When he was 13, Damon Moelter began posting videos to YouTube, claiming his father was sexually abusive and violent. The subject of a lengthy and hostile custody dispute, Damon found an unusual path out of his father's house and away from the clutches of the legal system purportedly there to protect him: He got married at the age of 16 in a Reno, Nevada wedding chapel.
It should be noted that Damon's father denies the allegations of abuse. However, Damon's mother believed his claims, and fought for custody of him.
Phyllis Chesler, a psychotherapist and college professor, concludes in the linked-to article that her observations of custody disputes reveals something of an emerging pattern, where ...
“Some mothers lost custody of their children to their batterers. Many battered mothers lost their children when they alleged their violent husbands had also been sexually abusing their child. Often such mothers are seen as “crazy,” and as “alienating” the child from their “perfectly nice” father.
The article goes on to state that ...
Chesler relates that despite lack of formal recognition for “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” (PAS) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, accusations of PAS made against mothers have successfully been used as a legal tactic in custody disputes. Claims that mothers are suffering from this falsely claimed, pathological condition are commonly made by abusive fathers wishing to dispel any claims of abuse made by their former partner.
Or perhaps the allegations aren't true to begin with?
I make no conclusions as to whether Damon's allegations against his father are true or false -- I haven't investigated the case, and I haven't been involved with it, nor have I ever spoken with any of the parties (though I note that all three have turned to the internet to argue their beliefs).
But I do think this reveals a serious stumbling block to the national debate about false allegations of abuse. Because abuse does happen in some cases, we must be concerned both societally and judicially with these issues on a case-by-case basis, and refrain from drawing conclusions like this based on observations. Some of those cases Professor Chesler is speaking about undoubtedly were cases of actual abuse. Some were undoubtedly not. Which ones? I don't know - you don't know - I doubt Professor Chesler knows.
And that's the problem.