Aftermath of a False Allegation

John Smith*

  

On her fourth visit, 17-year-old Stephanie (a pseudonym) brought me this letter:

July, 1987

Dear Dr. Smith,

I am so miserable, Dr. Smith, I need your help now.  As you know, I have told you how my mother and I just don't like each other.  We fight and argue all the time.  But I have never told you why.  When I was little, six I think, I dearly loved my dad.  I think he and I were very close and did many things together.  I knew my mom and dad didn't get along but somehow things were all right between me and my parents.

Then one day, my mother told me my father was very sick and needed to go to a doctor to get well.  She told me I would have to say that my dad had hurt me by touching me (in) places that were nasty.  She said if I would say this Dad would have treatment and get better and be a nicer Dad to me and bring me more presents.

My mother rehearsed with me what I was to say and then took me to a doctor in another city and practiced with me again what I was to say and I said what she told me to say.

Later my mom said that Dad had to go to a hospital to get the help he needed, but when I was twelve I found out he was in prison because he had molested me.

Once I got to go see Dad in prison.  He told me he had written me many times, but Dr. Smith, I never received any of those letters.  I think Mom burned them.  Later Mom told me that Dad was living in another state.

Just last night my mom and I got in a big fight and she told me Dad had committed suicide.  I feel so bad.  I'm to blame because I lied for my mom.  I hate her and I hate myself.  I can't stand myself!  I can't wait to leave home when I get older.

Please help me Dr. Smith.

Love,

Stephanie
  

Footnote: At the time of the session in which I was given the letter, I discussed with Stephanie as to whether she should go to the hospital.  In this state a person who is 16 years of age is entitled to obtain mental health care without parental consent.  She told me that she felt better and I made arrangements to see her two days later since I was to be out of town the following day.  The very next night, after I spoke to her, Stephanie died after taking an overdose of her mother's sleeping medication.

Possibly some professionals would not want to think that Stephanie had been abused.  But in my judgment, this is one of the worst kinds of abuse and in this case the abuse came from the mother.

* John Smith (a pseudonym) is a psychologist and can be contacted through Issues in Child Abuse Accusations.  [Back]

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