Alienation made “M” terrified of her son and her alienating ex-partner. Family Violence Services and Family Law could not help “M” remediate her alienated teenage son’s relationship with her. His father coerced her son into falsely claiming she violently abused him. He corrupted his relationship with his son to make his son think that his father’s views were his own and to support his father unconditionally.
“M” realised that her courage to end her coercive-controlling relationship triggered this event. Still, her ex-partner had alienated her long before she ended the relationship. She found the ostracism from her family and the helplessness of Family Violence Services and Family Law traumatising.
Family Violence Investigation Concludes Without an Outcome
A Police investigation followed her son’s formal complaint to the Police that she had assaulted him when she separated from his father. The Police issued a mandatory Family Violence Order against her. “M” was a child protection worker. Her employer, a state-based Child Protection Service, suspended her employment pending further investigation after the Police made inquiries.
The Police concluded their investigation without any formal charges against ‘M”. She followed her legal advice to consent to the Family Violence order without admission to avoid a trial in the Magistrates Court. The Family Violence Orders remained in place for 12 months. The Child Protection Service terminated “M”‘s employment.
A Police officer in the case privately commented to “M” that her employment and presentation did not fit the violent description her son gave them. His claims of physical violence seemed incongruous. He was physically more robust and larger than his mother. The Police officer commented that the father seemed to influence her son, but they could do nothing about it.
The Police noted the historical claims, the absence of corroborating reports from her son’s school, and any medical statements consistent with physical abuse. Yet, her son showed signs of injury that they thought could be consistent with his other claim of self-harm due to his mother’s behaviour. A conclusive investigation was challenging. The police officer said they did not have a choice. Family Violence legislation required them to act, especially given the strength of the father and sons’ claim they needed protection.
Alienating Father and Son in Criminal Action Against his Mother
“M”‘s security camera recorded her teenage son, with his father in the background, breaking into her house. He emptied his bedroom. He and his father ransacked the study, searching for legal and financial documentation.
The security cameras recorded her son breaking a photo frame of a family photograph. He cut her picture out, chopped it up and scattered the pieces on the floor. His father watched and smiled at the camera. One of the cameras recorded her son appearing upset when his father looked away.
“M” elected not to pursue criminal charges or seek family violence protection. Family Violence Services advised that it would complicate her situation with her son, and she couldn’t hold her ex-partner accountable for their son’s behaviour. Nevertheless, she resolved to provide her observations to the Single Expert (Custody Evaluator) the Family Court assigned to her case.
An Inappropriate Assessment
The Single Expert (Custody Evaluator) assessed that her son and his father had an enmeshed relationship. They were non-committal about alienation and criticised “M” for her passivity. Still, the Single Expert (Custody Evaluator) was not convinced of her son’s abuse claims or his father’s corroboration.
The assessment puzzled “M” because the evaluation observed that her son’s presentation and his father’s behaviour were consistent with alienation. Yet, the Single Expert (Custody Evaluator) was ambivalent about alienation. Her son had a polarised view of his mother and father. “M” was “all bad”, and his father was “all that he wanted both parents to be; I don’t need a mother, especially her“.
Her son broke off contact with his extended maternal family. His father encouraged him not to spend time with his mother and then claimed, “I can’t make him see her. It’s his call. Do you want me to abuse him as his mother did?”. In front of his son, his father claimed he was “psychologically suffering” after “what she did”. Her son comforted his father in a way the Single Expert (Custody Evaluator) found excessive.
Her ex-partner threatened her, “You’ll never see him again if you keep going to the Family Court”. “M” followed her legal advice. The Family Court followed the Family Assessment recommendations. It ordered Reportable Family Therapy.
Reportable Family Therapy Fails-And Fails Again!
Reportable Family Therapy failed. Her son claimed that “the order to attend Family therapy is equivalent to giving custody to a paedophile”. He referred to “M” by her first name, “you can’t make me see “M”. During family therapy, ‘M” had to advise that her mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and did not have long to live. She wanted to see her grandson again. Her son responded, “how convenient is that!”
“M” observed signs of softening in her son on the few occasions he would be in the same room as her and the practitioner. She also observed that he returned to the same hostile presentation at the next session. He also raised legal matters that he could only have known if his father had shared legal details, including confidential family assessments with him.
Her son also repeated his father’s earlier threat, “this crap is not going on while she is in court about me”. She brought her observation to the attention of the Single Expert (Custody Evaluator). They recommended more Family Therapy. During Family Law proceedings, her ex-partner sought an extension of the Family Violence Order.
Ostracised and Stigmatised
“M” is from a family-oriented culture that places great weight on gendered family roles. Her women’s peer groups and social networks ostracised her because her son rejected her and because his father made her out to be a bad mother.
“M’ found her stigmatisation difficult, “I don’t talk about my family; I do everything I can not to disclose my situation. I often make up stories”. Her abuse socially alienated her, isolating her from her social groups. “M”‘s mother died before she saw her grandson again.
“M” was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Her ex-partner threatened to subpoena all of her medical records. She realised her records would also include her consultations about post-natal depression. She was unable to continue. “M” concluded that she always had to be on the defensive.
Coerced into Useless Orders by Consent
She withdrew her applications after her ex-partner refused to comply with the orders for the second round of Reportable Family Therapy. She agreed to Orders by Consent that allowed her and her son to contact each other. He never returned her telephone calls or e-mails. He blocked her from his social media accounts. His father only contacted her if there were child support issues. True to his threat, she has not seen her son since.
Unemployed and ostracised by her community, “M” felt overwhelmed. Her ex-partner had carried out every threat he made with impunity. Family Law experts treated her situation as a family relationship problem to which she contributed because she was too terrorised to argue her case.
Declaration and Dedication
I have based this account on accounts and details a client gave me years ago. This client shared with me certain materials and information that made me consider this account accurate.
I want to dedicate this article to this client who must remain anonymous and to all alienated parents who stay silenced.