persuade. Otherwise, the whole thing will blow up in your face, making everything 100 times worse. Timing is EVERYTHING!



I understand. When I presented the info. to my brother, I told him to just continue with his life as he normally would.

I gotta tell you. This psycho. mommy is especially dangerous, because she is sadistic. She gets sick pleasure out of inflicting fear and pain on others, EVEN AN INNOCENT CHILD!
I believe she is capable of killing, which is why I am as concerned for my brother as I am my niece. She has already eluded to the possibility of my brother having a stroke or heart attack. My brother is only in his early 40’s!!

What she is doing here is criminal. She belongs in a straight-jacket, in a padded room, where the men in white coats come in every 2 hours and check on her.



“If you are going to try something like this, you better have a damn close relationship with the person you are trying to persuade.”

Thanks. I needed to be reminded to that. Tomorrow I am having lunch with a guy who lives around the corner from me, whom I met through S. I know he’s got his suspicions about S since I’m pretty sure S clipped him for 10 grand after I refused to pony up. I also know that I’m probably going to be asked about what happened between S and I.

I needed to be reminded that this is not a conversation I should be having with this person. I’m just going to go with a stock, cut-off phrase like “These things happen for the best” or some such nonsense.


Rosalyn – Thank you for the update. So glad to hear about your progress. Hope it continues for you both!

Matt – VERY VERY SMART !! Although you have a mutual person in common (unfortunately the S!!!!) the lunch should still be geared toward the here and now and just generally getting to know one another.

I must admit my instinct was to chime in when you first mentioned the guy (associated with the S) and getting together with him…I thought it might lead to setbacks and conversations/information that wouldnt be beneficial to you as the goal is to move forward and not go back to the past.

Im so glad to have just read your above post. I think it will make all the difference and empower you to be able to say, “Toxic person for me, just glad its behind me now” or Ive simplified my life in such a way now that I just prefer not to discuss S at all.

Im glad you will be in total control of that conversation if/when it comes up. Id make it as short and sweet as possible and get on with enjoying the lunch and new conversation.

Hope your Dr.s appt. went well! Good luck!



Be VERY CAREFUL tomorrow!

In fact, how do you know that this guy and S are not working together? Maybe S sent this guy to have lunch with you to see what you would say about him?

Is that a possibility? Do NOT assume anything.

Be careful, Matt.



If you met this guy through S, let HIM do the talking at lunch tomorrow.

YOU do the LISTENING! All you need to provide is pleasant conversation.

If anybody is going to spill their guts about S, let it be HIM, not you.


Speaking from someone who was that child long ago, I agree with many things said by Kathleen Hawk and Elizabeth Conley, but ultimately I have to agree with OxDrover.

I can only speak from my own situation, and I don’t want to project, but I think proceeding from an abundance of caution here is prudent. In my own experience, my grandmother’s calm and steady presence in my life when I was young was what saved me – both mind and body but especially mind. Even though my grandmother never tried to actively interfere, my mother still managed to reduce and finally largely eliminate her influence and connection with me, and that was a very great loss in my life when I became a teenager. The greatest threats to my mental and “social” safety came when my grandmother’s influence was removed – abuse that has had profound impacts on me to this very day 40 years later. Dr. Steve’s blog about attempted “personality annhilation” is exactly correct. I have no doubt that, had my grandmother’s influence been removed at an earlier age, my physical safety (as in potential death – I was already being physically abused in ways that don’t leave scars) would have been in severe jeopardy. A light but constant touch (meaning not doing anything to get you on the radar and not showing any hostility towards the mother, but just being there for the child) provides a great deal more safety for the child than you would imagine, at least in my experience.

If the mother in this post was anything like my own, any whiff of trouble – no matter how small – will practically guarantee that the child will be punished and terrorized in retaliation (but far enough away from the instigating incident to make cause/effect difficult to detect), and will also guarantee that the aunt is subtly but entirely removed from the child’s life and is no longer able to provide any counterinfluence. And this strong, steady, loving counterinfluence is, in my opinion, worth a thousand “interventions” that will never be able to identify, nor intervene in, the real problem.

The ongoing presence of someone who loves you and is willing to teach you right from wrong is worth more than anything else in this world, and its potential loss is not something to be risked lightly.

Rosalyn, your niece is very very lucky to have an aunt like you. Your brother is lucky too. I wish you and your family the best of luck with this.



I am just really scared right now because I am sort of at a turning point. I do not get to see my niece during the summer months like I do during the winter, because “mommy dearest” is off during the summer months.

My niece will start kindergarten in the fall, and she will be in school all day every day. So I won’t be seeing her as much, but her mother will not be with her, either. So, I guess that is one good thing.

Should I alert the school to this abusive situation in the fall? I am struggling with that right now. I don’t want to do anything to enrage my brother’s wife.

I have no idea what my brother is planning to do.

If he decides he wants out of the marraige and he wants custody of his daughter, he will probably get it. He’s pretty powerful when he wants to be.

I am just praying right now.

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