29/09/2009 – ref med: 011
Dear Sir / Madame
I am contacting your organisation on behalf of Real Fathers for Justice, we are a Direct Action Parenting Group, raising public awareness and applying pressure for long overdue changes in UK Family Law.
As cited in media release ref: 009 I touched upon the emotional effects of parental separation and how if recognised this emotional trauma should be classed as emotional abuse, I will in due course create a fully referenced Parental Alienation report for N.Ireland. The term I speak of is parental alienation syndrome first highlight by Dr Richard Gardener in 1985 and defined as:
- "Is a child's campaign of denigration against a parent that results from 'programming ("brainwashing") of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent [and] self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent's campaign."
Although this is not recognised in the UK as a syndrome the features of his work have been cited by UK lawful and social institutions as far as the High Court's (Re: C (Children) (2002) CA (Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, Thorpe LJ, Kay LJ) 20/2/2002 COURT OF APPEAL REF: 2001/1642. (Great Britain))
This topic area is by no means a small one but I will attempt to break it down to its simplest form. For a comparative look at parental alienation we can firstly compare it to Stockholm syndrome, this is where hostages undergo a psychological response to their kidnapper and show loyalty to the kidnapper regardless of the danger they are in. When compared to children a child has already through no fault lost one of its parents and will do or say anything so that it does not lose the remaining parent
There is alienation occurring in all walks of life be it racially, gender, political or community. These alienations are recognised and so to should parental alienation as the process of alienating a child from one of its parents is no different than alienating social groups.
The psychological change of parental alienation is cured in today's children by the construction and promotion of child contact centres in where a child and father gradually build up a relationship again, this type of emotional abuse is recognised by the courts when they rule that a contact centre is necessary in terms of the length of time the case takes to close, it is further heightened by the failure of our lawful and social process in terms of delay in terms of reporting the welfare of the child and in terms of not enforcing child contact orders.
From my research I can define that parental alienation can happen inadvertently or purposely, regardless of which way it happens it is emotional abuse and if it will ever be considered a syndrome in the UK will most certainly take emotional abuse to the top of child abuse figures.
In most cases of parental alienation it is the mother who is perpetrating this abuse, it begins the very moment that a parent takes a decision as an adult as the child protector to stop the child from having contact with one of its parents for no due reason. This inadvertent alienation can be seen in the example below:
- Child has loving relationship with both parents
- Mother is not happy with the father and with no respect to the safety or welfare of the child withholds contact
- It could take anywhere from 8 months onwards to re-establish contact
- Father wins contact as he has done no wrong by the child
- When this time period has elapsed because of the time scale the parent is offered contact in a contact centre, or supervised contact by the other family
- The reason: the child has been emotionally and psychologically damaged by the mother withholding contact and can only be cured by gradually allowing the father contact
- The child has been emotionally and psychologically abused by the mother and the state in being allowed to withhold contact of the father for such a long period of time without due cause.
This is happening to thousands of children in N.Ireland and is a growing problem as the assembly now have taken steps to create more child contact centres. To further this is a live example of this from a RFFJ member:
- Father had a 3 year loving bond with his child and was the main carer before and after separation
- Mother stops contact with false allegations and is allowed to do so lawfully
- Mother says 9 months after stopping contact through solicitor that she offered contact with the father and in the same letter also calls the father the alleged father, this defies belief as why would she offer contact to someone who is not the child's father
- Mother lies to social services that she offered contact with the father, social services are aware that she has lied
- Mother then tells social services that it is important that the child and father have contact
- Mother then refuses proposed contact to the father because social services get involved
- Social services upon seeing that the mother is obstructive and after hearing the ascertainable wish of the child who is wanting contact do nothing but aid in alienating the child against its father.
To someone reading this who have never been touched by the effects of family law may see these two examples as something that is obviously wrong, the above examples are in terms of parental alienation mild examples and is what happens in most child contact cases in N.Ireland to some degree.
The more serious side of parental alienation comes from the beginnings of Dr Gardeners work, in where a child was brainwashed into saying that it was sexually abused by its father, now take this into perspective a mother went as far as to make up sexual abuse allegations to gain favour in a residence case, this is not uncommon in family law in the UK and fathers will face an array of allegations in obstructive cases. An example of a case of alleged sexual abuse that happened in N.Ireland and will to be named due to reporting restrictions and the wishes of the father involved is that a mother made various allegations about the father in regards to the children during a residence case, one of them was sexual. The child was taken and examined by medical experts who declared no sexual abuse took place; the child still to this day remembers the tests she underwent when she was five years old. This is extreme parental alienation in where the mother tried to install false memories into the child that she was sexually abused by her father, what the mother did not expect in making this allegation was that the child would be medically examined. The child now resides with its father and has contact with its mother and extended family.
What I have shown you is the mild, moderate and the extreme cases of parental alienation and that it does happen in N.Ireland, I could go into more detail but for the sake of this media release I will make it as short as possible and further information can be gained by contacting Hugh Mc Cloy through the contact details that are provided.
Another question that has to be asked is why would a mother do this to its child, the obvious reason that already has been stated is to gain favour in residence and contact cases, the majority of other reasons all turn to the mother feeling that she is in control of the proceedings and that regardless of what she does because she is the mother she will be allowed to do so. By doing this a mother is putting her own interests before the child and in terms of the law this should not be allowed as the law states that the child's best interests are paramount. The following are some reasons researched into why in most cases mothers subject children to parental alienation:
- Mother wants property, money or maximum state benefits from the father
- The mother hates the father and uses the child as a weapon
- The mother is egged on by women hostile towards men, usually found in groups of single mothers
- The mother may still like the father and uses the child as a means of controlling him ( this is domestic violence when defined criminally)
- The mother regards the child as her property
- The mother may have come from a broken family and not able to sustain a normal relationship
- The mother is in a new relationship and want to prove to her new partner that the child's father is irreverent to her new life
As said before this is a brief breakdown of parental alienation and a further referenced document will be released by Real Fathers For Justice N.Ireland.
The child's best interest, what is actually in the child's best interest, when this notion is highlighted there are various different notions some of which are as follows:
- The best interests of the child are best served by retaining the love and care of both its parents
- A father has to prove its in the child's best interest for them to see them
- It is in a child's best interest for a judge to make no order of contact even though there are no welfare issues
Three very different meanings and the paradox of family law continues in a state of status quo in where mum stops contact, dad applies to court, and dad wins contact. When researched the majority of cases fathers gain contact through the courts which leaves us in the current state that a child's best interest upon separating parents is:
- To undergo a period of time with no contact with its father
- To be investigated by social services
- To be put through a court process to gain its ascertainable wishes
- For its father to be forced into poverty, homelessness or unemployment due to child support or funding court cases
- For its father to be driven into depression, alcoholism, drugs or suicide
- For the child to be driven into depression, alcoholism, drugs, suicide, anti social behaviour
- For a child to be left in its mothers residence in where it is more likely to be abused or killed
What is more important of all is that it is in the best interests of a child for no delay to be made in determining the welfare of the child.
"In any proceedings in which any question with respect to the upbringing of a child arises, the court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child"
Words used to describe prejudice are; injustice, bias and discrimination. By the word of the law the law defines that the welfare of a child can lawfully be abused while at the same time there is nothing in said law that will ensure that said perpetrator will be punished. But of course there can be no punishment as judges, social workers; solicitors are all involved in this delay along with the parent, usually the mother, withholding contact, all of them are equally liable to receive punishment for prejudicing cases concerning a child's welfare if our government were ever to give children the right to family life.
The delay that takes place in family law allows an abusive parent, usually the mother, to maintain an abusive residence of the child as a judge will not move residence of a child after a long period of time. This delay inadvertently causes parental alienation and in cases where children are being turned against their fathers it is only worsened by the fact that cases take so long. It is time that accountability and openness are brought into these secret dip loc proceedings that determine the welfare of children, the current state of keeping what is said behind close doors staying behind closed doors cannot be tolerated as this delay is causing parental alienation and is fuelling a state sanctioned child abuse that compares to the child abuse scandal in the republic of Ireland with children in care.
Continuing on in the child's best interest it has now been reported that an 18 month old child suffered severe physical abuse in Belfast in September. The attack was carried out by the biological mothers ex partner who is not the child's biological father, these events do happen in Northern Ireland and our children will continue to be placed mainly in their mother's residence, a residence that carries the highest risk factor for a child to be abused.
Pete Morris – Regional coordinator Northern Ireland, Real Fathers for Justice
Hugh Mc Cloy – Research and development officer, Real Fathers for Justice
"Today's problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them." ~Albert Einstein"
References Relevant to Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)
THE EMERGING PROBLEM OF PARENTAL ALIENATION