Twins take to social media to avoid reunification therapy after alleged abuse

Robert J Hansen
Gwen Girard (left) and Grace Girard (right) sharing their story of abuse and their fear of being sent to reunification therapy.Photo by(Instagram)

Gwen and Grace Girard, 15-year-old twins are terrified of being sent to reunification therapy or a camp and made to live with their mother who they say has sexually and physically abused them since they were young girls.

In an exclusive interview early this week, the Girard girls said they were "fed up" about their voices not being heard by the Court and why they took to social media to share their story.

As recently as February 2022, Grace said her mother sexually abused her and almost Gwen.

“That was a really big turning point for us,” Grace said. “It was obvious that we had to get away.”

The children previously expressed to the Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Vanessa Hammer that they wanted to speak directly with the Judge which they have not been allowed to do.

“We haven’t been allowed to talk to the court, only professionals,” Grace said. “Our GAL didn’t fight for it.”

Their parents shared custody of Gwen and Grace since the girls were six years old but before their freshman year of high school, the girls requested to live primarily with their dad.

As a condition to agree to the changes in custody, the girls were made to go to Breakthroughs Family Solutions, a team of therapists that practice reunification therapy. According to its website, Breakthroughs provides therapy, support, and education to help families prevent further damage to relationships and ongoing litigation last August.

“We originally asked to spend all school nights with our father and maybe every other weekend with our mom,” Grace said. “She (their mother) said she would only agree if we went to Breakthroughs … we reluctantly agreed.”

Gwen said that their mother went back on her word and the girls have not spent any more time with their mother.

Reunification therapy is the controversial practice that comes after a protective parent is accused of parental alienation" or parental alienation syndrome (PAS) which was created by Richard Gardner in 1985 to deflect the court's attention from child abuse.

A bill signed into law last May in Colorado prohibits family courts from ordering children into reunification programs. California has a similar bill currently working through its legislature.

Many of these programs advertise treatments for parental alienation, a psychological disorder that has been rejected by mainstream scientific circles but continues to influence custody decisions.

Gwen and Grace had a couple of sessions with reunification therapist Gwenn Waldman last January and February during their freshman year in high school. They were made to write down everything that their mom could do to repair their relationship at the first session

After that session, the girls’ mom was acting completely differently to the point they asked Waldman at their second session why their mother was behaving out of character.

“She was giddy and said she excitedly told me it was because she met with our mom’s therapist … and she said ‘we shared notes and we shared all of our stuff and I gave her tips on everything you were saying in the sessions,’” Grace said.

Waldman admitted to the girls that she shared with Ruth Kraus, the mother’s therapist, their confidential information.

When Grace told Waldman that she violated patient confidentiality, she became frantic and tried to have her sign a release form, according to Grace.

“She shoved it in my face telling me to ‘sign it, just sign it,’” Grace said. “It was so horrible being in the session.”

The twins said the therapist disputed their stories telling them, “I don’t think that happened like that or I don’t think you’re right about that,” the therapist told the girls.

The therapist then asked them how they thought their mom was feeling or told them to think about their mom’s feelings.

“She was so horrible,” Grace said. “It was so invalidating and it was just hurtful. They looked right at you like they didn’t care no matter what you said.”

According to sources, the Court ordered Grace and Gwen to delete all of their social media accounts and ordered that the children’s phones and other devices be placed with the Child Representative on July 19.

Attorneys for the girls’ mother, Karen Paige and Molly Carmody, did not respond to requests confirming their request to silence Gwen and Grace.

The girls feel that at any point they could be ordered to reunification therapy and made to live with their mother afterward like what happened to Maya and Sebastian Laing in California.

In all cases where the court orders reunification therapy or a camp, a judge will grant a 90-day temporary emergency order placing the children with a reunification program like Family Bridges which will last usually four days.

After reunification, children are left in the custody of an alleged abusive parent. However, over and over, the emergency order gets extended and the children effectively are left with a parent that they don’t want to live with permanently.

Maya and Sebastian were ordered into reunification by Santa Cruz Judge Rebecca Connelly and only are back in Santa Cruz after running away from their mother’s house last May.

Randy Rand, founder of Family Bridges, created reunification therapy and is the model used around the country.

In his 2012 appeal against the Board of Psychology, Rand Rand discussed the origins of his program, how it worked and the goal of the process saying “ the program required that custody be given to the non-custodial parent, that the child be forced to participate in a retreat with the parent, and then go ‘home with the previously rejected parent’ as a ‘permanent arrangement.’”

Former MLB player David Segui is one of a rare few who had his children returned to him after they were forced into reunification therapy with Family Bridges and Rand.

Segui said his oldest son turned 18 and aged out and has regained custody of his 15-year-old son.

Segui thinks that because Gwen and Grace shared their story on social media that they probably have prevented the court from ordering reunification therapy and reversing custody in favor of their mother.

“I don’t think they’ll do it, now that the spotlight is on them,” Segui said. “They’ll find someone else who won’t resist.”

From his experience, Segui said Gwen and Grace were in the intermediate stages of the reunification setup. “They’re getting surrounded by therapists. I would say about a third of the way there where they’re being surrounded and coming in with these lame reports to the court.”

David Segui’s battle with Family Bridges’ Randy Rand will be published soon as Segui’s story and this one is part of an ongoing investigation into parental alienation, reunification therapy and the family court system.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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