Updated: Mar 4
I have been objecting to the term "parental alienation" for a long time now. This is a term, backed by a growing section of the counselling/therapeutic industry, which is being used against women in the Family Court by men who have abused them.
When a woman, in an effort to keep her children safe, reveals to the Family Court the domestic abuse she has suffered, an abusive man will now frequently counter this by suggesting that, instead, it is the woman who is abusive because she is using "parental alienation" to prevent him having rightful access to his children. He and/or his legal representatives will allege that she is lying about the abuse she says she has suffered.
One in four women between the ages of 16-64 will suffer some form of domestic abuse. The odds themselves suggest that the majority of these women are not lying. They have simply, though practise, become very good at hiding what was happening to them from everyone around them, including, sometimes, their children. Abused women are inventive but they do not invent abuse. To finally reveal the horror they've endured to a court, then have the men who abused them believed instead, is massively cruel and unjust. If a child has witnessed domestic abuse perpetrated on a mother, the trauma that child has as a result will be lasting and deep. It is understandable that in many cases these children wish to be far from the perpetrator of the abuse and it is equally understandable that a mother would fight to make sure they are never under his control again.
Against this court backdrop, and faced with a determined perpetrator, the besieged woman will be fighting like hell to make sure he does not have access to her children so that they can be free of his abusive and controlling presence. His barrister will most likely be well aware that the claim of "parental alienation" is very useful in ensuring their client gets what he demands. Cafcass appear to be complicit and accept the term. This is despite the term itself having no statistical validity and with a lack of any robust research to confirm its existence. It is like a particularly vicious whisper that has been spread like gossip through the Family Court system until it is believed. It is becoming an effective way to further distress women who have escaped an abusive male partner with whom they had children. In effect, the term hands power back to the abusive man. The Family Court appears to be accepting these claims in some instances, it is increasingly being used by solicitors and barristers advocating for the perpetrator, and as a result the woman is locked into a battle with him as he demands access to children who are not safe in his presence. Sometimes the children have been abused along with the woman. Abusive men are manipulative and that manipulation does not stop with their own children.
On the face of it this could appear to be a term which could apply to men or women. One partner might seek to alienate a child from the other. But it is not an equal term with similar uses by each sex. There simply is no parity in the sex of perpetrators of domestic abuse. No valid research study or official statistics allow for this fiction. The term is not one a woman being coercively abused by a man needs.
Men do indeed turn children against their mothers as part of a pattern of coercive control and abuse. It is quite common. "Your mother is a slag, don't listen to HER!" is an example but there are many. This happens within the abusive domestic setting and also once a woman has left it. When this man does have access to his children and pours manipulative lies about their mother in their ears, lies believed and repeated by his friends and family, a child may sever contact with the mother. This woman has been abused by a man and she continues to be so. This is a continuing pattern of domestic abuse. It doesn't come under the banner of the invented term "parental alienation", because it is already covered by legislation on coercive control and abuse as at 3.1, Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.
When a woman appears in Family Court because an abuser is demanding access to his children and he alleges "parental alienation", the woman is being coercively controlled and abused, just as she was when she was with him. Abusive men enjoy the abuse of court process to control women they have physically lost control of. Some of these men are allowed to cross examine women who are terrified of them. Many of these women have complex PTSD from the domestic abuse he perpetrated upon them. "Parental Alienation" is a cruel tool being used by abusive men to further traumatise women. Women, and the courts, should have no part of it.
In both cases the woman is a victim of a man's coercive control and abuse. The women who are alienated from their children by a man will frequently have suffered years of abuse. For the man alleging "parental alienation" he only miraculously discovers he has been mistreated once a woman has escaped him and is finally able to deny him power over her and the children.
I have encountered these men online. They have a worrying network. One of them in particular has become a fairly unhinged stalker of a number of women, revealing, in a repetitive and obsessive fashion, details about them such as their real name and workplace and even where they live in some cases.These dangerous men organise in groups and give themselves legitimacy with titles such as "Parental Alienation UK" etc. But access to some of their "secret" groups reveals a far darker side to them. On Facebook they can be found discussing the women they have abused as "c*nts" and discussing how they "didn't really abuse my kids I only smashed things at the side of their heads, I only ever hurt her!" and many of them empathise.
Last year a laughable report was produced with the intention of providing some legitimacy to the term. It was produced by an "expert" who is actually the director of a road safety company and has zero expertise in child welfare or psychology or anything remotely linked to the law. But there is also a powerful lobby behind the "movement".
The group "Parental Alienation Study Group" lists over 700 members. Many of them are wealthy and/or powerful and they are determined to push "Parental Alienation" into the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders) and also the "International Classification of Diseases". You can find a list of their members and these aims here.
What you have therefore is powerful men wanting to officially label women as "diseased" or mentally ill if they wish to keep their male abusers away from them and their children. This is patriarchy at its most insidious. There are women on that list. I have no idea why. Many women listen to the sympathy narrative of abusive men. Abusive men are rather skilful at this.
So when I became aware some time ago that Jo Frost, the celebrity "Super Nanny" is advocating for these men and alleging that "Parental Alienation" is real I was of course rather worried. Jo has a powerful voice and appears to be suggesting that women falsely allege domestic abuse against men in Family Court. In a tweet last night she wrote about the women who defend their children in court.
She is certainly throwing her weight behind the men of the "Parental Alienation" groups and she is well aware of their abusive behaviour on Twitter and elsewhere as she is "liking" those men and their attacks upon women. Some of them are attempting to deliberately put women at risk of harm from abusive men.
This tweet from one of the 'parental alienation" lobbyists required robust challenge not endorsement. I only have a problem with abusive men and their manipulative antics in Family Court. The assertion that there is parity of abuse in the sex of perpetrators is quite clearly nonsense.
The point about suicide and abuse was most successfully put by Karen Ingala Smith of Nia and I won't paraphrase her.
Jo Frost seems keen to enable these men in their quest to push 'parental alienation" into the Domestic Abuse Bill. She, and they, must not be successful in these attempts.The Domestic Abuse Bill is the first time many of us have seen progress for women with "non-fatal strangulation" being added and also coercive control being extended to include post separation examples. Allegations of "parental alienation" are part of this post separation coercive control. They cannot be undermined by the celebrity might of 'Supernanny' or any other woman working to facilitate the abuse of men.
Get off the naughty step women. She has no right to keep you there. Stand up and tell her what you think of this nonsense.