It was recently brought to my attention that the first FII Awareness Week was launching
and I remember instantly feeling relieved that public awareness is being brought to this very serious, common and hidden issue.
Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is the term used for when a parent or caregiver of someone, most commonly a child, is accused of fabricating, exaggerating or inducing the symptoms of that person. False FII allegations are made by people in power, such as medical professionals, social workers, teachers, the Local Authority etc and they happen more often than is known and the cases are continuing to rise by the day.
Unfortunately, my mother has been accused of FII 3 times throughout my childhood and has stopped several other attempts before they could continue. Each allegation was eventually proven to be false and in one case it was found by the social worker that it was in fact “professionals that fabricated evidence against mum”.
One allegation was when I was aged 4, the other two were at age 9 and 16. The most serious allegation was when I was 9 years old during an admission to a psychiatric unit at a top children’s hospital 300 miles away from home where they were supposed to support me in coming to terms with my recent diagnoses at the same hospital and help me to accept my feeding tube, but in fact they did the complete opposite. My treatment whilst on the unit was shocking and completely inhumane and more recently, I have been open about sharing my experiences.
During this allegation, I was very nearly removed from my family due to the seriousness of the allegations at the time. My mother was painted to be the most horrific medical child abuser in the Northeast of England and the case was very a serious one. In our opinion, this action was taken by the psychological team on the unit after my mum questioned their lack of treatment and put in a complaint which still remains unanswered 10 years on and they resorted to the most horrific allegations and cut and pasted reports years apart to make it look like mum was keeping me childlike. We had been under the same hospital for five years previous to this allegation and were seen several times every month on the floor below where the unit was based and we had a great relationship with this team yet go up one flight of stairs to the residential unit and it became a very dark place.
The first allegation when I was 4 was also made by a psychologist who stated that a child would never starve themselves and despite my mum being told I needed an emergency feeding tube to sustain my natural life, she was accused of getting an unnecessary medical procedure carried out when they believed they could work with my psychologically to eat away from the mother. I do in fact have gastropaeresis and am now fed into my small intestine but they ignored mine and my mums explanations for my avoidance of eating.
The allegation made when I was 16 was made by a doctor who didn’t believe in Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and whom refused me IV fluids even though I had to have these regularly which resulted in my potassium dropping to life threatening levels and my mum tried to remove me to another hospital for the care our GP said she needed but he pulled the safeguarding card. I eventually got my IV fluid after they agreed to take bloods which showed I was seriously ill.
Currently, conditions such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, ADHD, Autism are being rolled out to be first and foremost considered as FII. My Mum and I continue to actively help and support people to this day going through this truly awful situation and try to provide as much support and advice as possible.
Living an entire childhood with rare conditions and all the co-morbidities that come with them is tough enough, but to then deal with multiple allegations of FII on top of that and not knowing whether one day someone is going to turn up at your door and remove you from your family is still something I fear to this day despite me now being an adult and knowing that now will not happen. Myself, my Mum nor my family ever received any support to help us through the trauma and damage caused by these evil and false allegations. This is something that is swept under the carpet and not spoken about but this issue is very real and happens way more than is known and people need to know that this happens daily to innocent families. I was lucky that I got to stay with my family as my mum fought the system and won… Many families are torn apart and the children live a life in care, away from their loving families and suffer medically and psychologically because they don’t get the treatment they so desperately need.
The trauma I was put through as a child will never leave me. The nightmares are still there and the support to come to terms with these experiences just isn’t there. All those families who go through this horror are constantly in our thoughts. Stay strong and speak up when you can, it’s the only way forward. Ellie x