This journey started with Beth’s abusive marriage and divorce. People were so focused on the “shared responsibility of the marital breakdown,” the abuse was not acknowledged.
The father continued his abuse after the separation. He raged, he threatened, and fought to take his child, Grace, away from her mother.
Grace’s mother ensured that Grace saw both parents weekly, and even daily. She wanted Grace to have a relationship with both parents. Her father wouldn’t cooperate and dragged Beth into court without a lawyer. She got plowed under by a system that looks at women with a dark age bias.
They settled on 50/50 custody.
When Grace was four she began wetting the bed, having night terrors, and acting out sexual things with Barbie dolls. CPS said “Oh that’s normal”.
Then she came home with what looked like diaper rash. When asked how that happened she said, “Daddy did it.” Grace explained that Daddy does certains things that shouldn’t happen between a father and daughter. Another call to CPS, the same response, but then Beth went to the police.
In Pennsylvania, CPS closes a case that is still being investigated by the police they simply state “unfounded“. The case was closed without explanation. The police investigation dragged out for four months. In the meantime Mom was being penalized for keeping Grace away from her father.
Since Grace was only four years old, she wasn’t considered a credible witness. The investigation fizzled and Grace resumed visits with her father. The family reasoned nothing was going on….and if there was maybe the police involvement would keep him from doing it again.
By Feb of 2016 Grace was much more articulate. When her mom picked her up from her father, Grace said she was mad at her father, and gave details of more abuse. She was very specific, saying he took certain clothes off of her, and precisely what he did. It happened that morning, and many times before, and only at a certain place.
Beth took Grace to the state police, and Grace repeated everything. She even demonstrated. They scheduled an interview for her the next Tuesday at a Child Advocacy Center with the District Attorney and police present.
Grace knew the interview was supposed to get Daddy to stop doing these things to her. It was on her mind, and in her head she went over what she would say. CPS concluded that the disclosure was coerced. There really is a differences between coerced and rehearsed, but authorities didn’t get that distinction.
At a custody conference, the investigating officer, who has been on the job for a year and a half, testified that Grace said what her father did, but she was bouncing around and not focused. The implication was that, since Grace was nervous, maybe it was all just nonsense.
Her father won full custody, and Grace is now seven and sees her mother two weekends a month. She reports ongoing abuse.