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Peace Not Pas

A Parent's Story of Battling Parental Alienation

Tag: mental health (page 1 of 6)

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]


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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.


 

International Men’s Day 2018

I have always taken a gender neutral approach to parental alienation.

However as much as I am proud of my gender neutral approach, this should not prevent me from showing my support for International Men’s Day today.

Anything less would not be equality. The unnecessarily contentious issue that is gender equality is discussed in more detail in my blog post The Inequality of Fighting for Equality.

Returning to this post, take a look at the following statistics:

InternationalMensDay2018_CCASupport.jpg

These statistics speak for themselves. Another statistic that is not in the above image is that suicide is the biggest killer of men in the UK. And the most high risk age range of suicide amongst men are those that are middle aged. So in the interests of equality, please recognise today for what it is. An acknowledgement of how important it simply is to look out for each other more.

Lets try and do this without any preconceived gender stereotyping. Lets do this because it is the right thing to do.

Carys Afoko in her article in The Guardian published today entitled I run a feminist group, but today I am celebrating International Men’s Day writes the following: “Women are not all delicate emotional flowers who need to be protected and rescued. Men are not all violent and sexually aggressive brutes who are only after one thing. Some people don’t even identify as women or men. All of us are living in a culture that puts us into boxes based on old-fashioned ideas that are well past their sell-by date.”


 

The Dad Take Over

On Saturday 22nd September I had the pleasure of being one of the public speakers at an event called The Dad Takeover.

The event took place in London. It was organised by Priscilla Appeaning. Priscilla is the founder of The Step Mums Club.

“I set up this initiative to debunk the ‘wicked stepmum’ stereotype and give support to this growing community of mothers with their journeys.” Read more about Priscilla’s reasons behind creating her movement here: Why I Launched The Step Moms Club.

The event started with a panel of four laypeople up on stage. All of them fathers that gave different, interesting and unique insights into modern day fatherhood. This was well received by the audience and rightly so.

The next stage of the event involved a Family Law Solicitor, named Tejal and I going on stage.

Tejal introduced herself, her professional role and then spoke about the family court process regarding cases of divorce and separations. Tejal advocated for self representation and signposted the audience to where they could find the relevant forms online. It was refreshing to hear a family law solicitor advocating for self-representation. Tejal’s talk was clear, concise and helpful.

After Tejal had finished, I then took the microphone and introduced myself. First of all regarding my profession; I explained I am a Charge Nurse on an acute psychiatric assessment unit. I then introduced myself in a personal capacity; an alienated parent of three children, who I have not seen for over two years.

Staying within the event’s broad topic of modern day fatherhood I then went on to explain what parental alienation is. How it occurs, the long term effects on all those affected by it and the flawed legal system that enables it to go unchallenged and fails to protect an incalculable number of children from emotional abuse.

I was then bombarded (all be it appropriately) by numerous questions from the audience about parental alienation. There were many more people there that had/are experiencing parental alienation first hand. Some of these audience members were aware that it had a name, some did not.

There was then a brief break where I had another opportunity to speak with numerous parents and step-parents that are currently battling parental alienation, all at different stages.

After the break there was a general Q&A session. Such topics discussed involved the Child Maintenance Service, fathers legal rights, fathers mental health and society’s perception and expectations of modern day fatherhood.

The Q&A session invariably turned into a debate. However, as is always the case in such circumstances, the event simply run out of time.

After the last Q&A session there was enough time for all attendees to discuss with one another the various topics highlighted in the day’s event.

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to many people that have been and/or still are affected by parental alienation. I was also fortunate enough to meet a member of The Cornerstone Community Project; one of many attendees that engaged in the lively debate.

From my own experience I know how emotionally difficult it can be to disclose your own personal story of parental alienation to someone you have just met. With this in mind I would like to say a big thank you those people that shared their stories with me. It is such shocking stories that fill me full of motivation and energy to use Peace Not Pas to continue to raise awareness of, provide support for and lobby for reform regarding all elements of parental alienation.

Thank you so much for having me Priscilla. I am very grateful that you gave me the opportunity to talk publicly about subjects that I am incredibly passionate about; parental alienation, mental health and last but not least the importance of shared parenting post separation.

Priscilla Appeaning’s Step Mums Club can be found on Instagram and Twitter.

btg dad

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela.


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)


My Best Friend Saved Me From Suicide

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


I used to have two boys in my life. Now i have just one. And the one I have left is my best friend. And this best friend of mine helped me through the darkest time of my life. I think he probably saved me from taking my own life.

I am an alienated dad. A couple of years ago I returned home after a couple of days away at work to discover that my now ex-wife had locked me out of my own property that we previously lived in together.

Within a couple of days I then found out that my ex had the guy from the local liquor store move into my house. They had apparently been seeing each other for over six months. Within six months of him moving into to my house, according to his mom my seven year old boy Jack was now calling my ex’s new partner dad. His mom made sure I was aware of this. She would email me and text me to let me know.

“His mom had clearly brainwashed him against me.”

During this same time period she would also take photographs of hate letters she claimed were all written by Jack and make sure she emailed or texted them to me. In these letters Jake would write that he hated me. He also wrote that after what I had done to his mom he no longer wanted me as a dad. His mom had clearly brainwashed him against me.

At that point I had no idea what parental alienation was, I also knew very little about mental health. I had nowhere to live and nowhere to go. I am self employed, so if I don’t work I don’t get paid. I spent about a week living in my pick-up truck, while still working. That week was tough, but little did I know that I had darker times ahead.

My ex had effectively stolen my son away from me. But she had not managed to take my other boy away from me; my dog Murphy. A rescue dog, with the look of The Littlest Hobo, the Canadian TV show from the 70s and 80s.

Murphy never leaves my side. He comes to work with me. Hence he is still with me despite me being locked out of the family home. So Murphy was by my side throughout that tough first week.

A friend of mine helped me out by allowing me to rent an apartment of their’s for half the price. I had confided in him about my situation. I will always be grateful for him helping me with accommodation. Although he simply didn’t understand what I was going through.

When  I moved into the apartment, although things were tough, I found work a healthy distraction while I began to get my head adjusted to the situation I now found myself in.

“As for me I’d given up on myself.”

However as the weeks progressed I became more and more unmotivated. I didn’t know it at the time but I was beginning to fall into a depressive episode. Within a month or so I was not going to work, I was behind on my rent, and I spent much of each day simply laying on the couch, with the TV on, but I was just laying there feeling hopeless, feeling lost. Feeling heartbroken due to the severing of the loving relationship I had with my boy Jack. However throughout this whole time Murphy was by my side, on the couch huddled up next to me.

Murphy was by my side throughout this whole time. I made sure Murphy was fed and walked. However as for me I’d given up on myself.

My mood became darker. I don’t mind saying now, I was beginning to have suicidal thoughts. As the weeks progressed, these thoughts turned into a plan in my head. These thought processes were all consuming. There was a local woods I would walk Murphy in every day. In those woods I had identified a tree I would hang myself from.

Every day while out with Murphy when I walked past this tree, this plan of mine became more entrenched in my mind. On some walks with Murphy I would walk him as quickly as possible so I could back to the apartment and just lay down. But I would always make a point of walking past this particular tree.

Weeks became months. I continued to spend the majority of my days on the couch cuddling Murphy. There wasn’t a day he didn’t cuddle himself up to me. He was all I had.

“Who would take care of my best friend Murphy?”

However I still continued to have these active thoughts of suicide and yet there was one thought that remained in the back of my mind. “Who would take care of my best friend Murphy?” I know it may sound silly to some people that are not dog owners. But Murphy was all I had, and if I ended my life, what would happen to Murphy?

I remember on numerous occasions, during my darkest days holding Murphy, while laying on the couch and crying in complete despair, not knowing what to do. Would I ever have a relationship with Jack ever again? How would I battle my ex and her partner? Should I just end my life to end the pain? If I ended my life, who would care for Murphy? My ex had never had any time for him. Murphy and Jack used to love playing together. All throughout this dark time, it was as if Murphy was intentionally supporting me in some kind of way.

After about three months, I was completely penniless, I owed my friend even more money for rent and I continued to feel hopeless and suicidal. My friend that owned the apartment gave up trying to persuade me to go and see a doctor. One day he just took Murphy and I. That day was pivotal.

Fast forward two years later. I am now in a better place mentally. I am not ashamed to admit that I am on prozac daily to help manage my depression. I now have an understanding about mental health. I now understand parental alienation for what it is.

I still don’t have contact with my Jack. But I am no longer hopeless. I can’t afford to be. Some days are better than others. But I am continuing to pursue contact with Jack through the courts. I now represent myself, that is how much more stable I am. I have also returned to work and now have a regular income once again. I will be eternally grateful to my friend that helped me out. I now also attend a monthly group that supports fathers in my situation. I get a lot of support from the group.

What about Murphy? He continues to go everywhere with me. He never leaves my side. We are inseparable. We are and always will be best buddies. Murphy probably saved my life.


Parental Alienation, There is Another Way

The following has been published with the kind permission of David Shubert (Founder of iWasErased) and Lynn Steinberg.


Lynn Steinberg PhD, LMFT, is a Therapist, Mediator and Expert Witness in the field of parent alienation and sexual abuse. Dr. Lynn Steinberg is a skilled and highly trained psychotherapist, specializing in the field of Parent Alienation as well as being an expert witness at court.

Over four decades, she has helped thousands of individuals and families with other interpersonal issues. Trained in the Family System Model, Dr. Steinberg works with families, couples, groups and individuals. For 30 years, she ran therapy groups to treat people who have been abused as children.

As an expert witness at court, Dr. Steinberg has worked on cases such as rape, child and sexual abuse, and sexual abuse in the workplace.

Dr. Steinberg is also a trained mediator, and worked with Superior Cases, private divorces as well as Malpractice cases.

Parent Alienation: Dr. Steinberg is collaborating with people all over the country (U.S.) to change the child abuse law, to include parent alienation as child abuse. In high conflict divorces an estimated 62% of cases, children are poisoned against one parent by the other parent. Many professionals who interact with these families in courts, the mental health area, the department of Child Protective Services (CPS) are untrained in this area. They fail to recognize the counter-intuitive nature of parent alienation and prefer a child’s testimony of abuse at their own parents’ divorce.

The tragedy of alienated children/ parents is witnessed in cases of suicide and homicide worldwide.


Parental Alienation; It was my Little Boy’s Birthday a Couple of Weeks ago…

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. 


As the above title states, it was my little boy’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. I have no idea what he actually did on his birthday. I have no idea where he went on his birthday. I have no idea what gifts he got. I have no idea whether he had a lovely birthday or not.

“I have now not had any meaningful contact with my son for over two years.”

To the non-regular readers of this blog I am what is known as an alienated parent. In the briefest of definitions parental alienation is a form of abuse whereby the alienating parent (in most cases the resident parent) purposely damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent). That is what has happened to my son and I after his mother and I separated. For a full definition of parental alienation see here.

I have now not had any meaningful contact with my son for over two years. His mother breaches every single court order that would otherwise result in contact between my son and I.

My son’s mother has created a false narrative around her and my son. She has made numerous false allegations about me. She has claimed I used to emotionally and physically abuse her and our son. She has also claimed I am a Class A drug user; this was her unsuccessful attempt to damage my professional care. She has also claimed I stole the family savings. She informed my son’s school that I had abandoned my family, left them destitute and my whereabouts were unknown.

This false narrative of hers has enabled her to create an un-impenetrable ring of toxic allies that ‘protect’ my son from the truth. His mother will do whatever it takes to protect our son from the truth.

My ex is not behaving the way she does in the best interest of my son. She is behaving in this abusive manner to take revenge on me. I left an unhealthy relationship. She always told me that if I ever left her she would make sure I never saw my son again. She has informed my son that I deserted them, that I no longer love him and that I don’t deserve to have a relationship with my son.

“She has groomed him into hating me.”

She has effectively groomed my son into rejecting me. She has groomed him into hating me. My ex does not have the insight to understand the long term damage she is causing my son regarding his long term well-being and overall mental health.

A psychological assessment stated that my ex presents with personality traits indicative of a Cluster A personality disorder. It also stated that there is little to no evidence to suggest she will ever change her approach. The assessment also states that she is unable to prioritise my son’s emotional needs above her own. The assessment also stated that she is unable to meet my son’s emotional needs.

Despite a wealth of evidence that states my ex is emotionally abusing my son, Cafcass and the Family Court turn a blind eye. Judges are blindly guided by the advice of Cafcass. And Cafcass relentlessly continue with their one size fits all approach of stating words to the effect of “as parents you two need to work together!”

From my lived experience of battling parental alienation thus far my firmly held belief is that Cafcass take the approach of attributing equal blame to both parents for one reason and one reason only. For as long as they project the blame on both parents, they also place responsibility firmly on the shoulders of both parents. And by taking this approach they leave themselves free of any accountability regarding the emotional harm being inflicted on children in such cases.

My strongly held belief is that Cafcass know exactly what they are doing, but they simply don’t care. Their ill-informed front-line staff simply do not care. It is simply just a job to them.

And so returning to the subject of my little boy’s birthday;

I love you my beautiful boy. I think of you every single day.

Whatever you have been told about me, I will always be your daddy.

Whatever you have been told about me, I will always be here for you.

You know I live only five minutes away.  I will always be here for you.

I love you so much, I miss you so much,

All my love, forever and ever,

Your Daddy

Xxx


Slicing Up The Elephant

If you haven’t yet been made aware or don’t follow me on social media, I work with victims and professionals on the subject of personality disorders and parental alienation. It is a personal passion and it has driven me to take some huge action steps which I wanted to share with you.

In October this year, I am hosting a couple of conferences on parental alienation.  One in Lincoln and one in Havant.

I have been educating professionals for a while now on narcissistic parenting and parental alienation, which is great and really helping to spread awareness in my locality, but I wanted to do more.

For me the conferences fulfil four main purposes:

  1. Education
  2. Awareness
  3. Multi-disciplinary approach
  4. Numbers

EDUCATION

I believe, from professional and personal experience, that children and family workers have not been adequately trained to deal with this level of severe parental mental health (see my blog post).  

As a social worker there was one module of mental health in my degree training and it was very generalised. We covered:

  • Values and ethical mental health
  • Social work practice and mental health (what is mental health, the medical model)
  • Legal and political context
  • Working with vulnerable people (adults and children)
  • Multi-disciplinary working

It certainly did not go in depth on personality disorders and their impact on others.  And I understand why but I am merely illustrating a gap in education. Today’s social work degrees do not include a mental health module at all.

Post qualification we do the NQSW (New Qualified Social Worker) training but this focuses more on assessment and practice than specific service user issues.  Additional to this is in-house training which, whilst really interesting and insightful, never once covered personality disorders. Even the Sexual Offending workshop didn’t delve into this complex area.  And again, I understand why.

Social work is just that – social.

Personality disorders (assessment, diagnosis and treatment) are medical.

Equally the legal profession know the law. They are experts in that area.  But they do not understand attachment theory, family systems theory or personality disorders.  They rely upon others who equally lack that knowledge.

Therefore these families tend to fall through the cracks despite the fact that evidence PROVES that mental health impacts families and children MORE THAN any other parenting capacity factor.

slicinguptheelephant_stats1_peacenotpas-e1534531302731.jpg

(from Cleaver et al (2001) Children’s Needs – Parenting Capacity, Department for Education)

SlicingUpTheElephant_InfoGraphic1_PeaceNotPas

So my aim for these conferences is to bridge that gap.  To provide education for those professionals who need it in order to protect vulnerable children.

AWARENESS

Parental alienation is not new.  Agencies have been talking about it for a while now and lots of noise is being made.  But change is still coming too slowly in my eyes.

I actually believe the solution is really simple.  But without raising that awareness, it has become a kind of huge elephant in the room. We know it’s there but have no idea what to do about it and so it is largely ignored.

But the truth is parental alienation is CHILD ABUSE.

And we are all responsible for safeguarding our children.

These conferences will help to raise that awareness not just in professional circles but also the wider community.

They will also  raise awareness that there ARE solutions.  We don’t have to be scared of tackling this.

MULTI-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH

Everyone is coming at it from one perspective only – either legal, social or medical.  

And sadly this is a huge part of the problem, in my eyes, with the failure to get a real grip on parental alienation despite the fact that some experts have been working in this area for 30 years.

As stated above, social work is social and uses one model.

Legal uses another.

Medical uses a different one.

Parental alienation requires one model from all these approaches and that is relatively new.  And thus far un-designed. But I am working on it!

These conferences will give all children and family workers from a multitude of disciplines a chance to come together in professional curiosity to be part of the solution. That is my tag line for my training business – Be part of the solution.

NUMBERS

Let’s face it, it’s a numbers game!

My training is more intense and in-depth but I can only train up to 15 people at a time. Whilst that is invaluable in the solution, it is also slow.

But these conferences will bring together 75-100 people all at one time.

And it works the other way too.

Delegates will get to hear from 5-6 expert speakers in one day.  That is exceptional. And a very rare opportunity.

I genuinely believe that these conferences have the power to take the elephant and slice it up into bite sized pieces, making what looks initially like a huge problem, into something much more manageable.

I have kept the price down as much as possible so that only costs are covered for us organisers and delegates get real value for money.  Most full day conferences cost well over £100. These are just £75. You get CPD points and a printed brochure to take away. Oh and we might throw in some refreshments!

The conferences are in Lincoln and Havant and all you have to do to register is click either Lincoln or Havant (or both, we have different speakers at each one) and you will be directed to my website with more details.

Even if you can’t attend or chose not to, PLEASE help us spread the word by sharing the details (this post and my posts about the conference)

Many thanks for reading and if you are coming along, I really look forward to meeting you and please do come and say hello.

Sarah Squires

AKA The Nurturing Coach and Director at NAPARRC Consultancy Ltd

Follow me on:

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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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