I presented on interventions for parental alienation at the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Conference on Saturday 28 February.
It seems that my message about parental alienation was too important to ignore because to my pleasant surprise a protestor tried to hijack my presentation!
The protestor attempted to hijack the presentation by:
- Insisting on “making a point about gender” and continuing her interruption until the chairperson intervened despite the fact that I had not mentioned gender at all, and
- Making a derogatory comment along the lines of “well if that is not coercive” after I explained that the practice in the USA as far as I was aware, of enforcing attendance of children and parents ordered into PA intervention programmes, was similar in practice to our child protective services removing children from sexually abusive situation. This is an unacceptable double standard an example of ideological blindness!
So here is the protester’s ‘own goal’:
I have read that some family violence advocates claim that allegations by men that their ex partners have alienated their children from them are false and are used to disguise family violence (actually, the protestor seemed quite confused as what she was protesting about other than gender itself).
The advocates of such a gendered view are entrapped by an ideology that cannot accept parental alienation because it does not fit the gendered notion of family violence; a notion that almost entirely makes women the victims of male violence without the possibility that women may also perpetrate family violence.
Within this ideological-political view, such people cannot accept that men can be victims of parental alienation perpetrated by women any more than they can accept that women can be the victims of parental alienation perpetrated by men. If they accept one proposition they have to accept the other. This same symmetry is also true for men in relation to family violence.
I have seen some painful blogs from women who are clearly genuine victims of family violence attempting to debunk parental alienation despite the evidence-based studies that validate it. Clearly they have been subjected to false allegations of alienation and that is as abusive as are the false allegations of family violence against both men and women.
Are we forgetting the children who are the victims here?
Perhaps we have an epidemic of false allegations?
This paralyses certain services in terms of responding appropriately. These services and their advocates, unable to accept the evidence that women can be both the abused and the abuser, do not develop the necessary expertise to deal with parental alienation. Some of my female clients have reported that services to which they turn refuse to accept the validity of parental alienation! Even after more than 30 years of research and publications by hundreds of academics and researchers!
This is actually an insulting and demeaning notion to the women whose children have been alienated from them by men! Where do the female victims of parental alienation turn for support if they cannot rely upon such services?
Similarly, alienating parents use allegations of family violence to deny their children a relationship with an otherwise ‘good enough’ and beloved parent. It seems that few of these allegations ever get to trial and even fewer receive a guilty verdict. This is the ‘dual track’ family law –family violence system where one can be exonerated in the latter but found implicitly guilty in the former.
Actually, family violence and parental alienation have the same issues. They are fundamentally the same forms of abuse directed at a parent, directly in the former and indirectly using ‘weaponised’ children in the latter.
Family violence and parental alienation share the same issue with respect to allegations. In one case allegations of family violence are used as a means of parental alienation. In the other, allegations of parental alienation are used as a means of family violence.
On a poignant note, a woman client whom I am supporting through a difficult alienation situation asked me if she could refer a male friend of hers who she said was struggling with his own alienation situation!
One would think that we have the same end goal in mind, to keep the child victims in the forefront, to eliminate both forms of abuse and to continually find ways of refining assessment and response processes and systems. Our society has a problem with family violence and parental alienation. These presentations are not in competition with each other to see which one has the most allegations; they are the same thing!