What is Legal Abuse Syndrome?
Karin Huffer, a marriage and family counselor in Las Vegas has identified a new disorder.....it's called “legal abuse syndrome” brought on by the abusive and protracted litigation, prevalent in our courts. It can strike crime victims, litigants, attorneys and anyone who has dealt with the Family Court System. According to Dr. Huffer, “legal abuse syndrome" (LAS) is a form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a psychic injury, not a mental illness. It is a personal injury that develops in individuals assaulted by ethical violations, legal abuses, betrayals, and fraud. Abuse of power and authority and a profound lack of accountability in our courts have become rampant compounding an already stressful experience.
This stress can and does lead to physical illness. AMA statistics show that around 85% of all physical illness is directly attributable to stress. Legal Abuse Syndrome is a public health menace in this country. It leads to massive medical intervention costs, burdens insurance companies, and adds to Medicare and Social Security costs. Most painfully, it crushes the brilliance and creativity of its sufferers. Legal Abuse Syndrome is detrimental to all of society, and nobody is immune.
Whatever the court setting, whether it is regarding divorce, child custody, parental support, probate matters, personal injury, property disputes, legal or medical malpractice, criminal charges, or other deeply personal issues, the frauds put forth in our courts add greatly to the trauma. When litigants are unable to get fair resolution to their issues, when the court dysfunction further adds to the litigant’s burden, when no amount of actual case law compels an equitable outcome, litigants suffer often disabling levels of stress. When further attempts to achieve redress fail, litigants display the hallmark signs of Legal Abuse Syndrome (LAS).
The book, Legal Abuse Syndrome: 8 Steps for Avoiding the Traumatic Stress Caused by the Justice System written by Karin Huffer is the result of her experiences for over twenty years as a marriage and family counselor in private practice. What is unique about this book is that it addresses the victims of legal abuse from a psychological therapeutic perspective. The objective is to move the victim beyond their predicament into positive action and thinking. Ms. Huffer illustrates the abuses with the cases of seven victims of Legal Abuse Syndrome, detailing their pain and suffering and the various stages of the therapy they have undergone for recovery of their emotional health.
Ms. Huffer found that many victims of the legal system suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to Ms. Huffer you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome if you feel deeply disillusioned and oppressed as a result of your experience with the legal system; if you feel you were frustrated in obtaining justice; if you feel your dreams and plans for your life were torn from you by a system that is supposedly there to protect your rights and property; if you fear that the system will defeat you at every turn and there is nothing you can do about it, and if you feel that you have been victimized several times over, by the perpetrators, by lawyers, judges, bailiffs and other court personnel. As a consequence you may suffer from tension and anxiety, recurring nightmares you may feel emotionally an physically exhausted, numb, disconnected and vulnerable.
A central point of Ms. Huffer’s book is that the victims in America are not only assaulted by crime, but also by the abuses of power and authority administered by tax dollars intended to provide due process of law for the protection of civil rights. Ms. Huffer observes that not only does the justice system move slowly, but delays are used as strategy by attorneys to weaken their opposition economically and emotionally and to provide hefty fees for attorneys. Ms. Huffer notes that when courts fail as a consequence of officially sanctioned wrongdoing it leaves victims and vigilantes in its trail. The rage of these victims accumulates when they are not provided a satisfying place to turn to. She concludes that the enormous betrayals and inefficiencies that make up bureaucratic post-crime experiences are literally attacking the emotional health of the nation. She recommends that the community of American citizens adopt the following:
1. Oppression and abuse of power are injurious to the health of the victims. Domination by abusers of bureaucratic power threatens the very functionality of the public and private sections in our country.
2. Victims are not self interested, narcissistic folks who sit around and wallow in their losses. They are courageous individuals who face their pain and care to right the wrongs. They participate in the collision of evil and good as it is classically intended in order to achieve balance. Denial is popular, but far less responsible.
3. Trust is a social staple that must be protected just as earth and water must be protected to provide for survival. When trust is damaged the community suffers and society as a whole will eventually falter and collapse (Bok). Veterans of crime must exude zero tolerance for lying in courtrooms, lying in political campaigns, lying to cover-up, and deceptions through omission and nonperformance by public officials and public servants.
A new cause of action that is a new bases for lawsuits is being accepted by the courts allowing cases to proceed on claims of "organic brain injury" caused by traumatic stress. An article appeared on this on November 11, 2002 in the National Law Journal.
Harassment related emotional distress is being recognized in the work field upon which lawyers are now suing. There is no reason why the same facts and reasoning should not apply to the harassment inflicted on victims in a lawsuit.
*Note from author, Coral Anika Theill
"Since escaping (leaving my abusive husband in 1995), my ex-husband has legally stalked me for nearly 20 years - 45 court related hearings to date (2015), including an Oregon State of Appeals case. I also lost custody of my eight children, including my nursing infant, in March 1996.
"Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley's assistant, Mr. Joel Corcoran, requested I submit a detailed report of the failings of the Oregon judicial system regarding my case history from 1995-2013. I suggested new laws that would assist and empower battered women.
"The physical, mental, and emotional toll of surviving the negligence, abuse and trauma from the individuals who are part of my story will last forever. Although I risked everything to escape from my ex-husband, and in some ways I lost everything, I have never been more sane or more sure that the choices I made were the only choices I could make and survive."
"The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children. including my nursing infant. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.
"Many mothers who seek safety from abuse are routinely prohibited from having even the most basic contact with their own children, not because they were unfit parents, but because they were outspent, out represented, and out-maneuvered in a court atmosphere not prepared to understand the needs of families dealing with domestic violence.
"Forcibly taking a mother's children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the greatest forms of 'mis-use' of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control."