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Peace Not Pas

A Parent's Story of Battling Parental Alienation

Tag: family court (page 1 of 2)

Parental Alienation & the Three Wise Monkeys

I was inspired to write this article following my own reading of Dr Childress’ latest blog entitled The Door of Empathy.

In this article of his, Childress explores the behaviour that an alienated child expresses when required simply to survive. In further understanding this, the targeted parent is more able to understand the importance of empathy and provide it for the child.

However, as Childress states:

“…not empathy for the pathology. The pathology is a delusion…instead…a resonant empathy for the authentic child alive beneath the pathology.  An empathy that draws forth this authentic child, because we, through our empathy, we see the authentic child – and the child sees their own self-authenticity reflected in our empathy.

(Childress, 2019)

Childress goes on to discuss the importance of emotional self-regulation for a targeted parent in displaying empathy for the deluded child.

It is this last point that prompted me to reflect on my numerous misadventures with the evil that is parental alienation over the last thirty months.

In particular, it prompted me to reflect on the unreasonable expectations placed on targeted parents by the various stakeholders and professionals within the family justice system.

Targeted parents start their navigation through the family justice system already at an incredibly disadvantaged position. In addition to this, they are expected to have and show the patience of a Saint, the virtues of Aristotle, the mental strength of a mighty warrior and the financial resources of a millionaire.

And what do the various professionals expect of the alienating parent, who holds all the cards? In my experience: very little. Below are some anecdotal examples of what several professionals have expected of the alienator and I – the targeted parent – over the last thirty months.

Cafcass identified in their very first Case Analysis that the other (resident) parent was identified as exposing the children to emotional harm:

“being of the utmost importance that this identification of such emotional harm is not allowed to let slide along as the children will continue to come to more emotional harm.”

(Cafcass, 2016)

It was in the following year that, despite claims to the contrary, Cafcass clearly allowed my case to slide along. So, I put in a complaint against them in regards to what I perceived as their mismanagement of my case, and failure to safeguard my children from emotional harm. The response to my complaint was a telephone call from a Cafcass Service Manager, which I fortunately managed to record. The manager informed me, in a somewhat blasé manner, that “it’s difficult to know what to do when the damage has already been done” [to the children]. A remarkable, yet open statement of incompetence. And yet, nothing came of my complaint.

My ongoing concerns were further exacerbated by the following alarming statement of fact from another member of management within Cafcass: “Yes, I agree, btg-dad, this system is flawed.” I was also fortunate enough to take an audio recording of this telephone conversation. I can only suggest the manager made a Freudian slip during the challenging questions I posed to him.

Several months later into the case I encountered a social worker employed by the local Children’s Services. When I made a statement that the long-term aim for my children was to co-parent on a 50/50 basis with the other parent, she assertively replied “that’s an unreasonable expectation.” I queried her arguably biased, dismissive response, only to be told, “that is how it is!”

A District Judge once ordered the other parent to present me in a positive light in the eyes of the children, with immediate effect. She has never done this and continues to disobey his direction. Despite being aware, the Judge has taken no further action.

The structure of the family justice system does not permit complaints against judges. I have wondered on numerous occasions of sending my story to the press, be it local or national. However, disclosing any details of the case would place me in contempt of court. Ironic, and tragic.

At the risk of appearing naive, one would expect higher morals of such professionals, particularly those who work in the family court.

How is it that so many professionals within a flawed system are allowed to make such reckless decisions regarding these vulnerable children that are dragged through courts?

The following statistics show clear evidence of the family justice system that continues to fail in its remit to provide the best outcome for children, post-separation:

  • 96% of all child arrangements order applications are made by fathers (University of Warwick, UK).
  • 97% of residencies are given to mothers (University of East Anglia, UK).
  • 50% of court orders are broken (University of East Anglia, UK).
  • Just 1.2% of applications for enforcement of court orders are successful (Ministry of Justice, UK).

My only attempt at an explanation for the way system currently works – or doesn’t work – is the proverb of the Three Wise Monkeys. The image and proverb used in Western culture to refer to a lack of moral responsibility on the part of people who refuse to observe standards of honesty or integrity. People that simply look the other way, or feign ignorance.

I have no other explanation for the complete lack of moral fibre these people have.

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Origin of proverb unknown.



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How Much Abuse Should a Child Have to Take?

This post was prompted by the tragic circumstances of one of many alienated parents I come across their three-year battle to have a relationship with their children.


Joe* had a harrowing time of navigating his way through the family justice system simply to have a healthy and loving relationship with his children, as it had been prior to separating from their mother. His story is a somewhat typical example of unrecognised, mismanaged parental alienation. At the heart of this were his children being left open to significant emotional harm by a flawed system.

Joe’s relationship ended with his partner three years ago. She immediately made false, unsubstantiated historical allegations that Joe had physically and emotionally abused her and the children. As a result, Cafcass got involved and secured an order for no contact between Joe and his children while these claims of harm were investigated. It took three months to reach the conclusion that Joe did not pose any safeguarding issues regarding his children.

However, during this time, his ex-partner – the ‘resident parent’ – had taken the opportunity afforded by the slow progress made by Cafcass to alienate Joe’s children against him.

The Cafcass Case Manager at the time composed a report which found that the ‘resident parent’ was exhibiting “alienating behaviours.” Furthermore, the children were being exposed to emotional abuse, and that it needed to stop.

However, as the case continued, Cafcass were unable to provide any effective means to stop the harm being inflicted on the children, despite their own findings. Quite remarkably, rather than taking any pro-active approach to minimise the abuse, Cafcass went into great detail outlining the long-term detrimental effects on the children should the abuse be allowed to continue.

It took a whole year for a psychological report to be requested and the whole family was assessed over a period of several months.

The report was a damning indictment of the resident parent’s emotional abuse of the children. The clinical psychologist’s findings were that the children were being exposed to significant emotional harm in the toxic home environment with Joe’s ex-partner. The psychologist made reference to the term ‘significant emotional harm’ no less than seven times in the report.

The psychologist also stated that the resident parent presented with personality traits indicative of a Cluster A personality disorder**. As such, there was little evidence of the abusive parent being willing or able to change. Cafcass failed to understand this in the context of mental health and parental alienation.

Children’s Services became involved for a further year. They wrote several reports which minimised the findings of the clinical psychologist and came to the conclusion that the children did not meet the criteria that would identify them as being exposed to significant emotional harm. Their findings were that the children were in “emotional turmoil.”


Let’s explore this by highlight the following:

We have three parties:

  • Cafcass
  • Children’s Services
  • Clinical Psychologist

Each party has different parameters when it comes to quantifying the level of harm being inflicted on children. They also have different thresholds regarding what they deem as being labelled as emotional abuse. Furthermore, they each have their own approach when assessing and classifying different levels or severity of “harm”.

The result, in Joe’s case, is that we ended up with three different findings, each from a different clinician or service.

Cafcass

The role of this government body is to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court.

Cafcass identified that Joe’s children as being exposed to ‘alienating behaviours’ and ‘emotional harm’. (Since their initial assessment, they also stated that Joe’s case is in fact one of parental alienation).

Psychological Assessment

A psychological assessment is a court ordered, clinical diagnostic, and a request for one is informed only by the evidence available to the court at the time. Such requests are made if the court believes it is in its best interests to gain further information from a qualified professional.

The findings detailed in Joe’s case were that the children had been exposed to ongoing significant emotional harm. It also detailed that there appeared to be little or no evidence of the abusive parent changing their behaviour.

Children’s Services

The role of Children’s Service is to be responsible for supporting and protecting vulnerable children.

As stated above the findings from Children’s Service is that the children are only experiencing emotional turmoil, but not were not victims of “abuse.” This conclusion was reached despite various concerns raised by the two previous assessments.

Joe has since told me that Children’s Services say they are not able to intervene unless the children start to present with the following risky behaviours: self-harm; alcohol/substance misuse; any identification of physical or sexual harm.

Children’s Services have also told Joe that due to his absence, and their ongoing emotional turmoil, the children will remain at high risk of vulnerability to abuse. However, they will wait for signs of abuse to present themselves before they intervene.

To conclude, from what I know of the numerous cases of miscarriages of justice within the family court, there appears to be no pro-active, early intervention, or preventative approaches for child abuse being applied by any of the various parties that are involved in such cases. Therefore, we currently have a Family Justice System that knowingly fails to safeguard our children.


*Names have been changed for confidentiality.

**[Definition of Cluster A personality disorder]


I Have Four Children

The following is an anonymous contribution from a very courageous alienated parent.


I have four children. Two daughters first, followed by two sons.

Our story began 19 years ago. At the time, my eldest child was 13, and the others were close in age, at just 12, 10 and 6.

I could write a whole chapter on how I was messed about, but that’s for another time. I think I was at the forefront of changes yet to take place. I suffered domestic violence, humiliation and all forms of mental coercion and abuse. This escalated to stalking, and even being held hostage. The police were called out on 27 occasionsby this time I felt mentally under siege. Advice was given by a solicitor, who informed me that it was not unreasonable for my husband to use violence against me as I was the adult seeking separation.

Fastforward to my youngest child turning 8, where I no longer lived in the same residence. Although still attending school, it was noticed he was falling asleep in class, and was regularly wet, dishevelled and smelly. I attended all appointments wherever they were, and tried to take care of my children, even though the Cafcass centre had noted distinct coercion to ignore requests from me. I was heckled and verbally abused before, during and after attending the contact centre, and on many occasions in between meetings.

It was all affecting my ability to stay focused. I was crying for much longer and even the simplest things were becoming increasingly difficult. Even sleeping, and then trying to wake up, was a challenge.

I changed my solicitor and requested set times to be able to see each of my children. I was laughed at and told that my eldest was in a position to defy court action. To add to that, I was told nothing could be put in place for the three eldest children. My youngest was placed with me permanently on the grounds of neglect.

Even though I lived just a street from my exhusband, he never asked about, or called to see our son. It got to a point where my son said he wanted to spend the weekends and part of each school holiday scheduled to be with his father halved because he didn’t want to miss being part of a family unit.

Things for the other children at the family home were dire, with no feeling of structure or function. They were upset and constantly fighting each other, frustrated with the lack of attention or responsibility from their father. I had to routinely step in to solve problems and support them, especially when they were left alone to fend for themselves by my ex-husband.

I was still struggling, mentally. I had started university but increasingly needed mental health support. When a position became available for me to attend a psychotherapy unit, I took advantage of the opportunity.

Things did not really improve in relation to contact with my children. Their father had maintained that he was not one to make his children do anything they didn’t want to. In my opinion, that was just a cop-out.

When my youngest reached 13, I asked my sons to accompany me on a house move some 250 miles away. My eldest boy was 16 at the time and, unbeknown to me, had not attended school for almost a year. How did I not know about this? His father had told the school that our son resided only with him and made himself the first contact. I have no understanding why the school didn’t follow this up and check.

I did move. My daughters were 20 and 18 and living at home with dad. I had totally forgotten to investigate school placements before moving and was told that the local school would not take on any more pupils. I didn’t know the area and was prepared to settle for the nearest possible school. However, both boys decided they wanted to return to what they knew, and so I had to let them to go back.

“It broke my heart.”

I saw my youngest in his holidays and at halfterm, but never spent another holiday, halfterm, Christmas or birthday with any of my other children again, despite my youngest saying he wanted to live with me once he left school.

Fastforward to present day my youngest became a father aged 21, and my eldest became a mother at 28. I have no contact with my youngest son or daughter, despite us being a close family. I feel there has been deliberate intent to keep me from being a family member. My eldest son is the only person in regular daily contact.

My children are now all in their twenties and thirties.


 

A Simple Ethical Question!

[The following is an anonymised experience contributed by an alienated parent. This yet again highlights the flawed system that is the Family Justice System.] 

Approximately a week ago I emailed the Senior Service Manager of my regional Cafcass Office. I asked him three or four questions by email. By far the simplest question I asked was the following:

“Is it really fair, ethical and morally right for my # year old daughter to be prevented from seeing me?”

The manager’s response was “there are complex dynamics at play, which professionals and the Judge have commented on.”

I then replied via email with the following response:

“This is not a competency based question. It is an ethics based question. I have the right to have an honest answer to this question, from the very organisation who is responsible for the well-being of my children while they go through the family court process.

It should not take you a whole day to answer this very simple question. It is either a yes or no. I can not make it any simpler for you to answer.

Is it really fair, ethical and morally right for my # year old daughter to be prevented from seeing me? Yes or no?”

At time of writing I have still not received a response to this very simple question. The lack of response to such a simple question, actually raises the following questions regarding Cafcass’ approach to the safeguarding of children that find themselves going through the Family Justice System.

  • The initial answer to the question (there are complex dynamics at play, which professionals and the Judge have commented on) was clearly avoidant. Why would such an organisation avoid answering such a simple question? What are they avoiding?
  • The above mentioned Senior Service Manager is also rather astoundingly a member of the local Safeguarding Children Board. So as a professional surely the answering of such a ethics based question should be driven by the individual’s own values and ethics? Not any protection of his professional reputation within a flawed system, where the toxic organisational culture clearly does not appreciate the disclosing of any truth?
  • Why are Cafcass not committed to the effective safeguarding of children going through family court?
  • Is it that Cafcass do not want to be held accountable for complex cases such as parental alienation?

So if anyone has any ideas or questions regarding my above points please feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you.


New call for openness in family law

Louise Tickle’s second blogpost of her Open Family Court project. Thanks Louise for raising awareness of the issues that are caused by an overly private Family.

Is ‘Parental Alienation’ the New ‘Mental Health?’

What I mean by the above title is that twenty or so years ago mental health was simply not discussed in the public domain the way it is now. Be it via television reports, shows, documentaries or social media, mental health is now discussed and reported on across numerous mediums in a much more positive light.

My point is that as a modern day society we appear to be collectively much more comfortable in our skin discussing mental health. Now I am by no means stating that there is no prejudicial opinions of mental health still out there, nor am I stating that the positive changes made are enough. Of course they are not. The progress made in challenging the stigma against mental health has come a long way. However it is and must still remain a work in progress.

Regarding parental alienation, I view this contentious subject being where the concept of mental health was ten or twenty years ago. Arguably parental alienation is now beginning to be brought to the attention of the masses.

For those unaware of what parental alienation is, it is a form of abuse whereby one parent (in most cases the resident parent) deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent). For a more detailed description see our page What is PA?

Why is it so contentious if it is a form of abuse?

Why is it simply not criminalised?

These are the questions no doubt asked by the incalculable number of alienated parents, grandparents, step-parents out there. It is not just viewed as contentious, it is also viewed as controversial by it’s opponents.

These opponents, in their most extreme views put forward the argument that parental alienation is used by abusive fathers to gain access to their children. For example, their flawed argument is that following separation a mother is most probably denying her abusive ex-partner contact with their children to protect the children from further abuse. These opponents of parental alienation, with flimsy evidence based arguments claim that this scenario happens in most cases of parental alienation.

Now I am certainly not stating that such scenarios never occur. These are and should be viewed as false allegations of parental alienation. We know that false allegations of rape occur. However this does not and should never be an argument to not continue treating rape as a criminalised form of abuse.

Statistics inform us that parental alienation is perpetrated against fathers more than mothers. I accept there exists a gender bias within the family court system. However parental alienation can and does happen to either gender. Just because it happens against one gender more than another, does not make it a gender issue. That is simply not equality. This topic is explored in more detail in one of my recent posts The Inequality of Fighting for Equality.

In When a Child Won’t See One Parent (published 12th September 2018) Jeffreys states “there is no consensus and not a great deal of research.” However there is a plethora of evidence out there that informs us not only of the prevalence of, but also the the long term detrimental effects of parental alienation.

We currently have a flawed system that is struggling to understand the complexities of parental alienation. While this system plays catch-up it is also tragically and knowingly avoiding accountability and knowingly allowing this abuse to carry on unchallenged.

Alienated parents around the world spend huge sums of money returning their cases to court again and again. Tragically not all alienated parents have the financial resources to do this, so they are left with little choice but to give up. This flawed system financially profits from alienated parents simply fighting to have a relationship with their children.

Should a parent have to pay thousands upon thousands of pounds to fight to be a parent?

Despite it’s opponents, it’s complexities and the fact it is a money-making machine embedded in a flawed system, parental alienation appears to be coming to the attention of a wider audience. Much the same as the subject of mental health did ten to twenty years ago.

Like so many social changes that have come about in the past, they are not pushed or promoted by those in power. They are almost always pushed, promoted and fought for from a grass roots level. By the very people directly effected by the needed social change. As was the case with those effected by mental health and demanding social change, this time, in terms of parental alienation, it is us. The affected parents, grandparents, step-parents, the list goes on.

We the effected, are fighting for social change, for reform. Not for ourselves, but for our children.

On the same day as the following report was broadcast on the BBC’s national news programme.

The BBC wrote the following regarding the above reports:

Are you affected by any of the issues raised above? Share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

WhatsApp: +44 7555 173285
Or Upload your pictures/video here
Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
Send an SMS or MMS to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international)

Regarding the above statement from the BBC, if you are affected by parental alienation and it is safe and appropriate to do so, please consider sharing your experience to help raise awareness.

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” (Cesar Chavez, 1984)


The Times They Are a Changin’

Anyone that is aware of parental alienation will know, there are an incalculable number of alienated parents, grand-parents, step-parents etc. out there. As alienated individuals we are to some degree either victims or survivors of parental alienation.

However the real victims are not us. It is tragically the alienated children out there. Across the globe there are children that are denied a loving relationship with their loved ones.

Parental alienation is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. How else should we label a set behaviours whereby one parent deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent?

Parental alienation is emotional abuse, which in turn is rightly recognised as illegal, as is the case with other forms of abuse.

However, as is the case with so many aspects of our so-called modern societies, many of the laws that we as citizens of our respective governments that are legally obliged to abide by, are outdated and not fit for purpose.

And to make matters worse, these laws at times are completely incongruent with the moral code of many aspects of any given society. Furthermore these laws and the systems and institutions they are invariably connected with have another aspect that makes ethically based reform difficult; financial incentives to remain unchanged.

For example, as we are discussing parental alienation lets look at the family court, it’s associated services and the legal regulations that underpin and reinforce this system.

Some might say that the current family court system, particularly in the context of parental alienation is flawed, corrupt and unethical. Anyone that has ever attempted to navigate their way through this flawed system will no doubt agree with this perspective. And as alienated parents etc., all we are asking for is a fundamental right of our children; for our children to have a loving relationship with both parents.

However, conspiracies aside, this system is arguably most certainly fit for purpose for those that financially profit from the unchallenged abuse that is parental alienation. The current family court system encourages an adversarial approach from the separating parents. On both sides, any legal advice or representation costs money. And we all know it’s not cheap. The system also encourages continuous returns to court. Who benefits from this, the legal profession or the children stuck in the middle.

As for the so-called professionals, front-line staff from Cafcass/CPS take very few risks and the legal system allows them to have minimal responsibility and accountability placed on their shoulders. And in turn judges within the family court are ‘guided’ by the ‘findings’ of Cafcass/CPS and in most cases will take the same approach as Cafcass/CPS. How many times has a targeted parent, fighting a severely alienating parent been told “you two need to work together!”

This term you two need to work together, has come to me to define how the family court and its associated services work. You two need to work together is a blanket term that appears on the surface to be a well intended piece of advice to the uninitiated. However this term is simply a call to action for all those within this flawed and corrupt system to attribute equal blame on the shoulders of both the targeted and alienating and abusive parent. By doing this the system is then not accountable for the abuse that they are all too aware of. And as such they are not responsible or accountable for an abusive set of behaviours (parental alienation) that they so clearly do not understand.

However, I personally believe times are changing regarding the challenging of this flawed system.

Type ‘parental alienation‘ in to Google and one will be presented with 1,170,000 results. #PAS on Twitter reaches an audience of 2,107,036 twitter accounts.

Amongst the online anti-parental alienation community there are a number of established and up and coming campaign groups advocating and fighting for a children focused reform of this flawed system regarding parental alienation.

Here are just a few amongst many:

Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) is a human rights group that advocates equality for all members of society. They rightly state that inequality can affect anybody and should be everyone’s concern.

Erasing Family, a U.S based organisation. The producers of the 2014 Argentinian documentary Erasing Dad. They are planning on releasing their follow up documentary in 2019.

Families Need Fathers, is currently the UK’s leading charity supporting mothers, fathers and grandparents to have meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation.

The Voice of the Child, is a UK based team of researchers and associated members. This group frankly and rightly states that they will continue to challenge Cafcass; an organisation that is supposed to safeguard and protect children within the UK family law system.

The Cornerstone Community, is an up and coming UK based community that aims to bring all family rights campaigners, support groups and charities together under one roof. Their intention is to enable real-time collaboration with all campaigners/groups working towards common goals.

Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land
And don’t criticise, what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters, are beyond your command
Your old road is, rapidly agin’.

(Bob Dylan, 1963)

Author’s Note: It is not the author’s intention to purposely exclude certain campaign groups or individual campaigners. The above groups are simply a small snapshot of the incalculable number of individual campaigners and groups out there. There is no financial gain or vested interest for CCA in promoting the above groups. The aim is simply to inform the reader that there are many voices out there that are challenging this flawed system. And as a movement we strongly believe change will come.


Please Note: We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles; contact us for more details. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made.

The Peace Not Pas Team

Parental Alienation; Ethics and the Family Court

The word ethical derives from the Greek work ethos; meaning ‘moral character.’ Within the world that we live in most people, most members of society would agree that a moral character describes the characteristics of an individual whose overall behaviour is right in a moral sense; honest, fair and truthful.

In it’s simplest definition ethics are a system of moral principles. These moral principles influence how we make decisions and lead our lives.

Past philosophers have put forward the argument that ethics entirely influence the way people behave. They have argued that if an individual comes to the realisation that a potential behaviour or response is morally good, then it would irrational not to do so.

And then there is also the concept of moral ambiguity. Some individuals struggle with this concept as they may want there to be a simple and straightforward answer to ethical dilemmas or questions, but there may not be one. For those that struggle with moral ambiguity it may force these individuals to take ownership of their own behaviours and choices in the absence of simply falling back on conveniently placed customs or rules.

So this then brings me onto the topic of the institution that is the Family Court. This institution is defined as being a court of law that hears and makes legal decisions involving issues such as child custody and divorce.

As we know there are many services and institutions that ‘work’ alongside the family court. Services such are Cafcass here in the UK, CPS in the US and Children’s Social Services for example, to name just a few. These additional services are viewed by the Judge as their eyes and ears. These services should be gathering information, evidence from numerous sources and collating this ultimately into a portfolio of evidence from which the appointed Judge will be expected to make a legal decision on.

So moving onto a typical, genuine textbook case of severe parental alienation the following factors, dynamics will most probably be in place:

  • One parent (in most cases the resident parent, known as the targeting parent) will be denying contact between the children and the non-resident parent (known as the targeted parent).
  • The targeting parent will constantly denigrate the character of the targeted parent in the eyes of the children.
  • This denigration of character will also be underpinned with a false narrative of events being fed to the children by the targeting parent. For example a skewed account of the circumstances of separation, false allegations against the targeted parent etc.
  • In most severe cases the targeted parent’s family are also excluded from the lives of the children.
  • All of the above actions normally result in the alienating children unjustifiably completely and utterly rejecting the targeted parent.

Now in returning to the concept of right or wrong, here in the UK Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas publicly states that parental alienation is recognised by his organisation as a form of abuse. Furthermore Douglas goes on to state that this form of abuse should be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse. So in terms of ethics, so far so good!

In addition to the above statement from Douglas it is worth noting that in the same interview it is stated that according to Cafcass, parental alienation is responsible for around 80 per cent of the most difficult cases that come before the family courts. In my opinion, that figure coming from an organisation as inept and ineffective as Cafcass is more likely to be much higher.

Due to the nature of our campaign/support group we are privy, almost on a daily basis to overwhelming evidence of the continuing nature of biased, misinformed, prejudicial and evidence omitting reports that are being written by Cafcass Family Court Advisors (FCAs).

Now, lets imagine if  you will, that we live in a world where Cafcass FCAs do not write biased, misinformed, prejudicial and evidence omitting reports at all! I know it’s hard to imagine and that in the real world, such professional conduct from Cafcass FCAs is rare, but please bear with me.

So in this imaginary world we have fine upstanding Cafcass FCAs handing in well-balanced, well-informed and well-evidenced reports to the family judge in all cases of parental alienation.

Now at this point the judge will be informed by the FCAs that there is overwhelming evidence of alienating behaviours being exhibited by the targeted parent (as highlighted in bullet points above).

The judge will be informed that the children are being emotionally abused by the resident parent. The judge will also be informed that it is not in the children’s best interest to be denied a relationship with the targeted parent. There may well be a psychological assessment that informs the judge that there is little to no evidence of the abusive parent changing their approach.

Such scenarios have in most cases been returned to court numerous times already. This is due to the abusive parent having already breached numerous contact orders that would have lead to contact between the children and the targeted parent. So this is the evidence that the judge has before them.

At this incredibly pivotal point the judge is required to pass a judgement that will effect the future well-being, future mental health etc, of both the alienated children and the targeted parent.

Now lets return to the subject of human ethics. Lets imagine another scenario, we grab an honest, fair and truthful average person off the street and present them with the above moral dilemma.

Now would this average person see the above scenario for what it is? Would they see it as one parent emotionally abusing the effected children? Would they also see it as the targeting parent attempting to erase the targeted parent from the lives of the effected children? Would they see that there is no justifiable reason for these effected children to absolutely reject their other parent, who they had previously had had a loving and healthy relationship with? Would they see that a swift, robust, pro-active decision needed to be made in the best interests of the children. Would they see that the emotional abuse being inflicted on the children must stop. Would they see that these children need to be protected?

Perhaps you the readers could answer the above questions yourselves. Presented with the above ethical dilemma what would you do in the best interests of the children? Is it even a dilemma at all?

Or is the answer to all of the questions, obvious to any given person of ethical, moral character?

I myself am an alienated parent. I continue to battle to have a relationship with my children. I continue to navigate my way through a flawed judicial system. I get knocked down. But every single time I pick myself back up, I dust myself down and I carry on. I don’t carry on fighting for me. I carry on fighting on behalf of my children.


Parental Alienation & the Ultimate Dilemma

The following is yet another anonymous contribution from a parent’s experience of battling a flawed system that fails to effectively challenge cases of parental alienation. 


I wonder how many of you share this particular moral dilemma?

If you are 100% alienated and your child(ren) are confined to a life enmeshed with only pathogenic parenting involving encapsulated persecutory delusions that paint you as dangerous, and contaminate developmental progression to adulthood, how large are your desires and responsibilities to ‘rescue’ your child?

Large enough for you to pursue a legal solution? Yes! Did that.

Large enough to pursue psychological examination to support the legal case? Yes! Did that.

Large enough to make huge compromises and acquiesce to outrageous demands in every effort to keep a foothold in the lives of your child(ren)? Yes! Did that.

Yet, the shortcomings of the legal system, and the psychologists combined to leave your child(ren) entirely entrapped with a psychologically abusive parent. All to no avail.

First, heartbreaking though it is, we can live without seeing our child(ren), indeed most of us have already seen nothing for half a decade. Second, heartbreaking though it is, we can live knowing that our child(ren) have the mistaken notion that we are dangerous monsters. We can skip the injustice of that slander and wonder just how much such a thought hurts our child(ren) and damages their self identity. Third, knowing that today is yet another day of distorted parenting, throwing an almighty spanner into healthy developmental nurturing and progression to adulthood, we can just about manage to retain some hope that enough of the emotional core of our child(ren) will pull through to allow a later restoration of authentic self.

“How do we look back over our record of responsibility?”

But fourth and finally we have to be realistic about the ruined long-term outcomes for our child(ren). Realising through the research of say Amy Baker, or simply from the many despairing narratives online, that our once beautiful child is now neurologically canalised in an emotionally unwholesome way, and that repair would take a lifetime or longer . How do we look back over our record of responsibility?

Surely we were right not to act rashly at the outset. That though, was when we had faith in the legal system of family justice! We were right to examine the psychological factors at play. What we discovered was deeply unsettling. Moreover, that shockingly the courts, court psychologists, CAFCASS, and social workers had not discovered it yet, was immeasurably alarming.

“We feel foolish, and completely inadequate as a parent to have ever trusted the system.”

Of course we see that the system has let our children down. Now we feel foolish, and completely inadequate as a parent to have ever trusted the system. What we had no way of knowing 5 years ago is that acting rashly wouldn’t have turned out to be rash at all! If only we had nipped this whole thing in the bud! Of course if we had done something illegal, everybody would have thought us reckless, but look how it has turned out! They would have been wrong, no matter that they would never have realised it. How could we have been so naively trusting? Not to act! Call yourself a parent? What kind of parent lets their child(ren) be discretely damaged, destroyed?

We all had that conversation when we were happy with our exes, before they turned ‘Hitleresque’. You are on a small boat. You are a strong swimmer, unlike your ex and your child. A freak wave washes all three of you into the water. Who would you choose first (and maybe only) to save? The child of course. It has a right to reach adulthood. Not only that, either one of the parents would gladly give up their own life if that meant securing the life of their child.

Now you have to balance two thoughts. On the one hand, just how damaged has your child become? On the other, how much more damaged will the child become given its present exposure? The other calculation is easy. Your child has its whole life ahead of it, whereas your ex only half, and in any case already permanently psychologically pulled out of shape. Do you have a moral responsibility to free your child(ren) even if that means eliminating the ex? Eliminating yourself? It would not be cold-blooded murder!

There is a category of crime of passion that recognises ‘slow fuse’ provocation. Fuses don’t come much slower than 5 years! It’s justifiable. It’s honourable. Not a sacrifice for your country, but for your child(ren)!

A hundred years ago women’s groups were ridiculing men who would not ‘serve their country’. This is at least comparable. Are you a real man? Well then! But still you do nothing.

Is this because you are a decent citizen? Because you haven’t the guts? Because you are too selfish to spend the rest of your life in prison? Because you are kidding yourself that the damage to your child will one day be repairable? Because you know your ex is goading you to do just this? It is all of these, but most of all it is because you are a good parent and want your child to know it.

You hope at some point to be there for your child(ren) to help steer them away from otherwise troubled distressing lives, not to be among those significant numbers destroyed by alcohol, drugs, and suicide. You model sustained gradual improvement.

But you will always be nagged by the thought that this type of good is, in some measure, cowardly.


Please Note: We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles; contact us for more details. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made.

The Peace Not Pas Team

Parental Alienation, the ICD and the DSM

Parental alienation is a set of abusive behaviours whereby one parent (in most cases the resident parent) damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent).

These set of abusive behaviours can be mild to moderate; the alienating parent may not be aware they are doing any damage to the relationship between their child(ren) and the targeted parent. In mild cases, such alienating parents would require support from an appropriately trained professional to help them gain insight and attempt to modify their behaviours in the best interests of the children.

Severe cases of parental alienation are the most damaging. In severe cases the alienating parent deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent).

In terms of recognition in the UK, the government at present does not officially recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse. However Anthony Douglas, CEO of The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) publicly states that parental alienation is emotional abuse. He also publicly states that the above abuse should be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse. However the front-line staff of Cafcass still do not adhere to the public statements of their very own CEO.

The UK’s leading charity in campaigning and working in child protection The National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) define emotional abuse as the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a child. It’s sometimes called psychological abuse and can seriously damage a child’s emotional health and development.

A child’s human right to a relationship with both parents is recognised by the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 9 from the above document (Separation From Parents) states that:

  • Children must not be separated from their parents against their will unless it is in their best interests (for example, if a parent is hurting or neglecting a child).
  • Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this could cause them harm

In terms of official recognition within psychiatry parental alienation is now included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersFifth Edition(DSM-5). The DSM serves as a universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses.

DSM-5 authors Dr. Narrow and Dr. Wamboldt state in a scientific paper in 2016 that parental alienation may be diagnosed as Child Affected by Parental Alienation Distress(V61.29) if one is talking about the child. If one is talking about a parent alienating their child parental alienation may be diagnosed as Child Psychological Abuse (V995.51). This, they argue confirms that parental alienation is indeed in the DSM-5.

With regards to recognition from the wider medical arena, on 18th June 2018, the World Health Organisation included parental alienation in its new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is seen as the the international “standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes.”

The ICD includes those same conditions covered by the DSM, however it also includes conditions and diseases related to all other body systems.

In the ICD-11 parental alienation is characterised as occurring “when a child/ren allies himself or herself strongly with the care giver (the alienating or aligned party) and rejects the relationship with the other parent or parents (the targeted or alienated parent or parents) without legitimate justification despite a previous warm and loving relationship. The primary behavioural symptom is the child’s refusal to have contact with the targeted parent or parents” 

Regarding the long term implications on the mental health of all those affected by parental alienation, there is a plethora of evidence out there. Our Research Articles Page is just a sample of the available evidence.

So in summarising the above paragraphs we have the following recognition of parental alienation:

  • Cafcass recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse.
  • The human right of a child to have a relationship with both parents is enshrined in The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
  • Parental alienation is referred to as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersFifth Edition(DSM-5)
  • The World Health Organisation has now included parental alienation in its new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
  • There is a wealth of evidence out there that not only recognises parental alienation as a set of abusive behaviours, but also highlights the long term mental health implications of all those that are negatively affected by parental, particularly children.

So despite the above recognition of parental alienation why does it continue to not be officially recognised by numerous governments? Is it that not enough people care? Is it that there is too much money to be made by the current, unchallenged adversarial approach to so-called high-conflict divorces? Is it due to a complete lack of professional curiosity? Is it due to professionals not wanting to be accountable for the damage parental alienation inflicts on both children and the targeted parent and their extended family? Or is it all of the above?

Please share this article far and wide with the aim of informing the incalculable number of people out there that are not aware of parental alienation.

These are our children that continue to be abused by parental alienation. The lack of action by governments, the judicial system and the associated services is completely unacceptable.

Margaret Mead, the American cultural anthropologist once said “children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

btg dad

 

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