The recent snow here in the UK has reminded me of one of the best days of my life. A few years back now I went out for the day with my two boys, B and T; it had been snowing heavily and there was thick snow everywhere.

What else is a loving father and his boys to do if not go out seeking adventure for the day?

“The beautiful landscape that confronted us was truly breathtaking.”

So B and T, both being pulled along in a sledge by me, headed out in the thick snow and made our way to the nearby heath and forest.

We reached the peak of a path that lead us to the local forest. The beautiful landscape that confronted us was truly breathtaking. The snow had transformed the whole area into something similar to a scene from Narnia.

Narnia_PeaceNotPas

My boys and I found the first downhill pathway and we all excitedly climbed on the sledge and just sledged our way downwards. I vividly remember all three of us screaming and shouting really loudly with a healthy mixture of excitement and fear as we began our speedy descent down through the forest path.

We must have inadvertently picked the bumpiest hill in all of the forest! I clearly remember hitting bump after bump as we increased in speed downwards. Now, cheap plastic sledges purchased from the local hardware store are impossible to steer and are also impossible to slow down when in full speed! As such, at some point we must have gone off piste and all three of us rolled sideways out of the sledge and each of us tumbled and rolled (minus the sledge) at various speeds down the hill.

“Daddy! Lets do that again!”

As the responsible adult(!) I got myself up off the floor quickly and ran towards my boys, just to check that everyone’s bones were intact! In actual fact, where I had expected tears and possible self-reported injuries I found my two boys both laughing hysterically, clearly adrenalised by our high speed sledging stunt. “Daddy! Lets do that again!” One of them shouted. So we did, several times over!

After numerous more high speed tumbles down said hill we decided to brush ourselves down, check in with one another for any injuries and carry on with our snow adventure!

The next thing we did was what any responsible, fun-loving father does when taking his son(s) out for a day in the thick winter snow; I taught them both how to write their names in the snow! At the risk of sounding somewhat coarse, B and T just could not stop laughing at this opportunistic and previously un-experienced scenario with their dad!

“We all discussed at great length how we were managing to survive in such a tough sub zero winter environment!”

After our brief break we continued with our adventure in the snow. We next crossed a large opening in the forest. We imagined we were on some kind of adventurous trek in the North Pole. We discussed at great length how we were managing to survive in such a tough sub zero winter environment!

After successfully navigating our way across the North Pole(!) we then entered another part of the forest and began to hear voices in the distance, just ahead. As we continued, the voices increased in volume. There was the sound of screams, laughter and excitement.

We exited the forest at the next clearing and I looked attentively at my boys as they took in the scene in front of them. There was an incalculable number of people in various stages of sledging, sliding and rolling down a very large and steep snow covered hill. In fact by any means possible, these people were propelling themselves down this hill! We saw sledges, tea-trays, bin bags. I even saw a couple of teenagers propelling themselves down through the snow on an upside down police riot shield. God only knows where they got that from!

“Come on Daddy, lets do it!”

As is so often the case with being a parent, I saw this through the eyes of my children. And what I could see and hear was amazing; a cacophony of laughter and excitement could be heard from the many, many people there. The combination of the laughter, excitement and overall atmosphere was truly magnificent to behold.

I was awakened from my momentary amazement of the scene before me, with one of my boys excitedly shouting “come on Daddy, lets do it!”

And so, for the next hour or so we did what everyone else was doing. With complete abandonment and dismissing of any risks to ourselves and others, B, T and I relentlessly went up and down, up and down that hill. With each high-speed descent we aimed to get further down the hill without all three of us tumbling out of the sledge.

We reluctantly left that hill as the sun started to go down. We slowly trekked, in a homewardly direction through the thick snow. On the trek back home, all three of us agreed that we were completely exhausted but exhilarated at the same time.

On the trek home, us boys discussed how much of a success our adventure in the snow had been: We had successfully found our way to Narnia! We had managed to precariously sledge our way half way down a random forest pathway without breaking any bones! My boys had successfully learnt how to write their names in the snow! We had bravely crossed the North Pole in the most extreme of weather conditions! And we had finished the day on a high, by spending several hours propelling ourselves down a large and steep hill at high speed, time and time again!

Halfway home T said to me, in an incredibly affectionate and articulate manner, “Daddy, I’ve had so much fun it’s making me cry, can you please give me a piggy back for the rest of the way home!” Of course, I thought to myself, what else is a loving father to do?

And so, with T on my back and B pulling a broken sledge, we slowly but surely made our way home.

To the alienating mother of my children, I have something to say to you. “You may be able to, for now, prevent me from seeing my beloved and beautiful children. However you will never take such memories away from me. They are my memories. My memories to keep and cherish.” 

That day, truly was one of the best days of my life.

The Colombian novelist, screenwriter and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said “what matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

btg dad


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The Peace Not Pas Team

‘Narcissists attack the things you value most, because those are the things in life you will defend most passionately. And make no mistake- it’s intentional”

[The following was written by an anonymous contributor.]

Covert (not openly acknowledged or displayed) emotional manipulation and abuse occurs when a person who wants to exert power and control over you, uses deceptive and underhanded tactics to change your thinking, behaviour, and perceptions. Emotional manipulation operates under the level of your conscious awareness. It holds a person psychologically captive. Covert mental abuse is very common and yet, difficult to detect as it does not leave physical bruises and scars for everyone to see. This type of abuse is invisible and often not recognized by the public as abuse at all.

“Victims of this abuse are usually left with no support to escape the situation since the abuser has taken everything from them.”

Most victims do not even realize the damage done until they are already affected in a psychological way. Narcissists and psychopaths use this type of abuse to wear down their victim and strip away the victim’s confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and perception of reality. Victims of this abuse are usually left with no support to escape the situation since the abuser has taken everything from them. This may often include the victim’s finances, their identity, turning all the people in the victim’s life against them, based on nasty lies and deceit. The victim is made to feel trapped with no way out and NO OTHER OPTIONS.

All victims of this abuse are made to feel as if THEY are the problem, a feeling so low and worthless that they question, “is this my doing?” Victims often turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to allow temporary escape from the situation. The stress levels on the victim become so severe that if the victim cannot find a way to escape their anxiety, and emotional suffering, it can drive them to a state of actual mental insanity.

“Essentially the victim has been robbed of anything worthy in their life.”

The abuser will never quit. Hundreds of lies become their truth. The victim must conform to this truth and the abuser will ensure compliance. They use many powerful techniques over long periods of time such as manipulation, shame, violence, emotional blackmail, exploitation, privacy invasion, crazy making, isolation, character assassination, triangulation, deflection and gas lighting. These techniques can appear subtle but to the victim, left feeling completely distressed, they are anything but. Given that the abuser has groomed the public eye to hate or distrust the victim for years under false perceptions, there is often nowhere to turn. Essentially the victim has been robbed of anything worthy in their life. Having the victim where they want them, the abuser may start to show compassion to further manipulate and confuse their victim.

“The victim is so broken with no one and nothing left that they have to find a way to end the suffering.”

This sudden compassion often prolongs the victim from seeking help or when the victim tries to seek help the abuse becomes unbearable. This often prevents the victim from accessing the help they need. The victim is made to feel as if they are a nobody, nothing, and that they have nobody to turn to. This leaves the narcissist in full control, having succeeded in turning the victim into their emotional slave. The narcissist is patient and persistent in their destruction, and the full effects of this abuse may take years to show. Eventually the victim is so broken with no one and nothing left that they have to find a way to end the suffering, some succeed in seeking help, others suffer in silence while others attempt to drink the pain away, some drinking heavily to the point where they feel like they want to die, or they commit suicide. The aftermath of the narcissist, psychopath is severe and this outcome is certainly intentional.

“Narcissists are human predators who completely hide their true identity, creating a fake persona to gain trust of the victim so they can dominate, control and use them.”

People with narcissistic personality disorders are bold and confident liars and will spend every second of their lives working to ensure that people believe their well-constructed lies, no matter the cost to anyone else. Narcissists lack empathy. They are masters at smear campaigns, preferring to use minions to their field work as they attempt to destroy a person’s character, credibility, and reputation based on lies, half truths, and malicious rumours. Meanwhile, the narcissist can sit back appearing like an innocent victim while a good person is shamed and discredited by anyone willing to spread and/or believe the toxic gossip. Narcissists are human predators who completely hide their true identity, creating a fake persona to gain trust of the victim so they can dominate, control and use them. They often have families and use their children to extend the exploitation. When a narcissist can use a child to control and alienate a parent, their influence can be particularly destructive, as the alienated parent tries to appease the narcissist in an effort to protect their child.

“Narcissistic supply to a narcissist is like food and water to a typical person”

The Narcissist needs an endless supply of admiration, attention, and approval; this can be both positive and/or negative, as long as they are in the spot light. This is considered ‘narcissistic supply’.  Narcissistic supply to a narcissist is like food and water to a typical person. They are completely obsessed with obtaining this supply and will go to great lengths to achieve it. This is why many narcissists are addicted to social media. This environment is the perfect place to garner attention and admiration on a large scale. They use social media to groom new targets and/or minions and bolster their egos with instant gratification online. When a narcissist loses this supply all hell breaks loose and the war begins. Anger, vicious attacks and psychotic behaviour begin, grasping at any type of drama or attention they can hold on to, doing anything or saying anything in desperate attempts to illicit a response, any response. But this drought will not last long. A narcissist will move on to a new target quickly as they are constantly on the prowl for new targets to satisfy their supply source which is vital for narcissist survival.

“They are the eternal victim, most often to circumstances they created.”

But pay careful attention, narcissists actions rarely match up with their words. They thrive on drama and chaos, drawing people into their craziness. There always seems to be a sense of impending doom surrounding them. They are extremely calculated when they create this drama knowing what and who will give them the best outcome. Their conversations are generally repetitive, revolving in circles, and never end with a resolution. They are the eternal victim, most often to circumstances they created. They are never accountable for their behaviour, ever, and have an excuse for almost everything. They constantly are accusing you of doing things that are doing. This is projection. After engaging with a narcissist you may find yourself so emotionally drained, with a mishmash of unrelated points, you can’t articulate what in the world just happened.

“They are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding their true identity beneath an image built on lies and deceit.”

They are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding their true identity beneath an image built on lies and deceit. They move freely through society undetected, playing many roles including: mother/father, loving partner, and victim. They are masters of manipulation and emotional con artists, securing their image and hiding their true intentions in every aspect of life. This is why many people do not know they are in the presence of a wolf, until it’s too late. 


If you would like to hear a true story of how narcissistic behaviours relate to parental alienation please read my previous post below:

The Story of a Great Man and a Great Father who Suffered at the Mercy of an Alienating Parent

GreatManGreatFather_PeaceNotPas


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We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

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The Peace Not Pas Team

Parental alienation is a term that is becoming popular and for good reason. It describes a situation where a child exhibits unjustified hostility towards one parent. The general idea is that the child has been manipulated by one parent to view a capable and loving parent as bad. Of course this is nothing more or less than child abuse by the alienating parent and causes untold lifelong damage to the child. Courts and professionals that are supposed to protect children refuse to acknowledge its impact on the child.

However, there is another side to parental alienation that is entirely misunderstood and dismissed. There can be a situation, as in my case, where the child discloses very real physical and emotional abuse by one parent but the abusive parent falsely claims this is nothing more than parental alienation. Playing on the growing popularity of parental alienation they deliberately misuse it to claim that the child has been manipulated by the other parent to ‘tell stories’ that are untrue. Herein lies the danger of generalising such a complex issue. There are circumstances where the child’s hostility to what is in reality a child abuser is completely justified.

“There is not a judge in the land would give her back to her mum.”

In my case CAFCASS made a very lengthy report from an interview with my child that lasted around 2-3 hours. They concluded that my child was telling the truth about the abuse, that she was recounting real life events. Reading the report and seeing things I had witnessed from a child’s perspective as well as events I was unaware of broke my heart and left me in tears. My father read it and I could see the look on his face change as he turned the pages. I remember him saying “there is not a judge in the land would give her back to her mum.”

In a 9 page report there was a single line that the abuser picked up on and ran with. My daughter had a phone call from our abuser who said that she would “get her brain fixed.” My daughter had asked me about this and, trying to reassure her, I said that perhaps her mum would see the doctor and everything would be okay. In the CAFCASS report it stated that my daughter had said “my mum’s brain is broken, that’s what my dad told me.” To the abuser this was a green light, look here is proof that my daughter was manipulated, this is parental alienation. This was the first time I had ever heard this term.

To a family judge (don’t get me started) this was all she needed for the case to fit into her preconceived stereotypes. Dad is bad, mum is good. The judge decided that despite the CAFCASS officer advising supervised contact with the mother, there was no truth in the abuse my daughter told, it was all made up, and gave residency to her mum.

“She was brutally and instantly taken from the protective arms of her father and handed over alone to a violent and cruel child abuser.”

Apart from the ongoing and unmonitored violence that is happening right now as you read this, imagine the damage this has done to my daughter. She was brave enough to talk to a complete stranger about (excuse the French) some serious shit, yet in the end was not believed. She was brutally and instantly taken from the protective arms of her father and handed over alone to a violent and cruel child abuser. She has been taught that speaking up about abuse makes no difference, in fact talking about abuse has removed the parent she relied upon for protection.

So all this hullabaloo about parental alienation should not be taken lightly and should not be categorised into an all encompassing box. It is a complex issue and each case should be taken on its own merits. It can describe manipulation of a child which in itself is child abuse but it can also be used to discredit a child disclosing lived physical and emotional abuse.

Thank you for reading and i hope it opens some eyes.


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected, as is the case above.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

A couple of days ago I went for a mediation session. I am what is known as an alienated parent. Following our separation in the summer of 2016, my ex has continuously denied me contact with my three young children. She has brainwashed them against me; to the point of them no longer calling me daddy. On the odd occasion I come up in conversation, my children now all refer to me by my first name. They have been exposed to such a negative perception of me by their mother, they now ‘claim’ they no longer want anything to do with me ever again. I have not had any meaningful contact with them for 18 months. The above set of abusive behaviours is collectively known as parental alienation. For a more detailed description of parental alienation, please see our What is PAS/PA? page.

“Front line staff are untrained, misinformed and completely out of their depth when it comes to assessing, managing and effectively case-working situations of parental alienation.”

Both Cafcass and Children’s Social Services are heavily involved in this case. Cafcass’ Chief Executive, Anthony Douglas publicly states that as an organisation, Cafcass acknowledge parental alienation as a form of abuse that should be dealt with the same severity as any other form of child abuse. However as an organisation, Cafcass clearly have an organisational-wide issue when it comes to disseminating such an acknowledgement down to their front line staff. Their front line staff are untrained, misinformed and completely out of their depth when it comes to assessing, managing and effectively case-working situations of parental alienation.

On the other  hand, the other organisation heavily involved in my case, Children’s Social Services, explicitly state that they do not recognise or acknowledge parental alienation as a form of abuse.

My ex and I have attended mediation, co-parenting courses and attended numerous court hearings over the last 18 months. My ex continues to breach numerous court orders that instruct or promote contact between my children and I with no legal penalties or consequences for her.

A recent psychological assessment states that my ex presents with a number of personality traits that are indicative of a Cluster A personality disorder. The same assessment states that the children are being emotionally abused and living in a toxic environment that is damaging to both their current and long term mental health. The assessment also states that due to the Cluster A personality traits, there is little to no evidence to suggest that my ex will change her current abusive and contact denying behaviours.

So what was the latest futile response from Cafcass and Children’s Social Services I hear you ask? Well… Wait for it… They have suggested my ex and I return to mediation. What an absolutely groundbreaking proposal!

So earlier on this week I attended a mediation session. In the interests of confidentiality and professionalism I have changed the name of the mediator.

I was shown into a small room and introduced to the mediator who I will refer to as Harry Ball-Sax. We greeted one another, shook hands and we both sat down.

Harry Ball-Sax then asked me “what has happened since I saw you last time in 2016?”

I replied “nothing has happened, I still haven’t seen my kids, my ex is still refusing to allow my parents and I any contact with the children and the services involved haven’t got a clue what they are doing!”

“So it sounds like due to the acrimonious separation you are both still in the middle of an ongoing high conflict issue where neither of you can compromise.”

“First of all can you please not use the term acrimonious separation. I left an unhealthy relationship, my ex is punishing me for it. The word acrimonious is defined as involving anger and bitterness. I am not angry or bitter. Furthermore in terms of compromise, my ex is demanding I leave her and our children alone so they can all grieve for me! Now obviously I’m not dead. I am very much alive. So in terms of you labelling it an issue of high conflict, the conflict is not on my part. Should my ex suddenly wake up tomorrow having had an epiphany and agree to co-parent, I would happily do so with no anger, bitterness or animosity.”

With no response to my above comment and no verbal or non-verbal expression of empathy or compassion, Harry Ball-Sax then asked me “what are the current plans in place from services?” 

“They have requested my ex and I separately write an evidence based parenting plan and submit it to the Judge at the next hearing next week.”

“So what is your proposal?”

“I propose therapeutic input for the children, a structured and supported period of graded exposure and reconciliation with me that would gradually increase in frequency. With the long term aim being 50/50 shared parenting.”

Harry Ball-Sax then made the rather astonishing comment “If I were you I certainly wouldn’t mention the terms 50/50 or shared parenting.”

I unsurprisingly asked “why is that?”

“Judges will perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother.”

“I’m sorry, can you just say that again please!” I requested in disbelief at what he had just said.

“Judges will perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother.”

“But my evidence based proposal would explicitly state that that would not be my intention! And furthermore, I have been asked to put forward a long term plan.”

In response to this he rather dismissively and with a clear and visible non-verbal attempt at avoidance, he moved his head to the side and shrugged his shoulders.

“Can you please explain why you believe Judges would perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother?”

Harry Ball-Sax then stated “this conversation is beyond the remit of this mediation session.”

“Be that as it may, you have just made a statement and I am asking for clarification so as to be as well informed as possible when writing my proposal.”

“You should seek legal advice on this matter.”

“But I represent myself. I just want you to elaborate on what you said about Judges and what appears to be you stating that Judges have a somewhat gender biased approach to fathers when the term 50/50 or shared parenting is used; despite there being a huge amount of evidence that informs us that shared parenting is in the short and long term best interests of the children.”

“Like I said, this conversation is beyond the scope of this mediation session.”

And so the session ended. My ex will be invited for an initial session such as the one I attended. She may or may not attend, who knows!

The above mediation session took less than twenty minutes and cost me £110 (that is $155 for any readers from the US). I left frustrated at the injustice of ‘the system’ and £110 poorer.

I have since reflected on this further. I work for the National Health Service (NHS) as a psychiatric nurse. I absolutely love my job and I truly believe that my colleagues and I make a positive difference to our patients’ lives. I earn less than £14 per hour (just under $20). Harry Ball-Sax charged me £110 of my hard earned money for twenty minutes of his time. However the service he provided made no discernible difference to my ongoing problem of being denied contact with my children. Where is the justice?

Eli Wiesel the Romanian-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor once said “there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team