22 January 2010

Most sexual abuse survivors wait 5yrs before disclosing trauma


Sexual abuse survivors wait 5yrs before disclosing trauma

ANI, 20 January 2010, 03:23pm IST

A study has revealed that half of the survivors of sexual abuse wait up to five years before disclosing they were victimized, and end up suffering more because of it.

The collaborative study from the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal Abusingand the Université de Sherbrooke, explored the consequences of not reporting abuse. "The number of victims who never reveal their secret or who wait many years to do so is very high," co-author Mireille Cyr, a psychology professor of the Université de Montréal, said. "This is regrettable because the longer they wait to reveal the abuse, the harder and more enduring the consequences will be," Cyr stated.

The research team surveyed 800 Quebec men and women and found 25 percent of respondents never divulged being sexually abused as children. The scientists also found a sharp contrast between genders, 16 percent of women remain quiet about abuse, while 34 percent of men never share their secret.The investigation found that 22 percent of women and 10 percent of men reported beings survivors of abuse, which ranged from molestation to rape, which is comparable to the findings of previous studies on the topic.

The psychological distress of victims includes anxiety, depression, troubles concentrating and irritability. While certain victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, some relive the abuse psychologically while others have dulled emotions or become hyper-vigilant. The data suggests that victims are more likely to denounce their abuser when he or she is a stranger.

Unfortunately, in most cases, friends or family members commit serious abuse such as rape. This is true in 85 percent of cases for female victims and 89 percent for male victims. Professor Isabelle Daigneault, of the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology, conducted a separate study correlating the likelihood of young victims to become adult victims of sexual or physical abuse. Her sample examined 9,170 women and 7,823 men throughout Canada.

Her conclusions are startling, female survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three to four times likely to be victims of physical or sexual abuse as adults. "It's the first time that we combine data on sexual abuse during childhood and eventual relationship problems," Daigneault said. Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely to be victims of physical abuse as men. However, too few men reported sexual abuse as adults to establish a statistically significant correlation.

Sexual abuse survivors wait 5yrs before disclosing trauma - Health - Health & Fitness - Life - The Times of India

21 January 2010

Randi James-- Psychology and Parental Alienation: Closer to Science?

I found the below on Randi James’s blog...I thought it was well put together and is information that others should be aware of.
Psychology and Parental Alienation: Closer to Science?

The psychology community said it wanted to move closer to science by providing evidence-based research and practices, however, it continues to permit its members to promote pseudoscientific theories and utilize pop-therapies which harm children. Dr. Amy J. Baker is one of those members.
Via her website,

Dr. Baker has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College of Columbia University.
Her areas of research include parental alienation, child welfare, parent involvement in their children's education, early intervention, and attachment. She is the Director of Research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection.
She is the author or co-author of 3 books and over 45 peer reviewed articles.
Dr. Baker is available as an expert witness and for print, radio, and television interviews.
And you can find her all across the internet, especially on news publications that touch on, or allude to, parental alienation syndrome (see Every Child Has Parental Alienation Syndrome). She promotes her book heavily while expressing sympathy for victims...of PAS. She is touted as a major authority on the subject matter . With all the education she has received, you'd think that she recognizes what is, or is not, developmentally appropriate; and furthermore, that she recognizes the lack of science in her "research."
According to Francoise T. Bessette's thesis, The Social Construction of Parental Alienation Syndrome:
(emphasis mine)
In 2005, Amy Baker conducted a study of adults who self-identified as having been alienated from one of their parents during childhood. Thirty-eight adults (14 males and 24 females) were recruited by word of mouth and from over one hundred advertisements placed on the internet message boards for people who had been victims of parental alienation syndrome.
Through one hour semi-structured telephone interviews, Baker learned about the participants’ perceived relationship with their estranged parent. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a content analysis program coding for “impact of the alienation on the participant” (Baker, 2005:292). All but seven of the alleged alienators were mothers. The findings showed that the alienation perceived by the participants negatively affected several areas of their adult lives and relationships. The participants reported high rates of low self-esteem/self-hatred, believing themselves unlovable because of the alienation from one parent, which they interpreted as rejection (2005:294). This self-hatred accounted for the guilt they felt because of the role they played in the alienation (2005:294). Over 70 percent revealed episodes of depression that they attributed to the separation from their alienated parent, and the lack of opportunity to mourn this loss while children (2005:296). Thirty-three percent of the participants had drug or alcohol addictions that they associated with their childhood circumstances. Some of these participants confessed to having a conflicted relationship with their alienating parent during their teen years because of their mental manipulation; they had turned to drugs and alcohol as an escape (2005:297-298). Sixteen people talked of their difficulties trusting others as well as themselves and of falling into the same divorcing and/or alienating pattern as their parents (2005:294). Sixty-six percent of the participants were divorced and of the twenty-eight who were parents, half were alienated from their own children (2005:300). All the participants believed they had been victims of parental alienation syndrome.
Baker qualifies her study by stating it represents only a fraction of the data collected and that many of the 38 subjects reported having positive life experiences not included in her results. She only reported negative outcomes, presenting the subjects as unhappy, maladjusted individuals, and did not address possible confounding variables that could account for her results such as poverty and lack of opportunities. Instead, she presents the results as a package combining all the participants’ responses together under different headings such as “low self-esteem”, depression, and drug/alcohol problems, referring to the number of participants in the various categories as “some” or “many”. Baker based her study on the premise that parental alienation syndrome was a conclusive element in her subjects’ lives and drew on Gardner’s theory to analyze their retrospective stories. She does not volunteer the list of questions asked during the interviews and little information is provided regarding the content analysis of the transcripts. She does not offer any scale of reference to help the reader judge the extent of the impact on the subjects. The reader is expected to accept the author’s conclusions as “true”.
In order for adults to self-identify with the concept of parental alienation syndrome, you'd have to assume they had some knowledge of what the term means.
  • Who provided the definition to them?
  • What did that definition consist of?
This is the first error of parental alienation syndrome: You cannot use the definition of the syndrome to diagnose the syndrome. This is circular reasoning. (ie, with a stomach ucler: the patient describes the symptoms, the practitioner observes the signs through testing measures, the diagnosis is then given based on the evidence. The practitioner does not tell the patient what constitutes an ulcer, and then have the patient verify that THOSE particular symptoms are present, and then confirm the diagnosis.)
Furthermore, it would be unwise to have an adult make a judgement about a situation that occurred during childhood because that adult is able to process and rationalize things in a different manner, which will be influenced by other life circumstances that may or may not be revealed to the researcher. Also, hindsight is 20/20, and some adults may be looking for an escape or excuse for behaviors for which they are indeed responsible. Their current perception of what once existed is not necessarily proof that it did [exist].
  • How can this adult know the difference between a protective parent that alienated, and a malicious parent that is alienated unless all truth be known about what occured in the past?
  • And how do you verify this without including the parents themselves?
This is another error of parental alienation syndrome: it is based on the victim's (just like the target parent) perception (although the victim of PAS is said to be the child) of what has occurred.
Is this moving psychology closer to science?
But it is moving many psychologists toward behaviors that mimic charlatanism. Pop-psychology has become a lucrative industry not so much concerned with helping people than it is with overgeneralizing mental illness to the public by medicalizing normal behaviors and soliciting its specific ideologies. Book promotions, speaking engagements, and massive self-promotion through e-mail campaigns is required. Dr. Amy J. Baker performs in this role very well.
To: fathers-l@googlegroups.com
>> Sent: Thu, 31 December, 2009 4:34:12 AM
>> Subject: FATHERS-L News from Amy Baker on Parental Alienation
>> Seasons Greetings,
>> I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to share a brief
>> end-of-year update on various parental alienation projects.
>> 1) “I don’t want to choose” book and workbook were developed with Dr.
>> Katherine Andre, designed to help middle school children resist the
>> pressure to choose one parent over the other.
>> 2) A school-based program “I don’t want to choose” was developed and
>> will be launched in half a dozen schools this school year.
>> 3) Media attention to custody battles, international abductions, and
>> parental alienation has been high this past year including personal
>> appearances on WABC TV, WPIX TV, Good Morning America, and in U.S.
>> News and World Report. Most of the clips can be viewed from my
>> website.

>> 4) I have been hired to train New York child protection workers about
>> parental alienation and to help develop the North Dakota custody
>> investigation manual.


>> 5) I have been invited to participate in a plenary panel discussion
>> about parental alienation at the upcoming Association of Family and
>> Conciliation Courts conference in Denver.

>> I hope that the new year brings targeted parents everywhere closer to
>> their children and that as a professional in the field I can shed some
>> light on this tragic problem and help heal alienated children and
>> their families.
>> Best Wishes,
>> Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D.
>> www.amyjlbaker.com
>> Author: Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: Breaking the
>> ties that bind

Parental alienation syndrome charlatans fuel the public's need to feel justified in certain beliefs by introducing nebulous concepts to which a wide audience can seemingly relate. Yes, you've seen a child so angry that he/she hinders or refuses a relationship with one of his/her parents. No, you can't possibly know the depths of what is causing such animosity without a full investigation of the complexities in familial relationships (and apparently major PAS pushers Richard Warshak, Randy Rand, and Michael Bone don't feel the need to be thorough, or legal. see ANYONE Can Diagnose PAS). And even then, you are limited by the what the observer happens to observe, what the participants choose to reveal, combined with the observers biased "objective" interpretation.
Parental alienation purports that this child is suffering from mental disorder-- disorder meaning that when compared to a normal population, this behavior is abnormal. What its supporters fail to reveal upfront is that according to their research, this only happens in "high conflict" divorces (see Parental Alienation and "High Conflict" Divorce)--meaning you must compare this behavior to the behavior of others in "high conflict" divorce. Is it still abnormal?
Parental alienation syndrome is said to be caused by the child's own parent (FYI--Its supporters also claim there is foster parent alienation, and grandparent alienation). The child is the victim. But what people do not understand is that parental alienation syndrome begins with the supposition that the child's thoughts are not really his/her own--that the child is lying about his/her experiences. Are there any other medical diagnoses that can be made based off of the word of someone other than the victim? Let's utilize this medical example:
You go to the doctor with a complaint of stomach discomfort. You tell the doctor your symptoms are stomach pain, esophageal burning, and nausea. The doctor gets a full history and does an examination. The doctor is able to verify the signs of vomiting, and weight loss, and test results of an increase in a certain bacteria in the lining of your stomach. The doctor rules out various illness according to your signs and symptoms. The doctor makes a diagnosis.
At no time does the doctor tell you upfront that you have _______ disease. He/she must rule out the possibilities. At no time does the doctor tell you that your signs and symptoms aren't really your signs and symptoms--that another set of signs and symptoms are really your signs and symptoms. At no time does the doctor tell you that he must ask your parents, friends, or neighbors if they are able to verify what you reported. And at no time does your doctor force you to do something against your will. (Best case scenario!)
And so a parental alienation claim serves to obfuscate evidence of any intra-familial abuse that has occurred. Its purpose is to place blame on one parent and absolve the other. There is no resolution to the conflict, short of utilizing brainwashing to re-frame the parental alienation as the actual abuse and to marginalize the child's feelings. Anyone who recognizes a dysfunctional family knows that the only party that deserves absolution is the child, although child and parents play the role in the dysfunction. And still, this is no mental disorder.
If psychology thinks that they are moving closer to science with nonsense like this, it is our responsibility to let them know that they are wrong. The teachings of pseudoscientific parental alienation syndrome from persons like Dr. Amy J. Baker have infiltrated our family courts, child protective systems, and educational systems. Would you trust any system which based its theories from the work of someone who defended child sexual abusers? This type of science is scary.

See Also: Parental Alienation and Loving Relationships: Questions We Must Ask
Hell Must Have Frozen Over

DSM, medical fraud, New Jersey, New York, parental alienation fraud, psychological fraud

Randi James: Psychology and Parental Alienation: Closer to Science?

20 January 2010

Why Are Moms Punished in Court?

The below was written by Gina Kaysen Fernandes, posted on Mom Logic.  I am reposting here because I know Lorraine Tipton and have posted about her case here prior to this:  A Nightmare in Oconto County, UPDATE: Nightmare in Oconto County, UPDATE 2: A Nightmare in Oconto County

Custody Crisis: Why Moms Are Punished in Court

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

filed under: divorce logic

Talk to mothers, divorce lawyers, and child advocates and you'll hear tales of a family court system that's badly broken.

Linda Marie and Children

Gina Kaysen Fernandes: To an outsider, Linda Marie Sacks had the perfect life. Her husband was rich, and they lived in a huge home in Daytona Beach, FL, where she spent her days shuttling her girls to school and various activities. Linda Marie describes herself as a "squeaky clean soccer mom" who "lived my life for my children." Behind that façade, Linda Marie says she married a monster -- a man who verbally and emotionally attacked her for years and sexually abused their two young daughters.

When she finally left him and tried to take her girls with her, she encountered a new monster -- family court. Rather than protecting Linda Marie and her two young daughters from a sexual predator, a family court judge denied Linda Marie custody and put her daughters into the hands of their sexually abusive father.

Talk to mothers, divorce lawyers, and child advocates and you'll hear tales of a family court system that's badly broken. It's one that routinely punishes women for coming forward with allegations of abuse by denying them custody of their children. Instead of protecting children from abusers and predators, the court often gives sole custody to the abusive parent, say child advocates. Mothers who tell judges their children are being molested or beaten are accused of lying and are punished for trying to intervene. Some are thrown in jail for trying to keep their kids from seeing an abusive parent. Women, many of whom have few financial resources at their disposal, are often at the mercy of a court system that is not designed to handle domestic violence.

Linda Marie first suspected something was wrong in 2002 when she received a shocking phone call from a school administrator. Her 7-year-old daughter was acting out sexually, with knowledge beyond her years. A short time later, the Sunday school teacher reported overhearing Linda Marie's daughter saying, "I suck my dad's penis." She received more phone calls from school about her little girl using Barbie dolls to simulate oral sex with a boy in her class. "I was very concerned, these are alarming red flags," said Linda Marie.

She consulted family therapists who also expressed alarm and concern, but failed to report these claims to an abuse hotline. In one of the therapy sessions, the oldest daughter drew a picture that depicted her father as an erect penis on legs. Linda Marie says she once walked in on her husband wiping her daughters' vaginas in the bathroom before school, "because he told me he wanted them to be fresh." When Linda Marie confronted her husband, he ignored and dismissed the allegations.

After 11 years of marriage, Linda Marie filed for divorce in 2004. Armed with detailed documentation, she believed the judge would grant her sole custody of her two daughters for their protection. "I was sheltered. I didn't know I had stepped into a national crisis in the courts," said Linda Marie, who spent tens of thousands of dollars in a legal battle that ended in the loss of her parental rights. Linda Marie has only seen her children during supervised visits for a total of 54 hours over the past two and a half years. "I'm one of the lucky moms," she said, choking back tears. "Some bonds are severed forever. I'm thankful for my two hours a month."

Some mothers like Lorraine Tipton of Oconto Falls, WI, have served jail time as the result of contentious custody arraignments. In November, a judge sentenced Lorraine to 30 days behind bars because she didn't force her 11-year-old daughter to follow the court's order to live every other week with her abusive father. "She's terrified of going; she has night terrors and severe anxiety," said Lorraine.

Her ex, Craig Hensberger, was arrested three times for domestic violence and once for child abuse. His criminal record also includes two DUI arrests, one of which happened while driving with his daughter. The court ordered Hensberger into rehab and demanded "absolute sobriety," but his daughter claims he still drinks excessively when she visits.

Hensberger admitted in court that he still continues to drink, but the judge punished Lorraine instead for trying to protect her child. "My abuser is continuing his abuse of me and my daughter with the help of the court," said Lorraine, who spent three days locked up until her daughter made the heart-wrenching decision to return to her father's home so her mother could be released from jail. "He can't get to me physically. The only way he knows how to hurt me is to take my child away."

"What we are seeing amounts to a civil rights crisis," says attorney and legal writer Michael Lesher, who co-authored the book From Madness To Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts -- and What Can Be Done about It. Many judges and court-appointed guardians act above the law with apparent impunity, he argues.

"There's no hearing, no evidence, no notice -- they can take your child away from you," Lesher tells momlogic. If a mother raises concerns or openly discusses child abuse in court, she typically ends up being the one under investigation. "Mom is guilty until proven innocent," he says.

A family court judge with the Los Angeles Superior Court refused momlogic's request for an interview to respond to these allegations.

Unlike criminal court, family court does not rely on criminal investigators to gather evidence in an alleged child abuse case. Instead, the court appoints family advocates known as "guardian ad litem," or GAL, who are expected to investigate the abuse allegations and make their recommendation in the best interest of the child. GALs are sometimes licensed psychologists, social workers, or attorneys who are not necessarily trained in evaluating sexual abuse or domestic violence. They have the judge's ear, and their opinions can alter a child's future. There are no juries and there's no mandate for legal representation. In fact, most women end up representing themselves because they can't afford the attorney fees.

Most moms don't want to take the case to criminal court because they prefer to keep the matter private. Legal experts contend the evidence in sexual abuse cases isn't typically strong enough to hold up in criminal court to overcome the threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt." While the bar is set much lower for proving evidence in family court, advocates argue Child Protective Services frequently doesn't want to get involved. "If there's a custody battle going on, CPS won't touch it," says Irene Weiser of the advocacy group StopFamilyViolence.org.

There's no doubt fathers play a critical role in a child's life, and in most cases, are equally loving and capable parents who deserve custody. However, studies find when a wife accuses her husband of abuse, more than half the time, she faces a counter-accusation of "parental alienation syndrome," or PAS. Although PAS is not a medically recognized disorder, divorce attorneys often successfully argue that it emerges when a parent brainwashes a child into thinking the other parent is the enemy.

The psychiatrist Richard Gardner, who first coined the phrase "parental alienation syndrome" in 1987, has written more than one hundred articles on the subject, but has offered no scientific data to support his theory. While it's not considered a certifiable medical condition, PAS is widely accepted in the legal community.

"Parental Alienation unequivocally, categorically exists, and it's a form of child abuse," says author and forensic consultant Dean Tong. While he believes more studies need to be done to validate PAS, "it does exist, anecdotally speaking," he says. As an expert witness, Tong has been called a "fathers' rights prostitute" for his work in court clashes. But he also testifies for mothers who are fighting to appeal unfavorable rulings. For Tong, it's about using forensics to find the truth. "I'm not here to protect guys who are guilty," he says.

In years past, mothers were typically considered the "protective parent" in custody decisions when courts relied on the "Tender Years Doctrine," which states that children under the age of 13 should live with their mothers. Recently, several courts have ruled that doctrine violated the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment, and replaced it with the "Best Interests of the Children" doctrine. It's a huge victory for the increasingly powerful Fatherhood Movement that contends dads are systematically alienated from their children after a divorce.

Tong argues the current legal climate continues to put fathers on the receiving end of false allegations. "It's handcuffs first, speak later," said Tong, who experienced that firsthand. In 1985, Tong's ex-wife falsely accused him of sexually abusing his 3-year-old daughter. He spent time in jail and went through "a year of hell" trying to prove his innocence. While Tong was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, he never regained custody of his kids, and remained under supervised visitation for years. Tong became a self-taught expert on the subject of family rights and abuse accusations. He has written three books, including Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide for the Falsely Accused.
"There's an assumption that maintaining a child's relationship with the father is a good idea -- even if the father is abusive," says Stop Family Violence's Weiser, who believes when the overburdened court system is unable to sort out a custody conflict, it relies on misogyny. She argues there are many judges, GALs, and evaluators who believe that women are inherently vindictive and will lie to get a leg up in a custody battle. "We see it over and over again in family court, where judges or professionals don't believe the violence is occurring," Weiser says.

"All we have is 'he said, she said.' Who's telling the truth? That's up to the judge," says Tong, who believes the justice system isn't working for either side. "The system is not doing a good job interviewing kids, we're still in the dark ages there," says Tong, who thinks there needs to be more formal education and training for the professionals, including judges who are hearing child custody cases.

According to the American Bar Association, child abuse allegations in custody disputes are rare -- occurring in only six percent of cases. The majority of those accusations are substantiated. In terms of false allegations, fathers are more likely than mothers to intentionally lie (21 percent, compared to 1.3 percent). In fact, abusive parents are more likely to seek sole custody than nonviolent ones, and are successful about 70 percent of the time.

After three years of litigation, Linda Marie Sacks says she was no match for her ex-husband's financial resources and powerful connections. "He was buying his way through the courtroom." Despite 10 calls into the abuse hotline by licensed professionals, Linda Marie's ex-husband still claimed she was making false allegations of abuse to alienate his children, and the judge believed him. Linda Marie was kicked out of her home and put on supervised visitation with her two daughters, who are now ages 10 and 12. "The judge legally kidnapped my daughters and won't give them back," she said.

In some extreme cases, a custody decision will be reversed, which is what happened to Joyce Murphy. The San Diego mother was charged with kidnapping after she took her daughter out of state, away from the girl's father, because she believed he was a child molester. The father, Henry Parson, accused Joyce of parental alienation and she lost custody. "Despite my pleas for protection to the police and the DA and the family court representatives, and even psychologists, Mr. Parson was able to convince them and the community at large that he was the victim, and I was just an angry, embittered, divorced woman," explained Joyce.

Six years later, Parson was caught in the act and pleaded guilty to six counts of child abuse, which included oral sex with a child, molestation, possessing child porn, and using a child to make porn. After Parson received a six-year prison sentence, Joyce told reporters that family court's only good decision in her case was granting her full permanent custody of her daughter after her ex-husband was jailed.

Lorraine, the Wisconsin mom who was jailed for protecting her daughter, knows her daughter's nightmare will continue for the rest of her childhood. "He's never going to stop, it's never going to end until she's 18." Linda Marie says she's putting every penny towards her legal efforts to win back custody of her daughters. "I will never stop fighting for my girls. I know one day justice will prevail."

Critics argue that not only is the family court system broken, it was never designed to deal with issues like child custody. The goal is to develop solutions that are in the best interest of the child. "Unfortunately when judges and guardians start thinking of themselves as super government, all sorts of abuses will occur," says attorney and author Lesher.

Activists are working towards making reforms through legislation. "The heartbreaking challenge is that there's not one quick fix," says Stop Family Violence's Weiser. "This is a war -- it's very ugly, it's bloody, and very bitter," concludes Tong.

see more photos
Linda Marie and Children

Gina Kaysen Fernandes
Gina Kaysen Fernandes is an award winning documentary producer and a former TV news producer/writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

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