Parent Alienation is Domestic Abuse!!
Pure and simple! Parent Alienation is a malignant social dysfunction that is surreptitiously spreading through our communities, devastating lives and destroying families. It is flying under the courts' radar and has become a virulent epidemic that can and does strike across all populations and all income groups. Men, women, and children suffer indiscriminately, sinking into lives scarred by pain, loss, sorrow, loneliness, guilt, and regret. Victims are swept into a downward spiral of depression and desperation from which most never escape. And, victims may never understand how it happened.
The fact is that parent alienation (PA) is an insidious form of emotional child abuse where one dysfunctional parent seeks revenge against the other by manipulating children to completely and utterly reject and hate the targeted parent (TP.) It is a terrible process where a vengeful alienator parent (AP) basically strips children of their self-identity to selfishly seek revenge against the ex-spouse (see the discussion on Psychiatric Disorders.) The targeted ex-spouse is the victim of a two headed abuse strategy and the child devolves to become little more than a puppet in the alienator's vicious campaign. Studies of adult victims who were affected by parent alienation as children have shown that child victims tend to suffer a lifelong pattern of assorted social and emotional disabilities.
The intended target is not the child; it is the current or ex-spouse. The child is the tool used to hurt the target and the pain, suffering, guilt, and stunted emotional maturity ultimately experienced by the child is little more than "collateral damage."
Unfortunately, the delusional alienator may actually believe they are doing the right thing by rescuing the child from the "bad" (targeted) parent.
The Mentally ILL Alienator
Most divorces at some point are contentious or even toxic. The children inevitably suffer but most parents are sensitive to their children's plight and understand their need to maintain a warm and loving relationship with both parents. Unfortunately, in some cases one parent not only does not care but s/he is so consumed by anger that they actively seek to deny the children from the other parent.
Parent Alienation is not simply the result of two fairly stable but angry parents fighting through a contentious divorce. It results when one parent is afflicted with a mental handicap such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a well recognized illness by mental health professionals. What kind of a parent could be so cruel that their thirst for vengeance could enable them to inflict a lifelong disability on the children they claim to love? A parent controlled by a personality disorder. Read about Personality Disorders here.
Is Parental Alienation A Syndrome (PAS)?
There is a huge library of literature debating whether or not parent alienation should be considered a "syndrome." Unfortunately, the debate has largely served to only exacerbate the problem. It deflects attention away from the underlying problems and frustrates family courts' attempts to understand the issues and protect our children.
The crux of the debate is this: A "syndrome" is a medical condition with defined protocols for both diagnosis and treatment. The condition, whether physical or mental, has been rigorously researched and any resulting academic publications have been subjected to the formal process of "peer review."
Parent Alienation Syndrome "PAS" has not yet survived the research and peer review that would qualify it as a medical syndrome. The American Psychiatric Association has determined that Parent Alienation is not in and of itself a medical condition but a dysfunctional relationship within a family. Thus, it has not been included in the 2013 edition of its Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM-5.) Rather, it remains a theoretical construct introduced by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1985.
To make the situation more difficult PAS has become the term commonly
but mistakenly used to describe this very serious problem. And, there
are political overtones. In highly contentious divorces dominated by
custody battles a steadily increasing number of fathers are suing to win
full custody of the children or a change of domicile from the mother.
Men's and women's groups have made the problem more difficult for the
courts by taking positions based on gender.
Parent Alienation, both real and fraudulent, have emerged as a weapon in
toxic divorces, sometimes well after the divorce's conclusion. As a
result, men's support groups have lobbied in favor of designating
alienation as a syndrome and women's support groups such as NOW have
Traditionally, primary custody is granted to mothers. But, as men become more involved in child rearing they have increasing sued for custody. A response by women has been to fend off the father by accusing him of physical or sexual abuse. Seventy percent of all accusations of abuse in custody battles are made by women against non-resident fathers. And 70% of custody suits are initiated to eliminate the father from his children's lives.
Men want PA to be recognized as a syndrome because they believe such designation will legitimize it in their court based attempts to remain part of their children's lives. Women's groups have opposed it largely because women will be the primary beneficiaries of maintaining the status quo.
The authors of DSM-5 decided that PA is not a medical condition. However, they did recognize that the underlying personality disorders that cause a parent to inflict this kind of abuse on their own children are mental health disorders and can be identified and documented. They are included in the DSM-5. See Parent Alienation and Personality Disorders.
What Is Parent Alienation?
Bob Dylan wrote "You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows." An iconic quote made famous in a Clint Eastwood movie said "don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining." And, the Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, explained that while he could not define obscenity he knew it when he saw it. If I have learned anything it is that I don't need a psychologist, an attorney, or the DSM-5 to recognize parent alienation or that it is a devastating malignancy caused by a manipulative parent consumed by revenge and driven by one or more serious personality disorders.
Parental Alienation's Legal Definition: "A form of emotional child abuse where a custodial parent belittles or vilifies the other parent to the child."
In R v KC, Justice Sheppard wrote:
"The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent..."
Attorney Lloyd Duhaime added "Its intent and effect is to destroy the present and future relationship between a child and the alienated parent. The brainwashing is very effective because it is delivered upon a young, emotionally vulnerable and impressionable mind."
He further writes: "In any event of prolonged parental alienation, an emotional time bomb is implanted into the child. Even if amends are later made, the child either turns against the alienating parent, or reserves in regards to the alienated one; both, in any event, stifling that child's development into a fully developed and emotionally mature adult and parent in his or her own right." See Adult Victims of Parental Alienation.
Failure Of Advocacy
Under the best of circumstances Parental Alienation is complex and difficult to diagnose. By the time a family court judge comes in contact with an alienated child the damage is usually done. Neither Guardian Ad Litems nor mental health professionals are generally trained to recognize Alienation when the alienated child denigrates the target and expresses happiness with the Alienator. To make matters worse, some states allow children of a certain age to be the sole decision maker regarding where to live unless there is clear evidence of physical or sexual abuse.
Mental health professionals are failing families and the courts. The courts are failing families victimized by Parent Alienation. The situation is so bad that it is not unusual for misguided mental health professionals to completely misjudge the dysfunctional dynamic which results in the courts placing victimized children with the true abuser (Read the page on Therapeutic Intervention.)
Given the complexity of the problem and the inability of advocates to effectively address the issue, more lives are being destroyed every day. Family courts continue to contribute to the problem by sticking their heads in the sand. Unfortunately, not only are they turning blind eyes they are actually, if unintentionally, exacerbating the problem. In some cases, they are actually promoting it. Read Why Targeted Parents Lose In Court for more about this. Sadly, the problem can be so difficult that normally adversarial attorneys have been known to collaborate against Targeted Parent's because they incorrectly conclude that appeasing the brainwashed child is in everyone's best interests.
Complexity Is No Excuse
The courts and social service organizations are
overwhelmed with serious and easily identified issues involving, among other things, physical and sexual abuse. These truly are life and death issues. But,
their seriousness does not excuse neglecting the mental and emotional
devastation resulting from Parent Alienation.
Parent Alienation is child abuse! It is devastating emotional abuse that will haunt the child throughout life. Long term studies of adult victims of alienation have demonstrated the permanent psychological damage inflicted on them as children. Alienator parents are criminals! But, often sanctioned by the courts, they fly under the court's radar and the victims are abandoned when they most need help!
Alienation is child abuse that leaves
no physical scars. So, it is difficult for authorities to filter
through the evidence and make wise decisions. It is remarkable, though,
that so many therapists fail to identify the problem when treating
families. While fighting to save my daughter we met with at least three
clinical psychologists, none of whom recognized any dysfunction in the
abnormal relationship between her and my ex-husband.
Mental Health professionals at all levels must receive training on
how to detect alienation and intervene in the early stages. They need to
understand that it is a human disaster resulting from one psychologically handicapped
parent intentionally waging a manipulative campaign to inflict pain
and destroy the relationship between the second parent and their
Inclusion in the DSM-V might have advanced the legitimization of alienation accusations by targeted parents against their Alienators. And, it would have created the need to train mental health professionals, attorneys, and judges to properly investigate and intervene where necessary. But, Parental Alienation Syndrome was not included, which metaphorically poured gasoline on an already smoldering controversy.
However, the authors do include the personality disorders that seem to be at the root of most cases of identified Parental Alienation. Hopefully, attorneys and mental health professionals will be able to better make the necessary connections that will be helpful to family courts trying to come to grips with the problem.
This website is a resource by and for people affected by Parent Alienation. I am not, nor do I pretend to be, a professional by any stretch of the imagination. I am a high school teacher and I love my children, 2 of whom are adopted from China. But, I have done some research and know I have been victimized by a diabolical, unscrupulous, narcissistic ex-husband who has spent 12 years scheming revenge following a toxic divorce. He is winning! He took my oldest child from me 11 years ago and he took my youngest 10 years later when she turned 14, the age deemed by the Rhode Island Family Courts , in their questionable wisdom, when children are sufficiently mature to make their own decisions regarding their place of domicile.
Pay It Forward
Above all, it is my fervent hope that this will be your web site. It is a place to tell your story, share your pain, and vent about your frustrations and disappointments in the very people and organizations that are supposed to protect us and our children. But, it is also a place to share our hopes, progress, and successes in fighting to save our children. Your comments will actually create a page that will become a permanent part of the site.
All of us reading this web site have had our lives changed forever by Parental Alienation. And, we are all trying to both understand and find help and advice. How can we fight back and protect our children?
Let's organize a movement that will become a resource of helpful, comprehensive information for victims of PAS. Share your story.
Tell us about relevant developments in your state.
Give us advice to better develop this site. What are we missing? And, how can we take action?
Tell us anything. It's easy. There are no registrations, sign-ons, or passwords. Just start writing.
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