Social work diary: ‘They call it ‘historic abuse’ but for the boy it is a daily living hell’

A social worker in children's services reflects on a tough week...

By an anonymous social worker


I speak to my manager about a review case conference report. The mother and baby have made good progress. Initially it was thought she and the baby were going back to live with a relative who abused mother in her childhood. It turned out not to be true, and my manager asks me to review what happened.


I visit a young girl who has been living with a relative since she reported emotional and physical abuse by her mother. I speak to her brother, who is over 18. He tells me about how their mother also abused him until he left home. Despite many injuries and involvement by medical staff, police and social workers, the mother managed to manipulate them all and cover up the abuse.

Unsurprisingly he feels angry and depressed. He tried to kill himself again last week. I can only offer some reassurance that I will look into his options.


Police contact me about a teenager I have been attempting to work with but who is never in when I visit the house. He is not at school so remains elusive. He has committed a few offences and police tell me that he is likely to be prosecuted. At least then the Youth Offending Team will have more power than I have to engage him.


The parents and child from one of my cases come to the office. The little boy tells me he cannot have birthday presents as daddy’s been naughty. Dad found the cash being saved for presents and spent it on alcohol. Dad’s highly contrite, cries copiously but is too hungover to talk to.

Luckily we have toys left over from Christmas donations, so I find the boy a present from what I call Santa’s spare present store. His delight makes this week’s setbacks seem worth it.


I attend the child protection conference on the girl who was put on a child protection plan and has to live with her relative. Mother is aggrieved that her children have turned against her and argues with the relative.

I talk to the boy who told me about his abuse on Tuesday. I give him a copy of my summary of what he told he told me. It is truly heart wrenching. Our department missed opportunities to address the abuse.

I explain that as he is over eighteen we cannot intervene. I advise him to go to the police and seek legal advice to make a claim for historical abuse. That’s a misnomer, as for him it is a daily living hell. Sometimes I feel powerless.

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One Response to Social work diary: ‘They call it ‘historic abuse’ but for the boy it is a daily living hell’

  1. Lainey September 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    I work in adult mental health and see the results of ‘historical abuse’ on a daily basis in the adults I work with, between the ages of 18 and 65 years old.

    Social workers within Children’s services need to be made aware that if someone over the age of 18 yrs old discloses abuse, please encourage the person to speak to their GP, who should assess whether it is soemthing their own mental health practitioner can deal with, or to refer them to the adult Mental Health Services for further assessment and support.

    Psychological therapy based within this service, and in my area offer specialist trauma based therapy for adlts that have been abused as a child.