4 Reasons Divorcing Parents File Allegations of Sexual Abuse with Child Protective Services

Some people look at a child and don't see a child

Some people look at a child and don’t see a child

“Dad has a big penis” Sweet Bee says giggling and pretending her hand is a penis, while we are horse playing on the bedroom floor.

“EXCUSE ME!” I blurt out.

“Yeah, and then he does this and this” Muppet joins in.

WHOA SILVER!

and then

WHAT THE FLYING F%$# ??????? (Excuse my language)

This completely caught me by surprise and I wasn’t sure what to think of this. So many questions and concerns were racing through my head. On the one hand, kids don’t come up with this all by themselves, there is, at a minimum, a foundation of truth. On the other hand, despite all that is ‘wrong’ with Ex, I highly doubt he would sexually abuse the girls.

I quickly changed the subject as I had to think about this and how to approach this delicate problem. Because it is a problem.

It is a huge problem.

The Department of Justice reports that as many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused in childhood. That is horrendous. It is also a problem, because it is very controversial, delicate and tricky subject in Family Court.

So why do parents file allegations of sexual abuse with Child Protective Services?

1. Allegations are true

Unfathomable, but a sad reality. Some people look at a child but do not see a child. Unfortunately, approximately 47% of sex abuse occurs by an immediate or extended family member; parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles/aunts, cousins.

Talking with local and national experts, the anecdotal consensus seems to be that about 90% of the allegations of sexual abuse at the onset of divorce are true. These truthful allegations surface at the divorce proceedings because;

  1. The non-offending parent finds out about the sexual abuse and immediately files for divorce.
  2. There is long-standing sexual abuse that is revealed only in the context of divorce. The child finally feels ‘free’ to disclose the abuse and the perpetrator will have a much harder time to maintain the secrecy.
  3. Sexual abuse is triggered by the marital dissolution. A parent either starts to sexually abuse the child to retaliate against the divorcing spouse or because the stress of the divorce results in more impulsive and regressed behavior.

The anecdotal consensus is that the further out from the filing of divorce the parents are, the less likely it is that the allegations are true.

2. Misunderstanding the child, and/or misunderstanding normal child development

The stress of divorce have us on edge, and parents are much more sensitive, even hypersensitive, to the slightest deviation of ‘normal’ and it is easy to take things out of context.

When a 5-year-old girl comes home from Dad with an irritated vagina it raises eyebrows from Mom. However, 5-year-old girls are notorious for not wiping their booty properly and urine is irritating and can cause redness. A pre-schooler does play with his/her private parts, they are on a road of discovery.

A parent involved in a high-conflict child custody dispute, may be ready to jump to premature conclusions without full facts, or fully understanding the development of a child. Alarmed, the suspicious parent, may ask suggestive and leading questions to the child and inadvertently reinforce the suspicion of sexual abuse. And because of the level of hostility, distrust and anger it is easy for a parent to believe the worst about their former spouse.

3. Repressed sexual feelings and desires of the accusing parent

Psychological repression is the psychological attempt by an individual to repel one’s own desires and impulses toward pleasurable instincts by excluding the desire from one’s consciousness and holding or subduing it in the unconscious.

The problem with repression is that it has to find an outlet, and the individual with repressed feelings will ‘act out’. They know, are very aware, that abusing a child is wrong and will not do so themselves, but they are obsessed with the possibility that the child has been or may be sexually abused.

Such a parent may question the child repeatedly, examine genitals following visits with the other parent, and repeatedly take the child to doctors until some professional affirms the suspicion.

4. Mental illness and/or Personality Disorder of the parent

Several researchers have published various studies about the incidences of false allegations of sex abuse and the personality traits of the accuser (Charles V. Ford, K. Ross, G. Blush, H. Wakefield, G. Underwager, etc.). They found that parents making false allegations during divorce proceedings are likely to have personality disorders and/or other psychiatric problems. Approximate 74% of the parents making false accusations had a personality disorder diagnosis, 3% had another mental health diagnosis, while 24% was not determined or free of psychopathology.

In contrast, 70% of the falsely accused were assessed as normal (sound familiar?).

The personality disordered parent is obsessed with hatred and hostility toward an estranged or former spouse. This parent does whatever he or she can to hurt the spouse, and their child becomes a pawn in the ongoing battle. They foster a false accusation as a way to get custody, as a way to punish a former spouse.

The personality disordered parent has blinders on, sometimes not even aware of their hatred, and convinced they are absolutely, undoubtedly right; the abuse is taking place. They are unable to accept that there may be other explanations for the child’s behavior, or the circumstances. In true cases of sexual abuse, the accusing parent often explores all possibilities.

bathroomSo what really happened?

After my initial shock, I had to make a plan to discover what was really going on. I had to weigh my options and approaches. I had to balance between calmly finding the truth and fiercely wanting to protect the children.

Turns out both girls ‘regularly’ walk in on their father when he uses the bathroom and he sometimes walks around the house naked. This is by all means inappropriate behavior, considering the girls are 4 and 8, but not new behavior. With a previous girlfriend, he would walk around her house naked, in front of her then 7-year-old son.

Personality disordered parents are egocentric and have poor boundaries. They can not distinguish between their own emotional, psychological and physical needs, and that of the children.

This was a stressful situation. Protecting the child is also finding the truth in a calm manner, not just immediately calling Child Protective Services. If a parent is over reacting or fabricating an allegation, the child’s emotional health is also threatened. Bresee et al. assert that an allegation of child abuse is clear evidence that the child is at risk, whether or not the allegation can be proved. Wakefield & Underwager (1988) believe that a parent involved in developing a false allegation may not be qualified to be a custodial parent. Many states have (case) laws reflecting this opinion.

True or False?

Here I want to put in a word of caution. There are many studies out there that investigate the incidence of false allegations; some use small samples and some use large samples. None of these studies distinguish between the time of filing the report and the time of filing the divorce.

The smaller, and often anecdotal, studies report high incidences of false allegations. The larger studies report 2-8% of the reports made are deemed false. In approximately 50% of the allegations are found to be true, and 40+% to be ‘undetermined’.

And ‘undetermined’ is just that, they can not find conclusive evidence, it was not properly investigated or even investigated at all. ‘Undetermined’ doesn’t mean there was no sexual abuse, nor that it was a false allegation. It means there is a child in trouble, because abuse is taking place; either by a parent sexually abusing the child, or by a parent jeopardizing the psychological wellbeing of that child by making false allegations.

If I Can’t Have the Kids, then Neither Can You! Child Homicide during Custody Disputes.

“Ostara, Ex thinks you are seriously going to hurt the children”

“Excuse me?” I say dumbfounded.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Yes, Ex said that not only is he afraid you are going to hurt the children, but also that when Sweet Bee was an infant, you called him on the phone when he was on the other coast and threatened to snap her neck,” the custody evaluator said.

I was shocked, completely shocked and absolutely horrified. It was like lightning at a clear blue sky. What the heck was this about? I don’t believe in spanking, never have spanked the children. I believe in redirecting negative behavior and age appropriate expression of right from wrong. I was stunned where Ex would get this from. This is opposite of who I am, that I didn’t even know what to say at first.

And then I got angry, really angry. How dare he not call his parents, who only lived 10 minutes away to assure the safety of the child if this really happened. How dare he not call the cops to assure the child was not harmed. How dare he not call Child Protective Services. And why on earth did he not catch the first plane home if that phone conversation really took place?

What a horrible false accusation to make! Reading the story about the father, on his first unsupervised visit, throwing his 3-year-old son of a high-rise in New York City, and then jumping off himself, reminded me of this particular, however just 1 of many, false accusation.

It is hard to fathom, but yes, parents do kill their children. However, mothers and fathers tend to do it differently. They have 1 thing in common though, and that is the existence of severe psychological disturbances at the time the murder(s) take place. It doesn’t come out of the blue, there are warning signs and courts should be aware of that. The legal standard is ‘The Best Interest of the Child,’ yet knowledge about the psychological dynamics in child custody is almost non-existent. Family court failed the murdered child and it could have been prevented with knowledge.

What is concerning is that the US was ranked 1st in the developed world in child homicide for children in 1997 across all age groups (0-17 years). That is disturbing. That should be a warning sign, we are not doing enough to protect our children. More updated information with regards to those statistics were not available.

In the US, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 30% of child homicides are by the mother, 33% by the father, 28% by the partner, 7% by family, 2% by strangers or unknown.

Why do parents kill their kids? What are the characteristics of parents who kill their kids?Bourget and Gagné classified filicide, or the killing of children by their parent, in 5 different categories;

  • mental illness of the parent; psychosis, exacerbated schizophrenia, etc.
  • fatal abuse; shaken baby syndrome etc
  • retaliation; custody situations (if I can’t have the kids, neither can you)
  • mercy; severely ill child
  • other/unknown

Mothers who kill

So what are the characteristics of mothers who kill their child(-ren)?

Mothers are more likely to kill the younger child. Different studies come to slightly different conclusions; scientific global studies put the average age between 3-4, some even younger. Almost all neonaticides (killing of infants less than 24 hours old) are by the mother and the result of unwanted pregnancies.

The mothers are often younger, with the average age in the 20s and have a history of mental health problems, unemployment/poor economic prospect and substance abuse. Postpartum psychosis, exacerbated by intense fluctuating hormone levels, is often diagnosed. Some studies suggest at least 50% of the mothers suffer from acute psychosis or psychotic depression when they kill their children.

The majority of the mothers kill their children for altruistic reasons (a suicidal mother doesn’t want to leave the child motherless) followed by psychotic filicide. Much less often the death of the child is because of fatal abuse, where the death was not anticipated or desired, and unwanted filicide where the mother doesn’t want the child. The rarest of all cases is the retaliatory filicide.

Of the rare cases I could find of mothers killing their child(-ren) during custody disputes, there were consistent factors; prior to the killing there had been accusations of sexual abuse which had been deemed ‘unfounded’. All the mothers had prior serious mental health issues (delusions, psychosis, schizophrenia) and if the suicide was unsuccessful entered a plea of not guilty by insanity.

Fathers who kill

Fathers are more likely to kill older children. Most studies only include children up to age 12 and give an average age of 5-7 years old. When teenagers are included, the average age goes up dramatically.

Fathers are usually a bit older than mothers who kill, with average ages reported in their late 30s. Fathers often did not have a history of mental health problems. About 25% of the fathers are diagnosed with psychosis, whereas 67% of the fathers were diagnosed with a personality disorder.

The most common cause of a child’s death by the father is fatal abuse. The fathers are more likely to be intoxicated when this happens. The 2nd most common scenario is during custody disputes, followed by mental illness or rarely altruistic motives.

In the first scenario there is evidence of intimate partner violence prior to the fatal abuse of the child, it is not a stand alone incident. Many of these cases already had prior involvement for abuse with Child Protective Services.

Because of the frequency of fathers murdering their children during custody disputes, a separate category ‘retaliation killings’ was made in the filicide classification. Common consistent factors are that the father had made threats to kill the children, there are prior reports of intimate partner violence, there is economic abuse of the mother and anger/jealousy towards the mother. These fathers rarely have a prior history of mental health issues. The child homicide during custody disputes by fathers is also of a more violent nature, with shooting the most predominant.

The sad reality

Every child that is murdered is 1 too many, yet it happens way to often in our modern-day society. It is really horrendous to know that there are parents who actually kill their child(-ren) during custody disputes. This intentional infliction of harm, this ultimate revenge against the ex spouse, is despicable.

Allegations of threatening child homicide should be taken very seriously. When fathers make this allegation, the mother’s mental health history is a red flag. When we exclude mothers murdering their babies within the first 24 hours, the likelihood of filicide during child custody disputes by mothers is small. For a mother to overcome the natural instinct and mother-child bond, she has to have serious mental health issues. Mothers who kill within the first 24 hours of birth have not developed the mother-child bond and the pregnancy was unwanted and thus the child already rejected. However for a mother to kill a child that she already has bonded with, she must have severe mental health issues.

Fathers are much more likely to murder their children during custody disputes. While there are fathers who have a mental health history, most fathers do not. This does not mean it comes out of the blue and can not be prevented. There are several red flags that the courts and all involved in child custody decisions should be aware of; incidences of intimate partner violence, death threats to child and/or mother, economic abuse (both during the marriage and divorce proceedings) and anger/jealousy towards the mother.

In all cases of child murder by the father, the mother had repeatedly requested the courts to intervene to safeguard the children. They repeatedly came with the same allegations, they didn’t ‘switch’ or ‘alter’ allegations, as often happens in false allegations. Interestingly, they were often discredited because they still facilitated, or insisted on facilitating, a relationship with the father.

All the warning signs and red flags were present in this recent case in NYC. When making such important decisions as child custody, lack of knowledge is not an excuse. This court failed the child.

Family Law’s Ultimate Guide on How to Treat and Cure a Personality Disorder

Sarcasm: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny”— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Yup a little sarcasm on a Tuesday. Lucy TherapistThe brick wall that I, and other parents who deal with a personality disordered ex, keep running into is the persuasive but completely incorrect opinion that a personality disorder is something that can be cured. Like a depression, give some medication, have them in treatment and then magically *POOF* the perfect parent arises.

Just last week my attorney started uttering the words ‘what if Ex went into therapy….’.

I just about immediately wanted to bang my head into a wall. Why is it that Family Law attorneys and judges just don’t get that a personality disorder is a permanent character flaw?

These words from my attorney are just a symptom of how the justice system looks at personality disorders. They don’t grasp the concept, nor the extend of harm it causes children to grow up with a personality disordered parent.

“Personality” is a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, emotions, motivations, and behaviors in various situations.

Paper Mache Unfinished Comedy & Tragedy SetThe word ‘person’ comes from the Latin word ‘persona’, which means mask. In the ancient world, and in many cultures, masks were used in theatre and plays to typify a character.

A mask is not used to disguise the character, but to underline what the character symbolizes.

Your personality is what you are, it is your identity. In this multi-cultural society we recognize and even celebrate each individual is unique. It is not something that changes.

A healthy personality has a pattern of thoughts, feeling and social adjustments that assures the individual functions in society. A person with a personality disorder exhibit patterns of self-perceptions and attitudes that collide with society. They handle reactions to other people, problems and stress differently. It is a character trait that does not change over time.

Anti-Social Personality Disorder is particular resistant to ‘therapy’. The criminal justice system seems to recognize that and just puts individuals who commit a crime in prison. If they thought ASPD could be cured or even somewhat treated, then we would have Personality Disorder Clinics! We would live in a peaceful society! Utopia!

Research has shown that ASPD has a large genetic component (more than 50%). That is nothing new, Jang has done much research on fraternal and identical twins and came to the conclusion that about 46% of personality traits are genetically linked, not just ASPD.

So the Family Justice system is now in the gene-therapy business?

If Personality Disorders were harmless to children, it wouldn’t be such a terrible thing. Just force Joint Custody and eventually the bickering and fighting will stop. Joint Custody, the Family Law gene-therapy.

And NOTHING is more harmful to children then continuously being exposed to conflict.

During our trial the custody evaluator testified to such, experts testified to such. You look left and right in the literature and everybody (for once) agrees; continued exposure to conflict is harmful to children.

So, in the month or so that our latest court order went into effect we’ve had;

  1. Called CPS with false allegations
  2. Deliberately scheduled medical well visits when Mother is out-of-town, and went to great lengths to prevent Mother from access to medical appointments when she returned early. (repeated event)
  3. Not providing pre-school of Mother’s contact information (repeated event)
  4. Called law-enforcement to enforce a non-scheduled custody exchange (he wanted the kids, so they had to help him, even though it wasn’t his access time, he has a history of that too)
  5. Unilaterally reduced the court ordered support payment.

And psychopaths do things deliberately. It is with the intend to harm. Take for instance the medical appointment for Muppet. He had scheduled it 2 weeks prior, knowing I would be out-of-town those 2 days. I haphazardly found out from the Pediatrician’s office and this is not the first time Ex failed to notify me; oldest had surgery and he notified me after the fact.

I rescheduled, so both parents could be there and notified him. Ex caused a stink with the Ped’s and rescheduled again for when I was out-of-town and failed to notify me (Ped’s office was on to him and called me directly). Actions to cause harm with psychopaths are intentional and deliberate. It was his intention to prevent the Mother access, it was his intention to cause harm with calling CPS, it was his intention to cause harm with not paying support. He has no excuse, it is like a cat playing with a mouse.

And it won’t stop, they can’t stop, it is in their genes. No matter what Family Court thinks. Instead, judges and attorneys should take a personality disorder very serious and think about the long term well-being of the children, who, as a recent UCLA study tells us, suffer. They are the future.

Knock, Knock! Child Protective Services Calling! Parental Alienation and Projections of a Psychopath

A while back I had started researching the (ab-)use of Child Protective Services in divorce proceedings by parents. weathering the stormI started talking to mental health professionals, parents who filed CPS reports and parents who had CPS reports filed against them. It is definitely a tricky subject and I was circling my thoughts on how to formulate my findings and opinions.

And then one evening last week there was the envelope on the front door from the ‘Child Protective Service Team Leader’.

Yes, a CPS complaint was filed against me.

I knew Ex was a diagnosed psychopath, didn’t realize how ill he really was. I never thought he would stoop this low in using the children against the mother. To sacrifice the integrity of the children to get his way in the divorce proceedings. Then again, his MMPI already showed that he has Anti-Social Personality Disorder and is a Parental Alienator, and his behavior patterns presented at trial underlined it.

CPS, Divorce and the truth

CPS investigators have the daunting task of finding the truth and protecting children against abusive parents. Innocent until proven guilty can be hard when they know that something is going on, yet can not formulate the evidence. These children are left hanging.

Talking with mental health professionals makes it clear that the timing of filing for divorce and making a report to CPS is significant for finding whether there is any truth to the allegations. Reports filed prior or at the start of the divorce proceeding hold more ground then the reports filed further down the road. Doesn’t mean necisarrily they are true, but they are more likely to be true. Likewise, reports filed to CPS later down the road are less likely to be true and more a tactic of a gruntled parent to get an advantage in the divorce proceedings.

CPS is inundated with cases where parents seek an advantage in the divorce proceedings. This clouds the issue and creates scrutiny when there are real issues of abuse. Divorcing parents who want to bring real abuse to light are vilified and children end up being awarded to their abusers at an alarming rate.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are parents who abuse the system.

Filing CPS reports as a Parental Alienating Tactic

Every time a CPS report gets filed against the target parent, the child gets interviewed about the target parent. While at first the child may not have a negative image of the target parent, after being questioned, even if it is about unfounded issues, the seed of doubt is created in the child’s mind.

This is a subtle, but very effective way of the alienating parent to remove the target parent from the child’s life. “See, it wasn’t me, CPS thought there was enough reason to investigate”. The alienating parent doesn’t tell the child the result of the investigation, which usually is ‘unfounded’ and the child perceives that persons of authority are questioning the ‘safety’ of the target parent. The security and love the child feels for the target parents slowly and subtly erodes.

True parental alienators have personality disorders, they will not stop until they have removed the other parent from the lives of the children. They will seek allies within friends and family, but also do not stop there, they will enlist law enforcement, the courts and CPS. Nothing new here.

Filing a CPS reports based on projections of the Phychopaths own behavior

Parents with personality disorders project their own behavior on the other parent. When I heard the allegations filed against me, I almost burst out laughing, the seriousness of the situation prevented me from doing so. One of the allegations was ‘unsanitary living arrangements with dog feces and garbage all over the house’. This comes from the man that has a rat problem in his house. Yes, you read that right, he has rats in the house. My attorney was present for the interview with CPS and he jokingly said: “Well, if he didn’t kill so many cats, he probably wouldn’t have a rat problem”. My house is clean, I showed the investigator the back of cupboards, which were organized and dust free. We live here, so yes, at the end of the day there are toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. But no rats.

The 2nd allegation was much more serious and gives much more food for thought, knowing that psychopaths project their behavior and deep inner thoughts on the other parent. “Mother takes pictures of the children in various stages of undress with the intent to distribute”.

Yes, basically child pornography.

Now why this worries me. The CPS investigator told me that the pictures he had seen had nothing of a sexual nature, but as it was reported in a phone call, he had to follow up. He agreed the pictures were from a parent taking snapshots of their child. Happy moments.

Ex’s family has a history of sexual child abuse. Within the family the grandfather has fondled the daughters, and brothers have coerced sisters to perform oral sex. Now, at this moment, I don’t believe Ex has had inappropriate relations with the children. However, the oldest is becoming of the age that sexual predators become interested in girls.

Is there anything I can do about this? No, nobody has been prosecuted for (unconscious) thoughts. We live in a free society. I have to let the CPS investigation run its course. I’m not going to muddy the water with more allegations that can never be proven.

It is absolutely vicious and evil how 1 parent tries to eliminate the other parent out of the lives of the children, over the backs of the children. When one makes such false allegations and uses the child as a weapon to disparage the other parent, you don’t really love your child.

Full Moon and the Temper Tantrums of a Personality Disorder

A couple of days ago when letting the dogs out in the evening, I saw it was becoming a full moon.Full Moon A dread came over me. Almost like clock work, every month, at full moon, Ex has a temper tantrum. Sometimes a little one, sometimes a big one. Last night was a BIG one. I saw it coming, I was expecting something, a flurry of emails preceded last nights events. I made sure I had my ducks in a row.

It is very rare that you get a diagnosis of a personality disorder in a custody case. Ex shoots and kills cats for fun. Yes, that is right. The pictures of his collection of cat skulls was entered as evidence at trial.

Knowing that there is a Personality Disorder (PD) has helped me immensely to recover. It empowered me, but it was a steep learning curve. It did bring along the heavy responsibility of navigating the minefield of assuring the kids love Dad and safeguarding them.

I grew up in a Montessori environment, and I adhere to the philosophy in raising the kids. In the Montessori philosophy, people are not bad, it is focussed on choices and behaviors. So I teach the children about a moral compass, I teach them not to be judgemental about the person, but discuss if a certain choice or behavior would be something they would do. Choices can be good or choices can be bad. And nobody is immune to making bad choices, but choices can be rectified. I try to empower them by separating behaviors from the person who does it, so that even if Dad does things that are a ‘bad choice’ they are still free and capable to love him.

Personality Disordered persons can’t do this, they ‘split’. Another person is either ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, considering this is a divorce, I think it is safe to say that I’m considered ‘all bad’ by Ex. And this is the breeding ground of Parental Alienation. A topic for another day, and many more posts.

This alienation is not only reserved for the children, PD’s need lots of allies, they need to gather as many people around them and against the ex-spouse as possible. The target spouse sees friends, family members, school teachers all turning against them. And lets not forget law enforcement and the justice system.

And so the Sheriffs showed up at my house again last night. This was a fresh batch of 2 very young men, not the regular, seasoned men that patrol this area. The divorce has been going on for over 2 years, so I have become very familiar with the regular ones. Each and every time Ex files something, they have to follow-up on it, so they have been here quite a few times.

I was surprised to actually see the Sheriffs. A while ago, Ex caught on that the sheriffs weren’t taking him serious any longer and nothing came of his ‘complaints’, so he moved on to the State Troopers and started all fresh. In my last interaction with the State Troopers it was clear they were on to Ex, so perhaps he has now moved back to the Sheriffs for that reason.

In the last few days the pressure had been building. I received a few entitled and bullying emails. I firmly, yet politely, stood my ground. That however is unacceptable with the PD. How dare you defy him/her and they spiral downward into a rage. Like a temper tantrum in a toddler, there is no sense in arguing, engaging or giving in. In toddlers the tantrum will eventually run its course. PDs however are stuck in the emotional developmental phase of toddler, but they can’t get out, they cycle through.

So last night Ex tried to use law enforcement to bully me into submission. Unsuccessfully. Will this be the end of it? Of course not. Are his antics going to preoccupy my life? No, I’m going to spend a lovely day with the kids. Peace.