"My story is part of an effort by Safe Kids International to raise awareness about an issue of social injustice which is endangering millions of children around the world. There is an epidemic of family court judges deliberately disregarding substantial evidence of serious child abuse and granting custody to the abusive father. This is my story."
I recovered memories of my own childhood abuse when I was 28. In therapy I incidentally described my 3-year old daughter acting out sexually. My therapist called CPS.
My daughter reported sexual events to a psychologist, a detective, me, a babysitter, and others. The police threatened to arrest the man; then there was backlash within our extended family. The accused man smeared and discredited me, and by proxy, he discredited my daughter. He said I brainwashed her into making false report.
My mother and sister rushed to his defense. They were already upset about what I had said about my own history. The prosecutor backed down and told me to handle it in family court. Some professionals and family members believed me, but no one really helped me in family court. I was so shocked by the whole chain of events I was not an effective advocate.
The very fact that I believed my daughter was considered evidence of mental illness by my sister and mom. They supported the person my daughter stated had been sexually abusive to her; her father. His visits were forced on my child. She disclosed more abuse, but by then I had learned not to depend on the system. I learned just how family court works.
In family court, if an abuser lies in a legal paper it is considered "true" until somebody rebuts it with another legal paper in a hearing. These things cost money and lots of it. I had none. Its a liar's game in family court. My ex actually enjoyed the legal game, he was so good at it.
People have fixed ideas about sexual abusers. Most think they can know, just by how much they like a guy, that he is not a sex offender. If the whole family depends on the covert sex offender, it changes how those people think. They can't afford to face the truth. Denial is how safety is then felt. A child who is really in danger is surrounded by people who will defend the offender. That is how an incest family works.
My child and I endured more than a year of meetings and hearings and vicious verbal attacks upon me by my mother, who sided against me. Then I ran away with my daughter. He finished his custody appeal in my absence. We were found 2 years later and I was jailed for custodial interference. The charges against me were eventually dropped (this time I had a lawyer); the prosecutor stating it could shown I had "adequate reason to flee." But that didn't change the custody situation, and it didn't convince anybody in my family to change their position.
My family remained vehemently split. I did not have the 20 grand the lawyers told me they needed to even start a challenge to the custody situation. My ex still had our child. I didn't go to prison, or a mental hospital (that was also threatened) but I was relegated to supervised visits, to make sure I wouldn't "brainwash" my daughter into reporting abuse again. It was heartbreaking.
He surrounded himself and my daughter with those who defended him. As the years passed he continued to vilify me to my daughter. She is now an adult who believes every lie he ever told her. She now sounds like a tape recording of her father. It is not possible for me to tell her my side of the custody story. She will not hear it, instead she shuts me out.
I can understand why she is that way. It is ironic that she became exactly like the other women who sided with her father, believing all of his lies, choosing to disregard any evidence to the contrary. Who remembers the details of what happens before they are seven years old? "Normal childhood amnesia" is just that: normal.
I was the same way before I recovered my own memories of childhood abuse. If you had told me that I had been raped as a child, before I remembered it myself, I am sure I would have called you a liar. That closed frame of mind is why I married a sex offender. He was such a liar and I was such a dupe for his lies. I was used to it, I was bred for it. I was raised to be an incest mother.
There is little rational thought in our culture regarding child sexual abuse. Instead of thinking rationally, people feel intensely. Either they want to attack the accused abuser, or they want to attack the reporting person. Both reactions are problematic.
The whole drama helped me to understand why I repressed memories of my own childhood sexual assaults. There is no point in telling, when the telling makes things so much worse. At some point the brilliant solution is to stop telling even your own self.