Life with FAS combined with a history of sexual abuse and other trauma early on, is a war within the mind that is fought one tiny battle at a time. Many times, the enemy seems so big and overpowering, that it is difficult to imagine an end to the conflict. This is a lifetime war in many ways. In the midst of all that is going on in our family, we are dealing with yet another issue that in many ways is even harder to face then Elijah's physical illness. The issue we are facing with our 14 year is an issue of the heart...so complicated by the abuse he has suffered from others who also had mental health issues and sinful intentions they could not control.
Internet access has always been an issue in our family with our teenage boys. We have tried everything to control their usage. People can be quick to judge when it comes to this subject. It seems easy..don't allow access, always monitor access, use a really good screening program, even get rid of the computer...these all seem simple..especially if you don't have teenagers who have FAS and have a history sexual abuse. We have not been naive in these matters..and have sought advice from professionals. We thought we had a viable solution and it worked..for awhile. We purchased a highly recommended software program that allowed us to control internet content, time. We have prayed over this issue over and over. We have talked and talked with our children about what God expects of their behavior. We tried.
Facebook has always been an issue. We have shut down our son's facebook on several occasions because of his inability to follow the rules we had set. We banned facebook for him which fueled his desire to get back on no matter what. We finally decided that we would monitor behind the scenes but that we would allow him to try again. Taking the 'forbidden' drive away helped for about two months. In fact, he showed little interest in it. We worked closely with his therapist as we made decisions regarding this.
On my way out the door on Tuesday, Jordan was online. When I asked what he was doing, he became very defensive..a telltale sign that something was up. We disconnected the internet and left for the hospital. I found that he created a secret facebook account about a month ago. He worked hard to keep it a secret..blocking all family members and being careful not to accept friend requests from any one we knew. He is an 8th grader and had added over 800 friends in that short time. He had messaged nearly all of those friends requesting dating advice from the guys (i.e. How to pick up girls)and asked all of the girls out. Sparing the horrendous details, he was hounding, harassing and intimidating 800 kids. At least 200 of those kids told him to stop in no uncertain terms.
He told them he was in 3 gangs and had been stabbed. He asked the girls to come over for rendevous' and told creepy adults males that we were rich and that they could come stay at our house because we have extra rooms. I am pretty sure that he gave one of those "friends" Elijah's ipad. One girl in our community even started a site with 35 members stating that "________Martindale is a facebook whore."
Our son looks so "normal" on the outside. He has made more progress in therapy this year than all of his years combined. He is a sweet, tender boy with a heart that is spiritually sensitive..and like all of us...he has a dark side. He has little impulse control, little understanding of social mores, little to no self identity and struggling to create one. Despite all of our intervention, patience and love, he still feels unwanted and unimportant by people and by God. He spent 6 years of his life being exposed, abused and neglected. The damage is so extensive, the hurt is so deep.
And so, I grieve for the innocent kids that he has verbally attacked, sexually harassed and completely disrespected. I grieve for my son who is at such risk to beaten up and left for dead if he continues trying to "fit in" in the way he is trying now. Criminal charges are only a matter of time if we can not control this behavior. I grieve for our other children who must deal with the aftermath of this child's verbal destruction. Our son, is cognitively and emotionally disabled. But he doesn't look like it. He can imitate anything...even "normal" for awhile...until his disability shows up and he just looks "creepy" to the world. I wish his inappropriate behaviors didn't have to effect on so many people. But they have--the abuse that he has endured just keeps on abusing...
Such a deeply humbling experience this is to be the parent of the abuser not just the abused. So, we are taking the steps we know how. No internet at our house for now besides the access on my phone. But, we have learned that he can find a way if he is determined to. We need to find ways to teach him how to handle social interactions in a healthy way. I don't think he understands what he has done to his reputation and his future in our community....but that is his disability.
So, there is so much help needed...there is so much prayer needed.