As you well know by now, the mother we are following has been fighting to get Family Court to listen to her when she says she has cause for concern of her child being in the father’s care-and repeatedly the court has ignored her.
The law says that that a person must report suspected child abuse-sexual, physical, emotional, or neglect. It’s against the law to not speak up. And yet in her Family Court, when she does, she is told she must keep bringing her child to the man she suspects of abuse and neglect.
The judge in her case has routinely not taken her seriously, and now, during her custody trial, she learned that the individuals tasked with protecting her child, the visitation supervisor and guardian ad litems (remember, law students at West Virginian University) have had no training, experience, nor follow guidelines in recognizing abuse symptoms.
And so, the court is accepting the opinions guardians ad litem, again, students at the West Virginia legal clinic, that the following description is of a normal father-daughter relationship:
The child began crying and clinging to her mother as soon as she heard the father’s voice. The father declined to come into the room because he said it would make it worse. Eventually the supervisor peeled the screaming child off of her mother and carried her into the room where the father waited.
The child cried for 35 minutes straight, and curled up on the floor when the father tried to touch her. She went to the doors, trying to leave the room, and finally fell asleep, only to start crying as soon as she woke up. She ended the two hour visit hoarse, with red and swollen eyes.
This is the description that was given the title of “normal.” Do you even need training to suspect that something is wrong?
We are told over and over to empower children, to report abuse, to teach girls to say no. But here, a child begins crying at the sound and sight of her father (ever since he had a few court ordered unsupervised visits) and Family Court deems this normal and is forcing a child to spend time with the person she is afraid of.
The court has ordered 4 more “supervised” visits with a supervisor who don’t know how to recognize signs of abuse, followed by weekly unsupervised visits. The mother is again fighting against this ruling because she is afraid of what will happen during those visits, aching for her child who will cry and be returned to her upset and exhausted, and devastated that she is being forced by the court to teach her child that it is normal to be forced to spend time with someone you fear and who makes you cry.