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Topic : 06/04 In-Laws’ Dirty Secrets Exposed

Number of Replies: 336
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Created on : Friday, November 10, 2006, 09:23:21 am
Author : DrPhilBoard1
(Original Air Date: 11/17/06) It's often said that parents find true happiness when their child finds true love. But what happens when a mother suspects that her child may be sleeping with the enemy? Gerri fears that her son-in-law, Alan, is such a danger to her daughter, Melissa, and her grandchildren, that he may kill them. She claims Alan is molesting his 3-year-old daughter, and that Melissa is in denial. Gerri says she had no choice but to call Family Services. Alan and Melissa are outraged by the accusations and say Gerri is out to destroy their marriage. Alan maintains his innocence, and Melissa stands by his side. Could Gerri's guilt as a parent be causing her to make these serious allegations? Alan takes a grueling three-hour lie detector test to prove his innocence. Who will be the one apologizing when Dr. Phil reveals the results? Is Alan a monster or the victim of a malicious mother-in-law? Share your thoughts, join the discussion.

Find out what happened on the show.

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November 17, 2006, 5:53 am CST

Claim Your Life

Quote From: freedom2006

I have been holding a secret for 20 years. I was molested by my older brother in law when I was 13 years old. When I was 14 I tried to kill myself. When I was 16 years old I told one of my big sisters (she is 4 years older). Thinking she would save me.  She told me to keep it a secret for it will kill my older sister.


So I did! I buried far down inside of me and became numb, but it still always haunting me especially around holidays when I had to face him. It was like sending him the message it was OK what he did to me, when in-fact it was not OK he is an IDIOT. He was also accused about 21 years ago for raping a mentally challenged girl, but he got off because he had an alibi of the night in question. 


 When I was 29 I had a stroke, my stroke was a bleed in the brain the doctors said It was caused by fluctuating blood pressure.


My Dad died 2 years ago. Since then I notice the trees, sky the world.


I decided to go to counseling because I could no longer deal with this, I was so depressed. I have been in counseling since last November. I have a great husband and 2 beautiful girls. I felt like my husband should know. I told him in counseling in June of this year. I had so much anger inside of me that it is not fair for me or my children to have so much baggage.  


I finally told My older sister  on Oct 28th what her husband did to me. She took it well the night I told her. Now she is acting like I suffer from metal illness. She even said that he wants to speak to my counselor one on one! "Unbelievable"! Meanwhile she knows I told our other sister when I was 16.  He is a great manipulator. A sweet talker. So she is listening to his BS.


The rest of my siblings are very supportive, there is 5 of us kids in total. I am the youngest.

I have not talked to my older sister since Oct. 30.


The moral of my story is that you should never hold on to other people's crap. I held on to HIS secret. I did nothing wrong. When you are 13 you think very differently. I took on the responsibility that I was so big and I did blame myself, when in fact I WAS only a child. I feel so much lighter now that I said!


I will no longer keep it a secret, it is what it is, he did what he did. Nothing can change that.


Now I know that I probably lost a sister but I have myself back. We can't control situations or things that happen to us but we can control one thing and that is our REACTION to situations!


We all have choices in life, and I chose not to be the victim!!!!!




And this is why I am FREEDOM2006


Something similar happened within my family.  I did not know about it until my parents passed away this year.  It happened to my sister and was done by an uncle.  While I really feel for you for having gone through something so terrible, I also congratulate you for claiming your life and not allowing the abuser to take that from you.  Please continue to be strong.  You are an example to the many who have been in that position. 
November 17, 2006, 5:58 am CST

A Thank You

Quote From: ceildh1

I have to agree, to a point.

I think if you can PROVE, prove being the key word here, there is abuse going on, then it HAS to be reported.

We'll find out Friday I guess, is he an abuser, or is she just vindictive but I really don't put a lot of faith in the Polygraph myself, why has the Good Doctor gotten on this kick anyway ?


Thanks for joining me in criticizing Dr. Phil for his use of the polygraph.  Not only does it prove nothing, it makes the accused look guilty if they refuse to submit to a faulty system.  Unfortunately, there are still those who think a "lie detector" is proof.  And, as you say, the operative word in any discussion of a charge such as this is "prove".
November 17, 2006, 6:05 am CST

In Agreement

Quote From: faeryedark

 I beg to differ, if (and I do doubt I'll ever have to worry about this) I walk in and find my child or grandchildren are being hurt, I will contact the authorities. I would rather they be mad at me or think of me as a thorn in their side, and be alive and have a chance to wake up and see the truth-than be beaten to death.


I am not only in agreement with you, in my work I am legally bound to report any suspicion of abuse.  Not only is this morally correct, not doing so could cost be $10, 000 and up to ten years in prison.  I have reported abuse (very rarely) and my motivation was not the fear of what could happen to me.  I'm grown and can take care of myself.  I was motivated by trying to ensure a child was not beaten to death.  Like you, I'd rather have people angry with me than have a child's death on my conscience.
November 17, 2006, 7:01 am CST


This show turned out the way I was hoping it me, it was very obvious that the husband and wife had a strong, loving relationship with each other. She stood by her husband from the beginning and I give her credit for that. I think the 2 of them seem very happy with each other and are doing a wonderful job.


Shame on his mother in law though! I was SHOCKED to hear that she knew of her daughter being molested TWICE by the same family member and never pursued it or did anything about it! And to let this person around her daughter a second time after she knew of the molesting the first time is just unacceptable! I think the true side and self of this woman came out in the show! I

 do not fault her for being cautious about the situation and trying to protect her grandchildren....however, she had no substantial evidence in this case, and all of her allegations were false. I truly feel she did this because she does not like her daughter's husband and is looking for a way to redeem herself for being such a poor excuse for a mother and not protecting her own child when she desperetly needed it!


I wish this couple the best of luck in continuing in their marriage and family. Hopefully something is able to be resolved and this mother in law can be a positive influence along the way.

November 17, 2006, 7:31 am CST

These mothers need to get a life

I am so tired of hearing about these past-their-prime women who have raised beautiful daughters that they learn to depend on to validate their own sense of worth, only to turn on them when the daughter finds happiness with a man and can no longer be her mother's emotional crutch.  These mothers are ugly, spiteful, insecure, cynical women who need to enrich their own lives with fulfilling activities and passions instead of poisoning the lives of their sons, daughters and extended families.  Please, get a life, get therapy, do something with yourself!
November 17, 2006, 7:39 am CST

Seeing Red

Unfortunately there are monsters that do harm children.  However, false allegations like this one make me soooooooo stinkin' angry.  Because of garbage like this my husband will not bathe our 10 month old daughter because he doesn't anyone to ever have the opportunity to accuse him wrong doing.  When he changes a poop diaper he will give me a play by play of everything he did. 

November 17, 2006, 8:15 am CST

just a thought

I feel for Melissa, who insisted that she knew her husband and that her mother should have trusted that.  And, thankfully, in this case, she is right.  But that blanket statement provides confidence to women whose trust may not be so well-placed.  I don't have the statistics, but would venture to guess that most women only marry men they believe to be incapable of such a horrible act.  And yet, it happens...and happens...and happens.   
November 17, 2006, 9:02 am CST

11/17 In-Laws’ Dirty Secrets Exposed

Quote From: sodamoo

I have read these messages and agree. But we were busybodies and did get involved and reported things but unless someone confesses or the abuse leaves fresh marks , most will be found to be unfounded. Then you have a daughter that can't see past the trees and ignores the facts. Our 5 year old granddaughter even  told her mother of abuse and still she did nothing. Through out all our trying to get them help any way we can, we are still getting the blame for all the stress and fighting. As things stand now we have to spend the money to travel to Missouri, where our daughter and granddaughter ran off  with the babies biological father to  check to see how she is doing.  These two adults are not even married. All this happened after we raised the 5 year old for the first three years of her life, and then MOMMY got encouragement from others to tell us that "I'll Take my child out of your house and you will never see her again, If you don't accept the fact that I'm living with her father." We live every day praying that our granddaughter can defend herself and be safe. His inlaws do nothing except incourage her to keep the granddaughter away from us. Sad all we did was love our children.

Stories like this scare the **** out of me.  I am so looking forward to these upcoming years of grandchildren (my kids are teens....we have no other family so I dream about our family growing with them).  And then I read what happened to you and it scares me.  I will continue to pray for wisdom.  I have always prayed for wisdom and I am told ALL the time I am wise for my years.  I used to also pray for strength when I was going through something... but I've been through so much tragedy and absolute horror (no one can believe it) that I don't pray for that anymore.  It dawned on me one day as I sat outside crying that maybe everything kept happening because in the end, every moment of the last 4-1/2 years has built a strength in me... today.. that I never knew could exist.  God answered my prayer haha.  Since that revelation (and my not praying for strength) my life has been blessed in every way possible.  Hmmm?   So anyhow thanks for sharing.

Nancy xox

November 17, 2006, 10:17 am CST

Not Quite

Quote From: suzangm

It has been over 5 decades since everything happened. Me and my brothers have suffered so bad for what our parents ........ previous quote. (jwiz512)



Paintdoo.. Your messages are cruel.  When dealing with abuse and neglect it is self centered for the listener to discount a persons cry for help.

It is "those" like you, who turn children away.... when they do 'tell'.


These children who were turned away in their youth, are now adults. Some are educated, some are not. Both are valuable. I hope this gal who wrote in here for help... continues to tell her story until someone "hears" her. She will be a strong advocate for others in the same situation, and a light for those who are in the dark.


Theresa: (jwiz512) What happened to you was "wrong", and It was not your fault. Please contact your local social services office, or local hospital and see what services (counseling) are offered in your area at low or discount cost(s). Please be strong, and teach your children to be strong, by getting some help (for yourself). Let your children see you "get help"  so they are not learning to be victims too, When they "see you" rise up and take control they will have the tools!

Keep your chin up. ;)


I really don't think Paintdoo is trying to be cruel.  He/she has a perspective based on their own experience.  I do, however, feel that the abuse cited probably happened as it was described and the writer should seek help.  I agree with you that this will help her and her children alike.


Please also think of the amount of time involved here.  Not that the time creates doubt, but that things we viewed and handled very differently back then.  I am old enough to remember.  It happened , not within my family, but to us.  Our parents had no idea of how to handle it or what to say.  They were wonderful people, but this kind of thing was never discussed like it is now.  This generally accepted denial on the part of society made things even harder on a victim then than now.


Paintdoo- I don't question your integrity, but please don't rush to judgment.  Situations differ and this can mislead the best intended of us.  Best wishes. 

November 17, 2006, 10:19 am CST

maybe if gerri had this info when her daughter was sexualy asualted she could have protected her better

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

Deciding whether to report suspected child abuse can be a difficult and confusing process; yet, it is the crucial first step in protecting a child who might be in danger.

In most states, professionals who work with children in any capacity are identified as “mandated reporters” and are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect. And, in approximately 18 states, any citizen who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected is mandated to report.1

No matter your state laws, it is the responsibility of all individuals and community members not just mandated reporters to report suspected maltreatment of any child.

Why don’t some people report child abuse and neglect?

Among the most frequently identified reasons for not reporting are lack of knowledge about child abuse and neglect and lack of familiarity about state reporting laws. Other reasons people don’t report include:

  • Fear or unwillingness to “get involved”
  • Fear that a report will “make things worse for the child"
  • Reluctance to risk angering the family
  • Concern that making a report will negatively impact an existing relationship with the child
  • Belief that someone else will speak up

Although these feelings are understandable, they are not grounds for not reporting. Lack of action on your part could lead to dire consequences for the child and the child’s family. It even could result in serious harm or death of the child that might otherwise have been prevented.

What can you do if you believe a child is being abused or neglected?

Report, report, report. Everyone has the right and responsibility to report any incidence of suspected child abuse at any time. Actual knowledge of abuse is not required; all you need is “reasonable cause, suspicion, or belief” based on your observations. Information to support your concern may include your firsthand observations or beliefs, your professional training or experience, or statements made by the child or parent.

Having only limited information about your suspicion should not prevent you from making a report. Remember, you do not have to be “right” in your suspicions; you simply need to have a heightened and rational concern for the safety and well-being of a child.

Also, all states have laws that protect reporters from legal liability as long as reports are made in “good faith.”

Who do you call? And then what happens?

To report suspected abuse or neglect, contact your local child protective agency, which, depending on where you live, might be called Social Services, Children and Family Services, or Human Welfare. If you feel that the child is in an emergency situation, however, call your local law enforcement agency immediately.

The person who responds to your call will ask you several questions in order to provide the investigative team with sufficient information. Keep in mind, you do not need to know all the answers to make a report;you just need to be as comprehensive, specific, and clear as possible. Following are a few questions you may be asked:

  • What is your name, address, and telephone number?
  • What is your relationship to the child?
  • What is the child’s name, age, and address? If you don't know the answers to this question, you can provide descriptive information that will enable investigators to locate the child.
  • What is the suspected abuser’s name, relationship to the child, and address or license plate number?
  • What is the child’s parents’ names, address, and telephone number?
  • Describe the type of abuse, when it occurred, and your reasons for suspecting abuse.
  • What is the current location of the child?
  • What is your assessment of the child’s current level of safety?
  • What can you tell us about the child’s siblings and any related safety concerns?
  • What are the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other witnesses?
  • Has the child presented with other suspicious injuries before?

Although anonymous reports can be made in every state, child welfare agencies generally discourage anonymity for many reasons. One, knowing the identity of the reporter can help the child welfare worker gather information during the investigative process to ensure the child’s safety. Two, if the case goes to trial, the child welfare worker may need to rely on the reporter to be a crucial evidentiary witness.

Unfortunately, many child welfare agencies are severely underfunded and understaffed. Typically, reports of child abuse and neglect are prioritized based on whether the child is in immediate risk or danger. Be patient. You may have to call more than once.

Who investigates complaints of child abuse and neglect?

The state or county agency that provides child protective services has the legal authority and obligation “to explore, study, and evaluate” reports of child abuse and neglect and to provide services when needed. During the early investigation stage, child welfare workers are responsible for determining:

  1. Whether abuse or neglect has likely occurred
  2. Whether there is immediate danger or risk to the child
  3. What the motivation, capacity, and intent of the alleged perpetrator is
  4. What the ability of a non-offending caregiver is to protect
    the child in the immediate future

If the child is in immediate danger, the child welfare worker may place him or her under emergency protective services, which may include in-home support and supervision or the temporary removal of the child to a safe alternative
environment (e.g., with other family members or in foster care). If the child is removed from the home under these circumstances, the court and family must be notified and an emergency/temporary custody review hearing must be held, typically within 48 to 72 hours.2

If the child welfare worker determines that there are safety concerns yet it is safe to leave the child in the home the worker is responsible for creating a plan to keep the child safe in that environment and for organizing or providing any needed support for the child and the family. Support may come from a variety of sources, including extended family, local community organizations, and child protective services.

What happens to the child and family if a report is substantiated?

After a more comprehensive assessment, the child welfare worker must determine whether abuse or neglect occurred. If the allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated, the child protection agency and/or courts will evaluate the case and determine what level of intervention is necessary. Interventions are dependent on the severity of the circumstances and may include voluntary assistance and services, court-ordered supervision and services, out-of-home placement, and as a last and complicated intervention termination of parental rights.

If a court orders the child to be removed from the home and placed under the supervision of the child welfare agency, two important federal laws come to bear. Both the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P. L. 105-89) and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P. L. 96-272) legally mandate child welfare workers to make “reasonable efforts” to reunite the family whenever possible and establish timeframes for achieving this goal or another permanency solution. If, after a thorough investigation, it is determined that the child is in need of substitute care, the child may go to live with other relatives or in an alternate care arrangement (e.g., foster care), until it is determined that the child is no longer in danger in the home or until services can be provided for the child and family to ensure the child’s safety.

In some cases, it is necessary for law enforcement to file criminal child abuse charges, depending on the nature and severity of the abuse or neglect. The range of legal penalties for child maltreatment varies from therapy for the perpetrator to incarceration.

Will you be able to find out what happens to the child?

One difficult conflict arises with the reporter’s desire or need to know the outcome of the report, versus the family’s right to privacy and confidentiality. Usually, if you are a family friend, neighbor, or relative, and not part of the child welfare professional community, you will not receive detailed information about the report.

The child welfare agency may let you know whether the circumstances have been evaluated and whether the case has been opened for further investigation. Many times, however, child welfare agencies are overburdened with high caseloads and too many time demands and thus are unable to report whether the allegations were substantiated. You may request information regarding the status of your report if the agency does not provide it voluntarily.

In some states, professionals who are mandated to report are provided greater detail due to their continued legal obligation, role in assisting or treating the child, and ability to monitor conditions that might further endanger the child. Thus, most state laws entitle mandated reporters to be informed of the findings of the investigation and the services being provided to protect the child.

What happens if you report and the case is unsubstantiated?

While only a small percentage of reports turn out to be deliberately false, some cases become classified as “unsubstantiated,” which means there was not sufficient information regarding the allegation or the identity of the family to confirm abuse or neglect based on the state’s legal criteria. Some cases are classified as unsubstantiated if no court action was taken and voluntary services were provided to the child. Criteria for substantiation vary among states because there is no uniform national system for case reporting.

If you are unsure of the legal and societal definitions of abuse or neglect in your community, contact your local child welfare agency for information.

Knowing how, when, and what to report about child abuse and neglect may make a life or death difference for a child.


Child abuse and neglect state statutes series: Issue paper: Current trends in child maltreatment reporting laws. (2002). Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. [Online]. Available: (Retrieved: May 28, 2003).

Children, Youth, & Families Department, Child Care Services Bureau. (1998). Reporting child abuse it’s everyone’s responsibility. South Deerfield, MA: Channing L. Bete Co., Inc.

Tondrowski, J. (in press). The Legal Framework for Child Protective Services. In C. Brittain & D. E. Hunt (Eds.), Helping in child protective services: A competency-based casework handbook. New York: Oxford University Press.


1. State laws regarding child abuse reporting vary and are revised continually. Contact your local child protective agency for information about the laws in your state.

2. Timeframes for an emergency or temporary custody review hearing are established by law. Contact your local child protective agency for information about the laws in your state.

©2003 American Humane. This Fact Sheet may be reproduced and distributed without permission; however, appropriate citation must be given to American Humane.

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