Parental kidnappings do not garner the media attention and sense of urgency from law enforcement that they deserve. Experts say there is a perception among the public and law enforcement officials that children kidnapped by their parents are not in danger. While it is true that statistics from the US department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Protection indicate that only 4% of children abducted by their parents are physically harmed, can we so easily forget to consider the emotional toll it takes on these innocent victims.
Having had twenty two months now since the abduction of my three daughters, Rion, Lauren and Julia, to study the issue thoroughly, I have no doubt that the emotional toll taken on each one of them will be profound and unique. Without describing in great detail all of the effects of parental abduction and parental alienation, suffice to say that there is a plethora of emotional and psychological pitfalls they have already experienced and more which lay ahead for my kids. Research indicates that the abductor parent often feels that there will be no effect on the children from the abduction event whereas the scientific data indicates otherwise. Children who are abducted suffer from a multitude of emotional difficulties related directly to their abduction.
The abductor parent in their delusion and self interest often rationalizes that they are “saving the children” from a life of hardship with the left behind parent when the truth of the matter is that it could not be farther from the truth. In general, their narcissist and borderline personality disorders will not allow them to compromise and deal in good faith. When they realize that such characteristics will be required to co-parent, they abduct the children to maintain control and seek revenge against the left behind parent.
When parental abduction is condoned, sanctioned and encouraged by a system such as the Japanese family law system, the abducted children and the left behind parent have no chance whatsoever to preclude this emotional damage from happening. I maintain that my children are not possessions of my estranged wife who have no human rights. I believe that they have a right to access and contact with both of their parents. I will fight for their rights until I draw my final breath.
Most distressing of all of these effects of parental abduction and alienation is when the abducted child(ren) is brainwashed to hate the left behind parent by their abductor. This is my greatest fear. While some children are able to overcome this as adults and ultimately develop a relationship with their left behind parent, sadly for many, this is an insurmountable difficulty. I would not have previously thought this possible of my estranged abductor wife, pre-abduction, but now I accept that it is likely.
In conclusion, the fact that parental abduction hurts the children emotionally seems like common sense. Forcibly remove a child from a loving parent and expect no problems for said child? Ridiculous. As the title of this piece says, parental abduction is child abuse, that is all there is to it.
By Bruce R. Gherbetti
Father of Rion Suzuki, Lauren and Julia Gherbetti
Abducted to Japan from Vancouver, Canada, September 2009.