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Crossing Lines – Dealing with Abuse

Young woman experiencing headache with man on the sofa behind her

As the days of summer are behind, the changes of autumn begin.  Fall brings pictures of changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and lots of little munchkins dressed up begging for treats.  Most of those images should at least engender feelings of community and maybe some nostalgia.  Thankfully, many people have good memories of childhood and streets full of neighborhood children darting between houses, but some never had the chance to form those memories.  It seems those exact thoughts may never even cross the minds of little ones who fall under the umbrella of abuse and neglect.  However, a happy home doesn’t exist with just a child’s well being, but it includes the health and contentment of adults, all those moms and all those dads making up homes.

Recently, the national news has been inundated with stories of spousal and child abuse.  The NFL has had their share of publicity with the pictures of Adrian Peterson’s son and the shocking video of Ray Rice punching his fiancé unconscious.  People gasp and sound completely outraged, but the truth is that abuse and neglect have followed the human race since the beginning of time.  The statistics are not only daunting but also devastating to every life touched by a perpetrator.  One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.   Men can also be victims of abuse and rape.  In the United States, 1,593 children died from abuse or neglect in 2012, and 70% of those children were under the age of three.  Babies unable to defend themselves…  Is it any wonder society created a government agency devoted to regulating parental and spousal behavior?

Unfortunately, the problem with governmental involvement is the possibility of overreach, which can become a type of abuse visited upon entire families.  For instance, many will recall the case of Justina Pelletier and the charge of medical child abuse.  For more than a year, Justina was taken away from her family by the courts of Massachusetts because of a medical dispute between consulting doctors and hospitals. Her parents were denied their daughter, forced to witness her declining health, and placed under a gag order by the courts not to discuss their case.  How could this happen in America?  Many watched the drama unfold as lawyers for the Pelletier family fought against the state to regain custody of their daughter.  Finally, in June of 2014, Justina went home with her parents permanently.  For a more comprehensive detailing of this fascinating case, visit http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/06/17/judge-orders-custody-justina-pelletier-returned-parents/mDWtuGURNawSuObO0pDX4J/story.html.

With such conflicting ideas, many wonder what recourse do people have?  Maybe, it is best to consider society as a whole.  Where there is one that is stronger, the possibility of abuse will always exist.  The problem with human nature is the propensity to swing the pendulum of thought to the extreme opposite in order to avoid the original wrong whereby creating a new wrong in the process.  Do people especially children need safety nets?  Absolutely.  Is there a possibility of overreach?  Absolutely.  Who protects those victims?  Well, since the courts dictate the rulings in these cases, competent family law attorneys are sometimes the only viable option for parents and guardians.  Remember, abuse happens in various forms, and the actions of people to protect their loved ones are realized in many ways.  Love your children, respect your partner, and don’t hesitate to protect your rights.  Those who depend on you are counting on you.

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