I Was Falsely Accused of Child Abuse

Celeste Knight

My son and I have always had a contentious relationship. I’m talking since birth. He never looked up at me with smiles and laughter, like he did with my mom. His father left his life when our son was nine months old so it’s just been us for 14 years. His behavior problems started truly emerging in his toddler years. It went beyond typical desire for independence and strong will. K began to display a defiance for direction and authority. 

Once he entered school, it seemed that his problems seemed to grow with severity and frequency with each school year. I lived in denial for many years. I was reluctant to take him to the doctor for medication and a label. I tried altering his diet and his routine at home, and while things worked for the short term we always ended up back at zero.

During his seventh and eighth grade years things became unmanageable. He began getting aggressive at home. His younger siblings were terrified of him and he started to use his words as a weapon. I finally took him in for an evaluation. The doctor recommended counseling and medication. For the first time in a long while, things began to look up. Unfortunately this too was short lived. K began refusing his medication which would lead to tension filled dinners and commutes to school. I decided to make an appointment with his physician in the hopes that he would at minimum be able to express to K the importance of taking his medication. The physician K had been seeing was a new Doctor. I switched him from his female pediatrician during adolescence after K expressed that he would be more comfortable with a male doctor. I also hoped that this would allow K to open up more during his physician visits.

Before his office visit K asked that I not go back with him, he wanted to speak to the Doctor privately. I in no way saw this as a problem - I actually was happy that he felt comfortable talking. Previously during visits, he would just sit and I’d have to answer all of his questions. I sat in the waiting room for almost two hours. The Doctor finally came to bring me back. What he told me when I reached the room floored me. K had told the Doctor that I physically abuse him and that he would be hotlining me. I was in a state of shock. This of course wasn’t true. In the course of a few minutes I tried to process this betrayal by my son and saw my career as a nurse and my role as the mother of four disintegrate into dust. To add insult to injury the Doctor began to shame me. Saying I have a problem communicating with my son, that he is terrified of me, that K didn’t even want the Doctor to know I was in the waiting room. I explained to the Doctor that I too would be afraid if I’d lied and told my physician that my parent abused me.

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The ride home was a blur. Thank God my mother went with us on this visit - which was unusual, otherwise I don’t know that I would have made it. My parents who had witnessed the dysfunction I was living with K, tried their best to reassure me that everything would work out. K stayed with my parents that night. The next day, which was a Saturday, K began showing remorse for what he’d done. This was his typical cycle. He called the crisis hotline who dispatched a sheriff deputy to the home. The deputy asked to speak to K alone to which I agreed. At the end of the discussion the deputy talked to us both. K had admitted to lying to the physician and wanted to fix it. Of course this was out of the deputy’s hands. The deputy did a great job of talking to K about his anger and behaviour. He also provided me resources I hadn’t thought of.

I can’t describe the level and depths of hurt I feel regarding my son. I realize he is troubled and only wanted to get him help. Unfortunately once I did, I was shamed and made to feel like a criminal. The medical professional I’d trusted didn’t bother to get my side of the situation and had already made up his mind that I had done something wrong. 

We are still in the process of digging ourselves out from this and I’m still in the process of trying to get adequate help for my child. A new week and a new list of agencies and physicians to call. Nothing can prepare you for parenting a child with emotional and behavioral challenges and more days than not I’d like to give up but I won't. To the parents experiencing challenges like this please know you’re not alone. To the providers caring for these kids and families, please know you can take your Hippocratic oath seriously and still do your due diligence.


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