Turning point KiD

A case study

The siblings Yvonne (age 9), Jonas (age 6) and Michaela (age 5) not only shared their family name. They also had in common a highly alarming behavior that attracted the attention not only of their kindergarten teachers but also of a child therapist.


Eventually they informed the local youth welfare office (Jugendamt) because everyone suspected intrafamilial violence as a cause of the children´s acting out. But no one suspected the sheer enormity of the violence.


The youth welfare office (Jugendamt) transferred the children to KiD. Yvonne, a slender shy child with big eyes very obviously was in a state of constant and severe anxiety. Only with the help of her cuddly toy one could establish a contact to Yvonne. Jonas was a small boy, in the agitated mood of hyperarousal channelled into aggression and destructiveness. Jonas could express his suffering only by a stereotyped opening and closing doors. And finally Michaela, a cute little girl, with the unseeing eyes of the abused frequently fell into dissociative states.

Tracing the causes

All three children showed defense mechanisms which had to be addressed one by one. Anamnesis started with the mother’s history. She was born and raised in the unloving environment of the former GDR (East Germany) and fled from her home after the Fall of the Wall. Initially she seemed to have found her luck in Southern Germany: She met a middle class craftsman, married him and gave birth to Yvonne, Jonas and Michaela.

Unfortunately her luck did not last long. More and more it became obvious that the familial commitment of the father was limited to earning money. Remembering the coldness of her own bleak childhood the mother chose a new acquaintance as a saviour. From his strong and protective manner she expected shelter and security for herself and her children.

What they found instead was a tyrant. The stepfather had been with the Foreign Legion for many years. Now he made life miserable for the children by performing military exercises and unpredictable sadistic attacks.
In her own helplessness the mother slowly started to accept these “educational measures” and ignored the brutal abuses inflicted on her children.


Trust needs time

It was not astonishing that coming close to Yvonne, Jonas and Michaela in the psycho-diagnosis was almost impossible. It took quite a while until they trusted enough and dared to show the tremendous degree of their mental injuries. Very hesitantly Yvonne told of the force and the unpredictability of her stepfather’s sadistic attacks. She always denied sexual abuse, but was deeply ashamed in this regard.

Jonas was afflicted with other problems. Behind each demonstration of affection he suspected a trap. So it took very long until he opened up to the KiD-team and was actually able to deal with sad and painful subjects, e.g. his function as the “punching bag” of the family.

Michaela acted completely different. Her inability in keeping distance and her willingness to accept affection had the theme “wherever I go will be better than where I come from”. This behavior of escape and adaptation was everything but easy. But in the end it was Michaela, the youngest, who was able to describe and talk about the dimension of the abuse and the dominating experiences of sexual abuse in daily life which affected all children.


Accompanied by affects of disgust and shame she told of her worst experiences, having to perform oral sex on her stepfather. Painfully accurate in her perception she stated that she was the one sexually abused most often, but that both her sister and sometimes her brother, too, had been victimized by their stepfather.

With uncanny clarity for her age, Michaela explained that she, missed her mother but that she did not want to live with her any longer, since her mother could neither take care of nor protect her.

KiD provides perspectives

In the course of their stay and in the line of the diagnostic and therapy it became apparent that all three children experienced a deep relief: they felt protected, safe and welcome. The prospect of finding a new home activated new developmental powers in all three children.

In its final report KiD recommended placing the siblings together in a professional foster family in Southern Germany near their former home. Their biological father who started to take responsibility for his children during the course of therapy, now has the chance of regular visits. The mother is in the process of separating from the perpetrator and also intends to keep contact with the children.
The youth welfare office (Jugendamt) accepted the recommendation of KiD.