Relationship Estrangement and Interference is a form of Domestic Violence using Psychological abuse.
You’ve probably heard of PTSD, but you may not understand what it really means. PTSD is the abbreviation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. This occurs after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic, life-threatening event.
Not everyone who goes through a trauma will experience PTSD. But if you have this disorder, it’s the result of a trauma. It’s estimated that over 5 million adults have PTSD.
People who are involved in natural disasters, military combat, sexual or physical assault, or serious accidents are at high risk for developing this problem. This was not well understood for a long time, but recently research has helped experts to understand more about the causes, effects, and treatments for PTSD.
This disorder causes three types of symptoms including re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance and numbing symptoms, and arousal symptoms. They may relive a trauma through memories and even hallucinations as if it’s happening again.
They may also try to avoid situations that cause memories to return such as TV shows or going to specific places. They may avoid specific sights, sounds, smells, or anything that could trigger memories of the trauma.
People with PTSD often feel very alert and seem hyper vigilant. They may have trouble sleeping or concentrating. They may also have problems with emotional or angry outbursts.
Living with PTSD is very difficult and can lead to problems with anxiety, depression, and addiction. It can keep one from being able to stay employed or develop healthy relationships. But it’s important to know that there is help and treatment for this disorder.
PTSD is treated in a variety of ways, sometimes in combination. Many people find that talk therapy helps to expose the problems and help to change behaviors. Medications can also help the brain to chemically reduce anxiety and depression.
Exposure therapy is often used to help people have less fear regarding the memories that can come to mind. Another therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can help change the reaction memories as well.
Many people with PTSD also find that group therapy and support groups are very beneficial. It can be extremely helpful to talk with others who truly understand you. In addition, family therapy can help the entire family understand the PTSD and treatment.
There may also need to be treatment for other problems, such as addiction, at the same time. If you feel you or a loved one might have PTSD, it’s important to ask for help and seek treatment. PTSD does respond to treatment and you can get relief.
DISCLAIMER: Our mission is health education. None of the information included in Don’t Suffer in Silence campaign is medical advice. It, in no way, serves as a substitute for a diagnosis of a medical condition by a qualified health care professional. For help with a personal health concern, please consult your qualified health care provider.
“I hope there’s more cases just like this, where people don’t want to let their spouses see their kids…I hope it happens more and more, until the law finally says you know what? There needs to be something done so these parents can be with their kids.”
These were the words fired by Randall Todd Moore as he denied having “not one ounce of remorse” for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing his ex-wife.
But was his ex-wife ‘alienating’ the kids, as Moore alleged, or trying to protect them from danger?
Parental alienation (PA, or PAS for Parental Alienation Syndrome), a topic pro-PA psychologist Richard Warshak recently covered on Huffington Post, alleges a parent poisons the mind of a child to fear or hate the other parent. The defamation results in a damaged relationship or estrangement.
Those opposing parental alienation admit parents can bad-mouth the other parent either deliberately or inadvertently; however, factors such as poor parenting skills or personality on the part of the mother or father and stages of normal development or reactions to divorce on the part of the child can also cause alienating behaviors.
Dr. Paul Fink, President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, and a former President of the American Psychiatric Association states, “Science tells us that the most likely reason that a child becomes estranged from a parent is that parent’s own behavior. Labels, such as PAS, serve to deflect attention away from those behaviors.”
More dangerously, parental alienation can mask domestic violence, child abuse and child sexual abuse. What is the difference between fearful or uncooperative battered women and alienating,” vindictive” mothers? If parents try to withhold access to children, are they alienators or protectors? If they try to provide evidence of abuse – interviews with psychologists, medical examinations or discussions with the child – are they gathering proof or further alienating the ex? What is the difference between alienated children and abused children?
Indeed, it’s not just domestic violence survivors’ advocates who witness the problem with PA. The American Bar Association, American Prosecutors Research Institute, National District Attorneys Association, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges all denounce the use of parental alienation in the courtroom. The National District Attorneys Association says on their Web site, “PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children.”
That hasn’t stopped courts from using PAS, resulting in accusations against individuals, mostly women, of maliciously denying access to children.
Katie Tagle, for instance, sought a restraining order on Jan. 21, 2010 against her ex-boyfriend Stephen Garcia to stop him from having unsupervised visitation with their nine-month-old child.
She told the judge Garcia threatened to kill the infant. The court transcript records Judge Robert Lemkau as saying, “One of you is lying,” and later, “Mr. Garcia claims its total fabrication on your part.” Garcia also referred to it as “little stunts and games” that she used to deny him access to his son.
Even when she tries to produce evidence of the threats, he says, “Well, ma’am, there’s a real dispute about whether that’s even true or not.” And finally, “My suspicion is that you’re lying” (said twice). He denied her the order (as did two other judges). Garcia took their son that day and drove off into the mountains. Ten days later, they were both found dead.
This case clearly demonstrates another issue women have in courts: credibility. It’s easier to believe a woman is lying than to believe a man can abuse or kill a woman or child. In reality, in family court, denying abuse is more common than fabricating tales of abuse. Most allegations are made in good faith (see the American Bar Association’s 10 Custody Myths and How to Counter Them). And most denials are made by perpetrators, perpetrators skillful at manipulation – even of professionals.
Indeed, we must not forget family court is the place for couples with high conflict and abuse. The overwhelming majority (up to 90%) of couples create their own parenting plans. Those that cannot, go to family court.
Judges, though, have been known to downplay even well-documented cases of abuse and to give more weight to parental alienation than to abuse allegations. In the case of Jennifer Collins, for example, the judge told her mother to “get over” the abuse as at least two years had passed, according to Collins’ Web site. The judge reversed the custody decision because her mom’s fear was “interfering in his relationship with us.” Jennifer’s mother Holly took her two children and fled to the Netherlands, where they were granted asylum. (See also the Courageous Kids Network of children who were court-ordered into relationships with abusive parents.)
58,000 children a year go into sole or joint custody arrangements or unsupervised visitation with physically or sexually abusive parents, according to an estimate by the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence. That’s over 1,000 children a week the courts place in harm’s way.
Giving custody to the supposedly alienated parent is one way to “solve” the problem of parental alienation. Jailing the mother is another.
Tiffany Barney and Joyce Murphy are two women who’ve been jailed; their cases were covered in the media. Both alleged child sexual abuse and neither were believed. Barney fought for five years, at times losing custody or having limited supervised visitation. Murphy was called “toxic” to her daughter and deemed the cause of the child fearing her father. She fled with her daughter. When found, she was jailed for felony abduction and later granted limited visitation. It wasn’t until three more girls came forward with molestation charges that her ex was finally the one jailed.
A few other cases making headlines include: Court Punishes Woman in Alienation Case; WI: Judge Jails Mother over Daughter’s Refusal to Visit Father and Judge Dismisses Abuse Allegations.
To sum it up, any behavior that does not promote access to children can be classified as parental alienation and punished with jail time or limits on/loss of custody. With this threat, parents are less likely to report abuse and more likely to share custody with an abuser.
It should also be noted that when violent partners make good on their threats to take the kids away, it’s referred to as domestic violence by proxy -a continuation of domestic violence – rather than PA or PAS. Some battered women who’ve lost custody use PA or PAS to describe their particular situation. This both minimizes the nature and scope of abuse women face and promotes the use of a dangerous weapon (PA/PAS) that can be used against them in court.
I wouldn’t hand an angry man a agun, nor would I readily hand over a legal strategy to potential pedophiles, abusers or killers. Yet that is exactly what PA/PAS is doing.
For more information, visit:
The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence
Stop Family Violence Center for Judicial Excellence
We are very excited to be able to confirm that single father’s charity, DadsHouse, will be featured on London Tonight, for their programme “Kids Without Dads”, which airs tonight at 7.30pm on ITV.
The programme will focus on single fathers, children who do not get to see their fathers and what the lack of male role models means to children and society as a whole.
The subject matter is of course an important one; Billy McGranaghan, the founder of DadsHouse will be talking about his work and how he came to be doing it. As a leader in their field, DadsHouse is certainly well placed to offer a current perspective on what’s happening to single fathers today.
A must watch, not just because Billy makes for brilliant viewing…..