Category: custody

awareness, child abuser, cps, custody, false allegations, family, home, love, parental alienation syndrome
Backlash Against Parental Alienation: Denial and Skepticism About Psychological Abuse

By Richard A Warshack, Psychologist and expert on P.A.S. @richardwarshack

This post is in honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day—April 25.

A boy wrote a letter to his mother telling her that she belonged in a mental institution, that she was nothing to him, that she was nothing but a screw-up, that she was sick, selfish, that he wanted to have nothing to do with her or any of her relatives, and that he hoped she died a horrible, painful death. In other words, this boy disowned his mother with the most aggressive, vile, and hateful language.

The father’s attorney attempted to minimize the child’s alienation by claiming that the boy merely loved his dad a lot more than he loved his mom.

Attorneys spin the facts to zealously advocate for their clients’ positions. We expect it.

But what excuse do others have for denying the reality that a child can become irrationally alienated from a good and formerly loved parent? And for denying the reality that the child’s unjustified rejection of one parent can be traced to the other parent’s relentless manipulations to drive a wedge between child and parent?

How could anyone who works in the family law system deny the reality — affirmed nearly unanimously by legal and mental health professionals — that children can be influenced by one parent to turn against the other parent?

Encouraging a child to align with one parent against the other, and teaching a child to hate a parent for no good reason, is cruel. If a teacher did this to a student, bad-mouthed a child’s parents and systematically undermined the child’s love and respect for her parents, that teacher would be out of a job.

“Stealing the soul,” is how I described this process in DIVORCE POISON—enlisting children as agents in their own deprivation and violating children’s trust.

Leading authorities on divorce agree. Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Janet Johnston held no punches: “Whether such parents are aware of the negative impact on the child, these behaviors of the aligned parent (and his or her supporters) constitute emotional abuse of the child.”

Society has a checkered track record in recognizing and protecting children from abuse. Denial and minimization intermittently subdue awareness and acknowledgment. It has been this way with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, and with psychological abuse. So we should not be surprised that a subculture of parents and professionals denies that children can be manipulated to reject a parent for no good reason—or that they go so far as to claim that most children will turn against the parent who is abusing them in these ways.

How do deniers rationalize their apparent blindness?
Here are five strategies.

1. Deflect attention from the reality of divorce poison and its destructive impact with debates about whether parental alienation constitutes a bona fide syndrome. The claim is that because the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-5) does not include the term “parental alienation,” the problem must be bogus. You also will not find “reckless driving syndrome” in the DSM-5. But you would be wise to avoid getting in a car with a driver who has this problem. Children need protection from reckless, toxic parenting, regardless of how we label the parent’s behavior. Moreover, the DSM-5 does refer to the concept of irrational parental alienation. The diagnostic manual mentions “unwarranted feelings of estrangement” as an example of the diagnosis: Parent–Child Relational Problem.

To the parent who loses her child, or the child who loses a parent, it matters little whether we label the loss a syndrome, a disorder, a condition, or a problem. What matters is whether a child is suffering and whether a parent’s behavior contributes to a child’s suffering.

2. Claim that it is only a speculation, hypothesis, or theory that children can become alienated from one parent when exposed to the other parent’s negative influence. As I explained in my article, “Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation,” there is nothing theoretical or speculative about the existence of irrationally alienated children. These children can be directly observed by anyone willing to look.

3. Attribute unsupportable, fake positions to parental alienation studies, and then refute the fake positions—a tactic known as “attacking a straw man.” For instance, a recently published study claimed that “the alienation hypothesis” (see denial strategy #2 above) maintains that parental denigration is only unilateral, not reciprocal, and that all children exposed to parental denigration become alienated from the target of denigration. When the study found that a group of volunteer college students reported that both parents denigrated each other, and the children did not reject either parent, the authors of the study concluded that “the alienation hypothesis” was not supported and that parental denigration does not cause children to reject the parent who is denigrated.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that no scholar has claimed that parental denigration necessarily leads to a child rejecting the denigrated parent. Of course many children whose parents badmouth each other maintain relationships with both parents. Rejecting a parent is an extreme consequence, not a common one. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with irrationally alienated children knows that these children are reluctant to admit that their favored parent maligned their other parent— in fact, these children are reluctant to admit anything negative about the parent whom they favor.

Researchers who genuinely want to learn about the forces that lead children to irrationally reject a parent will begin by studying alienated children. Studying children who are not alienated merely makes the obvious point that their parents occasionally bad-mouth each other without alienating the children from either parent. This is the sort of “scholarship” that gives social science a bad odor because the study advocates for and confirms a bias against the existence of parental alienation.

4. Ignore studies that fail to support one’s pet theories. For example, while promoting skepticism about the notion that children can be manipulated by a parent to hate the other parent, the authors of the study mentioned above failed to cite the largest study, published by the American Bar Association, that explicitly attributed children’s problems to being brainwashed by one parent against the other. They also failed to cite the volume of scientific evidence about various mechanisms by which children’s attitudes can be influenced and by which negative stereotypes about a parent can be promulgated.

Children’s feelings and behavior toward each parent are influenced by the way their parents treat each other. Does any reasonable person seriously believe otherwise—that children are immune from a parent’s influence? If so, tell that to all the child psychologists and authors who study and write about how to raise smarter, healthier, happier, and better behaved children.

Ironically, one of the authors of the straw-man study, in a previous article, railed against scholars who selectively cite research that confirms their biases, a tactic he called “cherry picking” or “stacking the deck.” Pot, meet kettle.

5. Promulgate, or accept without investigation or critical scrutiny, dramatic and exaggerated claims that the evaluator, therapist, child representative, and judge in a case mistook a child’s justified rejection of a parent for unjustified alienation, or that children removed from toxic alienating environments have been abused by the family court system. Such claims are repeated without considering all the evidence weighed by the court in reaching its decision.

We have a lot to learn about the roots of parental alienation and about why some children become ensnared in a campaign of hatred toward a parent while others resist. And why some children draw closer to the target of bad-mouthing and reject the parent who dispenses divorce poison, a phenomenon called “blowback” in the video, WELCOME BACK, PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION.

But the existence of parents who effectively teach their children to hate the other parent, and of children who absorb this lesson, is beyond dispute.

Exactly two weeks before Parental Alienation Awareness Day in 2017, British High Court Justice Russell delivered her judgment in a Liverpool family court case. She wrote, “By manipulating her children, [the mother] has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions.”

Do the deniers and skeptics think Justice Russell was deluded?

As journalist Kathleen Parker observed, “Anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too.”

We may not want to face the fact that some parents prey on the children in their charge—physically, sexually, or emotionally. Often these parents carefully groom children to engage in harmful acts that victimize children. Whether children are victims of sexual abuse or psychological abuse, we must not turn a blind eye to them.

The fact that some children are able to resist does not obscure the reality that such abuse exists. Professionals who feed denial and skepticism play into the hands of those who want us to look away.

Because deniers and skeptics contribute to a backlash against protecting psychologically abused children from efforts to alienate them from a parent, 13 years after it was introduced we still need Parental Alienation Awareness Day to shine a light on the plight of children and parents caught in this maelstrom, and to remind us that much work remains to be done.

#PAADay #ParentalAlienation

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, custody, death, law, lawsuits, legal, texas
Lawsuit Accusing Texas of “Poorly Supervising Foster Children” Moves Forward

“Children are being harmed. And
the state knows it and is basically
disregarding the harm to children”

Julie Wilson
Infowars.com
August 29, 2013

A class-action lawsuit filed in 2011
on behalf of nine Texas children
has been given the go ahead by a
federal judge on Thursday. The
lawsuit accuses Texas of “poorly
supervising foster children,”
reported AP.

The New York-based Children’s
Rights group is behind the push for
justice for more than 12,000 abused
and neglected Texas children that
were permanently removed from
their natural homes.

Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry
said the child rights group has sued
more than 15 states for “mistreatment of foster children” and lost just two of those cases.

“Children are being harmed. And
the state knows it and is basically
disregarding the harm to children,”
she said.

Last month Infowars reported on
two-year old Alexandria Hill who
was killed while under the care of
Texas Child Protective Services
(CPS).

Alexandria was taken from
her home because her parents
allegedly smoked pot after their
daughter went to sleep. Foster mom
Sherri Small is facing capital
murder charges for brutally
slamming Alexandria’s head,
causing her to die from blunt force
trauma.

Texas mentor, the agency
responsible for placing Alexandria
with foster mom Small, is the third
largest foster care contractor in the
state.

State records show that Texas
Mentor’s Arlington office was placed
on a six-month evaluation after
they were cited for 114 violations in
56 foster homes over a two year
span, reported the Dallas News.

State funding for CPS has been
increased twice over the past eight
years, but the agency continues to
fail majorly, endangering thousands
of children.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge
Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi
said Children’s Rights has provided
substantial “preliminary evidence”
proving CPS caseworkers to be
“overworked.”

The judge also noted a “high turnover among CPS conservatorship workers,” whom are responsible for protecting the
young foster children.

“A caseworker that is so overburdened that she cannot visit the children she is responsible for…cannot fulfill this function,” wrote Judge Jack.

The ruling is based on a three-day
hearing in January and is expected
to proceed hopefully exposing the
corruption and failures inside the
CPS system.

This article was posted: Thursday,
August 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Collin County, Texas, cps, custody, death, families, family, law, murder, suicide
Mother Kills Child Before Turning Gun on Herself

Police say apparent murder-suicide occurred after judge awarded custody to father

By Frank Heinz
|  Saturday, Oct 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:32 PM CDT

Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

Police say the apparent murder-suicide occurred shortly after a judge awarded custody to the boy’s father.

A woman shot and killed her 7-year-old son before turning the gun on herself late Friday morning in Sachse, police said.

Officers forced their way into the home after hearing gunshots and found 43-year-old Karen Hayslett-McCall and 7-year-old Eryk Hayslett-McCall in an upstairs bedroom at about 10:30 a.m.

Sachse police were at the home in the 7100 block of Longmeadow Drive as a precaution when her estranged husband, Rodney McCall, arrived to pick up his son.

McCall had received sole custody of the child in a court hearing at 10 a.m.

“The father knocked on the front door,” Sachse police Chief Dennis Veach said. “We were simply standing by and at both front and rear of the house when we heard three shots from within the house.”

Veach said police had been to the home on several locations but there were not allegations of serious violence.

Police said Hayslett-McCall and her husband were in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings. Veach said police did not know why the father had been given sole custody of their son.

Hayslett-McCall had accused her husband of molesting their son last fall.  A grand jury later found no evidence of a crime, and McCall was cleared.

But McCall had lost his job as a high school teacher.

McCall’s attorney told the Wylie school board in November that the case was “an allegation brought by a woman who is about to lose custody of her children,” the Wylie News reported.

He also told the board that Hayslett-McCall, a former police officer who has a doctorate in criminal justice and a master’s degree in psychology, knew how to manipulate the justice system, the newspaper reported.

The couple had been battling over custody of Eryk for more than a year.

They filed for divorce in Collin County in March 2010, and temporary custody orders were in place in April 2010. By November, an attorney was appointed for the child.

The judge ordered psychological evaluations in January 2011. Jurors were sworn in on Monday for opening statements, and McCall won custody of his son Friday.

Lt. Marty Cassidy said the officers were visibly shaken but did the best they could in a really bad situation.

“It’s a terribly, terribly sad, tragic event, you know, when one person makes a life decision for another who doesn’t have a vote in that decision,” Veach said.

Police said although other family members were at the residence, they were outside greeting police when the shooting happened.

Officials will work with the Collin County medical examiner to confirm the cause of death, but it appears the woman shot the child and then herself.

Hayslett-McCall was a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. UT Dallas released the following statement:

“The UT Dallas community is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our thoughts and concerns are with the family. Karen Hayslett-McCall left the university faculty in June 2011 and has had no official position with the university since then.”

NBC 5’s Kevin Cokely and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

Tuesday’s thoughts:

Was this custody battle worth it?

Collin County, Texas, cps, custody, death, families, family, law, murder, suicide
Mother Kills Child Before Turning Gun on Herself

Police say apparent murder-suicide occurred after judge awarded custody to father

By Frank Heinz
|  Saturday, Oct 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:32 PM CDT

Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

Police say the apparent murder-suicide occurred shortly after a judge awarded custody to the boy’s father.

A woman shot and killed her 7-year-old son before turning the gun on herself late Friday morning in Sachse, police said.

Officers forced their way into the home after hearing gunshots and found 43-year-old Karen Hayslett-McCall and 7-year-old Eryk Hayslett-McCall in an upstairs bedroom at about 10:30 a.m.

Sachse police were at the home in the 7100 block of Longmeadow Drive as a precaution when her estranged husband, Rodney McCall, arrived to pick up his son.

McCall had received sole custody of the child in a court hearing at 10 a.m.

“The father knocked on the front door,” Sachse police Chief Dennis Veach said. “We were simply standing by and at both front and rear of the house when we heard three shots from within the house.”

Veach said police had been to the home on several locations but there were not allegations of serious violence.

Police said Hayslett-McCall and her husband were in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings. Veach said police did not know why the father had been given sole custody of their son.

Hayslett-McCall had accused her husband of molesting their son last fall.  A grand jury later found no evidence of a crime, and McCall was cleared.

But McCall had lost his job as a high school teacher.

McCall’s attorney told the Wylie school board in November that the case was “an allegation brought by a woman who is about to lose custody of her children,” the Wylie News reported.

He also told the board that Hayslett-McCall, a former police officer who has a doctorate in criminal justice and a master’s degree in psychology, knew how to manipulate the justice system, the newspaper reported.

The couple had been battling over custody of Eryk for more than a year.

They filed for divorce in Collin County in March 2010, and temporary custody orders were in place in April 2010. By November, an attorney was appointed for the child.

The judge ordered psychological evaluations in January 2011. Jurors were sworn in on Monday for opening statements, and McCall won custody of his son Friday.

Lt. Marty Cassidy said the officers were visibly shaken but did the best they could in a really bad situation.

“It’s a terribly, terribly sad, tragic event, you know, when one person makes a life decision for another who doesn’t have a vote in that decision,” Veach said.

Police said although other family members were at the residence, they were outside greeting police when the shooting happened.

Officials will work with the Collin County medical examiner to confirm the cause of death, but it appears the woman shot the child and then herself.

Hayslett-McCall was a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. UT Dallas released the following statement:

“The UT Dallas community is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our thoughts and concerns are with the family. Karen Hayslett-McCall left the university faculty in June 2011 and has had no official position with the university since then.”

NBC 5’s Kevin Cokely and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

Tuesday’s thoughts:

Was this custody battle worth it?

awareness, child, child adoption, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, custody, domestic violence, families, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, legislation
Texas harms foster children with inattention, shoddy system, lawsuit says
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Source: Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Published 29 March 2011 10:38 AM

AUSTIN — Texas violates the rights of abused and neglected children by running a shoddy foster care system, the New York-based group Children’s Rights says in a class-action federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Too many youths are isolated and linger for years in care, the suit says. The state countered that it is working on fixes and that most foster children are safe.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, the group zeroes in on about 12,000 youths who’ve been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services and kept in the state’s care for more than a year, saying the children suffer after “permanency” deadlines of 12 to 18 months have passed.

Too often, CPS is unable to reunite the child with family or find a lasting home, such as with a relative or adoptive parents, and drops the ball because children from then on aren’t required to have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, the suit says.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of CPS’ parent agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the lawsuit threatens to do more harm than good.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said in a written statement.

Children’s Rights asks the court to order the state to lower caseloads for CPS workers, recruit more foster homes and do a better job of supervising private foster-care providers.

Lowry said some of those extra costs could be offset by eliminating the state’s wasteful spending on institutional care.

“It costs less to run a better system where children get permanence and get out of foster care,” she said.

The department has warned state leaders for months that the suit might be filed. A memo sent to legislative leaders in September emphasized large amounts of attorneys’ fees that have been awarded to Children’s Rights in similar lawsuits in other states.

The memo also touted CPS overhaul legislation passed in 2005 and a foster-care overhaul passed two years later for bumping up staffing and making sizable reductions in CPS workers’ caseloads.

The suit highlights the plight of nine unnamed children that the group wants the court to accept as a representation of the class of about 12,000 youngsters in Texas’ mostly privatized system of long-term foster care who it alleges have been mistreated.

One of them is “A.M.,” a 13-year-old from Canton who with two half sisters was removed from her home after witnessing fights between her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. The department “has separated her from her sisters, shuffled her from one placement to another, placed her in inappropriate foster homes and left her for years in an institution,” the suit says.

It says Texas frequently fails to keep children in the “least restrictive setting” and is too quick to move them into institutions and give them psychotropic medications.

David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which tracks lawsuits in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, says Lowry picks her targets carefully and almost never loses a case.

“The writing’s on the wall here,” Richart said, and Texas leaders should “spend time improving their CPS system instead of being in a reflexively defensive mode.”

awareness, child, child adoption, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, custody, domestic violence, families, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, legislation
Texas harms foster children with inattention, shoddy system, lawsuit says
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Source: Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Published 29 March 2011 10:38 AM

AUSTIN — Texas violates the rights of abused and neglected children by running a shoddy foster care system, the New York-based group Children’s Rights says in a class-action federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Too many youths are isolated and linger for years in care, the suit says. The state countered that it is working on fixes and that most foster children are safe.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, the group zeroes in on about 12,000 youths who’ve been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services and kept in the state’s care for more than a year, saying the children suffer after “permanency” deadlines of 12 to 18 months have passed.

Too often, CPS is unable to reunite the child with family or find a lasting home, such as with a relative or adoptive parents, and drops the ball because children from then on aren’t required to have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, the suit says.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of CPS’ parent agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the lawsuit threatens to do more harm than good.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said in a written statement.

Children’s Rights asks the court to order the state to lower caseloads for CPS workers, recruit more foster homes and do a better job of supervising private foster-care providers.

Lowry said some of those extra costs could be offset by eliminating the state’s wasteful spending on institutional care.

“It costs less to run a better system where children get permanence and get out of foster care,” she said.

The department has warned state leaders for months that the suit might be filed. A memo sent to legislative leaders in September emphasized large amounts of attorneys’ fees that have been awarded to Children’s Rights in similar lawsuits in other states.

The memo also touted CPS overhaul legislation passed in 2005 and a foster-care overhaul passed two years later for bumping up staffing and making sizable reductions in CPS workers’ caseloads.

The suit highlights the plight of nine unnamed children that the group wants the court to accept as a representation of the class of about 12,000 youngsters in Texas’ mostly privatized system of long-term foster care who it alleges have been mistreated.

One of them is “A.M.,” a 13-year-old from Canton who with two half sisters was removed from her home after witnessing fights between her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. The department “has separated her from her sisters, shuffled her from one placement to another, placed her in inappropriate foster homes and left her for years in an institution,” the suit says.

It says Texas frequently fails to keep children in the “least restrictive setting” and is too quick to move them into institutions and give them psychotropic medications.

David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which tracks lawsuits in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, says Lowry picks her targets carefully and almost never loses a case.

“The writing’s on the wall here,” Richart said, and Texas leaders should “spend time improving their CPS system instead of being in a reflexively defensive mode.”

accountability, awareness, child abuser, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, Collin County, Texas, custody, families, family, healing, kids, parental alienation syndrome, psychiatry
Parental Alienation Do’s and Don’ts

hurt

What you do and don’t do when as a loving parent you are confronted with a severe case of Parental Alienation Syndrome in your child?

PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME – DO’S

DO…start to immediately educate yourself, your lawyer, your Judge, your psychologist and your child, if possible, about PAS.

This is one of the most widespread forms of emotional child abuse there is arising out of our Family Court system today and there are at least 1,000 internet web sites for you to obtain information from about PAS.

DO…fully prepare yourself for your Court presentation about PAS.

To do this you should print and make several copies of all the information on PAS you find on these web sites and put them in at least four (4) separate booklets and entitle them.. “URGENT IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE COURT ON PAS…What you need to know about the abuse of my child to save him/her and me from a lifetime of pain and suffering”.

Before you go into Court you should give one of these booklets to your lawyer and your psychologist while keeping one for yourself and the Court.

DO…tell the Court if they don’t act immediately to stop your child’s abuse, you will take your PAS case and all the proof and evidence you provided the Court on your child’s PAS condition to the local newspapers and T.V. stations

…AND…

you will post your case and Judge’s name on all the PAS internet web sites for the whole world to see how derelict the Court was in not carrying out its responsibility to protect your child from your former spouse’s severe emotional abuse and the permanent destruction of you and your child’s relationship together.

DO…keep your faith in God and yourself at all times while always taking the high road to fight and solve this  problem.

DO…continue to reach out to your PAS affected child no matter how many times they tell you how much they hate you and never want to see you again.

While they may say these things to you, the fact is they really don’t hate you and actually yearn desperately to see you again, but those feelings are not allowed any expression by the abusing parent.

If you have a flair for the dramatic to make your point you can also add a reprint of my web site home page with my daughter’s picture and number of days I have not seen her because of PAS and the Court’s refusal to intervene to stop her abuse.

At the top of the page you should also write in big letters ….“I DO NOT INTEND TO ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN TO ME AND MY CHILD”

DO…take off the gloves and demand immediate action by the Court to STOP the abuse of your child.

Remind the Court in the strongest terms possible that your child’s life, mental health and their continued on going relationship with you is at stake…AND…that if they don’t intervene immediately the chances of ever saving your child and your relationship together will be ZERO.

DO…trust your own instincts as a parent to do what is in the best interests of your child when confronted with this PAS problem…AND…if the Court won’t protect your child’s interests, then you will protect his/her interests yourself.

This you will do by public exposure of your case to the media until the Court does protect your child’s interests as the law requires them to do. It may take a long time but you must never ever give up the fight.

photo-029

PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME – DON’TS

DON’T…trust or count on ANYONE to know anything about PAS or to try and help you save your child and your relationship together.

Almost all lawyers, Judges, psychologists and Court mediators who are involved in your case KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT PAS…AND…even if they did would probably not have the time or be able to fully understand your case and how important it is for Court intervention to stop your child’s PAS abuse.

In most PAS cases none of these people really care about helping you and your child either.

DON’T…delude yourself into thinking that your local Family Court, your Judge, your lawyer, your psychologist or  anyone else but you really wants to look out for and protect the best interests of your child.

DON’T…trust or count on ANYONE to properly educate themselves on PAS. This is particularly true about your  former spouse, Family Court Judges and Court appointed psychologists.

You must do all this research and education about PAS  yourself to pass on to all the people involved in your case.

DON’T…allow the Court or anyone else to intimidate you.

You will be challenged at every turn and told you don’t know what you are talking about when you mention PAS.

Many will also tell you that PAS is nothing more than a figment of your imagination and that it has never been proven and doesn’t even exist in the Psychiatric Association’s Bible of mental and psychiatric disorders known as DSM-IV. Some of these people will further tell you that this was only a “pipe dream” invented by Dr. Richard Gardner to sell his books.

DON’T believe a word these people tell you and never give in to their intimidating tactics to discredit you, PAS or Dr. Gardner.

DON’T…allow the Court or anyone else to delay or prolong your Court hearing on this matter.

The longer this PAS abuse goes on with your child, the more difficult it will be for you to do anything to stop it…AND…If it goes on for too long without Court intervention (ie. 6 months or more) then your chances of ever re-establishing a normal healthy relationship with your child will start to approach ZERO.

DON’T…engage in any kind of retaliatory brainwashing PAS abuse of your child yourself.

The temptation is always there to “fight fire with fire” when you are being attacked and maligned by your former spouse, BUT DON’T EVER DO IT.

REMEMBER what I said before. Always take the High Moral ground for your child and if you want to get angry and verbally attack someone, get angry and attack the people who are doing this to your child.

Never get angry at your child for how he/she is behaving or in any other way do anything to further hurt your child.

You must be able to walk a fine line always trusting in yourself and your God to see and fight this thing through for the ultimate best interests of your child and yourself.

DON’T…ever GIVE UP no matter how many well meaning and/or not so well meaning people tell you to do so.

You will constantly hear people tell you that you should merely give up the fight to save your child from PAS and wait until they grow up and find out for themselves how badly they were abused by your former spouse and the Court.

This would be the same as letting your child drown until they learned how to swim themselves. You have a solemn duty to protect your children and thus you cannot ever shirk from that duty.

accountability, child, child custody, cps, custody, false allegations, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation & Grief

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.

The primary person responsible for the induction of a parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in a child is the litigating parent who hopes to gain leverage in a court of law by programming in the child a campaign of denigration directed against a target parent.

In most cases alienated parents are relatively helpless to protect themselves from the indoctrinations and the destruction of what was once a good, loving bond. They turn to the courts for help and, in most cases in my experience, have suffered even greater frustration and despair because of the court’s failure to meaningfully provide them with assistance.

It is the author’s hope that increasing recognition by the judiciary of its failures to deal effectively with PAS families will play a role in the rectification of this serious problem.

(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)

by Dr. Barbara Steinberg

Q: A parent who has been alienated from his or her child’s life experiences extreme loss. Often we are asked by a targeted parent, “How do I deal with his on-going pain?”

A: First, know that you are not alone. There are others, both mothers and fathers, who have similar experiences, and who are in deep agony over the loss of contact and meaningful relationship with their children.

Second, know that you are not crazy. In our culture we are not encouraged to experience our grief. We are taught to be strong, to rise above it, to tough it out, to get over it and get on with life. Sometimes that is wise counsel if we linger in our pain, and our outrage becomes the complete focus of our life affecting our work, our social life and our spirit. However, the loss of a child whether by death or by exclusion from that child’s life is beyond the realm of most parents’ ability to cope.

In the beginning of an alienation process, we believe, as parents, this is not really happening. We deny that the other parent of our child is capable of these vengeful acts, and we choose not to believe our child, whom we love deeply, would ever treat us in such a hurtful ways.

Denial is the strongest emotional defense mechanism we have at our disposal, and it is the one on which we rely the most. For most parents, because they truly want contact and relationship with their child, their denial does not hold up under time or with the reality of the disconnection they experience.

Third, many parents feel confusion, which suggests they are not able to identify and process the bunch of emotions; they are experiencing in their gut. Usually, these can be separated into feelings of deep sadness, intense anger, extreme outrage, and desperate blame.

To keep from being overwhelmed by this internal “bucket of worms,” many parents detach from the situation that they believe is an act of self-preservation. Some bargain with them using the following logic, “My child will get what’s happened when he/she turns eighteen so I’ll just wait.” Both strategies are akin to whistling in the dark.

Fourth, targeted parents want to know how to deal with these strong emotions in healthy ways because if allowed to remain unreleased, they often gain a life of their own and emerge at inappropriate and inopportune times toward others who do not understand or deserve the depth and intensity of the feeling.

Sometimes, these emotions are held internally. In an attempt to self-medicate the resulting pain, the targeted parent turns to addictive behaviors or substances. Eventually, if strong emotions are held internally for a long period of time, they can convert into physical problems, which plague the individual for the remainder of his/her life.

So the dilemma remains, what do I do with my pain? Keeping a journal or diary is helpful, but strong emotions require active self-interventions. Many parents report feeling relief from their deep sadness by allowing themselves to cry and scream.

If you believe this might assist you in your process, to avoid embarrassment, it is wise to isolate yourself perhaps in a quiet, natural place so you can grieve in an unrestrained and unobserved way. It is also helpful to take a sequence of your child’s pictures so you can activate your feelings of loss.

Intense anger is a physical activator so you will need to participate in a focused activity such as bowling, driving golf balls at a range or hitting balls in a batting cage. A less expensive approach is throwing ice cubes at a sturdy wall, an activity, that parents report, gives a sense of relief and release from ever tightening bands of anger.

Outrage describes a parent who feels misunderstood so there needs to be some attention paid to “telling your story.” The problem is finding a receptive listener who has the patience and energy to hear the saga of hurt, frustration and humiliation more than once. Targeted parents can tell their story into a small tape recorder; they can write their story by hand into a journal, a loose-leaf notebook or a diary. They can use a word processor and store it on computer disc, or if they are creatively inclined, they can write poems to their children. Some parents have already published their story in books and poetry.

Of importance here is the intention to alleviate the outrage of misunderstanding that, as a parent, you are unimportant, even nonessential in your child’s life. Also, it is important that you be heard, and that you remind yourself that you are still a parent by keeping your child’s pictures around you. Another approach is to involve yourself in the parenting role with other children as a Godparent, as an involved uncle or aunt, as a Big Brother or Big Sister. Validating yourself as a parent can go a long way to heal feelings of outrage.

Finally, desperate blame is probably the most difficult bereavement issue to process. Some blame is justifiable: the other parent, the other parent’s family, the legal and social services system, your child, yourself. However, the only one under your jurisdiction of control is yourself so this is the part that you work with in three separate ways. First, it is critical, regardless of the attitude and reception from the other parent, from the other parent’s family and from your child that you stay in positive contact with them. Civility and cordiality in face-to-face contact is essential regardless of what is said in your presence or behind your back. In addition, sending your child cards, letters and little packages on unimportant days is appropriate. Also, communicating with your child by telephone, by e-mail and by facsimile can be effective. If you have completely lost contact with your child, then set your priority to find him/her and restore contact at least by distance. If this is impossible, then collect items and memorabilia in a special box or trunk reserved for your child and the possibility of future contact.

Second, become active as a citizen for positive change, and learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the system you blame for preventing you from having parenting opportunities with your child. This action may not change the disposition of your situation, but you may make the system a better place for other targeted parents and their children.

Third, for your sake and for the sake of your relationship with your child, it is imperative that you forgive the other parent. Notice there was no mention of forgetting what has happened, or how you have been treated, but again, for restoring your emotional balance and your ability to cope with life challenges in healthy ways, you will need to forgive the alienator.

For some, this is a spiritual journey, and for others the path is a secular one. What is important is that you go about this process in a unique way that you believe will work for you so the specter of losing your child is diminished, and your health and well being are in restoration.

accountability, amber alert, child, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, crime, custody, domestic violence
Violent Relationships in Family Court
Duncan Connolly
Duncan Connolly

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Clear and Present Danger by SusanMurphy Milano

Like most of us I am deeply disturbed by the escalating number of parents murdering their own families. This past weekend was no exception as police discovered 9-year-old Duncan Connolly

(left) and 7-year-old Jack Connolly (right) were found murdered in rural Putnam County, IL. Their father was found dead not far from where his car was left.

Jack Connolly
Jack Connolly

According to police sources, the boys’ father had a rope around his neck when he was found. The discovery brought to a close a national three-week search for the man and the boys, precipitated by Michael Connolly’s abduction of his sons following a weekend visitation.

The last time Amy saw her two boys alive, something was not right. Connolly was acting strange when they met at the police station.

Amy refused to hand over her boys on March 7th, an officer threatened her if she didn’t give them to their father, she would be arrested according to her lawyer.

Amy Leichtenberg filed orders of protection against Michael Connolly more than once after his repeated physical and emotional abuse in the later years of their marriage. Amy filed for divorce that year and moved out of their home. In a 2006, a petition for a protective order against her husband was filed, saying that his “controlling and obsessive behavior” included threats to kill himself and others along with a series of bizarre demands he made of her. Within a 15-month period, Connolly violated the orders of protection 57 times.

In 2007, Amy was awarded full custody of the boys with Connolly given supervised visitation. According to court reports from the family visitation center, Connolly’s behavior was dangerous enough to temporarily cease all visits with the boys.

In my experience, when a family visitation center terminates interaction between parent and child, it sends a red flag of danger. Connolly, the ever witty and clever abuser, was able to resume visits when his psychiatrist sent a “sympathy letter” to the judge “if my client is able to spend more time with his sons, Mr. Connolly’s depression and outbursts would lessen.” The judge responded by setting a series of “behavioral guidelines.” This included obtaining employment, housing and continued therapy. “

(He) tells me if I ever take the boys away he will hunt me and my parents down and cut us open,” Amy Leichtenberg, then known as Amy Connolly, stated in the 2006 petition seeking an order of protection. Amy said during their marriage Connolly had tried to isolate her from her family. A common characteristic among abusers.

Despite the 57 violations of the protection orders, dangerous behavior and deadly threats, McLean County Judge James Souk “rewarded” Connolly unsupervised visitation with his sons. Connolly filed numerous motions with the court, basically wearing the judge down. Despite pleas from Amy and her lawyer, which were ignored.

This mother’s plea for supervised visitation was dismissed without regard to serious safety concerns.

There is an automatic presumption that it is in the best interest of a child “regardless of court orders”, prior violence or threats, to maintain visitation with both parents.

Victims of domestic violence face a double edged sword. Either expose their children to imminent danger, or defy the court system refusing to allow visitation.

Like so many others before her, Amy tried to deal with a violent relationship in a family court environment. In family court the two parties are presumed to be on a level playing field–law abiding individuals who have a disagreement over a private family matter.

A core assumption of family law is that family disputes are not criminal disputes. As such, there are few safeguards built into the family court system to protect against the criminal dynamics that dominate family disputes in cases of family violence. In addition, the accusations the victim makes in family court, no matter how serious, carry no more authority than one person’s say so.

One of the most serious consequences is that when a family violence victim opens a case in family court against her abuser, the abuser is given equal opportunity to fight back against the victim’s accusations, often because the abusers past is not an issue.

Unless, of course, he is brought in from county or state prison sporting an orange jump suit and leg shackles.

There are lawyers and men’s groups who argue using domestic violence with a broad brush is not a reason to deny fathers visitation with their children. Accusing mothers of lying or making up stories to keep fathers’ from their children. Under the current laws, a parent without custody is entitled “reasonable visitation.”

There is a high burden of proof as evidenced in this case when a court refuses to take into account dangerous abusers pose to their children. Until we place the issue of labeling these cases as a “private matter” or an isolated incident, expect the death toll among children to rise.

Expect the courts to continue to ignore clear and present danger signs when a victim of violence seeks a divorce.

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, collin county, cps, custody, divorce, false allegations, family, foster care, government, home, judicial system, kidnapping, law, missing child, sexual offenders, system failure, texas
Collin County Texas – Still taking kids from the innocent..

North Texas Man Fighting For Custody Of His Kids

DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ― A North Texas man has been found not guilty of the aggravated sexual assault of a child. Now, he and his wife are fighting to get their children back.

Douglas Buchar was a successful custom homebuilder when he received a phone call two years ago, almost to the day. Child Protective Services called to inform him that they had taken away his kids. “My secretary got a phone call at the office and said, ‘You need to take this, it’s CPS,'” Buchar recalled. “And I got on the phone and it was just like, what? And they said they took all our kids.”

The children, 4-year-old Megan and 11-year-old Justin, were picked up at school and placed in foster care on January 20, 2006. This all came after the couple’s 12-year-old adopted child accused Buchar of sexual assault.

“I couldn’t,” Buchar started, “the whole thing didn’t make no sense. It wasn’t logical, the charges they had. It just couldn’t have happened.”

Over the next two years, the couple lost their business, their house and their children.

Buchar’s wife, Joy, was arrested as well, but the charges were later dropped. “It’s like someone just took all my guts out,” she said.

The kids lived in foster care for a year and a half. Six months ago, they were given permission to live with Buchar’s sister in New York.

Earlier this week, Buchar faced his accuser during the criminal trial. “Looking at her in court and what not, it was just, she had no clue of the repercussions she has done,” he said. “She doesn’t realize what she has caused, nor do I think she really cares what she has caused. Yes, we do feel sorry for her.”

But most of all, the Buchars said that they miss their biological children.

On Wednesday, a Collin County jury found Buchar not guilty of the crime.

“One thing I learned from all this,” Buchar said, “I was a workaholic and I was working six, seven days a week, 12, 13, 14 hours a day, and I learned now. I promised Justin I’d go fishing with him so many times before. Everytime, it would be like, oh, something’s come up. I got to go. That’s all changed now. I’m going to definitely have weekends off, and definitely spend time with him.”

The Buchars have terminated their parental rights to the adopted girl.

Kelly Davis is Buchar’s lawyer who is trying to get the couple’s biological children back home. She said that she never doubted their innocence. “I think that Doug was able to prove to everybody else that he was innocent by performing all the different types of polygraph and tests that they required, and performing in order to prove his innocence.”

Although Buchar was found not guilty, the nightmare continues. The couple said that they will not stop until they can bring Justin and Megan back home.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)