Second guest post by one of our parents, a father who currently shares residency status with the children split between two households.
“I’ll admit it. I’m scared.”
Bullying is defined as someone with power over another using that power to cause them harm. I know that feeling all too well.
My former wife abused her position of influence over our children and the fact that I couldn’t be both with them and at work, to undermine and bully them and me while we were together.
But despite being divorced for years, I feel like history is repeating itself… again and again and again.
My experience of parental alienation is unique in many aspects and horrifyingly similar in others.
At the beginning of my divorce my eldest daughter was so angry with her mum. So much so that on a couple of occasions I had to physically put myself between them to stop them coming to blows. Once my ex realised this she decided not to leave. Or at least she said that she wouldn’t. But of course, she was just stalling for time.
By this point I’ll admit I did not believe her. I knew we were living on borrowed time. But unfortunately I still had to go to work, leaving myself and the children vulnerable. And I was right to be scared. All it took to turn my eldest into an automaton was a week home ill from school and intense 1:1 time with “mummy” and her mind-bending words.
We had a good relationship before. But she had always been closer to her mother and her mum had always kept her close. My younger 2 were less favoured and I suppose I had compensated for that subconsciously and they always preferred time with me.
Soon after I was denied access to all 3 children, however. The claim was that they were suddenly scared of me. The main mouthpiece for this was my eldest. My younger 2 daughters were contradicting everything she said. But social services ignored them. The age gap between my eldest and middle daughter is 17 months and 1 school year. Yet one was old enough to speak and the other wasn’t.
I went to court and won the right to see the children. But from thereon, it was frankly like living in a house with a spy who wouldn’t talk to me. So for example one night I got the silent treatment as I always did and her mum had made sure they were all in their rooms(yes I have had some crazy court orders but that is for another time). I was cooking myself some dinner and I set the smoke alarm off as it got too smoky. I didn’t burn anything. A minute later for me I got a chilling text from my ex saying smoke can be very dangerous. She was gone, but still very much there.
I’m sure many of you have been in this position.
The brainwashing control was so absolute that if you read a statement from my eldest it was almost word for word the same as the legal letters from my ex. The only people bothered by this or even seeming to notice were me and my solicitor. The best way I can describe it is with this clip.
Several months passed, my ex had moved out (this was odd but she let me buy her out of her house) and I felt my eldest daughter slipping away. So I had to make a tough call. I backed down and became the one thing I never wanted to be. I became a weekend dad.
As per the patterns common to the experience of so many alienated parents, everything that could be done by my ex was done to disrupt the smooth running of the court order. Her specialism, however, was that all communication was forced through my eldest. If I refused to communicate through her I didn’t get the kids. This put an unfair strain on her. It was abusive.
Eventually I got an email attacking me saying that she never wanted to see me again. Given the strain she was being put under by her mom, I’m not surprised and I do not blame her.
But it saddens me deeply that I have not seen my first born daughter now for 2 and half years.
This is where for me things got really odd and I still to this day don’t understand what happened. My middle daughter texted and emailed quite often. When my ex found out her phone was taken and was then mysteriously broken. Computer time and hence her chance to email was stopped because of too much screen time when with me.
I got her a new phone and asked her what she wanted. She said she wanted to spend more time with me. All I said is she needed to tell Cafcass when they asked as I was going back to court to sort things out. A week later I got an email from my ex criticising my care of the children, but bizarrely, as a result, she was sending my youngest two children to live with me from now on except for certain dates. Again, she was calling the shots as suited her and her new partner.
I went straight back to court and made it all legal before she had time to change her mind, however. The judge did not want to agree but my ex for reasons best known to her couldn’t agree quick enough. She further exerted her control on my eldest, however, but I had at least secured some of my family, much to my relief and that of my extended family who had been petrified of losing everything having already lost so much.
It was not the solution I wanted but it was better than most dads get in my position. I continued to fight and spend a fortune trying to get contact with my eldest but I got nowhere. This was early Dec 2015.
In April 2016 my eldest was removed from school without my permission. I knew there was something going on but I had parental responsibility still so I knew she had to ask. But nobody would be that brazen would they? Well actually yes.
One day she was in school the next day she wasn’t.
My middle daughter only found out when a teacher asked how she felt about her sister moving away. So I go into headless chicken mode trying to find out what had gone on.
I provided everybody a copy of the court order in December 2015. But none of them had it when the time came. After many frantic phone calls I discovered that my eldest had been moved to Wales and had been taken out of full time education and bizarrely, without consulting me, my ex intended to home school her.
She lied and told the school that there was a non molestation order against me preventing me from seeing her and my eldest. Nobody thought to ask for a copy of it. (I did not know about the order part until much later when I complained to social services. Their defence was she said there was this order, but we should have asked for a copy.
Anyway back to court we went in May when again my ex returned to type with her counter applications. I think there were five this time. Attached to one was a twenty page essay marked like a teacher explaining why my eldest hated me and my mum so much. There was also, bizarrely, an application from the youngest two children to live with my ex.
In court before I could even sit down, to my surprise, the judge said that the essay was clearly child abuse dismissed all her applications on the spot and appointed a guardian to see what could be done to help my eldest and the youngest when they were at their mum’s.
Yet there were no consequences for the lies and deceit and bullying behaviour of my ex, no disincentive or rebuke.
The love bombing of my middle daughter then started. There were lies about me not be allowed to talk to their mother again. The result was my world falling apart.
An email from my middle daughter followed, almost a copy of the one from October saying that this time she never wanted to see me again. The judge, however, ordered her returned to me. Within two weeks she was saying she wanted to live with me again. Today she is grateful that she does not live with her mum. I never stopped her mum seeing her, despite the risks and her mum has tried since to get her to change her mind but she never has.
Now, having survived the last bout of bullying and abuse, my ex has turned her attentions to my youngest. I see the same tactics and patterns happening to her before my eyes. But I am powerless to stop it and so, it seems, is the law. This is the girl who would sulk and say she didn’t want to go whenever she had to go to her mum’s. Now she is telling me happily she wont miss me when she gets to stay at the fun house all the time.
Yet I continue to believe in shared parenting, despite the bullying, abuse and underhand behaviour and despite the fears that are giving me sleepless nights, from Thursday they go again to my ex’s, someone completely hostile to me and my family, many miles away.
I know my family are absolutely terrified of what she could do. My middle daughter is now scared of her own mother.
And I am at my wits end, even though I still see most of my children, unlike so many thousands of alienated parents.
What I can say for certain is that the family law system is just not fit for modern purpose. I am not sure social morals were as dark as they now seem to be. Too many people use children as weapons to cause harm and abuse. I really worry about the impact this will have on the next generation unless the system can adjust to end the bullying of people who just want to do the best for their kids and who want to co-parent in peace.
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