Here’s the true story of Clarisse, 21, French au pair who came to USA with her childhood best friend. Find more about her on Snapchat (@claclaaaaaa) and Instagram.
Chapter 1: I should have listened to my intuition…
My first family was my final choice; very good first impressions.”They look perfect.” Super nice, organized, one child, good city: Virginia Beach, 2 minutes away from the beach, frankly everything was perfect. I had a second contact with a family in Miami: 2 children but I wasn’t interested so I matched with the first one.
My best friend found a family a few days after I said yes. We were able (after long negotiations) to leave at the same time, the adventure really started then!!
So we left France on the famous February 13: plane, training school, visit to New York (first magical moment) and separation. My best friend went to New Jersey and I went to Virginia Beach. I still had a great relationship with my family since the match, we talked regularly and I often received pictures. When I arrived at the airport, the host dad and the host kid were waiting for me. They looked nice, we introduced ourselves and headed towards the house. The Daddy talked a lot to me in the car and I was already beginning to notice a different attitude from our Skype sessions…
Chapter 2: A total nightmare
The first weekend was rather quiet, we did not do too much except driving to see my competence. I found the dad very direct, as if he wanted to control everything but I just thought that I was imagining it, that I just needed to get used to being in a family again (I lived alone before this experience). On Monday I met the current au pair of the family with whom I would be working with for a week. We had a very good rapport, we had the same type of personality so we got along really well. She took me outside, took me to visit the city, introduced me to other au pairs… The second weekend I spent the day with the family and the evening with the au pair to discover my new city (I made sure to come back home before midnight).
It was on Sunday that the boredom began, the dad had a complete change of attitude towards me because I went out, he spoke badly to me, harassed me with questions, took me in the car to see the bar where I went with the other au pair (just to give me his opinion about the bar). I really didn’t understand because I was with the current au pair. If you trust this girl to take care of your child, you shouldn’t worry. Clearly, it was beginning to become a moral harassment. After that, my life with the family became a real hell. The other au pair went home because she had finished her contract, and she was oddly relieved to leave and I soon understood why. My new life became worse (the host dad wanted control all my life:friends, money, where I went shopping, my weeks of holidays…) and he asked me horrible things to do with the kid. To give you an example:
“Give spinach at the breakfast because he did not eat his dinner last night, watch him vomit, and tell him to continue.”
For me it was too much, I refused to do that. The dad was so manipulative that I still wonder if the problem did not come from me. So I spoke with the former au pairs and they all told me the same thing: “leave this house now because every month will be worse and worse!”Then I decided to rematch…
Chapter 3: Agency troubles
2 days later I had my appointment with the LCC and the family (rematch procedure). And there, it was a turn of events, the dad made me out to be guilty, he said that I was immature, that I did not try etc … A true manipulative man, I was shocked and he did even hesitate to lie!! I defended myself as much as I could but with the language barrier it was not simple. After that, my LCC realized that I was really not well. She explained to me the regular procedure for the rematch. During the 2 weeks of “Reflection” I tried to see as many peoples as possible to stay sane! All the people who knew the family were not surprised of the situation, they knew that this family was very bad with the previous au pairs but the agency did not react, I understood that everything is a matter of money. The happiness of the families come before the au pairs anyway.
The 2 weeks were very long but the worst was yet to come. At the end of the two weeks of transition (it was a Monday), the agency called me to tell me very nicely that I was leaving the family on Thursday because the family found a new au pair who was to arrive on the Friday and they absolutely didn’t want me to meet her, that they did not know where I was sleeping and that they were sending me a message to keep me informed.
Pause ! So the family had the right to seek a new au pair for 2 weeks while I could not do anything,? it’s a joke!
And more, they didn’t know where I was sleeping and I had to leave the house in 2 days ? I felt so bad. This is when you realize how much we are merely products.
Chapter 4: My host dad hacked my Facebook account
The same day my profile was unlocked on CC, I found a family in 3h, Awesome! Adorable people, a very different family who live Batavia, 30min from Rochester. Finally!!!! I was beginning to despair. We decided to match the next day. I took the plane on Friday, I learned on Wednesday where I was sleeping on Thursday night (great!). The family were horrible to me this past week, the host dad became “cray-cray” when he learned that I had found a new family.
To give you examples of my last week : they said that they didn’t care that I don’t know where to sleep the Thursday night, that it was no longer their problem, that despite circumstances I should not use my phone during working hours, that my new family was exactly like them, that I would have nothing in common with them… They made me work all day Thursday (until 6pm and I left at 7pm). It was a total relief finally left. The host dad deleted me on Facebook and was not there to say goodbye, but it was better like this.And the icing on the cake, the next day after I left the house he hacked my Facebook in order to read all my messages. I had a work phone (because they didn’t like iPhones so I couldn’t use my iPhone, so weird!!!). I remember that I had deleted every message and disconnected myself from every application. But I could not disconnect from my email account.
So, he hacked my Facebook and read all my messages.
I felt so humiliated even though I have nothing to feel bad about, it’s my private life, it’s illegal!!!!!!! I knew this because he read all my conversations with his old au pairs, he would have seen that they had a problem with him too. But when you are a manipulative person, you have to accept the consequences!! At that time I was really edgy but I decided to go ahead and not think about it anymore. I told my LCC about it and she told the program director but still… nothing…
Chapter 5: Hope, new host family and happiness
Finally, all of this to tell you that despite everything that happened to me, I met exceptional people, I had the support of my friends and family in France but also the support of people I hardly knew. And I think that with an experience like mine you realize how much people can consider you as a vulgar merchandise but also the total opposite too. I regret absolutely nothing and I am finally happy to have lived through this because I grew up, I’m more mature and my morale is steel!!!!
Some au pair agencies consider you as a product but there will be people ready to help you and welcome you even if they do not know you, and this is a beautiful experience !!!!!
Currently, I am in a wonderful family that I love. 3 children, it’s a lot of work but it is also 3 times more love. I have plenty of trips and weekends planned in anticipation with my best friend. My message after this experience: always stay positive in life, the best is still to come!!
And a huge thank you to Louise who helped us to correct this article 🙂