As a provider of Anger Management and Domestic Violence Classes in the Detroit, MI area, I often receive calls from people who have either been court ordered to attend class or persons in the community who feel that they have a problem and seek classes on their own. In mid-December I received a called from a young mother in Detroit. She stated that she received the phone number to my agency from another agency. I inquired as to whether or not she needed Anger Management or Domestic Violence classes and her response was “I don’t know”. I asked her name which she provided – Semeria Greene. Ms. Greene began to speak vehemently about having tried to obtain services regarding her daughter Tameria Greene. She said she felt that Child Protective Services (CPS) was influencing her daughter against her. Ms. Greene spoke fast and loud with her complaints about the social service system. I listened for a few more moments then asked “Ms. Greene what can I do for you?” She responded by saying “I need help because I think they’re going to take my daughter. They (CPS) are saying I have abused my daughter.” I asked “did you abuse your daughter”? Ms. Greene said “no”. I asked “Have you ever abused your child”? She commented that she will holler and curse at her kids but not hit them.
As we were speaking I could hear the sound of children in the background and told her it was hard to hear her above all the noise. As she moved to another room she told the children she was talking. For the next five minutes she told me her story of how CPS got involved. She said that her daughter sustained injuries stemming from a fight on the school bus with another girl. Ms. Greene indicated that CPS is accusing her of causing the injuries to her daughter because her daughter’s story has changed several times and CPS is now twisting her daughter’s words. As I listened to her story I asked her questions about who is the other child, why she could not locate the child, does she attend the same school as her daughter, and were there any witnesses to the attack? Ms Greene was evasive and would not provide any answers to my questions.
Our conversation refocused on what could be done and she said that she was sure she would have to take anger management classes. I provided her with details of our services in Detroit and encouraged her to enroll in class.
On December 31st I read the online version of The Detroit Free Press as I do almost every day. The story of an eight year old girl being stabbed to death by her mother on December 30th caught my attention. As I read through the story I recognized the names and realized that the mother I had just spoken to some weeks earlier was now charged with the murder of her daughter. I felt sad for the family and in the days after I began to read the follow-up articles related to the story. I learned more about Ms. Greene. By the age of 26, Ms. Greene had given birth to a total of 5 children, ages 8, 7, 4, 3, and 1. Records show Ms. Greene’s history involves several incidents of domestic violence (with her being the perpetrator), drug abuse and prostitution. She currently has another case pending involving vandalism of property.
During our 30 minute conversation Ms. Greene kept repeating “what about me” to which I responded that the system is designed to help the victims, not the perpetrators.
There are many people who endure negative, hostile environments for many different reasons. In our society, not having the opportunity to change should not be one of them. If you want to change a particular lifestyle, are your exposures too limited for you to formulate change without assistance and support? What help can a person receive for behavioral issues by simply walking in and explaining the problem? Are the costs too high for services? Are the programs hidden? When you are in crisis will you say “what about me”?