PA-UK News Update

Arriving back home from Switzerland last night I was woken by Nick to see the short piece on parental alienation on the BBC News at ten last night.  Having fallen asleep, I hoped I was dreaming as the arch priestess of the voice of the child agenda, Liz Trinder, graced the screen.  Liz had been wheeled out by the BBC to give her views in opposition to the parental alienation guidelines for social workers which were issued by Sarah Parsons and Julie Doughty in their podcast on Community Care.  Watching the same old arguments played out on screen by CAFCASS and Trinder, made me realise why parental alienation is such a tough nut to crack in terms of media coverage.

The media loves a conflict and will create opposition even where there isn’t one.  This is why it is such a difficult issue in terms of raising awareness.  In reality, pathological splitting, in which a child is induced to use an infantile defence mechanism which is harmful to their long term wellbeing is not a controversial subject.  Child abuse in all its forms is one which we all agree should be stopped.  When we conceptualise parental alienation as child abuse, it is an unarguable truth that we should all be working to stop it.  When we conceptualise it as parental rights however, conflicted views and opinions abound.

Liz Trinder and academics who follow her ideological standpoint, believe that children should be allowed to choose whether to have a relationship with a parent after family separation based on the child’s view of the parent.  Liz went so far as to say last night that if a child ‘isn’t keen on a parent’ then they should not be made to have a relationship with them.  Which sets up parents as being valuable in children’s lives only if children consider them to be so.  This is the far end of the spectrum of the ‘voice of the child’ agenda and as such it is perfect for the media because it generates argument and debate. For the children whose lives are being damaged by being burdened with choices they are too young to make and responsibilities they are too young too bear, it is about as abusive as it gets because it removes the focus from the harm being done to the child and relocates it to perceived parental conflict.

Sarah Parsons of CAFCASS does very little to shift the debate and her podcast with Julie Doughty as I wrote last week only serves to muddy the waters further.  When poorly made guidance meets ideological standpoint, the only outcome we can ever get is more conflict.  Watching the BBC article made me realise that surface arguments about parental alienation will only serve to further the false dichotomy and the mainstream media is not the best place to bring the issue of parental alienation as child abuse to light.  In my view, the time the media will serve a useful purpose in this arena is when the issue of parental alienation is raised by the children who have suffered it.  A time when the likes of Liz Trinder  and CAFCASS will be asked to account for their misrepresentation of the needs of children in divorce and separation.  A time in the future, which like all historical child abuse scandals, will come.  Until then, such fake news  from the BBC simply furthers to muddy the waters of mainstream consciousness.

On other media channels this past week a video has been making the rounds of two children being carried out of their father’s home by the police.  Reading the commentary about this and watching the video, again made me realise how difficult it is to convey the truth of parental alienation in all of its stark realities.  Having carried out transfers of residence in the UK Family Courts, what I was watching seemed to me to be a court ordered removal of the children.  Given that it appeared to be the children’s father filming the event and given the complete lack of reassurance from him to the children, it seemed to me to be pretty clear where the responsibility lay for the harm being done to the children.

Not so for the thousands of commentators across the internet who lambasted the police, denigrated the mother of the children and applauded the father.   Those who saw the video as I saw it were few and far between and were themselves the subject of attack in places.  Even in places which are supposedly alienation aware I read horrified comments about the manner in which the police intervened.  Which again makes me realise how difficult it is to convey to people that alienation of a child is emotional and psychological abuse and how that abuse is just as damaging as other forms of harm.  Even alienated parents commented that they would not want their children to be removed in that way, which makes me realise that even those who are witness to the abuse of their child, find it difficult to conceptualise the level of harm.  Had those children’s arms and legs been broken by their father would anyone argue that the police were not doing the right thing?  Why is a child’s mind being broken considered less harmful,  making it controversial to remove them from the source of that?

When I work with children who are recovering from the induced pathological splitting which is the root of the alienation reaction, I see their interminable struggle to find a steady platform to rest their thinking upon.  When the mind has been forced into a position where the beliefs one holds cannot be relied upon, the effort to trust ones own sense of judgment is exhausting.  When the recovering self seeks perspective but faces the repeated scissoring of experience into two halves, one good and the other bad, relationships become incredibly tricky to navigate. So much so that many simply give up and isolate themselves from relationships of all kinds.  Is this a less damaged life than the physically or sexually abused child?  I do not think so.  What I think is that inducing a child to use the infantile defence of psychological splitting by putting them under intense pressure in the post separation landscape, is serious child abuse.  And we treat serious child abuse by removing the child from the parent who is harming them.  And when we do that and the abusive parent films the event, we protect the children further from that parent.

Those who believe that serious and severe parental alienation can be treated without such scenes as this are simply naive.  And those who believe that parental alienation is about whether a child is ‘keen on’ a parent or not are simply perpetuating institutionalised child abuse. And those who think that mainstream media is a tool for changing public opinion about parental alienation are wishful thinkers resting their hopes on fake news.

What is not fake news however is that parental alienation is the next emerging child abuse scandal in the UK and it will not be long before a generation of children whose ‘decisions’ about a parental relationship after family separation have left them deeply scarred, come looking for the truth.

And the truth is, we have known about parental alienation for a very long time and we have known what the cause and the damage is and we have watched as a whole group of people have upheld those ‘decisions’ made by children repeatedly over several decades.  We have condemned generations of children to pathological splitting and all of the attendant damage that causes and we have done nothing to prevent it.  And even now, as the truth begins to dawn upon those who have perpetuated  the problem, the waters are muddy with denial.

This is an institutionalised child abuse scandal in which the the rights of parents have taken precedence over the needs of children.  Fake news cannot disguise that.

One day very soon, those children who have been harmed by those who stood by and did nothing, are going to demand to know the reasons why.


  1. As always absolutely on the money.

    I was shocked at the parent’s actions to even air this let alone stand by and film it. The police are I have to say useless when it comes to mental health or even healthy emotional or psychological behaviours but I couldn’t help but think while watching it, why are those “responsible” parents not only allowing it but filming it. I think it is good publicity but as you point out people are so fast to virtue signal to garner support without any actual understanding of the context in what is happening quite clearly a fundamental attribution error, the very cancer social media breeds.

    We need a law change. We need the police to step in, even if its specialist mental health workers or ideally psychologists specialising in PA, that I think is what we need.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Liz Trinder needs to be challenged regarding her ‘right of the child to decide’ comment. She is a dangerous women when allowed to air these backward views and as such she is complicit in the ‘abuse’ of a child in a vulnerable situation. I am so pleased the issue at least has been broadcast on the main BBC news bulletin and not sidelined to an obscure chat show.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I saw that video and thought that although no context was provided one thing was for sure and that was that the children were being removed from an unsafe environment. I just hope they went to a safer one.

    Keen on a parent: my children are not keen on me when I tell them off or remind them to do chores. Upholding an appropriate family hierarchy means that at times the children will be not keen on a parent. Suggesting that should allow the children to sever the relationship is nothing short of detrimental to their change of growing up as functional well adjusted adults.

    I also wonder if Trinder has ever watched the agony an abused child will go through to try to maintain a relationship with an abusive parent. She has clearly never paid much attention to Linda Gottlieb.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think she has quite probably never heard of Linda myself – Trinder is one of those academics who live in their own little bubble in which their beliefs rule and everyone else is deemed abusive to them and to children. It is the very self serving community she accuses researchers who work with PA of living in – projection perhaps or colloquially put – it takes one to know one!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “parental alienation is the next emerging child abuse scandal in the UK and it will not be long before a generation of children …. come looking for the truth.”
    The sad thing will be that many were so alienated that they will never believe that they were alienated.


    1. Ah but the thing is Alain that most do come to realise what has happened to them. And when they do understand they ask why did no-one help me. And it is when they understand that they could have been helped but systemically were not, that they will seek to know why.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s already happened! We are in it right now that’s the scary thing! Lots of adults have experienced it and are still brainwashed or have no idea what has happened to them. I’ve experienced it first hand with people. I have literally said to them you have no idea what is going on in the world or that people manipulate you daily have you? To be met with a blank look.

        The most worrying realisation for me is, I wonder how many male victims of domestic abuse have been labelled abusers simply because they got angry after being abused by their ex-partners?

        Very deep the rabbit hole of parental alienation is, very deep.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Having had this just happened to me to the extent that an older child 12 influence a younger child 8 to not wanting ‘to spend time with’ their father I now find my self without my children after 12 loving years. To allow the voice of a child to have a complete rejection of a parent and sanctioned by a court is horrendous. I asked many times that if a child says they don’t want to do something like go to school/dentist/house chores/be polite do we just let this be? Of course we do not and there are systems and parenting that help the situation. Not for the total rejection of a parent though…..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘…isn’t keen on a parent…’

    This was translated in my case to “the girls want to be with Mom” (xW was always “Mom”, I was “him”).

    And that was that. Lives ruined in the way we have all learned so well.


    Ok, kids, now who are you keen on???

    Karen, thanks again for a post that enlightens, even when it brings me to the point of vomit.



  7. Karen,

    I have seen that video and at first I was shocked like most people, then I read 1 comment of an ex telling the real truth about this horrible man and than another ex, or somebody who knew her, saying the same, I was actually shocked when I realised how deceiving judging by appearance can be. It was also strange that people didn’t take any notice of these comments!

    I am currently painfully assisting at the abuser’s sick, deliberate, many year long, alienating campaign to slowly severing the now thinner and thinner loving bond between me and my children, and watching them slip away from me. In all this time he has been trying to ignore the court order and getting the children to believe that 50/50 is the right thing. Of course it is the right thing if you are a healthy parent! I have been very very close to say yes many times as I am tired of being rejected, kicked, punched, accused, criticised and told that I am a psychopath by them. Yet, I feel that I would let my children down if I do because I am convinced that the campaign will continue until they just decide that 0/100 is the right thing. So I say no… and the abuse continues anyway.

    I want to shout from the depths of my lungs to the world how horrible this is! PA must be a crime! One of the worst crimes to children!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “real truth” eh? That’s a very rare commodity in the “Family” Court arena, and from such an unimpeachable source – the ex and her family!

      So many people have seen just what they wanted to see in that video, it reminded me of Dr David Southall who made a child protection referral against the late Sally Clarke on the basis of a TV news item about the SIDS death of her child.


      1. No sure what the message is you are trying to convey here Mike – the video has to be watched with the question in mind – if this a responsible parent filming this and there is no reason for the children being carried out – why are the police involved? There is of course an objective truth, which is that if a parent is having a child removed after a hearing on the basis of alienation then that parent is an alienating parent. The filming of this by the father concerned confirms for me that what I am watching is a court ordered removal. I know the scenario because I have done them. And when I do them with the police it is because the children are at very serious risk of being harmed. I have no idea who the ‘ex and her family’ are that you refer to and probably don’t need to know.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Yes Liz Trinder… prospective parents beware.

    Great Aticle Karen. Take your point about media attention. A few of us are trying to co-ordinate a protest in locations across the country on 9th Nov and we are looking to get interest from the press but having seen the BBC article it may be better to just focus on trying to get our own message out to the public.


  9. Now it so happens that my 16 year old son has just started at Exeter (6th form) College. At his mother’s instruction, he has not declared me as his next of kin. So the College refuses to acknowledge that I am his parent, or to provide any information about his academic process. Under UK law, I am jointly responsible for his education until he is 18, and must contribute to his costs since I have full parental responsibility. exactly how I can fulfill my legal duty in the face of the College’s refusal to provide information is a mystery to me. England has become a very irrational place, I find.
    Exeter College has a name for this procedure: Safeguard. Exactly who is being safeguarded is unclear. Why mention this? Why, where is Liz Trinder employed?
    Yes, the University of Exeter. Our world is small.


    1. Ross,

      Forgive me for painting with a broad brush – but that is the only brush handy to me. What I have found, with one daughter now done with 4 years of college, and the next in her second year (US), the schools are very resistant to giving information or even engaging in a dialog – all “in the interests of the child”. Echoes of Karen’s latest post about the role of ideology in the court system – it is certainly alive and well in academia!

      With high school, I had some legal “access”, but my efforts to further engage the administration, guidance, school psychologist, etc. in understanding and addressing the alienation was beyond frustrating. Now I have come to believe none of this was by accident.

      I recently reached out to the college ministry office, of the school where my younger daughter is now. Ministry – a Catholic Priest – I am very active in my local parish, surely this would be an opportunity for local insight. Nope – my phone messages and emails have gone totally ignored to date. As though there is a cloak of silence enveloping them.

      An amazing system, where you are legally responsible for funding an education that you are otherwise totally removed from. If it did not happen to me, I would never believe it.


  10. Thank you Karen for your blog. I totally agree. One day when these children are grown up they will be looking for answers for their lost childhood with their other loving parent and family and for the mental health harm this will have caused them. I have already vowed that one day when my grandchildren return home to us and they are of age and if they should choose to, I will stand with them every step of the way to sue the legal system and social services involved in their abuse.


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