Book Review: Damaged, by Cathy Glass

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The story line:  Cathy Glass fostered fifty children over twenty years but none of them were as challenging as Jodie, a troubled eight year old whose special needs and challenging behavior had caused her to live with five foster parents in just four months.  When Jodie arrived to her home, Cathy had no idea what lay beneath Jodie’s reported & shocking behavior, which included smearing feces all over the house, erupting into violent rages and even cutting herself.  Little by little, as Jodie’s rage was met with patience and understanding, she began to trust Cathy and to confide a dreadful background which had led to her present torment.  Jodie had been sexually abused at the hands of many within her biologic family and as result was violent, loud, vulgar, detached, outspoken and defiant.

Jodie’s childhood had been a litany of mistreatment and neglect, which should have alerted the numerous social work professionals involved in her case.  Jodie’s case file was so big it filled two suitcases, but as result none of her social workers had ever read the entire file.  If they had, Jodie’s story and future might have been very different.  Finally, in Cathy, Jodie found one adult worthy of her trust, one who could help her begin the process of recovering to her fullest potential. (please note:  “Her fullest potential” does not include a recovery to normal childhood development.)

My Review: This book is a sad & very tragic story that is hard to read without feeling completely upset and disgusted.  It gives teachers, foster parents and social workers insight into disturbed behavior and identifies “signs” of abuse that shouldn’t be overlooked.  The emotional pain experienced by caregivers and invested social workers is intense throughout.  Unfortunately, this isn’t a typical abuse story depicting an abused child being saved by the intervention of social services and foster parents.  There is not a happy ending to this story and certainly nothing has been “sugar coated.”

Who should read this:  Social workers, Teachers and Foster Parents seeking to work with, or who may cross paths with children who have extremely adverse histories.  Anyone who wishes to work with children with known Reactive Attachment Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder – or who have been sexually abused, would also benefit from reading about Cathy’s experience.   Ultimately, this book clarifies that not all children can fully heal from love, nurturing, attention and time to heal.

Unfortunately, Foster Parents who intend to foster/adopt children who do not come from a background like Jodie’s – will find the story frightening and may jump to inaccurate conclusions that all children are this damaged.  Therefore, I do not recommend this book for this population.

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