It’s Child Abuse But Not as We Know It; When Healthy Parenting is Regarded as More Harmful than Abuse

The outcome of the CAFCASS Child Impact Assessment Framework is starting to show in the UK. This week news reaches us of cases where severe alienation is found but CAFCASS are recommending that moving the child to live with the healthy parent will be more harmful than leaving the child with the parent who has been found to have abused them.

Despite the fact that CAFCASS have publicly acknowledged that parental alienation is child abuse, recommendation that the child remains with the parent who is abusing relies upon the statement in the CIAF which says –

Despite these risks to the emotional wellbeing of the child, the risk of forcing them into time with the other parent may be higher……….It can, very understandably, feel wholly unjust to a rejected parent.

However, regardless of how they were formed, a child’s wishes and feelings may be so entrenched against time spent with the other parent (and a change of where they live is also not viable), that time with that parent is not possible.

So that we properly understand the meaning of this I will reiterate.

Severe alienation has been found. The child is showing the signs that pathological alignment and splitting are in play. The evidence is filed on the harm that this does to the child both now and in the future. CAFCASS agree that the child is being abused. The CAFCASS recommendation is to leave the child where they are.

CAFCASS didn’t attend the EAPAP Conference in August despite being invited to do so. If they had they may have learned something. I had tea with Linda Gottlieb and Steve Miller the day after the conference and we talked about the idea that if PA were sexual abuse, essentially what CAFCASS would be recommending would be that moving the child to live with a parent who doesn’t molest them, would be more harmful than leaving the child to be molested.

The only reason I can think of for CAFCASS to come up with the conclusion that moving a child who is pathologically split in their mindset is more harmful than leaving them with the abusing parent, is that they do not properly understand parental alienation. Perhaps they don’t want to.  Listening to the podcast released in early September by Sarah Parsons and Julie Doughty, I was struck by the way in which these two who preside over the CIAF and CAFCASS’s efforts to address parental alienation, are so uneducated in the reality of what parental alienation does to a child, that they truly do believe that it is simply about contact, high conflict or some other mysterious issue known only to them.

What I am most appalled about this week is that despite CAFCASS accepting that this child is severely alienated and despite the fact that they acknowledge that this is child abuse, they also, in the same breath, blame the healthy parent for continuing proceedings.

You will notice in the CIAF that there is reference to rejected parents who continue proceedings being harmful to the child, which is really a get out of jail or sit on the fence card for every CAFCASS officer in the land.  ‘we know your child is being abused but really, you should just leave them alone to be abused because all this going to court is equally harming your child.’

Try telling that to a mother or father whose child is being sexually abused or physically harmed.  Try telling a parent that their efforts to rescue their child from harm is equally harmful to the child.  It won’t wash will it because a parent who knows that their child is being harmed is going to climb mountains, cross rivers, shout from the rooftops and never give up in their pursuit to rescue their child.  Because emotional and psychological harm caused by inducing the pathologically split state of mind in a child is no less damaging to the life chances of children than all of the forms of child abuse our precious children have to suffer.

Anyone who truly understands what parental alienation is, would recognise that to decide to leave a child in the hands of a parent who is causing the underlying damage of pathologically splitting, is colluding with child abuse.  Allowing the continued inducement of the split state of mind in a child is to leave them open to development of borderline or narcissistic personality disorder.  It is leaving them to face the ongoing coercive control of the dominator, the person who overshadows the child’s developing self with their own needs. It is leaving them to rot in the broken family attachment hierarchy,  in which their needs don’t get met and they are taught that this is normal.  It is leaving them to the fate of losing their own children when they themselves become parents and they find out they have married the emotional and psychological terrorist who is just like their mother or father.

I have written previously for children of the future to help them to understand that the issues they face in adulthood are caused by the harm done to them by a government service which was given the evidence about the harm caused by leaving a child with an alienating parent in 2018. And how instead this service chose to mislead, misrepresent and give its staff a ‘how to sit on the fence and get away with it’ card instead.

Parental alienation is not a contact issue, it is not a parental rights issue and it is not about high conflict or entrenched families. Parental alienation is not a lesser abuse than sexual or physical abuse, it is not something which can be found to be in existence and then just ignored because the children are too old, too determined, too violent, too unwilling to do what they are told to do.

If a Judge finds that a child is alienated then regardless of the child’s age, intervention to prevent the harm done to the child and improve their chances of a healthy future is not a choice, it is not something that should be delivered based on whether someone agrees with the intervention and it is not about someone’s opinion either.

We don’t allow children to drive, drink, smoke, have sex, make decisions about their lives in any other region until their later teens (and even then if we take proper notice of the neuroscience, we would hesitate to give even older teens the keys to making decisions about their own lives). Why is it that a government service in the UK in 2018 is allowed to say that some children are too old to be moved from an abusive home or too entrenched to be helped to heal the pathological mindset?

I know what pathological splitting does to children and how it manifests in adulthood because I work with it. Having practiced in this field for many years, I have also seen the outcomes for children who were harmed in childhood by alienation and how this has affected their life chances.

The impact of alienation is ghastly, it causes a pathologically split sense of self, it causes mistrust in adult relationships and it causes serious difficulty in developing any kind of stable personality.  Unaddressed it causes an entitled haughty persona to develop which is accompanied by a cruel and un-empathic way of being in the world. It leaves its victims helpless to make changes alone and in most cases without any knowledge that there is anything wrong, because life with this defence mechanism is often passed down the family line and thus normalised.

In the worst case scenario, a child in whom the pathologically split state of mind is induced, is an extremely vulnerable child because they are in the control of a harmful parent and the healthy parent who could provide the antidote to this poisonous situation is being prevented from having any kind of caring role whatsoever.  Is some cases the child is being alienated in order to hide the other abuse which is happening to them, in which they are to all intents and purposes ‘wedded’ to the harmful parent in an unholy union of pathological enmeshment.  In that kind of scenario a child can be persuaded to do just about anything ‘because it is normal’.

And CAFCASS believe that intervening in such cases is more harmful than leaving the child in the care of the abuser.

In what kind of world, in what kind of paradigm and in what kind of mindset does one have to be to think that this is ok?

There is no research evidence anywhere in the world which shows that removing a child from an abusive parent is harmful to a child.  International research evidence from Richard Warshak* makes it abundantly plain that this is true in parental alienation just as any other form of abuse.  We do it for children who are sexually and physically abused, when we understand the underlying abuse that is being done beneath the label parental alienation, we will routinely do it for those children too.

Education is the answer plus the practice which truly helps these children.  Practice which EAPAP will govern, support and develop until the right way is recognised by all.

Until then, those of us who know will keep on keeping on for the children being harmed in the here and now by those who could have and should have known better but didn’t and don’t.

*Warshak, R. A. (2015b). Ten parental alienation fallacies that compromise decisions in   courtand in therapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46, 235–249. doi:10.1037/pro0000031




  1. Karen, you write:

    “The only reason I can think of for CAFCASS to come up with the conclusion that moving a child who is pathologically split in their mindset is more harmful than leaving them with the abusing parent, is that they do not properly understand parental alienation. Perhaps they don’t want to.”

    You’ve been careful to avoid gendering in this piece, but surely the vast majority of “abusing parents” in this context are mothers? That being the case, the reason for the CAFCASS position is perfectly simple. They are empowering the mother over the father, regardless of the harm done to the child. It’s precisely what we would expect of any official body driven by feminist thinking, the relentless seeking of female privilege and male disadvantage.

    Mike Buchanan


    1. I am always careful to avoid gendering my writing on PA Mike because the reality is that at the Clinic, 48% of our clients are mothers. That has held true throughout a decade of doing this work. The truth is that PA is caused by power and control dynamics not by gender and that CAFCASS actually leave mothers alienated as often as fathers. In reality this is caused in my view by feminist thinking because the lack of understanding of relational violence in CAFCASS means that if children say their mother harmed them, there is an equal likelihood that the child will be believed than if a child says their father harmed them. This is because of the gendered belief that mothers who harm children are far worse than fathers – mothers are supposed to be good and kind and caring etc… sounds complex but it isn’t, the reality is that dads alienate almost as much as mums do if they can get control over the children first.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Karen, thanks – and thanks for the great work you do. We have a RSS link to your website on ours.

        You write, “the reality is that dads alienate almost as much as mums do if they can get control over the children first.” But surely in the overwhelming majority of cases it’s the mothers who get control over the children first? So the proportion of fathers and mothers at your clinic isn’t representative of the wider situation, and my point about the feminist bias of CAFCASS stands?


      2. I know you want this to be about bias mike but it’s really not. The clinic is representative of the wider situation if you compare alienation stats globally it’s not just about mothers alienating. Feminist thinking causes as much harm to women as it does to men in the family court by driving decisions from a political standpoint.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I am sure what you say on number is correct but I am sure something more complex is occuring.

        I am quite prepared to accept that the potential for alienation is similar between men and womn in the sense that the capability and desire to alienate is broadly equally distributed but within society the opportunity to alienate would seem sharply different.

        It is very easy for a woman to achieve sole access and to exclude the father from contact with children. It is significantly harder for a father to achieve this. It would take intelligence, planning and a expert in manipulation and deceit for a father to achieve this with considerable risks. I am sure there are men with sociopathic traits that can achieve this but I can’t believe it is nearly as common as with women. The exclusion then facilitates the alienation and once it has occured then reversing or overcoming it is a serious challenge. What I suspect is happening is that most men in this sitiation simply give up. This is arguably a sensible decision despite the damage to children. The advantages society gives women in this sitation are so profound that men will have almost no chance of overcoming the alienation which will be aided and abbteeted by those in authourity and challenging it will not just be very demanding of mental and financial resources but potentially dangerous in other ways with false allegations etc.

        The only way this will change is if alienation is treated as your article suggest it should as child abuse. The least that should be done in this case is to move the child away from the abuser. A new danger of false accusations would arise but I suspect there would be a massive drop in this form of abuse.


      4. Yes I have no argument that the current UK system facilitates women taking control but I would also add that fathers can and do alienate children EVEN WHEN they are non resident parents which kind of explodes the idea that it is about who has physical control. As in all coercive control it is about psychological control, this is a psychological control issue which is very poorly understood in my experience. When it is it will be recognised that children of divorce and separation are very very very vulnerable to abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes the alienation starts long before divorce so at that point fathers have no less opportunity than mothers. Even if the father then becomes the non-resident parent he can built on the control already in place and soon alienate the children further from their mother. Some of the mothers in this situation will also be victims of emotional abuse during the marriage and they may suffer break downs or have problems of their own to deal with in the aftermath of the divorce. All very easy for an alienating father to exploit. Put that together with the stigma attached to a mother not being a carer for her children and these alienated mothers look very marginalised to say the least. Yes some fathers give up and walk away from the situation and hence don’t feature in the “statistics” but alienated mothers have no real voice and hence feature even less in our perception of PA. “She must have done something bad to lose custody of her children” “She brought it upon herself because she wasn’t organised enough/she couldn’t cope with the divorce/etc.” If that is what you are met with from support services that is a real barrier to accessing help, not unlike the stigma men are faced with when trying to access help for domestic violence.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is an excellent article Karen – thank you.
        There’s something I’m finding hard to understand when you assert that within the UK the incidence of parental alienation is equal for men and women. Given you acknowledge that courts in the UK are weighted in favour of women (by orders of magnitude), on first sight it seems odd that the numbers would be equal. You quote global stats – do you have any links to those please? thanks John


      3. Let me find them for you John, I will post them. I want to be clear that the incidence of alienation is more or less equal in our stats at the Clinic but that it may be that more women come to us because they know we understand and so feel that they can trust us. Mother alienation is by far the most silent experience of all in terms of the shame that mothers feel in being public about being able to see their children. Thus it appears on the outside that men are much more likely to become alienated. But the reality is that alienation is not about parental rights it is about parental mental health and transgenerational trauma repetition and coercive psychological control. It is a very different beast to that which has been portrayed for decades which is why we are fighting to get it recognised as a mental health issue and not a parental rights issue.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “PA is not about contact – it’s a mental health issue.”

        Unfortunately the family courts deny access between children and non-resident parents (who are far more often fathers, than mothers) at the request of the resident parent, and surely denial of access is a major factor enabling PA to take place? If a child doesn’t see his/her non-resident parent for months / years on end, re-establishing a healthy relationship is presumably a challenge, even in the absence of PA, but much worse in the presence of it? The family courts are actively enabling PA, as are CAFCASS.

        I understand only a very small proportion of contact orders, if frustrated by mothers, result in mothers being punished – the child is effectively a human shield for her. We see the same phenomenon in the sentencing of mother who are criminals, with even more leniency shown to them than women in general. Five out of six men in British prisons today wouldn’t be there, if men were treated as leniently as women in sentencing terms. Needless to say, being fathers cuts no ice with courts.


      5. I don’t think there is much point in continuing this discussion Mike, it isn’t about parental rights it is about mental health – the issue comes to light in the post separation landscape but it is about mental health. Neither is it about men and fathers it is also about women and mothers it just isn’t boiled down to a gender issue though gender issues are involved in it.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Hi Karen,

        did you manage to find the information you said you’s post, as this conversation thread..

        There’s something I’m finding hard to understand when you assert that within the UK the incidence of parental alienation is equal for men and women. Given you acknowledge that courts in the UK are weighted in favour of women (by orders of magnitude), on first sight it seems odd that the numbers would be equal. You quote global stats – do you have any links to those please? thanks John

        29 Oct 2018 at 12:59 pm
        Let me find them for you John, I will post them.



  2. As always spot on: The idea that the expressed wishes and feelings of the child trump removing them from their abuser is utterly bizarre. I suspect the same CAFCASS officers would have no trouble empathising with an adult woman finding it difficult to accept that the relationship she is in, is emotionally abusive let alone finding the strength to leave it. The CAFCASS officer would easily signpost to support services and help. Yet apparently a child will understand and leave an emotionally abusive relationship no trouble even though the parent-child bond is probably much stronger than a partner bond. It is almost as if it becomes a question of at what age do you become old enough to need help?


  3. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted, but isn’t the notion that an abused child be left with abuser tantamount to institutionalising Stockholm Syndrome? Basic common sense makes it clear that any person who is a victim must be separated and protected from the perpetrator.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Mike Buchanan & AJ

    I am one of those women who tried very hard not to lose my daughter. I’ve never been a feminist or a women’s libber. I was and am just a wife and mother who wanted a family, a NORMAL family. It’s all I ever wanted.

    I have written all this before but I write it again. My heart is broken and my daughter has gone forever.

    I married my husband when I was 18 and he was 21. Seven years later our first daughter came along. She had a very rare degenerative neurological condition that killed her when she was five – our younger daughter wasn’t even three years old. My husband took no part in household chores or childcare. He never cuddled, fed or bathed either child. He made it so that it was not his responsibility, it was mine and mine alone.

    After our first daughter died (having become profoundly handicapped for the last two years of her life) my husband (who told me I wasn’t looking after him properly while I was struggling with two children in nappies one of which couldn’t even swallow without choking which constantly led to pneumonia) told me that if I ever left him he would fight me for custody (of our two year old normal child) and HE WOULD WIN.

    I struggled on with that marriage while he descended into the kind of person who would now be labelled coercive and controlling. He saw me as beneath him and he had to keep me in my place. With his threat hanging over me (and some very good times in between) I knew that I could not risk losing my child and besides, the way he was with me left me with no confidence to leave him. He controlled all our money and insisted that I hand over my salary to him to deal with because I wasn’t capable (I was a teacher who worked full time and earned more than him). I never knew how much money we had or where it was. He gave me an allowance and complained when I ‘wasted’ it while he spent thousands on his racing hobby.

    Slowly he turned my daughter. He began by agreeing with her each time she was cheeky to me or tried to tell her off (he never told her off – even when I discovered she’d been shop lifting – so he was always the good guy). By the time she was 15 I knew I’d lost her and I knew that if I left him she would always choose him not me. She spoke to me however she liked and he encouraged it. She would never have dreamed of speaking to him the way she spoke to me. He continually told her she was an adult and had every right to her opinions of me. She copied the rules he set for me. ……………

    But I stayed, just to keep my daughter in my life and he carried on excluding me and making her his best friend. They still holiday together abroad up to five times a year – she supports his racing and loves the social side. I left him almost four years ago when she told me to get out of her life. When I told him I was leaving he said ‘good, I won’t have to share her with you anymore’. He also told me that leaving him was not necessary. Maybe not for him but it was more than necessary for me. I was losing all sense of reality. I had already lost myself. Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did and I am only just recovering.

    My daughter, now 37, still holidays with him several times a year even though she was married 3 years ago (I was not even told let alone invited – had I remained with him I would have had to stay at home, uninvited while he attended and gave her away as father of the bride. I asked him how he thought it would be for me in that exact situation but all he could say was ‘Well of course I’ll go. She’s my blood’. I wasn’t asking him not to go; I wanted him to understand how it would be for me.

    My daughter has always sworn that she doesn’t want children. Her father spent her teenage years telling her how disgusting childbirth was, how it almost put him off sex and how boring babies and young children are. She is as hard as nails. Her husband goes with the flow and avoids causing any waves. She is just like her dad. Her early promise left her long ago. She’s a successful, ruthless woman who ‘doesn’t suffer fools gladly (her words).

    Should I have left him after our first child died? It was all too raw. I wasn’t capable of doing anything but seeing her through the loss of her sister. He threatened to fight me for custody and I knew he would do just that. And he’d told me he would win. I had no cause to doubt him and neither did I have any fight left in me.

    Women can do just this to the fathers of their children and my heart goes out to those fathers; but believe me, men are powerful and if they are so inclined they can do just as they please.

    Parental Alienation is something that no one on the receiving end can overcome without a great deal of help. It truly is mind blowing.


  5. Absolutely agree with this blog. I have personally experienced this in court last year with the circuit judge . I had appealed against the earlier decision of the lay magistrates , you advised me and helped in that aspect Karen, thank you. The circuit judge admitted that I had been exceedingly badly treated, ( which in my mind means my children have too ), the judge stated that they had been alienated by their mother intentionally or unintentionally so, yet the judge instructed that a fact find or any further court proceedings would cause our children further harm and only polarise their views further against me . So my appeal was successful, and the lady Judge made an order that I should see the children , yet that was also later ignored., so still over one year later I have absolutely no contact with my much loved children.
    Bear in mind that I had medical evidence of emotional and psychological abuse made by my now ex wife against myself and older step son going on 6 years , but no one wants to know and this was addressed by my ex wife’s solicitor at the original hearing as being “historical” and therefore not relevant to the younger two children.
    Let’s face it the children have now NO contact with anyone that were previously good influences in their lives, that includes all my side of the family, even neighbors and friends.
    Financial gain is a huge motivation for alienating parents , as child proceedings are always dealt with before financial hearings, and having the children reside exclusively with one parent can sway the 50/50 rule into a “needs case”, where the control of the children equals control of the fiances, or much larger share of any monetary assets. This means that abusive parents are rewarded both by way of income via the CMS and by marital assets. Unbelievable !
    Why does Cafcass and some of the judiciary not want to stop this abuse of children? Well the only likely reason I can see is one of time and money: “next please “ !


  6. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    CAFCASS must stop living in a parallel universe – really – and follow through properly, having finally recognised Parental Alienation exists, in adopting a strategy to deal with it effectively, ie, actively recommending change of child residence with the healthy parent in GAL court reports, per Art. 13 [ECHR] Right to an effective remedy:.
    “There is no research evidence anywhere in the world which shows that removing a child from an abusive parent is harmful to a child. International research evidence from Richard Warshak* makes it abundantly plain that this is true in parental alienation just as any other form of abuse. “

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “As always spot on: The idea that the expressed wishes and feelings of the child trump removing them from their abuser is utterly bizarre.”

    This makes me recall the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State. Convicted (this from memory) of raping 10 boys. Ten boys who never expressed their wishes to be separated from their abuser. Sandusky “caught” by another coach. Ten boys – raped. How many more potentially? When the abuse is so brilliantly (sic) couched, it seems the abused do accept it as normal. Boys being raped – normal… Oh, what a twisted world they were brought into.

    Change it out to a parent, and the underlying parental “love”, and unlimited access. Magnitudes easier, I would guess, to impart the same perverse control.

    Back to my experience – xW and three younger siblings. All expressed to me thoughts of suicidal ideation in their childhood due to abuse from their evil mother (my ex MIL). Who did they reach out to? Who did they share their “expressed wishes and feelings”? Nobody. It was easier to consider suicide than it was to say the words that would save them.

    Perversions of trust that have been generations in the making, being honed and personalized by each subsequent player. What an evil, evil sentence to pass on to a child…


  8. I had friends who saw the alienation happening between me and my children even though my children lived with me. My ex had married and the behaviors subsided until she divorced 3 him years later. Then the behaviors erupted full scale! I didn’t understand why my children started to reject me and had no idea what PA was at the time, but my friends still questioned me as to what I had done to help create this situation. I kept ruminating and perseverating trying to figure all of it out. I read whatever I could get my eyes including your blog, Karen. I now know better now and eventually, forgave myself for not knowing.
    Please stop focussing on the alienator’s gender and focus on the abuse that is happening to the children.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. The feminist possessed Cafcass and state, fudge, obfuscate and ignore the reality and destructive outcomes for alienated children. Cafcass and the state have an idea of the numbers of children who are potentially alienated and are terrified of opening pandoras box. Feminists are terrified the truth about their ideology, their system and mechanisms would be revealed as one of the biggest child abuse scandals in human history. The state as it stands induces Parental Alienation, ploughs and lays the ground for its seeds to strike and take hold. When dealing with PA It is not a parental rights issue, it is a mental health issue and a child protection issue, but the feminist controlled paradigm of the family law courts induce this form of severe child abuse in the susceptible transgenerationally and culturally damaged parents who go on to alienate their children. Alienation happens to both mothers and fathers, both mothers and fathers can be alienators, the fact that the feminist system across the board is highly biased against fathers and men in all areas of health justice and education means that there are hidden swathes of alienated parents who have no voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I believe that fathers are more likely to give up due to the perception (real or otherwise) that mothers always get the children. I have to encourage my partner to keep fighting, and I don’t think he would have carried on otherwise. I know many mothers who drip feed contact to the children’s father, just enough to stop them going to court, but not enough for a meaningful relationship and use a more subtle form of alienation. This means stats show an almost equal split, but may not reflect true reality out there of those who don’t ‘go through the system’. Ironically, my mother was the target parent! My experience of people I know is it affects more fathers.


  11. As an alienated mom I find the focus on gender issues appalling. I focus a lot of my free time trying to move this issue forward for all alienated parents – not just moms. Given some of the representation here perhaps I should just focus my efforts around organizations for alienated moms?

    Here in Northern California the logic for not removing the alienated child from the abuser is that they might engage in self harm or suicide. Without a clear signal from a mental health professional saying that removing the child is the correct thing to do, Judges worry about removing the child and then having that self harm on their record. Instead they take the conservative approach and leave the child with 50/50 legal custody and 50/50 physical custody if the child chooses to go. This choice is around age 13/14. My ex, the children’s FATHER, achieved this by adultifying (“I know you’re old enough to make your own decisions and I support that. You mom still views you as a child…”) and parentifying our children. This is a pretty standard approach by alienating parents around here it turns out.

    The numerous factions and splits within the mental health community on this topic does not help. Because of the splits its is almost always possible to find one expert witness who will take apart another expert witness in court all sighting different schools of thought. Then it becomes a case of whose expert seems the most creditable, or what is the least risky course of action for the child – which goes back to leaving them with the alienating parent. A circular firing squad of inaction.

    Karen – thank you for all you do. You are a bright light in a dark place.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Lesley Kriese

    Quote: “As an alienated mom I find the focus on gender issues appalling. I focus a lot of my free time trying to move this issue forward for all alienated parents – not just moms. Given some of the representation here perhaps I should just focus my efforts around organizations for alienated moms?”

    I totally agree with you, Lesley, re the focus on gender issues. My dream was just a close, happy family: a husband and children. I never wanted a war. My heart bleeds for ALL alienated parents, male or female. It really doesn’t matter what gender you are or what the statistics are if you are an alienated parent, it’s still the same hell.

    The regular use of the word ‘feminists’ annoys me too. I know too little about feminism and what it means to fully grasp even Karen’s referrals to feminists but to me, who grew up the 60s while women’s liberation passed me by because I lived in the sticks ( and was fully under the control of my mother), the use of the word conjures up the very feeling that I feel when point scoring goes on along the lines of which gender is suffering most and which gender causes the most damage. I was never in those statistics. I didn’t even know what was happening until I left my husband and had peace enough to try to understand. I suspect there are many more alienated parents who never go through ‘the system’ and never show up in any statistics.

    Having said that, I have come to know that my own alienation from my daughter stemmed from my husband’s absolute need to control me. It was domestic abuse though I had no bruises, black eyes or broken bones to prove it. I recently read a book by Prof Evan Stark: author of Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life – the original source of the coercive control model when the Home Office widened its definition of domestic violence and changed the UK law in 2015. It opened my eyes. As did Karen’s blog.

    And Lesley, your husband’s words to your child are just what my husband continually told my daughter in front of me when he discovered her, age 15. She liked the idea of his treating her like a grown up. She liked being part of his adult world. She loved being part of his racing world. It was easy for him to take her from me once he began.

    In a hate filled email to me after I left and moved away she (amongst many other things) complained that I still treated her as a child and if I’d wanted her respect I should have earned it like her dad did. My husband completely forgot that I gave birth to his daughter. She was and is HIS. His possession. His surrogate.

    I send my very best wishes to all who try to resolve this abusive situation and to all alienated parents regardless of what gender you are.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Willow, you wrote, “His surrogate.” Those are my exact words I have used regarding my daughter and her father. I have been through this for about 17 years and I am still astounded at how many of us have similar stories and use similar words, regardless of gender. I am so very sorry for all of us, but mostly for the children.

      As Karen has stated, we must remain hopeful. My very best to you


  13. Our case was fully investigated for parental alienation. We have an order but the ex still sends stuff to try and control. Totally inappropriate behaviours. Tries to manipulate the children from a distance. He has mental health issues but asserts his partner has. Projection of his issues onto everyone else. Doesn’t take any responsibility for his own actions anywhere or at any time. Tries very hard to fill others head with nonsense. Even has people lie for him. They even joined family groups to which I’m sure people felt sorry for them through their spinning of facts.
    Thankfully everyone has seen through it and they continue failing.
    Very poor Mental Health is the reason for their perception of it being parental alienation. This has to be considered with some mentally ill parents have a greater sense of self. They are delusional.. But has been deemed unfit so blames others.


  14. Following on from Lesley’s post ………….

    I know how hard Karen is working in the field of PAS and I know what an influence Prof Stark has had re the new laws against coercive control but …………….

    Given that most people (men or women) find themselves in this position before they ever to get chance to realise what’s going on and ask for help. And given that most lay people, GPs, health workers, don’t even know about PAS let alone believe it exists (and when they do believe it, that ‘there’s no smoke without fire’) or know what to suggest…………… how on earth will this be resolved before it gets to the point of no return. It doesn’t just come from no where only to appear when the courts are involved (if they ever are).

    Just like the new laws on coercive control, how on earth do you prove it and then prevent it ever happening in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You can educate about drugs, smoking, safe sex, but how do you educate against this.

    It seems to me that this is all one unholy mess and leaves me feeling beyond overwhelmed and hopeless.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Seems that gender is irrelevant? If P.A behavior is set by personality issues then equally present in either gender. People with the potential to do this to children, given the circumstances are drawn to do this.

    Separate from this but also true, the systemic gender bias used in Family Courts leads to massively gendered outcomes. Effectively one gender handed a free pass by Courts and if feeling opportunist, the resultant gains of weaponizing children’s relationships against the other parent. How many children’s relationships broken by the straightforward ‘opportunist’ passing through this system and how many from hard core P.A ers?

    From the children’s view point what a cobbled together and ineffective farce. Ninety two percent of Applications for child contact are made by one gender and of those around fifty percent effectively loose the child-parent relationship. A lot of damage to children and for who or what is this sacrifice needed?

    The solution is to acquire the ability to diagnose P.A. reliably. Children protected from hardcore P.A parents with gender no longer an issue. Protected from irresponsible and opportunistic behavior no longer hidden away by Family Courts.


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