I Helped an Abused Child and Now the Mom Is Threatening Me

Updated on July 10, 2008
O.C. asks from San Mateo, CA
12 answers

A couple of months ago a friend (for the purposes of this email I will call her Rose) of my 13 year old daughter showed up at our door, clearly frightened, and said she had been abused by her mother. I won't go into the details but it took her a while to escape the home. She said she had called Child Protective Services and they had advised her to find a safe place to go and then call back. While she was in the middle of explaining what happened, her mother called and asked if she was at my home. In an effort to protect Rose, I told her no and that I would call her back if she showed up. I did ask her mother what had happened and she claimed that Rose was upset because of some disipline issues.

After talking more with Rose I called CPS and had Rose talk with them directly. The phone calls went back and forth for over an hour while they worked on her options. Of the options they gave her, the only one she felt safe with was a safe house where she could spend the night and they would contact her mom and set up an intervention counseling session for the following day. So I took her there and waited while they contacted her mom.

Never heard anything from mom after that point until last night. I had talked to Rose at school pick up and asked her how counseling was going. She said she was staying with an Aunt for a while and then moving back home and that things were going well. She thanked me for the help and that was that.

Last night I answered a knock at my door and the mother is standing there wanting to know why Rose was at my house for an hour without my letting her know her whereabouts. She threatened to bring charges against me or sue me ( she didn't tell me for what) if I didn't explain myself to her. The entire conversation was screamed at me in a very nasty tone. When I tried to explain I was concerned for Rose's safety she got even more upset and I then tried to close the door. She pushed against it and put her foot inside my house so that I couldn't close the door. I told her if she wanted to talk to me, she could talk to me with a police officer present because I didn't like the way she was behaving. My husband had to help me close the door and lock it. Then she pounded on our front window and called me and my children names at the top of her lungs.

OK... so my questions are I know I shouldn't have lied about Rose being at my home but I really felt it was in her best interest. That is the only thing I can see that I did wrong. How much trouble can I be in for that??? The whole incident had to have been well documented because I spoke with both the police and CPS on the day of the incident and the day after. What should I do now? Should I call the police? Should I call a lawyer? I can't believe I'm going to get in trouble for helping a child that needed my help. Any advice would be great. Thanks in advance.

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answers from San Francisco on

Sounds to me like you did the right thing, especially considering the mother's behavior, which does sound "over the top." I would put in a follow-up call to CPS and tell them about the incident with the mother. And if you feel really threatened, you could go to the police department and get a restraining order.

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answers from San Francisco on

**Definitely** call the police and document the incident. I'd also try to get a hold of the case's "dependent investigator" (if CPS has been involved and the child has been placed by the county with an aunt, the child should have her own social worker and the case should have a dependent investigator-someone who is involved with both the child and the parent). If the aunt is cooperative, she'll hopefully give you the contact information. If she won't, call CPS and report the incident, or maybe ask them if there is a more appropriate person to call about this specific case. The DI *definitely* needs to know about the mother's actions. Also, you should not need a lawyer, but I do think that it would be wise to get a restraining order against the mother - it's not hard to do, and shouldn't cost you anything (call your city's police station - their non-emergency # - to see how you can go about doing that). You absolutely did the right thing to help your daughter's friend. I hope that she can be reunited with her mother, but I hope that the mother is getting the help she needs with her anger and abusive tendencies (if she's threatening you and your family, I'm not sure this is happening). If you need additional help with this, email me directly and I'll see if I can help you navigate the system within your county (I'm a foster parent and have worked with at-risk youth for a while). May God bless you and keep you safe.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi O.,
I am an elementary school teacher and unfortunately deal with CPS situations quite regularly, some of them very nasty.
Be assured that you did the right thing. You have to think longer term about the situation. You were stepping in so the child would be safe immediately and in the future. If the mom needed a different way of handling discipline and CPS needed to step in and intervene, then everything worked out for the best. If CPS even entertained the idea of a safe house and an intervention, then they clearly felt there was an issue. This may end in ugliness on the mother's part and maybe even the loss of a friend for your daughter. But on a larger scale, all that is worth keeping a kid safe. It may be worth just calling your local police department and asking what next steps should be. This would at least alert them and give them a heads up about the issue. If it happens again, I would definitely get a restraining order. Sounds like she has some anger issues. Sorry you are going through this, but thank you for doing it!



answers from San Francisco on

Dear O.,


You are not going to get in trouble. The Woman who was trying to force her way into your house and threaten you could be in trouble. What you did wrong was NOT to call the police when it happened. I would definately call them now just to document the incident...they might even go have a talk with her considering CPS and their department already have a history with her.

If you bring in an attorney, they will just cost you money...a restraining order might be in order, but you could also compose a letter to her explain what you did to help her daughter and that you also do not want her to EVER come to your home or make contact with you again. Copy the local DA's office and chief of police.

Don't be sorry for trying to help a kid in trouble. What if something terrible happned to that teen and you had done nothing? Too many people just look the other way...You did the right thing.



answers from San Francisco on

You did nothing wrong by helping the girl. You cannot reason with irrational people. Call the police every time she shows up. Every single time. Do not open the door to her, never hesitate to simply call the police. Her behavior is irrational enough to be potentially dangerous and frankly she's proving the case that CPS needed to be called. You will never convince her of anything, so do not engage in conversations with her.

I know it's difficult to be the target of such irrationality, but stay firm. You did the right thing.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi O.,

You did not do anything wrong. You were looking at the best interest of a child that has been abused. I would get a restraining order so you do not have to worry about Rose coming over to your house again. Let them know you were threatened by a mother that was abusing her daughter and now she is coming to your house threatening you. You have the CPS on your side as they were called at the time the young girl was at your house. You were consearned and good for you for stepping in. Get that restaining order now.

You have to protect yourself.

Good luck.

N. Marie



answers from San Francisco on

I just wanted to reply and thank you for taking a risk to help protect this young girl. Given how scary this has been for you I can only imagine what it's been like for her. I am glad she felt she could come to you, and that you were able to support her in connecting with CPS.
I think you set a great example for this girl and for your children about how a responsible adult responds when a child is in need.



answers from San Francisco on

What you did was incredibly brave, and I do not believe you broke any laws as the child came to you. You were not holding her against her will. You were helping her do what CPS advised her to do. When you lied to her mom, you were helping Rose do what CPS had suggested. She's not in a safe place if her abuser knows where she is. Then you called CPS. Clearly you were protecting this child. You do need to contact the police and let them know that this woman has threatened you. Please keep a detailed account of every time you have an interaction with her. You will need that to get a restraining order, should you choose to do so. Also, I strongly suggest that, now that you have helped Rose, you do not initiate interactions with her that her mother might see or find out about. You can certainly smile or give a quick wave, but please look out for your and your family's safety, too. Police often say that the most dangerous situations they encounter are those involving domestic violence. In the incident you describe, you did not do anything wrong at all --quite the opposite. However, you cannot "save" Rose without putting yourself and your family in a potentially dangerous situation. The police and CPS need to handle this. I am not saying that you should turn Rose away from your house but rather that you call the police immediately and then CPS if Rose needs protection again. I hope CPS gave her a plan for getting directly to a safe place. You did a wonderful thing by helping this girl. Just please take care of yourself.


answers from San Francisco on

Hello- I'm really sorry that you had to go through that BUT glad you helped Rose! Listen, I'm not a lawyer or in law enforcement, however I am a mother of two and I feel that you did the right thing. If the child was in danger us as Mothers need to stick together and help the children. I believe that in the eye of any court (not that I think it will even go that far) But in the eye of any court you did what was needed to be done for the safety of a child that came to your house asking for shelter and safety. It would not hurt you in anyway to contact a CPS and ask what is the normal protocol for a situation such as this one. Also to ask for any police report copies showing exactly what took place as your own protection. Now! on the note of the mother, she is obviously upset right now, she could be in a lot of trouble. And in all honesty if she has anger management issue she really didn't know how to properly channel her anger on the evening she showed up at your house. Rose is not there and she had no one else to yell and scream at. Don't worry it will all work it's self out. She may even one day down the road after MANY sessions with the counselor come to you and say Thank YOU! It's a long shot but could very well happen. Good luck, and try not to worry,(easier said than done I know) Because if it were me I would of did the same thing 10 times over to protect a child. God Bless you!

Hugs <()> because I think you need one.




answers from San Francisco on

HI. What a horrible experieince, sorry you had to go through this. I don't think you can be sued from the mother since the child was in contact with CPS. I would assume you were protected.

I would call the police, not 911 but the non emergency and let them know, just in case she comes back and is physically and verbally violent.

I also wonder if you can talk to "Rose's" social worker with CPS and let her know of the mother's behavior.

Make sure your kids know not to talk to Rose's mother, keep a safe distance.

I am sure once you talk to PD and CPS you will get a lot of your answers.

Best of luck.



answers from San Francisco on

I think you should 1. Call the police and make a report and 2. Notify CPS about this behavior (try to talk to the same person as you did the first time if you know that person's name. This is likely the same behavior she does with her child and she is likely presenting a completely different persona to them. They need to know her anger issues are still involved before that child returns.



answers from San Francisco on

call the police, tell them about the incident and make sure it is linked with the previous call by her daughter - it is likely that you have many (neighbor) witnesses since she was screaming obscenities at the top of her lungs, and your husband is a witness to the attempt at forced entry, which is a threat to your children - this continued out-of-control angry behavior is exactly why your friend's daughter needed your help, and is more ammunition against this crazy woman - it is a big compliment that the child chose your household. You did absolutely the right thing.

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