Leading the Way in Trauma Therapy

Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute

Hi. Ricky Greenwald here, founder and director of Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, and this blog’s author. Welcome to our new/revised web sites, not to mention this new blog, first post. A chance to share thoughts and information about some of our own activities, as well as what’s going on in “our” world: trauma, loss, and healing. My intention is to post something new every month or two. Your comments are always welcome.

And in case you’re wondering: The blog’s title, “Once upon a time...” refers to our Fairy Tale phase model of trauma-informed treatment.

I’m opening this blog with a topic that I’m afraid might make you so uncomfortable that you don’t come back. But it has to be faced, and it’s my job to face uncomfortable things if they are important enough. Maybe that’s your job as well.

The first time I was brought in as an expert witness on a contested child custody case involving alleged child abuse, I was horrified. There was overwhelming evidence of child abuse, clearly presented. Yet the entire system – child protective services, court, etc. – seemed dead set on ignoring the evidence, disregarding the child’s interests, supporting the perpetrator’s “property rights” over the child, and even penalizing the other parent for trying to protect the child. I told myself, “This is just too bizarre, it must be a fluke.”

But I have come to learn that this is typical in the USA, not a fluke at all. Parents (usually mothers) attempting to protect their children from further abuse are routinely penalized for their efforts (Plummer & Eastin, 2007). It’s gotten so crazy that when a mother in a divorce proceeding believes that there has been child abuse, the lawyer will often advise her not to raise the abuse, for fear of losing custody. An estimated 58,000 children per year are adjudicated to custody or unsupervised visitation with known abusers (Leadership Council, 2008). Other countries have even granted asylum to American mothers and children because our court system has declined to protect the children from well-documented abuse.

My own profession is integral to the problem. Many psychologists without expertise in trauma, abuse, or domestic violence conduct inadequate evaluations and on that basis provide inappropriate advice to the court (Kleinman, 2012). Worse yet, some psychologists know exactly what they’re doing, and cynically play the system as “hired guns” helping child abusers to retain access to their victims (Greenwald, 2013). However, the problem is far more widespread, involving every aspect of the system that is supposed to be protecting children (e.g., Walker, Cummings, & Cummings, 2012).

My own work is primarily focused on trauma-informed evaluation, treatment, and training. But anyone in this field recognizes the value of an ounce of prevention. Surely we ought to at least be able to stop the child abuse that we know is occurring!

Some of the leading groups working towards solutions are featured in our new Links sub-page focused on Protecting Abuse Victims. Please browse that page, and consider supporting one or more of those organizations as you are able.

References

Greenwald, R. (2013, winter). Re: The “best interest” standard versus changing the standard to assure child safety. [Letter to the editor.] Trauma Psychology News, 8(1), 4.

Kleinman, T. (2012). The “best interest” standard versus changing the standard to assure child safety. Division 56 Trauma Psychology Newsletter, 7(3), 5-7.

Leadership Council. (2008). How many children are court-ordered into unsupervised contact with an abusive parent after divorce? Accessed 6/4/2012 Internet: http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/med/PR3.html

Plummer, C. A., & Eastin, J. (2007). System problems in cases of child sexual abuse: The mothers’ perspectives. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(6), 775-787.

Walker, L. E. A., Cummings, D. M., & Cummings, N. A. (Eds.) (2012). Our broken family court system. Dryden, NY: Ithaca Press.

Hi. Ricky Greenwald here, founder and director of Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, and this blog’s author. Welcome to our new/revised web sites, not to mention this new blog, first post. A chance to share thoughts and information about some of our own activities, as well as what’s going on in “our” world: trauma, loss, and healing. My intention is to post something new every month or two. Your comments are always welcome.

And in case you’re wondering: The blog’s title, “Once upon a time...” refers to our Fairy Tale phase model of trauma-informed treatment.

I’m opening this blog with a topic that I’m afraid might make you so uncomfortable that you don’t come back. But it has to be faced, and it’s my job to face uncomfortable things if they are important enough. Maybe that’s your job as well.

The first time I was brought in as an expert witness on a contested child custody case involving alleged child abuse, I was horrified. There was overwhelming evidence of child abuse, clearly presented. Yet the entire system – child protective services, court, etc. – seemed dead set on ignoring the evidence, disregarding the child’s interests, supporting the perpetrator’s “property rights” over the child, and even penalizing the other parent for trying to protect the child. I told myself, “This is just too bizarre, it must be a fluke.”

But I have come to learn that this is typical in the USA, not a fluke at all. Parents (usually mothers) attempting to protect their children from further abuse are routinely penalized for their efforts (Plummer & Eastin, 2007). It’s gotten so crazy that when a mother in a divorce proceeding believes that there has been child abuse, the lawyer will often advise her not to raise the abuse, for fear of losing custody. An estimated 58,000 children per year are adjudicated to custody or unsupervised visitation with known abusers (Leadership Council, 2008). Other countries have even granted asylum to American mothers and children because our court system has declined to protect the children from well-documented abuse.

My own profession is integral to the problem. Many psychologists without expertise in trauma, abuse, or domestic violence conduct inadequate evaluations and on that basis provide inappropriate advice to the court (Kleinman, 2012). Worse yet, some psychologists know exactly what they’re doing, and cynically play the system as “hired guns” helping child abusers to retain access to their victims (Greenwald, 2013). However, the problem is far more widespread, involving every aspect of the system that is supposed to be protecting children (e.g., Walker, Cummings, & Cummings, 2012).

My own work is primarily focused on trauma-informed evaluation, treatment, and training. But anyone in this field recognizes the value of an ounce of prevention. Surely we ought to at least be able to stop the child abuse that we know is occurring!

Some of the leading groups working towards solutions are featured in our new Links sub-page focused on Protecting Abuse Victims. Please browse this page, and consider supporting one or more of those organizations as you are able.

References

Greenwald, R. (2013, winter). Re: The “best interest” standard versus changing
the standard to assure child safety. [Letter to the editor.] Trauma Psychology News, 8(1), 4.

Kleinman, T. (2012). The “best interest” standard versus changing the standard to assure
child safety. Division 56 Trauma Psychology Newsletter, 7(3), 5-7.

Leadership Council. (2008). How many children are court-ordered into unsupervised contact with an abusive parent after divorce? Accessed 6/4/2012 Internet: http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/med/PR3.html

Plummer, C. A., & Eastin, J. (2007). System problems in cases of child sexual abuse: The mothers’ perspectives. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(6), 775-787.

Walker, L. E. A., Cummings, D. M., & Cummings, N. A. (Eds.) (2012). Our broken family court system. NY: Ithaca Press. - See more at: https://www.childtrauma.com/&ctask=check-out&ccm_token=1373244694:074b8d4dbe19b22ea299c8aaa3bad556#.dpuf
Hi. Ricky Greenwald here, founder and director of Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, and this blog’s author. Welcome to our new/revised web sites, not to mention this new blog, first post. A chance to share thoughts and information about some of our own activities, as well as what’s going on in “our” world: trauma, loss, and healing. My intention is to post something new every month or two. Your comments are always welcome.

And in case you’re wondering: The blog’s title, “Once upon a time...” refers to our Fairy Tale phase model of trauma-informed treatment.

I’m opening this blog with a topic that I’m afraid might make you so uncomfortable that you don’t come back. But it has to be faced, and it’s my job to face uncomfortable things if they are important enough. Maybe that’s your job as well.

The first time I was brought in as an expert witness on a contested child custody case involving alleged child abuse, I was horrified. There was overwhelming evidence of child abuse, clearly presented. Yet the entire system – child protective services, court, etc. – seemed dead set on ignoring the evidence, disregarding the child’s interests, supporting the perpetrator’s “property rights” over the child, and even penalizing the other parent for trying to protect the child. I told myself, “This is just too bizarre, it must be a fluke.”

But I have come to learn that this is typical in the USA, not a fluke at all. Parents (usually mothers) attempting to protect their children from further abuse are routinely penalized for their efforts (Plummer & Eastin, 2007). It’s gotten so crazy that when a mother in a divorce proceeding believes that there has been child abuse, the lawyer will often advise her not to raise the abuse, for fear of losing custody. An estimated 58,000 children per year are adjudicated to custody or unsupervised visitation with known abusers (Leadership Council, 2008). Other countries have even granted asylum to American mothers and children because our court system has declined to protect the children from well-documented abuse.

My own profession is integral to the problem. Many psychologists without expertise in trauma, abuse, or domestic violence conduct inadequate evaluations and on that basis provide inappropriate advice to the court (Kleinman, 2012). Worse yet, some psychologists know exactly what they’re doing, and cynically play the system as “hired guns” helping child abusers to retain access to their victims (Greenwald, 2013). However, the problem is far more widespread, involving every aspect of the system that is supposed to be protecting children (e.g., Walker, Cummings, & Cummings, 2012).

My own work is primarily focused on trauma-informed evaluation, treatment, and training. But anyone in this field recognizes the value of an ounce of prevention. Surely we ought to at least be able to stop the child abuse that we know is occurring!

Some of the leading groups working towards solutions are featured in our new Links sub-page focused on Protecting Abuse Victims. Please browse this page, and consider supporting one or more of those organizations as you are able.

References

Greenwald, R. (2013, winter). Re: The “best interest” standard versus changing
the standard to assure child safety. [Letter to the editor.] Trauma Psychology News, 8(1), 4.

Kleinman, T. (2012). The “best interest” standard versus changing the standard to assure
child safety. Division 56 Trauma Psychology Newsletter, 7(3), 5-7.

Leadership Council. (2008). How many children are court-ordered into unsupervised contact with an abusive parent after divorce? Accessed 6/4/2012 Internet: http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/med/PR3.html

Plummer, C. A., & Eastin, J. (2007). System problems in cases of child sexual abuse: The mothers’ perspectives. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(6), 775-787.

Walker, L. E. A., Cummings, D. M., & Cummings, N. A. (Eds.) (2012). Our broken family court system. NY: Ithaca Press. - See more at: https://www.childtrauma.com/&ctask=check-out&ccm_token=1373244694:074b8d4dbe19b22ea299c8aaa3bad556#.dpuf

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