I read the book “Damaged” by Cathy Glass. I bought this book during my holiday in England. It was at a little market. Normally, I would never have bought a book in English. But this vending stall was looking so well, and there were like a hundred well-ordered books being offered for sale. The cover of the book “Damaged” immediately caught my eye. Leisurely I read the back cover, which told me that it was a deeply moving and TRUE story… Afterwards I decided that I had to at least try this book , so I bought it. To be honest, I’ve never had a moment of regret that I bought it. I really enjoyed reading this stirring book.
It’s all about a little girl, Jodie, who’s an 8-year-old girl and her foster carer Cathy.
Cathy was an experienced foster carer. She had already 3 teenage children: Adrian, Paula and Lucy. One of her children (Lucy) had joined the family as a foster placement. One day she got a call from Jill, who was a link worker with the fostering agency, asking her if she would come to a pre-placement meeting about an 8-year-old child. This child, called Jodie, was not just a foster child. She had been assigned to 5 different foster carers in only 4 months. The agency had never seen a child which was so out of control. That’s the reason that they wanted to contact an experienced foster carer, Cathy.
At the pre-placement meeting Cathy found out about Jodie’s history and her difficulties . The reason why Jodie had already had so many foster carers is very unbelievable and it really was a weird situation: she had a home tutor ( caused by her aggression ), she started a house fire by setting her pet dog alight, Jody smears faeces on her face, smashes everything in sight and won't adhere to family rules… She really had a very challenging behaviour.
Cathy was in shock after the pre-placement meeting. She needed time to reflect on it.
While she thought she would be able to manage the situation, she decided to try it. The foster agency was very thankful.
Cathy already regretted her decision after the first day. As said in the pre-placement meeting Jodie’s behaviour wasn’t normal for an 8-year-old girl. At night she didn’t sleep because of nightmares. But Cathy proved that she was a real courageous lady and decided to help Jodie even as it was difficult. The only problem was that she didn’t want her other children to suffer from her behaviour. But wishes never come true.. And Jodie was also very aggressive towards the other children in Cathy’s family, in fact to everyone. She thumped, kicked, bit and pushed everybody without any reason.
Quotation from the book: A moment later Jodie reappeared, her fists clenched and flaying in the air. ‘It’s them! I’ll kick you to death! I hate you all!’ Jodie woke up every day very early e.g. 5 a.m., so Cathy was really getting used to disturbed nights. The reason was that she had nightmares all night long. Though she got little sleep, she didn’t want to sleep during the day.
Personal remark: Imagine that you’re in the same situation as Cathy is, I think it’s wonderful how she got through this. She could calm down Jodie every night. Jodie was very ungrateful during the day; she even continued being aggressive.
During the day she was occupied with hurting Cathy’s daughters (Paula and Lucy). She enjoyed kicking and hurting them.
On top of these problems she was also very greedy. If Paula got new pyjamas, she had
to have one too. If she saw any child with candy, she had to have candy too.
Understandable that Cathy was really physically and mentally exhausted…
After months there finally was some improvement. Cathy had won Jodie’s trust and she started to tell Cathy weird things and started to remark weird things.
* When she went to Jodie’s room one day she discovered Jodie naked in her room.
* When she wanted to take a picture of Jodie, she started to take off her clothes
* She got really afraid and violent when she saw a white van (in the street)
* She hadn’t had a normal home environment ( this was the most common reason for fostering )
Quotation from the book : ‘On Christmas we went up the pub and played darts. Mum had lots of beer and fell over so we had to go home. ‘
One day all the puzzle pieces fell together.. Jodie was very quiet all day long and Cathy went to her room. Jodie was laying on top of the duvet staring at the ceilings. Jodie started saying that her father had come into her room the night before to do naughty things. She was scared because her father had told her if she would tell anyone anything that a monster was coming to get her.
Jodie had been sexually abused. She started to go to special doctors and psychologist.
Day by day Cathy discovered something about her sexual abuse..
It wasn’t only her father who did this, but also her grandmother, grandfather, aunt, mother..
She didn’t like her mother and aunt, because they put spoons in her vagina.
Then, she said that her father was nice because he heated the spoon first.
Personal remark: When a child says this, I think that she never experienced kindness in her life. My opinion is confirmed at the end of the book. Because they discover that her family isn’t her real family. Her grandmother and grandfather are in real life members of a paedophile ring.
One day she suddenly started to act if she was a baby, one hour later she was very aggressive.
She was changing her personality. Doctors called it D.I.D – dissociative Identity disorder.
Quotation from the book : ‘D.I.D. is a rare and complex response to stress, she explained, where the personality splits into a number of different identities, in order to cope. Often one identity has no idea what the others are doing.
Personal remark: I thought it was strange that she didn’t suffer from this disease from the very beginning. But later in the story it is explained that it’s often caused by stress.
The psychologist said that she needed to undergo therapy. Luckily, the therapy worked. The days Cathy was visiting her she learned to greet people and she even dared to look people in the eyes.
The intensive therapy helped her to bring the various parts of her personality together( Amy and Reg ) . Nowadays Jodie is in a special school.
The story was deeply moving, but I really enjoyed it from the beginning till the end.
I really loved her writing.
Quotation from the book : When I look at my own children and, than goodness, the majority of children, who are loved and cared for and nurtured, it is hard to comprehend the mindset of parents who seem to care nothing for their child, and do not simply neglect her but actively set about destroying her for their own perverted gratification.
She doesn’t use the easiest words but the way she can express feelings with words is really miraculous. I also enjoyed the fact that it was written in the ‘ first person = I’ so that the reader can really identify with Cathy’s story.
It really is a well written page turner. Also I would highly recommend this book, Cathy Glass did a wonderful job in telling this tragic true story.