Dear Mr Douglas,

We are a non-profit organisation with a significant international reach.

We represent hundreds of UK parents, fathers, mothers and grandparents.

We write to you as good, loving biological parents and relatives who, at the conclusion of our marriages or relationships, despite following advised protocols to agree the arrangements for our children and obtaining court orders, have since been denied a relationship with our own children/grandchildren. This has not been through any conscious action of our own, but as a consequence of deliberate, calculated and contrived action by the other parent.

We are not a gendered group and recognise that parental alienation can and does happen to mothers as well as fathers, but sadly, in the majority of cases this has been mothers, as resident parents, perpetrating the alienation after using the children to secure the assets of the former family by controlling the children.

It is a rapidly spreading scandal.

You must be acutely aware of the consequent escalating public concern about your organisation, set up to represent the best interests of children and which claims to “Build Stronger Families.”

Given the scale of the issue, conservatively said to involve between 1-4 million UK children, Cafcass is patently not doing enough to either prevent the alienation of parents and families from their children, to reform or hold alienating parents to account or to reunite those children estranged from one half of their family infrastructure, usually the paternal.

This is having an increasingly detrimental impact on alienated parents and children, as you, yourself acknowledge.

As parents with loved ones being abused as a consequence, we’re greatly distressed, greatly concerned and have run out of patience.

This letter follows your personal acknowledgement of the impact of parental alienation on families last year, recent debates at Westminster concerning the same, in part led by Andrew Brigden MP, and in light of how the perpetuation of this growing issue is fast undermining the authority of family courts and credibility of the support services, including your organisation.

As you are clearly aware, there are hundreds of thousands of children and their parents in this country, who are being systematically failed by your organisation. This is evidenced in your own research and that carried out by several independent bodies. These findings are very similar to those carried out in other countries.

These failings result in a loss or significantly reduced child contact, parent alienation, and mental health issues in both children and parents, some cases contributing to 82 male suicides a day.

These failings stem from the way the family law process is currently applied, how Cafcass has failed to adapt to changing times and gender roles and how your agents are deployed, especially with regard to the initial decision-making process at the point of separation in dealing with this country’s most precious asset, our children:

1. Your organisation fails to acknowledge that both genders are equal in the eyes of the law and subsequently fails to identify the underlying reasons for hostility between separating parties.  Much of this is dealt with according to gender and/or parental stereotypes and any hostility is more often than not a direct result of the adversarial legal process which pits parents against each other. This process also places children in the middle of a war for resources, given the parent with ‘custody’ secures the assets and income at the expense of the other party and the less time that party spends with the children the more they are rewarded. This encourages allegations in order to secure finances.

2. Your organisation does not act fast enough, despite it being widely acknowledged that time to adversely influence the children is the alienating parent’s greatest asset and, despite no evidence to support this, your representatives actively promote ‘cooling off’ and further delays and often reference intractable hostility between parties when in fact, in most cases, the hostility is generated by the parent with the power, namely the resident parent who controls the children.

3. It has unfortunately become a common tactic to perpetuate a convenient but false abuse narrative both in order to obtain legal aid and discredit the other party, glean sympathy from third parties and play to gender stereotypes. Seldom are these allegations substantiated as it would appear that allegations are enough despite these originating from an entirely biased party with much to gain. This potentially leads to children’s time being reduced with the non-resident parent who then becomes a target for alienation.

4. The identification of when allegations of domestic abuse started is a key failing of your organisation. Separation is a difficult and emotional time for both parents and children and with emotions running high in an artificial environment, patience and tempers can flare. Some parents manipulate this emotion to their advantage, a characteristic of parental alienation, and your organisation is failing to differentiate between genuine abuse claims and fabricated, engineered events (as in the 2015 Operating Framework), even in cases when presented with the evidence. There is an unfortunate but very clear gender bias at play here.

5. Alienating behaviours brought to the attention of your organisation’s Family Court Advisors (FCAs) in the course of your process are being ignored, even when solid and tangible evidence is provided. Although the Operating Framework (page 62) recognises it and says “It is important to intervene early, before alienation becomes a way of life and the relationship between a parent and child breaks down irretrievably,” it is not being applied and your organisation is not equipped to deal with and identify these behaviours and act accordingly nor does it help with reunification when alienation has occurred, even when your organisation is known to have been a key driver, albeit seemingly unwittingly.

6. Your organisation claims in its Operation Framework that you will “consider the needs of children” when “serious welfare concerns become apparent” [1.3] and does not seem to apply that in its report outcome and recommendation. It is also implied that these welfare concerns are physical and very little reference is made to the psychological abuse that the alienation process represents. It is also questionable whether an impressionable child’s wishes and feelings can ever be said to be unbiased when one parent dominates time, control and influence over them. It places children in a position of too great a responsibility over their parents and opens them up to abuse by the alienating parent who has a biased agenda.

7. Despite your clear declarations about your organisation’s recognition of and plans to address parental alienation, throughout our network of thousands of parents, several months on from your public statements, none of your front-line staff either echo your personal stance, will hardly acknowledge the term parent alienation nor are they able to suggest appropriate pathways for addressing the problems. This does, on the face of it, appear to represent a serious organisation leadership failing in terms of basic communication, engagement and change management. We refer you to these comments by organisational change, culture change and employee engagement guru Ian Buckingham (who kindly wrote an article for us in December 2017, entitled Parental Alienation: Is the continual spread of this abuse caused by organisation culture?) This does imply systemic culture change issues akin to the human rights abuses and problems the Home Office has recently experienced in the mismanagement of the Windrush scandal.

8. Parents that attend a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) [46% in the sample of data used] are deemed suitable for a co-parenting support approach. Disappointingly, courts frame the dispute as interpersonal conflict not as purely obstruction by one party (as already discussed above). The percentage of shared care and co-parenting outcomes should ideally match this percentage but are much lower; this is a core failing in your process as there is no continuous improvement built-in and no accountability.

9. There are a number of courses that form part of recommended outcomes but there are none for parents who have been described as ‘alienators’ to obtain support. These could and should include counselling accompanied by psychological evaluations and psychometrics in an attempt to help parents re-frame their attitudes and behaviours. Your organisation fails to identify this abuse and as such has no way to deal with it effectively, if anything this failing is creating major problems downstream and the very delays enable parental alienation to become further entrenched.

10. Your organisation refers to non-molestation orders (NMO) as an indication of someone who has been violent towards another party. That is a complete misinterpretation of the purpose of such orders which can be granted for a range of reasons including as a means of avoiding excessive arguing between parties outside of the legal process and bear no relation to violence or abuse. It is clear from research, however, that non-molestation orders can and often are abused as a weapon in separation to prevent dialogue and communication about the children and to force communication via children or the court. Again  this is an attribute of parental alienation, and to potentially secure legal aid. Little evidence is required to be successful in obtaining an order. Ex-parte NMO’s are granted in 98% of applications [2] and are rarely contested due to the cost and complexity of defending therefore no charges are brought by the CPS. Your organisation needs to have increased governance and careful consideration around the treatment of NMOs in its recommendations.

11. Your organisation does not have a rework loop in your process once a case is closed. Your organisations Proportionate Working Principles states you will “work with HMCTS to ensure Cafcass is removed as a party once we have closed.” This goes against every best practice in Continuous Process Improvement as your organisation will rarely find if and why the outcome of your decision was successful. This control and feedback mechanism is a key metric to making your organisation stronger and better, continuously improving. Again, this is a leadership issue Your organisation is pushing unaddressed issues downstream and these poor decisions can take several years to re-mediate leaving children and parents vulnerable and resulting in significant psychological harm to targeted parents and children.

12. 30% (12,179) of cases managed by your organisation return to court in two years, with 3,654 returning multiple times. In a sample of 100 cases (just 0.008%), 76 were due to ‘alleged’ conflict (As highlighted above) or safeguarding; two areas of expertise your organisation claims to manage and support. This ’defect rate’ is unacceptable in any organisation, more so when children and parental well-being and mental health is involved [1]. Your own figures suggest that these cases involve around 1 million children. If we attribute 6 relatives affected by parental alienation to that child that is more people affected by parental alienation than the combined population of Wales and Scotland. This is not a minority/marginal issue.

13. An independent audit of a range of cases at senior level should take place at regular intervals with the results published to ensure that the key facts of each case are picked up, have been addressed and were they have not there is a process rework. A Risk Management and Control Framework with sufficient governance is not referenced in your Operating Framework implying once a case is closed there is no subsequent audit. This is a major learning and development failing if this is the case

14. An Early Intervention scheme should be considered that provides both parents with transparency, communication, clarity and support and giving both parents an indication of what to expect before being forced into an adversarial legal environment. Andrew Bridgen MP is advocating a pilot scheme with an aim to provide parents with much-needed clarity and certainty through proceedings. But again, this is taking far too long given the scale of the issues and importance of the subject.

15. Children are being interviewed to ascertain ‘thoughts and feelings’ in isolation with no supervision and the sessions are not recorded. Yet the interviews are not taking into account the influence of the alienating parent and are placing children in what we consider to be an undue position of responsibility for decisions adults would struggle with. This is a major failing and needs immediate attention. All sessions should be independently supervised by either a teacher or other independent adult and the practice itself needs significant overhaul.

16. No work is currently undertaken to ascertain and then mediate between parents to resolve alleged ‘implacable’ differences. No regard is given for the fact that the party alleging ‘abuse’ can simply refuse to comply with any third-party action, can refuse to comply with Cafcass recommendations and can refuse to comply with court orders without any checks, balances, or accountability for their actions and this does not seem to prejudice their case or require remedy. There is also no consideration given to the fact that the same individual, who wields so much power they can ignore Court Orders, ironically can claim that they are being bullied, impossible given they clearly wield all the power. It is now clear that common phraseology is used in cases to justify their actions “I will not force my children to do what they don’t want to” etc, which should be key indicators of a deep-seated parenting problem and deeper mental health issue.

17. FCA’s need suitable time with clients prior to court hearings, at the moment an FCA can request a fact-finding or section 7 report after just several minutes with a client and no evidence to support allegations. This causes distress to parents in a difficult situation, who often have no legal support and it distresses children who often have had no cause to deal with third parties/strangers, an act which is alienating in its own right and used by alienating parents to cultivate blame/perpetuate the abuse narrative.

18. All evidence, no matter what stage of the process should be reviewed and considered. The ownership lies with your organisation and when new information comes to light it should be acted upon, this is not happening. This evidence can validate behaviour and safeguarding issues relevant to the case especially where a parent refuses to recognise or follow your recommendations or the court order.

19. Your Parenting Plan should be mandatory prior to a First Hearing and Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) taking place and should be the primary focal point upon couples divorcing and deciding child arrangements. Mediation should also focus on this. Yet it is currently discretionary. Where parties fail to participate it should be noted in any report and appropriate action taken. The Plan is an excellent document but is not enforceable so there is little value of it in certain situations.

20. The unanimous feedback from all participants on several recent SPIPs (mothers and fathers) was that their experience of your organisation was poor and the format of the sessions were ill-devised, poorly facilitated and deeply distressing to attend. Each and every one said your process increased conflict in their relationship in trying to resolve childcare. There is a basic lack of communication between FCAs and clients; FCAs do not listen, there is little in the way of support to help resolve shared care with both parents who want to be involved in their upbringing and development. I can only assume your organisation, has a mechanism in place like successful commercial organisations to capture the ‘voice of the customer/parent’ and act on this feedback.

21. Your FCAs appear to have little to no understanding of mental health, particularly in the context of parental alienation. All the available evidence regarding the effective assessment and case management of parental alienation informs us that parental alienation should be viewed within the context of mental health. There is a plethora of evidence that informs us that in severe cases of parental alienation, mental health issues such as personality disorders are all too often the driving force behind the abusive behaviours of the alienating parent. Furthermore the same body of evidence informs us that there can be short and long-term detrimental effects on the mental health of the alienated children as well as the alienated parent and their alienated family. Despite the evidenced link between mental health and parental alienation your FCA’s appear to be ill-informed regarding this. As a result of this clear lack of evidence based knowledge and approach, certain traits, risks and other such factors that are associated with mental health and inextricably linked with the abuse go undetected by your organisation’s FCAs.


Parents are being made to feel criminalised by your organisation and the draconian court process that is being forced on them.  Can you not see the irony in the fact that non-resident parents are accused, time and again, of using the family court as an extension of an alleged (and false) abuse narrative, when in actual fact it is the only alternative available to us when denied a meaningful relationship with our children, a course of action recommended by police, solicitors and indeed your own organisation? But when we turn to the courts for support, we are accused by opposing lawyers of “abuse by litigation” and only 1% of contact orders, gained as a result of your intervention, are enforced.

There have been several high-profile criminal cases that have collapsed due to lack of material and non-disclosure of evidence yet your FCA ‘experts’ are making decisions on the same basis in a limited time-frame that have major repercussions for family life and children. Your organisation sits back and endorses this by a slow, reactive process with no intervention that has no certainty of outcome.

We urge your organisation to change and for you to hold your leaders to account for delivering that change via their front line staff. Your intervention and process places undue and unnecessary pressure and stress on parents through inappropriate work with our children and undermines people who simply want to move on with their lives with their children, most of whom want fair and reasonable access ideally in a shared care environment.

Providing guidance and support to both parents early in the process would be a simple procedure to implement and this along with suitable mediation and support would negate the need for protracted court hearings downstream. These are changes you could and should be making NOW!

No CEO of a profit-making commercial organisation would settle for the inefficient and ineffective processes your organisation has. So why do you Mr Douglas? Your professional and personal reputation is very much on the line. You should be aware that there is increasing talk of a mass class action by alienated parents in deep distress, such is the scope and scale of this issue. And you will be aware of the campaign to deploy our local MPs, who will also be copied in on this letter.

You should be aware that we have a social media reach of 1 million per week and growing fast and given this is literally the most important issue we all face, those of us who survive the abuse, are not going to go away.

We have emailed you a copy of this letter direct. We would like to meet and discuss the contents and can come to a meeting supported by social workers, reunification specialists, psychiatrists, lawyers and organisational change consultants should you need additional input.

We trust and hope you will take our considered points seriously and look forward to your response, ideally in the next seven days.

Yours sincerely,

Peace Not Pas

[The following is an interview with an alienated parent who wishes to remain anonymous]

What is your experience of parental alienation?

I separated from my wife two years ago. She told me that if I ever left her she would make sure I never saw my kids again. She said this numerous times throughout our marriage, but I never thought for a minute she would actually attempt such a thing. At the moment I have not had any meaningful contact with my three children for almost two years.

Why is this?

Well, immediately following the separation she locked me out the house. The following day she changed the locks. She instantly became the resident parent, only by virtue of the fact she changed all the locks to the property that at the time was still co-owned by us both. I also requested that we shield the children from our separation but she refused. She also at this time refused me any contact with the children. I now know that it was at this point that she started to alienate the children against me.

What alienating tactics were used?

She started making false allegations against me. She claimed that I had stolen money from her. She also claimed that I had physically and emotionally abused her and all the children in the past. This resulted in an unnecessary and unfounded safeguarding referral being put in against me. During this time I was legally prevented from having any contact with any of my children for approximately 3-4 months. I now know that during this time she brainwashed the children against me and my entire side of the family.  She encouraged the children to write hate letters to me. She then emailed these hate letters to me.

What happened next?

Well, once I was deemed to not be a safeguarding issue my ex had already brainwashed my children against me.

How did this present itself?

By that time Cafcass were involved. They have this ‘wishes and feelings of the children’ approach. However as I have come to understand the complexities of parental alienation more, I now understand that the children were simply telling the so-called professionals what they were told to say by their mother. My children were telling Cafcass that they no longer wanted a relationship with me, because of what I had done to them all!

What happened next?

The Case Manager at the time remarkably advised me to give the children time and space. At the same time I was busy researching parental alienation. I am fortunately a mental health nurse with a professional interest in both research and psychology. So with this professional background I understand research and how to use it. And what I found in terms of evidence based approaches to assessing for and managing cases of parental alienation was very interesting?

Why was that?

Well, what I found in terms of research was in stark contrast to the current approach taken by Cafcass. The advice from the Case Manager to give the children time and space, was the complete opposite to what you should do according to the research out there. In actual fact the approach of whole system to parental alienation is flawed. And when I mean the whole system I mean Cafcass, Children’s Social Services, Judges, the current legal system, the whole lot, the whole system. Parental alienation is basically emotional abuse, but the UK Government does not officially recognise it as such.

So how do you fight a system that is flawed?

Good question. With great difficulty, that is how you fight it. It becomes something akin to a full time job. Constant emails to numerous services, regular meetings. It completely takes over your life.

Do you feel you have made any progress fighting what you call a flawed system?

Well, I’m definitely not going to give up on my kids. But I do feel that I have made progress. If I had listened to the advice of the original Case Manager, the case would now be closed and my children would be completely estranged from me, with no hope of reconciliation. I have chipped away at the system, I have got results that have prevented this case being closed down.

What is your experience and opinion of the professionals within this system?

Shocking, absolutely shocking. None of them appear to care about the job they do. They allow themselves to buy into parental stereotypes. At some point my case was under the management of two different services; Cafcass and Children’s Social Services.

Did that work to your benefit?

You would think so, but no it didn’t; absolutely not. Since a public statement by Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas in February 2017, Cafcass do now recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse. However Cafcass are clearly not disseminating this down to their front-line staff in the context of training and/or organisational change. This was evidenced by the fact that the Case Manager at the time, informed me that although he saw evidence of parental alienation on the part of my children’s mother, he informed me he was not permitted to use the term in the case notes. In fact he was only permitted to use the term ‘alienating behaviours.’ However on the other hand Children’s Social Services do not recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse at all. So ultimately for a period of time I had two organisations co-managing my case, however with one organisation that recognises parental alienation as a form of child abuse and the other that doesn’t. It’s bonkers, absolutely bonkers!

Had you ever heard of parental alienation until it had happened to you?

No, not at all. This is now a whole new world I never knew existed. It is weird to explain, but now I do know, I find it hard to comprehend how so many people don’t know what it is. It is ultimately child abuse happening right in front of us and no government body, service etc appears to want to do anything about it.

What is your understanding of parental alienation now?

My understanding is that parental alienation is when, in most cases the resident parent, following separation will deny contact with also brainwash the children against the other, non-resident parent. The targeting parent’s aim is to destroy a previously healthy and loving relationship between the children and the targeted parent. I have also come to understand that in severe cases of parental alienation, the targeting parent will statistically present with some personality traits indicative of an un-diagnosed personality disorder.

What is your advice for anyone else effected by parental alienation?

Support, support, support. This is absolutely key to surviving this. Whether it is actually having people around you, or connecting with people online, either of those I have found an absolute life line.

In terms of connecting with people online, I was absolutely shocked by how many people there are out there effected by this. I am proud to see myself as part of an unofficial anti-parental alienation community online. As a community we all look out for each other.

What are your next steps?

Well, like I said I am not giving up. I owe it to my children. They deserve to have their father in their lives. I have a date to return to court and a member of the reconciliation team that you referred me to is currently reviewing my case notes. She is incredibly concerned with the way Cafcass have and are still managing my case. So I will return to court and carry on. Like I said before, I will not give up on my children.


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Another guest post from another courageous parent speaking up about abuse so others may not have to:

I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole narcissism theory. For me people tend to be a great deal more nuanced than that and if we accept a polemic then all empaths are essentially doomed while society tears itself apart.
Granted, living with parent alienation, life can seem like that at times.
However, I have followed the tweets of Sarah Squires (look her up  ) and they have been interesting and informative, especially when she described the characteristics of the so-called Vulnerable Narcissist which certainly got me thinking.

She describes them as:

“presenting as a victim who needs rescuing who then takes complete advantage of your kind nature by systematically obtaining more and more control over you until you are completely powerless in the relationship.”

When I first got together with the mother of my children, we had worked together for a number of years. I was in a pretty senior role, she was initially in a relatively junior role but I had been fascinated by her ability to somehow get herself into key decision-making meetings. I was busy on the front line and missed how it happened but suddenly she was making hiring or firing decisions, until I called my partners on this and accountability was restored.

The business went through a very difficult patch and I had to work with her again, this time more closely and, although not noticing at the time, she was suddenly perpetuating a victim narrative about her seemingly abusive relationship. She was so successful at this that I personally took it upon myself to step in and have a word with her then boyfriend who she accused of sexually assaulting her. He left.

I was living with a lovely person but we were at different stages in life and I reluctantly transitioned from that relationship and before I knew it, had somehow invited this needy person into my home. I had my doubts but “hey, it was my house and…”

One day I came home from a meeting to find that she had been going through my personal finances. She was accountancy trained and made some excuse about “rationalising accounts for ease of management”. She had an incredible habit of not lying, just not telling the truth, as if that’s not as bad.

Then the neighbours knocked on the door complaining about having a row with her. Later others did the same. I put this down to their sour-grapes at the departure of my former partner, defended her vociferously and left it at that.

However, I then realised that she had gone through my contact books and removed anything to do with former partners and friends she didn’t like from contact details to photos and momentos. She had also thrown out every scrap of anything related to former partners.

I know this sounds like I’m sort of pushover. I was certainly stressed at work and needed support. But I’m no wallflower I promise you.

I confronted her with the latest revelations, front, centre and frank, as is my preferred way. She immediately lapsed into what I now call her hyena mode, where her body language closes and she becomes theatrically upset and submissive.

But she knew she had pushed things too far. I then helped her pack and held the door for her and she drove off sobbing in her crappy car.

At midnight, however, she re-appeared on the doorstep begging for another chance and blaming her ex etc. Somehow I opened the door.

Having then committed I made up my mind to do whatever it would take to now make this work and before I knew it we were selling the house and starting afresh. Despite our high relative status as a couple, however, she was always complaining about people in our “posh” village making her feel inferior. Wherever we seemed to go she had issues with people,something I could never comprehend given she was very well educated and now comparatively well off, with a decent career and I certainly had no problems getting on with people.

In the next house, despite a quick pregnancy, the same behaviour toward the neighbours repeated itself. There were daily dramas and she fell out with every surrounding household. We even received a police visit for one physical attack on a man for parking his car inappropriately. At 7 months pregnant I had to pull her off the back of another woman she took a disliking to.

Despite all the concerns from friends and family, I stood by her and upped my contribution to compensate, literally doing everything in the house and outside and being the sole income driver. I even used my capital to create an online business for her in the hope it would cheer her up and give her a more fulfilling and empowering focus.

Gradually my family were alienated as well. Her parents, however, oddly, became our best friends, travelling from 200 miles away to stay with us virtually every other weekend and accompanying us on holidays. I stopped playing the sports I enjoyed, few of my friends came to the wedding and we focused everything on our new family.

I realise now how absolutely ridiculous this looks. Gradually my control over my own life was being eroded. But you know what they say about hindsight?

Needless to say, I came home from a very stressful client site one day, on my birthday, to an empty house.

She had colluded with her mother, in particular and emptied the accounts and removed everything of value as well as the passwords to all the financials and control over the accounting process. They had forged my signature on various documents and taken the cars.

That was over a decade ago.

I have fought, kicked and scratched with every ounce of everything I have while simultaneously doing everything I can to co-parent and continue to give my amazing children a father. But I’ve been outnumbered, out-gunned and undermined at every step.

Despite the perpetual and, at times, filthy abuse, I have succeeded in being there to influence the children’s most impressionable years and we are seeing those dividends coming to fruition in their performance at school and in their extra-curricular activities.

But, of course, their mother has deployed every trick of control in the alienator’s handbook. Every one, starting with the “non-harassment” gagging clause covertly slipped into my orders through to the “grey rock” refusal to communicate while she ignores the orders, conveniently flipping the ridiculous court support process to make it somehow appear that the controlling narcissist is actually me, despite the clear fact that I have no power in the process whatsoever, not even the guarantee that the simplest of commitments will be honoured, like a plan or a date.

True to form she has inserted herself into key positions within the community she returned to, where they now live, with the help of her extended and complicit family, from a school governor’s role to secretary of the local and influential sports and social club and the partner of the law firm representing her is now “a close personal friend”.

Let this be a salutary lesson to anyone setting up home with a partner. Whether or not you buy into narcissism theories, consider at least that there are two forms of aggression:

  • the active and overt kind (shouty, ranty and worse)
  • the passive aggressive kind (controlling, manipulative, lying).

If there’s a lot of either in your relationship and I mean EITHER, then you both have an issue and need help.

Do not introduce children into a relationship where control is an issue…or quite soon you’ll find you have none at all. That is a terrifying place to be, most especially for your children as these people will transfer their issues onto your children.

Parental alienation its all about control.

Having not heard a thing from my beloved children for too long, caught tight in her abusive clutches, I certainly understand that now.

Yet I can do nothing, it seems, to seize any sort of balanced parental control back, other than to decide what happens to me. And that is a terrifying position for our children to be placed in by the impotence of our legal and family support systems.


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We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. Contact us for more details.

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made.

The Peace Not Pas Team

Mental health problems continue to be a growing public health concern. The aim of the following paragraphs is to explore the current statistics associated with mental health and it’s impact on adults and children alike and also highlight mental health’s inextricable link with parental alienation.

According to the 2013 Global Burden of Disease study, the predominant mental health problem worldwide was identified as being depression, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder [1].

Depressive disorders also contribute to the burden of suicide and heart disease on mortality and disability; they both have a direct and an indirect impact on the length and quality of life [2].

Traumatic experiences were found to be associated with lone households, with households containing a lone adult under the age of 60 and households with no children having the highest rates of traumatic experience (39.2%) and PTSD (10.8%) [3]. With this statistic in mind lets consider Kielty’s 2006 study at the University of East Anglia; Kielty’s study identified that in terms of post separation child custody, 97% of residencies are given to mothers by the family court in the UK.

Suicide and Self Harm

Suicide and self-harm are not viewed as mental health problems. However they are recognised as being actions or behaviours linked to acute mental distress. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2014, a total of 6,122 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 10 and older. This rather tragically equates to approximately one death every two hours. Of these suicides, rather alarmingly 75.6% were male and 24.4% were female [4].

In 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for men under 50 years of age in England and Wales, and for women aged 20–34. The demographic with the highest suicide rate was men aged 45–59 [5]. Once again, this is not at all surprising; as already stated above 97% of residencies are given to mothers. In my humble opinion, I would argue that it does not take a statistician to argue that there is a correlation between the number of residencies given to mothers and men being more at risk of suicide than women. There are also numerous theories out their that argue that men who live by more masculine ideals, are less likely to seek help, as such men view the seeking of help as a sign of weakness.

Our article The Story of a Great Man and a Great Father who Suffered at the Mercy of an Alienating Parent, illustrates the incredibly tragic toll being an alienated parent can result in.

Challenging the Stigma

Statistics inform us that people with severe mental health problems are much more likely to harm themselves than they are to harm others. In 2013, 1,876 suicides were recorded among mental health inpatients in the UK, compared to 51 homicides [6].

A recent analysis found that the rate of violence over a four-year period among those with severe mental health problems was 2.88%, compared to 0.83% in the general population. Rather than mental illness causing violence, the two were found to be connected mainly through the accumulation of other risk factors, such as substance abuse and childhood abuse/neglect [7].

Individuals with mental health problems are more likely to be victims themselves of violence than those individuals without mental health problems [8].

Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health and Abuse and Neglect

The Mental Health Foundation argues that there is considerable scope for increasing interventions that reduce the incidence of children and young people developing mental health problems [9].

Poor attachment, neglect, abuse, lack of quality stimulation, conflict and experiencing family breakdown in childhood can negatively affect future social behaviour, educational outcomes, employment status and mental and physical health [10].

A survey undertaken in 2015 of children attending CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) found that family relationship problems were the single biggest presenting problem [12].

The Millennium Cohort Study informs us that children’s behavioural problems are strongly associated with the quality of their parents’ relationship [13].

A plethora of evidence on the impact of abuse during childhood has shown that it increases the risk of most mental health issues. This includes, in no particular order, PTSD, suicide, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, phobias, substance abuse, eating disorders, and personality disorders [14].

With this paragraph in mind, it is very alarming that the emotional damage inflicted on children due to the nature of parental alienation continues to be unaddressed. For example Anthony Douglas, CEO of Cafcass publicly acknowledges parental alienation as a form of abuse. However as an organisation, Cafcass fails to disseminate this down to front line staff, in terms of training, etc. And Children’s Social Services within the UK remarkably refuse to recognise parental alienation at all as a form of abuse.

At the other end of the scale, it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that children and young people who have good personal and social relationships with family and friends have higher levels of well-being [11].

Relationships

Current available data informs us that there is a clear correlation between being happily married or in a stable relationship and physical and mental health benefits, including lower morbidity and mortality [15].

Statistics acquired  by Relate in 2014 show that more men report having no friends (11%) compared to women (7%), with men having lower satisfaction in their friends than women (73% of men rated their friendships as good or very good, compared to 81% of women) [16].

Digital Technologies

Technology has at an astounding speed, become a fundamental part of our modern day-to-day life. As such it is not surprising that people have embraced technology in seeking out advice and ways of managing their mental health. The Aviva Health Check Report conducted in 2015 showed that 63% of those surveyed in the UK utilise the internet when seeking how best to manage a condition or illness, be it physical or mental [17].

In relation to the above point we now have an Apps Download Page with links to apps that some individuals may find useful in managing their anxiety and depression.

The Financial Cost of Mental Health

According to the Chief Medical Officer’s report from 2013, it was estimated that the wider costs of mental health problems to the UK economy are £70–100 billion per year [18].

Conclusion

We have come a long way in recent years in bringing the discussion of mental health into the public domain. It is still improving, but as a psychiatric nurse I believe we can do better in normalising and discussing mental health more openly, such as we do with physical health.

Absolutely anyone can be affected by mental health issues. With regards to my own personal circumstances I am an alienated parent, a psychiatric nurse and someone that suffers from depression. And as such I can clearly see from numerous perspectives the correlation between being an alienated parent and the very high risk of experiencing mental health issues.

The discussion and recognition of mental health in the public domain has increased and improved. However there still continues to be no official recognition of parental alienation as a form of abuse, nor any kind of official support for those that are targeted by the abuser. And until such a time, all of us that are effected by parental alienation must continue fighting, while supporting one another.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel that.” Robin Williams, 1951-2014.

btg dad


References

  1. Vos, T., Barber, RM., Bell, B., Bertozzi-Villa, A., Biryukov, S., Bolliger, I., …Murray, CJ., (2013). Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990-2013: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease study. The Lancet, 386(9995), 743–800.
  2. Ferrari, A.J., Charlson, F.J., Norman, R.E., Patten, S.B., Freedman, G., Murray, C.J.L., … & Whiteford, H.A. (2013). Burden of Depressive Disorders by Country, Sex, Age, and Year: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease study 2010. PLOS Medicine, 10(11).
  3. 4. Fear, N.T., Bridges, S., Hatch, S., Hawkins, V., & Wessely, S. (2016). Chapter 4: Post-traumatic stress disorder. In S.McManus, P. Bebbington, R. Jenkins, & T. Brugha (Eds.), Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric
    Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital.
  4. Office of National Statistics (2016). Suicides in the United Kingdom: 2014 Registrations. Retrieved from ons.gov.uk [Accessed 18/05/18].
  5. Office of National Statistics (2016). Suicides in the United Kingdom: 2014 Registrations. Retrieved from ons.gov.uk [Accessed 18/08/18].
  6. University of Manchester. (2015). National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness: Annual Report 2015: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales July 2015. Manchester: University of Manchester.
  7. Van Dorn, R., Volavka, J., & Johnson, N. (2012). Mental disorder and violence: Is there a relationship beyond substance use? Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric
    Epidemiology, 47, 487–503.
  8. Pettitt, B., Greenhead, S., Khalifeh, H., Drennan, V., Hart, T., Hogg, J., … & Moran, P. (2013). At risk, yet dismissed: The criminal victimisation of people with mental health problems. London: Victim Support.
  9. Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K.R., & Walters, E.E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and ageof-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication
  10. Bell, R., Donkin, A., & Marmot, M. (2013). Tackling Structural and Social Issues to Reduce Inequalities in Children’s Outcome in Low and Middle Income Countries.
    Retrieved from instituteofhealthequity.org/projects/unicef-tackling-inequities-in-childrens-outcomes/fullreport-tackling-structural-and-social-issues-to-reduceinequities-in-childrens-outcomes-in-low-to-middleincome-countries.pdf [Accessed 18/05/2018].
  11. NatCen Social Research. (2013). Predicting wellbeing. London: NatCen Social Research. Retrieved from natcen.ac.uk/media/205352/predictors-of-wellbeing.pdf
    [Accessed 18/02/16].
  12. Wolpert, M., & Martin, P. (2015). THRIVE and PbR: Emerging thinking on a new organisational and payment system for CAMHS. New Savoy Partnership Conference, London, 11/02/15.
  13. Garriga, A., & Kiernan, K. (2014). Parents’ relationship quality, mother–child relations and children’s behaviour problems: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Working paper. University of York. Retrieved from york.ac.uk/media/spsw/documents/research-and-publications/Garriga-KiernanWP2014.pdf [Accessed 18/05/2018].
  14. Roberts, R., O’Connor, T., Dunn, J., & Golding, J. (2014). The effects of child sexual abuse in later family life: Mental health, parenting and adjustment of offspring. Child Abuse and Neglect, 28, 525–545.
  15. Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W., & Jones, B.Q. (2008). Is There Something Unique about Marriage? The Relative Impact of Marital Status, Relationship Quality, and Network Social Support on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Mental
    Health. Annals of Behavioural Medicine, 35, 239–244.
  16. Relate. (2014). The Way We Are Now. Retrieved from relate.org.uk/sites/default/files/publication-way-we-arenow-aug2014_1.pdf [Accessed 18/05/18].
  17. Aviva. (2015). The Aviva Health Check UK Report: Autumn 2015. Retrieved from aviva.co.uk/healthcarezone/document-library/files/he/healthcheckukreport2015.pdf
    [Accessed 18/05/18].
  18. Department of Health. (2014). Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013: Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence. Retrieved from gov.
    uk/government/publications/chief-medical-officer-cmoannual-report-public-mental-health [Accessed 18/05/18].

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.

The Peace Not Pas Team

In the previous two posts on the theme of re-unification and re-connection, we showcased some of the expertise of the children’s social work team by focusing on the case study of Will and his son Zac.

Complementing and enabling this work, by helping to remove the legal barriers erected by the alienating parent, was one of our network of McKenzie Friends, a much more cost-effective alternative to using a solicitor and a lot less daunting than representing yourself in court.

In this blog, Amanda outlines the nature of her interaction with Will and his son that paved the way for the reunification of father and son:

I became McKenzie Friend for Will after, disillusioned and around £30k less well off, he found himself needing to apply for enforcement.

He was referred to me and we met so that I could hear what had happened in his case. His 6 year old son Zac was living hundreds of miles away, following separation, and he had literally run out of money to deal with the relentless obstructions that the mother was placing in the way of their relationship.

At our first meeting, I viewed his paperwork and heard the story in his words. I could hear that there were most certainly elements of alienation here. When a parent has to return to Court time and time again, despite Court Orders, that is a big clue and whilst I had no criticism of the work that Solicitors had done for Will and Zac to date, it always concerns me when parents are “forced” to spend tens of thousands just to get Court Orders to spend time with their children with no guarantee of enforcement. Will had the money, and could have continued to pay for representation.

What about all the thousands of parents that don’t. Who helps them?

In any case, Will had decided that he wanted to give self-representation a go. And so we made the application, and forged onwards.  A good Mckenzie Friend will give loads of support and advice for free, which when dealing with high conflict or alienation cases, can be invaluable, and so we talked often and at length about what to do and what we needed to be asking the Court for.

It was very clear from the outset that the mother in this case was not going to comply with the existing Order, and we immediately asked the Court to appoint a Guardian under Rule 16.4, which they did. This then led to various interventions, including a third party organisation called Core Assets, attempting to work with the family.

They made a few attempts to work with Zac, whom the mother said had suddenly become afraid of his father (this had been said before), due to a whole host of allegations which included things that had happened when the child was very young (and had previously been dealt with by the Court and Cafcass), and new allegations, such as ridiculous assertions that Will had eaten the child’s food, and had returned him muddy and wet.

shadow

It was observed by Core Assets that the mother would not leave Zac for them to hand him over to Will, and at one stage she was overheard telling him quietly that he “didn’t have to go.”

This is something we see time and again, the coercive control and manipulation of little minds.

At one very memorable meeting, with the Guardian, Core Assets, the mother and the mother’s partner, the hostility towards the father was palpable from both the mother and her new partner and it was at that stage that Core Assets said that there was nothing they could do, that the child was simply too anxious and mother too implacably hostile to work with.

At the next hearing, we made a Part 25 Application, for a report by a psychologist, and were lucky enough to get our preferred expert. Navigating such applications as a litigant in person is never easy, and we needed the support of both the Guardian and the mother’s solicitor to get this done and again I cannot stress as the financial burden was Will’s alone. Had he not had those available funds (in the region of £6,000) I am unsure that he would be spending time with Zac to this day.

The expert report was amazingly detailed and clearly identified alienation, along with a recommended action plan which included reunification work which then paved the way for us to further propose an Independent Social Worker for  to carry out the action plan.

Our preference was to use Alison (who features earlier), knowing how experienced she was in cases like this, but the Guardian was cautious due to the distance between her and the case. Again, the father’s willingness and ability to fund this work and cover the majority of the cost ensured that he secured Alison’s support.

As a McKenzie Friend, this case was one of my longest running, with proceedings from Enforcement Application to conclusion lasting just over 2 years. I continue to support Will, and he will call for advice, guidance and coaching on all aspects of co-parenting which I give for free, and currently things continue to go well for him and Zac.

I certainly hope we never see a return to Court.

I must stress that there are many, many parents that I work for as a McKenzie Friend who do not have the money to pay for my minimal fees, let alone a solicitor or a barrister and for whom the costs associated with a Part 25 Application such as the one Will made would be completely unaffordable.

It is one of the absolute scandals of our age that people are denied justice and a relationship with their children as a consequence of financial hardship, especially when this has been caused by the divorce process itself.

We hope we are able to provide a much more affordable and cost-effective alternative to trying to deal with alienation all alone.


Please Note:  The issues we deal with in this blog are distressing. If you feel you need support over and above the resources available, we will gladly refer readers to professionals within our team, such as those mentioned, who can help deliver results and who 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 you will observe.

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.

The Peace Not Pas Team

By definition, with the obvious exception of misogynistic, sexist bigots, we should all be feminists. I consider myself a feminist, why wouldn’t I? The definition of feminism is plain and simple; the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

With the above in mind, there is absolutely no excuse for any kind of discrimination. Morally, discrimination is wrong. And we are fortunate enough that we live in an age whereby discrimination is viewed by the law as illegal.

The Equality Act 2010 aims to to protect certain factors from discrimination; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and last but by no means least sexual orientation. The above Act states that it is illegal within the UK to discriminate anyone on the basis of any of the above protective factors.

As a society, here in the UK we have come a long way since the days of Emily Pankhurst. We have also come a long way since the first official UK Gay Pride Rally was held in London on 1st July 1972. I also believe as a society much progress has been made in breaking down discriminatory behaviours and attitudes regarding the other seven protective factors.

On a personal level, I am from London. And am proud to be a product of its rich and diverse multi-cultural heritage. A city where an individual can originally be from any part of the world, but still be considered a ‘Londoner.’ I was a child of the eighties; I attended a local school, where there were plenty of other children from foreign backgrounds. I’m not going to lie, I most certainly did hear racist comments at school. But these comments, in my opinion were learnt behaviours from racist parents. None of us are born racist.

With regards to any one of the aforementioned protective factors, discriminatory behaviours are simply a reflection of an individuals upbringing. We are not born with any inherent discriminatory beliefs, we learn them, from those around us during our formative years.

As much as we have come a long way, I accept that discrimination still occurs in everyday life.

So where am I going with this? Allow me to explain; I never imagined I would be subjected to the level of discrimination I have experienced over the last two years.

For those unfamiliar with our blog, I am what is known as an alienated parent. At time of writing I have not had any meaningful contact with my children since the summer of 2016. My children’s mother has denied me contact with them and has effectively brainwashed them against me. This is known as parental alienation. For a full explanation of this form of abuse see here.

During this period of alienation and contact detail, my children’s mother has breached numerous court orders that promote or would result in contact with me their father. My children’s mother is the resident parent only by virtue of the fact she changed the locks while I was out.

As Peace Not Pas, we are proud of the gender neutral stance we take. Parental alienation can happen to mothers too. It doesn’t just happen to fathers. Our approach and overall ethos is one of equality. We do not exclude anyone. We provide support for absolutely anyone that we feel has genuinely been negatively effected by parental alienation.

Just because statistically there are more alienated fathers than mothers does not equate to the fact women are inherently more evil than men.

However, this begs the question, why are there more alienated fathers than mothers. Is it due to socio-economic reasons? Or is it due to parental stereotyping? For example, could it be argued that modern day society still continues to view the mother as being the more important parent?

In terms of human rights, Article 24(3) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights states that:

“Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his/her parents, unless contrary to his/her interests.”

However despite the above statement, lets look at the following statistics:

  • 96% of all child arrangements order applications are made by fathers (University of Warwick).
  • 97% of residencies are given to mothers (University of East Anglia).
  • 50% of court orders are broken (University of East Anglia).
  • Just 1.2% of applications for enforcement of court orders are successful (Ministry of Justice).

In addition to the above statistics, the graph below shows the huge difference between mothers and fathers regarding lone parent families in the UK.

StatsOneParentHouseholds_PeaceNotPas

The following is an anecdotal piece of evidence I would like to disclose; in terms of the discrimination I have personally experienced. This is just one incident of many I have experienced from services over the last two years of my own personal battle against parental alienation.

I once had a meeting with a social worker who is no longer involved in my case. I stated to this social worker that in the long term I was aiming for 50/50 custody. Her response was “well that’s unrealistic.” I then asked her why she felt this aim of mine was unrealistic. She replied “well the majority of my case load is single parent families and the majority of the resident parents are mothers.” I then stated “well okay, but what has this statistic of yours got to do with my case. Surely you are not saying that my aim of 50/50 parenting is unrealistic because the majority of the resident parents on your case load are mothers?” Her response was simply “Well that’s how it is.”

In my opinion the social worker’s comments were clearly discriminatory.

So considering all of the above, where is the equality?

Joss Whedan, the American screenwriter, executive producer, film and television director and actor, once said the following. “Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality.” 

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.

The Peace Not Pas Team

The third post in a series by a father in a shared parenting situation, complicated by hundreds of miles and a hostile ex and new partner.

He gives a valuable insight into another form of alienation, the use of divide and conquer tactics to manipulate siblings into abusing the target parent.

The impact on the children is disturbing and the father’s frustrations are not uncommon. But they are a difficult read:

If you have seen my previous 2 posts you will know that I have experienced persistent acrimony, sometimes even violent abuse but, regardless, I have been fighting to stop alienation activities when my children go to their mum’s.

My 14 year old has unfortunately found the situation untenable so has been finding reasons to not go to her mum’s.

I managed to get her therapy last year to help process her feelings.

That has helped her a lot. I think she has definitely demonstrated characteristics of someone who has been subject to the effects of someone undermining her core relationships, one of the key features of parental alienation.

The thing is, I sincerely don’t believe I am in the wrong and am not trying to sever her relationships with her absent mother. But the behaviour of the adults in the other household has had the result of making everything at her mum’s seem as terrible to her. And that isn’t healthy.

Yesterday after seeing her therapist she said she wouldn’t be going to her mum’s very much any more. If I was the parent and person her mum claims I am then I would be really pleased. If I am absolutely honest a little part of me is actually relieved. I really want her to have a relationship with her mum. But if she is making that impossible at least I feel like the therapist has given her the tools to cope to an extent and whilst she can still be hurt she is protected, to an extent.

But at a deeper level I feel a little numb inside.

Now, our 2 eldest children hate one of their parents. Different parents, granted, but they now claim to hate them. Its sad and it means as parents we have got something very wrong, we have failed them and I, for one, feel really guilty.

I will admit after the last visit, such was the mess and turmoil, I wanted to go back to court to sort it out. But in the end I decided that this would be a lot of expense to not achieve much, with no guarantees, such is the system.

I genuinely want my 14 year old to have the chance to start to repair her relationship with her mum before its too late. But instead because I have no faith in anybody in the system I have tried to be objective and looked at the situation and decided its not healthy.

Therefore I am just letting her decide for herself.

I have effectively stopped the pressure from my end to see her mum. I say that knowing that many who will read this will be alienated from their children. I almost feel as if I have betrayed you and for that I apologise.

My other concern is that my 6 year old will now be fully exposed to the tactics as she will have no backup from her big sister. My ex will be angry at me. She will take it out on a little girl who will not be so resilient and I will not have a clue what’s going on.

Not even the school is communicating with me properly about my children now. So I am still very concerned that she will be forced away as well.

I also miss my 15 year old who lives with her mother, terribly. I’ve not seen her in over 2 and half years now. For me, as with other alienated parents, it’s like a death with no closure as I know she is out there hating me and thinking all these about me that are not true.

I never really cared what anybody thought of me except for my kids.

And now I know this fact is being used to abuse me/us.

It’s a constant emotional storm.

But I must persist and find a way to deal with all of this because tragically I feel that none of the so-called professional services are equipped to help. So I seem to have no choice but to take the abuse and trudge on through the hostile barrage, being frozen out, gradually, all but alone bar my teenage daughter who should be sheltered not exposed to this relentless storm.


Please Note: We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made. We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We are always looking for guest writers. Please note, your writing will always remain your own intellectual property, even if it’s published on this site.

Please Contact us for more details. 

The Peace Not Pas Team

My husband and I are alienated grandparents. We have both been denied contact with our beloved grandchildren since 2016.. We are aged eighty and seventy nine respectively. So we are not young grandparents.

So as if being alienated from our beautiful, special grandchildren we love was not bad enough and knowing that the alienation can go on for many years yet, what is far worse for me, are the thoughts that dominate my mind…

  • What if we never get to see our beautiful grandchildren ever again?
  • What if we never get to hug them again?
  • What if they never know how much we loved them and missed them and prayed that this nightmare would soon be over?
  • What if they never get to hear the truth after having been told so many lies about us, by their mother? How will they feel?
  • What if in the end, we do not get to hug each other or get to share the love we have for each other ever again? What will it do to them? How will they feel when they are adults? Will they think of all the years we will have missed of being together with them?

This is akin to a horrible social disease; because that is what parental alienation is; a social disease, and it destroys so many many lives.

Predominantly the lives of the children.

Will anyone ever find a solution for this disease? Will it  ever be seen for what it is? It is child abuse, plain and simple. When will the perpetrators of parental alienation be held accountable for their  crimes?


Please Note: We will gladly refer individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. However we pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made.

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.

The Peace Not Pas Team

In this post I would like to explore the subjects of truth, mental health, suicide, music and of course parental alienation.
a
I have recently been listening to Chris Cornell’s 2015 album Higher Truth. And for me, the stand out track from the album is the eighth track of the same name, Higher Truth.
a
Chris Cornell may be known to most music fans as the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave. However the above mentioned album is a different kind of platform for Cornell’s mind-blowing four octave spanning voice. This album allows his voice to simply be laid bare, and I believe the album is also a platform for him to lay bare his emotions.
a
I am no fan of celebrity culture; I can’t abide it and further discussion of this humble and somewhat trivial opinion of mine is beyond the remit of this post. Suffice to say Cornell was unwillingly a part of this celebrity culture. However it is through the lens of this celebrity culture, that in my opinion Cornell came across as a sensitive and kind soul. And his musical career showed him to be the incredibly talented singer, songwriter and lyricist that he was.

“Fame, fortune and success, however each of us may quantify it, does not equate to happiness. Mental illness, is mental illness.”

Cornell struggled with depression for much of his life. I believe someone like Cornell and his struggles with his own mental health should act as a lesson to those people out there that either dismiss or misunderstand mental health issues. Fame, fortune and success, however each of us may quantify it, does not equate to happiness. Mental illness, is mental illness. Tragically Cornell took his own life in May 2017.
a
Some of you may be thinking at this point what the hell have the above paragraphs got to do with parental alienation? Well, there are several connections; please bear with me.
a
I would like to start by exploring the concept of truth.
a
In the English Oxford Dictionary the word truth is defined as the quality or state of being true; that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. However as anyone effected by parental alienation will no doubt understand, this particular form of abuse can only be carried out with an absence of truth. In fact it requires an intricate web of lies and deceit.
a
As an alienated parents, step-parents, grandparents, many of us find ourselves fighting a flawed system that simply chooses to either not believe the truth or turn away from it.

“Many of the stories we and our growing community share on here could literally be taken from the pages of a bestselling psychological thriller.”

Many of us choose to hide our own experiences of parental alienation from others because we strongly believe others would not believe such horror stories. For those of you that are familiar with our blog, you will understand that many of the stories told on here would simply be unbelievable to anyone unaware of parental alienation. Many of the stories we and our growing community share on here could literally be taken from the pages of a bestselling psychological thriller. However, if only they were fiction; these stories are real. They are our stories…
a
Our stories are our lives. Lives that are full of pain and heartache. Pain and heartache that we, as a community of alienated parents, step-parents, grandparents, have to face every single day.
a
Regarding mental health, by our very nature as human beings, some of us are more mentally resilient than others. However nothing can prepare you for the emotional pain caused by parental alienation. As alienated parents, step-parents, grandparents we experience a multitude of emotions; guilt, sadness and heartache, to name just a few. Invariably these feelings will have a negative impact on our mental well-being. Resulting, all too often in anxiety, depression and other associated mental health issues.
a
As is the case with parental alienation, there still remains in some sections of our so called modern society, a stigma around mental health. The stigma around mental health is improving, but there still remains somewhat of a stigma.
a
Here in the UK, the Office of National Statistics reports that since around 1990 men have been at least three times as vulnerable to death from suicide as women. This is attributed to a complex set of reasons. Just two factors are the increasing number of family breakdowns that result in more men living alone. Another factor is the social expectations regarding masculinity.
a
The greatest risk group regarding male suicide is unsurprisingly among divorced men. The Office of National Statistics stated that in 2015 men were almost three times more likely to end their lives than men who were married or in a civil partnership. According to research by The Samaritans, divorce increases the risk of suicide because the individual becomes disconnected from their domestic relationship and social norms. Divorce, and separation from children should be viewed as a critical public health issue. Divorced men are 39% more likely to commit suicide when they have no contact with their children. Does this ring any bells with anyone regarding the consequences of parental alienation? It certainly does with me.
a
See our heart-wrenching post The Story of a Great Man and a Great Father who Suffered at the Mercy of an Alienating Parent. This article highlights the tragic consequences that can result from parental alienation and it’s impact on the mental health of the targeted parent.

“While the truth remains hidden away, the abuse continues.”

Returning to the subject of truth, due to the complex dynamics of parental alienation the truth is simply hidden away. It is the current flawed system’s complete lack of professional curiosity from it’s so-called professionals in seeking out the truth. While the truth remains hidden away, the abuse continues.

And it is Cornell’s above named track that is currently resonating with me, particularly in the context of parental alienation and the hiding of truth. The Higher Truth contains the following lyrics “you can set the world on fire, yeah if you want, it isn’t hard.” I interpret this line as a metaphor for the ease with which an alienating parent can cause such chaos and pain to the lives of those effected by their abhorrent actions.

The lyrics that follow are “I won’t be there looking on, to see the trail of lies, as you fall.” To me, this line represents the idea that at the centre of the alienating and abusive actions of the targeting parent are lies and deceit. And that as much as I myself am not witness to the pouring out of such falsities, I am also not witness to what is now happening; the crumbling of the thin veneer of lies that formerly protected the abuser from being challenged by anyone. Their veneer is slowly falling away, and will undoubtedly I believe, result in the downfall of the targeting parent’s false narrative.

Other lyrics that follow are “make a promise if you can, you know, you’ll only break it, make a promise if you dare, go on right ahead, and let’s see where it gets you.” To me these lines represent the number of false promises a targeting parent will make. Promises that the alienating parent is making simply to play lip service to the court, enablers, services etc. Promises that the alienating parent so obviously knows they will break, simply to serve their own interests.

However, as alienated parents, step-parents and grandparents, in each of our respective situations, we can at least walk with our heads held high.

Why?

Because we know the higher truth.

“Make a promise if you dare, go on right ahead, and let’s see where it gets you, but I’ll take the truth. The higher truth.” Chris Cornell, 2015.

btg dad


Please Note: This blog deals with extremely distressing issues. It is our aim to provide victims of alienation with a voice and trusted professionals with an opportunity to suggest ways to address the challenges this community faces. Should readers need additional support, we will gladly refer readers to trusted 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.

The following is the story of an alienated parent. All names have been changed.


John has now spent almost two years fighting to see his children. John, his parents and his partner have spent, between them, in excess of £25,000 in legal fees.

The following is an interview with John regarding his involvement with Norfolk Children’s Social Services, here in the UK..

Please note all names have been anonymised. No statements attributed to professionals, nor information disclosed in the following paragraphs is in breach of any confidentiality.


What was the intended role of Norfolk Children’s Social Services in the management of your case?

Well prior to them coming in on the case, Cafcass had been managing the case. But it was Cafcass that referred the case to Children’s Social Services. I rather naively assumed Children’s Social Services would help me be reconciled with my children.

How did they approach the case upon their initial involvement?

Initially I was visited by two social workers that came into my home and spoke to me. They were gathering evidence to write an initial assessment report. During this visit I made the statement that I felt my ex was presenting with certain personality traits indicative of Munchhausen-by-proxy. The social worker that was taking notes simply nodded and carried on taking notes. He did not inquire further as to why I held this belief. Nor did he ask for any context regarding my statement; for example, he chose to not ask me from where I was drawing on such knowledge to make such a statement. He showed no evidence of any professional curiosity. Just to clarify, I am an experienced psychiatric nurse, I work on a psychiatric assessment ward, I know what I’m talking about with things like this.

The following week I received a social worker assessment co-written by the two social workers I talked about above. And there was one particular sentence he had written that absolutely made my blood boil. He wrote “Mr X has diagnosed Mrs X with Munchhausen-by-proxy. This is very alarming on the part of Mr X.” I thought to myself, what a completely biased, un-evidenced opinion on what I had actually stated.

Did you raise this matter?

I did, I put it in as a complaint at a later stage with several other issues I had with the service provided and the lack of safeguarding of children.

Did you get a response?

Yes I did get a response. I received a letter stating the following: “we have been unable to find evidence of unprofessional conduct on the part of the Social Workers.”

Okay. What happened next with Norfolk Children’s Social Services involvement?

Well following the above assessment the case was allocated a lead social worker from Children’s Social Services. She also came to visit me at my home, along with an assistant practitioner. One of the things the social worker told me was that she would be expecting within three months a change in my ex’s current approach. I politely pointed out to her that to me her view was a somewhat naive judgement to make, seeing as I had been battling to have some kind of contact with my children for so long and had got nowhere due to my ex’s non-compliance and complete refusal to engage in any court directions or orders that promote or result in contact.

What was the social worker’s reply to your comment?

She told me “you shouldn’t be so negative.”

So what were the results of Norfolk Children’s Social Services being involved?

Well at some point we had a Children in Need meeting. Two social workers and an assistant practitioner from Children’s Social Services were there. Also in attendance were the Children’s Guardian, who is actually a social worker, and a Deputy Service Manager, both of them from Cafcass. There were several other so-called professionals in attendance. Most of them had never met my children. And most of them were not permitted to read a psychological assessment. The findings of this psychological assessment, particularly with regards to my ex, gives a clear indication and explanation as to my ex’s non-engagement and continuing contact denial. At the end of the meeting all the attendees took part in a vote regarding the severity of the children’s current safeguarding issues.

However, you said that not all attendees were permitted access to all of the evidence, for example the psychological assessment. So how does that work in terms of the professionals making judgements about your children, but they are not permitted access to all the evidence?

I know it’s absolutely bonkers isn’t it. There were people, these so-called professionals that were making judgements about children they either barely knew or had not met, and were also not permitted to read an integral piece of evidence that raised several safeguarding issues regarding the relationship between my children and their mother.

The thing is that ironically I now have a court order permitting any attendees at any future Children in Need meetings, access to the aforementioned psychological assessment.

So what happened at this Children in Need Meeting?

So at the beginning of the meeting I asked the lead social worker from Children’s Social Services if they recognised parental alienation as a form of abuse. As I asked this I noticed the two representatives from Cafcass appearing to avoid eye contact with as many people as possible, so as to minimise the risk of being brought into this contentious issue.

The lead social worker (from Children’s Social Services) did not reply, but the assistant practitioner did. He asked me “what do you actually mean by parental alienation?” So obviously I told him. Their answer was no, they do not recognise it as a form of abuse. In response to this I looked across at the Deputy Service Manager from Cafcass. I got the impression he was trying to keep a low profile. I got the feeling he was probably thinking “shit! Any minute now he’s gonna ask me a question about parental alienation!” So I did, I asked him to clarify, for the benefit of the rest of the room; “does Cafcass as an organisation recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse?” All he could bring himself to do was a somewhat lacklustre nod of the head. I then asked him if Cafcass viewed this case as a case of parental alienation. He reluctantly nodded once again. The only thing he appeared to be putting any effort into was trying to avoid eye contact with as many people there as possible.

How did the rest of the meeting go?

Well at some point in the meeting we got onto the subject that my ex was at that time insisting on pursuing a diagnosis of autism for my oldest boy. Which in my opinion was and still is completely unfounded and I strongly believe is driven by a financial and non-contact incentive on the part of my ex.

So in this meeting I explained to all present that my son never presented to me as showing any signs of autism. I then said, words to the effect of “if anything he merely presents with some schizoid traits.” (As a mental health nurse, what I meant in layman’s terms was that he can have interpersonal communication difficulties; this is completely different to suggesting he has autism). The assistant practitioner from Children’s Social Services who was sat to my left rolled his eyes in response to my last comment. So there and then I politely asked him why he had chosen to display such a negative non-verbal reaction in response to my last comment.

What was his response to you?

He then said, in front of everyone “oh my God! I can’t believe a dad would call their son a schizoid!” And the the thing that really annoyed me was that he said it with such misplaced conviction and judgement against me as a parent. I responded by informing him that someone can’t be a schizoid. I asked him if he knew what schizoid meant. He didn’t reply, obviously. His lack of response clearly told me that he did not know what the word schizoid meant. I then asked him what made him say such a thing if he doesn’t know what the word meant. He then told me that when he was at school him and his friends used to hear that term being used as an insult. I informed him that I was not using it as an insult. I also informed him that I was disappointed that he made the unfortunate assumption that I was using the term in a negative way. I explained to him that I am very passionate about challenging the stigma around mental health and comments such as the one he had just made was not appropriate.

So what was the outcome of the meeting?

My ex and I agreed to try mediation again. And another meeting was planned.

Was that it?

Basically yeah.

So was any progress made with the planned mediation sessions?

Well I attended my session. In the meeting my ex managed to orchestrate me into being the one to organise the mediation service. And as such I end up attending first. I paid £120 (that’s 165 US dollars!) to sit in front of a mediator for twenty minutes. Then at the end of my session they inform me that they will be contacting Ms X and inviting her in to attend her initial meeting.

Did she attend?

Of course she didn’t. She’s pulled this trick before. It’s a power game to her. It appears to me she just plays these tactics to force me into parting with money when she knows full well I have ongoing financial difficulties.

How did Norfolk Children’s Social Services react to her non compliance with the so-called plan?

Not much. They don’t even see it as a continuation of her almost two year contact denial and alienating behaviours. She told them she couldn’t afford to pay for the mediation session. And they don’t challenge her at all.

It sounds like from what you are saying of your story that such professionals take a very biased approach in favour of the resident parent.

Oh, absolutely. First of all Children’s Social Services do not recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse. So it is a complete waste of time even talking to them about it. They just close ranks and shut you down. They either simply do not see, or simply choose to ignore the fact that my ex is literally brainwashing my children against me, to the point that she is determined to erase me from my children’s lives. This is despite my ex openly stating to all professionals involved that she will not co-parent of facilitate contact between my children and I. It is absolute madness. The whole system is flawed.

During one conversation I had with the lead social worker and assistant practitioner after a failed contact visit, I stated that in the long term I was aiming for 50/50 custody. The lead social worker remarkably responded to me by saying “well that’s unrealistic.”

What did you say to such a remark?

Well I then asked her why. She replied “well the majority of my case load is single parent families and the majority of the resident parents are mothers.”

What did you say to that?

So I responded by saying “well okay, but what has this statistic of yours got to do with my case. Surely you are not saying that my aim of 50/50 parenting is unrealistic because the majority of the resident parents on your case load are mothers?”

What did she say to that?

“Well that’s how it is.”

Did she really say that?

Yes she did. As a statement from a professional, I found that statement shockingly biased. But she clearly thought nothing of the sort!

On another occasion my mum and I were driving past the former matrimonial home. We saw my son on his way back from school about to enter the home. So my mum and I pulled over and said hello to my son. We both said hello in an appropriate and soft manner. We both told him how much we loved him. He pretty much ignored us and went into the house. We subsequently drove off.

A short while later I received a telephone call from the lead social worker. The actions of my mother and I had clearly been observed by my ex who I can only guess immediately telephoned the lead social worker and gave her, her version of events. The lead social worker then proceeded to have a go at me for pulling over and saying hello to my son. She asked me if I had done it to prove a point to her!

So what was the outcome of Norfolk Children’s Social Services involvement?

Well, they managed to get an arranged visit for me to see my children, under particular conditions, all orchestrated by my ex.

What happened?

I managed to see my children for five minutes. Their mother and the lead social worker were present.

How did that go?

The children appeared. Now bearing in mind I had not seen my children at that point for almost two years, inside I was understandably feeling a multitude of emotions. At that point the social worker thought it would be a good idea to say to me, “do you think they’ve got a lot bigger John, since you last saw them?”

“No shit Sherlock!” I thought to myself in response to her statement. I then also asked myself, was that really the most appropriate comment she could have made at that point in time?

My middle son then rather stoically informed me that none of them wanted to see me ever again. I told them I loved them, and that I was still there daddy. Within minutes they were gone again.

What happened next?

As soon as the children left, the social worker said “well that was progress.” As she said this I was still processing the fact that I had been told by one of my children that none of them wanted to see me ever again.

Have you had any further contact with your children since?

Well I was supposed to have weekly planned visits to see them. However their mother is unable to instruct them to come and see me. The visits are now no longer taking part due to my ex terminating the visits.

So what is the current involvement of Norfolk Children’s Social Services?

They are no longer involved. They closed the case.

How come, what was their rationale?

Well they stated that the children are no longer Children in Need. In layman’s terms, Children’s Social Services are stating that my children are no longer in need of help or support from services to prevent significant or further harm to their health or development.

They also remarkably stated that they do not believe the children are being emotionally abused by their mother. They also stated that they are not a mediating service. And as such, they told me in a very matter-of-fact email that there is no longer a role for them.

But what had changed in terms of the children’s well-being for them to close the case?

Well, my point exactly. I was so frustrated. Children’s Social Services had come in to this case, treated me with little to no respect, completely misunderstood the dynamics of the case and had provided no benefit to the children at all.

Did you take any further action?

Well prior to me even knowing that they were planning to close the case I asked the lead social worker and their manager for answers to the following questions:

1) As a non-mental health practitioner do you not accept or understand that symptoms of emotional abuse would not be correctly identified by non-mental health practitioners?

2) Are my children no longer Children in Need? If not, what has happened to determine this since Judge ######## stated that he would like to argue with the social worker that decides otherwise? What has changed? If anything, isn’t there more evidence of non-compliance from Mrs X?

3) A key part of social work is upholding social justice. Have you challenged the injustice of these children being denied a relationship with me their father? And if so what were your results?

4) Another key part of social work is the continuous aim to improve your knowledge. However each time I have attempted to bring in aspects of mental health I have been dismissed, or told to stop. Why is this?

5) You state that Norfolk Children’s Social Services own findings are not the same as those of the psychological assessment. Were the findings of Norfolk Children’s Social Services arrived at by the use of the same psychometric framework used by the author of the psychological assessment?

6) You did on numerous occasions request me to stop bringing the subject of mental health up for discussion in the context of this case. However if you were requesting this of me, I would like to know how Norfolk Children’s Social Services have arrived at the conclusion that they do not agree with the findings of the recent psychological assessment if we were not to be discussing mental health as part of this case?

3) Is the lack of response from Norfolk Children’s Social Services regarding my recent emails due to the inability or unwillingness to answer my questions for fear of some kind of accountability and/or litigation, or is it simply a lack of respect and courtesy for someone that is simply fighting to be a part of his children’s lives?

Have you had a response yet?

About a week and a half later I received a letter from the Complaints Department:

Dear Mr X

Thank you for correspondence regarding the involvement of Children’s Social Services with your children.

I am aware that this matter has been before the court recently as part of a private law case and the Judge requested a Section 37 report which has been completed and shared with the court. Your children’s case is now closed to Children’s Services, though should the Judge require any further information they will, of course, be happy to provide this.

I have been unable to find evidence of unprofessional conduct on the part of the Social Worker or the Team Manager and suggest you may wish to obtain legal advice to ensure your concerns are addressed within the court arena. I also suggest if you remain dissatisfied you may wish to contact the Local Government Ombudsman.

Whilst I understand this will not be the response you were hoping for, I am unable to provide any further information in relation to this matter.

Yours Sincerely

Complaints Case Manager

Complaints Team

So obviously they did not answer your questions. Did you take any further action?

Yeah, I certainly did. I contacted the Complaints Manager with the following email:

Hi Complaints Manager,

I am emailing you in relation to your letter in response to my complaint below.

I am very disappointed and frustrated that you have chosen not to provide an answer to any of the questions below. I did highlight the fact to you that these questions were asked when the case was open, but the named professionals chose not to answer them; hence the complaint.

However you are now choosing to not provide me with any answers to the questions below.

I do not think it unreasonable that I request you provide me with some rationale as to why you have chosen not to provide me with any answers to any of the questions below.

Regards

X

Any reply yet?

Yes.

And what was that?

Yet another letter, simply referring me back to the first letter I had initially received from the Complaints Manager. Completely unbelievable really.

What’s next for you?

Well I have sought legal advice and I will certainly be acting on that advice soon. And in addition to that my case is currently being reviewed by the reconciliation specialist that you and your group referred me to. I am not going to give up. Norfolk Children’s Social Services have failed my children.