Backlash: Dragging PA Back into the Gender War

This week I have been reading research undertaken at Brunel University which purports to highlight the risk that abusive men are using parental alienation in the UK to gain access to their children.

There have been great strides in the UK in recent years in terms of understanding parental alienation as a reality affecting families, to the degree where even CAFCASS have accepted that it exists.  Work to understand and intervene in cases where children are completely rejecting a parent has been significant and partnership work between legal and mental health professionals has demonstrated the reality of what happens when the court does not give up on these children.

Whilst the  research from Adrienne Barnett attempts to persuade the reader that it is a comprehensive review of parental alienation in the UK family courts, in reality it is a simple deconstruction of forty published judgements, all of which are analysed through a feminist lens. In that respect does it tell us much about parental alienation in the UK family courts? Not really.  What it does tell us is that the drive to return the issue of a child’s induced psychological splitting in divorce and separation back  into the land of gender wars, is once again increasing.

Make no mistake, the feminist agenda in relation to parental alienation is to discredit, deny and dismiss its reality and place it firmly in the centre of a gender war.

No matter that mothers are being alienated at a significant rate, no matter that children are suffering, the project here is to discredit the concept of parental alienation and ensure that it is only ever seen as a he said/she said issue through a lens where fathers are always suspect and mothers are always at risk.

And to achieve that aim, research like this will demonise anyone who works in this field in order to ensure that the work being done is slowed down, damaged or arrested.

We know that this research is undertaken through a feminist lens because of the language which is used and the assumptions which are promoted throughout, one of which is quite simply eye watering in the conclusion drawn which is –

It is no coincidence, it is suggested, that PA, in its initial form of parental alienation syndrome (PAS), emerged when the courts recognised domestic violence as a factor militating against contact.

This bald claim is the very core of the feminist resistance to parental alienation. The belief that it only exists because the family courts became aware of domestic violence and stopped fathers from having contact with their children because of it.  Following this logic, this in simple terms means that everyone who is rejected by their children has caused that to happen themselves.  If parental alienation is a response to contact being stopped then everyone who claims parental alienation is abusive and is using the claim to get access to their children.

This ideological view of parental alientation however, simply does not stand up to scrutiny because the more that children who are alienated are understood and helped, the less validity can be attached to this claim.

To understand the feminist strategy of dragging the issue of PA back into the gender war, let’s go back in time to see where parental alienation first emerged as a concept – right back into the early seventies where in the western world, women were taking advantage of the changes in divorce laws and leaving their spouses in droves taking their children with them.

Parental alienation was first noticed in the days when divorce was becoming more common, during a time when the emergence of second wave feminism create the idea of a gender war.

The gender war, which is located in the notion that women are always disadvantaged in a patriarchal society, means that in this paradigm, mothers are always at risk, fathers are always risky unless proved otherwise and children are simply part of the mother/child dyad.

The gender war is a false war, created to make women believe that their needs are always going to be put second to men in a world in which everyone is born into a structure which always advantages men.

Within the field of social policy governing family separation, in the UK at least, this gender war, set against the backdrop of feminist control of social policy, meant that fathers were pushed out of the family and seen as being the primary provider for a mother and her children who were hence forth to be supported by the state and by a punitive child support system.  As Patricia Hewitt stated in a 1992 report some twenty years after the reform of the divorce laws –

‘It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social cohesion’.

There is an alternative view to that promoted by Brunel School of Law in this short piece of attention grabbing research. A view in which is not based in gendered ideology and which is about how families adjust to change and how the dynamics within families, which exist within the individuals and which become apparent in the crisis of family separation, create the conditions for alienation of a child.

Far from the issue of parental alienation coming into consciousness because of the family courts becoming aware of domestic violence, in the concentric circles of social policy, ideology and blame, one could say that the phenomenon of induced psychological splitting in children is seen because of the lack of support for families in making the crossing from together to apart.

I wrote about this extensively for OXFAM  and produced a guide which assisted service providers to enable separated fathers to be supported.  Having always believed that feminism stood for equality, I could not understand when I was confronted with the outcome of my research, how social policy could be so weighted against men. So much so in fact that not only were men driven out of the family by social policy, they were then blamed for disappearing!

You can read about my work as a feminist in the foreign land of working for equality in separated family services here

Whilst I took off the feminist blinkers a long time ago and found myself living and working with a 360 degree vision because of it, I remain aware of how dangerous it is to anyone who stands up against it and speaks of a different way to live and work.

Regardless of the fact that I assist as many alienated mothers as fathers and regardless of the fact that I face stalking and harassment from abusive fathers who make claims of alienation and who turn their attentions to me when I will not support those claims, it is  feminists who have threatened, stalked and harassed me the most. To the degree now where the Metropolitan Police are involved in protecting me.

This refusal to accept other views and determination to discredit anyone who will not share theirs, is a pattern of behaviour in feminist activists, which is turned upon everyone who refuses to accept the line that all fathers are a risk to their children and all mothers are angels.

Adrienne Barnett clearly believes in feminist ideology and clearly wishes to ensure that mothers are always prioritised over men.  Hence the cherry picked quotes and naming of people who work in this field to support her conclusions. As such this research is nothing other than a determined drive to discredit the concept of parental alienation and reset the landscape in favour of the belief that all fathers are abusive until proved otherwise

I found the unnecessary denigration of my fellow therapists and psychologists in this research disturbing.  Where does research stop being objective and the covert intention of the researcher become palpable?  In this case, it is in the language used to diminish the work of even the most established institutions who work in this field.

I am not going to flag the paragraphs that show the intent of this researcher to damage the work of my fellow psychologists and psychotherapists.  I know what it is like to have people pick out my name and put it on the internet with deliberate intent to do harm to the work that I do.  What I found most shameful about this research is the absolute intent to do just that in order to  do damage.  And all in the furtherance of a feminist agenda.

Referring to the development of this field in practice, the author of the research cribs that an ‘industry’ has grown up in response to the use of parental alienation as a false allegation against mothers by abusive fathers.  This ‘industry’ of psychologists and psychotherapists, is characterised as being disbelieving of mothers to the advantage of abusive fathers.

To characterise this evolving field as being an ‘industry’  is a deliberate ideological tactic which is used to try to diminish the work being done.  Feminists don’t like it when domestic violence services are referred to as an industry but they don’t mind using the same tactic when it comes to discrediting anything which might shift power away from women.

All of that said, there is an essential question arising out of this research which demands attention and that is, do false claims of parental alienation exist?

Working without the feminist lens, next week I am going to unpack that question in full because it is of serious concern that parental alienation is used as a false allegation and that without stringent guidelines for practice in this field, there is a risk that naive practitioners will fall into the trap of assuming that all children’s rejection of a parent is caused by parental alienation.

Anyone who does this work has to be alive to the risk of bias and has to be capable of utilising an assessment and differentiation process that reduces that risk to as close to zero as it is humanly possible to get.

Practitioners also have to be prepared to face the wrath of the angry, vengeful parent who does not like the outcome of such an assessment.  Just like there are angry, vengeful alienating mothers who are determined to attack those of us who do this work, there are indeed angry, vengeful abusive fathers who turn their rage upon the assessor when they do not get what they want.

And in this area of risk, there are self identified  PA experts popping up like mushrooms in a field across Europe. There is also a rise in parents setting themselves up as coaches and untrained commentators proposing schemes to prevent parental alienation who suggest that the court is no place to assess risk (a claim which makes me feel faint with anxiety).  Whilst this approach may be welcomed in some quarters as being evidence of a collegiate field, it is an absolute disaster in the fight to establish this field as being settled science and here is why.

Campaigns which are run without differentiating between real cases of alienation and false claims and which propose, amongst other things,  that parental alienation can be treated outside of the court arena, do serious damage to genuinely suffering parents and their children.  Such campaigns also risk bringing the roof of the whole project to establish this field as settled science down, when the reality of how these groups are used by abusive men becomes evident.

This is why one of the major tasks which those of us who have been in this field for a long time have identified, is how to set and maintain scientific standards of practice.

We can and do take the greatest care with children’s lives, without having to be driven by ideological research.  Children suffering from induced psychological splitting can and are being helped, not by dragging the subject of parental alienation back into the gender war but by maintaining a steady focused course to establish the scientific field.

This is why careful assessment and differentiation is necessary, this is why the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners has been established.

The world is not as black and white as this research would have you believe and mothers as well as fathers are driven out of their children’s lives, sometimes forever, because of the efforts of researchers like this to shut down the work and silence those who do it.

Those of us concerned with moving this scientific field forward in practice must however, grapple with the questions this kind of research raises and we must do so without being dragged back into the gender war.

Children’s unjustified rejection of parents is a mental health issue, it is not about good mothers and bad fathers, it does not belong in the gender war narrative and it is not about conflict between parents.

Parental alienation is about the defence of psychological splitting which is induced in children in the the post separation landscape and it requires assessment, differentiation and treatment to prevent children from suffering from the impact of unresolved splitting in later life.

Parental alienation is also used as a false allegation and we must be brave enough to say it even in the face of black and white thinking which is created by blinkered research like this.

This landscape is not black and white, there are many shades of grey across this spectrum and the court is the right place to assess the risk and hold the interventions properly in place.

The ones who lose the most if we allow this work to be diluted, diminished and dragged back into the gender war are children.


Further thoughts.

Whilst I work in the field of parental alienation I am not someone who sees parental alienation in every case I work in.

This is because not all claims of parental alienation are real and without careful assessment and differentiation, it is not possible to know the difference.

So whilst I find ideological research such as this deeply problematic, I am not going to shy away from the big question which arises from it, which is, can parental alienation be used as a false allegation?

I have written about this previously and next week I will write a second blog in response to this research in which I will examine further the reality of parental alienation as a false allegation and the need for internationally recognised standards of practice to reduce risk to children and their families.

Preventing abusive people having access to vulnerable families, is in my view one of the most important elements of our differentiation and assessment process in parental alienation.  Just as inducing psychological splitting in a child causes serious emotional and psychological harm, so does making a false claim of parental alienation.

In an increasingly unmanaged field, where campaigns are led by untrained people who do not discriminate in terms of who is involved, protecting vulnerable families has to be the most urgent task of any serious clinician in this field.

This is why the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners has been set up, to ensure that anyone who practices in this field is using proper assessment and differentiation routes and that all of this work is properly held by the court.

Whilst I profoundly disagree with research like this from Adrienne Barnett, I do not disagree with the need for protection of these extremely vulnerable families from risk of harm and the work of EAPAP, to set and maintain standards of practice in assessment, differentiation and treatment in cases of parental alienation, will do just that.


Prevention,  Integration and Standardised Practice – EAPAP2020 – Zagreb, Croatia

This is a practitioner only conference. We have had a powerful response from professionals already, with early bird registrations demonstrating the level of interest in developing practice in this field.

The conference is open to any practitioner with an interest in this field, including legal professionals and mental health professionals at all levels.  It is focused upon standardising practice in cases of parental alienation and building a workforce across Europe which is skilled in meeting the needs of this particular group of families.

Parents may view parts of this conference via a streaming option and a Q&A session with  key speakers will be held during the two days.

A workshop for parents will be offered separately, more details on this shortly.

 

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Parental Separation, Alienation and Splitting: Healing Beyond Reunification 

Speakers

The Scientific and Organising Committee of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners are delighted to welcome Jill Salberg Ph.D as our key note speaker for the EAPAP2020 Conference. In our view, Jill’s work in the field of traumatic attachment is an important area for exploration by all clinicians working in this field.

When trauma revisits a person trans-generationally through dysregulated and disrupted attachment patterns, it is within the child’s empathic attunement and search for a parental bond that the mode of transmission can be found.‘  Jill Salberg Ph.D

 About Jill Salberg

Jill Salberg, Ph.D., ABPP is a clinical associate professor and clinical consultant/supervisor at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Her articles on Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma appear in international psychoanalytic journals and she has co-edited two books with Sue Grand, The Wounds of History: Repair and Resilience in the Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma, and Transgenerational Trauma and the Other: Dialogues Across History and Difference,(2017). Both books won the Gradiva Award for 2018.  She is in private practice in New York, U.S.

The full list of speakers at the EAPAP2020 conference is –

Western Balkans

  • Ass. prof., Primarius Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, MD, PhD, specialist in psychiatry, subspecialist in child and adolescent psychiatry, psychotherapist

  • Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, permanent court expert

  • Ass. Prof., Primarius Danijel Crnković, MD, PhD, specialist in psychiatry, subspecialist in biological psychiatry, permanent court expert

  • Danica Ergovac, Master of Psychology, social worker

  • Ana Hrabar, mag.iur., lawyer, specialist in children’s rights

  • Štefica Karačić, President of the Croatian Association of Social Workers

  • Eleonora Katić, mag.iur., lawyer

  • Kolinda Kolar, mag.iur., Judge at the Zagreb Municipal Civil Court

  • Lana Peto Kujundžić, PhD, President of the Zagreb County Court’s Youth Division, President of the Association of Youth Judges, Family Judges and Children and Youth Specialists

  • Ass. prof. Bruna Profaca, PhD, professor of psychology, clinical psychologist

  • Renata Šantek, mag.iur., Republic of Croatia Supreme Court Judge

  • Primarius Domagoj Štimac, MD, PhD, specialist in psychiatry, subspecialist in child and adolescent psychiatry, permanent court expert

International speakers

  • Mirela Badurina, PhD, psychotherapist (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

  • Benny Baily phD, Department of Criminology, West Galilee Academic College Research Fellow at the Haruv Institute (Israel)

  • Dr. Sietske Djistra (The Netherlands)

  • Dr. Claire Francica (Malta)

  • Professor Jennifer Harman (USA)

  • Dr. Inbal Kivenson Bar-On (Israel)

  • Darja Kuzmanič Korva, mag., Secretary of the Association of Centers for Social Work (Slovenia)

  • Teodora Minčić, MD, PhD, specialist in medical psychology, court expert (Serbia)

  • Ass. prof. Milica Pejović Milovančević, MD, PhD, Specialist in Child Psychiatry (Serbia)

  • Ass. prof. Jill Salberg, PhD (USA)

  • Simona Vladica, PhD (Romania)

  • Francesca Wiley QC (United Kingdom)

  • Karen Woodall Psychotherapist (United Kingdom)

  • Nick Woodall MA. Psychoanalytical Psychotherapist (United Kingdom)

Presentations and Master Classes will be delivered in the following areas of clinical practice

  • The role of trans-generational transmission of trauma in parental alienation
  • Reformulating understanding of parental alienation using Object Relations Theory
  • Understanding the power and control dynamic and its role in parental alienation
  • Attachment trauma and its role in parental alienation
  • Understanding induced psychological splitting in a child after divorce and separation
  • The role of the legal and mental health interlocking partnership in treatment
  • Best practice in working with families in Israel.
  • Learning from Romania on prevention and legal management of cases of parental alienation.
  • Using principles and protocols of best practice in Malta.
  • Interventions adapted from the internationally recognised principles and protocols in Croatia.
  • Master class in legal management of parental alienation in the UK
  • Towards a new integrative assessment, differentiation and treatment route for parental alienation
  • Introducing internationally recognised principles and protocols for assessment, differentiation and treatment of the problem of parental alienation.

The EAPAP2020 conference in Zagreb is for practitioners in mental health and legal management of children’s relationships with parents after family separation including social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, attorneys, solicitors and barristers, Judges etc.

Part of this event will be live streamed for parents and a Q&A session will be held during this section.

We will also be looking at delivering a therapeutic parenting workshop for parents in Croatia and surrounding region during the week of the conference.

Costs for the conference are as follows – we very much look forward to welcoming all interested practitioners to Zagreb in June 2020.

REGISTRATION FEES

 

Early registration fee – 122,00 EUR / until January 31, 2020

Standard fee.               – 169,00 EUR / February 01 – March 15, 2020

Late registration fee – 203,00 EUR / from March 16, 2020

 

All prices include VAT.

Registration is now open HERE

 

 

 

25 comments

  1. Karen, this could have been predicted. The feminist lobby were never going to let you and others change the status quo whilst they simply stand back. They are so strong in terms of ideology and numbers and financial backing that taking them on would make David’s fight against Goliath seem very easy. So, this is just the start – feminists get huge amounts of taxpayer money via Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Centres, Universities etc. etc., and they have strong networks. Prepare for more. The only weapon you hold is the truth, and your coming examination of data on men using PA erroneously & maliciously will find that to be a tiny fraction. God speed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. QUOTE : Make no mistake, the feminist agenda in relation to parental alienation is to discredit, deny and dismiss its reality and place it firmly in the centre of a gender war.

    Karen, (I hope you’ll bear with me and post this reply) your blog was one of the first I found when I was searching for answers after I left my husband (and daughter) five years ago. I felt like a person thrown into prison to await execution even though I was innocent of all charges. It almost destroyed me. (I have over the five years left many messages on here and you have kindly replied to several of them to confirm that it wasn’t me and that there was nothing I could have done to stop my husband alienating my daughter – using her as a weapon against me – from the age of 15 while we were still married). Your blog helped me to understand and even five years later I still follow your posts and appreciate everything you are doing.

    My husband was never violent, though he had me up against the wall a few times while he screamed abuse at me and waved a fist in my face whenever I disagreed with him or voiced an opinion. When I contacted a well known marriage guidance service they pointed out to me “We consider you to be a victim of domestic abuse and it is never OK to use such behaviour…….”. It was the first time that what I was living with daily had been acknowledged for what it was. (it made not a bit of difference to him because he was never wrong)

    My husband threatened me when my daughter was less than three (months after our first child died aged five) that if I ever left him he would fight me for full custody of our living child and would not only win, I would never see her again. Needless to say, I didn’t dare risk leaving him. It was another 13 years before he began working on our daughter (starting with badmouthing and pitting her against me). He made out that HE was the victim and my daughter became his protector and wingman. She felt sorry for him and, since he had just discovered her aged 15, she basked in his attentions while he basked in her adoration and used it at every turn. I was lost. In the end I could bear it no longer and left them both five years ago. My daughter sent me a hate filled email (all about… how could I treat her poor dad so badly and throw away 46 years of marriage so easily) and I have had nothing from her since. Even when my dad, her grandad, died she didn’t answer and didn’t attend (though she did send my sister a terse email declining the invitation to the funeral because I’d be there.

    So, and I am now getting to the point, I see myself as straddling both camps : the parental alienation camp and the domestic abuse camp. Both happened in my case and they happened within my marriage because my husband was an angry and abusive man.

    Because I have one foot in the domestic abuse camp I frequent a forum. The closed group carries this description :

    Description
    This group is for focusing specifically on the anti abuse writing and advice of Lundy Bancroft, author of the widely acclaimed and helpful book Why Does He Do That. (Group isn’t associated with Bancroft personally). Both men and women are in the group, but it is mostly women. For Bancroft, abusiveness is less about behavior and more about a dynamic; the abuser claims a higher status than their partner. The abusive behavior is merely a tactic to defend this status. Many abuse victims have found that his writings are the clearest and most sensible explanations of the problem and have opened their eyes to the nature of the situation better than other books on the subject have. Hence our group is centered around his writing. Other abusive situations, such as societal or governmental oppression, take the form of relationship abuse, according to Why Does He Do That, and the dominators use the same tactics, so it is also useful to study relationship abuse for this reason.

    I thoroughly recommend the writings of Lundy Bancroft and wish he could be approached about linking with/joining the PASG in order to further understand PA.

    Someone on that forum posted this link from the Independent which ties in with your post today: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/domestic-abuse-parental-alienation-family-courts-brunel-study-a9294726.html?fbclid=IwAR01Jgn76TMsfUphbEUBup8rLqW51Q0iHHimBpqsnrXicMYcDYsQzlRFgpY

    Silent Witness on Mon/Tuesday this week echoed this very same thing which I call false allegations of parental abuse.
    They even used the words Parental Alienation and I admit to inwardly groaning because of the muddling of these two separate but equally important aspects (see I agree with a lot of what you write, just not the feminism bits which in my eyes, and I’m sorry if I’m wrong, seem to dismiss the domestic abuse problem) I agree that the waters get very muddied but I don’t know the answer………………..

    When I read posts from distraught woman on the forum my heart goes out to them. They really are losing their children in court through false allegations of PA. They have had broken bones, been hospitalised and finally, under threat, managed to escape violent husbands who now want unsupervised access to the children who saw their father beat up their mother. Can anyone blame those mothers for trying to protect their children and not wanting their children to be left alone with such men. Their anguish is palpable and I believe them.

    I was lucky, my husband turned only on me and only verbally, I knew that he would never physically harm my daughter (once he discovered her I believe that he really did/does love her) he just wanted to punish me and to get her on side – his side and push me out of the family dynamic. Had I had a man who physically beat me infront of my child I would no doubt have felt the same as they do. (Lundy Bancroft pulls no punches where abusive men are concerned). I do not see this as a feminist issue and I cannot understand why it is. (Quoting you “Make no mistake, the feminist agenda in relation to parental alienation is to discredit, deny and dismiss its reality and place it firmly in the centre of a gender war.”

    I agree with a lot of things you say but why oh why are these not seen as TWO legitimate issues? Why is it that the problems of domestic abuse cases are seen as a feminist issue? I apologise if I can’t see the wood for the trees but I have been on both sides of the fence and I feel for these woman. It seems to me that champions are needed in both corners but more importantly, the corners need to be officially distinguished one from the other and join together to fight both PA and false accusations of PA.

    There are times on the closed group forum when what I call the real PA is dismissed by one or two posters and I always refer them to your blog and that of Linda Gottleib. Once I’ve posted many others post in gratitude because they have lost their children to their abusive husbands who have gone on to use what I call true PA and shut them out of their child’s lives. They share what everyone on here shares (men and women)

    I really do wish someone would tie up the two camps and they could stop opposing one another because at the moment I feel as though I fall into both but belong to none 😦

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    1. Willow, I think your post is vital and it is the reason why I’m going to write next week about false allegations of parental alienation because I do think it is a problem and I do think it is two issues.

      I do not dismiss the risks of violence in families and never have, one of the reasons I get stalked by angry vengeful people is because I refuse to follow the doctrine set out by Lundy Bancroft and others which removes in my view, personal responsibility from violent people and places it in an ideological framework which is created by feminism – which only ever sees the issue of violence in black/white terms. Feminism also divides the issue of DV and PA, meaning that if you follow the DV argument you HAVE to deny thatcparental alienation exists.

      This is my view. Parental alienation exists and false allegations of PA exist. Violence in families exists and false allegations of violence in families exists. Differentiation between those things requires assessment and differentiation skills which protect the true victims of pa and violence and we can only understand and develop those in a serious scientific field which is brave enough to have these conversations.

      I appreciate your comment and your bringing of your experience here because this conversation is vital to have in a non gendered and non ideological forum in which reality is embraced.

      Having been on the receiving end of abuse from fathers who claimed pa when they were not alienated and who thought I was a hired gun and from mothers who were making false claims of violence AND from feminists who want me to shut up talking about this outside of the ideological framework I know what the risks are of trying to have a truly open discussion about this. One of the reasons I dont get into it very much is because I know that rejected parents are so attacked and abused that they don’t want debates about false allegations of pa to overwhelm their lived reality. Not very many people speak for the victims of pa or for victims of false allegations of DV whilst there is a worldwide movement which is massively funded to speak for victims of false allegations of pa and victims of DV. This research piece is part of that movement.

      But. If we are going to build a serious scientific response to PA which in my view IS the next child abuse scandal to be addressed in the western world we HAVE to be brave enough to discuss false allegations and risk to families of an untrained, unskilled, unregulated band of people who are using pa as a hobby or a subject to promote themselves as expert. We HAVE to have these discussions as openly as we can and if it were possible I’d be having them with feminist researchers too. Sadly, because the major aim of feminist activists is to silence the debate at all costs, the mothers suffering alienation who ARE the victims of abusive men are overlooked and the mothers claiming they are being accused of pa as a false allegation have louder voices.

      It is a tricky landscape to navigate Willow but we can, with care, try to debate it and we will. K x

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  3. Karen, have you ever read Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That: Inside the minds of Angry and Controlling Men? I have great admiration and respect for him. His book became my bible and my husband was in there. It opened my eyes and helped me to understand in the same way that your blog has. I truly wished my husband could have sat in front of Lundy Bancroft and been made to confront himself and his behaviour. I disagree with you about Lundy Bancroft I’m afraid. (My gripe is with DR Joshua Coleman who is a member of the PASG. I could never agree with him!) Lundy Bancroft far from removes personal responsibility from abusive people. Who else can you think of that actually phones the person’s victim (during a session with the perpetrator) to ask for the victim’s side of the story and actively states that violent abusers are seldom if ever reformed? If you’ve not read his book I wish you would. There are so many overlaps with how you yourself work that I think he’d be an asset to PASG.

    Quote: ” I refuse to follow the doctrine set out by Lundy Bancroft and others which removes in my view, personal responsibility from violent people and places it in an ideological framework which is created by feminism – which only ever sees the issue of violence in black/white terms. Feminism also divides the issue of DV and PA, meaning that if you follow the DV argument you HAVE to deny that parental alienation exists.”

    As for the “Feminism also divides the issue of DV and PA, meaning that if you follow the DV argument you HAVE to deny that parental alienation exists.” …………….With respect, on the closed group forum which I frequent I have only come across two PA deniers (which I always counteract), everyone else is more than willing to accept PA for what it is and try to understand it; several have actually lived it. I truly cannot understand the blanket feminism argument, sorry.

    I absolutely 100% agree with your paragraph “This is my view. Parental alienation exists and false allegations of PA exist. Violence in families exists and false allegations of violence in families exists. Differentiation between those things requires assessment and differentiation skills which protect the true victims of pa and violence and we can only understand and develop those in a serious scientific field which is brave enough to have these conversations.”

    I truly wish this research could happen fast because life in both camps is a living hell and, if it is FEMINISM (I still don’t understand this term but I don’t doubt your awful experiences) that is preventing a linking and a united front, them I for one do not agree with FEMINISM. I just don’t see it as either a gendered issue or a feminist issue. To refer to it as either betrays everyone who has suffered.

    (In the same way that I don’t actually see Meghan Markle as coloured, even though she loves to refer to herself as a woman of colour (she’s just a human being and could be red, blue orange or purple for all I care) …………….. neither do I see feminism around every corner. I just see a lot of people who given the right circumstances could unite for the common good. There are always those who will deny but they don’t deserve the loudest voice.

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    1. This is such a complex issue Willow but let’s try to unpack it.

      Lundy Bancroft says that violent abusers are seldom, if ever reformed. For me that is an incredibly black and white statement which damns people to hell and prevents any kind of attempt to understand them.

      And if we don’t understand people’s motivations, drivers, traumas and backgrounds, why bother helping them, why not just dump them and forget about them.

      This is the basis of much of the feminist argument about violence – that men are violent because they feel entitled to be violent and that in a patriarchal society they are supported and encouraged to feel that way.

      If you look at feminism critically it advocates doing to men what it tells us has been done to women for centuries. It argues that women should be free to do as they please and men should do as they are told. Is that equality? Not in my experience.

      In your closed group which is following LB then you may well have women who can tolerate the linking of PA and DV and that is a good thing. But outside in the world of feminist campaigning, PA has to be destroyed as a concept because if it is exists – ie if children are harmed by mothers as well as fathers and PA is a real mental health problem then what are you going to do with the dads who are not wanted, won’t play the game, want to share care, won’t do as they are told?

      Feminism IS around every corner, it has permeated our lives at every single level. Spend 24 hours listening to the news and reading the print news, analyse it through a gendered lens and you will see how much of it is focused on promotion of the rights of women and girls. We live in an unequal society for certain and feminism is the cause of much of that hidden inequality.

      I have read Lundy Bancroft, I find much of it understandable but I do not feel comfortable with the black and white approach taken, I understand feminist approaches to analysing family violence but I believe there is a different way of working with it that brings us to a clearer place in which people are not victim and perpetrator with the power balance switched around but traumatised individuals who have caused harm, who need protection on one side and work doing on the other to bring them to a healthier place in the world.

      I am shifting along that line in the PA work that I do too, looking for the most effective ways to arrest the dynamics that cause splitting in children and reorganise the family in ways that mean that children can, even if it is only in their internal world, retain relationships with parents.

      I consider it is feminism who creates the wall that divides the issue of PA and DV in the ongoing denial of it as a real thing that happens to real people and the continued holding up of the women who make false allegations of domestic violence over the women who really do suffer from the violence intrinsic in being alienated from a child. I will write more and evidence this next week.

      I should say that I am no longer a member of PASG, I left before Christmas to focus on EAPAP because I want to develop practice with families not study the problem. I want to ensure that those who do this work are protected and families are protected from people who profess to be expert but who are not.

      At the moment those who deny have very loud, very powerful and very well funded campaigns. This piece of research is part of that campaign.

      More next week. K

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  4. I think there should be no pretence that men AND women will abuse labelling their partner for parental alienation as a weapon. Like any abuse slur, people will use the term when it doesn’t apply. This could be because of genuine error in understanding what it is, or through malicious intent.

    But just like claims of coercion or domestic violence, the fact that some will abuse a system does not mean there is not a genuine problem to be addressed. Like any other forms of abuse, however, it helps those campaigning for the recognition of parental alienation to emphasise how to tell the true from the false. I recall an article doing just that on this site, a few months back: illuminating for the apparent contradictions and contraindications.

    It should never be hidden that in a caring society, abuse will be made of those who care about abuse. Just so long as we acknowledge that and mitigate it, those with ideological agendas to not care about specific types of abuse will remain intellectually weak, even while our tax money goes to support them.

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  5. Hi
    I have a question. My daughters alienation pathway was deemed to be through transgenerational trauma transfer. You class this as Pure Alienation. Expert saw maternal grandmothers influence as a factor. Ex has moved from maternal grandparent to live alone with my daughter. They will now claim everything is ok. I asked the expert if grandmother died today, is my daughter still at risk? He said yes. He also though that if mother could stand up to grandmother matters may return to normal. I pointed out that the little games are still continuing even after moving out and that grandparents are not out of the picture..
    Should i still be asking for a transfer of residence? More to the point is my daughter out of harms reach?

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    1. So hard for me to give you guidance as I only have a snippet of information and I don’t know your family situation at all. Transgenerational trauma is a life story passed down the generations which is lived out, I don’t know whether moving away will prevent that from still having an impact. I am really sorry not to be able to give more guidance, I must always ensure that I do so with the full information available to me. Kind Regards Karen

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  6. Hi Karen.
    As usual, an excellent and articulate piece of writing. Thank you.
    I do have concerns however that you feel the need to criticise Nick Child in the “commentators” link to the video he appears in. As far as I am aware, Nick Child is one of many individuals doing a vital job of raising awareness of PA.
    Nick gave a free talk in his own time at my kids high school on PA to teaching and other educational staff in the Scottish borders, and I know he does so much more for “the cause”.
    It seems that your disagreement with him is the action courts don’t take in cases of PA? As you know through your really helpful involvement in my case, I’ve had years (6 in total) of first hand experience of the incompetent, limp and at times pathetic and downright disgraceful Scottish family court system. A system that in my case allowed the severe emotional and psychological abuse of my beautiful children to continue and indeed flourish due to it’s incompetence.
    What I take from Nick Child in the video is that he’s advocating on behalf of professionals like yourself with the right tools to carry out the work necessary to help the abused children and families affected by PA that the courts won’t. Surely that’s a great thing?
    I agree that such work should happen under the authority of the court and it’s orders and, crucially, the enforcement of them as the non enforcement of court orders in my case was one of the major reasons why my children are now completely alienated from me and my/one entire half of their family. But I believe Nick Child in the video in your link is saying this also needs to happen.
    I’m just concerned that criticism of those working for the same purpose may be giving free ammunition in to the very powerful and influential hands of the PA deniers like Women’s Aid and the feminist movement which they then could in turn further use to try to discredit PA in general. Something along the lines of “well the PA UK (etc) experts can’t even agree and are squabbling amongst each other so what does that say?!”
    Of course there’s place for disagreement in any walk of life, but, please, let’s all pull together and use all our skills and knowledge to help our children who are suffering terrible abuse.
    Cheers.

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    1. If this were cancer (and I liken it to an emotional and psychological cancer) would you want a self declared non expert who has never worked with a cancer patient to be giving guidance to families?

      As someone who has been relentlessly attacked by Childress and others, including the person you refer to in your post, I find it uncomfortable to not support people, however, I will not support anything that could bring risk of harm to children.

      So I am afraid that it isn’t as black and white as everyone who says they are against PA should stick together, sometimes in doing that, great risks to families occur.

      This is about what is right, healthy and proper in the development of the field. What is being said in that video is harmful in my view and I will say it because it is right to do so.

      when I look back at my work I want to be able to say that I did the right thing by alienated children always. Sometimes it means doing uncomfortable things.

      K

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      1. I respect your opinions and reply here Karen.
        I still think Nick Child is doing his best in the fight v PA.
        I too will not support anything that brings any risk of harm to children. I did that with my children throughout my time in the Scottish courts and I’ll continue to do so with my kids and as many other children as I can.
        At the end of my fight through the family courts I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye with a clear conscience if they asked me “Dad, did you fight as hard as you could for us”. I did and I can.

        Trust you’re well and all the best Karen. You have my continued support and respect.

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      2. And you have mine DWM, I KNOW you did your very best and that is something that will carry you through to the time when your children can come home. Sending my best, Karen x

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      3. I don’t trust anyone who claims not to harm children when it concerns divorce/separation, because divorce/separation in essence is child-abuse to begin with, children suffer and are harmed and damaged for life in their being, divorce/separation in general is not in the so called “best child’s interest”, divorce/separation is not normal but mainly “a woman’s choice”, and children are being used as weapon and as shield asif in their best interest, not!

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      4. Yes Ad, I think you and I have discussed all of this before and we don’t need to go into the arguments again.

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  7. Quote: Campaigns which are run without differentiating between real cases of alienation and false claims and which propose, amongst other things, that parental alienation can be treated outside of the court arena, do serious damage to genuinely suffering parents and their children. Such campaigns also risk bringing the roof of the whole project to establish this field as settled science down, when the reality of how these groups are used by abusive men becomes evident.

    Sorry, it’s me on the step again Karen,

    I have to say that I agree with Driftwood Man re Nick Child.

    I too have reservations about your criticism of Nick who has never professed to be an expert in PA – he openly admits that long ago he was a PA denier until a targeted parent came along and opened his eyes – neither does he profess to know the answers but he is open to ideas and resolution. I have to confess that I admire him for the work has done in bringing about awareness and conversation. His words have been a great comfort to me since the court systems were never involved – my husband didn’t start alienating my daughter (and yes, he did use her as a weapon against me) until she was almost sixteen years old and “old enough to make up her own mind about you”, which is what he constantly told her.. Nick Child is, in my opinion, a very caring and decent man and I can’t share your opinion of him.

    Surely EVERYONE should be working together for the good of all and if there are disagreements, then why not try to come to common agreements? (Surely that is what any set of parents should be doing …………. but of course they don’t so we have acrimonious divorce, PA, PA used as false allegations and children used as weapons against the other parent in other words a living hell where nothing works as it should)

    And as a complete aside, I get tired of always reading about PA as happing after separation and divorce because I know for a fact that it happened within my marriage and there was nothing I could have done to stop it. I was a more than good enough mother, even my husband admitted (to me) that I was a GOOD mother, but it didn’t stop him destroying my relationship with my daughter. (I posted a link to the reason why I think my husband was the way he was, but it was on Nick Child’s site and you explained why you wouldn’t post the link…………… because you don’t agree with Nick Child)

    QUOTE: This is because not all claims of parental alienation are real and without careful assessment and differentiation, it is not possible to know the difference.

    I totally agree with the statement above. Not all allegations are real and, as in the case of the closed group for wives of abusive husbands, this needs to be sorted out. The experiences of these women and children are real and I believe their heartfelt, desperate stories. I can also see how these situations develop. Surely these cases need as much investigation and help as the cases of (real) PA that you deal with otherwise, who cares about these (abused) women and (abused) men? Who will fight for them?

    I still wish you well Karen and value your work, I just don’t like ‘feminism’ being brought into it because I think it acts as a smoke screen and detracts from the real need and, as the wife of a very angry and controlling man who succeeded in turning my daughter against me, I truly feel for these women, as I feel for all parents who have lost their children to vindictive, manipulative partners, male or female.

    I don’t know whether you will let this post through (my post the other night got lost but I’m not asking you to find it now, time has moved on). I do however, look forward to reading “More Next Week”.

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    1. I have posted all of your posts Willow and have responded to them as well so I am not sure what post you are referring to which has got lost.

      I do not say that a non expert has not brought you comfort, that is not what I am saying. What I AM saying is that guidance from non experts, is dangerous in a world where parents are vulnerable and are being harmed by the lack of awareness of parental alienation.

      Bringing comfort is one thing, setting oneself up as a someone who is giving advice to vulnerable people is quite another. Would you really want a self declared non expert giving you guidance on your cancer?

      I completely disagree with the idea of PA for PA’s sake and everyone should be working together, this is not how a scientific field grows in any serious way. Non discriminatory acceptance of anyone who says the words PA is an entirely wrong way to go about this in my view, it is why the field is so often disregarded as being about junk science. As someone who is seriously working to further understanding of this problem and find resolution to it, I just cannot be linked to people who do it for a hobby and who put themselves forward as leaders when they have never worked with an alienated child or family.

      I don’t post links to people I don’t agree with or who I find to be risky to families. My whole focus is on the wellbeing of children and families and that has never changed in all the Years I have done this work.

      As for feminism Willow, well we could go round and around in circles or I could take you through the gender analysis which would make you understand why it is the barrier to DV and PA being recognised as the same thing but I think you have your view and who am I to try and change it!!

      This world is full of different views, different standpoints, different thinking. The only time I will not accept that difference or allow myself to be part of a group which does not discriminate is when children and families are at risk and there is the point at which I will take a stand.

      I am not here to change your opinion of someone Willow, I am here to express mine and to work to ensure that the progress we have made in the UK in raising awareness of PA is not undermined by people with ideas not borne of experience. What you feel about anyone in the world is yours to feel.

      This however is my stand – protection of children and families first and the development of this field to ensure a unified understanding and a coherent treatment route that ensures that alienated children and families get the best help they can get.

      K

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    2. feminism is tha beast! feminism makes socio/psychopathic mindsets, by choice! duh, women’s rights are inhumane!

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  8. Thanks Karen.
    Your final kind words brought a lump to my throat.
    Thank you also for the help you tried to give to me and my young and vulnerable alienated kids. I will make sure they know one day who everyone was that tried to save them from the abuse they suffered: as you rightly said, an emotional and psychological cancer.
    I continue to follow your vital work. If I can help in any way then let me know.
    As you go forward, remember to not let the bastards get you down!
    Bye for now.

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  9. Karen I am more than open to anyone of substance trying to get me to understand! xx
    ( I could take you through the gender analysis which would make you understand why it is the barrier to DV and PA being recognised as the same thing)

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    1. Then I shall try my hand at that Willow, I am off to Iceland to train this week, (facing more attack from the feminist press there, bizarrely for apparently saying that men should go out to work and women should stay at home), but when I get back I will write a piece on DV and PA and why the two are kept apart by feminsts x

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  10. I shall look forward to reading your piece re DV and PA but I’d be even more interested in reading about what on earth can be done about preventing PA actually happening within a DV situation, as opposed to allegations of PA by abusive men where none exists.

    (now what would “they” – whoever they are – make of the new trend to become a “tradwife”)

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  11. Hello Karen, thank you for the work you are doing in this field and for the courage and personal resilience that (regrettably) this work requires. Each time I read or re-read one of your blogs, something inside me relaxes and settles and your work enables me to stay focused, insightful and self supporting in the face of the emotional manipulation that I and my increasingly estranged daughter experience at the hands of her deeply distressed mother.

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    1. you are welcome JJ, it is worth all of the attacks both professional and personal that come my way to know that children and parents are helped by what I write. One day all this will be known by all and we will look back and recognise the harm that was allowed to be done. Until then, we keep on, all of us, together. K

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