In 2014, WCLAC’s helpline received a call from a woman threatening to commit suicide because her father and her husband had clandestinely agreed that her father would keep her 2 year old son from a previous marriage and that she live with her new husband alone. This was against her wishes, as she had stipulated that she wanted to keep residential custody of her son as a condition in her marriage contract.
The name and number of the caller was taken by the helpline counsellor who, in turn, referred the call to a WCLAC social worker present in the office, before making contact with the helpline manager and the Police Family Protection Unit. The police then immediately undertook an investigation in collaboration with WCLAC to locate the woman, her husband, and her father also.
During the investigation proceedings WCLAC’s highly trained social worker maintained close contact with the caller, all the time attempting to calm her down and comfort her, putting into practice a wide range of psycho-social counselling techniques. With the support of WCLAC’s services unit, the caller was made fully aware of her legal rights. Moreover, WCLAC’s social worker assured the caller that WCLAC and the police were doing all they could to bring her son safely back to her.
Through precise and timely communication on the part of the helpline counsellor, WCLAC staff and the authorities, the police were able to persuade the caller’s father and her husband to sign a legally binding agreement drafted by one of WCLAC’s lawyers to honour the caller’s wishes. WCLAC’s legal team was solely responsible for the creation of the legally binding agreement as it was not in the police’s remit to do so, they could only enforce it. The Police Family Protection Unit followed up the case with WCLAC and the caller received several follow-up calls from WCLAC for monitoring purposes. WCLAC is now reassured that the caller is currently living happily with her son and new husband.