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Girl, Interrupted 

Alanna Krause believes that much of her hellish childhood could have been avoided. Now she's suing her father, her therapist, and her lawyer in an effort to prove it. How did it come to this?

Wednesday, Dec 18 2002
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But when pressed, she admits that her time with her father wasn't all bad, as if she knows that being too spiteful might come off as unbecoming. "I did have a relationship with my father," she concedes. "As a kid, it seemed he knew everything. I get my love for the Constitution from him, much as he didn't follow it himself. Whenever I hear NPR, I think of him. He would always have it on in the car, and I used to think it was so boring.

"The truth is, I don't hate him. I cut him out [of my life] in self-defense. I really feel that I will get hurt if I get anywhere close to him."

She searches for an analogy, her hand waving in the air. "I mean, how cool are black widows? They're really cool! But you're not going to hang out in a room with them. Because they're dangerous."

Krause says he also has fond memories of his time with Alanna, though his recollections are strangely vague. "We both liked games and fun," he says from his home office, his lips pulled into a sharklike smile. "Birthday parties, going places and doing things. Reading, discussing politics and social issues."

Alanna hasn't spoken to her father in about three years, and Krause must ask a reporter how his daughter is doing and what she's majoring in at college. If there are fuzzy images of happier moments between father and daughter, they are of times many, many years ago.

After the custody dispute, Alanna went to live with her father in a house on a private, unpaved street in San Geronimo. Alanna, then 10, says he often left her on her own. "My dad was always going to meetings, and he'd stay overnight at other women's houses. Our house was in the middle of the forest. I was totally alone in this big, dark house."

Krause says that he doesn't know what Alanna means when she says he stayed at women's houses, and that he always found "companions" for her if he was not going to be home. About her aloneness, he says, "That's such a subjective thing. If she felt that, then it was true. Maybe it was more than she felt comfortable with. But I don't think she made a big deal out of it [then]. If she had, I would have done something about it."

Bored and sometimes scared by herself, Alanna would call her mother. They spent marathon sessions on the phone, singing songs or playing math games. Alanna also buried herself in books, reading comics and fantasies, and, she claims, "the entire psychology section of the library." "Books saved me," Alanna says. "We didn't have a TV. We were in the middle of the woods. I rented shelves of books. I read voraciously, and I'd disappear into a book. Then I was no longer in that situation." She came to see the library as a refuge, and sometimes when she'd try to run away, her father would find her there.

When Krause was at home, Alanna claims, they argued constantly, and sometimes these fights became physical. In 1995, the physical discipline made its way outside their house. Alanna was in the sixth grade, and Krause became upset with her at her junior high school because he saw a poem that she'd written about loving her mother. He pushed Alanna against a wall, and a teacher called Child Protective Services after watching Krause "swearing at Alanna, grabbing her by her shoulder or arm, and shoving her about," according to juvenile court documents.

Krause, however, denies abusing Alanna, and says that in the school incident, he had simply grabbed Alanna's arm and the teacher who called CPS "didn't understand" the situation. "I have two other children and three grandchildren, and I get along with all of them," Krause says. "If I had been a child abuser, it would have come out in my older children."

That summer, Krause sent Alanna to camp in Santa Rosa. On her last day, Krause picked her up and told her that instead of going directly home, they were going to visit a friend in Utah. Alanna says she was puzzled, but didn't protest.

After several days' drive, Krause pulled up to the Island View Residential Treatment Center, a locked facility in Syracuse, Utah, for children with behavioral or mental problems. Court documents show that the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan -- which Krause unsuccessfully sued for coverage of the Island View stay -- noted it did not have any record of Alanna having behavioral or emotional problems during summer camp; Krause had used independent psychologists to refer Alanna to Island View. Krause says he checked Alanna, then 11, in to the $6,000-a-month institution because Lana Clark and two other psychologists recommended it. Clark had diagnosed Alanna with Parental Alienation Syndrome; Krause says she was "going out of control."

Alanna says she was traumatized by her time at Island View. "I had never had sex, tried drugs, or been arrested," Alanna says. "I was an almost straight-A student. Everyone else was 16 or 17 years old. They were prostitutes, gangbangers, or heroin addicts, teen parents. I'd go to AA and say, 'Hi, my name is Alanna and I've never had alcohol.'"

She says she underwent therapy in which she was forced to say that she loved her father, and that her mother was crazy. "They would tell me, 'Your dad is not a bad father and your mom is crazy.' They would hold me in there until I would say it. I remember staring at the light reflecting against the wall, and those ideas seeping into my brain. I realized what I needed to do was to pretend that it was working. But I had to stay in touch with both realities at once. There was the me that I was inside, and the me that I showed to the outside world. Every night, it was like that movie Memento, and I would remind myself, 'OK, this is real, and this is real.' I remember thinking, 'This is weird. Is this a movie? Is this my life?'"

About The Author

Bernice Yeung

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