Experts: WA twins' abuse not unique in society

Experts: WA twins' abuse not unique in society

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by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW

kgw.com

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 6:45 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 20 at 2:24 PM

VANCOUVER -- The couple accused of abusing their adopted twins in a Vancouver home are sadly not alone.

Background: Parents of Vancouver twins accused of abuse

In Multnomah county, Letha McLeod is a supervisor with CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates for kids. She watches over volunteers who try to steer hundreds of kids through a court system that is trying to protect them from their own families.

“I'm still astounded to this day that there are so many kids who are suffering abuse and neglect in this county in this city in this state," McCleod said.

She said families have a number of reasons for neglect or abuse. “Not all families are the Brady Bunch. There are families where this is generations of people who have had problems throughout their lives and it's passed on to their kids. So we see cycles and generations of people,” said McCleod.

Some neighbors in Vancouver told KGW they wondered if there was trouble inside the home. But it was unclear whether anyone called authorities.  “People should call,” McCleod advised.

Psychologist Wendy Bourg spent ten years interviewing children who were abused or neglected. She's not involved in the Vancouver case. But she said typically, parents in such cases were narcissistic.

"They're very self focused, self centered. Maybe they had children with the idea it would make them look good or they would get some love from the children that they were missing elsewhere. Then the responsibility of the children…were overwhelming and they simply were not interested in meeting the children's needs,” she said. “Then the children became an inconvenience and they simply tried to manage the problem."

She said in other situations, the parents may be fragile mentally and simply get in over their heads.

“They get overwhelmed and don’t want to admit it. They don’t ask for help and they simply can’t cope any longer and they do what it takes to get by on a day-to-day basis and they often try to hide that from other people trying to keep up the appearance that we're a nice family and we're together etcetera,” Bourg said.

We all hope kids are resiliant. But the experts said the damage done in early years can take a lifetime to heal.

“Devastating is the impact on the kids,” said Bourg. “Maybe they can recover. You know, that's not the answer people want to hear. It's going to be very difficult for these children to trust anyone.”

Authorities said anyone needing additional help can call the following numbers or click on the Web sites for more information:

CASA- Multnomah County 503-731-3100

CASA-Washington County 503-6881-6917

Info on reporting abuse in Washington State

Info for reporting abuse in Oregon

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