Lynda

My name is Lynda Eigenberger and I am 43 years old. Abduction doesn’t mean the parent is in the right or in the wrong, it’s just something that happened to me. I really don’t care who the legal parent was. There were no winners in this, I lost my parents, a good relationship with my brother, and I can’t look at my life and say that I have a childhood friend. My parents moved us all over the states, running and hiding from each other, when we didn’t want to be hidden. We wanted stability, to have a friendship with someone that lasts more that two years. My parents kept asking us to trust them, and the result is that I do not trust my mother, and any hope of trust died when my father died. I wish my parents would have asked us what we wanted, for we would have chosen both of them. Why can’t parents realize that is possible? Why do they persist in hurting each other, which really hurts their children. I hope that there will come a time when parents realize that they fell out of love with each other, but their child is still madly in love with both of them, as it should be. Here is my story: I was 5 when my parents divorced, my brother was 4, sister 3. About a year later, my father took all three of us for a court appointed visit. He took us to Disneyland, which my mother knew about, and then kept us for 6 years. From 6 to 12, I lived with my father and the many women that came into his life. When he died at the age of 58, he had been married 8 times. My father told us that our Mother could not handle taking care of us, so he was going to do it. I do not remember abuse, although I do remember pretty severe spankings, something that is considered abuse now. At one point, my father was in between wives, and unable to care for us. We were placed in a Methodist Children’s Home in Jackson, Mississippi for a little over a year. That was an odd experience. My siblings and I lived in different “houses”, yet it was all on one campus. It was a happy time, but it was also sad, because we felt rejected again. Finally, my dad and his new wife got us out and we moved to Glendale California. It seemed like a good life at the time, but he and his wife were having problems, so back to Mississippi we all went Not to the Children’s Home, thank God. He married a couple of times at that point, and then we received a call that would once again change our lives. My mother called me at home, and after realizing that we were without adults in the home on that afternoon, she told me that she was going to come and get me. I don’t know why I thought she would just come on in the house and sit down for a nice visit, but that is exactly what I thought would happen. Imagine my surprise, when she drove up with a friend and literally threw us into her vehicle. My brother did not have any shoes on at the time! We were told to lie down on the floorboard and to stay there until we got out of the state. That was frightening , but the fact that my mother did not even look anything like I remembered, was really scary....

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Liss

In 1977, I was Missy Sokolsky, the daughter of affluent parents on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I was loved and supported by an extended network of family and friends. I had been in the same bedroom in the same apartment in the same building since the day I came home from the hospital. By fourth grade, I had been with many of the same classmates since nursery school. After school, I had riding lessons, and ballet, and piano, and tumbling, and a tight pack of kids from the building that I had played with virtually every day of my entire life. Mom and dad were divorced, and I saw dad often throughout the week and on weekends. Grandma Adeline, dad’s mom, lived in Brooklyn, and was another much-loved fixture in my life. My Grandpa Tom and Grandma Dot – mom’s parents – lived in Florida and we visited them and my Aunt Susie and Uncle Buddy at least once a year. There were cousins and pets and best friends and and an entire nine year old’s universe. A lot of love, and a lot to love. By 1979, I was Melissa Hart, daughter of a single mother in San Diego, California. Mom worked full time and I was on my own. I had no other family, and few friends. Mom and I shared a bunk bed in a rented room in a stranger’s house. We survived on charity food baskets, and got our clothes at the Goodwill. I had certain secrets that I had to keep in order to protect my mom, and other secrets that I chose to keep because I knew my mom and my new peers would never understand. I changed schools 6 times between 4th and 8th grade, and moved 7 times. I learned to lie. I learned to bury Missy Sokolsky so that I could become Melissa Hart. Mom snatched me just after I turned 9 and fled to her parent’s house in Florida.  6 months later Dad snatched me back.  6 months after that Mom snatched me again, this time, with fake identity papers and a plan to go permanently underground. I was 10. Venetia and Missy Sokolsky disappeared off the face of the planet. Sharon and Melissa Hart emerged out of thin air on the other side of the country. Today, in my thirties, I am fighting to put the two identities back together. Looking back with 20/20 hindsight and the knowledge of the trauma that the identity rupture and life as a fugitive induced, my mother acknowledges that she was naive about the profound trauma created by her actions. Her choices ultimately tore our relationship apart. I moved out just days after my 16th birthday. My father did find us eventually, but he passed away before he and I reached the healing stage. My mother continues to claim that she thought at the time that she was acting in my best interests. I used to believe that.  Then, when I grew up and gained adult logic and reasoning capabilities and realized that was not true, I believed instead that she genuinely believed it had been in my best interests.  But as more evidence about my mother has come to light, I can no longer believe either of those things. It has been a hard and painful realization. I do think she loves me, in her own way. It’s all she has to work with. She had her own rough road as a child and it left her deeply damaged. I thank God that I was able to escape and gain a...

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Linnea

Somehow I find it very difficult to put my story down in writing. It has taken me many attempts just to come this far. It’s strange, because I’ve told it innumerable times, and that without much trouble or hesitation. But putting it down in print… why is that so difficult? Maybe because I will have to choose one version. The problem is that I personally don’t have a recollection of the abduction or the problems leading up to it. My story has always been a regurgitation of what others have told me. First, what others have ordered me to say, and later, my own patchwork of all the versions I have collected. So here is my mosaic, the puzzle of what really happened, that I have been working on most of my adult life. My parents got divorced when I was 8. They had separated two years earlier. They both remarried rather quickly, my father to a woman with three sons of her own he had met in group marriage counseling, and my mother to a man from Turkey. The separation and divorce had been amicable, with my father relinquishing custody of myself and sister and brother. However, once the new spouses came into the picture, I guess jealousy arose. There were arguments, my father disobeyed the visitation rights, brought us home hours or even a day late. My new Turkish stepfather brought a culture clash onto the scene, along with his short temper. So my mother and stepfather decided to take my brother, sister and me to Turkey, conveniently forgetting to tell my father. It’s still unclear whose idea it was, and exactly why it happened. In the beginning they often said they just wanted a little vacation, to let things cool off. But then it doesn’t’t make sense – why did they sell our house and put all our belongings in a dumpster? I have a hunch that my father’s initiation of a relationship with another person in the marriage counseling group infuriated my mother, seeing that the purpose of marriage counseling obviously is to try to save your marriage, not start a new one. Maybe the abduction was a way to take revenge. Once we were in Turkey, my dad “ruined” things by calling the international police. My mom and stepfather changed our names, cut our hair, and spoon-fed us a story we were supposed to tell if anyone asked. We were told that if our father found us, my mother would be put into jail for violating the custody rights, and we would never see her again. Once our dad tracked us down, he started a court case demanding custody. By this time a few months had past and my mom and stepfather’s incessant brainwashing had led us to start believing out father was a monster, a sexual molester, and a violent brute. Our initial instincts to want to see him and to write letters to him were soon extinguished. My mother had us write letters to the court describing how our father had sexually molested us. Although it was not true, she was the only parent we had left. Perhaps a mixture of fear that we might lose her too, combined with the fact that she was the only familiar person in a completely foreign country, was what led us to finally believe her. Days became months, and life started to take on the shape of a normal existence. We went to school, learned how to speak Turkish, made friends, went swimming and explored the tangerine groves. After almost three years, it was time...

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Kelly

My story of parental abduction began in the summer of 1976-I was nine, my brother was six. Our parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle. We had recently undergone a court-ordered custody evaluation that eventually put my father at the losing end, or so he perceived it. My brother and I were taken during a regular weekend visit just before I was to start fourth grade and my brother was to begin first grade. If I close my eyes, I can still see my mother waving goodbye to us from the parking lot of our apartment building as we watched her from the rear window of our father’s truck.   We said goodbye to the big house and private school earlier as well. Little did we know that it would be close to a year before we would see her again. It was Saturday before I started asking questions. I wondered why were continuing to drive, why we were sleeping in the truck. My questions were met with anger and frustration. Finally, late Saturday or Sunday night-while the others were sleeping (my father’s girlfriend, her six-year-old son, and my brother), I received my answers. We pulled into a gas station and when dad got out of the truck he turned to me and told me to get out. My heart stopped. I felt a panic rise in me that I had never felt before. Would I be left here? Where was here? Was he mad at me? I got out of the truck and came around to the driver’s side where dad was filling up the truck with gas. He looked down at me and then pulled me to him and held me. I felt so relieved. I wouldn’t be left behind… nothing bad was going to happen. After a few minutes he told me to hop back up in the truck. If only I hadn’t started my questions again. When dad got back in the truck I began to ask again—where are we? Where are we going? What about school? Is it Sunday…won’t mom worry? He sat quietly for a few minutes taking in my questions until finally he turned to me. I had seen that look before. I knew what was next and hated myself for not being able to keep my mouth shut. He screamed at me…told me exactly what was going on and where we were going. “Your mother doesn’t want you or your brother anymore! She gave you to me! She doesn’t want you, she doesn’t love you…you’ll just have to learn to deal with it! We are going to Canada!” With that, my brother woke and began to cry. Dad screamed at me again. It was my fault that David was upset…look what I had done! And so it began…the long weekend. We spent about eleven months living like fugitives on the run. We lived in Canada, Alaska, Minnesota, New Mexico, and finally we made our way back to Oregon through California. There was very little money and even less love. And it wasn’t even what was done to us physically as much as what was done psychically. We didn’t have much food, we used bar soap for shampoo. I close my eyes and imagine what we must have looked like. I still avoid mirrors. I still have the urge to run. We left in the middle of the night, never saying goodbye to friends we may have made or people we met. I still see those people, in my mind’s eye. I miss them. I’m sorry that...

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Jen

As is the case with almost everyone I have met recently, my situation is very unique. There are a couple of factors that allow for the individuality of my past, and fortunately, one of those is the fact that I am currently able to maintain relationships with both of my parents, and both of my step parents. I was born into a marriage which quickly disintegrated when I was two years old. My parents probably never should have entertained a marriage, but luckily for me, they did, thus I have had the chance to live my unusual life. However, their marriage was full of conflict, and pain. Their divorce was bloody, and the aftermath of their choice to split gave way for the ‘trickle down’ effect to take a strong hold on their communication efforts in regards to a split custody agreement. I spent the next four years with each of them for two weeks at a time. I attended a private school, and was able to maintain healthy friendships with friends at both households, and at school; yet there was always tension between the two of them. When I was seven years old, a series of horrible events in my mother’s life led her to make the decision to leave my home state. Despite the fact that the custody agreement stated that the parent residing in the state would obtain sole custody, my father agreed that it would be best for me to stay with my mother, and allowed her to take me to another state to live. We returned to my home state for a visit with my father and new step mother at Christmas. It was during this vacation time that I decided that I would like to try to live with them for a year, and see how things went. My mother reluctantly agreed, but asked for me to spend the remainder of our trip out there with her at a friend’s house where she had been staying. The few days passed, and soon came the night my mother was to leave to return to the new state. She asked her long-time boyfriend to accompany her to the airport, and transport me to my father’s house after her flight departed. Strangely enough to me, she asked me to bring all of my Christmas presents with me to the airport, as she thought that it would keep me occupied in the event of any delay time prior to her taking off. When we arrived at the airport, we sat for a short time before she was to board. She then asked me to walk her onto the plane, and say good-bye to her at the seat. I agreed, as this was the norm when I flew alone, and felt no threat due to this request. Once on board, she buckled me into a seat, and blocked the aisle to my exit. She explained to me that she would like me to be buckled in, in case the plane made a sudden jolt…yes, while it was parked at the gate. I started to scream, so she held me down and tried to comfort me, telling me that she loved me and that I had to go with her. A stewardess came to the back of the plane and explained to my mother that the captain was ready to leave, and that they could not take off with me acting up in such a way. She told my mother that she had to either calm me down, or we would have to get off the plane. I immediately piped...

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Charlene

My parents were going through a bitter divorce. Not because of money – each wanted custody of me and my brother. Most of my early childhood is a blur of memories, some happy, most sad. My father had anger problems and was unemployed a lot, and my mother was an alcoholic.My older brother and I stuck together while we could. I had seen many tragedies already at such a young age.My father beat my mother enough to go into a hospital while we watched. My mother would stagger home after partying all night. My brother was taken to a boys’ home and I saw him only a couple times more before I was taken. The summer I was seven, I was with my dad, and my mom took me. She said we were going for ice cream and that it was ok with dad, and that I should go with her. I was alone in the house by myself at the time, and went with her. She took me to her apartment permanently. My mother taught me to fear my father. She told me to hide in the closet while he was stalking us. There was court stuff, and I was asked questions. I saw my father during this, and he coached me a lot and made it sound like I was an adult and could choose. He reminded me that she lied to me about the ice cream and that was not ok. I was closer to him at the time, so I chose him. But my mother was granted custody, and I continued to live with her. My dad finally took me kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs, straight out of daycare. I had just turned eight. My childhood was over. We went underground for six months and changed our names. My father worked nights and home schooled me. We were living in a motel and I stayed inside with no outside contact. I didn’t know my mother’s phone number, but it didn’t matter. I had resolved to live with my dad. I knew there was something wrong, but I spoke up for him in court, so my dad said I was agreeing with him taking me. My brother was still in a boys home, so there was no way to reach him. And that was that. Once, when I was four or five, my dad had kicked me out of the house for not picking up my clothes. It must have only been a couple minutes, but I had a suitcase and was outside the house, crying. So by age eight, I knew we had left my mother and brother behind forever, and there was a big possibility he would leave me behind if I acted up. So I stuck to myself, didn’t try to draw attention to myself, and learned how to stay on the good side of my dad. We moved to another state, to inner-city Dallas, where I was back to my birth name. Dad made up some story about my previous school records, and I went to the last three weeks of third grade. We lived in an apartment complex without any furniture or TV. The complex had a swimming pool, and I went everyday. I never had a babysitter, but I was already well-trained to stay out of trouble. I met a girl two years older than me, and she became my best friend. I went to her apartment and started living vicariously through her and her family. They didn’t know our little secret. I didn’t speak much...

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