CREATED Aug. 8, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Many have heard of the television show "Hoarders," but it's not just a show, it's a real problem affecting many lives. Lee County Task Force on Hoarding held an educational seminar today highlighting the effects of hoarding on children of hoarders.
For speaker Barbara Allen, the effects hit close to home. Allen grew up in a hoarder's home for 23 years. She said her father could not throw anything away, so any item that came into their house stayed there.
"The flea infestations I think were the things that bothered me the most," Allen said.
Allen is on a mission now to educate others about the importance of recognizing children in a hoarding family, and how they are impacted by a hoarding home. In her book, "Nice Children Stolen From Car," Allen delves into what it was like for her growing up when she couldn't take showers because the family's plumbing stopped working, and no one was allowed to come fix it since her father prohibited anyone outside the family from entering the home.
"There's been a lot of press and emphasis on the hoarder but there hasn't been anything really on the children and what their situation is, and these are innocent children who have no choice in how they're living or how they're brought up," Allen said.
Children living in hoarding situations face isolation issues, among other physical and social effects, according to Belinda Bruster with Lee County Task Force on Hoarding.
Bruster recommends families affected by hoarding seek help for everyone involved, not just the hoarder. Here is an organization specifically dedicated to children of hoarders: www.childrenofhoarders.com.
To report a hoarder in your neighborhood to Lee County Code Enforcement, call (239) 533-8895.