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June 2012
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Sister's vigilance may save brothers from abuse

Staff report

Dear Annie: I have five younger brothers who mean everything to me. Three of them still live with my mother. Mom lived with an abusive man for years. When I was 11, she chose this man over me and put me in a foster home for two years. He is now out of the house and away from my precious little ones, but I'm afraid it's temporary. Mom claims she is glad he's gone, but I know she can't stand being alone and doesn't have the best judgment. I think he'll be back.

How can I make her see that as much as being alone is hard on her, she needs to grow up and be a mother to her children? I called the police and DCF and reported this man's crimes, but nothing happened. I wish I could get custody of my brothers, but there is no way I could support so many people. How do I keep them safe? How can I make sure my mother doesn't invite this man back into her house? -- Scared for Them

Dear Scared: You cannot do anything about your mother's choices. You can only keep an eye on the situation, and if this man returns, report it immediately to the police and DCF. While there would need to be evidence or corroboration of abuse for the authorities to take action, your vigilance may make it unpleasant enough that Mom will keep this man at arm's length.

Is the boys' father in the picture? Are there other relatives who would take the boys? You are a kind and caring sibling, but sometimes these things are beyond your control. Do what you can, and make sure your brothers are aware that you care. They need to know you're in their corner.

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