A look behind the scenes

A boy intimidates and beats his father…

Monday night, 9:30 p.m. I receive a call from the police. There is a crisis situation. A boy hit his father. Father filed a police report. We visit the police station cell complex, where we engage in conversation with the juvenile. We’ll call him Dennis in this story.

Dennis lives with his father. He has little contact with his mother and with other family members. Dennis has a mild intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder and receives outpatient counseling. Because of increasing problems, the family is also on the radar of the neighborhood team, Youth and Family Department. In fact, Dennis is increasingly exhibiting intimidating and violent behavior toward his father.

This also happens this Monday night. Father and son end up in a conflict with swearing and threats. Things are escalating. Dennis beats his father. For the umpteenth time, but if it’s up to Father, for the last time. The measure is full. Father files a police report.

Dennis beats his father. For the umpteenth time, but if it’s up to father, for the last time. The measure is full.

Socially desirable behavior
When I meet Dennis in the cell complex, he is angry with the police. Those “pigs and wasps” arrested him when he was just sleeping comfortably. But you’re okay, I’m told. Dennis gives me socially desirable answers. He was startled. The report and his stay in the cell woke him up, but his words do not match his body language.

Sleeping options
Where else can Dennis go, where should he sleep tonight? Dennis wants to go back to his father. He then promises to leave him alone further. Or maybe he could go to his grandparents, mother’s parents. Dennis also has a girlfriend, but he doesn’t want to share that phone number with me right away.

Dennis himself isn’t allowed to call or email people, which pisses him off. Why not, I’m free already, right? I’ve been here long enough, haven’t I? I interrupt Dennis and tell him what I expect of him. We agree that I will approach his father, grandparents and girlfriend (and her mother) for sleeping arrangements.

Closed door
Father indicates that he will keep the door closed for now. He is scolded daily by his son with threats like “I’ll cut your throat. His limit has been reached. Father indicates that Dennis has not been taking his medication for days and is certain that the situation will soon escalate again at home. This time with different consequences. If Dennis touches me one more time, I beat the hell out of him.

Dennis wants to go back to his father. He promises to leave him alone otherwise. But father is keeping the door closed for now.

Grandpa hesitates. Dennis has never been violent toward him before, but he wants to consult with his wife and daughter (Dennis’ mother) first. Ten minutes later I get a call from Dennis’ mother. She recounts all the past events and does not agree to place Dennis with her parents.

Dennis is obsessive about his girlfriend. He insists on calling her himself and argues with me about this. Together we decide to call his girlfriend. After several voicemails, she calls him back, after which he immediately asks, ” You’re not leaving me, are you? We decide that Dennis cannot sleep with his girlfriend. This would only add to the turmoil. His girlfriend promises to visit him the next day, when hopefully peace has returned.

Emergency Solution
We find another emergency solution. Dennis can sleep one night at a collaboration partner’s house. Tomorrow, all concerned must work together to find a structural solution. Dennis still shows unpredictable behavior. One minute he is cooperating well and the next he is angry and pushing the limits. I therefore make clear agreements with him again: this is what I expect from you during the car ride to Breda and during your overnight stay with the cooperation partner. Around 00:45 we arrive in Breda. Dennis keeps the appointments made.

Tomorrow, all concerned must work together to find a structural solution.

Although the evening ends with a good crisis resolution, it is difficult to make arrangements with Dennis for the future. He has no job and his own money. He rejects any form of day care, and appointments with social workers he almost never keeps. Opportunities for assisted living are still unclear. The situation is now under control. Tomorrow all involved, including his parents, will meet to discuss. This will probably be followed by the deployment of an ambulatory crisis team and notification to Crossroads. Dennis remains with a collaborative partner until a social worker contacts him for further transfer.

I can leave feeling confident. My task for tonight and tonight is done.

Yoram Louvenberg
Crisis Intervention Team Heart of Brabant

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