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Peace Not Pas

A Parent's Story of Battling Parental Alienation

Tag: psychological abuse

Equality Versus Egalitarianism

I recently had numerous conversations with a close confidante who is as passionate about lobbying for reform regarding parental alienation as I am. This friend of mine  raised a pertinent point during one of our most recent discussions. A point that I have reflected on several times since we spoke about it.

He brought up the topic of egalitarianism versus equality. From my point of view this was not something I had ever thought about or considered up until now.

The word equality in the Oxford English Dictionary is defined, the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

The definition of the word egalitarianism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

Now some of you may have missed the subtle but incredibly important difference between these two definitions, but I will return to that shortly.

Now lets consider the contentious issue of the abuse that in most cases is referred to as parental alienation. To the uninitiated, parental alienation is an umbrella term used to describe the emotional abuse inflicted by one parent (in most cases the resident parent). The alienating parent will deliberately damage, and in some cases destroy the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (in most cases the non-resident parent). Despite it being a very real form of abuse, it is still very much a contentious issue.

On the one side we have those that have been adversely affected by parental alienation; former alienated children, alienated mothers, alienated fathers, alienated grandparents, the list goes on. It is these people that I imagine would wish first and foremost to be reunited with their alienated loved ones. Secondly, I would also hazard a guess that these victims want the emotional abuse that is parental alienation to be recognised as a criminal offence; for it to be recognised as an official form of abuse and as such be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse.

On the other side there are the opponents of parental alienation. There are groups and organisations out there that dismiss this form of abuse as a made -up theory. They firmly  believe it should not be recognised as a form of abuse. For example The Feminist Family Law Movement makes the claims that abusive fathers often employ accusations of parental alienation as a way to wrest custody from protective mothers in family court.

Lets also look at The National Organization for Women Foundation’s (NOW Foundation) stance on parental alienation. Several years ago they made the following alarming statement about parental alienation, “proponents of parental alienation are predominantly right-wing ‘fathers’ rights’ groups.” On their homepage the NOW Foundation makes the following bold statement, “The National Organization for Women Foundation (“NOW Foundation”) is a 501(c) (3) organization devoted to achieving full equality for women through education and litigation.”

“We don’t diagnose rape. We don’t diagnose domestic violence. So why does Fortin believe that we should be diagnosing parental alienation?”

Jane Fortin a professor of law at Sussex University had an article published in the UK newspaper The Guardian on 29th November 2017. The article was entitled Crackdown on Parental Alienation Could do More Harm Than Good

In this article, despite Fortin being a professor of law she makes some very discriminatory and sweeping statements. She writes “hopefully it [Cafcass] is considering carefully the extreme dangers of mistakenly diagnosing parental alienation.” As a mental health nurse I would like to ask Fortin why she holds this somewhat misguided belief that there is even a need to diagnose parental alienation. By it’s very meaning, to diagnose something is to identify the nature of a given medical condition. We don’t diagnose rape. We don’t diagnose domestic violence. So why does Fortin believe that we should be diagnosing parental alienation?

Parental alienation, plain and simply is emotional, psychological abuse of children. Why would we need to diagnose such abuse? Such a statement from Fortin is a clear indication that she simply does not understand the complex nature of parental alienation.

As stated above parental alienation is an umbrella term used to describe the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted on children.

“Why is she making the assumption that the victimised parent would be a mother, as opposed to a father?”

In the same article Fortin also goes on to state “after all, failure to establish the real reason for a child’s resistance to contact may lead to abuse and/or domestic violence being overlooked, and, worse, to the child being removed from a victimised mother seeking only to protect her child.” I personally find this comment quite concerning; why is Fortin bringing gender stereotypes into her debate? Why is she making the assumption that the victimised parent would be a mother, as opposed to a father?

So I would now like to return to the concept of egalitarianism versus equality. The Feminist Family Law Movement, The NOW Foundation and journalists such as Jane Fortin clearly appear to be writing under the banner of equality. However such individuals and organisations are picking and choosing who they are fighting for regarding equality.

“They are unashamedly excluding all women who are adversely affected by this form of abuse.”

Allow me to explain. The anti-parental alienation camp, by their very opposition to the emotional and psychological abuse that is parental alienation they are unashamedly excluding all women who are adversely affected by this form of abuse. So that then begs the question, where’s the equality in their ongoing campaigning for equality? As stated above The Now Foundation informs us on their homepage that they are “devoted to achieving full equality for women.” However they are clearly not interested in achieving full equality for the incalculable number of alienated mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers that are alienated from their loved ones. And then there are of course the female children that are emotionally and psychologically abused by parental alienation.

So lets move on now from the somewhat unethical, immoral and gender biased notion of claiming to be fighting for equality but actually picking and choosing who you are actually fighting for.

“All people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.” 

And this is where I would like to return to the term egalitarianism. For those that did not pick up on the subtle difference in definitions between equality and egalitarianism, here it is. The definition of egalitarianism is defined as the doctrine that ALL people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. 

The definition of equality ironically does not include the word all, whereas the definition of egalitarianism clearly does.

So that begs the following question, with such a contentious issue as parental alienation, why are we all not taking an egalitarian approach?

“Until you treat everyone one as an equal, you have no right to complain about the treatment you receive from anyone.”

btg dad

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The Story of a Great Man and a Great Father who Suffered at the Mercy of an Alienating Parent

“It’s his story yes. But it’s being told so others will continue to fight. It’s to raise awareness about Parental Alienation. You and many other fathers have said the exact same words “…I was there.” This is NOT okay. I watched a great man be torn apart. I watched everyone turn their backs on him including the legal system. For what? His daughter to be raised in a hostile, emotionally unstable and abusive home while he suffered at their mercy. It’s unjust. This story is to save another man, another father. It is 100% truthful. It helps me sleep at night knowing he didn’t die for nothing. He was very compassionate and a truly kindhearted, genuine man. He did not deserve this cruelty. No human being deserves to feel worthless”

[Written by the anonymous contributor of this story.]

“Living without your children is the closest thing you get to hell on Earth”

The Story

Four years ago I met my partner wounded and broken by his ex-girlfriend who he had a young baby with. She falsely accused him of assault and had a restraining order issued against him. She was abusive, both mentally and physically and he was fearful of her violent outbursts and psychotic episodes. She is narcissistic and used their daughter as a pawn to get what she wanted, not caring what damage was done in the process.

She harassed my partner and I endlessly with false accusations, bullshit lawsuits, and tens of thousands of incessant text messages for years. I watched how stressed he would get from the copious amounts of texts and emails consuming his life daily. He tried to ignore them, but couldn’t. They wouldn’t stop, no matter how many times he voiced his personal boundaries and space.

“He spent every last penny he had fighting through lawyers and court.”

He tried to rise above her mental insanity and attempted to co-parent respectfully. He stood up and stood down trying to cope with her unrealistic demands for the sake of their child. He spent every last penny he had fighting through lawyers and court because mediation and old school “sit down and talk it out” was out of the question. He lived in constant fear of the next legal document waiting to be served; awaiting the next hurdle he would have to jump through to protect himself and his daughter. The anxiety that followed, as well as the constant and unsubstantiated worry that caused significant distress and interfered with his daily life.

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Even though she was a narcissist and abusive, he was never given the rights he deserved. He fought for custody in court and was granted weekend visitations and then ten days a month, a right his ex-girlfriend did not honour. She would play games and make EVERY single child exchange extremely difficult and toxic, exposing their child to undue stress, blaming him in the process. It broke my heart to see him fall apart after child exchanges. He would come home exhausted, completely defeated, and broken. He felt manipulated, and worthless. It was really hard to watch that happen over and over to someone you love.

When life was going smoothly and everyone was happy, she would create drama out of thin air. She would invent completely fictional scenarios tainting him as the “deadbeat father” stereotype to try and make him and those around him believe her lies. When she couldn’t control him, she would control how others saw him, intentionally turning friends and family against him. I saw the shame he felt at the grocery store or the swimming pool. I watched him avoid social situations in fear of being judged, embarrassed or humiliated and I saw the insecurities that followed.

“Mentally exhausted, not only was he in dire need of sleep, but in dire need of peace.”

I watched over the years as his sense of self slowly eroded from the verbal abuse, the threats, the bullying and the relentless criticism. I watched as this slowly consumed him. He tried to be happy on the outside, tried to enjoy life, but the damage was detrimental and his confidence and self-esteem became weaker and weaker every time there was contact with her. From a happy morning at the house to a pick up to get his daughter that afternoon, the affects in one hour’s contact, were disparaging. Every year, it got worse. The tension this had on our relationship, the stress that invaded our personal lives, the damage it was doing psychologically was all too real. The darkness was taking over. He was tired. I was tired. Mentally exhausted, not only was he in dire need of sleep, but in dire need of peace.

Parental Alienation

This is the story of a father who was alienated.  To those reading who think parental alienation only means “never seeing the child” you are partially correct, but there is more. The term also involves the “psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or family members. It is a distinctive form of psychological abuse and family violence, directed at both the child and the rejected parent and/or family members.” Usually, this is the result of a parent wishing to exclude another parent from the life of a child or an attempt to punish the parent for personal reasons. In the court of law, this is child abuse. Parental alienation is a set of strategies that parents use to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent.  There are numerous ways a parent can alienate a child from the other parent.

“The alienating parent was determined to blame him and make him suffer for her own emotional instability without concern for how it impacted the child involved.”

In this situation, impeding with visitation, despite orders was a primary cause of alienation, but most significant and most damaging was the consistently denigrating the other parent in front of anyone who would listen, including their daughter. Anger, verbal and/or physical abuse against the targeted parent was experienced in front of the child or third party on more than one occasion. Assertions of hate and vengeance were constant as the alienating parent created scenes at every opportunity to either upset the child and/or make the child feel guilty during child exchanges. The alienating parent was determined to blame him and make him suffer for her own emotional instability without concern for how it impacted the child involved. Using constant accusations, crying to the child about how the father ruined their family, painting him as the bad parent who took away their happy home was not beneath the alienating tactics used to belittle and control. These alienating strategies knew no boundaries and showed no concern for the emotional well-being of the child, who was forced to take sides. 

Threats to take away the child were relentless unless demands were met to suit the mother. Luxurious personal purchases were commonplace while she overlooked the child’s essentials and accused the other parent for her “financial hardship.” She continuously demanded more child support to support her spending. Her rude, nasty and controlling behavior was continuous as she attempted to control his parenting, dictating what he could and could not do with his child on his specific days. When it was his time with the child, he would be harassed by incessant amounts of phone calls and texts with insignificant issues and drama that impeded his quality time with his daughter. She would also demand FaceTime regularly, something which he was always denied, and she would ask the daughter if she was okay, and show concern about her being in her father’s care in an attempt to cause distress in the child.  If he missed a call or a text she would punish him by taking away from his parenting time for the next visit. 

Parental Alienation – The Aftermath

Parental alienation is extremely damaging to the children involved; this is why it is considered child abuse. There are numerous articles and publications outlining the psychological damages, also known as Parental Alienation Syndrome. The degree of damage on the child’s psyche varies with the severity of the alienation and with the child’s temperament and circumstance. However, all children are affected by parental alienation on some level.

“The defamation of character and the slander can have severe impacts on a person’s reputation, career and life.”

Let’s look deeper into the parent who is being alienated. Does society recognize the emotional destruction and psychological trauma experienced by the parent who is alienated? The constant belittling, demoralizing and degrading remarks, the endless high conflict arguments, the verbal and/or physical abuse, the lies, the deceit, and the corruption are all part of the tool kit used by the alienator seeking control. The defamation of character and the slander can have severe impacts on a person’s reputation, career and life. The financial struggles that result from the copious legal fees fighting for custody in court cause further damage. These are some examples of the mental abuse the alienated parent must endure if they are to have any chance at seeing their children. These strategies are most commonly used by the alienator to intimidate the alienated parent in an effort to ensure that they not only fail in their role as a parent but to also ensure that they are rejected by their children as well.

Sadly, there are even more severe and undermining tactics used by the alienator, these include false allegations of mental, physical and/or sexual abuse towards themselves or their children.  The alienated parent is accused of a crime they did not commit, suffering severe psychological damage while having to defend their innocence. Even if evidence is in the alienated parent’s favor, the charges are dropped, or they have been able to prove they are not guilty, they are still viewed by the public and/or courts as untrustworthy and left under scrutiny inflicting an overwhelming sense of helplessness. This tactic is used by the alienator to look like a victim, while in reality they are the perpetrator, seeking to gain control of the situation. In many cases, there are no witnesses, which means it is one parent’s word against the other. This is a very dangerous and illegal tactic that can cause irreversible damage to the mental health of the alienated parent and the children involved.

“Essentially grieving for a child who is still alive.”

While the alienated parent is repeatedly tormented and wrongfully accused by the alienator, they are also, in most cases, not in contact with their children. This in itself has a significant effect on the alienated parent’s well-being. Essentially grieving for a child who is still alive. They say that when your child dies before you, a piece of you dies with them. I think this is very relevant to a parent who is forced out of their child’s life. This is a pain so deep, yet it can be completely avoided, if not for the vengeful parent seeking to destroy and alienate.

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Many alienators prey on the love the alienated parent has for their children. The alienating parent selfishly exploits this deep love and because they are willing to exploit their children, they always have the upper hand.

Suicide

Suicide is the act of causing one’s own death. This is a topic that is uncomfortable for most people to discuss and as such is commonly avoided. I myself hadn’t given it much thought before it changed my life. Risk factors of suicide include many prolonged mental health disorders but it can also be an impulsive act resulting from too much stress due to stressors such as financial struggles, broken or unhealthy relationships, and excessive bullying. I believe the cause of this suicide was years of relentless mental abuse, and an unwillingness to respect boundaries in regards to co-parenting and disregarding the father’s and the child’s wellbeing.  Over time this caused extreme stress, anxiety, and depression. I believe this was what caused the suicide of an otherwise vibrant and exultant man. Everything about this story is tragic. A life was lost due to vengeance, and now a child will grow up without her father.

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Unfortunately, this has become a common thought process in many alienated parents’ lives. Some fight through these suicidal thoughts, others consumed by pain, are not so fortunate. These types of suicides can usually be avoided. This was a man so abused, so broken, so victimized that he thought suicide was his only option. He was intentionally made to feel worthless, helpless and hopeless. He sacrificed for years, suffering as he fought to be part of his daughter’s life, forced to fail every single time. This is unjust. No parent should have to sacrifice their life fighting for what is rightfully theirs.

In loving memory of PKP,  May 24th, 1983 – July 1st, 2017


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