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Peace Not Pas

A Parent's Story of Battling Parental Alienation

Tag: parental alienation (page 1 of 10)

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]


‘A Christmas Carol’, Scrooge & Parental Alienation

Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge. A protagonist that is initially presented in the above tale as a cold-hearted, bitter individual.

Scrooge’s persona has resulted in the use of his name in the English language as a byword for cruelty and misanthropy.

The Story

On a bleak Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley. Jacob informs Scrooge that he has been condemned to spend eternity experiencing an “incessant torture of remorse.” Jacob attributes this punishment being due to a life spent obsessing over money and mistreating those less fortunate.

Jacob tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits and warns Scrooge to listen carefully to each of them. It will be Scrooge’s only chance to avoid a much heavier punishment than that currently being inflicted upon his late business partner.

The first spirit to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Past. Scrooge to numerous scenes of his childhood, including when his one-time fiancé ended their relationship. Scrooge’s neglect of her and his obsession with money were the reason. Scrooge is then taken to a scene that depicts the same woman married with a large and happy family on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is upset by what he sees and demands the ghost remove him from the scene.

Scrooge is then visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present who takes him to see various scenes in an attempt to prompt the old miser to repent. However, Scrooge declines these numerous prompts.

The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, takes Scrooge to a Christmas day in the future, revealing a number of scenes. They visit the funeral of a disliked man where the apparent mourners are only there due to the offer of a free lunch. The final scene that the ghost shows Scrooge is that of a tombstone bearing Scrooge’s name. The grave is very neglected. On seeing this, Scrooge weeps and promises to change his ways.

The following morning Scrooge awakens a new man. Throughout the day he engages with many characters from the story in a compassionate and kind way, visiting family, and gifting the largest turkey to his poor colleague’s family. Dickens presents Scrooge’s new behaviour and zest for life as an embodiment of Christmas spirit.

Scrooge and Parental Alienation

How does this tie in with parental alienation? How does it compare with a parent being denied a loving relationship with their own child? For a detailed definition of parental alienation see here.

Dicken’s tale has several parallels with the dynamics of parental alienation, particularly at Christmas time.

I view the character of Scrooge being incredibly similar to that of an alienating parent. Both characters require a cold-hearted, bitter view on life.

When visited by the first spirit Scrooge selfishly demands he be removed from the last scene due to the upset he felt. He did not appear to reflect on his past behaviour that had upset those around him. As anyone adversely affected by parental alienation will know, the targeting parent will always put their own needs above those of others; even their very own children.

When Scrooge was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present, he refused to repent. Such is the same response for alienating parents. They not only out-rightly refuse to change their ways, they will also all too often project blame out onto those they despise. Rather callously, they will reward those that support their negative and abusive behaviours.

The visit by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is where the parallels end. Alienating parents are unable to envisage the future. They are unable to comprehend the emotional damage they are inflicting on their children by denying them a loving relationship with the targeted parent. Alienators simply do not have the insight needed to understand the long-term damage they are doing to their children.

Tragically, unlike Dickens’ Christmas tale, all of us adversely affected by parental alienation know that alienators are not capable of any such epiphany. Ironically, like Scrooge’s former business partner, who is destined to experience eternal torture, in the most severe cases it is the children that will be left to experience the emotional torture; not the perpetrators, the alienating parents.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.


When She Loved Me

Dear Reader,

Apologies for not writing for a while. As an alienated parent, debts still have to be paid, so I have been working towards this end.

I am writing today about a song that I have recently had to come to terms with. A couple of years ago while driving in my car, when she loved me, by Sarah McLachlan, came up on my playlist. Without thinking I sang along, and the usual lump came to my throat and I stopped singing for a second. My youngest daughter, who is used to my singing in the car, asked if I was alright. I said that I was and carried on.

It made me think about what had happened. For people that don’t know, the above mentioned song is the one played in Toy Story Two ,and referred to as Jessie’s song. It was written by Randy Newman, who writes amazing songs, and this was designed to tug at the heart strings. Unfortunately, when Randy sang it for Pixar Studios, it didn’t have the desired effect. Sarah McLachlan was asked to sing this and the rest is history.

I mention this because for some people the connection between the song and an alienated parent will jump into your mind, and not so for others.

WhenSheLovedMeToyStory2_CCASupport

© Pixar

Let me explain. In the film Toy Story Two, Jessie talks to Woody about why she doesn’t see her owner anymore

When somebody loved me
everything was beautiful
every hour spent together
Lives within my heart

And when she was sad
I was there to dry her tears
and when she was happy so was I
when she loved me

This talks about how loved and special she felt; for me it reminded me of the special relationship I had with my daughter, and how every day, every hour spent together lives within my heart.

Through the summer and the fall
we had each other that was all
Just she and I together
like it was meant to be

And when she was lonely
I was there to comfort her
and I knew that she loved me

This talks about the relationship Jessie had with her owner; the relationship I had with my daughter, was different to the one she had with her mother. Her mother had a child so that she didn’t feel left out by her friends. It meant that we talked about all sorts of things, we did all sorts of things, together.

So the years went by
I stayed the same
But she began to drift away
I was left alone
Still I waited for the day
When she’d say I will always love you

Lonely and…

Lonely and forgotten
Never thought she’d look my way
And she smiled at me and held me
Just like she use to do
Like she loved me

When she loved me

This part refers to when Jessie is found by her owner after being forgotten under her bed for a while. For me this is the hardest part of the song. My relationship with my daughter has been hijacked by her mother; the person that didn’t really want to do anything with our daughter, now does everything and forces my daughter to make decisions based on emotional blackmail.

Her mother buys my daughter’s affection with things, rather than spend time with her. She has over time, convinced her that Daddy is bad, and that we should be angry at him.  For me, I have had to put up with all sorts of barriers and boundaries to spending time with my daughter. I have fought to keep phone contact, as this was all I was allowed. This has meant that as my daughter has started to grow, she has started to think for herself. I have never lied to my daughter, and have always told her everything, even if it doesn’t put me in a good light. I have been no angel and freely admit this, but this shouldn’t prevent me from being a part of my daughter’s life. Her mother is happy to take child maintenance from me, but would happily cut me from her life if she could.

When somebody loved me
everything was beautiful
every hour spent together
Lives within my heart
when she loved me

This part speaks more to, me than anything. Dearest daughter, just to make you aware, this passage isn’t about how I need to be loved. It refers to the fact that I love you dearly, always have, always will.

It doesn’t matter to me what anyone says to me, the time we spend together will always live together in my heart. I hope and pray (and I am not even religious!!) that at some point our time together will mean as much to you as it does to me.

I will never stop trying to have a relationship with you, in whatever way, shape or form, you want. Know that I have never stopped loving you, despite what others may say, and this will never change.

I still listen to this song. Tears don’t roll down my face as they used to, but it does remind me of what I miss and what I hope to look forward to in the future.  “When she was happy, so was I. When she loved me “


 

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.


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.


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.

Parental Alienation; is change on the horizon?

Regarding the raising of awareness of parental alienation I believe change is on the horizon. I am not naive enough to believe it will happen overnight. However, very much like the general public’s past lack of understanding of mental health, parental alienation is now starting on that same journey.

Last week parental alienation was reported on the BBC national news here in the UK.

Understandably this was shared across social media by the thousands upon thousands of alienated parents out there. It felt to me that the online anti-parental alienation community shared it with a somewhat cautionary sense of relief; that as much as we are sill denied reform, finally something so unjust as parental alienation is now being discussed on prime time national news here in the UK.

On the same day as the above reporting, the BBC also published the following related article on their BBC News website written by their Education Editor Branwen Jeffreys; When a Child Won’t See One Parent.

In her article Jeffreys explores the nature of parental alienation, all be it briefly, but at least, once again this form of abuse is on it’s way to reaching the attention of a much wider audience.

The article finishes with comments from Professor Liz Trinder, from the University of Exeter. Trinder makes the statement “the idea of parental alienation as a pattern of behaviours needs to be treated carefully, because the courts have a duty to consider the child’s best interests.”

Trinder then goes on to state “the problem with the alienation concept is that if your premise is the child has been brainwashed, it means you can’t trust what the child is saying to the court. So if you make an accusation of alienation it almost automatically casts suspicion on anything the child might say.” Even though Trinder appears to be coming from a cautionary perspective, she has clearly and unintentionally hit the nail on its head when she states “it almost automatically casts suspicion on anything the child might say.”

Anyone that knows anything about parental alienation knows that children are simply paraphrasing the alienating parent regarding their expression of negative views of the rejected parent. We all know alienated children have been coached and groomed into hating the other parent. Trinder conveniently chooses to omit that statistically children do not naturally reject a parent or care-giver. Even in cases of where the child is aware of the abuse, children remain attached to that parent. Children are hard-wired to remain attached to their parent(s).

In the above news report footage, Sarah Parsons (Principal Social Worker, Cafcass) makes the following statement “their [the affected children] only way of staying safe is to side with one parent and reject the other.” This view from Parsons, even by Cafcass’ standards is clearly the opposite view of Trinder’s regarding her call for services to be cautious with potential cases of parental alienation.

On 5th February 2018 Martin Daubney wrote an article entitled UK Dads are being airbrushed out of existence by family courts favouring and bankrolling Mums for the i Newspaper/website.

Daubney reminds us that free legal aid was stopped following the implementation in 2013, of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012. The only exception in terms of who would still be entitled to free legal aid was women who claimed domestic abuse, which leads to the application for Non-Molestation Orders.

Daubney then goes on to highlight the astonishing fact that in the year following the introduction of this Act, applications for LASPO boomed by 300%.

Daubney then reminds us that prior to the implementation of LASPO, the legal aid split was roughly 40% v 60% to men and women. Post-LASPO it is now 15% v 85% respectively. Daubney rightly argues that the change in these figures is clearly more than coincidental.

On 21st November 2016 parental alienation was also discussed on the Victoria Derbyshire news show on the BBC.

There is, in the following footage an all too familiar and disturbing interview with an anonymous child victim of parental alienation. The discussion in the studio that then subsequently takes place includes Anthony Douglass (CEO, Cafcass), Joanna Abrahams (Head of Family Law, Setford Solicitors) and Greg Mulholland (Liberal Democrat MP). Around the eight and a half minute mark Douglas is struggling to answer reasonable yet challenging questions from Mulholland.

It is incredibly important that those of us that have the time and resources to do so, to continue to chip away at this flawed system. It is incredibly important that we also continue to do all we can to actively raise awareness of parental alienation.

The above are just a few examples of the increase of discussion of parental alienation in the public domain. However despite the above examples, the current low level of public awareness of parental alienation remains unacceptable.

I do believe change will come. However like all past instances of social change, it is only ever pushed and forced on governments from the grass roots level of society; by the very people that are effected by the much needed social change. And this time, those people are us; the hundreds of thousands of alienated parents, grandparents and step parents.

We can do this, change will come. It is definitely time for the sun to set on this outdated and flawed system.


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

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