Parental Alienation Can Happen to Adults and In Marriages

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January 16th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse in which a normal positive parent/child relationship is damaged or destroyed by another party using emotional manipulation, threats, false accusations, and other means. It involves at least two basic elements. The first is an alienator engaging in access blocking to keep a child from seeing a parent. The second is a pattern of denigration and destruction of reputation to make the child dislike the parent. When parental alienation becomes severe and/or extended in duration, the child may start to avoid seeing the target parent, repeat the statements of the alienator as if they were the child’s own, and even make up new “reasons” to dislike having contact with the target parent. Often these “reasons” are complete nonsense and have little to no accuracy.

If you’re suffering as a target parent and are aware of parental alienation, probably none of this is news to you. However, what may be news to you is that parental alienation isn’t limited to the most commonly discussed situation of parents involved in divorce or child custody battles. For starters, you may be alienated from your children by your spouse while married.

Moreover, if you step back and take a look at the the changes in your family relationships that happened after marrying an alienator, you may also realize that you are a victim of parental alienation committed against and you and your own parents. The same spouse or former spouse who is trying to alienate you from your children may have already badly damaged the good relationship you had with your parents using similar tactics of emotional manipulation.

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Dr. Amy Baker’s Book: Adult Children of Parental Alienation

Recently I read a book written by Dr. Amy Baker entitled Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind. It’s excellent in part because it is filled with real examples and details from 40 personal stories of adults who realized they were alienated from a parent as children. The subjects of her interviews range from 19 to 67 years old. Although many have speculated that parental alienation became common due to changing laws that no longer assumed that children would reside with the mother after divorce, these accounts of parental alienation start from the years before joint physical and legal custody were common. This implies that parental alienation predates shared parenting rulings becoming more common as they are today in many places. Most of the alienated children interviewed were from the United States, some were from the United Kingdom. They have a variety of cultural backgrounds, including from India. While the number of study participants isn’t enough to make any firm conclusions about particular cultures, it is enough to demonstrate that parental alienation is a problem that spans nations, ethnicities, and decades of changing family law practices.

Some of these adult children have managed to repair the relationships with their target parents. Many of them only managed to do so after a major interruption of their relationships with their alienating parent, such as by a falling out or by the death of that parent. All have suffered greatly due to the parental alienation, particularly from mental health and emotional problems. It’s helpful to see both how this happened to them and what the target parents tried to do to continue the relationship.

Dr. Baker describes both common strategies alienators use to keep children from having good relationships with target parents and the attempts many of these target parents made to try to continue the relationships with their children. Alarmingly, even target parents who went to a great deal of effort often could not preserve the relationships because of the continuous animosity by the alienator who was intent on destroying those relationships by any means.

Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind (Norton Professional Book)

This book reveals PAS for what it is–Emotional Abuse. The adult perspective shows the final outcome of PAS left untreated.

Review by Monika Logan

The Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, Breaking the Ties that Bind, is a thought provoking series of interviews. After reading the book, one can no longer deny the existence of parental alienation. It also becomes futile to question the claims of PAS as a “credible disorder”. The interviewees shed light on the disturbing outcome of Parental Alienation when it is left untreated. Amy Baker’s research reveals the ramifications of a disorder that leads to devastation, despair, and desertion. Due to venomous words by the alienating parent, the adult children look back on their lives with sorrow. They are distraught by their actions and their words, to a parent that did not deserve such hatred. The regrets for most will last a lifetime.

Sadly, one interviewee recalled, “I tortured her so much when I was there for the three days that she could not handle it” (p.243). This excerpt shows how the actions of children that are enmeshed with an alienating parent are not a depiction of optimal mental health. While many children have adjustment difficulties post divorce, most do not “torture a parent for three days.” Indeed this book exemplifies Breaking the Ties that Bind; the ties are an enmeshment between a child and a parent, the alienating parent. As noted by Baker, “When children feel that their parents are more like friends than parents, it may indicate that the alienating parent is sharing too much personal information with the child, is relying on the child for support and comfort, and may not be setting appropriate limits” (p.244). Most would agree that adult conversations are not meant for innocent ears, and will lead to poor mental health.

This book is not only educational, but it also offers a unique perspective due to the adults’ looking back over a life of regret. In addition, the book shows the long-term results of parental alienation syndrome. After reading the book, debates over terminology are useless. One will realize the magnitude of parental alienation and recognize it for the problem that it is. Many of the interviews cannot see forward for looking behind. They are bewildered and perplexed at how their innocent minds were unjustly poisoned. They suffer from guilt and sleepless nights. While some relationships are troubled, others are permanently severed. This book provides an understanding to this disorder for both the every day reader and professional.

Misleading Debate Over “Scientific Proof” of Parental Alienation

After reading this book, no intelligent, honest, and objective person could claim that parental alienation is not a real phenomenon. Honest people might still continue to debate whether “syndrome” (as in parental alienation syndrome) is appropriate or whether parental alienation should be included in DSM-V, the next version of the widely used mental health professional’s diagnostic guide due to be released in 2012. But these debates really amount to arguing over word choices and technicalities.

You may hear or read the drivel put out by activists and alienators denying that parental alienation is “not a scientifically proven fact.” This is often stated in the pursuit of an agenda that is totally lacking in objectivity such as that of alienating parents who refuse to admit and correct their behaviors. Such statements are nothing but lies using convincingly misleading words, the sort of thing alienators and emotional manipulators are excellent at doing.

To use a very crude analogy likening parental alienation to physical child abuse, that your own child doesn’t like being intentionally hit in the face with a baseball bat swung hard isn’t a scientifically proven fact, either. It appears that nobody has studied it and nobody has experimented on children hitting them in the face with baseball bats to determine what kind of hit is liked and what kind is not liked. But this lack of “scientific proof” doesn’t at all mean that such an act is not child abuse and is not harmful. Similarly, the claims of a “lack of scientific proof” regarding parental alienation don’t make it any less true that alienators are harming children.

As another analogy, these dishonest people are little different from those in an earlier day and age who dismissed the theories of Copernicus and violated the human rights of Galileo for suggesting the heresy that the Earth is not the center of the universe and that the Earth orbits the sun. Certainly Copernicus and Galileo were not right about the sun being the center of the universe, but that was more accurate than the common view of the Earth being the center of the universe. Likewise, whatever misunderstandings there are about parental alienation today doesn’t mean there is no value to what has been learned so far.

Most Alienators Fall Into Three Groups

Dr. Baker explains how her research shows there are three common groups of parental alienators:

  1. Narcissistic mothers in divorced families (14 families)
  2. Narcissistic mothers in intact families (8 families)
  3. Rejecting / Abusive alienating parent (16 families)

Of the 40 families, there were two which showed a mixture of these patterns. Of these families, it is typical that the alienating parent is the custodial parent. Although the alienating parents from this study group were generally the mothers, it is clear that fathers can be alienators, also. While it appears that most of the alienating fathers fit the third pattern, there was one family in which the alienating father fit the second pattern of “narcissistic parent in intact family”.

In general, Baker found that many alienating parents have narcissistic thinking. Such parents resort to charm and persuasion. Often they talk about inappropriate topics with their children, treating them as confidants to personal information which isn’t suitable for children. Common topics include discussing false accusations of supposed misconduct by the target parent, for instance claiming that he or she has had many affairs or tickets for driving while intoxicated when that isn’t true.

Other common topics include misleading statements about child support payments and divorce battles to denigrate the target parent and make the children feel “honored” to be privy to such information. For instance, an alienating mother may tell a child to go to the mailbox to check for the child support payment. When it isn’t there, she complains about the father being a good-for-nothing bum. She’ll never mention that she already picked up the payment from the mailbox before asking the child to do so because that was the only way she could be sure the child would get a negative impression of the father from such a stunt. Alienators, like many emotional manipulators, are skilled at using tricks like these.

Such alienating parents often appear to have a “close” relationship with the children they are hurting. But that closeness may only last as long as the narcissistic parent is getting what they want out of the relationship. When he or she is not, then they may push the child away in a rejecting fashion. Such parents withdraw their love in response for the children not satisfying their emotional needs. For instance, when a child makes a positive remark about the target parent, the alienating parent may ignore or even berate the child in retaliation.

The children who did not have “close” relationships with the alienating parent generally pointed to that parent using fear, intimidation, and terror tactics on them and/or the target parent. Physical abuse and sexual abuse were among these tactics, too. Both mothers and fathers were involved in committing these kinds of abuses to terrorize the children into submission. Many, but not all, of these alienating and abusive parents had substance abuse problems.

Parental Alienation May Start During Marriage

While reading the book, I realized that my ex and her behaviors today fall into the first category of “narcissistic mothers in divorced families”. However, that’s not how her alienating behaviors started. Surprisingly, we didn’t even have children when she started to use emotional manipulation to damage parent/child relationships. That’s because her alienating started with her behaviors designed to alienate me, a grown adult, from my own parents during the marriage. This doesn’t even fall into the typical three groups of alienators, yet is motivated by similar reasons and uses similar tactics to the narcissistic patterns #1 and #2.

I suspect that a spouse or partner starting to show parental alienation style behaviors even before the arrival of children is far more common than people realize. That’s because it may be commonly confused with normal relationship problems with the in-laws. Part of why I suspect this derives from having the benefit of observing relationships in which the potential for partners having conflict with the other partner’s parents seems they should have been higher yet there was nothing but the occasional minor disagreement.

What’s particularly strange to me is that I hadn’t even considered that I was alienated from my parents for years. I simply became used to keeping a distance and minimizing communications to keep my ex at bay.

Today, after the divorce, my parents and I are closer and we get along well. But during the marriage, my ex regarded my parents as a threat to her. She seems to believe at some innate level that if I love my parents and communicate with them that this is somehow bad for her. Her behaviors against my parents became worse over the years. But the worst of it didn’t occur until after the arrival of our own children.

Children Trigger Fear of Abandonment

After we had children, relations with my parents become very strained. It wasn’t their fault. They were far more helpful and supportive than many grandparents are with new grandchildren. But that helpfulness and supportiveness was viewed by my ex as a threat to her. She wants the children to love only her and cannot accept that children are better off having many good relationships with adults who love them. It is as if she is afraid of being abandoned by the children if they love others. These kinds of deep-seated fears in alienators are often tied to personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). They may develop during troubled childhoods in which the alienator of today was the abused children of yesterday.

My ex moved on from trying to damage my relationships with my birth family to attempting to alienate our first child from me starting years before divorce. As Dr. Baker discovered, parental alienation in marriages is common. However, it is not as well known as the most frequently discussed cases which involve divorced alienating parents. I believe from my own personal experience and experiences of friends and acquaintances that this scenario is far more common than is realized. Often children are not aware of the access blocking and denigration being abnormal behaviors for parents. They grow up in these toxic environments from birth. Only when the toxicity grows far worse, such as more extreme behaviors triggered by a divorce, may they start to understand that something is amiss.

I didn’t understand how powerful my ex was at alienating me from my own parents, but could see exactly what she was trying to do with our child. She would involve our child in fights and encourage taking her side by using badmouthing and denigration. She would start fights over the most inconsequential things simply so she could use these tactics to sow hatred. Given that my own parents never did anything like this, I could not understand why she was doing it. But it seemed very wrong, even though I didn’t have a name for it.

She also engaged in systematic access blocking, doing everything she could to shift schedules to minimize my time with our child. While it is normal for parents to adjust schedules to ensure that there’s adequate childcare, that’s not what was happening in this case. She behaved oddly, insisting that relatives and childcare providers keep the baby out of the house while I was home and racing to put the baby to sleep before I arrived home from work.

She used a newfound interest in church, something that had never interested her previously, as an excuse to take our children away from home on Sunday and keep them out all day, even though by this time our oldest child wanted to spend time with me and said so. Having been emotionally pummeled by her for years, I was not of the mind to put up much of a fight about this as I knew there would be a huge price to pay for disagreeing with her.

About the only times she seemed content with having me around the children was when it was for her own benefit. She could go pursue some personal activity to which it was not suitable to take a child by having the kids spend time with me. I was happy to take care of them. Meanwhile, she complained to all of her friends that I was an absent father, was violent, abusive, and a threat to the children. That this is completely nonsensical in the context of her leaving the children with me while she pursued her personal activities doesn’t seem to cross anybody’s minds. After all, she is very convincing with her emotional intensity and lies. Years of feeding these lies to other people seems to sap them of any ability to be objective or to question what she claims. It’s much like how alienators brainwash children. Say the same lie over and over again with convincing intensity and even most adults will eventually believe it.

Insults From Kids May Not Be Their Own

The result of the frequent denigration and emotional abuse was disturbing. After many months of being exposed to this, our two year old child greeted me with exclamations such as “bad Daddy!” when I walked into a room, despite there being not only no good reason for these words but also no recent conflict or any other evident reason to say this.

When such negative words are combined with a smile from the child saying them, it’s clear that there is a significant incoherence. The child is repeating programming from the alienating parent, but does not understand the meaning of the programming and has not internalized or accepted its meaning even though the words have become part of the child’s vocabulary.

I became increasingly disenchanted with the relationship as I knew it was very wrong to be doing this to a child. But I, like far too many, did not yet know anything about parental alienation even though it was happening to me in two different ways — as a target parent and as a target child — at the same time.

Alienators Are Like Cult Leaders

Dr. Baker also explains how alienators are like cult leaders. This was a particularly interesting analogy to me. Years earlier, my ex was involved in group reputed to be a cult. I now wonder if she learned some of her control and alienation tactics from her time in the cult.

Isolation is a key technique used by cults. Cult leaders assert control over people by cutting them off from others who don’t believe the same as the cult. In my case, my “cult leader” was my ex-wife and her cult was based around her being the all-powerful center of the family around whom everything must revolve. Obey her and worship her or else I’ll suffer.

Looking back, it’s clear she liked to isolate me from my family in order to control me. It is something she tried to do even after filing for divorce. She attempted to use false accusations to obtain restraining orders to get rid of my parents. While she ultimately didn’t succeed at getting the orders she sought, she caused massive emotional and financial damages in the process. Given her pattern of conduct, it’s clear that she intends to harm other people to control and punish them.

She’s very able to use the courts, police, CPS, and many other naive parties to harm her targets. The courts in particular reward these behaviors. At the very least, false accusers and alienators like her typically get temporary restraining orders out of their attacks and cause the people they are attacking to be financially damaged by having to hire attorneys to defend themselves. Then the courts typically do nothing about holding aggressors like her responsible for their actions.

While the government should be prosecuting people like these for perjury, false police reports, and other crimes, they typically do nothing. This just encourages these people to do it again and again. They learn quickly that they are rewarded consistently and seldom pay any price for their aggressive manipulations.

This is a large part of the reason why family law judges frequently contribute to and enable parental alienation. A judge who looks the other way while these abuses are being committed is an accessory to child abuse. They fail to protect the children and target parent from the alienating parent until the damage is so severe that the children suffer from long-term psychological damage that will last into their adulthoods and the target parent has been severely emotionally and financially harmed, also.

While it may be reassuring to read stories like Alienating Mother Ordered to Pay $286,641.75 in Fines and Fees which feature courts finally holding an alienator responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and banning him or her from seeing the children, this is not the right way to be handling these cases. It needlessly destructive and cruel. It is like letting a known serial rapist to be on the lose for years, choosing only to do something about stopping the problem after the 10th victim is attacked.

Judges who are committed to protecting children from emotional abusers (which is exactly what these alienators are) should seek methods to block the effects of their alienation tactics early, before they can do a lot of damage. Some methods to do this include mandatory therapy, ensuring that the target parent has at least 50% time with the children, and banning the alienating parent from filing police reports, CPS reports, and other attacks against the target parent without first going through some gatekeeper to ensure that there is justification for the reports.

Afraid To Talk With My Parents

My ex would “allow” contact with my family if she could get a benefit out of it. That benefit might be money, a vacation, gifts, or help with childcare. What mattered is how it would benefit her, not whether the contact was reasonable or healthy for anybody else.

If she didn’t control or permit the contact, she would punish me for it in the form of aggressively insulting my parents and me for weeks. She would complain so vociferously and for so long that I became afraid to even talk with my parents or mention them to her as it would likely mean weeks of her multiple-times-per-day tirades about how my parent are horrible and that I’m horrible for having anything to do with them. A fifteen minute phone call could result in two or more weeks of retribution. I finally decided to just stay away from my parents because the price to be paid was too high.

It’s this kind of behavior that affects many children attacked by an alienator. As Dr. Baker relates in her book, some of the alienated children were so afraid what the alienating parent would do to them in the form of emotional abuse after contact with the target parent that they would avoid having anything to do with the target parent. Although I was an adult, this is exactly the kind of psychological torture my ex inflicted upon me to make it so emotionally expensive to be involved with my parents that I would accede to her control, further isolating myself from people who cared about me and making it possible for her to control me even more.

Although she seldom used physical violence as a means of control, she routinely used emotional and verbal violence. Having read many books about people with personality disorders as I’ve tried to understand why she is the way she is and how prevent her from victimizing our children, my parents, and me further, I’ve come to believe she shows behaviors consistent with more than one personality disorder. She’s very narcissistic, doesn’t have a sense of ethics or morality apart from what she thinks is best for her, and thinks nothing of hurting innocent others if it will help her achieve her goals.

It it is common for people like her to become like this from a history of child abuse. But knowing that your abuser is a former victim turned victimizer doesn’t make it any easier on those of us who are suffering. The incompetent manner in which the courts and government typically deal with such people prolongs the suffering and increases the damage.

Estimating Your Risk for Becoming A Parental Alienation Target

Interestingly, Dr. Baker found that many of the adult children of parental alienation become target parents for parental alienation. The cause/effect relationship is unclear here. On the one hand, it could be that being alienated from their own children helped them recognize the relationship between their target parent and themselves was similarly destroyed. On the other hand, it could be that they developed a psychological model for an appropriate choice of partner or spouse based upon their alienating parent and therefore were prone to pick a person with behaviors that are manipulative and controlling. Another aspect may involve an abused child learns to submit to control to avoid more pain and therefore grows up to be more easily dominated by an abusive partner or spouse. From what Dr. Baker found, it is difficult to make cause and effect generalizations in this area.

After observing the huge difference in interactions with my parents during committed partner relationships I’ve had, I believe that one of the best means to determine if parental alienation may become a problem with your own children is the ability of you and your partner or spouse to get along with and accept each other’s families. If there’s a relationship problem yet it doesn’t appear there is a reasonably objective source for the problem, you should be seriously asking yourself if this is a safe relationship in which to have children.

I also strongly believe that the risk for being targeted for parental alienation is much higher in relationships with a person who was abused by a parent for many years. My observation is that such abuse significantly increases the risks for a person to suffer from a personality disorder that involves a fear of abandonment and an insecurity about relationships. Such people are also more prone to use emotionally manipulative tactics to control people around them. This means they may have both the motivation to be alienators and the skills to do so successfully.

There are certainly some former abused children who will never become parental alienators, so please don’t take the above cautions as hard and fast rules. If you do suspect your partner or spouse may have been abused as a child, I’d highly recommend working through these issues extensively with a qualified mental health professional long before you decide to have children and preferably even before you marry.

Help Your Family and Friends

If you see family or friends going through such dismal experiences as I’ve described above, you should pass along to them information about parental alienation, personality disorders, and emotional child abuse. They likely know little to nothing about these topics, even though they are probably living them firsthand. Our schools are seriously deficient at educating children and young adults in these areas except for a subset of those who delve into psychology or related fields in college. You informing them of your concerns about possible parental alienation may be the only chance they have to get a handle on the problem before it permanently destroys family relationships.

One of the best ways to convey the true destruction that parental alienation causes and how alienators engage in their brainwashing is by passing along a good book on the topic. This helps establish that it is a legitimate problem recognized by experts, it hurts childly badly, and it can grow far worse than what is likely evident in your situation to date. Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind is an excellent choice. Below is an excerpt from the book that introduces the book by outlining the cases of three alienated children that author Amy Baker interviewed along with introductory observations about parental alienation. It gives a flavor for how she’s approaching her study and shows her writing is engaging and not overly academic. I enjoyed the book myself.

Kate’s angry divorcing mother alienates her from her father, making her question everything he does and believing that he must not love her. Over time Kate figures out her mother is a hateful emotional manipulator and eventually moves in with her father who she appreciates for how he has always loved her and refused to engage in ugly brainwashing.

Larissa’s story involves her alienating mother who remains married to her father despite teaching Larissa to hate him. Like Kate, she eventually figures it out and reduces contact with her mother but maintains contact with her father.

In case you mistakenly believe that only mothers are alienators, Jonah’s case shows otherwise. His divorced alcoholic father teaches him to hate his mother and spy on and verbally and physically abuse her. He ends up totally enmeshed with his abusive father and suffers from having no relationship with his mother.

Amazon Kindle for the Web

A tip for using the Amazon Kindle for the Web reading tool below is to click the full-screen expanding box to the right of the “Aa” settings button to let you see more text at once. That box will expand to full-screen. Click it again to return to the normal view.

Use the arrow buttons to flip pages left or right, or you can use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard. The viewer may start on the first page of regular content in the book. If so, you can view the publishing credits and table of contents by flipping backwards several pages.

If you’re interested enough to buy it and money is a concern (as it is for many parents suffering the onslaught of alienators who often also financially assault their targets) note that the Kindle edition of the book costs less and you can read it on your computer or phone if you don’t have a dedicated Kindle reader.

Further Reading

Custom Search

Dr. Amy Baker On Parental Alienation, PAS, and Helping Your Kids Resist Both

Alienating Grandparents Hurts Grandchildren

Borderline Mom: Emotional Self Defense for Children

The Gregory Mantell Show: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Throwaway Parents

Kids’ Parental Alienation Book: “I Don’t Want to Choose!”

Alienating Mother Ordered to Pay $286,641.75 in Fines and Fees

MMPI-2 Can Reveal Parental Alienators

Richard Smulczewski Parental Alienation Case

Jayne Major: Common Questions About Parental Alienation

Loads of Info on Parental Alienation

Overcoming Parental Alienation

Monika Logan: Social Worker Discusses Parental Alienation On Get Your Justice Live

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    January 16th, 2010 at 12:39 | #1

    The following injustice is happening right now, in Montgomery County, Texas, under our laws & in our courts.

    In July, 2009, I was massacred in a 3½ year custody battle for my 6½ year old daughter.

    Convicted child molesters have more access to their children than I do.

    Calls, letters, & gifts are intercepted, & I have no visitation.

    The mother also secreted her 2 month & 14 month old babies 1200 miles from their father & for 15½ years, her family prevented all contact.

    The mother’s history & pattern of hostility, aggression, alienation, & medical mistreatment was well known to psychologist Dr Edward G Silverman, therapist Theresa Burbank, ad litem Lynn Coleman, the attorneys,

    Honorable Judge Suzanne Stovall continued the case for years because the mother’s discovery was incomplete, but contradictorily refused to compel the mother to produce discovery.

    Judge Suzanne Stovall inconsistently ruled on motions, laws, or rules to favor the mother.

    Judge Suzanne Stovall ignored the overwhelming certified/certifiable evidence of violence, hostility, aggression, & abuse by the mother, her family & her friends.

    My lawyers complained that Judge Suzanne Stovall favored the mother.

    Judge Suzanne Stovall punished me with over 20% plus an additional $100, monthly child support.
    For 3 years, I pleaded for a trial or in some way, to present a case.

    Despite 3 years of Hearings, Rule 11’s, hundreds of emails, letters, & conversations, Judge Suzanne Stovall refused to compel the mother to produce discovery, yet granted the mother years of continuances because her discovery was incomplete; including continuing a preferentially set trial.

    The mother & lawyers knew how devastating her discovery would be, but Judge Suzanne Stovall refused to compel production.

    Judge Suzanne Stovall disregarded over 3 years & over 300 exhibited provable charges of Contempt against the mother, including failure to pay child support, interfering with child custody, & worse.

    It has required the written threat of a Writ of Habeas Corpus for the mother to surrender my daughter to me.

    I paid the jury fee & adamantly insisted on a trial, but without a trial, Judge Suzanne Stovall signed a Final Decree that was written to remove me from my daughter’s life.

    Aggravated perjury, forged letters, falsified evidence, unsupported, inconsistent, & unchallenged false accusations, by the mother, CPS, et al., outweighed exhaustive undisputed facts, certified evidence, sworn statements, & objective/testable/verifiable documentation, disproving the accusations, & proving neglect & abuse by the mother.

    For years, the mother has secreted our daughter to doctors, & medically mistreated her.
    For at least 15 months, the mother yo-yoed my daughter on steroids.

    But when pediatricians & specialists examined, x-rayed, diagnosed, & ordered treatment for a real & progressing condition, the mother rejected the doctors and was supported by Judge Stovall, CPS, Theresa Burbank , Edward G Silverman, & Lynn Coleman.

    Ad litem, Lynn Coleman, and the mother refused to attend any doctor’s appointments, but I kept them updated.

    Elaine Baggerley of CPS began diagnosing my daughter as ADHD, and more, on their first meeting.
    Even with the mother’s sworn statements of medically abusing/neglecting my daughter & with the doctors corroborating records of her mistreatment, Judge Suzanne Stovall took my daughter from me & placed her into the mother’s sole custody.

    The mother continues to deliberately, medically mistreat my daughter, neglects her dental care, & the high risk lifestyles exposes my daughter to diseases.

    The mother also medicated her other children with steroids, psychiatric drugs, numerous prescriptions OTC medicines, etc.

    Depositions, CISD records, Sworn statements, & other Certified & Certifiable evidence revealed a home with an AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT FELON, wrist CUTTING, daily VIOLENCE, runaway teen, destruction, criminals, drug abuse (METH, COCAINE, XANAX, OXYCOTIN, etc), frequent police visits & a SEARCH WARRANT confiscated drug paraphernalia, multiple sex partners, multiple suspensions for drugs & violence, burglary, vandalism, shootings, disease, fighting, screaming, profanity, pornography (incl BEASTIALITY), boys & men sleeping over, my daughter sleeping at men’s homes, being taught obscene language & gestures, & so much more.

    With the knowledge &/or support of Dr Edward G Silverman, Lynn T Coleman, Theresa Burbank, & Elaine Baggereley, the mother has so thwarted my daughter’s education that at 6½ years old she is below District Guidelines, in Kindergarten.

    At 4 years old she had her own computer, and could count to 29, count to 100 by tens, write her name, recognize most letters, could tie her shoes, play checkers, play computer & card games, & much more.

    At 6+ years old, she could do none of those, & now she requires special attention, & is a behavioral problem.

    The mother provided & reared her young children on GRAPHICALLY SEXUALLY VIOLENT entertainment and since infancy has repeatedly exposed my daughter to the same.

    Her children became violent, drug abusing criminals, who attended alternative high schools.
    20 months of Theresa Burbank’s therapy and the mother’s sole parenting have resulted in my daughter being referred to a psychiatrist & probably on psychiatric drugs.

    The mother’s family & friends have threatened me at my home and away, & my property has been vandalized.

    I have received harassing, obscene, & middle of the night phone calls.

    The well paid, well insured mother has lived rent & utilities free for 3½ years, but claims to be deep in debt from undisclosed medical expenses.

    The mother has committed tax, CHIPs, Medicaid, & insurance fraud at least since 2003.

    I have neither a history of, nor is there any evidence that I have ever been violent, destructive, abusive, hostile, etc.

    My debt exceeds twice my gross annual income & is increasing.

    Fees & expenses have exceeded 4 times my gross annual income & are increasing.

    I have recorded nearly every contact with the mother, CPS, ad litem, & many others.

    I will be appealing to the Texas: Bar, Judicial Review, Attorneys General, Appellate Courts, Supreme Court, Board of Examiners of Psychologists, TDFPS, etc. and will include:

    medical & doctors records of years of mistreatment
    CPS reports of violence, drugs, medical mistreatment, etc
    psychological evaluations include lying, abuse, etc
    depositions of lying, violence, drug abuse, sex, etc
    CISD records of violence, drugs, sex, etc
    police reports of violence, drugs, shootings, etc
    myspace of violence, drug abuse, sex, pornography, etc
    emails to/from the: ad litem, psychologist, therapist

    I have always loved & wanted my daughter & will never, ever, ever give up trying to rescue her.

  2. January 16th, 2010 at 16:54 | #2

    Thank you for a very thoughtful overview of Parental Alienation and Dr. Baker’s book. If you are interested in reviewing another book on the subject, we would be happy to have you review our book, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation. You can check out some of the reviews we’ve already received at our website,

    We look forward to hearing from you.


    mike jeffries
    Author, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation

  3. Bill Sutherland
    September 6th, 2010 at 15:55 | #3

    I am living through this right now in Montgomery County, Texas and the courts are just letting her get away with it!

    It all started since our first born. Now divorced with two little boys who have both been physically and emotionally abused (not to mention being the target parent of PAS), they have turned this in to a custody battle in which I cannot afford!

    It’s a David versus Goliath thing… between my ex, her mother, her 4th husband (one she had the affair with throughout our 10 year marriage) they make close to 2 million dollars a year.

    My ex told me the day she said she wanted a divorce that if I fight for my kids she would take me for everything and I would be lucky to have supervised visits. For the first four months I had day visits only on the weekends. Now over a year after the divorce was finalized, my boys cried out to a lady from church about the abuse.

    The judge signed an ex-parte’ order, only to lose my boys back to her four days later at a hearing due to her attorney and money I’m sure! I now have to come up with 2k for a court appointed therapist and it’s now a full blown custody battle I can’t afford! I went to pick up my boys this Friday evening as it was my weekend. But she picked them up from the daycare and would not bring them back. To no surprise, after hours of phone calls and emails that lasted to 11 AM the following morning, law enforcement would do nothing and said I needed to take it up with my attorney! At one point Saturday morning they said they would assist me in getting my boys for this holiday weekend and I drove from the Woodlands to downtown Houston to get my decree and back to Montgomery, Texas for them to say they talked to the DA and could not go get the boys and neither could I because when they called her she told them I refused to pick up during the designated time and I forfeited my weekend!

    I need help from some experts or from somewhere! If you were to read the hearing and trial notes and review everything my ex has gotten away with, you would be stunned. It is of my opinion the courts of Montgomery County, Texas are corrupt and certain Judges give preferential treatment to certain lawyers to say the least!

    • September 6th, 2010 at 20:21 | #4


      I’m really sorry to hear of your troubles. Be strong for your kids and keep up the effort to stay in their lives. As much as there is a temptation to counter-alienate against their abusive mother, don’t do it. You can correct the misperceptions you hear coming from your kids, but don’t go on the attack in retaliation and especially not using the kids.

      One thing you should try very hard to do in court is to show with solid evidence that your ex-wife lied to the police. Your ex-wife, if she’s like many sociopathic parents, probably relentlessly slimes your reputation and is making progress at causing others to believe her lies about you including that you are some sort of dishonest monster. This perception can stick, even when it is entirely false, and create a huge amount of damage for you and your children.

      You should be able to get attendance records, including pick-up and drop-off times, from the preschool to show that she picked up the kids on the day you were to pick them up. If you show this to the police officers involved, they may be willing to write a declaration that she told them you refused to pick up the children and this is why they didn’t help you get them for the weekend. They may be willing to briefly talk to the preschool, also, to confirm the records, and then write a report on their findings and then you could obtain a copy of it. You could also subpoena them as witnesses in court.

      You may also want to file a complaint with the police and DA about your ex-wife lying to the police to deprive your children of contact with their father. If they are anything like most law enforcement agencies, it likely won’t get them to do a thing. But if she continues to do this and escalates to the typical abusive pattern of lying to obtain restraining orders and lying to cause you to be prosecuted for violating them, the DA might eventually prosecute for this.

      Please see this story about a Lancaster, Pennsylvania man named Ben Vonderheide who was falsely reported for violating a restraining order because his ex-wife Wendy Flanders and her new boyfriend Theodore Yoder lied to the police and DA. They even manipulated Calvary Church to participate in the attacks on Ben and aid in the parental alienation child abuse against their son Quinta. The DA prosecuted them for their crimes when it became clear through evidence available that they had lied. Flanders was sentenced to 2 years and a $250 fine, Yoder to 1 year and a $250 fine.

      While it is uncommon for the government to do the right thing and punish the actual criminals rather than the falsely accused victim, in this case they did get it right. Perhaps you and others in your situation can learn from this case.

      The involvement of churches in child abuse, particularly parental alienation and wrongfully assisting an abusive woman to terrorize the father of her children, is not all that unusual. Religion can be abused for evil purposes by sociopathic criminals like Wendy Flanders, just as they abuse many other tools. Church people make very easy targets because far too many of them are gullible do-gooders who have a us vs. them mentality, are quick to believes lie and bad things about another person (even though if they truly understood their religion they would not be so susceptible to this), and then become willing to lie, harass, and terrorize on behalf of a convincing sociopath who falsely portrays herself as a victim.

      In the Vonderheide case, if reports of the involvement of Calvary Church of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, are accurate then the DA probably should have filed criminal charges against many officials and members of the church including Pastor George May, Pastor Johnny Miller, Pastor Todd Nathan, Kathy Yoder, and others. Allegations are that they involved themselves in harassment and parental alienation child abuse not only against Vonderheide but against another of Flanders’ past husbands and the children she had with him. Unfortunately, the same church officials and members who make powerful allies for sociopaths also make poor targets for prosecution given that far too many like-minded church people will “stand up” for them regardless of the evidence. Prosecutors who are cowards may not want to risk the wrath of such people and let them get away with their crimes.


  4. Bill Sutherland
    September 11th, 2010 at 21:07 | #5

    Thanks Rob,

    I had my appointment with the child therapist (neurological therapist) and he was playing head games and drilling me! They also mentioned how the other side already paid in full and I had to give them four checks with post-a-notes attached when they could deposit to move forward.

    I told them I hope they do not take a child abuse case and turn it into a money thing. (ironically they bill like attorneys..z go figure).

    The only thing I found positive in that meeting was he said he would listen to what I was not allowed to say in court including hearsay from the children. Not sure if I trust anyone at this point but what do you do? My children are now telling me they do not want to see or sleep with me since I filed the abuse claims! My thoughts are they are being brain washed as they would never say that and typically come running to me!

    I do not believe in hitting my children as there is a more positive approach to discipline than hitting. He is not the father of my children and has no right to touch my children! I have sold everything I have just to survive and meet the financial costs but am losing ground quickly. My ex and her attorney purposely drag things out and do stuff to cause me financial hardship to gain legal advantage. Right now, it’s all in God’s hands and I will continue to do whatever I can to fight for my children.


  5. September 11th, 2010 at 23:14 | #6

    @ Rob

    Rob, thanks for pointing out the Vonderheide case. While they did convict Wendy Flanders and her accomplice for maliciously lying to the police, the government has continued to persecute Ben Vonderheide and contribute to the alienation of his son Quinta.

    I wrote more about what happened to Vonderheide and how he is trying to push for changes in courts and laws to stop violating the Constitution and human rights in Pennsylvania. Please see my article Ben Vonderheide Exposes Pennsylvania’s Abusive Child Profiteering Racket for more details.

  6. October 18th, 2010 at 00:47 | #7

    have been visiting your site for three days. really love your posts. btw i will be doing a study concerning this issue. do you know any other great blogs or maybe online forums where I can get more? many thanks.

  7. October 21st, 2010 at 08:42 | #8

    Parents of Alienated Children are hosting a conference in LA with Dr. Amy J L Baker as the keynote speaker November 13, 2010. For more information visit the website

    [Editor’s note: You can also find information on the event on our site at Southern California Parental Alienation Conference on November 13, 2010.]

  8. Cherie Plante
    November 9th, 2010 at 14:08 | #9

    It seems the focus of your paper is your ex-wife, but I can tell you that ex-husbands are just as capable of this hateful behaviour, as are the spouses of children who don’t want the baggage of pesky in-laws. You make many fine points and there are lots of us out there who have been victimized by these psychopaths. My only point is please do not make this a ‘woman’ thing when it is plain that psychopaths come in all shapes and sizes.

    • November 10th, 2010 at 00:56 | #10


      All of us writing for this site, and we think most of our readers also, are very clear that parental alienation, domestic violence, personality disorders, and sociopathic behaviors are not exclusive to one gender. They affect both. The evidence for this is overwhelming.

      I thought this was made clear by this text in the article:

      In case you mistakenly believe that only mothers are alienators, Jonah’s case shows otherwise. His divorced alcoholic father teaches him to hate his mother and spy on and verbally and physically abuse her. He ends up totally enmeshed with his abusive father and suffers from having no relationship with his mother.

      From Dr. Amy Baker’s findings, parental alienation usually is executed by the custodial parent and usually the custodial parent is the mother. These findings mirror findings from basically everybody else who has studied dozens or more cases selected without factors that would cause bias. (In other words, you might be able to find some study that shows noncustodial fathers are horrible parental alienators, but the study would have to be designed to focus on that group in the first place.)

      Even if a noncustodial parent wanted to alienate the children (which would still be wrong and still be child abuse), it is very difficult for somebody with zero hours to a day or so per week of contact to wrongly influence a child in this way. For it to effect brainwashing of the child, the custodial parent would probably need to have some serious problems himself or herself or to so completely fail to counter the badmouthing and lies that he or she is virtually doing nothing to counter the distortions and negativity being spread by the alienator.

      Noncustodial parents who see their kids more than a day or so per week are more likely to have opportunity to alienate, but even so the custodial parents still have far more opportunities to alienate and to do it for long periods without opposition, corrections, and experiences that would help the children maintain objectivity.

      The one case Baker did find in her interviews discussed in the book in which the noncustodial parent managed to alienate the child involved an adult child “Felicity” who was alienated from her custodial parent by her noncustodial father. I’ll quote a bit from the book on page 114:

      (from Dr. Amy Baker entitled Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind, page 114)

      Felicity exemplified this experience. What makes her story somewhat unique is that the noncustodial parent (her father) was the alienator. Although less common, noncustodial PAS is possible according to Gardner and borne out in this story. Felicity was 18 at the time of the interview. Her mother was 19 and her father was 23 when they met. Neither had been married before. They dated for less than a year before marrying, and 10 months later her mother gave birth to Felicity. She was the only child of a marriage that lasted less than two years. Felicity lived with her mother and had regular visitation with her father throughout her childhood. During much of that period, her parents were involved in an acrimonious court battle over custody and visitation.

      The discussion goes on to cover how the alienation involved bad-mouthing, creating false beliefs that her mother was violent and had thrown furniture at the father and “proved” this with scars (using false “evidence” is common for alienators), and so forth. Felicity eventually found out her father was lying about some of these incidents from other family members who mentioned how he had actually gotten scars as a teenager that he was attributing to her mother’s alleged violence. He was also convicted of child abuse against her younger brother and went to prison. Incidents like these are what helped her to figure out her father is a parental alienator. But in the end, he did himself in when he turned on her. Alienators are often personality disordered or otherwise abusive people, so it is common for them to abuse the children directly in many ways beyond the parental alienation.

      I get the sense that Felicity’s mother may have done some things that weren’t so great in Felicity’s eyes, leaving her open to being influenced about things that may have actually happened, and also was not effective at correcting her father’s lies and attacks.

      This is just a brief glimpse of one of 40 cases discussed in Baker’s book. I’d highly recommend this book to anybody struggling to understand how alienators operate, how much damage they do to their children and the target parent, and getting some ideas on how to counteract the alienation.

      Every one of the other cases discussed in the book involved an alienating parent who was the custodial parent or was heavily involved in a shared custody situation.

      36 out of the 40 alienating parents were the mothers. So this is the common case and it is exactly why you see so many more reports of alienating mothers than alienating fathers. But it doesn’t mean that mothers are intrinsically alienators at all. This is more a commentary on the sexist family law system than on the basic nature of mothers and fathers.

      Shared custody should be the default with a goal of children spending around half their time with each parent in nearly all circumstances in which there are no criminal convictions for crimes that would endanger the children. We generally agree that a jury voting unanimously should be required to shift away from this arrangement as it is clear that judges routinely abuse the law, children, and parents, often for their own personal motives (rewarding or punishing an attorney is a common one) or because they are so biased, lazy, bigoted, or sexist. My opinion is that juries would be less likely to engage in such abuses and such a system would make it so much harder to game the outcome with lies and distortions that fewer people would try to do so. If the public is thoroughly educated on parental alienation, I suspect juries would be far more effective at preventing gross injustices than judges.

      While our dream is that parental alienation, government abuse, cluster B personality disorders, sociopathy, and other topics we cover on this site would simply stop being problems, it’s certainly not going to happen any time soon. Therefore we would really like to find more cases of moms on the receiving end of these kinds of abuse, particularly parental alienation and government persecution, who would be willing to discuss it openly. It would be a great aid to other moms in similar situation and also help drive home the point that the gender-biased groups out there are doing a great disservice to us all by making it harder to push for reform of the broken family law courts around the world by making moms and dads waste way too much time fighting and vilifying each other when the real enemy is more often the government and its allies who benefit from abusing families, children, and parents.

      It is my understanding we will soon be reposting some writings from a mother who has experienced years of parental alienation, access blocking, legal abuse, and persecution by the government.

      If you’d like to write about your case, we’d be happy to help you edit and publish it on our site to share with others. Generally we advise people to stick to substantive details that do not identify the parties involved in their cases unless the level of abuse is extremely high. In that case, we generally advise going after the government officials and other “professionals” involved on not naming the ex or anybody in the family. As malicious as an ex may be, he or she can’t do the damage so many of these people do without the assistance of the government. If a judge is ignoring parental alienation or other abuses in one case, then he or she is probably ignoring them in dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other cases. Such people deserve to be named, held accountable for their crimes, and eliminated from their jobs to stop the harm they are causing.


  9. Katie
    November 12th, 2010 at 01:22 | #11

    The author’s story could have been mine….except I stayed with him for 28 years. After our divorce…..I basically lost my adult kids. They don’t respect me, talk to me like I am garbage, ignore me for months on end…….my sweet babies that I sang to sleep, played with, read to, raised with love……..I thank God their grandparents (my folks) are gone, this would kill them. They were so close to their grandparents which my ex tried to ruin also…he has ruined every person that ever cared for him……he is lonely broken cruel old man….I forgive him …..I miss my babies……I pray for strength…..

  10. Jane
    June 22nd, 2011 at 19:30 | #12

    My daughter married a guy who has alienated us from her. It started out slowly, but has escalated to the point where it is such a chore to even talk to her on the phone once a week without his constant childish interruptions. They live approximately 5 1/2 hours from us. I just recently stopped speaking to her because she is bringing up what a “horrible childhood” she had. I asked her why this is coming up now, when she has not even lived at home for the past 15 years? This guy has poisoned her against me, but then again, I am on to his BS. I am accused of being a “negative person” by her. It is because I point out his crap to her and he does not like it. I guess I will just be there when she finally figures out that she married a big fat, pompous jerk! He thinks that he is an authority on every subject. His mother is also heavily invested in their marriage (she bought their baby a $2,000 nursery). She is a teacher and he is an engineer, so I think that they are fully capable of buying their own things. Also, she is always buying, buying, buying them things. I could go on and on, but I am going to just write her off for now until she comes to her senses.

  11. Dadzrites
    December 23rd, 2011 at 10:23 | #13

    Good Dad from Texas:

    There are cases where the parent was deprived of the children, who had been secreted away by the offending parent and the grandparents. In a $53 MILLION dollar jury verdict, upheld on appeal, the appellate court further awarded guardian ad litem fees ($150,000) and costs for appeal ($25,000). Smith v. Smith, 720 S.W.2d 586 (TexCtApp 1986).

    Large jury verdicts continue to be rendered against family members who assist in child snatching with the snatching parent. A San Antonio, Texas jury awarded almost $6 MILLION dollars. The jury award was for negligent interference with custody & family relationship and for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Weirich v. Weirich, No. 53-M-1985 (Tex. Dec. 5, 1988), reported in 9 Law Alert 18 (Dec. 1989).

  12. Dadzrites
    December 23rd, 2011 at 10:24 | #14

    Dadzrites can be contacted at [email protected], or 973-616-9558 (M-F, 10-5 EST).

  13. February 2nd, 2012 at 19:55 | #15

    Dear Katie,
    your story could be mine. I was married for 34 years and after a year of marriage counc. I was told to leave that my husband had a narcissistic personality disorder. I left, but in the process lost 2 of my 3 children and 5 grandchildren. My exfather-in-law and ex-husband have completely alienated my children by saying that I am a liar and other terrible things. It worked as I have not seen them for 3 years. I could just clip and paste your message here and that would be me, I rocked and sang to my children, they were my number 1 priority, They are gone. I have been in therapy and was told to go on, but all I have ever wanted to be was a mother and grandmother. How do you go on? How do I get my children back?

  14. Jennifer
    May 22nd, 2012 at 17:28 | #16

    Dottie, My thoughts and prayers with you. I experience the same but my children are still young and I am fighting. It hurts so bad sometimes I wake from dreams of trying to find my children ( I also raised them at home and was so close with them as infants) breathless and panicing. My husband tries so hard to comfort me. I know your pain and I pray for you. To love and know the truth but experience an ex spouses hatefulness and anger perpertrated by your children can never be described. My thoughts with you.

  15. Christina
    July 9th, 2012 at 07:03 | #17

    I was a victim of PAS. I also have borderline personality disorder. But a lot of what your stating may have been true for you it doesn’t apply to all. I am married with a child. Although I avoid my husbands parents I have great reason to do so. Not to get my way but because they can be emotionally abusive to me. My child has a great relationship with them. I’m only stating this because even though some people are labled with with these things doesn’t mean we will make the same choices or mistakes as a handful of people sequenced with the disorders or backgrounds.

  16. July 9th, 2012 at 19:01 | #18


    Fair enough, and let me add something to back up what you are saying.

    There’s a tendency for people with personality disorders to get into relationships with other people who have also been abused or emotionally neglected. Perhaps your husband also needs to look at his relationships with his parents to work through any issues there. I’m not saying for sure there are problems there, but what you have written suggests there are.

    What do your in-laws do that is emotionally abusive to you?

    The label BPD is really not a great label because it is far too vague and imprecise. When you look at the nine DSM-IV criteria for BPD, there are so many variations (hundreds) of symptoms and behavior profiles that are all labeled the same.

    At a minimum, BPD should be broken up into the “acting in” (largely self-harming) style BPD and “acting out” (largely harming and controlling others) style BPD. It is possible for one person with BPD to have behaviors from both of these subgroups, but in practice it appears that is not so common.

    Those in the “acting in” subgroup are more likely to get help without badly harming other people. Those in the “acting out” subgroup often deny they have a problem and instead paint their loved ones or former loved ones as being crazy or abusive without accepting any responsibility for their own actions, behaviors, and misperceptions.

  17. Alan
    July 31st, 2012 at 17:46 | #19

    Hindsight including close examination and analysis of the past is a wonderful thing isn’t it? When we were young, all that mattered was that we got along and “loved each other”. Extensive background screening, as done by prospective employers today, would no doubt eliminate >95% of relationships today.
    I fell for her on the first date, proposed on the second, and a year later we were married.
    Now, 30 years later and 5 years since we parted ways, many questions are being answered.
    She was the youngest daughter of a farmer family, grew up in isolation. Spectacularly beautiful from a pre-teen to this day 40 years later, she rarely shared any of the details of her childhood years with me, except to indicate being “pinned down and kissed” when she was a pre-teen by family members, two of whom are now dead.
    Weird little signs were there of what was ahead. Whenever there was nudity in any movie we watched, she would leave the room. Sex was always on my initiation, with little emotion or excitement from her during the act. She was a nursery school teacher for more than 30 years, never progressing beyond being in the comforting sights, sounds and smells of a day care, where she could continue to be a child. Even right up to her late 40’s when we were together, she talked and behaved like one in her care, in a juvenile and child-like voice and mannerism. It was cute 30 years ago but she never progressed beyond that.
    She was never close to her dad, both of them rarely venturing within 10 feet of each other and rarely speaking to each other, only engaging in shallow superficial weather small talk whenever they were together. He was an “abstainer” and I-Found-God Baptist. My speculation is he is aware of something, gave up alcohol and found his God to atone for certain incidents. Guilt and fear.
    She also kept me away from her parents and family, and in a strange way, I now realize they were alienated from me from almost day one.
    I should add that I was from an average middle class family and with a decent education and career in engineering. No drugs, little alcohol, no gambling or smoking; devoted family values, not perfect but not COPS material either.
    When our first child was born, she started to shield him from me almost overnight. Alone behind closed doors for 2 – 3 hour nightly baths and storytime, anything and everything to exclude me from the tight relationship she was forming with my son.
    I would do all the dad things as much as I could whenever I had dad time with my son, which she rarely allowed. When he was a toddler to age 5, in social picnics and bbq’s, he would spend more time with the other dads than with me. But one gets used to it and accepts it as normal, right? She got pregnant again, once again wishing and hoping for a girl. When my second son was born, after the emergency C-Section, she expressed disappointment, then allowed his body weight to drop by 40% over the next 8 weeks by claiming her milk just wasn’t kicking in. The doctor ordered her to use formula and his weight recovered. A “hmmmmmm” moment please.
    The following decade was good, we all got used to each other’s quirks and life progressed as a family. We travelled a lot, overseas and cross country, weekends at restaurants and resort hotels. I loved her like no man could love a woman, told her so daily, told her how beautiful she was, gave her nice gifts and took her wherever she wanted.
    My older son started university and decided to move out. The night he made that announcement, I found her with her face buried in his lap and arms tight around his waist, crying and sobbing in hysterics. Shortly after, words were exchanged and irreconcilable differences yadda yadda yadda and we separated. Same as when some parents have a child die.
    My younger son and I were close, and she had always resented that, and resented my attempts to be close with my older son.
    Now, 5 years later, neither son will talk to me, a gradual erosion and elimination of my relationship with both. My ex is now with her “partner” who is not a man. Her friends are almost all divorced pre-school teachers who also are not with men, or have never married. Under her care my younger son (who is over 18 now) repeatedly failed classes, gained 60 lbs, became socially ignorant (failing to make friends, not say thank you and please, etc), and has repeatedly refused my offers to help with education and career guidance, tutoring, preferring to live under her care, free of any rules or responsibilities. At 19, I see him going in to Wal-Mart with his mom on a Saturday night when he should be out with friends. They both just returned from a week in a Caribbean resort. Without going on and on about this, she is preventing him from growing up and maturing, preferring to keep in around as a dependent, creating this co-dependency. My older son had moved in her basement for a couple months while in between jobs and three and a half years later he is still there, rent free. Both my boys have been alienated from me, having forgotten they have a dad. I tried to keep the relationships alive for years, by trying everything counseling and therapists suggested, but to no avail. People who know me and the boys can’t understand why this is happening, but after reading this page, it all makes sense. My crime it seems was being male. There was history in my ex-wife’s past, abuse by family members close to her. As a pre-school teacher for 30 years, not only could she live in the safe and happy world of a day care but play the protector of other children. She rarely conversed with any men. All her facebook friends are women or family members. During our marriage, several of her pre-school friends finally got married, only to divorce childless less than a couple of years later. They never dated a man again, saying they weren’t ready. Easier to say you are divorced than to say you are 50 and never married. Seems my ex followed the pattern, entered the life of marriage as a fake façade, and bailed when I had served my purpose.
    I became her ghosts, the people from her past who hurt her, took away the innocence of her childhood. And she punished them through me by taking away what mattered the most to me, my two boys. I have no other family except my boys, and she knew exactly how to hurt me. I can’t compete with a lifetime of brainwashing, lies and crafty manipulation, gaslighting and passive aggressive behavior. Many times she would set up a situation guaranteed to make me lose my temper (something beyond rare now ever since we parted ways 5 years ago), then take the boys into the dark basement to hide, one under each arm. Great way to condition the boys to fear dad and lose respect for him.
    My ex-wife has a sister. While married, her and her husband would visit her parents twice a month. When her husband died 10 years ago, she stopped visiting her parents. She too has never been close to her dad (who is 92). Hmmmmmm….
    I guess the point of my rant is this. In engineering, when something fails, we do root cause analysis. Ask why something happened at least 5 times to discover the real reason and not the superficial reasons.
    Why are my two boys alienated from me? Was it something I said or did? No…I was in a situation I never had a chance of winning. I married a girl with traumatic experiences from her childhood that caused her to distrust and hate men.
    Except it was in her subconscious. She had blocked it. Explains why she rarely, if ever, told stories of her childhood. It’s as if her childhood never happened. 25 years with someone and I know almost nothing about her from before I met her. On the surface she claimed to love me. But her subconscious resented me. She built a wall between me and her family because she hated her dad for his actions, her mom for knowing it and not doing anything about it, her mom going as far as punishing and blaming her daughter (my ex) for letting it happen in the first place (the very little that I pieced together over 25 years).
    Hindsight 20/20 is wonderful. Was there any indication 30 years ago when we met that something was amiss? Would I have even spotted it in my early 20’s? Not likely.
    I miss my boys, but I am also tired of “always being there for them”. After years of trying to win their trust and affection, I give up. Now it’s my turn to enjoy life and what few years I have left. If and when they come around, they know how and where to find me. I love them, I miss them, terribly. But I have to live too. After all, they are 19 and 25 and adults now.
    Reading experiences of other people, I realize I am not alone or unique. I also realize that the alienating parent did not say at the age of 12, “…one day I will tear my children away from their father because it pleases me…” No, not that simple. Something in their past made them what they are today. Some of us and our children are victims of events that took place before we met our partners.
    This is my story. The situation I am in is no doubt different than yours. I have forgiven my ex, and hope that she finds peace someday.

  18. July 31st, 2012 at 21:59 | #20

    @ Alan

    Thanks for sharing your story with our readers. You have our sympathies.

    As I understand it, you believe that your ex-wife was sexually abused as a child by some number of family members. Sexual abuse as a child can certainly cause insecurities and emotional problems that lead to personality disorders and severe alienating behaviors in adult years. My understanding is that one-time sexual abuse incidents do not generally cause these kinds of damage. It is repeated abuse of any sort (sexual but also emotional, verbal, and physical) that tend to cause lasting damage such as triggering personality disorders.

    Not all sexual abuse is conducted by males. There is a significant problem with sexual abuse by females, also. Just read a few of the many stories of female teachers coercing or enticing their male students to have sex with them and what happens to these boys and you will see how much damage it can cause. Such boys are often treated like they should have enjoyed being sexually abused and raped, and are then made to pay child support to their rapists if the rapist becomes pregnant. Sexual abuse, like domestic violence, is not a gender problem. It is a problem of sociopathic people of both genders and any sexual orientation abusing other people who were either ignorant or incapable of protecting themselves until it was too late.

    From your comment, it sounds like you believe that your ex-wife hates men. That may be the case in part if her abusers were male. But a lot of what you are describing also can happen even if she did not hate men. Many of these behaviors are driven by deep insecurities and need to obsessively control and manipulate everybody around them to reduce their chance of feeling bad again like happened when they were being abused in childhood.

    Being male does not help your situation at all as there is very obvious bias against men in courts and society regarding anything to do with families. To be clear, there are also a lot of women being abused by courts, too. So again we take the position that in the general sense this is not a gender issue but rather an abuse issue that transcends gender with the particulars varying in ways that make some people think it is just sexism when there is more going on that that. I think this is an example of how our usual positions here deviate a bit from the positions held by some of the men’s and father’s rights groups. We support their goal for gender equality, but at the same time have to point out that some of what is going on in our society that appears to be sexism against men is in actuality abuse of power by the government and particularly by the courts. Government and courts abuse many women, too, and these women need help just as much as the men who are being abused.

    You commented about your ex-wife’s sister having similar problems. That is not unusual as abuse tends to run in families and affect all family members in some way.

    Your comments about the bedtime / bathtime ritual to deny you time with your oldest son are something that I think it common. I recognize this from my situation, too, only it was more extensive than just about baths and story reading. It extended to a fake interest in religion (the kids have to go to church, the same church she is lying to about me as part of her distortion campaign), scheduling everything (breakfast, play time, dinner time, the works) to deny my time with the oldest child, and then the “play the victim” drivel about how I supposedly don’t care about my family because I don’t spend time with them given that the ex manipulated everything to make it very difficult for me to work and see my family. And of course if I cut back on work, then she would complain about that because she wanted me to work for various reasons (greed over the money and other benefits to her plus selfishness and insecurities about me spending time with the kids).

    Objective root cause analysis is in my opinion beyond the capability of most of the people running the show. They are too stupid, biased, or drunk with their own power to care about facts or how to help people. The system is so broken and corrupt that it is unlikely to be fixed without completely gutting it and starting over again.

    Kids need to be taught how to identify abusers and abused and people with personality disorders, particularly sociopaths. Unfortunately there are few if any resources designed to help kids to do this. Like you, I married a woman who is an alienator with a history of abuse in her childhood including emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Only after marrying her did some of the signs become evident. Even then, I was too ignorant to understand what a threat she was to me until much later, after she had essentially destroyed my life with her lies. In the typical fashion, the court ruled she was a liar and then rewarded her for lying. And so today she goes right on lying against not just me but against our kids and my new wife and many other people.

    I think there is a way to help kids through parental alienation, but unfortunately most people don’t start to learn about it until there is already a lot of damage to the kids so it is a major uphill battle.

    The courts, if they operated in any sane and legal fashion, would treat any allegations of abuse as suspect and instantly put that family under a long-term microscope with therapy for all members and all therapists being required to communicate with each other and the court. Absent a criminal conviction, custody should be 50/50 with no child support except in cases where one parent is wealthy and the other is in poverty. Even then, the child support should be based upon reasonable needs of the children such as food, clothes, medical care, and educational needs (books, a computer, etc.). The family should be worked with to help make the 50/50 custody split work successfully. If that isn’t happening, usually it is clear after a year or two who the problem is. And at that point, it may be time to deviate from the 50/50 custody split to protect the kids from the troublemaker.

    Instead, what usually happens today is one of two things. One is that the abuse allegations are treated as being factual and due process is denied. This often happens even when they are outright lies with no evidence to support them.

    The other common outcome is that the court pretends a short “custody evaluation” is going to be able to get to the bottom of what is going on. That is utter lunacy given that many people with personality disorders take several years to be diagnosed with them and that they are often very good at manipulating therapists to get them to help abuse their victims. How is some “expert” going to reliably fully understand what is going on from talking with all parties a few times over the course of a few months? Sometimes the experts do get it right, but often they do not.

    Ultimately, neither the paid experts nor the judges should have a right to decide anything because they are inherently biased by their financial interests in maintaining a high-conflict mess by which they can profit from the family. So what you see happen is often that the court consistently fails to stop the abuse and even rewards the abuser and this continues the court battles for the rest of the children’s childhoods. These decisions belong in the hands of a jury of peers who have no financial interests at stake. Every judge in the family law system has a financial interest in encouraging high conflict cases to remain high conflict because it gets them job security. Furthermore, for those judges who are sociopaths themselves, controlling so many people with their reign of terror makes them feel powerful. And perhaps this is also related to why the sociopaths on the bench tend to side with the sociopathic parent — they see something of themselves in the sociopathic parent and something of those they hate in the abused parent.

    Another thing that I think is happening in your case is emotional parentification or emotional incest. I have not written a lot about it, but there are a number of other sites that mention the problems caused by emotional parentification. Try Out of the Fog’s page on emotional parentification to get you started.

    Maybe you should consider sending them a copy of Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind with a note that says that this reminds you of what happened to them and you. They, particularly the 25 year old, may be old enough to understand it. If there are any family members who are close to both you and your sons, maybe try sharing this book with them, too. Your sons may not take what you have to say as being well-intentioned, but if they hear it from somebody else first then perhaps they will pay more attention to it.


  19. Alan
    August 7th, 2012 at 10:47 | #21

    @ Rob

    Thank you for the insight, opinion, support and data.
    What I read about Emotional Parentification was disturbing at first, as everything I read mirrored my experience with my ex and son(s). I can’t compete with a lifetime of brainwashing and manipulation, and hope in time they will see the truth.

    Once away from the daily interaction with my ex, and having learned so much about BPD variations, I can piece together the hundreds of occasions where I was lied to, passive aggressive behavious, gaslighting, etc. Love is truly blind, and when the love fog lifts, and you can recall specific incidents, and the bigger behaviour pattern, it all makes sense.

    Pink Floyd, “Mother”: “….mothers gonna put all of her fears into you…mothers gonna keep baby cosy and warm…”

    It hurts to lose the children I raised for almost 20 years each. They know where to find me. I no longer have the energy left in me to chase after them and kiss their a$$es. They hurt me too, unwittingly. I will always love them, but I’m tired, drained, exhausted playing her game. She won. I lost my girlfriend of over 3 years because I sided with my boys and defended their actions, refusing to beieve the truth she was putting before me.
    Not worth it. At 19 and 25, no longer dependant toddlers, my boys must also live with the decisions they have made. Time will heal.

  20. August 8th, 2012 at 03:29 | #22

    @ Alan

    Maybe give yourself a couple of years to heal and then try reaching out to your kids again. Just be sure to do it from a distance that feels safe.

    Some of these kids will get it on their own that things were not right with the alienating / parentifying parent, but a lot need some help to understand that. Nudging the people around them with some information that helps point them in the right direction may help more than trying to directly confronting them with it because these kids often side with their abusers against anybody their abusers dislike.

    What did the kids do to so anger your girlfriend?


  21. Alan
    August 10th, 2012 at 14:07 | #23

    Again, thank you for your support. I suppose had I had a normal live, I could have handled this better, seen the signs earlier, seeked counselling sooner.
    Born overseas to incredible narcissistic parents who never should have had thankfully one child, (an accident I was), abandoned regularly by both, bounced from one relative and/or friend and or boarding school, “Take him; I dont want him, YOU take him; Well how am I supposed to party with HIM around, I’ll take him to an orphanage/boarding school/relative and have YOU pay for his keep”…
    15 schools in 4 countries by the time I was 14 and starting grade 9, I lived with mom and dad, then dad and alcoholic stepmom who beat me regularly because she was mad at my dad, and finally mom and dimwitted stepdad who took out his anger against my mom on me with endless and I mean endless yelling. When they had their own kids, I was of no use to them and was kicked out of the house. I lived on next to nothing on my own and finished school and got a college diploma and worked in engineering. In my original post, I did state, “I was from an average middle class family and with a decent education and career in engineering”….and that is true.
    During my childhood years, I experienced war, witnessed murders and suicides, was beaten regularly by stepmom and neighbourhood bullies (skinny blonde super white kid in a very dark part of NYC).
    With all that turmoil of growing up, I found peace and serenity with my ex wife, her sweet, calm, happy and gentle personality was an oasis amid the darkness that was my youth. Like a siren singing her song, i was drawn to her, where I remained faithful and loving right up to the end.
    The signs were there, but I ignored them Love being blind and all. A therapist told me that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (I only mentioned a fraction of my life here), and the PTSD caused me to see things differently, I saw what I wanted to see.
    Today, part of the PTSD, I trust no one, believe no one, just me. The kids, my boys, are shunning me, and rather than confront them, I’m being passive, as I have no fight left in me, no desire to confront anyone. That, has been the wedge that has driven my girlfriend and I apart. She can’t wait to tell them what they need to hear. I don’t have it in me to confront anyone. Life has taken it away from me.
    She sees how it’s breaking me to pieces, losing my boys, and thinks they need to be told off. next week is my birthday. I doubt I will hear from them, as they had ignored my birthday even when they WERE in touch.

  22. Ignema
    August 10th, 2012 at 15:21 | #24

    rob we have talked before now i need advice, how can i reconnect with my children after close to 3 years they don`t want to even talk with me my x never once upheld her end of the divorce agreement and used the law with a trespass order against me to keep me from contacting them please contact me on my email and i will inform you my name and look forward to your advice

  23. August 11th, 2012 at 22:52 | #25

    @ Alan

    Your childhood sounds a bit like that of Erin Pizzey, the famous DV activist who was one of the first to point out that the women showing up in the shelters she set up were often more violent than the men in their lives. Her parents were diplomats for UK and she grew up in abusive homes around the world herself.

    PTSD usually is associated with one or a few highly traumatic incidents. What you describe sounds more like Complex PTSD, often abbreviated as C-PTSD. Among other things, C-PTSD causes trouble trusting anybody or anything. It’s only natural to feel this way given your experience.

    As a therapist I once saw told me, “you married a psychopath, make sure it doesn’t happen again”. Personally I believe my ex was more of a sociopath than a psychopath as in my mind sociopaths are better are portraying themselves as “victims” or “nice people” to the uninformed. The point I took away from this is that people who fall into a relationship with abusers such as sociopaths or psychopaths are prone to do it again unless they take a hard look at why they allowed themselves to be abused and how to recognize when a person is likely to be an abuser.

    I strongly recommend that you get a book called The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engel and that you read it and do all the exercises in it. This will help you identify how your parents caused psychological harm to you, outline what that harm is, and recognize how your abusive marriage partly stemmed from trying to resolve emotional issues of your childhood.

    I wrote about this book in a past article called Relationships and Divorces with Someone Who Suffers Borderline Personality Disorder and that article might help you evaluate whether the book could be useful to you.

    Not everybody who gets hooked up with an abuser in a marriage was abused by their families. My parents were not abusive towards me or anybody else. I tend towards being too tolerant of being mistreated and trying to help people out even when it ends up hurting me. This is common for a significant number people who get into marriages with abusers who were not themselves abused as kids.

    Without coming to terms with your past, you are likely to continue to get yourself into abusive situations such as by falling into new relationships with people who are likely to be abusive to you. C-PTSD may encourage you to just stay away from people and to not trust anybody, but that isn’t a great way to live your life for most people. Much better is to learn how to identify and avoid abusers and how to prevent what could be good relationships from deteriorating into abusive ones.


  24. August 11th, 2012 at 23:54 | #26

    @ Ignema

    I’ve sent you an email.

    Can you share more information on the current custody and living arrangements?

    I am guessing that you may have a court order stating you are to be able to see the kids, but your ex will not cooperate with it and after years of this your kids won’t have anything to do with you.

    If that is accurate, you may need to pursue action via a contempt of court hearing seeking revised custody orders that can overcome the access blocking and alienation of your ex.


  25. Alan
    August 12th, 2012 at 16:21 | #27

    Thank you for the insight and opinion….you have opened many windows I was not aware of. I will most definately use the resources you have provided on my attempt to heal.
    Sadly, with all I have gone through, I am still convinced that the story of Alan will end like this.
    I am days or weeks, but no more than a few months away from losing my employment yet once again. A casualty of the telecom meltdown 12 years ago, the truth about what a fake sham my marriage was began to surface when I no longer made the big bucks. Being at home and/or underemployed, I began to see cracks and lies I was previously oblivious to.
    One job after another to pay the bills while the tech sector recovered, I thought I was back in the game. The current telecom company in the news these days with its impending demise is my employer. Many have already been fired, and the rest of us are waiting our turn.
    Once out of a job, girlfriend moving out, boys alienated, no relatives or friends left, I will finally have the opportunity to do my bucket list and travel around the world. Along with the 15 schools I attended in 4 countries by the time I was 14, I have been to 25 countries on 4 continents. Having liquidated all my assests, I will backpack east, cross the atlantic. walk the El Camino in Spain, and begin to explore the world, trying to find the answers and inner peace, much like Bill Murray in “The Razors Edge”.
    But, I do know this, one day not too long in the future, I will be on a domestic bus, missing windows and seats, struggling to make it up some mountain. The passengers include goats and chickens….at some part of that journey, I will know….thats when I will ask the driver to stop, get off the bus, watch it continue out of sight, and will walk towards the hills to the north, disappearing into the misty raindrops forever, never to be seen or heard from again…living out my days where no one can or will ever hurt me again.

  26. Lisa
    October 12th, 2012 at 11:10 | #28

    I have read these stories and must say that they sound all too familiar. I have a question. How do you get the kids back emotionally when they engage in the exact behavior as the mother? They lie (big and small) and refuse to admit it even when caught red handed, manipulate, act out with violence, cut people off, refuse to make any effort, use people around them, disrespect authority, etc. (These are seen in both the mother and the children). I know that they say you cannot diagnose someone until they are 18 but I love the analogy to a baseball bat….you don’t need scientific proof to know that it hurts when you are hit and that it isn’t right to do so. We don’t need a diagnosis to know without a doubt that at least the middle child (who is almost 14) is exactly like the mother and has been showing major signs since the age of 9 or 10. The court order gives us 40% of their time but the mother and the kids refuse to honor it. When they do come over it is almost as if they make us pay the price for making them come and the war is on. So we could go to court and file a motion of contempt but what is the point if the kids are going to treat us as badly as the mother does? We have a 4 month old baby that we have to protect from this. Do we just throw in the towel and focus on the baby? Everything I have read says there is no cure for a sociopath. If there is no cure or remedy then what is the point of fighting the fight when you know the end result is loss and heartache and possible influence over an innocent baby?

    Thanks for the feedback.

  27. May 27th, 2016 at 06:24 | #29

    C@Cherie Plante
    It is more of a women thing, the reason being is the “motherly biological instinct” for kids to have a closer bond with mother. Women play a better victim role than a man does men being the stringer of the two in their eyes

  28. Dawn M. Goodman
    August 20th, 2016 at 15:09 | #30

    Every thing done in the dark will come to light.

  29. don
    February 19th, 2017 at 22:15 | #31

    @Bill Sutherland
    Bill, I have learned. There is no hope. The system is a fraud designed to destroy children, families, and father’s. The best thing you can do is solve someone else’s problem. If you try to solve your own problem, they will catch you. Lawyers and their families are fair game.

  30. D. Michelle Ives
    June 29th, 2020 at 19:04 | #32

    I have a WEALTH of information for u on the interactions a d dynamics, spanning over forty years and suffering at least now myself in a third generation struggeling with P.A.S.! This is by far the worst! My daughter died in 2007, a her daughter, my only grandchild needs help DESPERATELY! I love her with all my heart! After I discovered some things she was doing a couple of years ago starting with viewing porn, escaping and getting more extreme with cutting. Leading to a

    totally rejecting me. &

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