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