Mothers of Lost Children will march from the U.S. Capitol to the White House in Washington DC to protest children being taken from safe mothers and given to battering and sexually abusive fathers. The family court cover up is similar to Penn State and the Catholic Church cover-ups. We will protest at the Department of Justice and Demand Equal Rights and Protection in Courts across America. Help us send a mother from each state to represent the rights of mothers and children.
Much praise for Ms. Magazine Blogger Kimberly Dark’s review of Boyhood, a story about a 12 year boy and his life.
In 2012 at the Sewell-Belmont House, Mothers of Lost Children made a list of issues that needed addressing and created a priority list. One of the most important issues is the view of Mother in society and in media. If women wanted to gain political clout and address the issues that undermine our authority in the courts we agreed that we needed a PR Campaign for Mom. The importance of mom. While we continue to see on the small screen dangerous messages that belittle women and mothers causing us discomfort with the turtle steps we are taking in this campaign to elevate mother, then along comes Boyhood to soothe our soul.
“Boyhood” Is Also a Film About Motherhood
Kimberly Dark is a sociologist, storyteller, speaker and yoga teacher. Learn more about her at www.kimberlydark.com.
- What is the importance of motherhood in the child’s life?
There are several take a ways from this film one is that Mothers and their love for their sons, are important to the life of the growing boy. The influence of their mothers can not be replaced. For many children this is the source of the gentle love they need to develop into gentle understanding men.
- American Psychological Association. (1996). Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family , Washington, D.C.: Author.http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html “Fathers who battered the mother are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children as are non-violent fathers.”
Posted by Coral Anika Theill
Author, Advocate, Speaker & Reporter
Memoir: BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
The Story of Naming “Maternal Alienation”: New Research Enters the World of Policy and Practice by Anne Morris – A MUST READ
When maternal alienation takes place, mothers are positioned as the ones least able to make changes. A mother’s words are discredited before she even utters them, and her actions are reviled before she takes them. Whatever she does, she has been painted as the mad one, the bad one, the stupid one, the one who can’t be trusted. Her children will not listen to her or cooperate with her. Professional interventions that put pressure on her to make changes within the family such as changes to children’s behaviour, exacerbate this situation and problems are likely to escalate. This tends to “prove” to practitioners that the woman is the cause of the problems.
What is needed from practitioners is both understanding of how maternal alienation has operated to disempower and discredit mothers, and an attitude of respect towards them. Practitioners’ authority can be used positively to model respect towards the mother and authorise alternative narratives and behaviours for mother and child. This counterbalances the power and status of the alienator’s voice.
Women who leave violence and abuse often find they re-capture a sense of being a worthwhile person that was lost during the abuse; they may discover they have values and a personality that were buried for years. This (re-) emerging self can be strengthened during work with mothers and children, as together they create a life that they choose. Becoming very clear about what they want in their lives enables women and children to re-frame who they are, and step outside the behaviours they adopted to survive the abuse, and the negative narratives about who they were.
It can be helpful for women and children to understand how the tactics of maternal alienation capitulated them into particular behaviours. For women, these tactics often worked to entrap them into ‘playing out’ the role assigned to them by the perpetrator. After leaving an abusive relationship, women and children often find that perpetrators’ tactics to control them escalate. They will need to hold on firmly to the alternative sense of themselves so that they are not tricked back into the old ways of behaving that ‘proved’ the perpetrators’ words about themselves.
What is needed from practitioners is both understanding of how maternal alienation has operated to disempower and discredit mothers, and an attitude of respect towards them.
The Story of Naming “Maternal Alienation”: New Research Enters the World of Policy and Practice by Anne Morris
Home Truths Conference – September 2004, Melbourne
Liz Kelly tells us that, “in order to define something a word has to exist with which to name it. …What is not named is invisible and, in a social sense, nonexistent” (1988 114). When I sought to understand why so many mothers who were victims of violence were blamed and often hated by their children, I found myself identifying and naming a phenomenon that had been virtually unnamed in the literature on violence against women.
I was drawn to research this from my experience as a practitioner working with women whose relationships with their children had broken down. In groups and counselling, I discovered the depth of their grief at losing their children, compounded by the blame they encountered from those around them, which further fed their self-blame as mothers. It seemed ironic that such a source of profound grief for women did not even deserve a word that identified their experience. For them, their children, families and communities, there seemed to be no way of understanding how their relationships had broken down other than seeing it as the mothers’ fault.
Findings from 1999 Research
The research project, conducted in 1999 (Morris 1999), discovered that in these cases of alienation, male perpetrators of violence against the women and/or children use an arsenal of strategies to deliberately undermine mother-child relationships. Most often the mother’s intimate partner and the child’s father or step-father, they employ these tactics in a number of different abusive contexts, including domestic violence and child sexual abuse. They use verbal messages and actions to position the mother in a place where children can hate and despise her, can insult and even abuse her themselves, where any action she makes becomes further proof of the statements made about her. These messages do not have to be based on any truth – their power is built on the commanding way in which they are conveyed, the rhetorical devices they use and the emotional responses they elicit. The messages are propaganda, and work powerfully on children, becoming more authoritative than children’s own experiences of their mother and of their abuse. As they conflict with children’s experiences, these assaults on children’s sense of reality have implications for their later mental health and healing.
In this campaign against the mother, the alienator manipulates and inscribes upon his victims demeaning stereotypes of women and mothers. Children, coached to copy the abusive behaviour of their father, are likely to form future relationships based on these gendered stereotypes, whereby men are encouraged to use power and violence for their own ends, and women are debased and held responsible for all ills. Whilst painting the mother as unloving, stupid, mad, lying, malicious and monstrous, the father portrays himself as good, rational, victimised, but heroic. As stereotypes have cultural currency, family members, community members and professionals readily adopt these images without much awareness or criticism. He becomes the ‘poor man’ that we easily sympathise with; the mother becomes ‘the bitch’ we love to demonise.
I named this campaign against mother and child and their relationship maternal alienation. This name defies the general trend towards gender neutral language, that conceals”women’s disadvantage in a range of institutional settings” (Gatens and Mackinnon 1998 xiv), and reminds us that this is a form of gendered violence aimed at mothers and mothering. By removing gender from the framing of problems of violence, a gender-neutral perspective obscures the role of gender and power in abusive relationships (Berns 2001). The term ‘maternal alienation’ was created also partly as a response to the contentious Parental alienation Syndrome (PAS) (Gardner 1987), used particularly by men in custody disputes in the United States, and increasingly in Australia, to undermine mothers’ allegations of their violence and abuse towards mother and/or child, predominantly child sexual abuse (Myers 1997; Dallam 1998). A favourite of the men’s rights groups, Parental alienation Syndrome insists that it is mainly women who alienate their children from their fathers, while being silent about fathers’ attempts to alienate children from their mothers. The term ‘maternal alienation’ subverts this ploy and draws attention to the prevalence of alienation aimed at mothers. The term also has potential to take account of the widespread existence of mother blaming within families, institutions and popular and professional discourses.
As maternal alienation occurs across a spectrum of abuse and violence, I found Liz Kelly’s idea of a ‘continuum’ of abuse helpful, as it acknowledges the interconnectedness of what are often seen as specific forms of abuse such as emotional, physical and sexual abuse (of women and children) (Kelly 1988). The concept of a continuum allows a consideration of the extent to which institutional structures and the practices of health and legal professionals contribute to maternal alienation, for I continue to discover that the alienation begun by the perpetrator is invariably continued and compounded by institutions and professionals who become involved with the family.
Berns, N. (2001). “Degendering the Problem and Gendering the Blame: Political Discourse on Women and Violence.” Gender and Society 15(2): 262-281.
Birns, B. (1999). “Attachment Theory Revisited: Challenging Conceptual and Methodological Sacred Cows.” Feminism & Psychology 9(1): 10-21.
Burke, C. (1999). “Redressing the balance: child protection intervention in the context of domestic violence”. Challenging Silence: Innovative responses to sexual and domestic violence. J. Breckenridge and L. Laing. St Leonards, Allen & Unwin: 256-267.
Dallam, S. J. (1998). “The Evidence for Parental alienation Syndrome: An Examination of Gardner’s Theories and Opinions.” Treating Abuse Today 8(2): 25-34.
Edleson, J. L. (1998). “Responsible mothers and invisible men: child protection in the case of adult domestic violence.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 13(2): 294-5.
Gardner, R. (1987). The Parental alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse. New Jersey, Creative Therapeutics.
Gatens, M. and A. Mackinnon (1998). Gender and Institutions; Welfare, Work and Citizenship. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Hays, S. (1996). The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. New Haven, Yale University Press.
Hearn, J. (1998). “Theorizing men and men’s theorizing: Varieties of discursive practices in men’s theorizing of men.” Theory and Society 27(6): 781-816.
Irwin, J., F. Waugh, et al. (2002). Domestic violence and child protection – A research report: A collaborative research project by Barnardos Australia and the University of Sydney. Sydney, University of Sydney.
Kelly, L. (1988). “How Women Define their Experiences of Violence”. Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse. K. Yllo and M. Bograd. Newbury Park, C.A., Sage.
Laing, L. (1999). “A different balance altogether? Incest offenders in treatment”. Challenging Silence: innovative responses to sexual and domestic violence. J. Breckenridge and L. Laing. St Leonards, Allen & Unwin.
McMahon, M. (1995). Engendering Motherhood – Identity and Self-Transformation in Women’s Lives. New York, The Guildford Press.
Morris, A. (1999). Uncovering ‘maternal alienation’: a further dimension of violence against women Department of Social Inquiry, University of Adelaide, Adelaide.
Morris, A. (2003). Working with maternal alienation in Domestic/Family Violence and Child Sexual Abuse. Adelaide, Northern Metropolitan Community Health Service; Women’s Health Statewide; University of Adelaide.
Myers, J. E. B. (1997). A Mother’s Nightmare – Incest: A Practical Legal Guide for Parents and Professionals. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.
Smart, C. (1996). “Deconstructing motherhood”. Good Enough Mothering? Feminist perspectives on lone motherhood. E. B. Silva. London, Routledge.
1 The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions to this work of Dr Margie Ripper, University of Adelaide, and Professor Liz Kelly C.B.E., Child & Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University.
Posted by Coral Anika Theill
Author, Advocate, Speaker & Reporter
Memoir: BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark shares my search for freedom and light in a society based on patriarchal religion and laws. It openly speaks about the ideas and beliefs in our society which foster sexism, racism, the denigration of human rights and the intolerance of difference. My documentation exposes the dark side of human nature when all people are not valued. A healthy society must have the courage to address these issues, speak about them, examine them and bring them to light. Indifference encourages, “silent violence”-the type of violence I experienced in my home, in the community, religious circles and judicial system. Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel states, “The indifference to suffering makes the human inhumane.
The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.
Forcibly taking a mother’s children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the greatest forms of ‘mis-use’ of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control.
You Silenced me once, now Adult Survivors of Sexual Assault speak out in the Pursuit of Truth Film
Hear Wendy Murphy JD, and Marci Hamilton among other expert testimony, who champion the rights of victims and Statute of Limitation Laws to protect victims of abuse and help those who seek justice.
See Pursuit of Truth and order your film to share in your communities because, The Truth Matters.
” It is a sensitive and sobering and truly needed comprehensive look at what the legal process is really like for survivors, from the moment of disclosure to wherever the legal system may come to a resting point.” Michael
Most victims of child sexual abuse can’t ask for help. You can.
CAPTA turns 40 What have we learned? http://stopabusecampaign.com/
By Melanie Blow
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) turns 40 this year. It’s birth represented a milestone in our accepting of children’s rights and what is necessary to keep them healthy. After 40 years, CAPTA is still an essential tool to protect children, although newer research shows we’re harming children if we rely on it too heavily.
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was essentially the first piece of federal legislation to codify a novel concept- that all children had rights above and beyond being the property of their parents. Before CAPTA, there was a smattering of child welfare laws throughout state and local governments regarding “child cruelty”, and things like rape and murder were illegal when done to a child or an adult (although the former was never spoken of). But the rise of medical technology was letting doctors learn more about the injuries that precede child fatalities. Most people agreed that children did not deserve to have their limbs wrenched until the bones splintered, that they did not deserve to be thrown and slammed until ribs broke and skulls cracked, healed, and cracked again.
CAPTA laid the basic groundwork for what states minimally need to consider to be abuse, for states to have central registers to receive reports of abuse, established that certain professionals who work with children must be trained in identifying abuse and be legally obliged to report it (mandated reporters), and laid down some ground rules for foster care of children removed from their homes.
It’s impossible to say how CAPTA affected child abuse rates, since we have no real baseline for them before it passed. And as pediatricians were studying patterns of fractured little bones, the feminist movement was brewing. A side effect of this was that rape was being discussed more, and with it the discussion of the rape of children. This topic rose high in the public consciousness in the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. The mere idea of raping a child is abhorrent to most people, but it also seems unrelated to child fatality. Or so we thought, until a cardiologist in California proved otherwise.
In the mid-’90’s, Dr. Vince Felitti was studying why some of his patients would lose weight, but gain it right back. When he asked them if they were, in some way, attached to being overweight, he often heard “yes”, and this was often explained by discussion of abuse and other significant traumas they suffered as children.
This epiphany lead to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, a massive body of research showing that survivors of any form of child abuse, neglect, major household dysfunction and parental domestic violence live shorter lives, experience more major physical illness and injury, and earn less money than people who don’t endure these things. It also showed the infrastructure for responding to abuse that CAPTA established was inadequate. Keeping physical abuse and neglect from escalating to a fatality- the basic goal of CAPTA- is laudable. But the ACE study showed that all child abuse is a matter of life and death. To read more http://nblo.gs/ZliGb http://stopabusecampaign.com/
For more Information on the ACE study by Dr. Vincent Felitti- http://mothersoflostchildren.org/cdcs-ace-studybraintraumaviolence-in-childhood/ The bomb in the Brain with Dr. Felitti
I’m a Believer
Believers believe victims of child abuse and domestic violence and we strive to protect them.
We believe all children have the right to live their lives free from abuse and neglect.
We use the truth to expose the myth that women and children frequently lie about abuse, and the abusers and deniers who promote this dangerous myth.
Working together we will heal the victims and educate courts that deny or minimize their complaints.
Domestic Abusers cost the American taxpayer a trillion dollars every year. It is time to stop subsidizing domestic abusers and for us all to agree that a civilized society makes the health and safety of children the highest priority.
Daniel G. Saunders, Ph.D.
Daniel G. Saunders, Ph.D., Professor
School of Social Work University of Michigan
Over the past 200 years, the bases for child custody decisions have changed considerably. The patriarchal doctrine of fathers’ ownership of children gave way in the 1920s and ’30s to little formal preference for one parent or the other to obtain custody. When given such broad discretion, judges tended to award custody to mothers, especially of young children. The mother-child bond during the early, “tender years” was considered essential for children’s development. In the 1970s, “the best interests of the children” became the predominant guideline, although it remains somewhat ambiguous (Fine & Fine, 1994). It was presumably neutral regarding parental rights. Little was known then about the negative impact of domestic violence on women and children, and domestic violence was not originally included in the list of factors used to determine the child’s best interest.
Custody evaluators and other family court professionals are inadequately trained to properly offer opinions where domestic violence is a factor.
Child Custody Evaluators’ Beliefs About Domestic Abuse Allegations:
Their Relationship to Evaluator Demographics, Background, Domestic Violence
Knowledge and Custody-Visitation Recommendations
Final Technical Report Submitted to the
National Institute of Justice,
U.S. Department of Justice
October 31, 2011
False Allegations - http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/med/PR3.html
Brown, T., Frederico, M., Hewitt, L., & Sheehan, R. (1997). Problems and solutions in the management of child abuse allegations in custody and access disputes in the family court. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 36(4), 431-443.
(Researchers reviewed court records of some 200 families where child abuse allegations had been made in custody and access disputes in jurisdictions in two states, observed court proceedings and interviewed court and related services’ staff.The allegations of abuse were usually valid. 70% were determined to involve severe physical and/or sexual abuse. The overall rate of false allegations during divorce to be about 9%, similar to the rate of false allegations in noncustody related investigations.)
Trocme, N., & Bala, N. (2005). False allegations of abuse and neglect when parents separate. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29(12), 1333. (PDF)
Using data from the 1998 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS-98), this paper provides a detailed summary of the characteristics associated with intentionally false reports of child abuse and neglect within the context of parental separation. The national study examined abuse and neglect investigated by child welfare services in Canada.
When there was an on-going custody dispute the substantiation rate by CPS was 40% and an addition 14% were suspected but there wasn’t enough evidence to make a final determination. 12% were believed to be intentionally false. Allegations of neglect was the most common form of intentionally fabricated maltreatment. Substantiation rates varied significantly by source of report, with reports from the police (60%), custodial parents (47%), and children (54%) being generally most likely to be substantiated, while noncustodial parents (usually fathers) have a lower substantiation rate (33%), and anonymous reports being least likely to be substantiated (16%). Of the intentionally false allegations of maltreatment tracked by the study, custodial parents (usually mothers) and children were least likely to fabricate reports of abuse or neglect.
Be an UPSTANDER (N): Someone who has taken action on behalf of others.
A person who stands up for his or her beliefs.
A person who does what they think is right, even if they are alone.
A person who is not a bystander.
People who spoke out against the Holocaust were upstanders.
Posted by Coral Anika Theill
Author, Advocate, Speaker & Reporter
Memoir: BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark shares my search for freedom and light in a society based on patriarchal religion and laws. It openly speaks about the ideas and beliefs in our society which foster sexism, racism, the denigration of human rights and the intolerance of difference. My documentation exposes the dark side of human nature when all people are not valued. A healthy society must have the courage to address these issues, speak about them, examine them and bring them to light. Indifference encourages, “silent violence”-the type of violence I experienced in my home, in the community, religious circles and judicial system. Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel states, “The indifference to suffering makes the human inhumane.”
Most individuals prefer not to hear the story of how a cultured people turned a blind eye to consenting to the “kidnapping of children through America’s family courts” and how the majority of our society, consisting of cultured people, remained silent. Many women grow up in homes in which they were conditioned and groomed to be victims. They marry sociopathic abusers, have children with them, and lose custody and contact of their children when they become stronger and choose safety.
Nurturing and loving mothers losing permanent custody of their children is such depressing subject matter. But we cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly if it is true.
As long as society, victim advocate groups and the judicial system, chooses to turn a blind eye whenever control and manipulation tactics are practiced by a custodial parent through courtroom litigation in order to separate child from mother (or father); and refuses to act against this lowest and most hateful form of spousal revenge, justice cannot be served. As long as those who hold the power fail to acknowledge and support the rights of non-custodial parents, justice cannot be achieved. – Coral Anika Theill, BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark
A new documentary called “Divorce Corp.” was released in 15 states in January 2014. The film effectively exposes some of the financial corruption that is rampant in our nation’s family courts but ignored the voices of the children whose lives are most impacted by the crisis. The Center for Judicial Excellence decided to invite a few young adult children of divorce to speak openly and candidly about the bad behavior of the family court therapists, judges and attorneys who refused to listen to them and attempted to destroy their childhoods, often for profit.
We applaud “Divorce Corp.” for effectively exposing the financial corruption and lack of accountability that so often fuels the $50 Billion divorce industry in the United States. Our organization was created nearly eight years ago to foster the sort of judicial accountability that this film calls for, and we commend filmmaker Joseph Sorge for shining a bright light on the longstanding need for effective oversight of the judicial branch.
Because this harrowing film about family court corruption presents a somewhat narrow, adults-only perspective of the crisis, our organization determined that it was high time we talked to some of the kids of divorce, to help bring their voices and first-hand experiences into the national dialogue about family court reform.
U.S. FAILING ITS LEGAL OBLIGATION
Jessica Gonzales v. U.S.A.
In August 2011, the Inter-American Commission issued a landmark decision which found the United States responsible for human rights violations against Jessica and her three deceased children. Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v the United States is the first case brought by a domestic violence survivor against the U.S. before an international body. The IACHR ruling also sets forth comprehensive recommendations for changes to U.S.law and policy pertaining to domestic violence.
BECAUSE FREEDOM CAN’T PROTECT ITSELF
In the first case brought by a survivor of domestic violence against the U.S. before an international human rights tribunal, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found that the United States violated the human rights of Jessica Lenahan (formerly Gonzales) and her children. The decision underscores that the U.S. is failing in its legal obligation to protect women and girls from domestic violence.
In June 1999, Jessica Gonzales’ three young daughters, ages seven, nine and ten, were abducted by her estranged husband and killed after the Colorado police refused to enforce a restraining order against him.
Although Gonzales repeatedly called the police, telling them of her fears for her daughters’ safety, they failed to respond. Hours later, Gonzales’ husband drove his pick-up truck to the police department and opened fire. He was shot dead by the police. The slain bodies of the three girls were subsequently discovered in the back of his pickup truck. Read full stor