RESPONSES TO THE SITUATION
Humans, like animals, usually respond to danger in three ways: they accommodate, fight, or flee. These survival mechanisms serve animals well. Possums play dead, lions fight, deer flee. How you respond to this intense challenge of trying to protect and parent an abused child (who may be having dreadful symptoms such as nightmares, rages, depression, fear, loss of toilet training) may have a lot to do with your personality. Your response will also be shaped by the specific situation you are in and your resources.
THE 'ACCOMMODATE' RESPONSE-
If you have entered the family court arena, you need to remember one thing. You are dealing with people who are used to be being obeyed. They have an authoritarian mentality. Judicial officers and court-appointees have a huge problem with disobedience. We can't emphasize that aspect of the judicial arena enough.
- They respond best to politeness and servile obedience.
- The authoritarian mentality is similar to military drill sergeants who demand unquestioning obedience from their men, or to dog trainers who demand immediate obedience from a dog.
- The response to any other behavior is massive retaliation.
- If you decide to accommodate, we suggest you do it 110%. Be extremely nice to everyone. If you need to make a protest, do it with respect and humility.
"Thank you for your ruling on this matter, your Honor. I'm certain this will be best for our family. There is just one small area of concern. You state here that Johnny should be with his father overnight. However, the father's therapist states that the father begins drinking at 5:00 p.m. and passes out by 7:00 p.m. I'm wondering… would Johnny's best interests be served if he could to stay with someone else after 7:00 p.m.?"
WARNING: This method is not very effective with corrupt judges and court personnel!
THE 'FIGHT' RESPONSE-
Some mothers can not bear to be servile. They are feisty and furious at the many ways they are mistreated in court.
- These women who fight are the ones who are making changes by exposing the corruption and improving the court system.
- The best defense is a good offense. You must strike immediately and fiercely by filing every complaint possible, and getting to know your rights. We advise you to go to the law library and read the Local Rules of Court for your court, the Judicial Profile of your judge, the Family Code, the Welfare and Institutions Code if you are involved with CPS, and the Criminal Code. Talk to other women in the courthouse and begin meeting with them.
- However, you need to know that fighting the system is like being the sole member of a soccer team against an opposing team of hundreds on the high end of a tilted field.
- Without a strong organization behind you, fighting the system is perilous. The authoritarian individuals see you as a threat and become defensive. Retribution is likely.
WARNING: If you fight, you may lose custody of your children to the abuser!
THE 'FLEE' RESPONSE-
Some mothers of sexually abused children consider this possibility, especially when professionals ignore the abuse.
- In California, if you have a right to custody, you can legally conceal your child if you have reason to believe that immediate harm will be done if the child is with the identified abuser (Penal Code Section 278.5).
- However, the Catch 22 is that this must be done before you begin custody proceedings.
- This, of course, results in you ending up in family court, which is where the problem is. This law is not very useful.
- According to one noted feminist, there are more mothers fleeing with their abused children than there were slaves in the slave underground.
- In a 1989 survey of California battered women's shelters, staff reported knowing nearly 4,000 battered women who became felons, forced into hiding by court orders they felt endangered their children.
- A few mothers who were found by FBI or private investigators describe how they were caught after calling family/friends or because they did not change their identities.
- The children were forcibly taken from them and given to the identified perpetrators.
- Some mothers are on supervised visits.
- Some are in prison for kidnapping or for refusing to disclose where they hid their abused children.
WARNING: The consequences of fleeing and being caught may be severe!
Read one mother's experience after fleeing by clicking here. Then return back to learn more.
"God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."
- Reinhold Niebuhr, Protestant Theologian
...Continue on to THE EARLY STAGE