On the eve of a New Decade I want to share with you this beautiful piece which has just been sent to me by someone I worked with some time ago and a comment, left for me on social media by someone I have supported through the horror of parental alienation until he reached the other side.
Both of these pieces are written to help others, both are utterly stunning in their honesty, integrity and absolute intention to expose this inhuman reality that too many families are forced to endure.
For both of these authors, one a mother and one a father, their children’s future is strengthened, brightened and protected by the work they have done to keep well and safe through this nightmare.
No-one should have to live through this. Children and their families should not have to suffer this awful problem and the lack of support that goes with it.
As we go into 2020 I know that the world will know about this child abuse scandal which has been hiding in plain sight for over fifty years by the time we reach the end of it.
And help will be available around the world for the children and their families who suffer it.
We keep on.
For all those who suffer, for everyone who doubts that change will come. It will.
Keep yourself, your heart and the love alive into this new decade and beyond.
Courage comes from the heart
Definition: Strength in the face of pain or grief
Origins: Middle English denoting ‘the heart’ from old French
I was in the midst of a years-long, exhausting parental alienation battle against my ex-partner – a personality-disordered man hell-bent on destroying my relationship with my child. One of my closest friends wished me ‘courage’ – explaining how the word was of French derivation, related to the heart (la coeur).
Looking back from my ‘better place’ today, I can fully appreciate the true sentiment of the word ‘courage’ and how finding this quality from deep within is an essential resource for mothers feeling lost in the wilderness of alienation.
It was ‘courage’ – a primal, maternal heart-driven force – that empowered me to fearlessly do and say things that I never would have dreamed possible of myself.
Courage to challenge the overwhelmingly unfamiliar, slow, bureaucratic system of Family Law and Children’s Agencies.
Courage to argue against the parties around me (including my own solicitor) asking, “What did you do to make your child never want to see you again?”.
Courage to defend myself against the cruel lies perpetuated about me in court by the QCs of both my ex-partner and my child.
Courage to self-represent in court when the money ran out.
Courage to withstand the impact of my child being removed from their father’s care – and then angrily choosing to remain in foster care. (Against the Judge’s order of interim foster care with eventual transfer to residence with me.)
Courage to keep battling for therapeutic intervention to repair our fractured relationship when all other fatigued parties were petitioning to give up on this case – to shut me up!…
Today I’m pleased to report that the heart is at play in a loving way.
It is my (now) 18-year-old’s heart that recounts happy memories of a playful, caring Mum – the ‘abuse’ script in their head now silent.
It is a teenage heart that reaches out to thank me for doing ‘Mum things’ for them.
It is our hearts that smile at each other when we share a joke or connection.
Our hearts are finally uniting again.
My heart occasionally grieves for the ‘missing years’ and the fact that our warm and joyous meetings are too infrequent, too brief.
But I hold on to the knowledge that I can continue drawing on courage as we properly rebuild our relationship in the many years that lie ahead of us.
I want to pass on the wish of courage to other mothers (and fathers) still in the process of finding their way back to their child’s heart.
More active than ‘hope’. More dependable than ‘justice’. It is ‘courage’ – your heart – that will provide you with the mettle to successfully navigate the journey.
It is a furnace we pass through
Its a furnace we pass through, and as you know it can be hellish, and it can be so damn hard and so easy to cave in and give in to the darkness that descends upon us in pain, the times I have felt so angry and helpless, despairing and despondent, full of self pity and at times even self loathing and felt like crying at the sun and yelling at the moon, why oh why oh why.
It is what it is, and what it is can be brutal to the heart soul and mind and although we can know the reasons why things have happened we are still powerless to turn back time and we have to stop our hearts bleeding out, our children dont need to find wreckage where a loving parent once stood, they need to find us still standing, bigger, braver, stronger, greater, more gracious and kinder than ever before.
With clarity and perspective and good intention we can affect the future in a positive way and look forward to better times due to the spaces we create in the here and now and tomorrow too having learned the hows and whys that alienation rained down in our lives……
Knowledge can be an umbrella, it may not stop the rain but will keep you dry and stop you withering away until the weather gets better….and it always stops raining, the sun does shine again much brighter after so long hidden behind clouds….and if you’re parting the clouds with the clarity and grace of love and light, with openess and clear intentions……those sunny days get closer quicker….
And the pain and grief of loss doesn’t bite so hard anymore, it becomes toothless and gummy.
Love is a dentist pulling rotten teeth!!
Thank you Karen, Your words have helped me to stand on my own with courage so I can weather any storm …
My very best to you and Nick,
Happy New Year
Thank you Karen for all the work you do. We will persevere until the child abuse is done. Thank you for your words of encourage (courage) ment.
Thank you to all who read this blog and to you Jean Clare and to the mother who wrote the first piece and the father who wrote the second. You are your children’s best hope for a healthy future, be kind to yourself. Be well. Sending my love Karen
“missing years” should really read “stolen years”, for that is what they are
Yes indeed Michael, robbed by those who looked the other way and those who pretended not to understand and those who tutted and those who blamed and shamed and those who closed their eyes and pretended and those who one day will be shown for who they are and what they did. I hope this decade brings that to the consciousness of the whole world. I will do everything I can to keep putting it on the table and pointing to it. Sending my love Karen
I’ve just come off the phone to a friend about to celebrate New Years Eve. I had to phone him because I am in the depths of pain and despair and I have been now for three and a half years. He already knew this and I knew he would answer me.
Before I phoned him I had tried to telephone my 14 yr old daughter on what I still think is her mobile number. I don’t know. It went to answer phone and I left a “Happy New Year Message”, but I wanted to try harder, so I phoned their home number.
i think my 14 yr old answered, but it may have been her 16 yr old sister. I haven’t seen or spoken to either for three years so I cant be sure. I said: “Hello- is that Ciara? It’s Dad”. After a very short pause she hung up. I tried ringing back another two times but although I let it ring a while i got no answer. I was going to carry on, but then I realised they might get distressed and their mother would be sure to work them both up into a panic and probably send the Police round here. There is absolutely nothing I can do that she doesn’t douse in a shower of bitter poison and I do not believe I will ever see my children ever again.
My friend was kind. he always is. He was busy preparing dinner but spoke to me for quite a while. He told me to go to my local pub for this New Year’s Eve. I want to. I know its the right thing to do, but it won’t bring my children back…children who totally believe it is right that they should have nothing to do with me. I’ll probably break down in front of everyone as I won’t be able to bear their joy. But, I am. as I write this, still intending to go. This article has helped me too.. Thank you Karen.
I was intrigued and almost laughed at the Solicitors question in the story in this article. It’s what everyone thinks: “What did I do to cause this”?
I loved them and I was a good Dad
That’s what i did.
go to the pub Rob, go for every single person in the world who is suffering this and know that we who do this work are with you, we will raise a glass to all of you who suffer to survive this because we know you are the true heroes in this story. Keep yourself well, keep yourself strong, know you are not on your own. Be safe. Let yourself cry. You will come through this and so will they. They never stopped loving you, none of them do and I ask each and every one of them that question when I work with them and they all tell me the same thing – they did and do still love you. Sending my love Karen x
I know this may seem random but this entire topic blows me away. I never knew this existed and I grew up with it in the 60’s! My father actually won custody of me in ‘77. At the time; it was extremely rare for a mother to lose custody.
My mother, now 73, doesn’t want a relationship with me and it is most painful! It rips through my core every single day.
I don’t want to go on and on. I just want to thank you for the work you do!!!
Of course, I am 53 years old now. I raised two daughter, divorced and made darn sure that their father was involved!
I feel and hear your pain, my children are now also filled with anxiety in and around everything me, although interestingly both children had told me they would be back after there scheduled weekend with the alienating parent and step parent, but they failed to return due to some lame excuse, then before you know it they are gone, and then the police have assisted with the alienation as middle child exclaimed the police told me, thats it the police told my 12 year old daughter that she needed protection from her mother… this is despite the fact i had majority of care 9/14 after drawn out divorce settlement etc, that alienating parent also reneged on,, but get this the police told me when being charged for breaching a family violence order, that had been in place since 2014, but regardless of the state issued order, i had family court orders yes the police said we dont give a shit what your court order says…. to which i replied well why and the fuck does the famiky violence order say i can do anything our famiky court orders say i can do, and not just that but the state issued order had not at anytime between 2014 till present put a hold on our famiky orders nor was there any exclusion order, no use of the 68 p q or r, nobody is interested though, tge icl, laughed when i mentioned the fvo had been used fraudently, we, youngest sibling scapegoat 11 year old and i had just recently been vacated from our home the default amount being less than outstanding settlement binding agreement, that child support have also failed to collect, i hear all these wonderful government plans etc to help mothers and children at these times but although everyone can see whats going on, once again nobody is prepared to stop my exhusband or the police from abusing the system, mean while the equity thats in my now not house sits in the bank and scapegoat and i have had to move from place to place attempting to address this crazy soul destroying situation.
I went to the pub Karen. After i’d responded honestly to the second enquiry as to “how are you?” I decided that making other people’s evening a misery was entirely ridiculous and disgusting, so I left.
Today my Ex e-mailed me to roundly condemn me for upsetting our youngest last night who was apparently home on her own when I rang and very distraught when her mother got in. I’ve been told yet again that I’m no good and that its not my Ex’s fault that our children won’t see me, However, there is only one reason my 14 yr old is in tears after my call…..in her heart and her soul she knows she loves her Dad and wants to share her life with him…she’s just not allowed to….and if anyone asked her. she’d say she didn’t want to. It’s emotional abuse that’s truly off the scale..BUT…our society doesn’t care..it just doesn’t. She’ll probably cry for her whole life…and will always be told, over and over and over, that it’s her Dad’s fault – something she cannot reconcile herself to ever because deep down she knows it is untrue. Her mother has poisoned her and her sister beyond anything imaginable….and this world says that that’s just dandy. Its that that I can’t take anymore – that my children must live within a total lie, which if they ever realise it will surely destroy their lives as it has mine.
bills- I feel your pain too. I feel for you. I feel for your children. I send you love, as that’s all I can do.
A happy new year Karen to you and to Nick, and to everyone who reads these blogs.
May we all play our part in the coming year so that 2020 brings greater awareness for all. May we all find courage, and peace, whatever our situation.
Parental alienation has no age limit in divorce. If there is a grudge they’re coming for you and will re-write history using any situation to save themselves to protect the lies they’ve told others as to why they dissected their child(ren). Thank you Karen for all the work you’ve done to stop this disease from future generations.
I think I will print out these two passages for future reference on those days that it all seems to hard. I am spending my Christmas break writing an affidavit for breach of court orders after yet another failed but forced mediation. I do see my eldest daughter a few nights every fortnight but she is a shell of herself still in her split and defended state but she is now working very hard on my middle daughter to jump across. I know the signs and it’s happening again. Everyone in the system assured me it wouldn’t happen to the younger two as they have such a strong attachment. But he has found leverage in my middle child’s anxieties. She is balancing on the edge. I now know I have to act quickly. He is frightened and has been acting more bizarre than usual. These words are exactly what I needed to hear! Thanks Karen as always.
As always, ever grateful to you and Nick. You keep the fire burning and help so many of us to keep going, growing and glowing with everlasting hope and love that our day will come.
Anna de Falco – you did a good thing ensuring your children retained a relationship with their father and I know many others who have done the same. I had a relationship with my two for six years after the separation from their mother. It was a wonderful relationship and I worked very hard to ensure I was a good dad. Their mother simply couldn’t abide that and eventually, with the complicity of a vile and wholly prejudiced Family Court, destroyed us. Everyone tells me and I believe it is true, that my children (who were 13 and 11) when I lost them , will not forget the good years we spent together when they were younger. But…what no one understands is that their mother will never allow that to hold sway in their thinking:.she will stop at nothing to ensure I never have a relationship with them ever again and they are trapped in that prison and, I believe – always will be. I will die without ever seeing them again and every day of the rest of my life will be torture. They will die knowing it was all wrong, but never being able to break free from their mother’s poisonous hold on them. That’s just how it is. I’ve lost them.
Thank you for what you and your children’s father have done – and thank you to all other couples who truly put their children first.
Robert, please don’t give up your children. Early teens is a psychologically fragile time in these situations. They will likely mature and change, become more independent in their thinking, curious about their father. Especially at life’s milestones such as having children of their own, rekindling childhood memories with their Dad. Keep the door open for them; try to let them know you are still there for them for when they are feeling mentally free of their mother’s hold to reconnect with you.
Stay strong Robert – we must all do; without hope and courage there is no future. The children will see the light. Let your love be a light to guide them home.
All is not lost. Do not ever, ever give up……
HI Karen, as usual when I am feeling so low ,up pops a post that seems so appropriate to how I am feeling at that time and you inject a little more hope and strength in me to carry on and keep fighting for courage and strength to get me through each painful day . Thankyou so much for these posts, and all your hard work and research you have done and continue to do, I can’t imagine where I would be without you and nick also .It pains me to read all these comments and I sympathise with each and every one of you, I have seen my 17yr old son only 4 times last year and he is just a shell of himself , and is full of anger and false accusations , he mimics his dad’s behaviour and words like a puppet, I just can’t see anything of the son I know and raised and love so much , he has been totally brainwashed and just before Xmas he was in the car with his dad and my 14yr old son , when he saw a car similar to mine and thought it was me and he said to my younger son ” look there’s your ma”. That cut through my heart like a sword , he obviously doesn’t even call me” mum” anymore . My ex, their father is working on my 14yrs old son now, I can see the signs so clearly , he flits in and out of a brainwashed state after he has contact with his dad, he often comes home like a different person , full of anger and accusations . I just want to be their mum and this role has been stolen from me, I can’t parent naturally, I am always on gaurd, waiting to deal with the next problem or accusation, trying to understand all the surrounding dynamics , living in fear of losing both my sons, and trying to heal my pain and hurt of loosing one and working on keeping my strength up incase he ever reaches out to me , and also trying to prevent total alienation in my youngest, it is exhausting and I feel like giving up sometimes, but then I read these blogs and keep reading Karen and nicks book and this restorers my strength and hope for another while. I also feel I am living in a state of shock and disbelief , I just can’t comprehend how a father ( or mother) can poison and destroy their own children’s lives and minds, just to hurt the other parent , this state of shock just doesn’t seem to ever lessen for me . Xmas and new year have been exceptionally hard for me , it should be a happy family time , but for me and I’m sure everyone else in my position , it is a very painful time , where the normal daily heart ache is heightened to unbearable levels. It just gives me a glimmer of hope after reading your comment Karen, about all of the adult alienated people you have talked to have all said they loved their rejected parent and were aware of this throughout alienation. My heart goes out to all going through this , love to all , I hope and pray this suffering will come to an end one day for all of us and we can be reunited with our children.
I am so grateful for all the reassuring and supportive comments ..BUT..my teenage daughters are growing up in a world where everything they hear. see or receive tells them that men are no good and their father is a waste of space….a message driven in to them and reinforced by their mother every day. It’s not inconceivable that they will recognise the falsity of all this, but it is unlikely. This is a forum – a place and space and a platform – for understanding, but out there in the real world, that understanding is simply being denied and repudiated at every turn. The reality is that it would be a miracle if my daughters ever wanted to see me again – their world tells them that is wrong. Their world tells them to dispose of their Dad., regardless of his love, regardless of reality.
I hear you and I understand your feeling of coming from a place of hopelessness. My ship sailed long ago although it’s only five years since my adult daughter told me to get out of her life, and I left her and my alienating husband behind. It had been almost twenty years of determination by my husband to make her see me as he did. Whilst I know the saying ‘never say never’ I try very hard not to think of the distant future – which isn’t actually so very distant in terms of years left on this planet – MY planet since he certainly didn’t live on my planet and sadly neither did she in the end.
At the age of 63 I left everything I ever knew behind and drove away. Within months my daughter had married without even telling me let alone inviting me. I found out by pure chance. I have continued to send her birthday cards and yes, anniversary cards but of course receive nothing in return but I don’t expect anything either. If I go under, or admit it broke me, and if that was ever voiced to my husband he would have won. Yes, I know he won anyway, but I refuse to let him break me any more. I have made new friends. I still have a huge hole where my old life was but I am doing my best. It’s all we can do in the end isn’t it. We have to find a way to enjoy our lives as best we can.
I don’t think I will EVER get over what my husband did and how little he thought about me as the mother of his children. I cannot bring myself to blame my daughter for all the heart ache she and he piled on me, I blame him. I constantly ask WHY and most days I try to answer that question………. was he this, was he that? I don’t think I’ll ever really stop looking for a label for him because it’s so far from my idea of reality as to be mind blowing, but it’s HIS reality. He believes what he thinks of me.
What frustrates me above everything is that I can never find research about the link with domestic violence/use of children as weapons against the other parent/ASD and PA/intact marriages. PA starts somewhere and I believe it doesn’t just appear from nowhere after divorce. But that’s probably because I lived with it so long before I left and I lived with it because I knew from my daughter’s teenage years that if I ever left him I would never see her again – he told me that when she was not even three years old.
He got his way but I found such amazing peace without him in my life.
The PA domestic abuse issue you raised is of particular interest to me too. Despite changes to the law to recognise controlling and coercive behaviour in domestic abuse, my sense is that using children as a tool in custody battles has yet to be recognised or acted upon.
A couple of years ago, Amber Rudd allegedly urged government to prevent domestic abusers from being permitted to cross-examine their victims in family courts.
I wrote to Ms Rudd to explain my personal account of PA and how children such as mine can also become recruited into this practice in court – doubly toxic domestic abuse. I received no reply from her and am unaware of any outcomes. (I’m not convinced that with the current government leaders issues like this would feature high on the agenda.)
My interest is because, like you, my ex said that if I ever left him, he would make sure that he got custody of our child. So, I stayed longer than was safe for me. The PA – with him recruiting a junior-assistant bully – actually started when we were living as a family. I finally fled when in fear for my life from him.
However, as I always feared, the power and control that he sought to exert over me didn’t stop there, with him withholding my child from me; then in court with both him and his ‘mini-me’ falsely accusing me (cross-examining me) of abuse. This was permitted against a backdrop of evidence on him: a criminal record for battery and damage to my property; anecdotes from his family about his past vindictive behaviour; his texts to me demonstrating his ongoing ‘game-playing’.
Our Judge’s final judgement finally recognised that the father was using the child as a ‘weapon and a prize’, to play ‘cat and mouse’ with the mother, in order to continue wielding power and control.
This final judgement took 4 years to reach.
How was this allowed to continue for so long when it was so evident that this behaviour was an extension of his domestic violence?
Then even when removed from his care, he was freely allowed access to my child to continue inflicting his poison.
Also by this time, my child was a teenager, so mentally in a far more difficult mental space for reconnecting with me than in her childhood when I originally left.
As long ago as 1985 Gardner identified the 8 signs of PA and yet, 35 years later, we are still reliant on amazing people like Karen to educate and challenge policy makers, Judges, CAFCASS, social services about PA, and the domestic violence psychodynamics.
In the incidence of PA, the child’s ‘wishes and feelings’ often mirror those of an abusive parent. The children’s agencies, such as CAFCASS and social services, suffer major limitations (to put it politely) due to the rigidity of their child-centric process and ignorance around PA.
There is an urgent need in high conflict separation for a better process – for authorities to understand and quickly to recognise the signs of PA to protect both the vulnerable child before the brain-washing becomes too hard-wired; and to protect the alienated parent from further domestic violence.
The slow, bureaucratic court process takes too long in the lifespan of children, the law is too much of a blunt instrument when it comes to children and their relationships with their parents. We are in desperate need of greater intelligence, improved joined-up thinking between agencies, more therapeutic intervention that Karen is practicing and promoting.
I am in awe of your attitude Willow, and how you’ve built a new life for yourself, finding peace. It is, as you wisely say, all you can do in this situation – you need to protect yourself to avoid going under.
You are compassionate in acknowledging that your daughter cannot be blamed for the alienation; and whilst lovingly sending her cards may possibly feel futile, it will remind her that you are still there for her for when she decides to get back in touch. She can never accuse her mum of deserting her.
Like you, I celebrate the peace and freedom of escaping an abusive relationship. I built a new home, new friendships, got myself ‘centred’ and well. Thankfully I am finally rebuilding my relationship with my child.
I wish that now you are in a good place, your relationship with your daughter will follow some day soon.
Sally I totally agree with your points. Something needs to be done by way of educating those who stand in judgement. Thank you for your post.
I post (mainly about PA) on a face book group that is run in Lundy Bancroft’s name but isn’t actually his site – Lundy Bancroft (author of Why Does He Do That? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men) is an American counsellor who specialises in working with abusive men and is probably unique in the fact that he always calls the wife after each session to verify the truth of what he is being told. His book finally made me realise that my husband was actually in there as an abusive man. If I could find out how to contact Lundy Bancroft personally I would beg him to join PASG! but, with regard to the site, I read so many posts where desperate ex wives are being taken to court by abusive husbands who are accusing THEM of PA, this is turn leads those very wives to deny that PA exists and I often see the links that they leave to articles re PA as junk science. Obviously the true meaning of PA is still not understood in the world of DV; I think it’s a crying shame and hurtful to those who have lived the hell of PA.
I hope you continue to rebuild your relationship with your child and wish you both well. Sadly I don’t hold out hope for my daughter who is now 38 years old and alienated since she was 15 by a man who was more than weirdly wired.