I feel drained and emotionally spent. I simply cannot absorb the fact that so many people can be complicit in the suffering of little helpless children. I have long stopped crying for myself and my own life which lies in tatters. That is irrelevant. I only sob for the 2 little lost souls with whom I spent today and the deep untold psychological damage that has been done to them, perhaps irreparably. Ever since they were taken from me I have consoled myself with the hope that as soon as they are back with me, we can gradually overcome our shared suffering and trauma together and they may begin to thrive again.
Seeing them today though, I saw the heavy toll that the past 18 months has exacted on them. My visit began at 9am. They ran to me as always, so happy and excited to see me but once they had greeted me with cries of ‘Mama!’ there was minimal further verbal communication. We sat on the bus together, followed by a tram ride, in total a journey of 45 minutes back to my flat but they only lay clinging in my arms. Of course I sing with them, talk to them, point to things along the way and try to interest them in the people and places outside the window as they pass us by – anything to prompt some reaction – but it all seems to wash over them. They respond in their own adorable little way and our intense love and unbreakable bond still unites us deeply. They are not detached from me but from reality. They display little awareness of the world around them.
Samuel and Benjamin have withdrawn into a silent parallel world. It’s not as if they don’t understand what I say to them, they understand everything. They are simply unable to respond, to grasp anything or express themselves in any way. They have no concept of identity, time or space. They cannot answer a single one of my questions, cannot tell me where they have been or what they have done.
How should I as their mother feel and react seeing them now in this state, broken and destroyed? I was also, not so long ago, broken and destroyed – weakened and worn down over 3 years, suffering silently in a miserable marriage. But slowly I have had a chance to heal from my wounds, so lucky to have had such a bounty of love and support from my wonderful caring family.
But it was so much easier for me. I at least, am an adult with the ability to articulate the painful emotions I endured, able to come to terms with my experience once I gained some distance and understanding. The healing process has taken time and I will always remain scarred but I have overcome the worst of it. Sammy and Benji do not have the luxury of adult coping mechanisms. I am not a psychologist and do not profess to have medical knowledge but it is strikingly clear from a human point of view as the person that was closest to them for the first 2 years of their lives, what has happened. Their reaction to this tragedy and the horrors forced on them has simply been to switch off – emotionally and psychologically. And the results are so devastating and so heart-breaking, it’s too painful to fully describe.
We went to a family day at the town hall. It was packed with hundreds of different games and activities. There was also a puppet show, face painting, obstacle courses and ball pools. Sammy and Benji enjoyed themselves in their very limited capacity but they were so far from being like the other 3/ 4 year old children there. The difference was stark. The fact I still have to change their nappies is humiliating and degrading for them. I can see they are ready to be toilet trained but nobody has mentioned potty training to me and it has already been made clear, I have no rights and no say in my own children’s lives.
Benjamin is especially insecure, wanting me to carry him around, clinging desperately to me most of the time, crying if I leave his side even for a few seconds. They are not able to sit and play a game or concentrate long enough to paint or colour for more than a few seconds. It kills me to write this way about my gorgeous boys since they are such special children. Of course, as their mother I am bound to be biased but everyone that knows them loves them! They are so gentle, so sweet natured.
The tragedy is that there was absolutely nothing wrong with them before. The children’s doctor as well as the expert child psychologist who saw the boys regularly, together with social workers, health visitors and play group workers who spend all day long with children, all gave evidence that Sammy and Benji were normal healthy toddlers. They were developing perfectly normally and had they been allowed the peace and stability they so desperately needed with their mother, they would almost certainly have been speaking and behaving like any other 3/4 year old children by now.
Sammy and Benji are severely disturbed. But instead of recommending help and urgent treatment or more crucially – restoring normality with a mother raising them instead of 2 unknown Filipinos, the so-called ‘experts’ that are involved and have seen Samuel and Benjamin have ignored their manifest problems and claim they are ‘healthy’ and ‘developing well.’ It is astounding and frightening not only to see just how critical Sammy and Benji’s psychological state is right now but that people with the power and influence to save them can abrogate their responsibilities in this shameful way, allowing the children to continue to suffer and deteriorate.
This custody battle has dragged on for 3 years, starting when the boys were just 8 months old. That is most of Sammy and Benji’s lives! How can anybody claim this is a normal environment for children to grow up in? Is it any wonder they are in this state?
The desperation and hopelessless I feel is overwhelming and at times simply too much to bear. Yes, I can make yet more court applications and further investigations can take place but all of this takes time. Time that these poor children simply do not have. The case has now been suspended. I have applied for a new judge and court. The judge is being investigated on charges of alleged bias. The Social Services are also being investigated for their handling of the case. The father has been reported to the Medical Council of Vienna for alleged gross abuse of his professional position as well to the criminal court on various other alleged charges.
The qualifications of all these so-called ‘professionals’ have been seriously brought into question and yet the children continue to suffer and no drastic action to rescue them is forthcoming. How much longer must the children needlessly suffer? I have been told to be patient, that justice will prevail, that everything takes time. It has already taken too long. And now my greatest fear for Sammy and Benji is that time is running out.