Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ways to help those in need

This was originally posted on facebook

Ways to help those in need

December 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm
I started writing this 2 years ago, but never finished.  I thought I would post it in its current unfinished state so that possibly it might help someone.  I wrote this from my personal experience and perspective of dealing with CPS, but I think many of the things I listed work equally well for someone going through a separation or divorce, or the death of a loved one, or merely depression.  If you are someone in need of help like this, please share this with your friends and let them know.  Sometimes it is hard to voice your needs, either from lack of how to say it, or because we are so ingrained to be self-sufficient that it is embarrassing to ask for help.  I've had to learn to ask for help.  Let others be a blessing to you, and in turn you can be a blessing to someone else.  If you have anything that I should add to this document, please put it in the comments or send me a message.

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CPS has come into your life; maybe not directly into your family, but into a family that you know.  Perhaps one of your relatives has had their children taken away from them, or a friend or neighbor.  Maybe you only heard about a “friend of a friend”.  However it has happened, “they” are now a part of your life.  How do you react?

Hopefully you will be shocked.  Saddened.  Angered.  If none of these emotions hit you, then I think someone needs to check your pulse.  Hopefully you will not be glad, or feel smug and self-righteous because “They deserved it”.  And you’d better never think, “It will never happen to me” because next time it just might be you!  And don’t assume that CPS “intervention” was necessary because they must be guilty of “something”.  Most families never needed “intervention”, or more appropriately, Interference.

So what do you do now?  Do you take in the news of a family’s “disruption” and then try to get back to your own life with not a second thought?  Or maybe you stuff those second, third, twentieth thoughts to the back of your mind?  I hope not.  I hope you stay shocked and sad, but most of all I hope you stay angry.  Angry enough to have the guts to do something.  But do what?

That is my purpose in writing this: to let you know how you can help those who have had their lives shattered, their family torn apart by professional child abusers.  Maybe you are seeking this information on your own.  More likely this has come into your hands because you have asked this family, “How can I help?” Or possibly because this family needs help and they are turning to you.

There are different kinds of support those families in crises need:  Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Legal (and possibly others).  Your situation, relationship to the family, and distance will naturally affect how much and what kind of help you can contribute, but please do all you can.


  • The first and most important thing you can do to help is to simply BE THERE.  Mourn their loss with them.  Let them know you care and that you will stand by them.
  • Don’t forget them.  It’s all too easy to try and ignore things that make us uncomfortable.  But if we get too comfortable, we get complacent and we are unprepared to defend ourselves, much less our families or others in need.  Call or write a note or email.  Do this frequently, and don’t take it personally if they don’t respond.  They do appreciate it, but just may be unable to reply in kind.
  • When you see them and ask them how they’re doing, don’t accept the, “I’m okay” answer.  Look them in the eye and tell them, “I want the truth!”  The real answer might make you uncomfortable, but they need someone to really hear them.
  • Listen to them.  Be a safe place for them to vent their anger, their hurt, their distress, and their tears.  They know you don’t want to hear it all the time, but when they need to “spill their guts” they need someone who will calmly ignore the mess that’s been dumped in their lap.


  • Hug them; touch them.  Physical connection is so important for our health.  And now, when they need it most, the children who would so readily provide that comfort are gone, and most likely in need of it, too.
  • Food.  People in distress and depression will forget to eat, or will eat poorly.  Invite them to dinner, even (or especially) to a simple meal at your home, or take it to them.  Even months into their ordeal, they may need this.
  • Shelter.  Maybe they need a place to stay occasionally, just to get away and try to relax and regroup.  Do you have a guest room? A travel trailer?  A weekend at a timeshare you’d be willing to give up?  Depending on the particularities of their case, they might even need a place to live temporarily.
  • Show up for their court hearings and meetings with social workers.  It always helps to show “them” that there is support, plus it’s important to have witnesses to everything that happens and is said.


  • If you can contribute even a few dollars, consider doing this, if not on a monthly basis then at least whenever you can.  This is going to be a long battle, and there will be need of money to pay for:
  • Gas to see their children.  Instead of having their children at home where they can be with them daily, they will be forced to travel, perhaps long distances, to see their children for an occasional “visit”.   (If they’re “allowed” visitation at all.)
  • Gas to get to court and meetings.
  • Paper and ink, if they have their own printer, or to go to a copy store for all the copies of documents they will need to file.
  • Postage to mail documents to their attorney, the court, and other “parties”.
  • Copies of court documents and transcripts of all hearings.
  • An attorney, if one can be found who hates CPS and will work for you.  Court-appointed attorneys aren’t worth spit, in my experience.  I would love to meet, and have the services of, a “good” attorney someday.  I do not recommend ever paying in advance, even a retainer, for any legal work.  You are not guaranteed ANY results, and you will most likely not get any.