I had found out this phrase from my children’s therapist. This was the one my ex and his wife hired at the time. Many years later, she denied ever talking to me about it.
This is where gaslighting comes in. This means the manipulation of someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity; I felt like I was going insane. The people who do the manipulating use this to control the person they are manipulating.
The parents become more deeply wounded and traumatized when therapists, attorneys, courts and those who are supposed to be helping our children don’t listen to us explain what is going on. They just believe the alienated parent is crazy. The issue with this is that, it becomes a reality from a lie.
And when it’s these people adding to the gaslighting; it becomes a mental insanity-fest.
When I first found out about Parental Alienation 20 years ago, it was just coming out into the mainstream…barely.
I couldn’t find any information on it and there weren’t any support groups to be a part of. No one seemed to know anything about this.
I had no one in my life, not even the friend that was helping me, who understood what I was going through and what was happening to my children. No one believed anything I was saying, and some wouldn’t listen anyway.
They couldn’t fathom that my ex would do this. I couldn’t explain it away and when people asked me how my children were, I stopped saying anything about it; just that they were good.
Well-meaning people would say, “just take him to court.” That didn’t work, nothing works when people are going through this. It drives some loving, fit parents to the point of committing suicide.
The time was very confusing for me and I couldn’t understand what was happening around me. I just wanted to be my children’s mother and everything I tried from visits, to phone calls to emails ended up in a huge argument and being blocked from seeing my children.
Even my children started to block me, parroting the words of their father and stepmother.
I felt so out of control and fell deeper and deeper into a hole of depression and it felt like I couldn’t get out.
I just wanted them to work with me; for us to sit down with the children together to let them know we all loved them and would work together and be there for them no matter what.
To the extent that the legal system, DCSE in Virginia, the police department and anyone else I tried to reach out to for help who didn’t help me, was the extent to which I watched as my children were slowly and surely slipping away from me.
I felt helpless, hopeless and alone.
It took seven years to find some information on what this therapist told me.
Parental alienation involves a group of behaviors that are damaging to children’s mental and emotional well-being and can interfere with a relationship between a child and either parent (mother or father).
This also reaches out to other family members including grandparents, stepparents, aunts/uncles and siblings. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce. This has become a public health crisis.
The behaviors whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a loving parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided. It is traumatic to the children, the noncustodial parent or other family members that love them.
This definition just gives a general idea on the term and how it has been used.
Children naturally love both parents which makes them who they are. During alienation, the child begins to parrot the custodial parent and they don’t even realize what they are doing. It is a form of emotional child abuse.
This, I believe, is a huge component of the breakdown of our society when families and children are torn apart like this for no reason.
Imagine being told as a child that one of your parents doesn’t love you, isn’t paying the child support, isn’t doing anything to help raise you, is forcing the custodial parent to go to court or isn’t fighting for you. Then imagine finding out when you are an adult that these were all lies. They did fight for you, they always loved you. What does that do to a child? What does that do to the adult they become? What does it do to our society?
The term Parental Alienation and other terms similar such as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) have now been around for a while. The issue now with these terms is that with the adult children survivors of high conflict divorce, using the term makes them feel as though they are blaming the custodial parent which they don’t want to do. It has always been stated that children just want to love and be loved by BOTH of their parents.
The point behind this work is not to blame anyone, it is to heal parents, children and families and change the system. No one can heal if the system is set up to be adversarial. The only way healing can happen is through willingness and a decision to change.
It is so important to protect the innocent; the children.
There are over 25 million parents in the US alone, not to mention the grandparents and extended family and parents and families from other countries who are being erased from their children’s lives.
Countless families and children are affected by this; our children, who are our future are affected the most.
We need to educate and make the public aware of the effects of the alienation of a loving parent and how the courts are involved. The term Family Bond Obstruction, from the new documentary Erasing Family was coined because these now adult children do not connect with the term parental alienation.
I am an interviewee in the film. You can find out more information for the documentary HERE.
The courts, attorneys, therapists, child services, and anyone else involved in ensuring the care and welfare and the best interest of the child need to be aware of this in their decisions and actions. It is very important that they completely understand how to recognize and discern the behaviors of alienation in each family member.
The results from this: addiction, depression, continued alienation with adult children (if they ever get married) and suicide. This occurs with the alienated parents, grandparents and the children; many more than just them.
When you are going through something so completely sadistic as Alienation and dealing with the Family Court system, it’s enough to put anyone in a state of depression and anxiety and the feeling of insanity from the gaslighting alone. Wouldn’t you think?
Statistically, approximately 65% of marriages end up in divorce in the US and 15-30% are High Conflict Divorces. 83% of custody cases end up in single family households.
Alienation also happens in about 70-80% of the countries in the world. Think there might be an issue here?
I now use the word Alienation to describe this. As my son and other adult children who have gone through it, the phrase Parental Alienation doesn’t feel right to them. I respect that. This is about healing and words can hurt or help the healing process. I chose to use words that help to heal.
What was discovered by others in the field who have studied this endemic in the legal system and having been exposed to this myself, as the alienated parent, there is generally nothing you can do to fight this system; it is broken.
Sadly, even those that have a lot of money are being taken advantage of by some unscrupulous attorneys, judges and the system. This system, through the very act of a high conflict divorce, is tearing down our family system.
The aim of Awareness is to show the general public, judges, police officers, mental health care workers, child protection agencies, lawyers, as well as friends and families going through this, to become educated of this growing problem.
In the process of high conflict divorce and custody, we are taking generations of children and in effect making it necessary for them to be on medication, seek therapy or the worst-case scenario, commit suicide. These things are happening and the public needs to be aware of this and start advocating for change.
In the absence of confirmed abuse or neglect, children have a right to have a relationship with both parents. Children denied a relationship with a parent struggle as adults: 70% suffer from depression, 35% develop problems with drugs and alcohol and 50% are alienated from their own children.
Suicide is becoming a result of this as well as well as resorting to violence such as the numerous shootings that have been happening more and more. Erasing a loved one is a problem often ignored because it is considered a normal part of divorce. It is far from normal.
One caveat that we all need to be aware of; we cannot create change from the same emotion we used to make the problem. Actually, it was Albert Einstein who coined the phrase, “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
It’s important to not take personally the specificity of whether we are discussing mothers or fathers, when we discuss these issues, that it feels like we are not including you. I was the alienated mother and I see how this is affecting everyone, no one who deals with the courts are exempt; mothers, fathers, grandparents, extended family, siblings, friends, and the children themselves.
Our goal is healing, reuniting and change. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
If you are going through a divorce/custody/alienation, you are welcome to connect with us in one of our Closed Facebook Groups, Glimmers of Hope – Noncustodial Moms – High Conflict Divorce/Alienation or Glimmers of Hope – All Inclusive Family – High Conflict Divorce/Alienation .
Both groups are geared towards the love and support of those who have lost or are in the process of potentially losing custody of their children, having challenges just to see them and don’t know which way to turn. You are not alone.
There is one group strictly for moms and the other is an all inclusive family group for anyone; mothers, fathers, step-parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings, even adult children who have been through this. These groups have been set up to connect mothers, fathers and families to come together in a safe space with others going through this.
What is asked of you is this: you are in a place of desiring to be the best you can be for yourself and your children and you are willing to be open to new ideas and subjects regarding yourself and your relationship with you children. The only way to reconnect with your children and create a safe space for them to return to is to heal and center yourself.
It is expected that you are in this for connection, support, love, and changes, so please note that it isn’t a space for a complaining or negativity. These groups are set up for the safety of its members and if you choose to do anything different, we will not tolerate it and you will be asked to leave or be deleted from the group. As well, there is not advertising any businesses within the group.
These groups are about growth, not staying stuck in your story, which doesn’t help you anyway. The end result is to be strong for you and your children.
Remember, you are not alone in this and there is guidance, love and support here for you. Please head over to one of the groups and answer the questions, which is a requirement to get in.