Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Court Ordered "Therapy?"

I am currently drafting a bill, with a colleague of mine (a psychologist and attorney, who takes on the most serious PAS case in NY), to make changes in family court at the federal level. Right now, the rules and regulations are jurisdictional with no continuity or standardization making too many custody cases unnecessarily chaotic, expensive; traumatizing or re-traumatizing victims and children. We have the support, at this time, of two (powerful) Senators and two Representatives.

There are some easy fixes to protect the children, one being requiring GALs to have licensure at their expense, such as practitioners (i.e. psychologists, nurses, doctors). GALs need extensive training because often judges rule solely on their reports/testimony as they do not have time to invest, at that level, for every case. Becoming a GAL in my state alone varies from all attorneys are put on a list and rotated to maintaining CEUs (i.e. attending one training a year). And these are the individuals that interview children, already often traumatized with their parents separating and their worlds turning upside down, determine if there is abuse and identify the perpetrator, all for the best interest of the child (ren). Are GALs identifying abuse? Are they accurately identifying the perpetrator? How about court ordered therapy? Are therapists, used in custody cases, able to identify parental alienation? Why wouldn't therapists, used in hostile and highly litigated cases, be required to be certified in PAS? Perpetrators are masterful at manipulation and it generally takes substantial time to break down their charm and exterior (unless they expose themselves) so any new required professional involvement is "fresh meat" for the perpetrator....and it goes round and round and over and over again...

Here are some findings from a scientifically based study, something I attempted to bring into my case to no avail:   
Abused Mothers' Safety Concerns and Court Mediators' Custody Recommendations.

[Intimate Partner Violence is defined as "a pattern of coercive control that may be primarily made up of psychological abuse, sexual coercion, or economic abuse, that is punctuated by one or more acts of frightening physical violence, credible threat of physical harm, or sexual assault."]

"Along with the damaging effects of physical abuse on women's health and well-being, emotional abuse appears to be even more deleterious, and also tends to occur more frequently than physical or sexual violence. Emotional abuse includes harassment, controlling and isolating behaviors, destruction of property, degradation, humiliation, threats, and insults. Survivors of of IPV often report that the emotional abuse was worse than the physical violence. Emotional abuse has been found to predict poor mental health outcomes such as depression, higher levels of stress and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and low self-esteem over and above physical abuse."

"Although many victimized women end their relationships with the expectation that the abuse will end as well, batterers often continue, or even escalate, their abuse post-separation. Much of this abuse is directed at and/or involves the manipulation of shared children."

"Abusers often perform well under observation and manipulate mediators [and court professionals] ....thus are viewed more favorably than the victims."

"Mothers who disclosed the domestic violence were more likely to have their concerns ignored, lose custody, receive unsafe custody exchange recommendations.."

" Most of the mothers had serious concerns about the children's emotional well-being. Several described the fathers' exceptional ability to manipulate others--including the children. Attempting to turn children against their mothers, some fathers told the children that the mothers were to blame for the divorce, were tearing the family apart, and/or were mentally unstable....discussing too many details of the divorce and custody battle with children.."

"Most women in the study suffered abuse that was more controlling or emotional--types of abuse that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to document...court professionals require documentation...several women described that the courts view physical abuse as the only legitimate form of abuse.."

"The women had a variety of concerns at the time of mediation: 1) the father's previous
and likely ongoing emotional abuse of the children 2) losing the children to him due to kidnapping or alienation, and/or 3) the father's inability to provide a stable environment for the children. "In other words, women had legitimate concerns that deserved to be taken seriously, however their concerns were rarely considered."


The GAL in our case did not comment nor bring up any abuse during the year. She kept turning the conversation to (Peter's) accusations of promiscuity and an emotional affair I had for two months with a colleague, my mental state and alcohol abuse. She had very little training, if any, and in the end actually documented that Warren was manipulative and creating all of the confusion (he was 6). The children's court ordered therapist bought into Peter's stories and did not even consider that the girls might be being fed lies; history being re-written. The therapist, who communicated often with the GAL, agreed that Warren was being manipulative because he liked the attention (even writing that gives me a lump in my throat). My then minor daughter's therapy focused solely on "my mental illness." She was reading a book about Borderline Personality Disorder. Neither considered that when Peter was living with a female subordinate for months, my minor daughter acknowledged that was the best time in our recent past relationship. I had been previously referred to this therapist, Amy, as a Parent Alienation Expert by a colleague, who assured me she would be able to identify PAS, as he said it was very obvious. The courts ordered that Amy be the children's therapist; I was thrilled because I had called her in August and she stated my situation was clearly PAS. When I brought up the phone call months later she denied everything including having no experience with PAS. She mocked me in the final therapy sessions telling me about a client who was experiencing severe PAS and if I knew anyone that could help him. 

Both the GAL and therapist told me TO CALM DOWN so many times, I am affected to this day by those words. Of course the perpetrator is calm and the victim upset. The perpetrator has the victim controlled now by everyone involved; he/she has help in the abuse.

It was very difficult to not be emotional when losing your children is a real concern and the financial burden increasing exponentially every week. My attorney and therapists had never seen a GAL bill so much, they generally try to keep costs down as parents are already paying attorney fees. Not Janie, I was paying 70% and the Walton's were presenting themselves in court as not only superior, but wealthy.  

We had a full blown family evaluation. Thousands of dollars to defend myself. Peter's results were "too perfect" therefore results inconclusive and invalid, which does further the sociopath case. The director of the center gave me a fairly good evaluation (although his most damaging statements were based on a  therapist's reports who has been reported so much he is still under probation and supervision), but his assistant, a woman, hung me out to dry.  Interestingly, the three women I have mentioned were all less educated and as far as I know none had published in the scientific literature, though they treated me as if I was a child, stupid and crazy.

Not one mentioned the pictures or abuse, though it was obvious when I followed Peter, he had spent most of his interviews and sessions talking negatively about me, so I spent much of mine defending myself and, being triggered, made me look crazier. No one considered the affects of being a domestic violence survivor or the consequences to my mental health or relationship with the girls. Not one mentioned Peter's girlfriend, Charlene (not too much older than my oldest at the time), and him living with her for months and while I was pregnant with a fourth or the fact I had been the family breadwinner, taking care of three children and him. No one mentioned his physical abuse while I was pregnant with the forth, the strain of caring for three children, two jobs and morning sickness while he was gone most of the time, delighting in his new found excitement and freedom. 

There were so many red flags, so much literature available to these educated women; the abuse and PAS so obvious. When teenage girls turn 100% on their mother, cannot think of one positive thing offered them in their entire lives, take care of the emotional needs of their father, make fun of my "mental illnesses," make outlandish accusations against me and say nothing negative about Peter......I live in the second most populous and metropolitan area in the state......how are abused women supposed to get away, without leaving children to a perpetrator, and with only obstacles? What about the children? I will continue to tell my story and use my experiences, though often humiliating, for the greater good. I will change practice.

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Thank you for your comment. Positive feedback and helping those that have experienced the same tragedies are what keeps me going.