By Huib Kraaijeveld
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Recently Dutch national television highlighted how at least fifty parents of children with Lyme in the Netherlands were accused of child abuse by the Child Protection Services during the last two years.
While the medical and political discussion about Lyme diagnosis and treatment remains a battlefield, as it has been for the last forty years, at least the people around these fifty families can see through the ‘if there is smoke, there must be a fire’ prejudice. If they don’t automatically believe the accusers, it makes all the difference in the world for the ones being accused. The broadcast did this beautifully by focusing on a few people, while no medical experts were included.
The mother in the broadcast, Erica Vrijmoet, wrote the Dutch book Chronically Happy as a ‘friction’ book about the adventures of her family with what she calls the ‘medical mafia’. In 2006 her husband and all of their three children were infected with Lyme by bugs in an Italian swimming pool and she spend all her time, energy and money on taking care of them and finding the possible treatments. After six years of trying to find help in Dutch hospitals, they find medical help abroad.
Her daughter Freek tells the viewers how both she and her sister were traumatised by the raid of ‘Safe Home’. “They tried to tell us that our parents were some sort of criminals. That they inflicted our illness upon us. To me, that was completely ridiculous. My parents were the only ones who fought for us. And then somebody just barges in, basically throws it all out of the window and claim my parents made me ill.”
Her mother Erica reads the ‘allegation’ against them out loud: “The parents were very tender and loving towards each other and their children in our presence. Also the nurses involved found this behaviour to appear unreal sometimes.” Based on accusations like these, they were accused of child abuse and making their children ill.