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Hoardsplaining Hurts Children



It seems like hoarding professionals devoted to helping our parents would be our natural allies.  


This expectation is mistaken.  


Hoarded children and families are their favorite scapegoats.


The bias of the hoarding industry has long been part the problem, not part of any solution for families.  


Hoarding professionals lecturing everyone to help and understand hoarders have failed children and families by refusing to acknowledge the trauma and child abuse that is common in hoards when children and families seek help because hoarders don't.  Even children cowering in corners are expected to cater to their abuser with compassion.

Judging and labeling hoarded children and survivors “difficult, angry, resentful, unhelpful and unsupportive" is their party line.


Ignoring trauma pathologizes normal and appropriate responses to it.  This leads to a consistent program of victim blaming, retraumatization, and institutional betrayal. 


The same refusal to meet basic needs is recognized as a human rights' violation in any prison and would bring Amnesty International to our defense.


The same mistreatment in any hospital, school, nursing home, or childcare facility would result in lawsuits and jail time.  


Professionals encased in hazmat suits and respirators demand children understand why parents hurt us, then misdirect us to help hoarders, while offering nothing but judgment to us.


Struggling to survive every permutation of complex childhood trauma, including squalor, disrepair, family dysfunction, physical and emotional abuse and neglect, domestic violence, manipulation, child endangerment, isolation, coercive control, gaslighting, mold, rats, roaches, feces, fleas, medical abuse, educational neglect, fire hazards, moral and spiritual abuse, water damage, animal abuse, threats, terror, and intimidation is reduced to a few missed sleepovers and birthday parties because of "clutter."


Then hoarding researchers, advocates, and clinicians blame survivors they deem “unhelpful and unsupportive” as if children and families exist solely to serve hoarders' needs, but are not entitled to any needs of their own.


Mental illness is on every list of risk factors for child abuse.  


Parents forcing children to live in secrets and lies to protect their hoards, instead of their children, are dangerous.


Professionals constantly scold us for lacking compassion as if having a mental illness erases child abuse and trauma, demonstrating their consistent disregard for our health and safety.  


Advice to professionals, social workers, emergency personnel, landlords, etc. on constructively engaging hoarders in their roles translates into terrible advice for developing children, families, or survivors forced to live in hoards at the mercy of parents with untreated mental illness.  


The longterm and consistent refusal to appreciate the full range of experience and trauma many children suffer has rendered the hoarding industry a source of consistent retraumatization.


Constantly lecturing us on how we should serve the needs of hoarders, they presume to instruct us on “better communication and effective support systems.”


Best, they insist, “we're all working together.”  


No, we are not.


When we cite consistent practices of judgment, retraumatization, and victim blaming, hoarding professionals accuse us of attacking them.                 


We know garbage when we see it.




Ask trauma experts instead.


Prominent hoarding researchers, advocates, and their acolytes routinely judge and label abused children and survivors while boasting their empathy and their non-judgmental approach.


They demonstrate their hypocrisy and bias every time they rescue hoarded animals while pressing children and families suffering the same abuse with “psychoeducation to cost-effectively promote readiness to continue providing care” at the expense of our health and safety.


Professionals claim ‘there is a hoarder in everyone’ masking the scope of emotional, physical, and developmental trauma that often follows children for a lifetime, pretending it's just a bit of clutter.


We do not lack understanding or compassion for hoarders, or for mental illness.  And we do not need help because of "clutter."


We are struggling to survive and heal trauma and abuse.  Meanwhile, professionals exploit trauma bonds and misplaced guilt, misdirecting us to help hoarders hurting us instead.




Nobody ignoring trauma is safe


The most prominent hoardsplainers, like Michael Tompkins and the IOCDF, blame children for "damaging relationships” that parents define. 


Ignoring blatant trauma and abuse forces professionals to concoct preposterous alternatives.  Tompkins claims that “family rejection is due to Protestant culture because cleanliness is next to godliness.”


Indifferent to the range of abuse, neglect, and trauma children suffer, the IOCDF consistently minimizes, and presumes to speak for us, declaring that “being the family member of a person with hoarding disorder (HD) can be very stressful.”


Randy Frost, self-proclaimed "Leading expert in Hoarding Disorder, research and treatment," is a more accomplished expert in DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.  He routinely blames children and families for the destruction hoarders cause.


While all child welfare professionals list mental illness as a risk factor for child abuse and having a parent with mental illness is widely recognized among Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs, Frost publicly denies that forcing children to live in hoards “qualifies as trauma.”


He broadcasts through the IOCDF that hoarded children have a "kinda funny perspective on things," wielding the authority of mental health organizations like the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association to promote victim blaming, condemning families for “criticizing and abandoning” hoarders who commonly drive everyone away. 


Instead, he asserts that hoarders may suffer the consequence of “losing custody of their children” ignoring the severe and ongoing abuse required to terminate custody or high standards for emergency removals.  Never mind what those children suffer that actually causes such painful estrangements.


Licensed mental health professionals, researchers, and advocates like Rodriguez, Ayers, Diebler, Cooke echo the same blanket directives to families ignoring our needs and instead indiscriminately urging everyone to “buy their books” to “educate themselves about hoarding,” as if survivors owe endless patience, compassion, and understanding that is denied to us.


Researchers including Sampson, Chasson, and Drury push their psychoeducation about hoarders, accusing "difficult" children and families of “triggering dangerous behavioral incidents,” and “damaging relationships with trusted providers” as if hoarders are not the common denominator in the all the dysfunction surrounding them.


Researchers acknowledge "violence and threats of violence" used by hoarders to coerce and intimidate children and families, simultaneously erasing this abuse to accuse us of enabling, accommodating, and "making hoarding behaviors worse."


Guzick, Storch, Chabaud, and Garrett claim that "parental rejection accounts for depression and anxiety” in hoarded children, obscuring child abuse to eclipse hoarders’ agency.


Victim blaming throughout the research is consistently used to excuse parents for the consequences of child abuse and neglect.  See also Research on HD Relatives.


Advocates have indoctrinated scores of hoarding related trades in their bias against families.  Researchers and clinicians reinforced by virtually every hazmat cleaner, organizer, declutterer, and junk hauler are hurling the same judgmental, victim blaming trash at hoarded children and survivors.


Or they remain silently complicit, not daring to publicly question the orthodoxy.  Few have ever dared to consistently stand up for hoarded children or survivors.  They’ve earned our deepest gratitude.


We are met with pervasive condescension and contempt in blogs and listicles bemoaning our ignorant lack of understanding for hoarders while the hoarding industry consistently ignores the child abuse, trauma, and dysfunction destroying families.


Our parents groom, manipulate, guilt, gaslight, threaten, coerce, shame, and intimidate us to keep their secrets.  


That is not “lack of insight” or “hoarding disorder” or “clutter.”  That is child abuse.



Experts know better


Children need support and protection from parents endangering and abusing us.


Child abuse is defined only by actions and inactions, never by intentions. 


But advocates protected by their hazmat suits insist that our parents could never intentionally harm us, as if parents with mental illness lack the capacity for cruelty all humans possess.


Dacey even takes time to recognize the trauma HD professionals suffer working in hoards while demanding compassion from the actual victims.


Since 2008, researchers have documented damage to hoarded children while obscuring and “reframing” child abuse as “caregiver burden,” and “parental rejection” instead.  


They have redefined hoarders as the victims of their children’s “resentful, angry, and harmful negative attitudes.”


Do they also blame battered women for "accommodating" and worsening violence, while triggering "dangerous behavioral incidents"?   


Do they demand incest survivors show more empathy for their parents too? 



Hypocrisy hurts children



While licensed mental health providers collaborate with HOARDERS on A&E to profit from stigmatizing trauma porn manufactured for hungry voyeurs, children are blamed for naming our own experience.


When we seek support and self-identify around common experiences as  “children of hoarders,” advocates accuse us of shaming and demonizing hoarders.


Professionals legitimizing public humiliation on television for over a decade reproach us for name calling if we dare to utter hoard, hoarder, hoarded home, or hoarding parents to describe our own experience. 


Anti-stigma campaigns can begin with the mental health predators, TV producers, and reality stars across the globe profiting from 21st century freak shows instead.


Licensed clinicians like Michael Tompkins, David Tolin, and Robin Zasio provoke meltdowns, gagging and rolling their eyes for cameras, while the entire profession advocates against the rapid, traumatic clean outs they perform to entertain TV audiences.


But Tompkins and his cronies feel entitled to scold families for "harmful, negative attitudes" and "damaging relationships" by “forcing change” for seeking to reclaim our own beds, kitchens, or baths.


Instead, advocates direct us to speak invalidating gibberish to children about “clutter,” "collectors," "squirrel support" "topsy turvy homes," "DENs" a.k.a., Domestic Environmental Neglect, and "individuals who grew up in a hoarded home" further obfuscating child abuse and neglect.


Clean your own house before you point your fingers at us.



A hoard is not a home


Children need unbiased advocates who will not exploit trauma responses to serve hoarders. 


Parents so gravely impaired that they force children to live in unsafe, unsanitary hoards, silenced by secrets and shame pose a lifelong danger to children.  Abuse frequently escalates to defend hoards and hoarding behaviors. 


People with HD come in all shapes and sizes, like everybody else, and many hoarders are better parents than others.  


Many hoarders work every bit as hard as we do to break the cycle. They are not our parents. They are not the reason hoarded children and families seek help.


Parents who are unable, or unwilling, to meet children’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs, who are abusing children, family, and animals, endangering neighbors and communities present a serious public health hazard that children and families are powerless to address without any resources or support.


Blanket advice misdirecting survivors seeking help to help hoarders without assessing trauma is blatant, negligent institutional betrayal.  


Do a trauma assessment so you can make informed choices about your needs before you let anyone tell you how to serve hoarders instead.




We deserve health, safety, truth, and accountability.


This is the consistent bias and hypocrisy the hoarding industry spews at children and families instead:


IOCDF 2023 Exploiting Trauma to Serve Abusers

Chasson & IOCDF claim help for hoarders starts with blaming families

Troy DuFrene, SF Compassion, 2023 "angry, resentful, unkind, mean" abused children?

Guzick, 2022, Rejecting hoarders "accounts for" depression and anxiety, not child abuse.

Frost, "Kinda Funny Perspective growing up"?

Frost, "It doesn't qualify as trauma"

Sampson, "Difficult Families"

"Great advice: Its Not Real” Heather Mattuotzo, Clouds End CIC & Jo Cooke, Hoarding Disorders UK

Frost (and Matthews) "Just be there" (but don't forget your hazmat suit)? 

Tompkins, Blame shifting 102, On "Family Rejection and Protestantism"?  AKA "help for families" from IOCDF?

Cooke, Hoarding Disorders UK, "Understand your Abuser"

More blame shifting from Frost, Ayers, and the APA

Bethesda Health Bahama Cruise Clean Outs, blameshifting recycled

Ayers, Next Avenue, "Educate yourselves"

Frost, on "abandoning" people abusing you

Chasson, Frost, Deibler, Steketee, WaPo 2022 demanding empathy and support for abuse

Chasson, "Family members trigger highly charged and dangerous behavioral incidents"

Birchall, on Blame and Birthday parties

Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force 2023, Hoarded Children & Families = Supporters

Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force 2022, Hoarded Children & Families = Supporters

Dacey, Recognizing secondary trauma to professionals

Frost and Zasio, Blame Shifting 101: "Put your unhelpful feelings aside, anger is not constructive."

Steketee, How to ignore dependent children too young to ask for help

The Betty Brigade, 3 easy steps

Address Our Mess, "Don't make it worse," blame shifting 103. More comments here.

Address Our Mess, 3 easy steps to help hoarders in denial.

Hoarders 911 Find common ground with your abuser, be patient and accommodating

Clutter Trucker, "These are, after all, the people who raised you. It’s time, at least in some small measure, to return the consideration."