The way we live: `You can do nothing when you're wrongly accused. No one wants to know'

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The Independent Online
"I thought `Is this real? Am I awake?'" said Sheila the day her son-in-law came round to tell her and her husband Joe that their only daughter said that she remembered being abused by them.

More than three years later the couple have not seen their only daughter or their grandchildren since. In the last few weeks Sheila's mother has become terminally ill but their daughter still refuses to get in touch.

Joe and Sheila's daughter first went for counselling after she suffered post-natal depression following the birth of her second child. She was training to be a nurse and she and her husband had considerable financial problems. It was a difficult time.

But after five years of therapy she began to accuse those around her of abuse - culminating in accusations against her parents. Her husband came round to tell them. "I was horrified. I just couldn't believe it. I immediately thought she must be mentally ill," said Sheila. We had been so close." "Not a day went past when she didn't pop in for a coffee," added Joe.

Sheila's mother has also been cut off by her granddaughter, so she cannot see her great grandchildren. "We've made sure that [our daughter] knows she's ill but she's refusing to get in touch. She hasn't even sent a get- well card." says Joe. Police and social services investigated the allegations but, said the couple, found no evidence of abuse. The family are now considering suing their daughter's therapist. "You can do nothing if you are falsely accused," said Joe. "No one wants to know."

They welcomed the guidelines published today. "I'm a little bit disappointed that there seems to have been such an argument by the psychiatrists. And I don't think they go far enough. I think a law should be passed meaning any case of recovered memory should be investigated properly," said Joe.

"I think they should accept the fact and talk to people like us before they make reports. But then psychiatrists are only part of the problem. We need to look at the psychologists and therapists as well. "

For them they feel it is too late and nothing can turn back the clock. "I can't think of anything worse than has happened to us," said Sheila. "It's the end of the family. We are virtually on our own."