Sunday afternoon circa 2003, there was a knock at my door, I opened it to two strangers, a man and a woman, in their hands they had a report, a court report written by Roy Meadow, the mother had been accused of smothering her baby and of having Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy, simply because there was no other “motive”. The mother burst into tears and asked me if I could help. It was a contempt of court, such was their desperation though, there is nothing they would not have done to clear mum’s name. A sure indication that they might be telling the truth don’t you think! Child abusers don’t normally go round advertising the fact, let alone to strangers.
This wasn’t the typical way I was contacted, but it wasn’t a surprise either. At this point I was working on at least 50 other cases worldwide.
This case had a “happy” ending, eventually, not before they were put through the mill first and not before they insisted on a criminal investigation into the allegation mum had “murdered” her child. Something I would recommend to any parent accused in Family Court. At least the secrecy is removed and it never hurts to get a third party in.
Sadly, because of the stress, because of the intensity of the scrutiny, both the mother and father of the mother died during the process. The father from a heart attack, the mother from, and I quote the Oncologist “pancreatic cancer bought on by stress” His diagnosis. They did not live to see the outcome. The surviving child of this family has no grandparents because of this. (Father’s parents died years ago)
This is just one example of what happens when you falsely accuse, I have more than I could write about without sitting down for months. I always warn the families that come to me that this is a lifetime label, no matter what, the allegations lie on file and sometimes rear their heads again. In a CRB check Or going for a Visa, or when grandchildren are born, the list is endless. It is like an atomic bomb going off, the effect mushrooms out and the cloud settles, contaminating every part of their lives.
i know from my own personal experiences what happens when the finger is pointed and somebody shouts “witch”. Your life is turned upside down.
In one particular high profile case, whilst fighting to get mum out of prison and her name cleared on appeal, I helped dad by having him and their surviving child to stay. Trying to normalise the child’s life by including her in my chaotic, busy household that was full of kids. Father was a wreck, he drank too much and swallowed prescription drugs like smarties. Unfit to care for his child in any meaningful way. His life had been blown to smithereens based upon supposition with absolutely no scientific facts to back it up other than it was the witch hunt de jour.
One day we all went down to West Mids Safari park, which has a fair, after driving through the enclosures and having what I thought was a really “normal” fun time, we arrived at the fair, at this point the child who I had thought was OK, started shaking and said she felt sick and didn’t want to go on the rides. My own kids ran off, this little girl was pale and tearful, in a heartbreaking moment, with one sentence, the impact (for which there was no help, no counselling, even though she had suffered such tragic events in her short life) of what had happened to her hit me, as she slid her hand into mine, I bent down and asked her “what’s the matter?” she replied “why can’t I be like your kids Penny, I just want to be normal” That moment encapsulates the butterfly effect of what her family and so many others, too many to count, were subjected to. Their whole lives, all of them, were wrecked, as it turned out, beyond repair, because of the hysteria that came with the allegations at that time.
In the past 18 years I have witnessed strong marriages break under the pressure, I have witnessed children being destroyed by the impact those allegations have had on their family (remember all in the name of “child protection”) I have had parents die because of the stress, I have had parents kill themselves having been cleared of any wrongdoing. I have been subjected to attacks on me and my property along with vitriol posted on social media, just for daring to suggest that people make false allegations. We, have collectively been called paedophiles, paedophile lovers, baby killers etc. These are the things that our children have to grow up with. They are bullied in school, called names on the street, threatened. All of this in the name of child protection. They were innocents in this too. But there is no help from the state. You have to beg for it. The families are treated like pariahs. Modern day lepers. Most of their support systems, family and friends distance themselves, after all there’s no smoke without fire is there?
This is the reality of what happens when an allegation is made and some of us don’t believe the allegation because the evidence we have supports their innocence. This all the more appalling if those allegations are false. It destroys families, it destroys children. It should automatically be a criminal offence given what the children of those they accuse are subjected to and should be prosecuted as such. Abuse by proxy.
There is a mistaken belief that because I and others fight false allegations we do not believe children are abused. Paradoxically, this is about protecting children from harm. Sometimes the abuse of children is iatrogenic. This is the flip side of that double edged sword. Unpopular as it is, it is a reality.
The butterfly effect permeates the whole of society, for the children that are damaged by child abuse, all forms, unless helped, do not become very productive members of society and everyone pays the price. The system has to be sure before it starts this. There need to be more robust safeguards in place. Just because somebody says something happened doesn’t make it true. By the time the false allegations are exposed, it’s too late, the damage is done. It is abhorrent and morally bankrupt to sacrifice the few for the many.