I can relate to much of the other posts on this site. I am about to turn 40 and most of my life so far has been subject to interference by an extremely manipulative and controlling mother. I will try to summarize here:
My upbringing was somewhat bizarre. My mother prevented me from having friendships and often caused scenes with other kids and parents at the school. I was never out of her sight and she monitored all communications – the phone had a padlock on it so I couldn’t make calls, apparently to prevent me from falling in with a bad crowd. A school friend called childline when I was 14 but I wouldn’t speak to them. I recall also being asked at school about my home life but always made excuses. Between the ages of 16 and 20, I spent a fair amount of time physically locked in. My mother would often antagonize my father about my alleged bad behaviour and he would frequently lose his temper and take it out on me. On one occasion she called the police and reported him for assault despite being the one who instigated it. She also took delight in playing my brother and I off against each other and we did not have much of a relationship at all until recent years.
My brother left home to live with his girlfriend in his late twenties and I got engaged at the age of 27. She went out of her way to put a stop to my marriage but didn’t succeed (although she did manage to get rid of my brother’s girlfriend). Around this time she ‘developed ME’. This was when her bizarre behaviour got worse. She was struck off doctors lists, placed on a rotation system, warned by the NHS about harassment and threatened with the police for harassing the emergency services. She was also caught contaminating a sample in hospital. She was officially diagnosed with munchausens. She was ‘ill’ on my wedding day and made sure she was hospitalized (going further afield and privately as doctors got wise to her) at the birth of each of my three children.
Despite this, we allowed her contact with the kids. My father actively encouraged this and repeatedly told me that my kids were ‘her saviour’. Eventually we allowed her to help out with them believing that she had gotten better. We were told by her and my father that her diagnosis had been overturned. I doubt now whether this was actually the case. Eventually, I went back to university and when the after school club closed we allowed my mother to collect the kids from school - a big mistake!
It was when I was doing a module during my psychology course that alarm bells started ringing. I recognized a lot of what was being described as ‘abuse’ as what I had gone through growing up and I began to think that leaving the kids with her wasn’t a good idea. I was signed off, didn’t finish the degree and ended up having a nervous breakdown. It transpired afterwards that she had actually been taking my kids to the doctor’s surgery. My doctor had been suspicious of her motives as there never seemed to be anything physically wrong with them. My mother had however made malicious allegations of abuse against my husband and also implied that I was emotionally unstable and that the kids would be better with her. She wrote a 7 page letter to my doctor building her case (which we have a copy of). She also made the same allegations to our kids school teachers and we believe to a number of other organisations although we cannot confirm this due to confidentiality issues. Since no-one knew about her history, no-one informed us of what was going on although we were aware that people were starting to treat us differently. I can also recall her making allegations about my father and his family when I was growing up and believe this is part and parcel. My doctor said she felt her behaviour was classic of a munchausens patient who was out of control and escalating.
We have since cut contact but are being met with extreme resistance. We have had solicitors letters and understand my mother is attempting to raise a legal action for contact with parental rights. We have spoken to our doctor, her doctor (who couldn’t get involved for fear of being sued) and the NHS. The message we are receiving is that we should report to child protection and pursue criminal charges in an attempt to protect ourselves. We have been advised by the police that my father would be drawn into this too which although he did not stand up for us is something we would rather avoid as he is also a victim. (He has been scalded with boiling water and threatened with knives for stepping out of line over the years). Child protection did not even ask for her details and advised us to get a decent solicitor to prepare a defence and that a sheriff would ‘hopefully’ ask for her medical records for a background report but there could be no guarantee.
My brother and I have obtained copies of our medical records which contain shockingly blatant indications of by proxy although that was never diagnosed. We were both hospitalized many times for feeding problems and food poisonings (including a very rare and sometimes fatal strain of E-coli) which the hospital were ‘very surprised’ to find in my brother who was only a few weeks old at the time. Both our records document numerous consultations (often 3 or 4 a week), many requests for tests and extensive notes. The doctor had commented on my brother’s ‘child neuroses’ at the age of 15 due to the amount of consultations. There are also various paediatricians letters in my files which confirm that she actually admitted to abuse but unbelievably nothing was ever done. We have been advised by the NHS that they can investigate by looking at my notes and the kids but they cannot look at my brothers or my mothers due to confidentiality. The munchausens diagnosis is in her notes and as we were in our twenties at the time they were never cross-referenced and the by-proxy was not picked up. While there’s a fair amount of information in my notes, I don’t think these alone are going to give the full picture.
I just cannot believe that we are now left in a position where we are going to be taken to court by someone with a well-documented psychiatric history who is well-known to the services and that there is nothing the NHS can do to help. We do not want the stress and embarrassment of this being dragged through the courts. I also cannot accept that we just have to ‘hope’ that a sherrif asks for her records when everyone knows what she is but no-one can say it for fear of being sued. How can it be right that someone like this can be protected by confidentiality but we are left defenceless. Surely it’s about time that the powers that be realized that just because someone doesn’t accept their diagnosis doesn’t mean that they should be allowed free reign to wreak havoc on everyone else’s health. We are patients too and deserve a duty of care but we have received no support at all. I’ve forked out a substantial sum on ‘therapy’ and am still paying for counselling on a doctors advice as it was not made available to me on the NHS system. We cannot afford to have to shell out legal costs too. How do we protect our kids from being subjected to the same cycle of abuse? Surely there is something more the NHS can be doing for the victims here? The system just seems all wrong to me. It would seem more sensible to tackle the root cause to prevent damage to future generations?
Does anyone have any advice on what we should do to protect our children from the effects of this insidious illness?
The following user gives a hug of support to nicnac40: jillian4 (04-01-2012)
Your best defense is to be a proactive and mentally stable father, same for your husband. It is not your fault the law was brought into the mix. That was your parent's doing. Now just deal with it. You must stand up for yourself, your children!
Your parents actions as described are criminal offenses. Don't act like your father did in your case. He failed to protect you and your siblings. Your mother isn't your children's parent, you are, and it's your place as to protect your children.
That your parents are bringing these matters before the law means they are choosing to face getting judged. That is on them, not on you.
"The message we are receiving is that we should report to child protection and pursue criminal charges in an attempt to protect ourselves."
then do that!!! You have nothing to fear. Don't be afraid to ask child protective services to fully investigate.
Don't feel sorry for your father. He was and is an adult, he is your father which makes him complicit with your mother, in that he chose placating her even if it meant neglecting you. Don't mistake this fact.
You didn't do anything wrong. You don't need to be angry or blaming. But you do need to calmly face this and take whatever measures you have to in order to protect your children.
Tell child protective services that after your therapy and due to your studies, you now know that your children are not safe from unnecessary medical manipulation in the care of your mother. or father who did not protect you, and that you consider it best if your parents are not permitted unsupervised visitation, and file criminal charges if your legal adviser advises you to.
Please! Do not take on false guilt over this. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.
Please let us know how this progresses!
Last edited by Administrator; 04-01-2012 at 09:32 AM.
Thank you Thisby and Holy Moly for your supportive comments.
Thisby, I hope that there is enough information in my notes and the kids. The majority of the stuff in my notes though goes back to the 70's, although she was still subjecting me to tests (heart monitors etc) at age of 21. She has also contacted my doc on various occasions about my health and there are notes recorded up until last year.
My doctor has indicated in the kids notes her feelings that they had nothing physically wrong, however the notes don't always state that it was my mother who took them in. There are about a dozen entries which are attributed to her but we estimated there were more like 30 visits as we checked against our work and uni diaries for the entries we didn't recognize. Our doctor confirmed to us she had visited regularly with the kids and thought she had managed to deter her (they were no longer in her care at that point). Our solicitor is concerned that my mother could simply say she took our kids to the doctor out of concern as a grandparent. Our doctor asked me to provide her details to my mother’s doctor and to advise that she could be contacted to discuss what had been happening as she felt my mother needed treatment, particularly as there were kids involved. I believe there was a conversation and that my mother was outraged. My doctor has since been threatened with legal action for breaching her confidentiality and has had to consult with her legal team, despite acting out of concern and in our kids interest. My mother has also done the same with the school who told us verbally about her visits but have since also had to consult with their legal team and will not now put the details in writing for fear of being sued for breach of confidentiality.
I believe that it will be her notes that will give the full picture of her behaviour and which will prove without a shadow of a doubt that she should not be anywhere near our kids. She requested copies of her notes and I’ve seen them - they fill two cardboard boxes! That’s where the stuff about contaminating samples and harassing the medical profession is. She was also threatened with the police for calling out ambulances and turning up in A& E and pretending to collapse. She received written warnings from the health board and the emergency doctors services and one of her doctors said he was taking out an injunction against her. I can only hope that a sherrif would ask to see all that as she seems to be doing a fairly good job of threatening anyone that can back us up about recent events. I’m just worried about who’s going to support us in court!
Holy Moly, I know you are right. We thought long and hard about instigating criminal proceedings now to prevent being taken to court and we met with the police to discuss our options. They said my mother would most likely end up having to spend some time in a psychiatric institution and my father would end up being charged. I know he was complicit in all of it and still is. He is still the henchman who is sent round to shout and bang his fists to enforce my mother’s rule. Most of the time I feel very angry about his part in it all but sometimes I can’t help but also feel very sad. I’ve been speaking with a counsellor and I know that sadness has more to do with never having had a proper father in the first place. She also tells me I need to lose the guilt but that’s easier said than done. Where my mother’s concerned he’s incredibly weak. He tried to make a stand about thirteen years ago or so but unfortunately didn’t see it through. She retaliated in her usual way with physical and mental abuse. She cut up his suits, ran up bills, emptied his bank account and phoned his boss to humiliate him. She even made a scene and sabotaged his mother’s funeral and he still put up with it. My brother and I went to speak to their doctor at one point as we were worried about the effect of her behaviour on his health. He’d told us he’d put all his finances in order and gave us instructions on what to do if anything happened to him. We often found him just sitting crying. We were worried he was planning to commit suicide. I know that the criminal charges route is the one I should be taking for the sake of my kids and if forced, I will. I just worry about the consequences of having my father charged. That’s something I would rather avoid. My mother believes she is never wrong and never backs down and I would have no qualms about taking action against her. My father on the other hand is weak. I quite honestly believe he would end up hanging from the beams of his garage rather than face up to his part and that’s a guilt that would end up being mine to live with. That’s why we were hoping that there was something the medical profession could do to prevent us having to go down the criminal route. I know he should be responsible for his own actions but that deep seated guilt is a really hard thing to shift!
The following user gives a hug of support to nicnac40: jillian4 (04-18-2012)
Thanks for your message Holy Moly. Things are pretty much the same at the moment. We are hoping that this won't end up going to court but have just been hit with an interim bill for £908 from our solicitor and been warned that if it does go to court it will cost us upwards of 4k to defend (and there's no guarantee we can counter-claim it back). We can't afford that so God knows where we stand!. Neither will an injunction prevent it apparently. I tried to contact the NHS to find out if they can intervene as my mother is causing us an incredible amount of stress and seems intent on financially crippling us too. They have not bothered to reply to me (contacted in March!). I have to say, I am incredibly disappointed with the sheer lack of support given to families in this situation by the medical services. It's not at all fair to expect others to have to shell out to legally protect themselves from the actions of someone who doesn't accept that they are ill. I'm becoming increasingly angry with the lack of support offered by the NHS who appear to be content to just ignore the situation as long as they are not on the receiving end. Emigration is looking more and more like an option!
The following user gives a hug of support to nicnac40: jillian4 (05-30-2012)
I'm so sorry you are going through this horror. I think I would be moving out of country, and maybe stopping the lines of communication, such as getting a mailbox in the another town and having mail forwarded to me, and not responding to former contacts. If you leave the area it may not be so easy for others to interfere.
I think American child protective services are usually pretty good about believing evidence. Evidence is usually accepted and taken seriously. Not saying it's a perfect system, or the same in every location.
Please give an update and let us know how you are holding up.
Hi Holy Moly
Thanks for your message and apologies for delay in replying.
Well things have moved on. My mother in typical fashion waited for my 40th birthday to serve the writ. She asked for immediate contact and is looking for the kids to stay alternate weekends (all weekend!) residentially with her! She didn't even turn up at the interim hearing and sent my father instead where her request for immediate contact was flatly refused I'm glad to say. However she did manage to talk her latest in a long line of doctors to write her a letter saying that he hasn't seen any evidence of munchausen by proxy ('the only caveat being that I only ever see her on her own'!!) with attached letter from colleague to the records dept from 10 years ago saying he supported her 'contention' that she didn't have munchausens (because she threatened him with legal action). This would appear to be her way of hiding whats in her records which she has so far refused to produce. An independent solicitor is now doing the rounds speaking to everyone involved. Kids have told him they don't want contact. Surely should be enough! If it's not, we're on the first plane out of here!
I don't really know what to say, but I hope that everything will work out for the best.
and you're right, the system is screwed, and you and your kids need to be protected.
trying to get a restraint order might be good too since she is harassing you and your kids and husband.
You're very welcome! Well they are taking this seriously at least and are investigating. That she didn't show up says a lot to the courts.And the more she tries to manipulate the more courts will see it. They do not like that.
I'm not often on here, myself.
Kudos to you for being ready to move away. Get those ducks lined up, just in case.
Her doctors not seeing munchausens in her doesn't mean anything...it is discovered in what happens to the children, not what her own doctors see 'in' her.
So whatever records you have for yourself and/or your children is what will speak for themselves.
Please keep in touch and let us know how you all are. You have my prayers!
Thanks for this update!
Just thought I'd post an update on the current situation. Well, the independent report came back heavily in our favour. The reporter was very thorough and spoke to everyone concerned. The report highlighted my mother's unnacceptable behaviour and the effect on other members of the family. She had made malicious reports about us in various places and the reporter having spent time with us as a family and spoken to doctors and school teachers confirmed that her interference was clearly unwarranted and unjustified. He recommended that there only be contact if it was supervised by us in our home but that if she could not abide by our rules then there should be none. The judge decided that he wasn't even going to recommend supervised contact as he didnt feel it was fair to subject it on the kids against their will (some sense at last!). So the current situation is that no contact order has been granted. Apparently she could still try to take it further as that was only an interim welfare hearing but our solicitor thinks it is unlikely as two judges and an independent reporter have stated it's not in the kids interests. We have however now been asked by their solicitor to attend 'mediation'! We have stipulated that we would only entertain it once my mother accepts her behaviour is unnacceptable, takes responsibility for her actions and does something to change it. We've also asked that she apologise for what she's put us all through and details of how she intends to put that right. On the basis that I've never seen her apologise for any of the wicked things she's done in the last 40 years, I won't hold my breath! It's a sad state of affairs having to cut off your family but unfortunately even after everything that came out in court, my father is still making allowances for her behaviour. I'm doubtful that will change. For the sake of my kids, I can't afford to be that weak!
The following user gives a hug of support to nicnac40: statikkat17 (09-12-2012)