My neighbor Betsy's common-law husband Bob absolutely hates her son by a previous marriage - Betsy & Bob had a child together, she's 3 and Bob just adores her. The son, Christopher who is half Hispanic, is about 12 -13 years old. When Betsy is not around Bob is screaming venomously at Christopher for the slightest infraction (the latest being leaving a plastic bag on the lawn) - makes me cringe .. I've never seen him lay hands on the child but I wouldn't be surprised if he has. For the last year, every time I see Christopher by himself, he always looks so sad and depressed. I don't think I've seen him laugh or look happy in the last 2 years.
I'm wondering if I should talk to Betsy about this or stay out of it. I hurt for Christopher. I've known him since he was 3 and he's always been a gentle and sweet little boy. I'm afraid he's going to turn into a angst ridden teenager with severe emotional problems.
Sounds like a potential volatile situation, MmeX. You might want to contact child protective services and let them know your concerns for the emotional and physical well being of young Christopher. Meanwhile, I hope Christopher knows you love him and care about his well being.
I've considered child services but hesitate mightily to do that .. My relationship with Betsy is tenuous at best - if I called child services that would be the end of any kind of relationship and I would become the enemy in her eyes. I'm agonizing over what to do .. I can't do nothing - that's for sure I need to do something but very carefully and slowly. I'm thinking the next time I see her father at the house I might approach him.
She can't be totally blind to what's going on could she? - the bottom line is she has to choose between Bob or Christopher and in a sense she has already chosen Bob over Christopher because of what is allowed to go on. I has to be a very difficult and impossible situation for her .. I just wish I could mitigate it somehow. The scary thing is, something gotta give soon and it will be tragic and I would never forgive myself for not saying/doing something.
This is driving me crazy ... trying to figure out what's best for all.
My wife runs a daycare and is legally mandated to contact child services if there is even a hint of abuse, otherwise she can be held legally liable for what happens to the child.
On one occasion it was necessary, everything is confidential and the family never knows who contacted child services; in our case we had to endure ranting about what the mother thought, but she believed she was simply confiding in us.
The sad part is that as a "partner" there is no legal obligation of the man toward the child who is not his son.
If you chose to report the suspicion, and it is determined there is no evidence of a problem, you have done all you legally can; if the suspicion is real--you have saved a child--who is the real innocent victim.