Underlying Harms: Child Protection and Alienation

Underlying Statistics

Start of another week at the Family Separation Clinic and I am reviewing questions coming in from the hundred or so parents who signed up for the webinar I recorded this week. Fifty four of these parents were mothers whose children are hyper aligned with their father and who, in rejecting their mothers, demonstrate exactly the same range of behaviours seen when children reject their fathers.

For anyone wondering why I repeatedly flag these statistics, I am emphasising that the underlying harms which cause the alienation of children, are perpetrated by mothers and fathers and the way to expose that reality is to publish disaggregated statistics of service use. I used to work on gender mainstreaming services for the UK government, so I know exactly how we demonstrate the problems which lie beneath the headlines.

When services publish gender disagreggated statistics, myths and stereotypes about an issue facing people are demonstrated to be untrue. In this issue the myth is that parental alienation is a tool used by abusive fathers to maintain coercive control over their children. The stereotype is that all mothers are vengeful and vindictive exes who prevent children from seeing their fathers.

Here are the stats for last week’s webinar

Mothers attending 54 (49%)

Fathers attending 57 (51%)

Induced Psychological Splitting Webinar – Produced by Moment Events June 2021 for KarenWoodall.blog

In the midst of campaigning about who is affected by the problem of a child’s hyper alignment and rejection behaviour, the only real way to illuminate the reality, is to expose what is previously hidden. This is why publication of service use of the Family Separation Clinic is important. As one of the most used services in this field, we have an extensive case load and extensive records of service use, providing a unique glimpse into the reality of this issue and how it is experienced around the world. More of that in the months to come, for now, hold that thought above – 54 mothers and 57 fathers attended our latest webinar. Behind the campaign headlines, this is the reality of what is happening to families who experience a child’s hyper alignment and rejecting behaviour after divorce and separation.

Underlying Harms

One of the problems with parental alienation theory is that it attracts a huge amount of argument about whether or not it is a real thing. In my work with families, I was trained to understand the underlying harms which cause the pattern of hyper alignment and rejection of parents, at a time when parental alienation was not a label used in the family courts. My work with families, is rooted in psychoanalytic understanding of the problem, not in the reductivist approach of factors and signs. The eight signs curated by Gardner, whilst being used to understand whether or not a case requires further intervention, are not helpful in clinical practice. This is largely because there is no guide to practice in parental alienation theory, what there is, is a guide to whether or not the signs of parental alienation are present or not. This is useful in a legal framework but in treatment terms it has little use. The other problem with parental alienation theory, is that it does not expose the underlying harms which impact upon the child and it does not give a clear map of how to intervene.

Over the years, as we have defined and refined the model of work used by the Family Separation Clinic, we have come closer to being able to differentiate cases of a child’s rejection in ways that enable us to build treatment routes which have rapid outcomes. Some of these interventions mirror those seen in countries like the USA, with residence transfers to protect children who are in the care of a personality disordered parent and more nuanced, in situ interventions, with children who are in the care of a parent who cannot contain their emotional and psychological states of mind. As we have developed this work, we have kept records of the underlying harms which have led to the interventions provided, so that we now have a significant amount of information about the diagnoses made by the psychologists and psychiatrists providing assessments and the decisions these led to in court. We also have the information about the interventions provided by the Clinic and the outcomes of those, which adds up to a 360 degree view of this work over the past ten years.

When we began this work in the UK in 2009 (my first experience of working with the problem is recorded in Thomas Moore’s account of residence transfer and healing in his book ‘Please Let Me See My Son), the label parental alienation was not well understood. Today it is well known as a label and is as bitterly fought over by campaigners as the family assets (and children) are by some divorcing parents. Allegations are flung around like confetti, lurid tales are spun and lies and half truths are passed around in ways that mirror the worst behaviours seen in parents who harm their children. This does nothing to further clinical understanding and practice.

Working with the underlying harms which cause children to be removed from parents, demonstrates that whatever we call this problem, it is, at its root, child abuse. When a parent is so enmeshed with a child that they cannot see the difference between their own experience and that of the child, when a child is captured in a situation in which they are forced to fear a parent who loves them and who has never caused them harm, when a child is abducted, terrorised into submission, threatened with abandonment, intruded upon, parentified, made into a replacement spouse, prevented from knowing their own mind or having their own sense of self, when a child is lied to, caused to believe that they have been abused, put through unnecessary medical procedures, rendered helpless by the chaotic emotional world a parent inveigles them into, then intervention is not optional, it is not harmful, it is necessary and it is protective. That is why alienation of children (from their own right to an unconscious experience of childhood) and then from a normal loving relationship with a good enough parent, is a child protection issue. The rejection of the parent is a by product of the underlying harm which is being done to the child by the parent to whom they are aligned.

What we are working with in parental alienation is a denial and projection dynamic where the child is both victim of the abusive parent, who then becomes helplessly bound into the perpetration of harm in conjunction with the abuser. The reality of what is happening is a mirror image of what we see, it is a projection (which is why children will claim that rejected parents are doing something that it is later evident was actually being done, by the parent to whom the child is aligned. Children become hyper aligned to a parent because of something that parent is doing to them, because they are being abused. Children who witness the abuse of a parent, are seen to align with the abuser and not the abused.

abused children, robbed of their senses by trauma, enter a dissociative trance and become transfixed by the desires and behaviors of the aggressor. Rather than purposefully identifying with the aggressor, their personalities fragment, and they automatically mimic their abuser. This process includes a “confusion of tongues” between the abused child and the abusive adult.

Salvador Ferenzi

Coming Home: A Lighthouse Project Podcast

In September, I will be delivering a very special podcast about the recovery journey of the alienated child. Joining me to illuminate this journey, is a parent of a child who is now of age, who was moved in residence transfer in the UK Family Courts. This parent and child are participating in the evaluation which is currently being undertaken of FSC services and have agreed to share their experiences, in order to help others to understand the reality of this process.

Against the backdrop of increasing ideological efforts to mischaracterise what is happening when children reject a parent after divorce and separation, hearing directly from these families provides an essential view of what is really going on when children are seen to be hyper aligned with one parent and contemptous and disdainful towards the other. We will hear from this parent, the realities of the serious emotional and psychological harm done to the child which was the reason for the removal and the long journey of recovery to bring the child back to full health.

This podcast will be accessible free of charge here and I will post details of the date it will be available shortly.

26 comments

  1. Hi Karen
    I am currently going through your comprehensive book I bought on Google books.
    Was wondering about advice for putting points across effectively about parental alienation to child psychiatrists and social workers during the early months of seperation – in a way where they will be taken seriously. In my case the professionals have in my opinion misattributed my child’s rejecting behaviour to adjustment disorder (now 2 months if no contact) and emotional abuse respectively(my child will not speak to me on the phone and gets panic attacks if I text). I am unable to consult with you as I plan to potentially instruct yourselves as court appointed experts.
    Sincerely
    A seperated father

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    1. I think in circumstances like this it is important to try to get an expert instructed in the dynamics which cause the child to reject. The pattern of behaviours seen in the child and the parent to whom they are aligned should be carefully listed and analysed. It is difficult, if not impossible, to educate professionals who have made up their minds and are using what Steve Miller calls the fundamental attribution error – they do not know what they are looking at but assume they do, therefore it is better to focus upon the evidence that you have not done anything to cause the problem – keep the focus on askign for the concrete evidence – and try to get an expert instructed. It is still early days, two months is not a long time but the panic attacks on receiving your texts suggest that splitting is strongly in play (it might be said that your texts cause panic attacks but the veracity of that needs to be checked). K

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  2. Interesting post, but your sample size is not big enough and is not a cross sectional reflection of our demograph.

    Yes, Fathers and Mothers use alienating tactics. But to say it is not gendered is a bit far fetched. Especially when the figures that you mention shows there is a slight but CLEAR difference.

    With the backdrop 90% of Mothers gaining residency in relationship breakdown. Illustrated by Office of National Statistics and Gingerbread. How could you come to that conclusion?

    Also what I find odious with female academics activists and politicians who comment on such matters is that in the realm of Domestic Abuse Violence and Rape. Gender analysis is used frequently. But anytime females are the biggest perpetrators (Infanticide and false allegations) all of a sudden GENDER ANALYSIS should not be used. YES it can be divisive but if it is the TRUTH it is the truth.

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    1. Calm down Shaun, there is no need for shouting. I use gender analysis because that is the way to demonstrate the underlying reality.

      OK so 3 more fathers attended one webinar. I wasn’t claiming that this is the incontrovertible truth. I am assuming though that when the disaggregated stats for a decade of work, (which is a very big sample size) is available, you will accept that as reality.

      It is easy to come to the conclusion that mothers and fathers are alienated in similar sizes – if 10% of the population of separated parents without care of children are mothers, it is likely that a very large percentage of that figure have been alienated. Of the 90% of parents who are non residence, around 5-10% are likely to be alienated. Thus the figures are roughly equal.

      When the evaluation results are out next year we can debate this further, for now my view (from a position of knowledge about who uses our services) remains the same, mothers and fathers cause children to become alienated – from their own selves first and then from loved parents.

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      1. As I said last year Capitals illustrate key points. There is no bold function on here. Breaks up the large amount of text.

        Also I come from a position of having help conducted a much larger study sample. It is clear that residency reinforces alienators position in court hearings which is clearly female dominated as single household residences involves Mothers. 10% of 4 million and 10 % of 4 hundred thousand is a massive difference.

        Yes there are varying reasons that cause these outcomes. But to say that your study is representative of Parental Alienation is false.

        I don’t pick figures to reinforce ideological beliefs. I deal with reality. Anything else is propaganda.

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      2. ah, yes, I see whose pot is being stirred here. Shaun I recall your capitals from last year and who was behind that – your argument that you are dealing with reality leaves me to question – whose reality? I have no idea what your argument is about other than you are banging someone else’s drum and so I can’t really engage with it. FSC works with alienated children and their families, the evaluation of ten years of our work with cases where alienation has been found in court, provides a reliable cohort. Basing arguments on self identified alienation is somewhat different a scenario. As I suspected, someone else’s pot, someone’s else’s drum. Be well Shaun. K

        PS your figures are not helpful. There were 2.4 million separated parents in the UK Last year. If 10% of that figure is thought to be non resident mothers most of whom are likely to be alienated – 240,000. of the remainder 2.16 million, if around 10% are likely to be alienated (and fathers) – 216,000

        The difference is that non resident mothers are less visible to the outside world.

        When you are working with gender disaggregated statistics of cases where alienation is evidenced not self identified, you end up with a realistic view of what is happening.

        The evaluation will tell us more next year. Results as we get them will be published in peer reviewed journals by the University team undertaking the work.

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  3. Also I didn’t have any personality splitting when my Mother attempted to employ these tactics as a youngster growing up.

    It depends on the character and mentality of the child.

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    1. I agree Shaun, three things have to be present in alienation – a parent who attempts to influence, a parent who is kept at distance from their capacity to parent and a vulnerable child. I am getting hostility coming through your comments today, you don’t like what I am writing, I wonder whether that is entirely your own view – in times gone by when this kind of commentary lands in my inbox, someone else(with uncontained behaviour patterns) is stirring the pot…… k

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      1. Hostility no, ( You have not wronged me so why would I be?) You’re being precious about being challenged. I know this is your blog. But public comments that can influence a person’s pysche based on half truths is dangerous. So I am merely showing your audience how to employ critical thinking. Something that you should welcome as a qualified therapist. Or are you just used to be people accepting your research as gospel?

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      2. Shaun, I agree with you, half truths based upon self identified alienation is a serious problem in this world it truly truly is.

        I am not competing with you or anyone else for anything, I am sharing the real outcomes of real work in the real world that I work in. More of this real work with real people will be evidenced in the evaluation of our services which will be available next year.

        The idea that you are not hostile is somewhat contradicted by the last sentence in this comment. Why would you need to say such a thing if what I write is not triggering hostility.

        There is room in the world for everyone Shaun as critical thinkers know.

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      3. I suggest you remind yourself of what hostility involves. That is a defensive mechanism. I merely questioned your sample size and your indication that alienation in society is gender neutral.

        I knock back your presumptions of hostility because it is a typical victimisation cop out.

        My comments are based on analogies and real life experience I have with professionals that use their practice as a shield from scrutiny and criticism. Just remember that next time someone questions your conclusions and interpretation’s.

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      4. Shaun, I suggest you re-read this comment and apply some critical thinking to it – how aggressive do you think you sound, how might that aggressiveness be heard as defensiveness by someone reading your comment? You are hostile and angry in your comments, I think that that is because someone else is egging you on. you may have experience with professionals that cause you feel angry, it doesn’t mean you should project that at me. My conclusions and interpretations, from real life and real work with real people underpin my conclusions, alienation of children is caused by mothers and by fathers in almost equal measures, there are no myths and stereotypes when you disagreggate the figures. Now, I suggest we put down this squabble, which I think is fuelled by someone else and get on the rest of our lives. K

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  4. Following on from the post by Shaun and Karen’s replies above and in my case …………… three things were present:

    1. her dad (my husband for over 40 years) who influenced her thinking
    2. myself, who was absolutely ‘kept at distance from their capacity to parent’ – and undermined all the way after being the sole caregiver (within the marriage) for the first 14 years of my daughter’s life (since my husband literally left it all to me)
    3. a vulnerable (15 year old) child – who was very outspoken and independent but still became fully enmeshed with her dad because he told her she was an adult – at 15 – and entitled to her opinions about me and, used his racing hobby and her enthusiasm for it together with the lifestyle it enabled, to enmesh her further until they formed a strong partnership against me (while I was still married and trying and failing to keep my family together) ……….. which is why she is still, even at the age of 40, convinced that she made all her own decisions including cutting me out of her life.(As she told me, I’m not like this with anyone else but you)

    We lost a child aged five. She became profoundly physically and mentally handicapped before she died. My husband showed no interest in helping me with her and I cannot remember him even picking her up to cuddle her. He never spoke of her again after her death, instead he told me that if I ever left him he would fight me for full custody of our three year old (now alienated) child and he “WOULD WIN”. What if that child had not been born with the condition she had? Would he have alienated her too? I often wonder about that, but then I think maybe if she’d not had the same interest in his racing, she’d not have been so vulnerable and might have been able to resist………. and not made it so easy for him to succeed in cutting me out of my child’s life as though I were less than a surrogate mother.

    I doubt that I will ever see my daughter again. She knows that I will always love her, she has acknowledged that I do, but she has also told me that nothing can ever change. I left my husband six years ago having given up. My daughter has refused all contact for seven years after treating me with increasing contempt since she was 15, encouraged all the way by her dad the very same dad who told me (and then told her) that childbirth is disgusting and babies and children are boring until they can hold an adult conversation………………… is that why she has never wanted wanted children of her own or was that really HER decision …………

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  5. Hi Karen,
    I reckon most of these ‘stockholmed’ children are being defathered, they have to suffer and are being harmed and damaged for life in their being (to begin with divorce/seperation is childabuse!).
    Moreover, pseudological lies of postmodern society also perpetrades alienation and btw, there are only 2 genders, we all ARE hetero!

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  6. I don’t know if any of this is relevant to what’s being discussed or even if it will appear on this post. I’m so very very tired . I’m so much at a loss. My daughters stopped having a relationship with me 4/5years ago.
    My youngest kept tenuous contact with me and was ostracised and bullied by her older sisters because of that.
    My middle daughter has returned to having a relationship with me after 2 years of intensive private counselling as a result of an unrelated incident in her life. My eldest still loathes me.
    At 14 my youngest was a rational very academic socially confident adolescent. At 18 she suffers panic attacks, and uncontrollable screaming rages She fell out of her A-level studies. Has irrational and catastrophic thought patterns which seem to travel in ever decreasing circles and I can’t get her to the doctor- she just rages when I try to talk to her .
    My eldest started using pot and drinking heavily. She had to leave university when couldn’t leave her room and was even defaecating in a bucket. She engages in seriously risky sexual behaviour and has been told she exhibits borderline personality disorder.
    My middle daughter still experiences panic attacks and receives medication for depression and anxiety.
    When I lost my children I thought everything would be alright if they came back. Since my middle daughter came back to me I’ve realised that I’ve still lost my children.
    The children I raised,the children I knew are gone. They all still live with their father and must have a relationship with him or it would just be alienation of the other parent.
    To my youngest daughter (who kept some contact ) I feel she views me more like a distant aunt than a mum.
    They’ve all been so long without an effective parent- that genie doesn’t go back in the bottle.
    I am as bereft as a parent as I was when they rejected me. My only objective and purpose as a parent now is to somehow and God knows how, to try to help them recover the people they might have been.
    You, who argue the gender game disgust and appall me. How dare you. Lives are being wrecked by emotionally damaged parents, themselves previously wrecked somehow. You stupid silly self important idiots. We need help not exhaustive and irrelevant debates about relative gender responsibility. Wake up to what’s really important here and for God’s sake shut- up.

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    1. Willow (above) said: “As she told me, I’m not like this with anyone else but you”. Reading those words “I’m not like this with anyone else but you” near chilled me to the bone – because my youngest used to say that to me, word for word! But it’s ALSO what the FATHER used to say to me, in FRONT of him….. on top of many OTHER things the father would say, that my youngest would also copy, including “You’re a piece of shit you know, nobody likes you, everybody hates you”. And so on. It stems from severe emotional immaturity/stunted emotional growth (which is basically what Narcissistic Personalty Disorder is, wouldn’t you say?). In my case, the father/ex was infantilised by his severely mentally ill mother. I still to this day cannot figure out what mental illness she has specifically, but she is a clear and present danger to my children…. in fact, to ALL children really 😦

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      1. Mel

        I suspect a lot of alienators use the exact same phrases, especially the more abusive/damaged ones. The “nobody likes you” (in your post) made me “smile” in recognition because my husband absolutely loved to tell me “it’s no wonder daughter doesn’t like you and can’t stand to be in the same room as you, it’s no wonder nobody likes you”. After many moons of that, I finally asked him just WHO all these ‘nobodies’ were. He had a think – as was usual when I questioned his (ridiculous) utterances – and he said “Well, me I suppose”. The was never any rhyme or reason to any of it and it left me utterly frustrated and distressed. There were so many times when he turned on me and I just wanted to tear out all my hair in sheer frustration. Neither did he hold anything back from our daughter who was like a surrogate wife in his eyes. He simply ‘preferred her to me’ and shared everything with her. It would have been easier and a whole lot less painful if he’d taken a mistress!

        The peace without him in my life is profound.

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      2. Willow (referring to your 12 July 12:50pm post) – interesting. Both of us are describing an alienator who is extremely emotionally immature – do you know much about your husband’s upbringing, did either of his parents have obvious personality disorders, and where or how did he fit in the family pecking order? Was/is he very close to one or both of his parents?

        I’m happy for you that you now have peace in your life. I do not believe I will ever have peace, as 2 years ago, in one single moment of rage, and of acting first and thinking second (AKA emotional immaturity), my ex made one angry phone call that wiped me out financially… it had taken me 30 years to get to that point. So needless to say I’m having a BIT of a hard time getting over that! All this as our youngest continues to become more and more enmeshed and disordered…. alone with his father, he is in a dark dark place…. I can hardly bear to even think about it. Our son desperately needs to be rescued from this darkness, it’s insidious

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  7. Thanks for your dedication to helping us through this difficult life circumstances. I was a stay at home dad to my five kids for 15 years. Lost everything in a divorce, including the relationship with my children for the past nine years. Was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted because of Parental Alienation. Just finished serving 3.5 years for something I never did. I have been grieving every day since June 2012. This is an illness that needs to be stopped
    I get some support from http://WWW.100kfathers.org if any dad is interested.
    From Toronto Canada

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  8. The mental health aspects of parental alienation which can effect anyone and everyone, and the gender prejudice issues which affect political and legal aspects of childcare are completely different things. Yes, a father will be viewed differently from the mother in the family court (as they are in society). The biological differences between men and women ensure parenting roles are different.
    When Shaun says that only 10% of children end up in custody of the father it is because of societal, political and biological differences.
    The mental health stability of the mother and father and their tendency to control and adversely manipulate the children is something else; something lodged in the brain of the caregivers. For a time at least a dance of bedevilment.

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    1. Truth, but when you have ideological zealots they use micro studies that confirm their ideology. Cognitive Dissonance permeates most peoples mind in this sector. But at least Miss Woodall is attempting something approaching FAIRNESS. Unlike some of her fellow practitioners. This is where I give her credit.

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  9. Mel

    Re your last post and question (to me). The answer is yes, I know quite a lot about my husband’s early life. I’ve posted much of this before on here. I don’t know whether it’s possible to search for or follow my posts. (names changed)

    “My husband, Peter, alienated my daughter, Sarah, within our intact marriage of over 40 years. Shortly after we lost our first child, aged five, he told me “If you ever leave me I will fight you for custody and I will win!” He was referring to our toddler daughter, Sarah.

    I stayed with him and we had many happy times but he was becoming more and more a controller and a bully. By the time Sarah was in her mid teens he had been made redundant, had a crisis of status and decided he didn’t much like me any more. He told me (and her) that he preferred her to me. Peter said ‘she was grounded and I was emotional’. It was at that point that my beautiful daughter changed towards me. Sarah had to protect her dad and give him back the status he’d lost. She became his best friend, protector, confidente and wingman.

    “I stayed within the family because of that old threat: I knew for certain that if I ever left him I would never see my daughter again – she would always choose him and shun me. I had already suspected the reason why my husband took my daughter from me.

    “Peter’s father had died shortly after we were married, when Peter was in his early 20s. It was at that point that Peter first told me about his mother’s problems and how, as a young teenager, he had come home from school on quite a few occasions and found her with her head in the gas oven, on the floor after taking pills and in the closed garage with the car engine running. He told me that his mother was ill and had often admitted herself to the local mental hospital and undergone electric shock treatment. He was very protective of his mother. Some months after the death of Peter’s father, his mother tried once more to take her own life and a few months afterwards told Peter that she had married again. He was livid – forever after, he called her new husband a ‘money grabbing charlaton’.

    “A few months after her secret wedding she went on holiday to Spain with her friends and jumped to her death from their hotel balcony many floors up. Four days later Peter’s sister went missing and was finally found hanged in woodland leaving behind her own business and a fiance. There were no suicide notes or messages. My husband never spoke about what he felt or showed his feelings. He arranged a joint funeral for his mother and sister. But his new step father was not included and his mother was buried alongside her dead husband. The name on her headstone was that of his father; his step father was erased and never spoken of again. Many years later, one of Peter’s mother’s friends told me that his mother had always said “If anything happens to me, look after little P.”. There was no mention of his sister who was only three years older. It was Peter whom his mother was always needing or needed to look after.

    “I am absolutely certain that as a child, Peter must have been very deeply affected and disturbed by his mother’s attempts to kill herself, especially since he was the one who always found her when he got home from school. He must have dreaded going home. I cannot begin to imagine the full horror and panic of facing and having to deal with such a deeply frightening situation. Maybe it was the beginning of his absolute need for full control when he became an adult. I questioned him in later years but he always categorically denied that it had ever affected him … but he felt the loss of his whole family deeply.”

    “Whatever the truth (and I am sure it was bound up with how he felt about himself and having to be always in control so that he could feel good about himself) I am sure it left him emotionally scarred and it was behind his desperate need to have the way he felt about himself constantly boosted – a role that our daughter took on from the age of fifteen. She made him feel good about himself in a way I had once done but obviously ceased to do. But beyond all that, Sarah was ‘his blood’ (his words) and that fact took on a huge psychological significance above and beyond everything as she grew into a bubbly, exciting, popular teenager and adult with a passion for his hobbies. Peter was always deeply scarred by the fact that he had lost all his family in such tragic circumstances, and our daughter was all that he had left, the only one who was HIS blood. In the end, he simply couldn’t share her with me – I was not his his blood. When I told him I was leaving he said “Good, I won’t have to share her with you anymore”. She belonged to him, as he had belonged to his mother (who had told me the first time I met her “Blood is thicker than water”). I was 18 when we got married, escaping my own empty childhood and desperate for love.

    “If I had to analyze Peter I would say that he had such a terrible, traumatic childhood which he absolutely had no chance of ever being able to control. So, as he grew up from that sad little boy who had the grave responsibility for saving his mother foisted on him far too young, he turned into a man who had to control the world around him. And the one person he could control was me. I feel desperately sorry for that little boy and have great sympathy for him, but I do not feel sorry for the man he became. Our daughter on the other hand did feel sorry for him, and she took over the role he made for her as his protector and wingman.

    “I am pretty sure that his mother’s suicide attempts were the reason that Peter buried his emotions deep. He just couldn’t cope with anything bordering on emotional (he couldn’t cope with MY emotions) … which was why, after the first few months following our first child’s death at the age of five, he never spoke of, nor acknowledged her ever again. Neither did he ever go with me to the place where we had scattered her ashes, and even years later, when we went to the nearby cafe and walked back alongside the grass and flower beds where her ashes were scattered, he never once allowed his eyes to look in that direction. He most likely cared very deeply but to all intents and purposes his lack of acknowledgement was as though she never existed and it hurt me deeply because I never ever knew whether, on the anniversary of her death or on her birthday, he remembered or not. That lack of acknowledgement really hurt.

    While I was really going through it I used to write pages and pages and I edited it down to 90 pages three years after I left, then I stored it away. Writing everything down as it happened, when it raw, and as it was said, really helped me to see my husband for what he was and then helped me to get it out of my head. Finding Karen’s blog in 2016 finally helped me to understand just what had happened to my once loving daughter.

    My daughter, my once beautiful loving daughter, is now 40 years old and has been married for five years. I found out about her wedding by chance. Two guests who attended her wedding, later told me that the only reason I wasn’t invited was because my daughter didn’t want me there and my husband had seemed sad and lost, as though he’d have been more comfortable if I’d been there(!!) He told them that I left because I’d fallen out with her over her dog (untrue) ……………….. He told me “The only reason you’re leaving me is because for the first time in your life you can’t get your own way”. He believes what’s in his head and, as is the way with PA, he’s convinced my daughter that I’m to blame for everything. She used to say that she never wanted to be pregnant and would adopt instead, but that quickly turned into never wanting children and I’ve written about this on here before, about how her dad was quite happy to tell me and her (from teenage years on) that ‘childbirth is disgusting and babies and young children are boring until they can hold an adult conversation”. He also kept on saying that he always wanted a boy to share his hobbies and he turned her into the next best thing. (He could see nothing wrong with what he was happy to tell her, even when he said the same words in front of her husband) Where did that come from? He had told me soon after we married that his dad wasn’t interested in him or his sister as children and was open about not wanting to be seen out with them…. so his mum took them out with various ‘uncles’. In all honesty I cannot remember ever having a conversation about anything with either his mum or his dad.

    My daughter still goes on holiday several times a year with her dad to racing venues throughout Europe (or did before the pandemic). He goes with her when she’s competing on her horse – it was me who had always been there for her taking her to events and hanging around riding schools since she was seven and first wanted to ride. I loved being part of her riding – he told me he couldn’t “stand around all day doing nothing” so he never went us – until she was sixteen and went to an equestrian college) Just as I loved her riding, I loved being part of his racing until I had to stop going away with them seven years before I left, because the exclusion got too bad and I was reacting and (as they both accused me) “spoiling their holidays”. I only know anything about her life pre 2014 because there are photos of her (with him) on the internet that I can still find (Both blocked me from facebook when I left him in 2015.)

    I have no quarms about leaving so much detail on here because I truly think it will make no difference to any future outcome. What saddens me is that, for people like me, it really is all too late. But I have learned to live my life as it is and, as I say, I finally found peace without him in my life. The only thing I wish now is that I had more ENERGY to walk more with my beautiful, quirky cairn terrier Charlie !!!!

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