Children for Tomorrow is a non-profit organization that helps child victims of emotional and psychological abuse.
It has been around over 10 years, and it has a number of programs. The most well-known is called the LEAP Program. Their programs are for underprivileged or disadvantaged children. The programs work with the court system to provide help to kids who have issues related to psychological abuse.
What does emotional abuse look like?
Emotional abuse occurs when a parent or someone else makes the child suffer emotionally or psychologically. It could be anything from constant berating to the manipulation of a child's emotions. It could also be considered brainwashing. That sounds like something from a movie, but that's the kind of manipulation we're talking about.
In relation to the courts, it could be trying to convince the child that the other parent is bad. The other parent is accused of being bad, scary, mean, or just not good for the kid. The parent can't handle rejection. So the parent who was rejected starts creating an artificial situation and turns the other parent into the scary parent.
It is similar to a continuous shouting match. The effect that tension has on everybody in the long term is incredibly detrimental. The two parents are shouting at each other or even at the kid. The child may be shouting back. It's not happening physically, but still has a major effect.
How do you know if someone is being emotionally abused?
The way it gets recognized is by an assessment and a diagnosis. There is a list of things that will probably be present if you have emotional child abuse occurring. You will see anxiety and depression. You'll see an emotional cut off. You'll see the child start to reject what we call the “targeted” parent. The most obvious thing is going to be people are coming to court a lot, particularly after the divorce. During the divorce, sometimes it's hard for the judges to figure out, “Well, is it just a fight, or is something else going on here?” The judges don't want to see a bad co-parenting relationship.
There will be an assessment of the family. Anybody, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or any step-parent who has a regular role with the kids would be included in an assessment of the situation. The two parents, if they're both still living and have the normal access to the children, they would be assessed. There would also be a diagnosis.
What do the courts do to the alienating parent?
Historically, there's been a thought that the kids should be completely removed from the alienating parent's home. However, that is not going to happen in Texas. A therapist will generally make a recommendation as to where the kid should be while the treatment is going on. The general consensus is that it's going to be less time, but not a complete removal while the treatment is going on.The alienating parent having no contact with their children isn't well-founded.
Children for Tomorrow have recognized that Texas judges are not going to be in favor of no access by a parent.
The goal of the therapist is to create a situation where both parents have a good relationship with the child. After going through the therapy, both parents are present and have a good relationship.The way the assessment is done, each parent will bring a child at least once for the assessment/diagnosis and come by themselves as well.
Children for Tomorrow has sworn they will remain transparent and not take sides. They listen to the parent who feels like they are being alienated, but their job is not to side with that parent. Their job is to assess what is happening and find out where the high conflict is coming from.