Rhode Island taxpayers have contributed an enormous sum to wage a war that most of us know nothing about. The systems our state established to protect children have instead subjected many to danger and trauma that will profoundly shape the rest of their lives. Who will help to build public awareness and political consensus to protect children from those who prey on them or who profit from their abuse? How should government respond in ways that are transparent and accountable?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I believe you, "Molly" and "Sara".

Not a day passes that I do not think of "Molly" and "Sara" and their Mami and the horrifying ways that Rhode Island Family Court tortured them after Molly described sexual abuse by their father when she was three. I look at their photographs and wonder how and where they are now that Sara has turned 18 and Molly is still in her father's custody. 

I have copies of the graphic drawing Molly made a decade ago to show her father's behavior -- so painful and inexplicable for a child -- to the court's inept psychologist. Her sister drew an enormous red erect penis and got down on the car floor in terror outside the psychologist's office.  A cabal of women lawyers and clinicians accused their mother of coaching the girls to lie, but the cabal's reports reveal their own complicity in a culture of deceit. 
When I read Pamela Jacobs' story, I wanted to tell Molly and Sara once again: I, like many others, believe you. We condemn the clinicians and court officers who robbed your childhood of its loving foundation. We hope you will find the kindness and healing that will finally release you from this Court's legacy of trauma. 

Pamela Jacob's story from the Huffington Post: 
My grandmother had her back turned, her voice was cold. I was 15 years old and had just tried to end my life. After my attempt was interrupted by a phone call from a friend (or divine intervention), I put away the pills and walked into the kitchen, sobbing and shaking. I told my grandmother I needed to tell her something. But, I didn't have to say it, because she already knew.

"Let me guess, he molested you."
He was my step-grandfather. And he had been sexually abusing me since I was 5 years old. What I wanted more than anything was for my grandmother -- the woman who raised me -- to hold me and tell me how sorry she was. I wanted her to believe me. But, instead, she stood coldly, with her back turned, and snarled, "You're lying. I want you out of my house."
Lying. The word stung. It was my worst fear. It hung over me, ran through me, for many years. Of all the horrible words I heard throughout my childhood, that was the most difficult to forget.
My grandmother refusing to believe me was as painful as the abuse itself. It made the abuse my fault. It validated his threats that no one would believe me, that I didn't actually matter to anyone. And it made me feel worthless -- which is exactly what he wanted.
After years of working on my own healing, and working with thousands of sexual assault survivors, I have learned that what we often need, even more than justice, is simply to be believed. And the fact is, we have no reason not to believe survivors. Only about 2-8% of sexual assault reports are "false" -- and many believe the actual number is much lower. The myth that people frequently lie about rape is just that -- a myth. In fact, most sexual assaults are never reported at all, largely due to survivors' fear that they won't be believed.
Our society tells us not to believe survivors. It's easier to live in denial and pretend these horrific things don't really happen. We often don't believe survivors because it's too hard to accept that these otherwise "nice guys" are doing such awful things. (People thought my step-grandfather was a "nice guy" too). And it's even more difficult to accept that we could all be at risk.
But, we have to stop disregarding the truth simply because we don't want to hear it. The more we ignore the truth, and disregard survivors' experiences, the more this epidemic will grow. Every time we refuse to believe a survivor -- the rapist wins.
But with just three words -- I believe you -- we can instill hope and healing. We can change the conversation about sexual assault and encourage survivors to come forward. And we can take power away from rapists and give it back to those who deserve it -- those who have survived.
It has been more than 20 years since my grandmother refused to believe me. Yet still, every time some caring person who has heard me speak reaches out and says "I believe you," every time a friend or loved one tells me they believe me -- I am speechless. Every time I hear those words, I feel empowered, supported, and I heal a little bit more.
If you truly want to help survivors heal, if you truly want your loved ones to be safe, you have to start by believing. When someone courageously shares his or her story with you, say "I believe you" -- and mean it. It is the most powerful and meaningful gift you can give.
If anyone reading this has survived, and has never heard it, or needs to hear it again -- I believe you.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you are not alone. Advocates are available to talk with you 24 hours a day at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
[Pamela Jacobs is an attorney, advocate, and speaker dedicated to empowering women and ending sexual and domestic violence. Find her at http://pamelajacobs.com.] 


Monday, September 22, 2014

End the Nightmare at Family Court

Leora N. Rosen, Beyond the Hostage Child: Towards Empowering Protective Parents

This clear, readable, and affordable update to Dr. Rosen’s 1996 text, The Hostage Child, focuses our attention on the lifelong harm done to children by family courts and the remedies needed. She identifies specific federal funding streams that have done great damage (for example, the “Responsible Fatherhood Programs” that inspired the deadly rampage by Beltway Sniper John Muhammad from West Coast to East and another by Joshua Komisarjevsky in Connecticut).

This book holds validation for those who have been traumatized when courts removed terrified children from protective parents and gave them to the sole custody of abusers. Dr. Rosen shines a light we need to go forward.

She asserts that alleged crimes of domestic violence and child sexual abuse within the family should never be sent to civil courts that are designed for compromise. She briefly describes five proposed models for change and offers more detail on a sixth, composite model, CARCO (Child At Risk Classification Office) that focuses on a public health assessment of the child’s risk of being exposed to violence or abuse. She uses the acronym TRIAL to represent key elements of CARCO: Training, Reporting, Investigation, Adjudication, and Long-term planning – that are woefully absent from the present practice of adversarial litigation in family court.

Dr. Rosen has performed a huge service by focusing those of us who feel numbed by our own inability to protect desperate children and non-offending parents from the lies of lawyers and psychologists who have reduced them to a profit center. She concludes by urging Congress to use its authority and enact CARCO for the District of Columbia, creating a model for the nation. Federal funding incentives can be redirected to inspire other states to follow suit and to end the nightmare that breeds child abuse at family court.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A song for Sara and Molly's Mami

This song touches me deeply because of all the children like Sara and Molly whom I have seen wrestled away by corrupt officers of the court from inspiring moms who had sustained them.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sir Peter Hayman, diplomat and child abuser

The British Establishment hid one of their own. Now Members of Parliament demand an inquiry into the covering-up of a VIP child abuse ring protected by the powerful.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Anne Stevenson and Communities Digital News dare to report on courts promoting child sex abuse

A growing number of journalists and publications, like Anne Stevenson at Communities Digital News, are reporting on the proliferation of courts giving custody to parents identified by children as their sex abusers:

ATLANTA, June 26, 2014 — According to court records, throughout 2011-2012, “Jane’s” children (then ages 2 and 7) repeatedly insisted and showed credible evidence to child psychologist Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D and Ann Shannon, LCSW, that that their father made suicidal and homicidal plans with them, that he routinely watched child porn with them and sexually assaulted them during overnight visits.
Read more here:http://www.commdiginews.com/life/georgia-court-may-have-given-sex-predator-custody-of-child-victims-19453/

Anne Stevenson told me: "This was not a case of lack of evidence or a judge in need of a little training who made a blunder. The family court professionals walked away with their pockets well-lined." The evidence she decided not to include is "pretty sickening" and "the most egregious part of this story is that the professionals all went on vacation together at resorts in Florida and may have paid for it with the money they made off the kids who they left in danger" -- much like the cabals we have documented in Rhode Island.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Woody Allen and DCYF have in common: Children Who Remember

Thanks to Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times for publishing an open letter from Dylan Farrow about her famous adoptive father, Woody Allen, and the sexual abuse she remembers from more than two decades ago, when she was 7:

Rhode Island's Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) washed their hands of two sisters, "Sara" and "Molly," after taking them from a devoted mother when they were 9 and 5. DCYF held them in foster homes and separated them in a state shelter for more than a year, before giving them to their father -- even though the girls had accused him of kicking their mother down the stairs and playing "sausage games." 

I have seen the huge red erect penis the older child drew years ago. It was unforgettable and too graphic to post. I have posted the younger girl's portrait of their father grinning as he ejaculated. It is hard to imagine how their mother could have brainwashed these images into her daughters as their father's lawyer argued. A cabal of women lawyers and mental health experts earned tens of thousands of dollars in their campaign to take these girls from their mother. The father had money; the mother did not.

It's too bad the case now being heard in federal court against DCYF http://www.providencejournal.com/news/courts/20140201-rhode-island-seeks-dismissal-of-lawsuit-against-department-of-children-youth-and-families.ece could not have included Sara and Molly and the case documents referenced throughout our LittleHostages blog, including http://littlehostages.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-did-lise-iwon-do-it.html  

DCYF worked hard to rid its system of this case and these children. I believe the girls now live in France with their father. I do not know whether they see their mother at all. 

But I know this: they are growing up. "Sara" will turn 18 this year. I hope that she and "Molly," like Dylan Farrow, will know how many of us always believed they were telling the truth. From my interviews, police believed them. I have scores of letters written by neighbors who knew and believed them. The relatives of their child care provider believed them. Some staff at DCYF believed them, but feared for their jobs. 

We will keep confronting the system that failed Sara, Molly, and countless children as well as the parents who tried to protect them. 


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About the Author & Purpose

Parenting Project is a volunteer community service provided since 1996 by Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Providence, RI, to focus on the needs of children at risk in Family Court custody cases. The coordinator, Anne Grant, is a retired United Methodist minister and former executive director of Rhode Island's largest shelter and service agency for battered women and their children. We research and write about official actions that endanger children and the parents who are trying to protect them. Our goal is to reform this area of government and to establish an effective, transparent and accountable child protective system.

We first reported on this case at http://custodyscam.blogspot.com/

To read the blog more easily, please reduce the width of your column. Some of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking once on them.

Comments and corrections may be sent in an email with no attachments to parenting project @ verizon.net

About "Parental Alienation"

If you are not familiar with Richard Gardner's theory of "parental alienation" and how it is being used in custody courts, scroll down to the earliest posting, "Junk Science in Custody Courts." For more scholarly research, visit  http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/1.html

For more on the scandal in custody courts, see: