Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kaine Horman Files for Divorce

Kaine Horman has filed for divorce from his wife, Terri, moved out of the house with the couple's toddler daughter, and obtained a restraining order against Terri Horman.  Kaine is the father of Kyron Horman, the second grader who disappeared from his elementary school in Portland, Oregon on June 4.  Terri was the last person to see him, walking away from her towards his classroom that morning.  She has been the focus of intense speculation in the blogosphere after reports that her cell phone records do not match her account of where she was that day.

If you Google this case, you can find numerous blog posts speculating on why the Hormans are splitting up.  Just about everyone with an Internet connection seems to have an opinion, and most of them believe that Kaine knows something about Terri's role in Kyron's disappearance.  Terri was already an Internet villain, and became one early in the case after she posted to her Facebook page that she was "hitting the gym" in the days following Kyron's disappearance.

For the record, I have absolutely no idea whether Terri Horman knows anything the general public doesn't about Kyron's disappearance.  I watch the same cop shows on TV that everyone else does, and I know that when a child disappears there's a good chance someone close to them is involved.  If this were a Law & Order episode, my money would be on the stepmother.  But it's not a Law & Order episode, and all I can assume from Kaine Horman filing for divorce is that the Hormans don't have a particularly happy marriage, at least not right now.

Putting to the side the question of whether Terri Horman is involved in Kyron's disappearance, the Horman's marriage breaking up shines a spotlight on a real issue for families that are experiencing or have experienced traumatic stress.  There is a popular notion that crises bring families closer together.  In fact, the stress of crises put tremendous stress on family relationships.  Marital trouble following a traumatic event is quite common, and the fact that most people think otherwise only serves to make people feel guilty about the troubles they are having.

At the end of every single Critical Incident Stress Management intervention, there is some form of education provided about typical reactions to stress and what people can do to mitigate their reactions.  One of the standard things we tell people is not to make any major, life-changing decisions while they are in the acute aftermath of an event.  It's not at all uncommon for people to say, at moments like this, that they are going to quit their job or move or leave their spouse.  We caution them not to do anything they can't undo, because they may feel differently when the dust settles.

With that advice in mind, I cringed a little when I saw that Kaine Horman had filed for divorce.  It is possible that the Hormans were having difficulties long before this, of course.  It is also possible that Kaine knows something we don't know about Terri and Kyron.  My worry is that neither of those things is true, but the last three weeks have been incredibly difficult and, in a situation that feels out of control, Kaine Horman is exerting control over one thing he can -- his marriage.  If so, I hope he'll hold off a little longer, until they find Kyron or until the main investigation goes cold.  There's no sense in doing something he can't undo.


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Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at www.SchoolCrisisConsultant.com
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