Saturday, 2 November 2013

When family mediation went horribly wrong!

As usual readers might like to remind themselves of my “back story” before reading this latest blog entry. My Mum and Dad were killed in a car accident in 2010 so I went to live with my Grand Parents who lived close by. This didn’t work out so when I was nearly 18 I was pretty much forced, for my own safety, to move out. My relationship with Granddad didn’t improve, in fact it got steadily worse, as did his relationships with almost everybody around him. Things got so fraught that “something had to be done”.

By November 2012 I was completely exhausted – both physically and mentally – by all the emotional, financial and physical abuse dished out in large doses by my Nan and Granddad to the rest of the family. So when we were offered the services of an external mediator to “make one final effort to resolve all the current problems” I was happy to co-operate.

We met in a large conference room with the tables arranged in a hollow square. In the middle there was a little table with a picture of my Mum and Dad on it and two candles that were supposed to burn throughout the meeting.

We had all made written submissions prior to the meeting and I saw that Granddad's document was much longer than mine, much longer in fact than all the other contributions put together.

At the start of the meeting we drew lots for the speaking order. My Uncle, Dad's brother, went first. The main point he made was how shocked he had been when Granddad had admitted hitting me “lots of times”; my uncle called it "a series of savage and sustained attacks". He went on to say how rude and unpleasant Granddad had been to him when Granddad had discovered that he (my uncle) had been put in joint charge of my financial affairs. He read out the letter that Granddad had sent him at the time in which the words "biased, dishonest and manipulative" were used by Granddad to describe my Uncle.

Second to speak was my aunt. She explained how devastated she had been by the loss of her sister (my Mum) and how she had wished "with all her heart" that I could have gone to live with her. But at that stage she simply didn't have any space. She explained that for some months Granddad was being paid twice for my board and lodging (she was paying for it out the estate and Granddad was taking from my living allowance as well) and that it was "quite impossible" that he didn't know about the double payment. Like my Uncle she was horrified that I had been physically and financial and emotionally abused by Nan and Granddad. She confirmed that Granddad had accepted that he had physically abused me and had stolen from me and that he had broken into Mum and Dad's house the day after they were killed and had removed money and destroyed legal papers.

Then it was my turn and I told the mediator how sad I was feeling and how shocked my Mum and Dad would have been at the way their own parents had behaved.

Finally it was Granddad's turn. The first thing he did was to stand up, slip through the gap in the square of tables and blow the two candles out. He called having them there burning "cheap theatricals". He then launched into a bitter attack against me (I'm a cheap tart, a whore and I had deserved to beaten like the animal) and he said all sort of nasty things about my Mum and Dad and my Aunt and Uncle. The whole meeting was a "pointless charade" and I had got what I deserved.

The moderator then read out a lengthy statement from Mum and Dad's solicitor. One thing I had not realised was that when I was 11 Granddad had got himself into money troubles. He then sold a 20% stake in the house to my Mum and Dad. He was supposed to pay "rent" for the 20% share to Mum (and the bank statements prove that he did) but that all these payments stopped when she died. The 20% lump sum was to be repaid when the house was sold, but providing 12 months notice was given Mum also had the right to have the money paid back whenever she wanted. He had all the signed and witnessed documents with him.

He then reminded all of us - but thinking of Granddad - of the agreement we had all signed about how the mediation meeting would be run. No personal attacks were one of the conditions. He also reminded all of us - but again thinking of Granddad - that confidentiality could only be maintained by him when acting as the mediator when there was no evidence of law-breaking. He promised that he would write a proper report but he was able to say at the time that there strong evidence of assault, theft, breaking and entering and fraud committed by "one of the participants here today".

It is fair to say that the meeting hadn’t gone well.


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