Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Mommy Told Me

Play #55 (Make-up #13) - What Mommy Told Me by Paula J. Caplan.

Well... this was a horrifying little play. I'm definitely going to need to read another one to wash this out of my brain. It's well written, don't get me wrong, just horrifying.

This play is about a mother whose young daughter was being sexually abused by her ex-husband - who also happens to be a police officer in their town. When the moment came in the trial for the girl to tell the judge what happened, she told him that she was just telling him what her mommy told her to tell him, which the judge interpreted to mean that the mother had fabricated the abuse in order to humiliate the father. What the little girl meant, of course, was that her mommy had told her to tell the truth. But the judge protected this officer who he knew so well against another one of these vindictive women, awarding full custody to the father, with only minimal visitation for the mother. When the little girl showed up to dance class with bruises, she reported more physical and sexual abuse, and when the social worker told the mother not to return the girl to the father, they were accosted by numerous police officers, and the girl was dragged screaming from her mother's arms. The judge harshly questions the social worker who fills in detail after detail, including the fact that the father's lawyer had been the one to issue the report that the mother had threatened the girl if she didn't tell the judge about the abuse. But again, the judge knows this lawyer, they are friends, and he backs him up, taking away all visitation rights from the mother and placing her under a gag order - she cannot even speak to anyone about the situation. The play ends with her crouching behind shelves in a Wal-Mart, where she had gone to get a box in which to send the daughter's favorite toy to her. You see, the girl and her step mother turned out to be there, and she could be held in contempt for being in the same place as her daughter.

And this play is based on a true story.

I seriously want to cry just typing the summary. It is a powerful story, and all too believable, based on some of the stories I have heard about friends' custody battles. When people in power only want to help each other, and not the people who their power is intended to protect... what then? As the mother says, "the truth is only the truth when the hearer wants to believe it."

Ugh. My heart hurts. People should see this play. And people who let things like this happen should be ashamed of themselves.

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