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Practices that Risk Children Baked into Court Procedures

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Practices that Risk Children Baked into Court Procedures

By Barry Goldstein




10 Routine Practices that Endanger Children

Protective mothers are angry that custody courts so often place their children in danger.  Many believe that only corruption can explain the frequency of risky decisions.  At the same time no judge wants to hurt children, leading the judicial establishment to respond defensively to criticism.  Research confirms that the courts are not safe for children in cases involving domestic violence and child abuse.  58.000 children are sent for custody or unprotected visitation with dangerous abusers every year.  In a recent two-year period, researchers found news stories about 175 children murdered by abusive fathers involved in contested custody cases.  In many of these tragedies the courts gave the fathers the access they needed to kill the children.  The National Institute of Justice will soon release research designed to quantify the frequency of family courts making decisions that place children at risk.

I believe the discrepancy in the perceptions of protective mothers and the judiciary is caused because the courts continue to rely on practices developed in the 1970s at a time when no research about domestic violence was available.  Many of these outdated practices have a hidden and unintentional bias towards beliefs and outcomes that place children in jeopardy.  Below are twenty routine practices that make it harder for courts to recognize domestic violence and child abuse, minimize the harm of this abuse or both.

The widespread reliance on dangerous practices is illustrated by the delay in integrating important research that would make it easier to protect children.  The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Research comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and demonstrates the harm from domestic violence is far greater than previously realized.  Physical abuse is not necessary in order to create catastrophic consequences to children and approaches that ask victims to just get over it have no chance to work.  The Saunders’ Study from the National Institute of Justice looked at the knowledge and training of evaluators, judges and lawyers regarding domestic violence.  Although Saunders did not attempt to determine the frequency that courts rely on unqualified professionals, it is clear this problem is widespread and probably involves a large majority of the professionals the courts rely on.  While the courts have largely ignored this research which comes from the most credible sources, they have been strongly influenced and many would say poisoned by unscientific alienation theories that are not based on any research and have been condemned by every reputable professional organization that has considered it.  

Standard Practices that Minimize Abuse and Encourage Disbelief of True Reports

  1. Domestic Violence Dynamics:  Many aspects of domestic violence are counter-intuitive, and many children have died because courts were unfamiliar with the dynamics.  In Connecticut a judge denied a petition for a protective order because he thought the threat wasn’t continuous.  Once an abuser engages in physical abuse the victim knows what he is capable of and he often uses legal domestic violence tactics to maintain control so the danger is continuous.  The father used the access to throw the baby off a bridge to his death.  In Maryland the judge denied a protective order after learning the parents had sexual relations immediately before court.  The judge thought that meant the father could not be so dangerous but never considered it might have been unsafe for the mother to refuse.  The father used the access to kill the three children.  Of course most mistakes from not understanding the dynamics do not have as dramatic and immediate results but they expose children to repeated abuse that often ruins lives.  Many abusers bring in friends and relatives to say how safe and peaceful he is.  The problem is most abusers act very differently in the privacy of their homes than in public.  Many professionals take an alleged abuser’s ability to behave appropriately during supervision as proof they are safe.  The problem is not that they cannot control their behavior, but they act differently when no one is watching.

    2. Focus on Physical Abuse:  When courts first started responding to domestic violence they limited their concerns to physical abuse.  The ACE Research confirms what domestic violence advocates have said for years that other forms of domestic violence are often much more harmful.  The essence of domestic violence is tactics designed to scare and intimidate the intimate partner.  This naturally causes fear in the (usually) mother and the children which leads to the worst kind of stress.  Living with this stress leads to a lifetime of harm including cancer, heart disease, mental illness, suicide, crime, substance abuse and many other health and social problems.  For many years the CDC used research that found the United States spends $5-8 billion on health costs for domestic violence every year.  This figure only considered the cost of treating her immediate physical wounds.  Based on the ACE Research, the actual annual cost is $750 billion.  In other words, focusing only on physical abuse responds to one percent of the harm although obviously physical abuse also causes fear and stress.

    3. Relying on Mental Health Professionals:  Courts started relying on psychologists and other mental health professionals at a time when there was virtually no research and the assumption was the domestic violence was caused by mental illness and substance abuse.  Subsequent research proves those assumptions are wrong.  These professionals are experts in mental health and psychology and can make important contributions when these issues are critical to the case.  They rarely have the level of expertise about domestic violence that is needed.  This causes them to disbelieve true reports of abuse, focus on less important issues and too often punish mothers who report abuse.  The evaluations seek to determine how the children are doing.  One of the problems is that children use a variety of defense mechanisms to survive and often do not act out in the obvious ways court professionals are expecting.  This leads to denial of true reports.

    4. Need for Multi-Disciplinary Approach:  The Saunders’ Study supports the need for a more multi-disciplinary approach.  They found that domestic violence advocates have more of the specific information courts need to respond to domestic violence cases than the court professionals presently relied upon.  The present approach is the equivalent of using a general practitioner for someone suffering from cancer or heart disease.  Saunders found that court professionals without the specific knowledge they need tend to focus on the myth that mothers frequently make false reports.  Expertise in domestic violence and child sexual abuse would help courts to respond to this life-altering abuse.  The ignorance is not neutral—it helps abusers, hurts victims and is often devastating to the children.  Custody court response to child sexual abuse is so problematic that many attorneys routinely discourage or refuse to present reports of sexual abuse out of fear the mother will be punished for even raising the issue.

    5. High Conflict Approaches:  Many court professionals have been taught to treat contested custody as high conflict cases.  This is interpreted to mean that the parents are angry at each other and act out in ways that hurt the children.  Most custody cases are settled more or less amicably including some involving domestic violence.  The problem is the 3.8% of cases that require a trial and often much more.  Research demonstrates a large majority of these cases are really domestic violence cases involving the worst abusers.  This is frequently not recognized because they usually don’t involve the most severe physical abuse.  These are the worst abusers because they believe their partner has no right to leave and so feel entitled to use any tactic necessary to regain control.  This often includes efforts initially or later to take children away from safe mothers who are usually the primary attachment figures.  High conflict approaches are often self-fulfilling in that professionals find what they are expecting.  The courts often pressure victims to cooperate with their abusers and severely punish them if they try to protect their children.  Better practice would be to pressure the abusers to stop their abuse if they want a relationship with their children.  The courts often fail to recognize litigation and economic abuse as a continuation of the history of domestic violence.

    6. Considering Only Recent Abuse:  The reason custody courts need to consider domestic violence is that children are profoundly harmed from exposure to these tactics.  Some courts refuse to consider incidents of abuse that they consider too old to be relevant.  This makes cases easier for courts and abusers but not for children.  Abusers use these tactics to coerce and control their partners.  A variety of coercive tactics are often used to remind victims of one or a few earlier physical incidents.  The ACE Research demonstrates that the fear and stress from the abusive tactics leads to a lifetime of health and other risks.  Domestic violence is not caused by the actions of the victim.  An older incident tells the family and should tell the court what the abuser is capable of.  The passage of time does not change the beliefs that led to physical or other abuse nor make the children feel safer.  Older incidents are relevant to the risk and harm children in the family face and the passage of an arbitrary period of time after incidents of physical abuse is irrelevant to the danger posed by the abuser.

    7. Harmful Outcome Cases:  The Saunders’ Study includes a section on what they call harmful outcome cases.  These are extreme decisions in which an alleged abuser wins custody and a safe, protective mother, who is the primary attachment figure for the child is limited to supervised or no visitation.  These decisions are always wrong because the harm of denying children a normal relationship with their primary parent is greater than whatever benefit the court thought it was providing.  In most cases the court used flawed practices that led to disbelieving true abuse reports, but even if the father is safe, the attempt to punish the mother is really punishing the child.  These are cases in which the court failed to weigh the usually speculative benefit with the certain risk it is creating.  The Saunders’ Study was released in 2012 and still harmful outcome cases continue to be common and many courts refuse to correct the error even after the research is cited.  

    8. Reliance on Cottage Industry of Biased Professionals:  As mentioned earlier, contested custody is overwhelmingly domestic violence cases.  Since control is a key part of domestic violence, abusive fathers seeking custody usually control most of the family financial resources.  This means that the best way for lawyers and evaluators to make large incomes is to support approaches that favor abusers.  These professionals tend to be biased and ignorant of current research about domestic violence.  In many cases they are appointed to neutral positions like GAL or evaluator which offers victims almost no chance to protect their children.  Compounding the problem is that the misinformation provided by the cottage industry is often relied on in other cases thus spreading the poison into the system.  

    9. Manipulation by Abusers:  Abusers tend to be very good at manipulation of court professionals and their victims.  When victims act angry or emotional because of the continued abuse, their behavior is viewed as highly negative.  Abusers will often act calm and cooperative or even cry as if they are hurting and they are believed.  Their ability to control their behavior is treated as if it discredits reports of domestic violence.  Court professionals rarely consider the motives of an alleged abuser and instead just assume they are acting out of love for the child.  Inadequately trained professionals often accept unlikely scenarios presented by abusers while using substantial skepticism against the victims.

    10. Responding to Overcrowded Calendars:  Context is critical to understanding domestic violence.  At the same time courts often have limited time for each case and know most cases settle so the judge will not need to know the full story.  Accordingly, the court seeks to limit the parties’ discussion to just the limited facts needed for whatever decision is in front of the court.  This makes a lot of sense with most types of cases, but works poorly in domestic violence cases.  In many cases the abuser is using litigation and economic abuse to bankrupt the victim and pressure her to return.  The judge needs to understand the pattern of abuse and motives in order to respond effectively but approaches that limit what each side can say actually benefit the abuser who has a simpler story to convey.

End Court Ordered Child Abuse

Pass the Safe Child Act
Barry Goldstein

Barry Goldstein

Research Director

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.
Barry has written some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody.
Barry has an ACE score of 0.


Comments Off on 9/11


By Laura Fogarty



As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many of us wonder how to make the world our children live in a better place. For me,  Mahatma Ghandi’s words convey this message best, “If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.”

How can we remember 9/11 while making a positive impact on our children? We can start by thanking the “helpers.” We talk a lot about looking for the helpers within a tragedy and that is a wonderful thing to teach our children, but as we remember 9/11 and the victims and heroes of that horrific day, maybe it would be a good idea to thank the helpers we encounter every day.

What if this year, on the anniversary of 9/11 we took some time to teach our littles to thank those that help our communities all year long? How about thanking a firefighter? What if we baked some cookies and dropped them off at our local fire station? What if we thanked an ambulance driver for the gift of their service to our community? What if we made a poster of thanks and took it to our local police station? What if we gave a verbal thank you to each and every community worker we saw throughout the day and showed our littles how to do the same?

We might just make the world a little more peaceful and a little bit safer. And what could be better way to remember the fallen than that?


Help Us End Childhood Trauma

Help Us Make A Safer World for Kids
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.

Bullying Stops When We Stop It

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Bullying Stops When WE Stop It

By Lala Fogarty



As parents, we worry about our children being bullied, and with good reason. Nearly 160,000 kids miss school each and every day for fear of bullying. Every seven minutes a child is bullied on the playground. These statistics are worrisome to say the least, but do we ever stop to think about our own children being “the bully?” It is a hard reality to face, but children who bully others belong to someone. Could you be unintentionally raising a bully?

The first step in helping to stem the tide of bullying is not acting like bullies ourselves. If children learn what they live, maybe it is time we take a look at our own personal responsibility for the bullying epidemic.

*Let’s stop bullying our own children by threatening, manipulating, hitting, ridiculing, or belittling them.

*As parents, we can respond rather than react, not just to our children, but also to other people throughout the day. We can respond with reason and compassion when dealing with a driver who has cut us off, a coworker’s unreasonable behavior, a spouse’s bad mood, or a neighbor’s invasive actions.

*Cutting out violence for the sake of entertainment makes violent acts a foreign concept to our children. Violent movies, video games and sports desensitize our children to other acts of violence. When violence is the “norm” and “fun” where do we have to go from there?

*Foster a sense of community with those beyond your inner-most circle. Explore different cultures, languages, lifestyles, music, traditions, and beliefs and treat people equally regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, race, or age.

Leading by example, we can make a better path for the next generation and with that, every generation to come!


Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.

Why Was the Child Victims Act Abandoned? A Voice for the Voiceless Fights Back

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Why Was the Child Victims Act Abandoned? A Voice for the Voiceless Fights Back

By Nancy Levine


First Published in Feminine.Collective, who we want to thank for graciously letting us re-publish so quickly

“She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.” I read the quote twice.

It chafed at me like a scratchy thread sticking out on a sweater. You pull the strand, keep yanking, and pretty soon, the whole garment starts to unravel.

I was sitting at my kitchen table on Christmas morning last year, with coffee and laptop, as I do every morning. This headline from The New York Times popped up in my Facebook news feed:

“A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed by a Troubled Past,” with a photo of former rabbi turned spiritual guru, accused sexual predator Marc Gafni. “14 going on 35” was how Gafni described one of his accusers.

And this grabbed me:

“A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni ‘a bold visionary.’ He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch.”

I have spent the better part of 30 years as an executive recruiter. I started out after college at American Express corporate headquarters in lower Manhattan. I was ghostwriting announcements for executives about company shakeups and reorgs. So I’ve been around CEOs for a long time.

I pretty much retired from recruiting after my own shakeup and re-org three years ago. My mother died suddenly, and I found out that my boyfriend, a renowned oncologist at a big university hospital, was cheating, seeing two other women. So when I read about Gafni, a brilliant, charismatic and seductive sexual predator, he sounded familiar. But when I read that the CEO of a $10 billion public company was supporting him, my eyeballs popped out of my head.

I figured Mackey would do what any CEO would do, when The New York Times reports you’re buddied up with a guy who admits to having sex with a 14-year old, you run the other way. Fast. So everyone sees just the trail of smoke behind you. I imagined the Whole Foods HR and PR people scurrying about like hamsters in a snake cage, writing a statement for Mackey: I didn’t really know him, only met him twice, don’t have anything to do with him. And so on. But that’s not what happened.

Mackey doubled down on Gafni. Whole Foods buried its corporate head in the sand. And I didn’t take the road most traveled either.

After I read The Times story, I emailed Whole Foods’ PR guy and chairman of the board, John Elstrott. I wrote:

“I trust that Whole Foods Market leadership and board of directors would agree that supporting a sexual predator is not aligned with nor representative of Whole Foods Market’s core values and integrity.”

The PR guy responded, “John Mackey’s involvement with Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom is his personal business and does not represent an endorsement or support for either Mr. Gafni or the Center for Integral Wisdom by Whole Foods Market.”

I noticed what he didn’t say, something to this effect:

“Whole Foods disdains and disavows anyone who admits to having sex with a 14-year old girl.”

I was able to reach Whole Foods board member Gabrielle Greene Sulzberger on the phone (she’s married to New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.; more on the Sulzbergers in a moment). A powerful woman would be horrified by this story and take swift action, wouldn’t she? Mrs. Sulzberger thanked me for bringing the story to her attention. She said she was vacationing with her family in South Africa, and my call had interrupted their dinner. She gave me permission to email The Times story to her.

The Times’ expose about Gafni busted open a dam, giving way to a flood of stories, people sharing their nightmares. Sara Kabakov identified herself as the then-14-year old described by Gafni in the Times story as “going on 35.” She came forward publicly for the first time in an opinion piece in the Forward: “I Was 13 When Marc Gafni’s Abuse Began.”

New York Rabbi David Ingber, named one of the top 50 rabbis in the country by Newsweek, launched an online petition, signed by more than 100 rabbis and Jewish leaders. The petition was aimed at Whole Foods and the Esalen Institute, a new age teaching center, famous for its clothing-optional hot tubs, where Gafni was scheduled to teach. Comments on the petition told story upon story from women who had been duped by the charismatic rabbi, turned spiritual guru.

I started investigating and writing about Mackey’s and Whole Foods’ relationship with Gafni. For Wear Your Voice Magazine, an intersectional feminist media site, I wrote: “As Spotlight Wins Oscar, Silence Surrounds Ex-Rabbi Marc Gafni’s Alleged Misdeeds.”

I kept bothering Whole Foods executives, Mackey, and his colleagues at Conscious Capitalism, Inc., the nonprofit he co-founded. I helped organize and publicize coordinated protests at Whole Foods in New York and at the grand opening of their 365 store in LA, as reported by The Washington Post. I recruited leaders from nonprofits SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, as seen in the Spotlight movie), NAASCA (National Association of Adult Survivors of Abuse), and Peaceful Hearts Foundation — an advocacy nonprofit founded by Matthew Sandusky, adopted and abused son of reviled pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

A few friends asked me, “Why do you care so much about a guy who’s accused of having sex with a 13-year old girl?”

Because I was once a 13-year old girl fending off a relative making sexual advances. I didn’t have help, and I couldn’t speak up. So I’m making up for lost time. One-in-four girls have been that girl. I’m speaking up for 43 million survivors who didn’t have a voice and those who still don’t. There’s no shortage of material and stories about the devastating effects of child sexual abuse. PTSD, depression, suicide, addiction, etc. Did you see the Spotlight movie? Suffice it to say, getting sexually abused as a child fucks you up. That’s why.

Mackey eventually succumbed to pressure and released a statement. He declared his loyalty to Gafni, which hinged on a presumption of innocence. Gafni has admitted to having sexual relations with a 14-year old, published in The New York Times, the paper of record. But Mackey presumes Gafni’s innocence. Gafni was most recently reported teaching a tantric sex training in New York. So why is this guy still on the loose?

Enter the Child Victims Act of New York state. To say it’s a lingering piece of proposed legislation would be like calling the Hindenburg a blimp. The bill is surrounded by a fiery, raging battle. First introduced in 2009, the proposed legislation would extend the statute of limitations for claims of child abuse. So if the bill is enacted, Gafni, and every guy who ever said, “She was 14 going on 35,” or thought the same while he was sexually abusing a girl, may be fair game for legal action.

The New York Daily News reported extensively on the Child Victims Act. Hundreds of survivors and supporters flooded the Brooklyn Bridge in June, marching in support of the bill. Activist Phil Saviano, real-life hero portrayed in the Spotlight movie, joined the marchers. The Daily News reported that the Catholic Church paid lobby groups more than $2 million to try to block the legislation.

Author Jason Berry said, “If the NY law changes, it will expose the church to the potential of heavy civil losses and another media firestorm. That is why they are fighting hard and spending large in efforts to kill the bill.” Berry has authored several books on this topic, including Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, published by Penguin Random House, winner of an Investigative Reporters and Editors Best Book Award.

On the day before I hit the road to LA for the protest at 365 by Whole Foods in May, I noticed that The New York Times hadn’t covered any recent news about the Child Victims Act. Governor Andrew Cuomo had announced his support, called for by The Times’ Editorial Board in a 2014 opinion piece. So why wasn’t The Times reporting news about the governor’s announcement, or the Catholic Church’s payout to lobby groups?

I emailed The Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet and politely asked him why the newspaper wasn’t covering news about the Child Victims Act.

I had noticed the connection between The Times and Whole Foods. The wife of The Times’ publisher and chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., Gabrielle Greene Sulzberger, sits on the Whole Foods board of directors. I’ve recruited board members. Typically, they work 5–15 days a year and pull down a hefty salary. Mrs. Sulzberger’s Whole Foods 2014 cash comp was around $422,000. A 2015 SEC report showed she owned 64,666 shares of Whole Foods stock, worth about $2 million. Not a shabby payday.

It occurred to me that if the Child Victims Act is passed, and Gafni becomes a target of civil or criminal claims, things might not be so pleasant for Whole Foods, their CEO, their stock, and their board of directors — of which Mrs. Sulzberger is a member.

I debated whether to mention the connection in my email to Baquet. But since I had noticed it, I felt like I had to point out the relationship. In the email, I said presumably there’s no connection between the Sulzberger family financial interests in Whole Foods and The Times’ non-coverage of the Child Victims Act. I told him I was just curious about The Times’ decision not to cover related news.

Baquet responded: “Only someone quite paranoid would see such a connection.”

I felt stung, ashamed. I assumed he was right: I must be paranoid. Most survivors can be paranoid, and I’m no exception. And anyone who has suffered any kind of abuse is a ripe target for gaslighting. People in power can make us feel like we’re crazy. As an antidote, I’ve learned to seek reality checks.

I asked two A-list journalism professors, Sandra Davidson from the University of Missouri, and David S. Allen from the University of Wisconsin about the appearance of a conflict of interest at The Times. Independent of each other, the professors both called for The Times to be transparent, reveal corporate connections. I shared their opinions with Baquet. He responded, “I can’t edit the Times for you personally.” Ouch. Again ouch.

But I wasn’t asking Baquet to edit The Times for me personally. I was asking him why The Times wasn’t covering news that affects one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys who are victims of child sexual abuse, and 43 million survivors in the U.S. And even if Baquet was right — anyone who sees a connection and wonders about a conflict of interest is “quite paranoid” — he still didn’t answer the question about coverage.

The Child Victims Act was abandoned by New York state lawmakers. I can’t help but wonder if the bill might have passed, and survivors of child sexual abuse would have a better shot at justice had The Times covered news about the bill. So why didn’t they? I think there are only two possible reasons: Either the newspaper has some conflict of interest (presumably not), or the editors at The Times did not consider news about the Child Victims Act newsworthy. But who could address such a question? Fortunately, the Times has a public editor, an editorial ombudsperson who addresses such questions.

I wrote an open letter to The Times’ public editor Liz Spayd, signed by Matthew Sandusky, Saviano, and 39 other survivors and advocacy leaders, including CEOs and executive directors of national nonprofit organizations. I figured Spayd, a powerful woman, would be sympathetic to survivors of sexual abuse and address their concerns, wouldn’t she?

Spayd’s assistant replied to the open letter, saying she was aware of the situation and “monitoring,” but that the office of the public editor doesn’t address coverage decisions. The following day, Spayd (who reports to Sulzberger) called out The Times in her public editor’s blog for their shoddy coverage: “On Gulf Coast Flooding, the Times is Late to the Scene.” So it seems the public editor does sometimes address coverage decisions. But on the Child Victims Act, the Times was absent on the scene. So was the public editor.

Spayd was, until recently, publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review. Under her editorial direction, the CJR published a piece by Steve Buttry, Director of Student Media at LSU: “The voiceless have a voice. A journalist’s job is to amplify it.” So where were The Times’ journalists when asked by the community of survivors to amplify their voice?

Author and advocate, former model Nikki DuBose wrote a scathing piece in the Huffington Post about the legislative battle over the Child Victims Act, and the Times’ non-coverage: “Denial, More Than Anything Is Hindering Progress For Victims of Child Sexual Abuse.” Professor Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Cardozo School of Law, tweeted: “Denial, ignorance, and powerful men protecting each other,” with a link to DuBose’s piece.

Some powerful women protect powerful men. I learned in a California state domestic violence training program that, historically, for thousands of years, women have allied with their male abusers in order to ensure their own safety. It’s a survival strategy. So maybe Mrs. Sulzberger and Spayd are the legacy bearers of an ancient cultural lineage. I don’t blame them for trying to ensure their own safety.

But let’s be level-headed and rule out any questions about overlaps and connections. Let’s assume the best and most noble journalistic intentions of The Times, its publisher, executive editor, and major shareholders. Here are the connections we can rule out:

1.The Sulzberger family financial interests in Whole Foods. Did Gabrielle mention The Times’ story about Gafni and Mackey to Arthur after she hung up the phone with me, and returned to their dinner table?

2.Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is The Times’ largest individual owner. He doubled his investment in the newspaper in 2015 and now owns about a $260 million stake. In February, Jason Berry reported in the National Catholic Reporter about the Legionaries of Christ, “a religious order founded by the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a notorious pedophile dismissed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 to ‘a life of prayer and penitence.’” And: “The Legion operates a network of elite private schools and a major university in Mexico, with another university and house of studies in Rome. Among their many super-wealthy backers in Mexico is Carlos Slim.”

I’m not saying there’s any connection to the Child Victims Act in New York. (FYI, here’s the Legionaries’ New York headquarters, in Westchester County, near where I grew up.)

3.Carlos Slim is also connected to Bill Clinton, as reported by The Washington Post. The Daily Beast ran an expose in May on billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his connection to Bill Clinton (and to Donald Trump, among others), reporting, “evidence that shows Bill was one of the most famous and frequent passengers on Epstein’s “Lolita Express.” (Note: I’m a big Hillary fan; this story is not about her. I’m voting for her, and so should you!)

I’m not saying any of these connections are related in any way whatsoever to the Times’ absence of coverage of the Child Victims Act. But if the legislation is enacted, a bunch of powerful people might be sleeping fitfully.

Mark Thompson is president and CEO of The NY Times Company . He was previously director-general of the BBC. Thompson has been in the spotlight recently. The Jimmy Savile pedophilia scandal in the UK took place while Thompson headed BBC and Savile was a celebrity performer. A national inquiry into child sexual abuse is currently taking place in the UK, spurred in part by the Savile story.

There’s no connection between the Thompson-BBC-Savile story and the Child Victims Act, but there is an interesting journalism point to be made: Former Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote in her blog in 2012, when Thompson was about to assume his role: “Times Must Aggressively Cover Mark Thompson’s Role in BBC’s Troubles.” Sullivan wrote, “One of the most difficult challenges for news organizations is reporting on what goes on inside their own corporate walls.” Apparently, the challenge persists.

Now that we’ve ruled out any questions about potential conflicts of interest, overlaps, connections, agendas, alliances and allegiances, let’s assume The Times is lily white, the pinnacle of journalistic objectivity and neutrality.

Rhonda Hammer, Ph.D., lecturer at UCLA and winner of the UCLA Women’s Studies Programs Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2007, emailed, “I doubt that there are any experts who would deem the press or news reporting to be objective and/or neutral.”

Hammer reflected on “why the Times has been ‘ignoring,’ this (which is especially questionable given how ‘newsworthy’ this matter and related issues, like the protests, would appear to be).” She added, “It appeared to me that Dean Baquet’s response seemed especially condescending and his comments about what constitutes excellence in journalism (and what he deems as your prejudice) is problematic, especially within the context of the realities of the importance of this issue.”

In talking to journalism professors, “gatekeeping” — what information is important and becomes news — is a gray area and depends on what is considered important, and by whom.

Andrea Press, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Media Studies & Sociology at the University of Virginia said, “It’s a matter of framing. You have to work to help [The Times] recognize the issue as important. It’s possible they just don’t see it as a problem.”

Professor Allen said: “News is a social construction — it is not a natural event. It is nothing more and nothing less than what someone or some group thinks is important at a given time.”

Is news about the Child Victims Act important? I asked attorney Mitchell Garabedian, played by Stanley Tucci in the Spotlight movie.

In a phone call, Garabedian said, “The laws [in New York] are woefully inadequate. They are revictimizing the victim. In order to prevent child sexual abuse, there needs to be a change. There is no reason why due process concerns would be any different from what they are for murder.”

When I asked him why he thought The Times didn’t mention the Child Victims Act or statute of limitations in a recent story about his client Michael Meenan, whose 1984 sex abuse claim was validated by Fordham Prep school, Garabedian said, “I guess they chose not to mention that. I don’t know why.”

The Times published a letter to the editor from New York state Senator Brad Hoylman (who is a co-sponsor of the Child Victims Act and was among the marchers on the Brooklyn Bridge in June): “Justice for Victims of Sexual Abuse” following up on the story about Meenan and Fordham Prep. Underscoring the importance of the proposed legislation.

So where does all this leave us?

Let’s look to next year’s legislative session in New York, when lawmakers will again consider the Child Victims Act. Activist Gary Greenberg has founded Protect NY Kids, seeding the PAC he launched with $100,000 of his retirement funds to support candidates who are running for office and back the Child Victims Act.

Hopefully, next year, The Times will consider news about the Child Victims Act of New York important enough to cover. Professor Press said The Times may have missed coverage of the bill because the U.S. presidential election is taking up so much editorial bandwidth. We’ll be able to rule out that explanation next year.

Survivors need to be seen and heard. We’ve spent generations being silenced, shunted into dark corners, and made invisible. Lives ruined. Ethics professor Michael A. Santoro, co-founder of the Business and Human Rights Journal, said:

“It is difficult for victims of sexual abuse to say ‘I want to be heard.’ So when this heretofore silenced community courageously steps out of the shadows and asks to be heard, we (and that includes The Times) have a special obligation to listen and to not dismiss their pleas.”

Let’s all keep pulling on the threads of this story and watch it unravel.


Nancy Levine headshot


Nancy Levine is the author of the four-book series beginning with The Tao of Pug (Penguin) has just been released. She spent 30 years in corporate recruiting and human resources roles, starting at American Express Company. More recently, Nancy has devoted herself to advocacy efforts, working to eradicate child sexual abuse and amplifying the voices of survivors. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Good People Make Offensive Statements

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Good People Make Offensive Statements

By Barry Goldstein



What Can Be Learned from Trump’s Apology?
Donald Trump surprised many people when he offered an apology for some of his offensive statements.
“Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues. But one thing I can promise you, is this: I will always tell you the truth.”
I can provide useful insight to Trump’s many offensive statements and his apology because unlike most people writing on this topic, I have received weekly training on these issues for the past 17 years. I have served as an instructor and later also supervisor in a NY Model Batterer Program. We work hard to avoid comments that would be offensive to people who are members of disadvantaged groups and to make amends when we fail to reach our high standards. Donald Trump is a wealthy, white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied man. This would help explain why he has such a high sense of entitlement and the difficulty he has avoiding offensive behavior.
Being Accountable
In a society that still has substantial vestiges of racism, sexism and other oppressions, everyone is exposed to false and harmful messages that harm people who are members of disadvantaged groups. As part of the instructor training I have participated in over the last 17 years it has been interesting to watch new instructors, particularly whites and men. Almost inevitably, we will say or do something that is racist or sexist. A staff member or more experienced instructor, often from the group that was offended will stop the instructor making the offensive remark and explain why it is offensive. Every new instructor I have seen has responded by saying they were misunderstood and that was not their intention. They will be stopped and asked to listen and to understand it is almost certain that the person intervening is right.  When this happens we need to try to understand why what we said was offensive instead of trying to respond.
One of the difficulties in understanding oppressions like racism and sexism is that society expects the offense to be the kind of blatant slur we might hear from the KKK or a domestic violence abuser. Accordingly the suggestion that someone acted racist or sexist is viewed as very hurtful and the response tends to be defensive. In reality, these offenses tend to be far more subtle and usually unintentional. Good people regularly make racist and sexist comments. We view the correction of these comments as a gift to the person who made the offensive statement. It is difficult to tell someone that their statement was racist or sexist because in our society this often leads to a defensive and attacking response.  Our staff and instructors are taking a risk to provide their colleague with information that would otherwise be hard to obtain.
It is a lot easier to respond when you understand you have received a valuable gift. The offender does not need to apologize, which is a common response, but does need to respond in a manner that makes it safe for someone to provide similar gifts in the future. We want to avoid common political responses such as mistakes were made or I’m sorry you were offended.  Instead we want to acknowledge that we did something hurtful and express our intent to avoid the mistake in the future. I would acknowledge that I am racist and sexist, but I am not proud of that. I try to work hard to think about what I am saying in order to avoid offensive comments.
When I read news articles or columns that discuss racist or sexist behavior, I often see comments from people seeking to deny the offense (usually from someone they are supporting) by saying they don’t see how the statement can be considered racist or sexist.  They are literally telling the truth, but they would benefit if they tried to understand why the remark is widely viewed as offensive.
One of the problems is failing to understand the context of a discussion. If we are limited to a literal interpretation, almost everyone could agree that black lives matter, women’s lives matter and all lives matter. In the batterer classes we have sometimes discussed that if society created a similar response to attacks and murders of women as they do for police officers, domestic violence would be substantially reduced. Similarly, I believe black people would be delighted or perhaps relieved if society treated black lives as having as much value as the lives of police officers.  Those who angrily complain about the concept that black lives matter and respond with slogans that all lives matter or blue lives matter fail to consider the context that in our society the lives of police officers and the lives of white people are routinely treated as more valuable than the lives of black people. Good people can ignore the context, but in doing so, their response is racist even though that is probably not their intent. Ironically the most dangerous criminals for police officers are domestic violence offenders. If the police took domestic violence more seriously, they would save the lives of police officers. Similarly, we have seen in Dallas and elsewhere that the preventable killings of black men by police officers make police officers less safe. The valuable lesson is that making it a priority to protect women’s lives and black lives will make everyone safer.
What Can Be Learned from Trump’s Apology?
The apology Donald Trump made came as a complete surprise and is a good response if it is sincere and based on an intent to change his behavior. One problem is that the original offensive comments were deliberate, repeated often, justified and part of a large pattern of racist, sexist and other offensive behavior that has continued throughout the campaign and throughout his life. I can imagine that some of his offensive comments such as “Look at my African-American over here,” were not intended to be offensive. Other remarks such as his many slurs against women were clearly designed to hurt the people he was attacking. Significantly, many of his offensive comments drew widespread criticism, expressions of the enormous pain they caused and hurt his political standing and yet Trump made no effort to acknowledge the harm he caused over many months and years.
Accordingly, if Trump’s apology is sincere, it has to be based on a recent conversion. I believe I have improved my response to my sexism and racism since I became an instructor in the batterer program so am open to the possibility that Donald Trump could change his behavior. How can the public know if this is a sincere change or just an attempt to manipulate voters?
He could have been far more specific about what offensive behavior he is now recognizing as wrong and offensive. I don’t want him to repeat his slurs, but he can speak about the people he offended and what he can do to reduce the damage he caused. He can change his message from one of division to one of unity. He can avoid personal attacks. He can stop his appeal to white supremacist elements in our society. He can recognize, as I said in a recent article that political correctness is really moral correctness.
We have learned that racism, sexism and other oppressions have all too much power over our lives. We have to be constantly aware of our own behavior and the need to avoid offensive statements. There is a long way to go between now and election day and Donald Trump will make it clear to the public whether or not his apology was sincere.  This would not require that he never make another offensive remark, but that his reaction would be very different and that he would be working to stop his offenses. This is difficult work for someone who has lived a life of such enormous privilege, but surely something that can be accomplished if someone has a great brain and a great heart.

End Family Court Ordered violence

Make Courts Prioritize Kids, not Abusers
Barry Goldstein

Barry Goldstein

Research Director

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.
Barry has written some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody.
Barry has an ACE score of 0.

Stopping Child Sexual Abuse

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Stopping Child Sexual Abuse

By Lala Fogarty



We talk a lot about preventing child sexual abuse. We talk about the adverse consequences that happen when children are sexually abused. But do we talk enough about how to stop it? Probably not. So, how do we stop child sexual abuse? First, we can learn the facts. The more we know about child sexual abuse, and the more we talk about it, the less enshrouded in darkness it is. Perpetrators count on our silence. They count on our children’s innocence, and shame. Bringing sexual abuse out of the shadows and into the light shatters the silence that perpetrators count on.


We have to learn what child sexual abuse is before we can stop it.


We hear the words “child sexual abuse” and our minds often jump to images of child prostitution or child pornography. Child sexual abuse occurs if an adult engages in any sexual behavior (looking, showing, or touching) with a child to meet the adult’s interest or sexual needs. The most common childhood sexual abuse cases that involve touching include genital fondling in which the adult manually or orally fondles the child’s genitals or has the child fondle the adult’s genitals. Child sexual abuse includes any act sexual in nature from voyeurism to exhibitionism to fondling to sexual intercourse.


We don’t like to talk about child sexual abuse. It’s “icky” and it makes us uncomfortable. That’s exactly what predators are counting on – the more we shy away from the topic, the stronger their collective hold on the innocence of our children. It is a horrible topic. Not one pleasant thing can be said about this insidious issue, but by not talking about, we perpetuate the fear, the shame, the guilt, and the abuse of our children.


What else can we do? Minimize opportunity. Make sure every encounter with every child is observable and interrupt-able. Easy enough, right? How about using proper terminology for a penis and vagina as well as breasts, and stop using “cute” nicknames for body parts?  Having the correct words to identify body parts gives your children the language to own their bodies. Your children undoubtedly know the correct terminology for their arms, their knees, their ears and eyes and everything else but not their private parts. This shows them that our private parts are something to be ashamed about. Is this the lesson we are trying to teach? If so, it does not bode well for safety now or for healthy relationships with their own bodies or sexuality later in life.

Ignoring child sexual abuse won’t make it go away. We’ve tried that approach for centuries. That’s the old way, and it doesn’t work. Today, we know the more we talk about it, the less power we give it, and that makes a brighter future not only for our children, but for all of us.


Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.

Parental Alienation Syndrome for Good Judges

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Parental Alienation Syndrome for Good Judges

By Barry Goldstein



Dr. Dianne Bartlow interviewed judges for a chapter about the court response to the pattern of child murders related to custody cases. The judges who participated tended to be the best judges with the most training in domestic violence which is why they agreed to take the time for the interviews.  Lawyers and students can learn a lot by reading the judges’ discussion of domestic violence issues.  Some of the judges said they didn’t think any of their colleagues would use Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) because it has been so discredited.  

I wish that was true, but we continue to see many cases in which children’s lives are destroyed because the judges failed to discredit PAS.  More commonly they use PAS by another name like alienation or parental alienation.  When it is used to limit protective mothers to supervised or no visitation and when it is used to assume that problems in a relationship between an allegedly abusive father and the children must be caused by alienation, the courts are using PAS.  They do this despite the lack of any scientific basis, rejection from the DSM-V which would include all valid diagnoses and disapproval from every legitimate professional association.  Judges who use PAS by any name are not among the good judges and should not be hearing custody cases.

Response From Good Judges

PAS and alienation are such incendiary topics that there is a tendency to roll out many of the strong arguments and research that confirm it should never be used.  I have heard good judges (and many others) point out that of course parents, even in good relationships say bad things about their partners in front of the children.  Alienation has become such a charged topic that it might be helpful for a reasoned and unemotional discussion about how good judges should evaluate alienation separate from any claims of PAS.  Here are some considerations good judges should keep in mind.

Abuse Reports Not Alienation:  Some of the judges interviewed by Dr. Bartlow made the important point that courts should not treat reports of abuse as if this was alienation.  Children need to know that abusive behaviors are not acceptable.  One of the reasons boys who witness domestic violence are at greater risk for abusing future partners and girls for being abused by future partners is because the lack of consequences create a dangerous message that this behavior is acceptable.  Discussing abuse with children encourages them to speak openly about their feelings and concerns.  

I have heard some evaluators make claims about “unconscious alienation” where mothers act in ways that show she is afraid of the father even if not intending to do so.  Even worse some courts have accepted this nonsense.  If a mother is showing her fear it is because her abuser is doing something that scares her.  This is critically important to the children because this fear leads to stress in mothers and children that undermines their health and safety.

A finding by a court or other agency or officials that disbelieves reports of abuse does not mean the reports are untrue, much less a deliberate fabrication.  Sufficient evidence might not be available or might not be presented.  The complaining party may not have been able to overcome their burden of proof.  The Saunders’ study found that many court and other professionals do not have the specific training they need to recognize domestic violence.  Superior financial resources may have given the abuser an unfair advantage.  This is why there are many cases where courts initially denied abuse claims but subsequent events confirmed the original reports.  All this means that good judges should require separate and convincing evidence of deliberate false reports before assuming there is an alienation issue.  This is especially true in sexual abuse cases which are especially difficult to prove and face tremendous skepticism.  

What is the Harm?  The purpose in asking this question is not to deny there is harm but to articulate what the actual harm is.  Alienation does not rise to a health or safety risk unless it results in ending the relationship between parent and child.  When a parent makes false statements about the other parent, the most likely result is that it will harm the relationship with the parent making that false claim.  Any damage to a relationship based on negative statements in the context of a custody dispute is likely to be temporary.  Such statements are much less likely to create problems if the parent about whom the statements are made has a close and loving relationship with the child.  It is much harder to convince a child a parent is a bad person when the child has experienced something very different.

Alienation claims are often based on generalizations and speculation so it is important for judges to look for specific facts.  What is the alienating parent alleged to have said or done to undermine the relationship and what is the specific proof this actually occurred?  Did the complaining parent do anything that contributed to any problems in the relationship?  If the parent is having regular contact with the child it would seem like any “alienation” is not creating a serious or long-term problem.  What can the complaining parent do to improve the relationship?  “Alienation” was brought into custody courts through unscientific theories designed to help abusive fathers and enrich the cottage industry of professionals who help them.  This means the significance of alienation is often exaggerated or worse.  Looking for specifics and considering alienation in the context of other issues can help a court give claims of alienation a more realistic significance depending on the circumstances in the case.

What is the Cause of the Bad Relationship?  Fathers with poor relationships with their children would like to believe it is caused by the mother, but often this is wrong.  One of the fallacies of unscientific alienation theories is to assume that problems in the relationship must have been caused by alienation.  Research shows that a large majority contested cases are really domestic violence cases.  Organizations and professionals who support abusers encourage them to seek custody even when they had limited involvement in caring for the children during the relationship.  There are many common tactics abusers use to gain custody, but judges and other neutral professionals are rarely trained in recognizing these tactics.

Joan Meier has advocated a practice in the typical contested custody case in which the mother claims domestic violence and/or child abuse and the father counters with allegations of alienation.  Professor Meier recommends that the court first make a determination regarding the abuse complaints.  Since mothers make deliberate false complaints less than 2% of the time, this will usually resolve the custody issues.  If the father has committed abuse this will be the cause of the poor relationship and it is far more consequential to the children than the alienation claims in the case.  Children tend to love their parents even very flawed parents so when children strongly object to visiting a parent there is usually a good reason.  Practices that seek to force children into relationships against their will can cause severe harm to the children and tend to suppress information courts need to understand a case.

What Did She Do?  The most common context of alienation claims is that fathers accused of abuse counter with claims of alienation.  They are claiming the mother said or did something to harm his relationship with the children.  But where does this information come from?  In most cases the father would not be present when the alleged actions occurred.  He might say the children told him, but that is hearsay and God knows what he did to convince the children to repeat such claims.  More commonly he is just speculating based on his poor relationship with the children.  That is PAS and so should not be considered.  The point is that with many of these claims there is no real evidence to support the claim.

Extra Credit

The most common form of alienation that actually occurs in custody court cases is better described as domestic violence by proxy.  The Batterer as Parent found that all batterers including “low level” (verbal and emotional) abusers engage in harmful parenting practices that include undermining the mother’s relationship, teaching bad values (sexism) and setting a poor example.  In many cases, particularly where evaluators and other court professionals do not have specific training in screening for domestic violence, the court grants custody to the alleged abuser based on the belief he is more likely to promote the relationship with the mother.  Instead he uses the control granted by the court to interfere with the mother’s contact with the children and destroy the relationship.  This is exactly what we would expect an abuser to do and it confirms the mother’s original reports.  If a mother similarly interfered with the father’s relationship she would be severely punished, but the courts rarely take genuine alienation by fathers as seriously.  Some of the judges interviewed by Dr. Bartlow said they believe other judges are influenced by the fact that so many fathers abandon their children.  I think this is why courts often take alienation by fathers far less seriously.  It is important for good judges to be aware how easily gender bias can be used without realizing we are doing it.  A good way to check is to consider how an issue would have been handled if the genders were reversed.


Make Family Court Safe for Kids

End Court-Ordered Child Abuse
Barry Goldstein

Barry Goldstein

Research Director

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.
Barry has written some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody.
Barry has an ACE score of 0.


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By Lala Fogarty



Even when our littles are not so little, they still need us. Consider the fact that our daughters have a higher chance of being raped on college campuses than getting the flu, and maybe we might see the point in continuing to parent our children through high school and beyond. Do we talk to our sons and daughters about appropriate sexual behavior? Do we talk about respect and the Golden Rule and how to treat others with compassion and empathy?  Likely, we teach our daughters how to protect themselves, how to be on guard and how to be safe, but why do we stop there? Why do we tell our daughters not to get raped when the real focus should be on raising our sons not to rape? We excuse certain behaviors from our male children by repeating a long held mantra, “boys will be boys,” when we should be raising and expecting all of our children to be respectful, compassionate, and basically, just human.


What can we expect from boys? Well, we can expect them to be a product of their upbringing, certainly. We should also expect our boys to be held to the same standard as our girls. “Boys will be boys” is no longer an acceptable phrase to excuse an entire gender of behaviors that are undesirable. Actually this sentiment is offensive to boys and men. It gives us the inaccurate picture that boys and men are incapable of acting in a respectful, dignified, and compassionate manner.


Talking to our children, both male and female about appropriate sexual behaviors, boundaries, personal safety, and respecting others, would be a great place to start.  This isn’t really the topic for a one time only conversation – that’s the old way and it doesn’t always work. What we need to consider is that if we start early and have a running dialogue with our children, both male and female, about their bodies and boundaries and personal safety (age appropriate of course) we will be the “go to” choice when they are seeking answers to their difficult questions. What do we tell our growing children as they near college age about drinking, the meaning of NO, partying, and basically talking about sex beyond biology and into issues of consent, peer interaction, and even the law? What do you tell your children? Share your approach below – we could all certainly learn a thing or two from each other.


Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.

Finding Healers

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Finding your Healers

By Jackie McCullough



“The people, the ideas, the resources you need to heal will come. They’ll appear on your path. Sometimes you’ll think it’s almost magical. Sometimes you’ll resist, saying, That can’t be right. It’s too easy. But your healers will come when you need them, when you’re ready.

You can trust the universe to send healers to you, but also trust yourself…Trust yourself to know what’s right. And remember, healers aren’t your source of power; they merely assist you in claiming your power. They come to help, to bring their gifts to you so that you can find yours. Your heart will guide you if you listen.” Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart.

When I met Joe I had been alone 13 years and had not had any love relationships in that time. At first, I was too raw while I was healing from the sexual abuse from my childhood. Then, I was very distrustful of men in general and didn’t want to have anything to do with them.

Joe was different from any man I had been close to in my life. He was gentle, sweet and kind. He never raised his voice the whole time I knew him. In the first few months of our relationship, when I was overwhelmed with feelings from the past and crying, he tried to fix me. He was uncomfortable with my discomfort and tried to counsel me and make me feel better. He was always wanting to help. I told him I had a very good counselor and just wanted him to be loving. He became very patient with my distress. Probably most men would have walked out on me after a few months of that, but this gentle, caring man stayed.

I always felt safe with Joe. That was a major thing for me, because I didn’t feel safe with most people, especially with men. There was never a time I felt unsafe with Joe. So many times I got the distinct feeling that Joe was in fact an angel and I was the only one who saw him. That someday I would mention his name to someone and they would say, “Joe who?’

Joe passed on, but thinking of him today I still have the sweet feeling I had when he was here with me.

Be patient with yourself and others. Watch for your healers; they will come at the right time and the right place.

Jackie M

Jackie McCollough is a LifeOptionsCoach/Counselor/Teacher helps individuals take control of their lives. She is the author of Kathy Said, You’re Not Lost to Me, a self-help book for people struggling with anxiety and depression. With a new powerful approach to our lifelong beliefs, plus a modality called Life Options Dialogues, she helps people uncover the beliefs that are keeping them stuck in unwanted feelings and behaviors, like stress, anxiety,and depression.


Life Options teachings help them learn how to live happy empowered lives, no matter what is going on around them. The end result is becoming present, and non-judgmental, so their lives are easier, happier, and more effective. Jackie studied and was certified at the Option Institute International Learning and Training Center in Sheffield, Mass. She now counsels and teaches self-empowerment to those struggling with unwanted feelings and behaviors. She loves to see people take charge of their lives with her gentle processes, to go from “Survivors” to “thrivers.” She counsels in-person and face-to-face on line.

Jackie lives in the Rochester, NY area, is a member of the American Counseling Association, her local Youth Board, Henrietta Interracial Clergy Council, and Unity Church of Greater Rochester.

[email protected]’reNotLosttoMe

Back To School

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Back to School

By Lala Fogarty



Back to school brings an eclectic batch of lists for most of us.  Backpack? Check. New shoes? Check. Notebooks? Check. Sports physical? Check. Registration forms? Check.

Child sexual abuse prevention? Check!

In just a couple of weeks our children will head back to school to begin a new year, certain to be full of new subjects, new friends, new activities, and new challenges. This year, at the start of this new grade, new school, new adventure, let’s keep a prevention checklist in mind as we cross off our seemingly endless to do list.

What types of questions should we, as parents, be asking at the start of a new school year? We need to consider child sexual abuse prevention as one of our most important “to do” check-marks, to help ensure it will be a productive, learning centered, healthy school year for our kids.

*What are your school system’s policies and training procedures for abuse prevention and reporting?

*How does your child’s school minimize risk of abuse? Eliminating one- on- one student/adult situations by making every encounter between a student and an adult observable and interrupt-able is key to protecting our children.

*What are the screening processes for employees? Background checks are essential but so too are reference checks.

*Does the school educate students on abuse prevention and promote their right to report inappropriate behavior?

Remember that talking to our children about abuse is important! Experts tell us that children with the language and the permission to talk about abuse are the safest kids; make sure yours have both!  As back to school time approaches, let’s make sure we have everything our kids need crossed off the list!


Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.

Denial, More Than Anything, Is Hindering Progress For Victims Of Child Sexual Abuse

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Denial, More Than Anything, Is Hindering Progress For Victims Of Child Sexual Abuse

If money is one hell of a drug, then denial is one of the biggest drug dealers in the world. And no group understands that truth better than survivors of child sexual abuse. While survivors, advocates and some lawmakers have fought hard to bring justice, there’s been little progress made; if anything, we’ve been forced to take giant steps backwards. And by forced, I’m referring to the tremendous power of, more than anything, denial.

Take, for example, the recent killing of the child victims act by NY state lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan offered little explanation when asked as to why a deal couldn’t be reached by Governor Cuomo, Senate, and the Assembly. As quoted by the NY Daily News, Flanagan merely said, “There was no agreement, that’s it.” Senator Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan who supported the Child Victims Act, noted that the Senate gave the green light to authorize online fantasy sports betting. But yet, historically, isn’t this usually how things go down? Nonsensical bills such as the online fantasy sports betting and the act pushing for food to be served in funeral services establishments are cleared through the Senate and Assembly; however, it can take years and years to see any change in the areas of mental health reform, child sexual abuse prevention, and of course, gun control.

Thus, the killing of the Child Victims Act in New York equals no statute of limitations reform for child sexual abuse survivors. The Catholic Church paid over $2M for lobbyists to block the reform. Of course, they did. Why wouldn’t they? Like I said, scoot some money in, look the other way; denial is the biggest drug trafficker, and money is the most abused drug in the world. Flash some money in front of some lawmakers’ faces, and they will do just about anything they are paid to do.

In America, there are over 42,000,000 survivors of child sexual abuse, and that’s just the reported estimate. I am a survivor; mind you, the word “survivor” has absolutely no glamorous connotation attached to it. Recovery has been like swimming in a blood bath; for the most part, many of us deal with a variety of mental health conditions. Getting to a place of recovery can be a literal miracle. And yet there is slim justice I or any survivor can seek currently for the horrors we have had to face; horrors that are equivalent to being murdered silently over and over again.

I’m sure that the girl who Marc Gafni admitted abusing can’t take any legal action, either, which leads me to my second case. Back in May I attended a coordinated protest at the opening of the 365 by Whole Foods in Los Angeles. Together with NAASCA, Nancy Levine (author of The Tao of Pug), and my colleague, Matthew Sandusky from Peaceful Hearts Foundation, who led the protest in New York City, we stood outside of the store and attempted to educate potential shoppers about Co-CEO John Mackey’s ties with Marc Gafni, and his loyalty to Gafni by not standing up on a public level for survivors of child sexual abuse.

Mackey is positioned as a leader, and can use his voice for the greater good; instead, similar to mentioned NY lawmakers, he has chosen to remain silent and back a known pedophile. Again, abusing money and looking the other way leaves no progress for the millions who have been victimized. You, dear Mackey, are enabling the abuser and acting like one, yourself, in your chosen silence.

The Mackey situation ties into my third point. Gabrielle Greene Sulzberger, the wife of publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., sits on the board of Whole Foods. In a recent article by Levine which uncovered email exchanges that took place between her and Executive Editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet, Levine referenced the relationship between the New York Times lack of reporting on the Child Victims Act and the Sulzberger financial interests in Whole Foods Market. Mr. Baquet replied, “Only someone quite paranoid would see such a connection.” This is a classic gaslighting response. But not only did the New York Times not cover any news of the Child Victims Act, they also did not follow up on the Gafni story, and did not report any of the related protests that took place at the 365 by Whole Foods. As well, they never bothered to publish any of Mackey’s statements; and yet, Levine is accused by Mr. Baquet of being paranoid for seeing a connection?

His response is all too familiar. When I was sexually victimized by someone close to me and victimized by my mother, I was made to feel as though I was someone who had no voice, who was “crazy.” As a child, I developed a serious inferiority complex. During my modeling career, I was raped by a photographer, and when I confronted the director of my agency, I was shot down immediately, and told, yet again, that I was “crazy.” Instead of seeking help right away, I buried the pain with eating disorders, substance abuse, and lived in…denial. (To find out more about my story, sign up for the release of my memoir here.)

Every leader here has a platform to help survivors of child abuse, and yet they choose to remain silent. In doing so, they are enabling the perpetrators and hindering the millions of victims from getting the help they so desperately need. Abusers feed off silence and denial – see the connection? I don’t think you can call us paranoid now.

Here’s what you can do to help:

Donate to the PAC (Political Action Committee) started to help support NY politicians who will support the Child Victims Act in the future and vote out of office the bill-killers.
• Search Statue of Limitations by State and help bring justice to victims.
• Write to Liz Spayd, the Public Editor of the New York Times, and ask her to address the “appearance of a conflict of interest” — [email protected]
• Stop shopping at Whole Foods and 365 by Whole Foods and spread the word. Do not support companies who refuse to help victims of child sexual abuse, and enable sexual abuse predators. Think carefully the next time you support a company with your hard-earned dollars.



Nikki DuBose is a former model, commercial actress & host turned author, speaker & mental health advocate. Follow Nikki DuBose on Twitter:

9 years and counting

Comments Off on 9 years and counting

Nine Years and Counting

By YetAnotherMother



I met my ex husband when I was 17, he  was 22 and in medical school. I fell for his charm. So, when it was time for me to get to medical school, I allowed him to talk me out of it.

The next thing I knew, I could only socialize with people he “approved” of. Within two years I had to apply for green card so he could get into a residency program. He got into residency at the same school I did my Phd studies in. His residency and childcare took precedence over my career prospects. So, my dreams of having a dual degree or at least a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard were crushed.

After he started residency he was always working. When I asked why he wouldn’t help with the baby, he started physically pushing me around. I constantly felt like I was walking on eggshells. Pushing and shoving, silent treatments, withholding kids, throwing plates – because it was ALL MY FAULT.  My son has eczema because I was a horrible mother.

I could not leave him and shame my family, because I chose “love marriage” over “arranged marriage”. When his sister’s ex boyfriend talked to me, it is my fault “I am cooking up something” that is reason enough to push, shove, slap, and slit wrists. I should not call the police because if I call the police he would tell them that I am suicidal and cannot or should not take care of a child. They will believe him more because he is a doctor.

Soon, I got pregnant again. Then I found out he was having an affair with a nurse (not the first time I found him cheating in 7 years of being married). When I was 7 months pregnant, my son got sick and I asked him to help me. He kicked me on to the floor. He had to go see his girlfriend on her birthday.

A few years after my daughter was born, he was served for child support by his “baby mama”. His abuse got worse. I called the police because he threw me into a fish tank, kicked my son, and threw my 3 year old daughter on the floor.  I could deal with him abusing me, but I couldn’t deal with him hurting my children. I couldn’t deal with my son growing up thinking it was normal to treat women that way. I couldn’t deal with my daughter thinking it was ok to be disrespected.

I got out of the relationship in one week with hopes that a quick divorce would mean a faster resolution, so we could work together on raising kids.

Boy, was I naïve!!!!!

What I got instead was 8.5 years and counting of court battles! I still believed kids need both parents in their life. Despite careful and conscious efforts to keep him in their life, 8 years later I lost custody of my two kids. This is after:

  • My children said they were abused by their father, and child protection services got involved (NOPE – I did not call CPS).
  • My ex was arrested for assaulting me in front of children during a visitation exchange.
  • 4 child custody evaluations, 5 custody trials that lasted over 6 days each, several hundreds of thousands spent in legal fees.

I lost custody of my children in 2016 because a new judge believed my ex’s lawyer’s fabricated documents and didn’t listen to my kids. He changed custody on an emergency petition. When the kids were visiting him over Christmas break of 2015, they called the police when he attacked my son (then 14 years old). Child protective services investigated. So, my ex made up documents to use as a basis for his “parental alienation” story.  

Before the emergency hearing, both kids told me  their dad said ‘he has the judge in his pockets and he will make sure that they never see me again and I go to jail”. I get chills just thinking about it.

My situation may not be unique, but it shows there is NO textbook to help navigate a system that is inefficient, especially when you are dealing with a charming and unempathetic person with money to support unscrupulous lawyers.

My only hope is my kids survive this craziness with as little impact from the trauma as possible……


Make Family Court Safe for Kids

End Court-Ordered Child Abuse

You can follow more of my struggle below, and her what my son has to say about this matter, by clicking here:





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