It takes a certain kind of person who can see all sorts of messed up things and not let it get to them. Social workers try their best to not let the cases affect them, but it is almost impossible with all the abuse, violence, neglect, they see daily. People reveal the most horrific cases they've witnessed that will be engraved in their memory forever - a few even quit their job afterward because it was too much.
"One of my best friends was a social worker working for a school system. There was a family of four children. Three had been in school for a while. All three were in special needs classes. All three had visual impairments. The youngest started kindergarten in a typical classroom. She exhibited some worrisome behavior.
She was overly affectionate, especially with male faculty. This led to an interview with my friend, somehow. She revealed all sorts of horrors that she considered normal. The thing that stuck with my friend was the 'kitty cat game' she played with her father.
This led to a call to the police. It was discovered that the 'father' was actually the mother's father and that the children, who were all being abused, were the product of incest. My friend is now in a different field as a direct result. It almost broke her."
"I am a former support worker. I usually worked with people with learning difficulties, but this time I was assigned to a guy who was prone to seizures. Everything else about him was normal, aside from the seizures. My job entailed going to the client's house and sleeping over, meaning the only people in his home were him and me.
When he met me, he was immediately put off by me because I'm female. He made several crappy comments about how I won't be able to protect him because I'm a female. I reassured him I was properly trained, but he wasn't having any of it. He was slamming things around and being very passive aggressive.
Obviously, part of my job is to remain professional, so when he made his nasty comments, I just listened or tried to reassure him. He didn't like that because he felt as though I was ignoring him, and so things escalated.
The next thing I know, he was coming at me with a fork. He was saying things like 'See. Look how useless you are. What if this was someone breaking in? How would you protect me? You aren't even doing anything!' This jerk had his arm around my neck with a fork pressed against my throat. I can't remember how I got him off me, but I did, and I wasn't injured; just scared.
He'd been cooking his dinner at the time, hence the fork, so on the stove was a frying pan of hot oil. As I ran to the bathroom to lock myself in, he attempted to throw that hot oil at me. He missed, thankfully.
I just remember being in the bathroom and sobbing hysterically on the phone with my mom, who turned up 20 minutes later while we waited for my manager to show up. My mom marched me to her car and told my manager I wouldn't be back. It was the last straw; he shattered my confidence as a support worker. Support workers endure way more than what they're paid to do, and I admire the ones who can stick it out!"
"I'm not a caseworker. When I was younger, I used to help out with this kid at my daycare, Sebastian. He was a little pudgy baby, maybe 18 months at most. He used to cry a lot from pain, so I would play with him and soothe him. He hated everyone but me. I remember all of his teeth were silver because of bottle rot. But he was a happy baby with me.
One day I noticed round scabs on him but I didn't know what they were from, a few days later he didn't come back. He never came back. Found out later his parents never wanted him and didn't care for him. They used his arms and legs as an ashtray and ended up killing him because he was crying. That still haunts me. No one ever caught on to it."
"I was in business support for a social work team. A family of travelers (Irish gypsies). Kids were filthy. Social workers visited, extreme neglect and mom was pregnant again. Anyway, the case got lost in the system. The social workers hated the computer system and refused to use it. The case holder went off sick and their manager was supposed to take over. He didn't. No cause for concern was recorded on the computer system.
Anyway, mom has the baby and receives a visit. Conditions are worse than before. The baby dies. They found physical abuse found in the post-mortem examination. This all could have been prevented if the staff had used the system. Then they tried to blame me for not providing accurate reports on open cases.
I have another contender. Religious nut-job parents. Court orders new baby goes into care. Parents snuck it out of the hospital. Police visit the home, the baby is at death's door. Mom believed her priest who had said her baby was born of sin, so must be cleansed, by adding bleach to the milk. Typing those notes up was horrific!"
"Not a social worker, but I worked with social workers for the pathways program which helps inner city kids get through college.
I taught college freshmen history for a year when I got a classroom full of kids from North Avenue in Milwaukee. What blew my mind was that these students didn't even think like regular students from the rest of our state. Not only did they lack basic knowledge of history (what communism was, who fought in WWI), but they saw no benefit in learning it. After talking to them, I realized that their entire lives, they had been programmed to think in the short term. In how can we get enough money by the end of the month, how can we get our sister the things she needs, how can we stop our mom from getting sick.
The idea of learning for the value of learning and seeking opportunities was entirely foreign for them as they were always living from week to week.
But in terms of disturbing stories, one student called me and asked if he could reschedule our one-on-one meeting because he was pretty sure his mom was going to overdose that night, and he wanted to be home just in case."
"I'm not the social worker in this case, but I've been closely following the case of Carl DeBrodie.
Carl DeBrodie was a 31-year-old mentally disabled man who was living in some sort of group home or similar assisted living facility. He was reported missing from the facility on April 17, 2017. He allegedly walked away on his own in the early morning. He was found about a week later encased in cement in a storage unit. I can't find any information on how the body was discovered aside from police receiving a tip. I have no information on who the storage unit was rented to, but I would imagine that would be a great lead.
Obviously being encased in cement isn't a good sign, but police suspect that the facility where he was living isn't being honest about the circumstances of his disappearance. First of all, his family and his previous guardian are saying there was ongoing abuse at the facility, but also that they were denied access to him for months prior to his disappearance.
His former guardian said: 'He was at my house for Christmas one year and he had bruised ears, bruised body, and a bruised eye, and that wasn't the end of his bruises.' Martin claimed she called a hotline to report potential abuse at Second Chance in 2010. 'After my hotline call and taking this to the guardianship, I wasn't allowed to talk to him on the phone. [The facility] would hang up on me or they wouldn't answer.'
His mother also claims they disallowed visits. 'For the last few years, we have not been able to see my son.'
The investigation took a different direction after his body was found. His body showed more decomposition than would be seen if he died a week ago. They believe he was dead before he was reported missing. The most notable clue is that the same day he was reported missing was the day a new company took over the facility. They think he died months earlier, but when the new company took over, they suddenly had to come up with an explanation why this guy was on the books as living at the facility, yet was nowhere to be found.
The part I find strange about this is that there are unquestionably multiple people involved in his care. You don't just have one person provide around-the-clock care for the guy. What were all those people told about his absence? How many people were in on this? Evidently, there were social workers who were supposed to have face-to-face visits with him, but the facility would cancel them, and the social workers would just say 'Okay, no problem.' It's unclear how long it's been since anyone has seen Carl face to face.
I think the facility can prevent family visits if they believe it's in the resident's best interest, which is what they were claiming in this case. I don't know the legality, but I believe he was a ward of the state at the time of his death. His mother lost custody of him at an early age due to abuse, and another woman became his legal guardian until he was 21 years old. At that point, he went into the home. His guardian spotted the abuse and took it to court to become his guardian again, but she lost. It's really tragic because it sounds like he was doing well when he was with her."
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"I worked for a social agency, placing people into correct programs and getting them mental help. Worst case was a mother bringing in her three girls under the age of five years old, straight from the hospital to get into a shelter and therapy.
The mother tried to leave the father, and he violated all three girls as revenge. I got them to a safe place, then went to my boss and quit. I didn't last long there; I can't bear to see pain."
"I worked with a man who had hallucinations so terrifying to him that he poked his own eyes out. He always wore sunglasses, but once he was comfortable with me, he showed me his empty eye sockets.
He was a very sweet man but would get violent sometimes. A different social worker in his past had taught him to warn people when he was about to be violent so he could be left alone to calm down. It worked surprisingly well. He would also frequently pull his toenails and fingernails off but never could put the reason into words for me."
"I was in a youth home a few years because I had some behavioral issues. I met a few interesting characters while there, but one that stood out to me was my best friend. He bounced from home to home because his parents put him up for adoption. His original adoptive parents violated and abused him. He was moved to a new family, and they abused him until he was 15 years old.
His final adoptive mother went wacko and cut him pretty bad, and it was in such a way that when she claimed he attempted suicide. The cops believed her and put him in a mental ward. When he got out, he was arrested for abusing someone else.
At the time I met him, he was 17, almost 18. He had a few months to complete his placement work before he aged out of the system and got put on the offender registry. I never found out if he finished or not because I was transferred to a different facility, but when I tried to Google him I couldn't find anything on our registry about him so I'd assume he completed it. I don't want to think about the alternatives."
"This is my little cousin's (who we just got guardianship over) story. He's my uncle's son (my mom's brother) and is so far behind. He turned 8 years old this year and is only in the first grade. My little cousin 'K' has three other older brothers who aren't my uncle's kids.
K's mom is also the type of woman to sacrifice her kids to have a man. Basically, for the past seven years, my uncle had been violating the three older brothers and beating their mom. He'd watch smut with my little cousin and make K watch him abuse his brothers. My little cousin had failed twice because he'd only been to school 20 days within those two years. He's not a small kid; my uncle is 6 foot 6 inches tall. My uncle was caught because he beat their mom so badly that she was unconscious for some time and had no choice but to call the police.
K has told us stories of seeing his parents hide dead bodies and doing all sorts of illegal substances. His brothers hated K because he's the reason my uncle was still there. They'd lock him in a closet for days without food or water. Now K behaves like a 4-year-old, has NO social skills, can't read, write, or even tell time from a clock. His social worker says this is one of the better cases."
"This wasn't necessarily the worst, but it was the most difficult out-of-nowhere situation that's happened. I work alongside some local police departments, so I will typically have officers call me and say they think it might be good for me to assist in some way. One day, a cop called me and said there was an older woman who came to the department saying her husband was posting some 'dark' stuff on Facebook. Stuff like 'Well my birthday is next week and that's the last one you will all see me for.'
Turns out, this guy had lost his son to suicide a while back and the five-year anniversary was coming up. It was pretty clear he was planning on taking his own life on the anniversary. What made it especially difficult for the dad was that the son had killed himself with the dad's service revolver that was kept in the house. The dad obviously held a ton of guilt for that.
I communicate with the wife that I need to come to the house and get the husband into the hospital for an evaluation, even if it's just to keep him safe for a few days. I tell her I'll come with a few officers. She reluctantly agrees. It was almost like she regretted telling us once she found out what we had to do. It was one of those 'now that I have this information, I have to act on it' type of deals.
We show up at the house, and the husband answers the door. I introduce myself and ask if I can come in. He agrees but has this shocked look on his face. As we're walking to a table to sit down, he says the absolute worst thing you could hear at that moment. He turns to me and says 'I'm sorry I look so surprised, but when you came to the door, I thought you were my son; you look so much like him.'
That's the worst thing to hear in that situation. I really did look like this guy's son, and at that moment, I was about the age that his son killed himself. I was able to convince him to go to the hospital to get evaluated after a while. At first, he wasn't going to budge. Last I heard, he and his wife were still both doing well.
While it might not be the worst case, it was the most jarring to me at that moment."
"I am not a social worker, but I was a case manager; the only difference is we don't have a license. I had this family: four kids living with their grandmother. Their mother was in jail for neglect and her boyfriend was in jail for illegal substances, neglect, physical abuse, and more.
Apparently, the guy would beat the crap out the kids, slam them into walls, force them to perform intimate acts on him, and much more screwed up things. From my understanding, the mother stayed with him because of the illegal substance. Forget your kids, let them starve and get violated as long as you have your precious substance.
The weird thing is the first three kids seemed fairly normal. But the youngest would constantly act out. Screaming, beating people, yelling curse words, emulating acts such as humping things and 'moaning,' it was tough to be around. I could barely interact with the kid. Of course, they were in counseling with a licensed counselor. My job was to just check up on the home and make sure it was in living condition. Pretty sad."
"Not social worker but used to be a care manager. Once encountered a young man with downs syndrome. He ended up at my service. Dropped off by social workers as his mom had got wasted and beat the crap out of him on his birthday.
It came out over months that she had abused him physically, psychologically and intimately. When interrogated she acted like she should be commended because she never touched his benefit payments. She was vile. Had to sit across from her several times.
He was great fun. I literally spent many a day sat with him watching the entire series of Rocky films over and over again."
"I am a former Child Protective Service worker.
Kids exposed to graphic smut; babies shaken; beaten with sticks, keys, phone books; a lot of abuse; severe neglect (no food, locked in closets for days with no bed or toilet, filthy homes); parents just generally not giving a crap; incest; children being tied to windows and having things thrown at them; illegal substance use at a very young age; parents videotaping themselves beating their kids. The list can go on and on. It's pretty gruesome.
I also had a baby on my caseload die eight months into the job. Parent left the baby in the care of a friend who wasn't paying attention. The baby was in a regular bed and rolled, got wedged between the wall and mattress. Suffocated. Horrible, horrible accident."
"My mom is a retired licensed clinical social worker. She worked at a private practice, doing mostly marriage counseling and phobia work. She was also a civilian contractor with the Navy for 30 years. She would work with abused wives and children. She never used names, but would tell us crazy stories every now and then after dinner. Some of the standouts from over the years:
1) There was a teenage girl whose family was seeing several different therapists. The girl had severe anxiety but was an 'A' student and a senior in high school. There was a year-end cruise for the graduating class, and she couldn't wear a swimsuit. She had been picking her skin for years and her entire body was covered, quite literally, with white scars. It was sad.
2) She had a multi-millionaire ask for help with a driving phobia. The woman had finally gotten a divorce from a cheating husband, received a massive alimony, and wanted to buy a Maserati to celebrate. The problem was her dad died in a car accident, and she was terrified of dying in a car.
3) A sailor's wife had changed sleeping pills, and her husband was worried she had overdosed because he couldn't wake her. He called 911. He admitted that he had tried many ways to wake her, including water, yelling, a light slap on the face, and putting his member into her butt. 'She never would let me do that if she were awake, ya know?' He was put in the brig for violating her, even though his wife didn't want to press charges. Once informed, the military had to press charges regardless.
4) She had a 67-year-old 'relations' addict for a while. The woman would go to bars and take men out to her car to do it. And not one, like four or five men per bar. Every night.
5) My mom's office was an EAP resource for the local county workers. Often, when county workers were mandated to therapy, they came to her office and saw one of the partners. A teacher from my high school was sent to her practice for harassment accusations against another teacher at my school. I only found that one out because I went to drop my mom's dinner off to her and saw him leaving. I never had him directly, but I also wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about it. Years later, long after graduation, it became sort of common knowledge in the community, but I still claim ignorance.
6) When helping my mom clean out her office when she retired, I found a large manila envelope full of cards and drawings. They were from former children she had seen. Among them was a card that, in crayon, read 'thank you for making daddy stop hurting mommy.' I hugged my mom for 10 minutes, and we both had a good cry.
I worked at her private practice as a secretary the summer before I left for college and was assigned the job of destroying old files. My state required keeping records for seven years, after that they were to be shredded. There were hundreds of files from that year, and I'd be a liar if I said I didn't browse the majority, looking for drama to read."
"I have a lot of terrible stories. I work with kids and teenagers. One of the worst was a 14-year-old addict who 'dropped' out of school. I say 'dropped' because legally he had to go, but his mom gave up and his school gave up on him.
The trailer was infested with cockroaches, fleas, and mice, and that was only what I could see. I would sit on their couch and could feel things crawling on me. It was horrifying. The trailer had holes in the floor, child services were involved, and I have no idea why they didn't remove the kid. He ran away, and I don't know what ended up happening him to him."
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