Karen answers Kimberly

Comment by Kimberly, a neighbor on March 16, 2009 11:11 pm

Dear Karen,

How are you? I read your story in one day and can’t stop thinking of you and what you went through. If I knew a child was abused I never tell anyone because fear I would be accused. Right? I’m confused after reading your story. I changed my mind and want to tell but feel bad and can’t report this girls abuser. Should I talk to the ten year old and tell her I know about her and the guy that’s abusing her? Or should I report what I know to the police without telling her? I hear her scream every night through our adjoining walls. I can’t sleep without being startled awake by her screams.. I think she screams for only ten minutes and goes back to sleep. I don’t really know. I’m guessing. The girl screams at the same time of night at least four times a week.

Kimberly, a neighbor

Dear Kimberly,

I’m doing fine. I’m glad to hear that you’ve changed your thoughts about how to handle the suspected abuse that may be going on next door to you. It’s really difficult to know for sure when to do take action to help someone. I am not a therapist and can’t give advice, but in my opinion, you might want to contact someone in your local child welfare department.  They will investigate without revealing who tipped them off.

In your letter you mentioned you heard this ten year old screaming through the adjoining walls, but you didn’t mention what she was screaming.  Was she having a nightmare or did you hear something more specific that made you suspect she was being abused?  Was she crying out for help?  This is something you might want to be clear about in your own mind before you take action.

It could be she suffers from repetitive nightmares, and falls quickly back to sleep without the knowledge of having them.  I can recall a few times when my own children sat up abruptly in their sleep and fell back to sleep never remembering it at all. If she should approach you and confide in you that she is indeed being abused, than most certainly call the authorities and report it.

Always remember, the safety of all children must come first. If you know for sure that a child is being abused, please do the right thing.

Thank you for your thoughts and questions.



1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Karen Overhill!

    You have helped me with your advice. I didnt think of the things you said. I took your advice and called a child protection welfare agency and asked the questions brought on by your answer. I carefully chose each question before making my call. I wrote them down.I was shocked that they said exactly what you said, almost word for word. You should be a counselor. I chose to leave my name because I needed to hear feedback to rest. I was relieved to find the child in question suffers from a medical condition that scares her into having nightmares. The child is hooked up to a machine every night that monitors her breathing. I don’t know details except she stops breathing alot. I was assured she was okay. I was thanked or being concerned. The parents of the girl never knew I called. But they told the case worker to thank me. I feel you’re advice saved the day.Thank you. Keep on truckin! I am happy you can help people who are confused.


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