Unfortunately many law enforcement agencies around the world, still consider family abductions a domestic issue that should be worked out between parents and their lawyers. Many believe that a child is not in grave danger if the abductor is a family member. Unfortunately, this is not true, and these assumptions continue to endanger many children’s lives. In our experience dealing with victim parents it shows that the most common motive in family abductions is not love for the child but rather an act of anger and revenge against the other parent. More than half of abducting parents CARI have dealt with have a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or a criminal record. Physical and sexual abuse can and does occur during these abductions.
We asked one of our elder recovered children if she could give us a statement about her abduction, this is what she sent us:
“Six years ago my 2 brothers and I were abducted by our father. At the time I didn’t realize how it was going to destroy my life and my brothers. I was always afraid that the police were going to find us or that I’d mess up on one of my new fake names that our father changed on a monthly basis. My brothers and I never went to a doctor, dentist or to school. I tried to home-school my little brothers since we weren’t allowed to go to school as dad isolated us from the outside world, it was like we lived in a prison. People think parents do this out of love. But they’re only causing their children damage. We have not spoken to our father since our recovery 5 years ago” (Our clients children who sent us this, wish to stay anonymous.)
To break emotional ties with the left-behind parent, and perpetuate their own control, some parental abductors will coach a child into “disclosing” abuse by the other parent. Abducted children are often told that the other parent is dead or did not really love them. This is now called PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome), something CARI operatives unfortunately see in 95% of cases. It is a concern and something we see will continue to happen. In a severe PAS case, unresolved psychological and emotional issues are at the foundation of the alienating parent’s destructive actions toward the previously loved other parent. During the divorce, the alienating parent feels an intense level of abandonment and betrayal. This parent’s main missions become filling the void left by the divorce and destroying a relationship that is loved and cherished by the other parent. As the child quickly adapts to a fugitive’s lifestyle, deception becomes a part of life. They are taught to fear those they should trust, such as police, doctors, neighbors and teachers.
Abducted children are often given new identities. This can have profound and sometimes crippling psychological impact during the critical developmental stages of childhood. In extreme cases, the child’s sexual identity is covered up to avoid detection. CARI has seen this in two separate cases…. Abducting parents often deprive their children of education and much-needed medical attention to avoid the risk of being tracked via school or medical records. In extreme cases, the abducting parent leaves the child with strangers at an underground “safe house” where health, safety and other basic needs are extremely compromised; while in others, children are so badly mistreated by their abductors that they desperately want their abductor to leave them.
Why do parents kidnap their own children? 5 reasons CARI believe, parents frequently abduct their own children: (reasons are not limited to the below, these are CARI’s top 5 reasons based on ‘CARI’s’ experience only)
- To force a reconciliation or continued interaction between themselves and the left-behind parent
- To spite or punish the other parent
- Fear of losing custody or visitation rights
- Frustration with the custody order or other court rulings
- In rare cases, to protect the child from a parent who is perceived to molest, abuse, or neglect the child
A direct threat of abduction should always be taken seriously, but often the warning signs are more subtle. Here are the most common signs we believe, that a child may be in danger of abduction by a family member:
- The parents’ relationship is volatile. They often voice disagreements and argue over visitation
- A parent has a history of abduction threats or has abducted the child in the past
- One parent raises allegations that the other parent has abused the child and his/her friends and family support these allegations
- A parent is paranoid delusional or severely sociopathic
- A parent is a citizen of another country and is ending a mixed-culture marriage
- A parent feels alienated from the legal system and has family/social support in another community
- A parent has no job, financial ties, or strong connections to the child’s home state
- A parent is engaged in planning activities such as quitting a job, selling a home, terminating a lease, closing a bank account, or applying for passports, birth certificates, or school and medical records
We urge any parent who can identify any of the above signs to be very vigilant and take precautions. Please do not say to yourself, it cannot happen to me……………………..