The dictionary definition of the word violence is “the use of
physical force, usually intended to cause injury or destruction.”
The family support social worker I spoke to about my adopted son’s
violent behaviour evidently uses a different dictionary.
I was telling her that the school transport department had
written to us about his dangerous behaviour in the taxi he uses to
and from school. I explained he had been shouting and forcefully
kicking the back of the driver’s seat while also banging on the
window and trying to open the door as the car was moving. She felt
there wasn’t a problem as the car had child safety locks fitted and
asked: “But in what way was he being violent?”
Recently, the violence has escalated. I have been badly bitten,
kicked and punched, and kitchen chairs and other items have been
thrown around the room. One day he hurled all the books from the
bookcase on the landing down the stairs. When I asked what would
have happened if one of our babies had been crawling past the
stairs, with hardback missiles raining down on them, I was told
“but they weren’t”.
He has used belts or whatever is at hand to attack me and my 6′
2″ husband. Yet we are told our concern is not that he is violent
but that we perceive such a threat.
It has reached the stage where neither my husband nor I can tell
him what to do if he misbehaves. Last weekend I had three of our
children locked away in one part of the house and took our two
youngest next door to my sister’s, so they would be safe. He had
been kicking the furniture in the lounge, slamming doors, storming
around and shouting, which frightened our youngest children so much
He didn’t attack us, but if we’d insisted he left the room
rather than just asked him to, he would have, as he has so many
times before. Instead, he sat on the sofa looking at us with utter
contempt, refusing to talk, listen or move. He knew he had
completely disrupted family life for the whole evening. Dinner was
seriously delayed, my sister and her boyfriend had to reorganise
their evening out, and the rest of our children were afraid because
they have previously witnessed his rages and were frightened he
would hurt me.
But that’s all okay, as apparently we handled the situation
well. That we can’t discipline him is, it seems, quite alright.
That our other children know we can’t control his outbursts is not
a problem. And besides, in what way did he threaten us?
I am left wondering. What is the social worker definition of
violent behaviour and when will it be accepted that our son is a
danger not only to himself but to all our family, including our
five other adopted and vulnerable children? Is it when the severity
of a wound he has inflicted requires hospital treatment, or when
his behaviour so distracts a driver it causes a car accident?
Christina Wood is an adoptive parent.