The four year-old daughter of a divorced couple returns unusually quiet after a court-appointed weekend visit with her father. The little girl’s genitals are red and irritated and she complains that “Daddy finger owied me.” She then tells the mother, “But it’s okay, he said not to say anything.”
The alarms quickly go off in the mother’s head, and she takes her daughter to an emergency room where an unqualified professional says “Well, I’m not an expert but it may be abuse” The attendant also tells the mother that the child may not have been abused. Then a therapist and the family doctor both agree with the emergency room physician’s comments. But mother, out of her own panic, fear, and worry, hears only that her child has “been abused.”
The mother files charges and the father claims he mistakenly poured an entire bottle of bath soap while bathing the daughter. In order to rectify the problem, he says it must have irritated the girl and so he put salve on the area. He then proclaims that he does not know where she gets the idea that it was a secret. The father gets a lawyer and says the mother is filing false charges. He then sues to get custody of the daughter. The father’s attorney says the mother is fabricating the events because of a bitter divorce and he makes her out to be emotionally unstable and hostile. He also says she is hysterical.
The mother remains angry and upset over the possible sexual molestation of her daughter and this is the side of her that the court sees. Meanwhile, the father sits there in his suit and tie, looking cool and confident. The mother is quickly labeled with PAS which subsequently discredits her unfairly. She is looked at as emotionally unstable and as falsely accusing her ex husband. Unfortunately, competent custody evaluators are lacking and the father usually has more money to hire experts and witnesses who validate his side of the story. The father wins his case and gets custody of child. 1
- Abusive fathers are more likely to fight for custody.
- Abusive fathers win custody in seventy percent of contested custody cases.
- Fathers accused of incest win custody in eighty-four percent of cases nationally.
- Eight percent of all custody cases involve sexual abuse allegations. Of those, two percent are false.
- Ninety one percent of fathers accused of incest by their children obtain full or partial unsupervised custody in California.
- Fifty-four percent of mothers who attempt to protect their children from incest receive only visitation or no contact at all. 2
1. John E. B. Myers, 6th Annual Northern California Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Conference
2. Center for Policy Research and National Center for Protective Parents, California Protective Parents Association