Options for Families
If you are a member of a family which has been affected by bad therapy
or False Memory Syndrome, hang in there! You are not alone! You have nothing
to be ashamed of! Committing incest or child molestation is something to
be ashamed of; being falsely accused on the basis of so-called "repressed
memories" which were supposedly "recovered" during "therapy" or after reading
suggestive literature is not! Do not let the ignorant, incompetent, irresponsible
therapists and authors of the world score a second victory by letting them
ruin your life too or drive you to depression or inaction! While there
is life, there is hope. Many families which have been split through therapeutic
malpractice have ultimately reconciled. There are happy endings to many
of these stories, so keep hope alive for a happy ending yourself and in
the meantime give meaning to your suffering by fighting back to save other
families from a similar fate!
If you have just been accused, Suggestions
of Abuse by Michael Yapko, Ph.D. contains specific advice for each
affected family member about how to relate to each other and the accuser.
Dr. Yapko has allowed StopBadTherapy.com to reproduce excerpts
from his book including specific advice for the falsely
accused, the spouse of
the accused, the accuser's family
members, the accuser's siblings,
and advice for actual abuse survivors.
I know from agonizing personal experience how utterly devastating it
is to be accused by a loved one of sick, disgusting crimes and to be denied
the opportunity to respond to the accusations and demonstrate your innocence.
I know how frustrating it is to experience hit-and-run accusations and
be left shattered and out of contact. I know how frustrating it is to see
how easily therapists can profit by committing malpractice and shattering
innocent families and how difficult it is for devastated families to bring
the perpetrators to justice. I know how infuriating it is to see the inaction
and indifference of professional organizations in the face of an epidemic
of therapeutic malpractice. I survived and you will too!
Suggestions for surviving the crisis based on upon my personal experience,
which may or may not be relevant to your personal situation:
I would not presume to tell you what you should do. That is something
which only you can decide. Every person's situation is different. You will
have to find a path that fits your personal health, circumstances, means,
While this one part of your life is seemingly engulfed in chaos, try to
maintain some stability in the other areas of your life to give you "breathing
room" while you adjust to your new situation. If you have a job, keep it.
This is more important for providing continuity, stability, friendships,
and something else to think about than it is just as a source of income.
If you are married or in a relationship, hold your marriage or relationship
together in the face of this challenge.
As much as you want to help bring the accusing family member to her senses,
realize that your influence over her in the short run is probably very
limited and that your first priority must be maintaining the physical and
mental health of you and your other loved ones in the face of this crisis.
The first rule of emergency response is "don't become a casualty yourself."
You can't help anyone else if you lose your own physical or mental health.
Be realistic and realize that this experience will place enormous physical
and emotional demands on you and consume some of the energy you would
like to devote to other pursuits like your work. Temporarily reduce your
personal expectations for yourself in these other areas while you adjust.
Don't think that you will always feel as much pain as you do right now
because you won't. With time, it gets better. You just have to be very
patient and keep putting one foot in front of the other while you wait
for the pain's intensity to ease. With luck, you will get a reconciliation
and happy ending. Even if you don't anytime soon, you can still continue
your life and enjoy sources of fulfillment unrelated to your loss.
For God's sake don't commit suicide!!! If you are feeling suicidal,
go to the nearest emergency room immediately for an evaluation. While there
is life, there is hope. Even if you are falsely accused of incest, even
if other family members or friends or others believe the false accusations,
even if you are estranged from your beloved family and alone, even if you
have been indicted and are facing trial, even if you are being sued and
must mount an overwhelmingly expensive legal defense, even if you have
lost your job and home, don't give up! Killing yourself gives the
forces of evil and ignorance their final victory. While you are alive,
you deny them that victory and keep alive with you the hope of a happy
ending. Ending your life ends with it all the possible good you could have
accomplished in the future and all the happiness you would still experience
no matter how unlikely that may seem at the moment. The country is slowly
waking up to the silent holocaust which has been taking place, and truth
and justice are slowly but surely winning the war against ignorance and
Don't make the mistake of the so-called "Survivors" and redefine your entire
life in terms of this single experience. Realize that you had family, friends,
work, hobbies and interests before this tragedy and that you will afterwards
too. As overwhelming as this experience is, keep it in perspective as one
very tragic and painful experience which is only a single component of
a long, diverse, and fulfilling life.
This page is intended only to provide you with information about things
that some families have chosen to do after reflecting on their experience.
It is only intended to be a source of ideas. I am not implying that you
have an obligation to do any of the things on this list. Indeed, in many
cases, there may be legal or health reasons that prevent you from taking
a particular action or make it dangerous or unwise. Each person's situation
Before I share any of the things that some families have done, I need
to state a couple of disclaimers.
Legal disclaimer: I am not an attorney. I am
not able to provide legal advice, and nothing on this site attempts to
do so. I strongly urge you to contact an attorney immediately, regardless
of who you are, what your situation is, or whether or not you are considering
taking action of any kind. An attorney can advise you about your legal
rights and responsibilities under the laws of your state and can tell you
how much time you have to make a decision before civil and criminal statutes
of limitations expire. An attorney can also advise you about the legal
risks of any action you may be considering. Believe it or not, if you report
a therapist to a state licensing board, the therapist may be able to sue
you for libel or other reasons, so be careful no matter what you do
or don't do, and seek professional legal advice first!
Medical disclaimer: I am not a trained health
professional of any kind. I cannot provide medical, psychological, or psychiatric
advice, and nothing on this site attempts to do so. If you are experiencing
symptoms of any physical or mental illness (including but not limited to
depression and self-destructive thoughts or behavior), see a medical doctor
(M.D.) immediately for an evaluation and diagnosis and a discussion of
what further steps, if any, may be appropriate. If you are feeling suicidal,
go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately for an evaluation.
Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms of illness, regular medical
checkups are important for maintaining your physical and mental health,
so if you haven't seen a doctor recently, schedule an appointment.
Again, I must emphasize that this list is for informational purposes
only. Do not take any legal or medical risks. See a medical doctor and
an attorney before you do anything or before (through the passage of time
and the statute of limitations) you lose the opportunity to do something
you may wish to.
Here is a list of steps that some families have taken after reflecting
on their personal experience, their health, their financial resources,
and (often) their desire to see that other people are not misled and that
other families are not split by bad therapy, junk science, pop psychology,
and the fraud of so-called memory recovery therapy.
The following actions are options for all affected families, whether
the false memories developed during therapy or as a result of reading the
suggestive, misleading literature of the memory recovery movement.
Some families with members whose false memories developed during therapy
have chosen to do one or more of the things on this list. Again, I strongly
urge you to consult an attorney before taking any of the actions on this
list. Any action can have legal risks. I have highlighted some of the potentially
riskiest actions with the phrase "(Warning: consult an attorney first!)",
but all actions on this list may entail some degree of legal risk. Consult
an attorney first for an evaluation of your particular situation before
Some choose to learn more about the problem to understand its causes. (See
the lists of resources on this site for more information.)
Some subscribe to the free Retractors' Voice newsletter (published by and
for retractors) to learn about the experiences of retractors and how they
came to realize that their "memories" were not real. (Email
your postal address to the publisher at CCA57@tir.com to subscribe.)
Some choose to network with other affected families to share experiences
and offer each other support. To find other families in your local area,
join the False Memory Syndrome Foundation or subscribe
to its printed newsletter; every edition of the newsletter contains
a list of the local contacts for each state who can invite you to meetings
of the local chapters.
Some join the False Memory Syndrome Foundation
or subscribe to its printed newsletter to support education and research
related to the problem and the reconciliation of affected families and
to keep current on the latest developments.
You may choose to tell us your story for possible online publication to
help educate others about the problem. On the advice of legal counsel,
all identifying information will be removed from any stories or quotes
we publish on this site. (Click here to learn how
to submit your story.)
Please help warn people about the danger before they are deceived and their
family is shattered! Print 10 copies of this flier
and post them on the public notice boards at your local supermarkets and
If The Courage to Heal played a role in the development of your
family member's false memories, you may choose to write Ellen Bass and
Laura Davis at the address they provide in their book for feedback and
tell them about your experience. (Warning: consult an attorney first!
Any information you provide could be subject to discovery in a legal proceeding,
might compromise a suit you choose to file against a therapist, and might
be grounds for a libel suit against you.)
Did suggestive books play a role in the development
of your loved one's false memories? Use our Write
a Book Review page to submit online reviews for publication at Amazon.com
and BarnesAndNoble.com. Our Write a Book Review
page makes it easy--just click the links and type! You can make a difference
by warning book buyers about the danger of suggestive books and writing
positive reviews of good books!
Some choose to network with families of other clients of the same therapist
to compare experiences, offer each other support, and consider supporting
each other in any action taken.
Some choose to discuss the therapist confidentially with the False Memory
Syndrome Foundation. (Click
here for contact information, including the toll-free phone number to get
a free information packet and report form.)
If the therapist is licensed as a medical doctor, psychologist, counselor,
social worker, or other mental health provider, some choose to file a complaint
with the therapist's state licensing board. (Warning: consult an attorney
If the therapist is unlicensed and the therapy performed fits the definition
under state law of "practicing medicine without a license" or "practicing
psychology without a license," some choose to file a report with the state's
Board of Medicine or Board of Psychology. (Warning: consult an attorney
Some have used their state's Freedom of Information Act to obtain information
about the therapist. One family in Michigan writes:
Does your state have a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
Our state does (Michigan), and last year I wrote to the state requesting
info on our accusing daughter's therapist. The Chief Freedom of Information
Officer responded, giving me info on her licensing status and whether any
disciplinary action had been taken against her. He also acknowledged
receiving my allegation against her which I had submitted. He sent
me a copy of her licensing file and the rules and regulations regarding
social workers in the state of Michigan. The department took no further
disciplinary action in this matter, and claimed an exemption from release
of further info as this release would constitute an unwarranted invasion
of the licensee's privacy.
BUT THE NEXT PERSON WHO REQUESTS INFO ABOUT HER WILL BE TOLD ABOUT
Some choose to make their friends aware of this problem by a letter or
in the annual Christmas card so that the friends learn about the problem,
are less likely to become victims themselves, and are motivated to join
the fight against ignorance and injustice. (Ask all your friends to visit
this site and email their own elected officials. Think of how many letters
that will generate across the country and how it will raise awareness of
the problem in our government at the state and federal level nationwide!)
Some put free public service ads in local "Penny Saver" papers to describe
False Memory Syndrome and provide the contact information for this web
site and the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
Some choose to educate others to prevent future tragedies by speaking to
groups of mental health providers, high school and college students, Parent-Teacher
Associations, and other public forums. (Warning: consult an attorney
Some choose to contact their local newspaper and radio and TV stations
ALLEGATION, AND THAT MAY LEAD TO SOMETHING. I ENCOURAGE OTHERS
TO FIND OUT IF
THEIR STATE HAS SUCH A MEASURE.
Some choose to picket the therapist's office to warn others of the danger.
consult an attorney first!)
Some choose to take legal action to seek compensatory and punitive damages
and reduce the risk that an ignorant, irresponsible, or incompetent therapist
will harm others. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
interest them in doing a news report about your experience in particular
or memory recovery therapy in general to raise public awareness of problem.
consult an attorney first!)
tell them the family's story as a letter to the editor, op-ed piece, or
human interest story. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
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