Having resorted to sleeping in her car because of the nightmares which have kept her awake in her home Sharon Rodgers (Marlo Thomas) is struggling, struggling with her family with their problems but also problems from her own childhood. Sharon is not the only one as her sister Mary (Ally Sheedy) is also having problems and is seeing a therapist whilst also planning to sue their father for the abuse both mental and physical which has left her in a suicidal mess. But their other sisters were also subject to their father's abuse and as they try to face these facts they decide to do the unimaginable and take their father, a respected former FBI man who was in charge of child abuse investigations, to court.
"Ultimate Betrayal" is an extremely hard movie to watch not just because its subject is child abuse or the fact it is based on a true story but the fact it is the story of a father who abused all his children. It is uncomfortable but it is one of the things which makes this stand apart from so many other TV movies about child abuse because of the relentless nature of a group of siblings being abused by a father and a mother who did nothing to stop it from happening.
Now for me you can split "Ultimate Betrayal" into various parts, in fact 4 parts. Part of the movie concerns various flashbacks to the sisters' childhoods as they talk about the abuse and we hear about, and sometimes see, what happened to them, the abuse dished out by the man who was meant to protect them and it is intentionally uncomfortable in its detail. We also have the part of "Ultimate Betrayal" which focuses on the court case, the various accounts of the abuse but also the effects of that abuse on the sisters in later life. On top of that we also see how their brothers despite being abused rally in favour of their father. There is also the part which is the true story part, the fact that this court case pushed the law in a way it had never been pushed before.
But the biggest part of "Ultimate Betrayal" for me is what we see of the older sisters and how the abuse has effected them in older life. We see and hear about broken marriages, time spent in psychiatric hospitals, therapy sessions, suicide attempts, unable to feel things for others and how being a troubled mother has led to problems with in their own family and how they deal with their own children. It is a lot to take in and often not easy to watch to see how far reaching the effects of the historic child abuse stretched long after it stopped happening.
What this all boils down to is that "Ultimate Betrayal" is a tough movie to watch which covers the true story of child abuse and how it effected a group of sisters long after the actual abuse had ended. Being a TV movie it is fair to say it has some issues but it is at times both unsettling and incredibly powerful.