PAS, or Parental Alienation Syndrome, refers to the poisoning of children’s minds by one parent (usually the mother), against the other (usually the father). The so-called “cure” is to take the children away from the parent who is “poisoning” them and place them with the other parent. Richard Gardner, a known pedophile apologist came up with this theory from his own research with his clients in 1985, while working to defend abusers in court who were at risk of losing access to their children to protective parents. Gardner self-published his work and had no scientific basis for his PAS theory. But it’s still successfully used today, by many lawyers, to underhandedly win custody for abusive men.
The National District Attorneys Association says that, “PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children.”
Yet many courts still allow it and many abusers know it.
The twisted part to all this, is that alienation actually does exist. Parents do attempt to turn their kids against the other parent. But not the way Gardner suggests. It’s usually the abuser who does the actual alienation, all while they are busy taking the protective parent to court and using PAS as a magic bullet to win more custody of the kids.
Here is how it often seems to work:
When the kids withdraw or distance themselves from the abusive parent, or when the protective parent attempts to limit the children’s exposure to the abusive parent because they are (no shock here) abusive, the abusive parent says this distancing behavior is ‘proof’ of PAS. The abusive parent lies to the court, claiming that the protective parent is alienating the children from them. This deceitful tactic is often used to scare the protective parent and silence the protective parent. The abuser doesn’t want the protective parent speaking up and exposing the abuse.
Tragically, this tactic often works. Many abusive parents get custody this way. Many others get unsupervised access when they are in fact so dangerous to the kids that the kids are suffering severe traumatic symptoms. We are talking here not just about abusers intimidating the kids, or modeling poor character and morals to the kids. We are also talking about abusers who sexually abuse kids, who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol with the kids in the car, who fail to feed the kids properly, change nappies/diapers regularly, and all the other things that parents should do to keep kids healthy and safe. These are just a few examples.
Once they have custody, the abusive parents often start their own aggressive campaign with their children, to set the children against the protective parent. When the protective parent points that out as real and legitimate parental alienation, the courts often dismiss it, as they consider the behavior to be “paternal bonding”.
Leave it to abusers to find a way to project their own behaviors onto their victims, so that they can continue to get away with their abuse! It’s the old ‘turn everything upside down and inside out’ game, the crazy-making game that abusers specialize in. Not only are they actually alienating their kids from the protective parent, but they blame-shift onto the protective parent, in order to deliver a knock out blow and punish the protective parent for ever having crossed them. Slowly but surely, or sometimes before the protective parent even knows what has happened, the abuser has stripped the protective parent of both their legal rights and their emotional connection to their children.
Gardner and his theory of PAS have done much to discredit the real alienation that happens in abusive custody situations, succeeding in confusing the real perpetrators with the true victims, and many children and protective parents have suffered horribly for this, since its wider acceptance in 1987.
But there is hope. The tide of justice seems to be slowly shifting now. The American Psychological Association dismissed and rejected PAS as junk science, refusing to include it in the fifth revision of their Diagnostic Manual (DSM-5). Many courts around America are also beginning to refuse to hear PAS evidence, citing the lack of research to back it as a valid theory as well as its potential danger to true victims of abuse. Lawyers are now being taught how to defend Protective parents against allegations of PAS.
The truth is beginning to show through the darkness. Lies are starting to be exposed. Abusers are being called out, slowly, but it is happening. Still, it’s not enough. There is much damage that still needs repairing. Abusers need to be held accountable for the true alienation that they are perpetrating between kids and their protective parents and for those of us, still fighting, trying anything we can to protect our kids, there are still miles to go before we sleep…
For more information on PAS, its validity, perceptions in the courts today and how to defend against it, please visit:
This has just been published at Spiritual Sounding Board, Julie Anne Smith’s blog.
It will be of interest to any readers who:
- are victims of spiritual and/or sexual abuse — it will encourage you to see how a victim has had the courage to seek secular justice against her abuser,
- have been affected by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum
- have been affected by other Patriarchal and Quiverful cults in Christendom
My opinion: Lourdes Torres — now Lourdes Torres-Manteufel: she has just got married — is A VERY BRAVE LADY. :)
[We are publishing this as an extra post today because it is such big news, and because we want to encourage Lourdes as much as possible.]
My pastor told this story in Sunday School the other day.
This guy falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you. Can you help me?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and keeps going.
Next a priest comes along and the guy yells, “Father, I’m down in this hole. Can you help me?” The priest says a prayer and keeps going.
Then a friend walks by, “Hey, friend, it’s me can you help me?” And the friend jumps in the hole. The guy asks, “Are you an idiot? Now we’re both down here!” The friend replies, “But I’ve been in this hole before and I know how to get out.”
The pastor told this story and he related how he had been through a horrible trial. Later, his friend went through a similar trial and because God brought the pastor through, he knew how to relate to his friend and help him.
I was thinking about some other responses people give when they pass someone who is stuck in a hole. Perhaps when we let others know about the hole of abuse we are/were trapped in, we’re told:
Didn’t you read the warning signs? I read the signs and I would never fall into a hole like that.
Why were you walking in Hole Land? When you’re walking with Christ, you won’t get stuck in a hole.
Here are some great books about how to decorate holes.
Use a cookbook to improve your cooking quality while in the hole.
Have you spoken life over your hole? You should call things that are not as though they are. By calling this a hole, you’re dooming yourself to life in a hole.
Get comfortable. God says he hates it when people escape holes He created.
Why did you bring kids into the hole?
We are the hole repair committee. We have examined this hole and we find that it is repaired and inhabitable. Now get back in there.
Pray for your hole to change.
Your hole is in a great neighborhood. There are good schools nearby.
This isn’t a hole. By calling it a hole, you are diminishing the hardships of true hole dwellers in distant lands where the holes are spiky and gross.
This hole is for your sanctification.
If you escape this hole, you’ll only fall into another hole and it’ll be even worse.
Your kids will become drug dealers and prostitutes if you escape your hole.
The people who hand you platitudes and condemnation are not qualified to help you out of the hole. Listening to those types only brought me confusion. My pastor didn’t do that. He didn’t lecture me about hole avoidance techniques or give me books to improve my hole. He told me that God would help me escape and he and the church would help me and my children. I am so grateful to have had Christian support during this time.
This blog is here to equip you to get out of the hole and to equip the Church to help you. We write because we want to tell you about God’s faithfulness in and out of the hole. We write to relate what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. We’ve been in this hole before. We know the Way out.
Spousal Abuse: A Christian Response to Abusive Relationships is a video podcast made by Dallas Theological Seminary. Readers may remember that John Dyer gave us the link to this video when he was responding to our Review of “Sexual Issues” – A Really Bad Book for Pastoral Training. The video is part one of a two-part series which is meant to be basic intro to the larger topic of abuse for students and alumni, as well any one else who might find it useful. [I will be reviewing the second video in a subsequent post.]
The video has three people on the discussion panel:
Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement;
Gary Barnes, a Professor in the Biblical Counseling Program at DTS who also has a part-time private practitice as a licencsed psychologist specializing in marriage and family;
Debby Wade, a marriage and family therapist and a licensed professional counselor. She has a private practice (Authentic Christian Therapeutic Solutions) where she specializes in working with intimacy issues and couples, and marital work.
The average viewer would expect that these three people (especially the psychologist and counselor) ought to understand domestic abusers well — the mindset of domestic abusers, their character disturbance, their techniques of abuse, and the tactics they use to get away with their evildoing.
Some of the discussion and material presented on the video seems fairly good. But I have to sadly report that the professionals seem to fall short of understanding the domestic abuser’s fundamental problem. And the mistake I think they make is a classic mistake that many people make, professionals and laypeople alike. Here is the pertinent part of the video transcript, picking up from 26:32 in the video:
… for most of the [abusers] that I’ve worked with, there’s fear and insecurity that are there, and so the male feels so threatened. Although he’s the intimidating — the mean, grouchy one — on the inside, he’s really the one that struggles with feeling insecure in fear, and that motivates his need to control everything, almost like, “If I’m not controlling it, it won’t happen the way I want.” Or, “If I’m not controlling it, she may get closer to other people. If I don’t control the people she’s around, she may like them better than me.” But such a sense of fear that kinda feeds what he [Darrell Bock] was saying — that need that, “I should be able to control this and it’s my right to control it.” . . .
You know the irony here is that the person who’s controlling is really manifesting incredible weakness and incredible insecurity.
And I think there’s a great sense of being hopeless or helpless themselves, see, that really drives this sense of, “I really need to be in control here, and I’ll —” whatever means is necessary is actually justified.”
So unraveling that, it seems to me, from me from a counseling standpoint has got to be a very complex and long-term operation.
Like I say, this is not just negative emotions of anger that are out of control. This is deep-seated important places for them to get awareness of that aren’t going to be a quick and easy awareness.
Now, I am not a mental health professional, nor do I have the specialized training required for facilitators of men’s behavior change groups. But I read widely enough in the field and have attended enough conferences and training events to know that the DTS panel in this video have a different understanding of the abuser’s mindset than people like Lundy Bancroft, Dr George Simon Jr, and the trained facilitators of men’s behavoir change programs in Australia and New Zealeand (I can’t speak so well for America or the UK).
Bancroft and the others I’ve mentioned with him believe that the fundamental problem of a domestic abuser is his BELIEF SYSTEM, not his emotions. And abusers do not lack awareness: they know what they are doing, they plan it, there is strategy in it. Strategy to hide their wickedness from the public, strategy to maintain control over the victim. They know how they are feeling: and they have well-developed strategies to avoid dealing with their feelings in a responsible manner. The problem with the abuser is his thinking, not his feelings: the abuser believes he is entitled to mistreat his mate because he is superior; he has a deep seated belief that he is the centre of his universe and his mate must meet his needs and whims. This mindset, this attitude, is the fundamental issue which must be tackled first. And because abuser will strongly resist admitting that this attitude of theirs needs changing, tackling that attitude may be all the therapist ever gets to do when working with the abuser.
Side note: George Simon seems to me to be wise in having a policy that if the abuser clearly refuses to change, then Simon will not work with him. Simon takes the view that, as a practitioner whose skills are much in demand, it is unethical for him to spend his time or be paid for working with clients who staunchly refuse to take responsibility by making any real effort to change. (Note: I am not implying that Simon’s policy should necessarily be adopted by all therapists in all settings. Different agencies will have different guidelines for their employees, and not all professionals are independent operators like Simon.)
While some abusers may have fears, insecurities or traumas from their upbringing or their past, these emotional issues cannot be dealt with therapeutically while the abuser holds to his mindset of superiority and entitlement.
Gary Barnes is right that it’s “not just negative emotions of anger that are out of control.” That’s for sure. Domestic abuse is not a thing that can be fixed by sending the abuser to an anger management course. But I don’t think Barnes is getting the whole picture when he says, “This is deep-seated important places for abusers to get awareness of that aren’t going to be a quick and easy awareness.” The way Barnes describes it suggests that the counselor’s job is to help this poor abuser come out of denial so he can really feel and face his insecurity and work through it therapeutically. But abusers know that well-intentioned people, especially those in the caring professions and Christianity, are suckers for the sob story, so they give the impression to people-helpers that they are driven by insecurity, fears, helplessness and hopelessness. This is a grand way of avoiding responsibility for their bad behavior: “I just can’t help it; I’m scared and insecure so I can’t control what comes out of me!”
Have the DTS panelists fallen into this trap? From what they say on this video, it sounds to me like they have. It seem to me that they would be sitting ducks for even a half-clever abuser who could play them for a fool, making them focus on **his feelings of fear, insecurity, and helplessness** so they did not look at his thinking — his fixed and prideful belief in his superior and special entitlement. This prideful belief may be well disguised with charm, humility, geniality, altruism, do-gooderness, or physical or mental disability. But it will be there if you look under the veneer, and the abuser’s mate will tell you about it if you have the patience to listen to her recount, ever so painfully, as she comes out of the fog, what it is like to live with her mate behind closed doors.
I know a few facilitators of men’s behaviour change groups, and a few expert therapists who work one-on-one with perpetrators, and these people, these rare birds, are able to detect the inauthentic manipulative display of emotion from an abuser (the stuff that is designed to distract the therapist from the abuser’s real problem) and to call it out for the pretense and evasion that it is. And they can also work with an abuser’s real emotions when the abuser’s hard shell of entitlement has cracked open. But it seems to me that there is a world of difference between the decoy emotions and the real emotions. It also seems that far too many counselors are thinking that they ‘get it’ about abusers, when they don’t.
And who suffers most when counselors misdiagnose the abuser’s problem by seeing it as an emotional problem rather than a belief problem? The victim of the abuser. The long-suffering hopeful partner who thinks, “Now he’s finally seeing a therapist! That must mean there is light at the end of the tunnel!” And how often is she disappointed because the ‘expert’ was really not an expert on domestic abuse at all?
It is time that comprehensive domestic abuse training was mandated in all pre-registration counseling and psychology courses, and that such training be consistent with what the real experts know: the Bancrofts, the George Simon Jrs, the other folk who have done the hard work on men’s behavior change programs, so that counselors and marriage therapists do not get led down the garden path by abuser’s manipulation and the misinformation that has been spread out there by people (including many who think they are ‘experts’) who should know better.
* * *
Please see our Resources for books by Lundy Bancroft, George Simon Jr, Martha Stout, and others who really get it about the mindset of abusers. Also, Lundy Bancroft’s website, Lundy’s blog, and George Simon’s blog. For some good secular resources on men’s behaviour change, see, for example, NTV (No To Violence, Australia), and the New Zealand Family Violence Council Clearinghouse. The latter two sites would have links to other good resources internationally.
Also see our interview with Catherine DeLoach Lewis, a Christian therapist, in which she emphasizes the immense need for more extensive training in domestic abuse for all Christian counsellors.
the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25 ESV)
When victims of domestic abuse disclose to a pastor that their mate is abusive, some pastors respond like this: “Total depravity means you are a sinner just like your spouse. So take your eyes off your partner’s sin, and examine your own sin!”
Not only is this pastoral response unbiblical, it’s also extremely confusing and hurtful to the victim of abuse. We call it a type of ‘sin leveling’ — the idea that all sins are equally heinous in the sight of God. I previously addressed the erroneous doctrine of sin leveling in my Levite’s Concubine video, and Jeff Crippen addressed it in his post Not All Sinners Are The Same. I’m offering today’s post in the hope that it will be one more help to our readers on their journey from being entrapped in false doctrine to knowing their freedom in Christ.
One of our aims at this blog is to dispel from the farthest recesses of a survivor’s mind the idea that she is just as wicked as her abuser. False guilt and shame are impediments to the survivor’s path out of abuse and into recovery . . . and to advocacy for those who are still trapped. But Jesus came to set the captives free. His law is the law of liberty, as the above quote from the James shows. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Th article below, by Joel Taylor, was first published at Joel’s blog 5ptsalt.com. The original title was MATT CHANDLER: TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF…THE SAINTS? It was first published on December 17, 2011. We are republishing it with Joel’s permission. Thank you Joel.
According to many Christians these days, Christians are wicked. Now, it is one thing to describe the Christian as being able to fall into sin, but according to Scripture, the wicked live there, they are enemies of God and they will not be in heaven.
Matt Chandler in the video below[*] declares himself as wicked. Such words seem to contradict Biblical teaching.
“In this moment, I am a wicked sinner, redeemed by the blood of Christ.”
Other well known conference speakers and preachers also teach the same in what can easily be labeled the doctrine of the total depravity of the saints. It is a doctrine not found in Scripture. It certainly is not the position of historical Christianity:
The design of heaven is unsuitable to them. The design of God in making heaven was, that it might be a place of holy habitation, for the reward of the righteous, and not an habitation for wicked men. It would greatly reflect on the wisdom of God to dispose of wicked men there; for it would be the greatest confusion. But God is not the author of confusion, I Corinthians xiv. 33. It would be contrary to the holiness of God, to take wicked men so near to himself into his glorious presence, to dwell forever in that part of the creation which is, as it were, his own palace, and to sit at his table. We read in Psalm v. 4. “Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee.” Therefore it would doubtless be impossible that the end of the existence of wicked men should be in any wise answered by the placing of them in heaven.
It may be objected that in Romans 7:24, the Apostle Paul calls himself ‘wretched’ and indeed he does – Wretched man that I am!
However, ‘wretched’ is not ‘wicked’. The word for wretched in Romans 7:24 is talaipōros, which is one who is enduring trials, afflicted. It comes from two base words meaning enduring or under weight, bearing a test. Apostle Paul in that passage, is not a ‘wicked’ man, he is a mature believer in Christ persevering! The inescapable point is that the wicked, if they perish in their sins, will not dwell in heaven.
William Hendriksen says it well in his NTC commentary on Romans 7:24: The writer genuinely deplores the fact that due to the law of sin still operating in him, he is unable to serve God as completely and whole-heartedly as he desires. The poignant grief here expressed is definitely that of a believer. No unbeliever would ever be able to be so filled with sorrow because of his sins! The author of the outcry is Paul, speaking for every child of God. The cry he utters is one of distress, but not of despair, as verse Rom_7:25 proves. Paul suffers agony, to be sure, the wretchedness brought about by strenuous exertion; that is, by trying hard, but never satisfactorily succeeding, to live in complete harmony with God’s will but failing again and again. He is looking forward eagerly to the time when this struggle will have ended.
On the other hand, ‘wicked’ in the New Testament is an entirely different matter altogether. Take John 3:20 for example:
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
Here, the word is phaulos, “foul”, evil, ethically bad. In Scripture, the saint is never described as wicked, for the wicked are dead in their sins and they hate the light.
It’s an important distinction, and with many young Christians these days, often boasting in their ‘vileness’ and ‘wickedness’, a distinction that needs clarifying.
In Scripture, the wicked are not the children of God. They are not the saints. In fact, they are compared to:
Abominable branches Isa. 14:19
Ashes under the feet Mal. 4:3
Bad fishes Mat. 13:48
Beasts Ps. 49:12; 2Pet. 2:12
Blind, The Zeph. 1:17; Mat. 15:14
Brass and iron Jer. 6:28; Eze. 22:18
Briars and thorns Isa. 55:13; Eze. 2:6
Bulls of Bashan Ps. 22:12
Carcasses trodden under feet Isa. 14:19
Chaff Job. 21:18; Ps. 1:4; Mat. 3:12
Clouds without water Jude 1:12
Corn blasted 2Kings 19:26
Corrupt trees Luk. 6:43
Deaf adders Ps. 58:4
Dogs Pro. 26:11; Mat. 7:6; 2Pet. 2:22
Dross Ps. 119:119; Eze. 22:18; Eze. 22:19
Early dew that passes away Hos. 13:3
Evil figs Jer. 24:8
Fading oaks Isa. 1:30
Fiery oven Ps. 21:9; Hos. 7:4
Fire of thorns Ps. 118:12
Fools building upon sand Mat. 7:26
Fuel of fire Isa. 9:19
Garden without water Isa. 1:30
Goats Mat. 25:32
Grass Ps. 37:2; 92:7;
Grass on the housetop 2Kings 19:26
Green bay-trees Ps. 37:35
Green herbs Ps. 37:2
Heath in the desert Jer. 17:6
Horses rushing into the battle Jer. 8:6
Idols Ps. 115:8
Lions greedy of prey Ps. 17:12
Melting wax Ps. 68:2
Morning-clouds Hos. 13:3
Moth-eaten garments Isa. 50:9; 51:8
Passing whirlwinds Pro. 10:25
Potsherds Pro. 26:23
Raging waves of the sea Jude 1:13
Reprobate silver Jer. 6:30
Scorpions Eze. 2:6
Serpents Ps. 58:4; Mat. 23:33
Smoke Hos. 13:3
Stony ground Mat. 13:5
Stubble Job 21:18; Mal. 4:1
Swine Mat. 7:6; 2Pet 2:22
Tares Mat. 13:38
Troubled sea Isa. 57:20
Visions of the night Job 20:8
Wandering stars Jude 1:13
Wayward children Mat. 11:16
Wells without water 2Pet. 2:17
Wheels Ps. 83:13
Whited sepulchres Mat. 23:27
Wild ass’s colt Job 11:12
Does that describe you, reader? Bottom line is clear in Scripture; either we are a new creation in Christ, or we are not. If we are, our lives will evidence good fruit, not wickedness as a way of life. Words mean things. If ‘wicked’ does describe you, repent and believe in the Gospel and be saved.
[*] Footnote by Barb Roberts: Joel Taylor’s post had a video at the bottom of the text but the video link no longer works. The non-working video may have something to do with this message which now appears on Matt Chandler’s Village Church website. Click on the image to enlarge it.
In the quiet of the sleepy morning, I find myself, as I often do, on the bottom of the stairs in my home, cuddling my two kids, who are triggering and on high alert. I often am too, in the mornings. The three of us are afraid a lot at that time of day.
My son whispers to me, “Mom, everyone seems upset today.” My daughter’s eyes keep darting around the room, focusing on her step-dad, who is sleepily making their lunches for school. I know what she was doing. Assessing the situation. Everyone stays quiet.
Is he mad? Is he going to yell or be ok today?
My new husband has had to see the three of us like this many mornings. He has lovingly learned to be really gentle and communicate with us, so that there can be fewer presumptions, fewer triggers for us. But they still happen. Just the mere fact that it is morning, aka danger time, is all it takes to trigger one or all of us.
My current husband is a good man, a kind man. So what was it that triggered us today? Silence. It was just the silence. It was silence that wouldn’t reveal if we were safe or not.
I’m no longer technically in the abuse. But thanks to the not-so-judicious judicial system that does not recognize covert aggression as abuse, my kids still have half their time with our abuser. So I guess really, I am still in it too. I am a little farther removed now from the direct assaults, but this is still a very, very raw reality for my kids and so it is still, for me too.
I think they figure that men are all like this. They are still taking awkward baby steps in learning to trust their step-dad and to understand that he is not the same as their bio-dad. Often, so am I.
They never know when their bio-dad will wake up happy or angry. Will they get hugs, a cold silence or yelled at today? That’s anybody’s guess from day to day. Those are the egg shells they walk on.
When you live under a situation like that, you learn ways to cope. Most of them are maladaptive, but they help you to survive, so you do them anyway. Sometimes you do things you are ashamed of, because surviving is more important in that moment, than doing what you know is right.
Hypervigilance means to be keenly watchful of danger. That is probably a victim’s main mode of survival. If you know what is coming, you can sometimes soften the blow, or even (rarely) manage to avoid it. My daughter assessing the room is a perfect example of this technique. The problem is, it doesn’t just turn off, like a faucet when you want the water to stop. Your system gets so used to this constant state of over-awareness, and you can’t stop, even when you are safe.
Lying or omission of truth because the truth will get you seriously hurt. I’ve done it, and my kids have done it and still do it. I am just now learning that it’s safe to tell the truth again. I won’t get beat up for it any more. There will be no more laundry lists of faults, created to rip me to shreds any time I risk admitting I have messed up, or even just telling the truth about what I have done with my day. I won’t be criticized, berated or belittled for spending five dollars over the grocery limit for the week any more. I don’t have to pretend to enjoy him dominating and using my body any more. That’s over. I am safe to be honest again. But I often feel afraid and still have to fight to do so. So do my kids.
My husband and I still often have to weigh what we tell the kid’s bio-dad. Will this information be used to hurt them? Will this information give him ammunition to throw at them the next time they make him mad? Sometimes, we still have to choose omission, just to keep them safe, and I don’t think that’s wrong in these circumstances.
Sometimes tactics designed to actually bring on the abuse are used in the tension building phase, to draw out the abuse and just get it over with. Picking fights is a good example that both my kids use and I have at times, as well. The tension building phase can be so hard to handle, because you know what is coming, and at times, it’s much easier to just get it over with, instead of waiting until the moment your abuser decides to strike. At least then you know when it will happen and how. It gives you the illusion of having a small piece of control in the situation. It speeds up the cycle.
Withdrawal is another common one in my house. We all do it. When I feel attacked, this is my most common go-to. I withdraw into myself, or sometimes outside of myself, via disassociation, because I think that I will be safe if I just hide away somewhere long enough to get through the perceived danger. It has become an automatic response for me, and one I have had and still have a very hard time letting go of. My son hides in books. My daughter disengages and ignores everyone around her.
It is a long and often confusing road to healing we travel. Three scared abuse survivors and a very loving and patient husband and step-dad. We are getting there, and maybe one day, even in the face of silence and unknown, my kids will be running down those stairs, chattering away the morning, free of fear. For now in our every day, there are cuddles and lots reassurances that no one is angry and no one will be hurt today.