I grew up watching General Hospital with my mom like most of you. I remember watching Luke, Laura, Frisco, Jesse, Bobby, Kin and the long impressive list of other amazing characters each day. I used to imagine what it would be like to be on adventures with them. So to say my fortuitous intermingling with these icons in Port Charles, who are now my cast-mates and friends was a dream come true, is not some overworked cliche. It’s the literal truth. Dream big guys, it can work.
Thank you again. There has never been a day where I didn’t know how lucky I was to be on this iconic show.
Just letting you know that I am reading every last response to my facebook blog-ish about mom and stuff. I got hundreds of them so it may take a minute. I am comforted by your good wishes for my mom but honestly, the take away for me here is how many of you care for your parents without help, without funds, without any net at all.. all the while holding down full time jobs with no relief at all. I am in awe of you. It grounds me and reminds me how much easier it is for me..how privileged I am, and how generous & unspoiled you are.
I will try to use what I got here. Be a voice for those that don’t have one. Use my soapbox for good. It is my honor and the best use of my time. I want my life to matter to not just me. I want it to be helpful for others.
You are the real stars here. I get that.
It’s been a while since we’ve talked for sure. I’ve just made a cocktail after a long day of getting things done and feel like writing a bit. If the words look slurred, it means it’s time for me to stop.
So for the first time in my life, I felt my age. Not sure if it was a physical thing, but I know for sure it was an emotional thing. I went one long weekend to Chicago to help mom who is dealing with the bullshit care that American healthcare provides its Seniors while in rehab and when they’re thrown out of that, into the goodness of loved ones who agree to turn their lives upside down and inside untenable, it takes on another level of WTF. My mom fortunately has us, as well as very limited funds to compensate being not thrown into the worst care ever. Without “us” and substantial funds, you will die in filth & loneliness. So there’s that.
I went to Chicago and then back to LA to work the rest of week, then travel to NYC on red eye for back to back appearances & then back to Chicago again. Let’s start with the fact that I hate to travel now. I want to go places but flying coach which is what I always do because contrary to fantastic ideas about soap stars, no one ever pays for us to travel otherwise. Prime time stars get an upgrade, we don’t. Don’t care. I don’t deserve a better seat than anyone else. We ALL fucking deserve a better seat. I want ALL the CEOs of airlines to sit their asses in these inhumane stuffed seats for no less than 30 hours, pay for the crap food and blessed libations and then get the hell back to all of us.
But I digress, I fortunately worked and traveled back to Chicago to my mom’s rehab and had to politely remind care takers who wipe asses for $10 an hour to please help me re hook my mom’s oxygen because I was too stupid to figure it out.. I want to adopt all of them, because this is a job that requires the most empathy & kindness. My mom didn’t recognize me. Between my sisters, me, & her 5 grandchildren we tried to get on top of things and bla bla bla bla… anyone who’s been here gets it. Those that don’t will know soon enough. So enough. There is SO much wrong with the health care of our Senior citizens…. I want to scream.
I don’t scream, because after screaming for the last 3 yrs, I realize that it just makes me hoarse and angry.
I feel overwhelmed even though my personal life has never been better but still, sadly, I’m uncomfortably comfortable. So I meditate today for the 1st time in a long time. I know, I truly know that we will be alright. This notion that we get to go through life without discomfort is an unrealistic one and a privileged one. I think I’m just gonna leave it here for tonight.
Thanks for listening.
I missed wishing you all a joyous mother’s day yesterday. Kate and I took the midnight flight after my work and her last final to spend Mother’s day weekend with my mom who is in rehab after latest hospital stay & having an arduous but heroic time of it. Mother’s day consisted of my brilliant sister’s, bro in law and my sweet nephews who kidnapped her and took her to french restaurant for Lunch. Mom had escargot & almost wept. We brought her back and we gave the attendants roses for they were all mothers spending the day taking care of my mother, validating my belief that all women are mothers to someone whether they have actual children or not. In the room next to mom was a 98 yr old physical education teacher for the visually impaired who wanted to hear Kate’s song and listened to the entire thing and cried saying “You’ve no idea what a treat that was” I could go on and on about what a lucky mom I am, but honestly, it’s all the women around me that allowed me to feel this fortunate. Women are born nurturers and the ones that don’t literally have their own but cherish all of them are truly what this day is about. I’m surrounded by them. I salute the village of women who took care of Kate and now my mom. Women are just, and I’m not allowed to swear rightfully because Disney thinks I can use better words, but in this instance I will have to say …. are fucking awesome.
Today is General Hospital 56th birthday. I remember missing acting class to watch Luke and Laura’s wedding. I watched GH for yrs with my mom before that. The fact that I ended up doing what they do on another soap while dating Jake Meyer for 31/2 yrs and hanging with all the characters that I was obsessed about was surreal. The fact that I am now 23 years invested in, and entangled in the history of this iconic show is mind boggling.
I was turning 40 and wanting a child. I remember after Santa Barbara ended while working in prime time quite well for 5 yrs but that it still didn’t provide me the confidence that I needed to have Kate. Nothing is ever sure in prime time. I remember thinking I need to get back on a soap in order to have stability for my child. I remember having many choices and remember thinking there is only one for me and that was General Hospital. I remember Michelle Val Jean telling Wendy Riche that, and Wendy hiring me. I made the right call. General Hospital was it for me. General Hospital provided me the opportunity to raise my child well. That is ALL that ever mattered to me.
I thank all of you for watching GH and accepting me. Kate thanks you too.
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I went outside and wished on a star for Kate as I did every night for years. I told her that night that I was ready for her and if she was ready for me, I’d be grateful to be her mom. Within minutes that star literally shot across the sky from right to left cementing my faith in the connection between heaven and earth. I have since called her “my shooting star”
Kate is truly a most beautiful soul. Truthfully, she came in that way. All I did was water her and love her. The joy of being her mom is beyond measure. I can say in all candor that I’ve never been unhappy even a day because of Kate. Being her mom was and is the blessing I’ve always hoped for. The love we share for each other is as we say, “around all of the Universes infinity times”…incalculable & never ending.
Sunday is Kate’s 21st birthday. Today Kate releases her single “Someday Baby” It would mean so much if you would help me celebrate her by listening to her song.
I’ve been able to abundantly provide for my daughter, live an advantaged life, & give to others because of all things General Hospital which includes all of you. All I want for Xmas this year is for my beloved show to thrive for another 55 and for all of you to have everything you want. Make it rain, Santa🎅
I woke up at 3 this morning and couldn’t sleep. I turned on the TV and the it chyron said, “Mass Shooting of College Students in So Cal. The panic that ran through me was indescribable. Luckily, my child was safe. This man’s son was not. The grief that this man is feeling is utterly anguishing to watch. But we must watch. More importantly we must send it to our fellow citizens who voted for politicians that vote against sensible gun control that could have kept the gun out of the hands of a man known by many to have PSTD and against preventing him from buying bump stocks that this murderer used to massacre this poor father’s 1st born son and the beautiful others. They voted for politicians that allowed a known anti semite and many known domestic abusers and known racists to buy assault weapons that mowed down so many innocents. They voted to allow assault weapons that kill in rapid succession. The voter and the one they voted for cannot absolve themselves of their part in this. Not all the mass murders could’ve been prevented, but many of them could have. Stopping even one of them is better than none at all. Guns in hands of the wrong people kill people, and there are ways of lowering the odds of that happening, yet the GOP, after all the senseless, tragic bloodshed, refuses to do anything.
How you vote determine your values.
Politics reflect policies that govern our nation. Policies that determine healthcare, gun laws, environmental laws protections, immigration laws, etc. These issues impact how humane and just (or not) we are. Your vote says so much about you.
You cannot vote red or blue and cherry pick the issues. With your vote for each politician, you get all of their values and what they stand for. And in this instant a red vote was a vote that allows bum stocks, guns, assault weapons into the hands of the wrong people who mass murder others, one of whom left this father without his 1st born son.
Here are the Senators who voted against gun control
I’m very grateful to everyone who showed up and voted to restore decency & fairness to our country. We are a step closer to reclaiming what is rightfully ours which is to have love, humanity, justice for all, and the right for our children to feel safe. I ask that we all keep up the good fight. I ask that everyone write your Senators and Congressperson and insist on sensible gun control, a ban on assault or semi assault weapons, bum stocks and any weapon that has no business in the hands of any civilian. Enough was enough a long time ago. But still, we must keep trying. All of these deaths, hundred of them in a short year, hundreds more the year before deserve the honor of having brought peace and sanity to our country. We must do it for them and their families.
I had a long list of things to do today. I sat down with my tea and read the news on the computer as I do every morning before getting on with it. It is 8 hours later and I’m still here, in my jammies, unmotivated, frustrated, & too paralyzed with hopelessness to get on with it today. No point now, the day is over anyway. Tomorrow is another day.
I’m a hopeful and very lucky person. I’ve as far as my life goes, literally nothing to complain about. My daughter is thriving, my job is divine, and I’m in love and loved by a man who is the culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted. This begs the question as to why I’m still sitting in my pj’s at 5:20 with a martini in my hand.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. A highly accomplished and by all accounts, ethical & conscientious woman, is being treated with disdain, disrespect and utter contempt by Donald Trump and the GOP Senate. Shocking, I know. She is being denied what is her right, an FBI investigation to her alleged sexual assault by a nominee to the highest position in the land. A man who has already lied to the Senate, (Kavanaugh stated under oath that he was not aware that documents proven to be stolen from Sen Leahy were stolen when the only way he could have gotten the info from them were if they were stolen. A 6 yr old could see the bulls*** in that) and willingly withheld 90% of important documents from Dem Senators which would reveal his outrageous opinions against women, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and immigration rights among God knows what else. But we will never know for sure, because the GOP Senate is refusing to let anyone see it.
But I digress.
I remember watching the Anita Hill hearings (BTW even Bush gave her an FBI investigation) and thinking, this isn’t fair. Now I’m watching these same men do the same thing to a woman with an even more egregious accusation, with even more witnesses and even more facts to back it up, and I’m even more furious, more frustrated and feeling more powerless than ever before.
I tweeted out insults all day to GOP Senators and called them… all of them… and vowed to do everything I could to get them out of government. I tweeted out support of Dr. Ford, and I know that all of that will change nothing.
The fact that Dr Ford passed a polygraph, told her husband in 2012, told her therapist, told a friend in 2017 and now has women from HS remembering this incident to be true, is all being ignored.The fact that Brett Kavanaugh said that, whatever happened at his HS should remain there, and the other man Ford named was part of the rape attempt, Mark Judge, wrote a book called “Wasted” about his drunken life in HS with quotes like ” I found it impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated” and “If you could breath and walk you could hook up” and his senior yearbook quote was “Certain women should be struck regularly like gongs” and describes himself as a black out alcoholic in HS, is Brett’s only witness and is being brushed off by Trump & GOP Senators who appear to be able to do whatever they want. The fact that Dr. Ford has everything to lose from telling the truth, and Brett Kavanaugh has everything to gain by lying, is undermined by our vulgar, joke of a President, who faces 20+ allegations of sexual harassment/assault charges, is under investigation as a co conspirator to treasonous acts, has ordered 3000 children ripped from their parents and into cages with over 700 left living in camps, has destroyed our world standing, embarrasses, humiliates and endangers all of us every damn day, along with our disgusting, cowardly, weak minded, morally bankrupt GOP Congress, who refused to hear scandal proofed Merrick Garland for over 400 days and then never, all because they could… are going to get away with their inarguable abuse of power, by appointing a bad, amoral judge to sit on our highest court for the rest of his and our lives… No thanks. I think I’ll have another martini.
I’ll be watching the royal wedding along with much of the world tomorrow. While I never had the fortune of meeting Harry, I have spent a moment or two with Meghan. Her dad, Tommy Markle, was our beloved General Hospital lighting director for years. Tommy brought Meghan to work when she was little, and she had a short stint as a nurse on GH when she was older. Meghan is a lovely woman. It is, I believe, a positive thing to watch her love story play out publicly. The world can only benefit right now from a collective sharing of sweetness and joy.
What sadly, was not positive, was the public intrusion into her father’s life. It was unwarranted, unkind and unnecessary. There are a number of people at “General Hospital” that can attest to the character of Tommy Markle. We affectionately referred to him as our big teddy bear. He is by all accounts, a fine and decent man, as well as a loving father. Tommy did not deserve to have a bottom feeding, scandal seeking “press” hunt him down and invade his privacy, causing him undo pressure and stress.
I think it’s worth noting that it was the same breed of blood thirsty, rating seeking “press” that chased Harry’s mother into a tunnel, that may well have contributed to Meghan’s father missing the most important moment of her life.
Having said that, I, like most of you, am looking forward to the happy affair tomorrow, and I will be cheering along. But most of all, I will be saluting the father of the bride. Congrats Tommy. Well done, sir.
10/24/17 – Where have I been you ask?
Got a call Oct 8th from my sister that Mom was in ER and not expected to make it. I immediately got Kate and got on a plane. When we got there she was in ICU on a biPaP machine, but she saw me and smiled, as I crawled in with her for a moment and we cuddled, after which, she motioned for me to move so she could get to Kate. That’s what everyone does to me. I don’t blame them. Mom was hanging on, but struggling. It was horrible to watch. To the dismay of the 2nd floor ICU, my sisters, the grandkids, and the great grandkids never left her side. We were told only one of us could sleep in her room, which we interpreted as 3 of us. We were able to take the chairs that turn into beds from the other ICU rooms, because no one was using them. No one stayed with them. The waiting room was filled with empty pizza boxes, bagels, Starbucks and just us. I wondered if my family is overly caring, or other families don’t care enough. She needed our attention and our advocacy. She was in terrible pain. She had leg cramps that needed to be massaged, gasps for breath that needed to be calmed, and constant water swabbing because her mouth was agonizingly dry. And while the nursing staff in ICU were very skilled, they would’ve missed a lot, in that my mother was unable to use the call button. As long as her vitals remained somewhat stable, they were out of touch. The fact that she was in agony was just what she had to endure until the doctors showed up in the morning after their coffee. Finally after 18 hours on the biPAP machine, with my mother begging me to take it off, I went to the nurses station and Shirley McC’lained them to wake up a doctor to order it off. Unless they could assure me that torturing her would lead to her getting better, it was to come off. She wanted it off. Off it went, and the relief on my mom’s face was indescribable.
I watched my mom for 5 days in ICU, struggle. She was given a 2% chance to recover, yet each day she got a little better. See, Mom had a raison d’etre. her grandson Josh was getting married on the 20th and she was determined to be there.
After the 5th day she was transferred to a regular room on the 4th floor. Here is where our attention to her was critical. The last thing any nursing staff wants to see is 3 Grahn girls, but I tell you, it was absolutely necessary that we stayed on top of everything. I left the room for 2 hours, came back and her contact was in her blind eye. and her hearing aid was in without a battery in it.
2 days later, she was still very weak, unable to walk, feed herself, gasped for breath at night, and needed assistance. A doctor came in and said she was going to be released that day. I pointed out that she just got out of ICU, and because they released her too early 3 weeks ago, she was back in the ER in less than 48 hours and almost died. She told me, that as long as her vitals are stable, medicaid and medicare won’t let us keep them. I said that she clearly can’t go home, where is she supposed to go now? The Doctor told me without skipping a beat, “that is what nursing homes are for.” I suddenly became 500 pounds,10 feet tall and got way too close to this 5’1 doctor lady. My voice sounded like I just swallowed a pack of Marlboro’s and growled, “Have you seen any of these nursing homes?… would you put your mother in one of those nursing homes?…that’s MY mother, you’re talking about.” She said if she didn’t release my mom, they would be on her back and penalize her. I said that she took an oath to save lives and care for the sick, now get Medicare on the phone and tell them my mom is not ready to go home, because she’s clearly not ready to go home! And while you’re at it, get a PT in here and get her up and walking. (They came in once and wrote a report that she should go to assisted care) We needed Mom to get stronger and time to figure out what’s next. Then I cried. I cried again to the Sunday doctor that seemed to have more empathy. That worked. The PT never showed up, and my nephews got mom up and walked her around the floor every day for 4 more days as the great grandkids cheered her on. We hung her wedding dress in front of her so she could see it, had it tailored for her, brought in a dentist to fix her plate, and cure the thrush in her mouth that she had been complaining about for over a week, that no one did anything about, washed her hair, because they didn’t, and on and on. Nurses are saints, for sure, but our healthcare system is getting increasingly awful as staffing is cut as well as patient care. And our GOP Congress is willing to diminish the humanity and well being of our sick by allowing Insurance companies to run roughshod over us, while bankrupting medicaid and medicare so that they can give tax cuts to the rich, mind- numbingly greedy fuckers who are funding their re-elections…and are NEVER going to trickle down a damn dime to help anyone but themselves. Talk about sick.
Look, my story is not only not unique, It is all too common. My mother is 88, many of you are dealing with sick children and young adults. My heart goes out to you.
The good news is mom made it to the wedding. She was wheeled down the aisle looking beautiful and proud. She danced with her whole family at the reception and had a glorious night. We are very grateful and realize how very fortunate we were and are.
Mom now has 24 hour care that costs $3800 a week. We are privileged to be able to afford that, for now, so that she can live out what’s left of her beautiful life with dignity, rather than being left to hang over a wheelchair, drooling in the middle of room in an understaffed, underfunded, disgusting nursing home. Our care for seniors in this country is inhumane and deplorable. If you make less than $14,000 a year you are entitled to 24 hour at home care, If you’re college educated and worked your whole life for $40k a year and managed to raise 3 children, send them to college, save for retirement, all while paying a disproportionate amount of taxes each year….you’re outta luck. I will never understand our country.
I’ve been back and forth between Chicago and LA, worked a bunch of shows and finally have a moment to catch up with you.
As always, I’m grateful for you and all that I have… Just want a better world for everyone in it.
9/28/16 My Love Letter to General Hospital
Dear General Hospital,
It was 20 years ago today that we fell in love. Our relationship has been nothing short of miraculous. To have found each other was hard enough, to have stayed together for 20 years in Hollywood is a rarity, but to still love each other after all this time, especially after I opened a Twitter account, is just beyond imagination. I am one lucky Diva.
A happy home is a must to hold a relationship together. We’ve been so fortunate to rent our home at ABC (They’ve always been my favorite letters). Thank God we have a long lease because our child Kate has 4 more years at a very expensive college. Our home is in such a magical neighborhood, too. Who doesn’t want live in a Disney zip code? It’s always bustling with characters…and birds that dress me every morning. We are so blessed to reside in the happiest place on earth.
However, like any marriage, it’s not always perfect. We’ve had our share of tough times. Sometimes I just didn’t have the words to express myself (😉), but through it all, I never stopped loving you.
I believe we’ve gotten through most things over the test of time by keeping it light. Really light. Like giant key-light light with pink tones that follow me wherever I go to keep things “fresh.” May you always continue to light up my life….and my face.
All in all, we really are good together. So many wonderful things have come about because we found each other, and saw the value in each other. I’m so excited about this anniversary…and about my presents. I can’t wait to see the 40 X 80 photo of me hanging in the hallway outside of Frank’s office that you are giving me for an anniversary present, along with the life-size image of me that you had mosaic-ed into the brick underneath the General Hospital sign as you enter the studio. And thanks in advance for Maurice’s parking space. It won’t kill him to walk an extra 68 feet.
You know, I truly think our marriage has lasted this long because of all the wonderful people in our lives that have been there for us, and will never give up on us. In order to sustain a relationship like ours, it takes a village…or an “army”. I have so much appreciation for all of them. I hope they know how much.
My beloved General Hospital, I couldn’t be more grateful for all that you’ve been to me and will continue to be. Did I mention that Kate has 4 more years at a very expensive college? I have loved every moment of our life together thus far.
Here’s to us. Here’s to our family. Here’s to 20 years…….and 20 more.
As Kate left for college yesterday leaving me an empty nester, (Empty nester is parentudenom for WTF.) In any case. I wanted to let you all know that I’m fine and so is she.
I can see from my Winnebago a block away along with my superb visual clarity binoculars that she’s having a great time. If she needs me I’m under the tree by the library in the “I’m with her” sleeping bag. Tomorrow I’ll be volunteering in the library but I’ll be wearing a mustache and beard so she won’t be embarrassed. I see she’s having fun so I won’t worry, I’ll just be washing dishes in the cafeteria if she needs me. Love, mom.
3/2/16 My story. Planned Parenthood I stand with you today and every day
I stand with Planned Parenthood Action and the women of America against HB2 which is in front of SCOTUS today. As a staunch advocate for reproductive choice and for safe and legal health care for all women of all races in all zip codes, I am sharing my story. We won’t go back.
I was 25 years old when I became pregnant. I was diligent about using birth control yet I became pregnant regardless.
I was living with and financially supporting myself and my boyfriend at the time. When I realized I was pregnant I was shocked, scared, and overwhelmed. But I was never uncertain about how I felt and what I knew. I knew I was not ready, prepared, or willing to be a mother at that time. I never once wavered in my belief that this was not the man with whom I wanted to, or should raise a child. Simply put, I was resolute in my decision to terminate my pregnancy, and grateful for those that tirelessly fought for my right to make that decision about my own body, and my own life. I was relieved that I lived in a time where I would not be shamed, confronted or harmed by others while walking into my nurturing doctor’s office for this safe and legal procedure.
While my spiritual beliefs are irrelevant in the sense that I don’t need to justify an act that is legal in this country, I’m going to share with you what’s very personal to me, in hopes that it may open the minds of those that think they have a monopoly on what is right or wrong, or what is true and what is not.
I am a very spiritual being. I believe deeply in the connection between heaven and earth. I do not follow any specific religion but my faith is strong, and it is mine.
In regards to birth, I do not believe a fetus is a human being until it can survive outside of the womb…until it can breathe on its own. I believe the soul enters the body after it is separated from its mother. Until then it is somewhere outside of us.
When I found out I was pregnant, I went to sit in The Little Brown Church on Coldwater Canyon. I chose this church only because I love church structures, it was quiet, close, and no one was ever there. I sat there for 3 to 4 hours every day for a week, and communed with this soul, who I believed was around me for a reason. My sister had been trying to have a baby for two years and I asked this soul if it would either wait for me until I could be the mother I wanted to be and the mother a baby needed, or go to my sister who was ready now. She would love him the way that I would want a baby to be loved. My sister Suzi gave birth to my nephew Josh, nine months to the day after my abortion.
The entirety of my short pregnancy and abortion was a deep and transcending experience. It is my story. It is my truth, and no one else’s. It belongs to me, and I cherish it. It helped me evolve me as a person, and fueled my desire to be a good mother into actual manifestation when I gave birth almost 20 years later to the love of my life, Kate. It was ultimately a profound experience for which I have no regrets.
There are still those that insist on continuing to chip away at, or out and out deny us, our legal and rightful choice to control our own bodies, as well as our choice to decide when or if we become mothers. Their truth is theirs, not ours. Their relentless obsession with trying to correct us in the name of their faith is wrought with hypocrisies. Their obsession with trying to suppress us is suspect at best, and will never be satisfied, because it is wrong. They can never win this, because we won’t let them. It is 2016 and they are still invading while we continue to stop them. There is a world of women and children right here, right now, homeless, parentless, starving, being raped and slaughtered that need and want their attention, we don’t. It is time for them to move on. If they are really so pro-life, it’s time they focused on the living.
Since 1989, I have been diligent and unyielding in supporting, defending, and championing a women’s right to have access to safe and legal abortions in facilities that are also safe, legal, and available for EVERY WOMEN.
I stand proudly with Planned Parenthood and all the reproductive health clinics all over America that love, nurture and respect all women regardless of their race, income or zip code.
Nancy Lee Grahn
2-9-14 My Thoughts on Dylan Farrow
Much is being written about Dylan Farrow’s open letter in Saturday’s New York Times about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, thanks to her powerful adoptive father, filmmaker and current Oscar nominee Woody Allen.
What isn’t being discussed by the various talking heads on every major network are the hard and cold facts about child sexual abuse, particularly when this life-altering crime is handled by family courts during a divorce or custody dispute.
Dylan wrote that, “There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child… I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand.”
Through my and my daughter’s own four agonizing years in family court, I saw the flaws of this impenetrable court system up close and personal. While my case did not involve sexual abuse, it was no less disturbing. While I do not wish to discuss the specifics of my case at this time, I can testify to the anguish this system puts on the children involved in an effort to protect the parent in question.
While I know a thing or two about the terrible state of this country’s family courts, and I’ve testified in Sacramento about the need for judicial oversight and system reform aimed at keeping children safer during custody disputes, I wasn’t as familiar with the facts about how child sexual abuse survivors are faring in the nation’s family courts.
Since so many pundits are basing their opinions on “victim blaming,” “mother blaming,” or a misunderstanding of child sexual abuse and the courts’ treatment of it, and since Dylan’s open letter speaks directly to the legal system’s mishandling of her childhood trauma, I want to share with you some important facts that expose just how broken the family court system is, particularly for children who have suffered sexual abuse by a parent or authority figure.
The Center for Judicial Excellence, which tracks horrific cases like Dylan’s, and advocates for widespread system reform of the nation’s family courts, shared the following startling facts with me, which were compiled by their colleagues at Child Abuse Solutions.
Every discussion about whether Dylan is telling the truth needs to be grounded in facts.
1) Children hardly ever fabricate allegations of sexual abuse. Studies analyzing maliciously fabricated allegations of child sexual abuse have found that children bring only 0% to 2% of such allegations. There is no reputable research to support the notion that children can be brainwashed to believe they have been sexually abused when they have not.
2) Maliciously fabricated allegations of child sexual abuse are exceedingly rare. Most studies find that only 1% to 6% of all child sexual abuse allegations in custody and visitation disputes are maliciously fabricated. The remaining 94% to 99% of such allegations are either true or were brought in good faith, based upon a reasonable suspicion. Studies find that family law judges consider allegations of child physical and sexual abuse to be maliciously fabricated far more often than is supported by the research.
3) Research has established that while mothers accuse fathers of child sexual abuse in 48% of cases involving such allegations, their allegations are found to be maliciously fabricated only 1.3% of the time.
4) Medical evidence is very rare in cases involving child sexual abuse. Even in legally confirmed cases of vaginal penetration, the rate of abnormal medical findings is only 5.5%. The rate of abnormal medical findings in legally confirmed cases of anal penetration is only 1%.Genital tissue is very elastic and heals rapidly. Unless the child is examined by a medico-legal sexual assault specialist within 48 hours of the rape, any genital tears are likely to have healed and DNA or semen will have disappeared.
5) The single most important indicator of child sexual abuse is disclosure by the child to a trusted adult. Because family courts use a civil standard of proof (a preponderance of the evidence, or just over a 50% likelihood) rather than the higher criminal standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt), substantially less evidence is required in family court to meet the burden of proving that a child needs protection from sexual abuse. NOTE- This is why the family court judge was able to deny Mr. Allen visitation with Dylan despite the fact that he was never criminally charged.
6) Children who disclose sexual abuse by a parent in the context of a custody dispute are frequently not protected from further abuse. Research shows that:
● · Only 10% of children alleging incest are adequately protected from their identified perpetrators by family courts through long-term supervised visitation orders or no-contact orders.
● · The remaining 90% of children disclosing abuse receive no protection, with 70% continuing in shared custody and visitation arrangements without any supervision, and 20% being placed in the custody of the parent they accused of the sexual abuse, and losing unsupervised or all contact with the parent who sought to protect them.
Given this last fact, what is remarkable about Dylan Farrow’s experience is that the family court in her case actually protected her from ongoing contact with her alleged abuser. She was part of the only 10% of child sex abuse victims who are protected from their abusers during and after a divorce and/or custody fight. In her case, the Judge apparently found her claim of abuse “more probable than not” despite the Yale psychologists’ reports submitted by Woody Allen’s attorneys. Much is made by Woody Allen’s camp that a group of Yale psychologists found that the abuse did not happen and was either Dylan’s fantasy or that the abuse was “implanted” by Mia Farrow. These Yale psychologists, however, were notably psychologists that Woody Allen treated with, and paid. Additionally, they never interviewed the corroborating witnesses and they destroyed their notes, which in these cases are never done. It is not surprising that the judge noted that he had reservations about the reliability of the Yale report.
More importantly, the State’s team of psychologists – note they were not hired by Woody Allen or Mia Farrow — did find Dylan’s claims credible. While it is true that Woody Allen was not charged criminally, the prosecutor explained that while he had probable cause to charge Woody Allen, he was not doing so because of his and Mia Farrow’s concern for the fragility of Dylan and what going through a criminal action would mean to her. So, yes, Woody Allen has never been found guilty under the criminal code for child sexual abuse. But the judge in the family court action effectively made the determination that it was more probable than not that the abuse occurred and Woody Allen received no visitation. This finding was upheld by an appellate court that affirmed the judge’s order on this point.
The system fails many other children which is why The Center for Judicial Excellence and other child-focused organizations are urging people concerned about the dangers of family courts for child sex abuse victims to sign their Change.org petition demanding Congressional Oversight Hearings on the Failure of Family & Divorce Courts. Their Kids of Divorce Speak Out campaign also shares videos of young survivors like Dylan who are speaking out about the crisis in the nation’s family courts that are stealing their childhoods and harming so many child abuse survivors.
We should all work to ensure that survivors like Dylan Farrow are supported when they speak out about their abuse. We should investigate the facts, all of them, before forming conclusions.
I would encourage people to not think of Woody Allen as a famous artist, but as a man. No more or less special than anyone else. Whether art can be separated from the individual is a personal consideration and a decision everyone is entitled to make on their own. However, if you love Woody Allen movies, do not use your appreciation of Woody Allen’s art as a basis to challenge Dylan Farrow’s credibility. Although for some the issue of whether the art can be separated from the man is open to debate, for me it cannot. I can, however, state with absolute impunity that Dylan Farrow’s story and her credibility is completely unrelated to how good a filmmaker Woody Allen is.
I would also urge everyone to be wary of claims of bitter or vindictive mothers. Any mother’s attorney will put the fear of God in a mother before abuse is ever mentioned to a Court because of the high risk that the Court will end up removing the children from her and giving them to the abuser. You speak and risk removal, or you remain scared and silent. As unthinkable as this is, it happens with great regularity. Visit The Center For Judicial Excellence webpage and you will see just how often.
I have great appreciation for Dylan. Her courage to speak out in such a public way has instigated a long needed dialogue about these “private family matters” that are leaving our children unprotected and silenced by a system that must instead give them a voice and actually listen to them.
Thank you for listening,
Nancy Lee Grahn
4/7/13 Realized Dreams
I dreamed up my job on General Hospital in order to support my best dream … becoming Kate’s mom. As a single woman, GH provided me with the means to be a very available mom, bring home an ample supply of bacon, and love my job at the same time. As if that weren’t enough, General Hospital has now made Kate’s dream come true, which is to be a singer-songwriter. On April 9th, General Hospital will debut a song written by Kate called Private School Girls. Kate and her real life band “Traction” will be backing up Haley Pullos (Molly) who will sing the lead vocal during the Nurses Ball.
Kate wrote and recorded “Private School Girls” at age 12 while navigating her way through middle school. A very “special” time we can all relate to.
The original recording of Kate and her band is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play where all the proceeds will go to VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. Kate and her band-mates are now 14, and if you’d like to hear more from them, please check them out on YouTube.
Kate and I would like to thank GH Exec Producer, Frank Valentini, and Musical Director Paul Glass for choosing Kate’s song for the show. Kate has made it very clear that if she ever wins a Grammy, they will be the first two thanked. I will be forever grateful to them for this gift that will never be forgotten.
We would also like to thank Mike Post (dad of Traction’s lead guitarist) for being the band’s fearless and famous leader.