Kelly’s Story: Abduction is Not Love

Kelly´s story: A Child reflects on the effects of abduction

Abduction is not Love

Kelly J. Niles, MPA

There are many ways to show our children that we love them. As a parent myself, I struggle with the daily decisions that parents face in raising their children from the mundane to major development issues. We don’t show our children that we love them by alienating them from a parent.

Alienation in any form is abuse, whether it be through verbal means, abduction or both. As parents, we model good problem solving skills by using the systems in place to address family or custodial issues, and also by being what we are, adults. Douglas Darnell, Ph.D, author of Symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome, writes that parental alienation occurs “when parents physically or psychologically rescue the children when there is no threat to their safety.” This practice reinforces in the child’s mind the illusion of threat or danger, thereby reinforcing in the child’s mind the illusion of threat or danger, thereby reinforcing alienation.
Parental alienation is similar to the Stockholm Syndrome, which occurs when hostages begin to identify with their captors. In the case of an abducted child, the identification will be even stronger because of the age of the child and their relationship with the parent. For fear of losing the abducting parent as well, the child will not only want to please their abductor but will also readily believe allegations that they have been abandoned by the parent who is left behind (Violaine Delahais, P.A.R.E.N.T).
Abduction is not love. Taking a child from home by way of what is now termed parental abduction, is one of the worst forms of abuse a parent can inflict upon a child. Because of the long-lasting effects on the children who have been abducted, it has been characterized as a severe form of child abuse and is now a federal offense. Many children of abduction experience severe conditions while away from the victim parent and sometimes for their whole lives following their return. If they are returned.

These symptoms include:
Inability to trust, establish relationships
Developmental delays
Confusion about the event
Suicide attempts
Difficulty adjusting upon return
Long-term grief or rage
Sleep disturbances

Often when a family has experienced an abduction it is tucked away for decades and sometimes for whole lifetimes, affecting every aspect of the family dynamic. The child victims of the abduction are often to eager to let it lie as well. They were, after all, taught not to trust anyone and to keep secrets.

It is our responsibility not just as parents but as guardians of all children to expose this dirty little secret for what it is, a crime, and a severe form of child abuse. Most importantly, the adult survivors of this crime need to come forward and voice not only their views but also their experiences in order that we may learn from them.

Kelly Niles, a former parentally abducted child, is writing a book about her experience called The Long Weekend: A Daughter’s Story.