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New Ruling Worth Citing: New York State Appellate Division Overturns “Parental Alienation Syndrome” Ruling

In Dr. Richard Gardner, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on June 21, 2010 at 1:00 am

Human Rights: 1

Court Whores: 0

Here’s a case worth citing…

Matter of Schick v Schick

2010 NY Slip Op 03456

Decided on April 27, 2010

Appellate Division, Second Department

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

STEVEN W. FISHER, J.P.

JOHN M. LEVENTHAL

ARIEL E. BELEN

SANDRA L. SGROI, JJ.

Anthony R. Daniele, New York, N.Y. (Myrna Felder of counsel), for appellant.

The Wallack Firm, P.C., New York, N.Y. (Robert M. Wallack of counsel), for respondent.

Barbara J. Caravello, Jamaica, N.Y., attorney for the child.

DECISION & ORDER

In a visitation proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 6, the mother appeals, by permission, as limited by her brief, from so much of an order of the Family Court, Queens County (McGrady, Ct. Atty. Ref.), dated August 14, 2009, as, after a hearing, upon, in effect, granting the father’s petition to enforce the visitation provisions of a judgment of divorce dated October 17, 2005, which incorporated, but did not merge, the parties’ stipulation of settlement dated May 5, 2005, in effect, awarded the father temporary custody of the subject child, denied her visitation with the subject child for a stated period of time, and directed the subject child and the father to participate in joint therapeutic counseling. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated September 3, 2009, so much of the order dated August 14, 2009, as awarded the father temporary custody of the subject child, denied the mother visitation with the subject child for a stated period of time, and directed the subject child and the father to participate in joint therapeutic counseling was stayed, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

ORDERED that the order dated August 14, 2009, is reversed insofar as appealed from, on the law, on the facts, and in the exercise of discretion, the petition is denied, and the proceeding is dismissed, without costs or disbursements.

The record supports a finding that the divorced parties’ son is alienated from the father, the noncustodial parent, with, among other factors, both the mother and father contributing to the deterioration of that relationship. Although the father has made serious and good faith attempts at reconciliation over the past several years, the son—who is now 17½ years of age, and is scheduled to graduate high school in June 2010, to attend a program in Israel commencing in August 2010, and thereafter to begin college—has strongly voiced, to both the Family Court and his appointed attorney, his objections to being forced to visit with his father. Despite repeated attempts by the Family Court over several years to ameliorate the alienation, and some therapeutic intervention, the son remains alienated.

While “[t]he Family Court has broad discretion in fashioning a remedy in matters of custody and visitation, with the paramount concern being the best interests of the child” (Matter of Pignataro v Davis, 8 AD3d 487, 488-489; see Matter of Plaza v Plaza, 305 AD2d 607), here, the best interests of the child do not require that the existing custody arrangement be modified (see Charpentier v Rossman, 264 AD2d 393; see generally Matter of Bonthu v Bonthu, 67 AD3d 906; Matter of Frey v Ketcham, 57 AD3d 543). Under these circumstances, it was an improvident exercise of discretion, unsupported by a sound and substantial basis in the record, to change custody to the father at this time, force the son to interact with the father, sever his contact with his mother and siblings for a three-month period, and compel him to undergo intensive therapeutic counseling. In giving due consideration to the wishes, age, and maturity of the son, and upon a review of the proceedings before the Family Court, we conclude that the order of the Family Court must be reversed (see Charpentier v Rossman, 264 AD2d 393; see generally Matter of Bonthu v Bonthu, 67 AD3d 906; Matter of Sinnott-Turner v Kolba, 60 AD3d 774, 775).

The parties’ remaining contentions have either been rendered academic or are without merit.

FISHER, J.P., LEVENTHAL, BELEN and SGROI, JJ., concur.

ENTER:

James Edward Pelzer

So-called “PAS” Treatment Found to be Quack Therapy

In Dr Richard Warshak, Dr. Peter Jaffe, Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on May 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Bravo to Dr. Peter Jaffe for speaking out against this Nazi-like “deprogramming” that is inflicting psychological terror upon little children who are ripped for their loving parents.  Dr. Jaffe is one of Canada’s premier psychologists, and has published extensively on these issues.  From The Globe and Mail (Canada):

Judges sending children to U.S. for quack therapy, expert charges

Centres aim to treat parental alienation

KIRK MAKIN

February 2, 2009

JUSTICE REPORTER

Parental alienation centres in the United States are using unproven “quackery” to deprogram children ordered into their care by well-meaning Canadian judges, a leading Ontario child psychologist has charged.

Peter Jaffe says the programs may even damage children by destroying overnight their primary support bulwark: the alienating parent whose care they have been under.

“It is not a good thing if a child has bonded to an alienating parent, but disrupting that child and pulling them away from whatever sense of security they have may end up being more harmful than good in the long run,” said Dr. Jaffe, a professor at the University of Western Ontario in London.

“When you’re going to provide a treatment, you have to know what the unattended consequences or side effects are,” he said. “You may be solving one problem but creating a whole host of new problems.”

The deprogramming issue erupted last week after a Toronto judge forcibly removed three girls from their mother and sent them for treatment to a U.S. centre in an undisclosed location. It was at least the third time that an Ontario judge has taken the extreme measure in the past year.

The parental alienation centres, which operate in relative secrecy, in part to avoid surprise visits by angry parents searching for children who have been seized, is to be debated at an Ontario Bar Association conference today.

Dr. Jaffe said the spate of judicial orders runs counter to a laudable trend of granting children more rights. “It really doesn’t matter whether you are sending them to a locked ward of a hospital somewhere in Pennsylvania or you are sending them to Disneyland, I think it’s a significant infringement on their rights to take a Canadian child and force them to enter a treatment program in the U.S.”

Sol Goldstein, a Toronto child psychiatrist familiar with the U.S. programs, said they typically devote four or five days to intensive discussion, visual presentations and “logic and kindness,” to prod alienated children into critical thinking. He said children also have opportunities to spend relaxed, recreational time with the parent from whom they are estranged.

“Nothing can change like that within a week,” Dr. Goldstein added. “It’s like doing major surgery. The follow-up is crucial.”

Donna Wowk, a Toronto family lawyer, agreed that while securing time away from the parent who caused the alienation “is critical” to successfully treating a child, relapses are a major risk. “You can have great counselling sessions, but as soon as they are back with the alienating parent, it’s all undone,” she said.

Toronto family lawyer Harold Niman, who represented a non-custodial parent whose children were recently sent to a U.S. parental alienation centre, conceded that much remains unknown about the treatment.

“There is no doubt this is uncharted territory,” he said. “To a certain extent, we don’t know where this is all going to lead, but I think it’s like chicken soup. It can’t hurt. It is something designed to be therapeutic for the children, and I can’t see how it could hurt.

“Part of what is going on is an effort to find a solution to a very difficult problem. We are talking about a very, very narrow group of parents and they are almost invariably dysfunctional. These are parents who are toxic people.”

Dr. Jaffe said that if the Ontario family court system were less dysfunctional, children at risk of being alienated from a parent would be identified and treated early.  “I’m not criticizing the judges,” he said. “I understand their degree of frustration. But these cases really are a monument to the failure of the system to intervene early.  “There are bits and pieces in place in Ontario, but nobody is really in charge of the system,” Dr. Jaffe said.

April 25th – Happy Abuser Awareness Day: The Father’s Rights Movement

In Dr. Richard Gardner, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on April 26, 2010 at 2:46 am

Fathers Rights Movement

The fathers’ rights movement advocates for fathers who feel deprived of their parental rights and subjected to systematic bias as men after divorce or separation. The term fathers’ rights is relevant to interpersonal violence primarily in custody and visitation cases involving domestic violence.

The fathers’ rights movement emerged in the 1970s as a loose social movement with a network of interest groups primarily active in Western countries. Established to campaign for equal treatment for men by the courts on issues such as child custody after divorce, child support, and paternity determinations, this network is also part of the broader men’s rights movement. While there is no written history of the movement, it is generally viewed as stemming from changes in both the law and societal attitudes. These changes include the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1969 and the attendant rise in divorce rates; the increasing entry of women into the workforce, upturning traditional gender roles; and the increasing social acceptance of single parents and their increased proportion of all families.

Fathers’ rights activists typically believe that the application of the law in family courts is biased against men. Because mothers have historically been seen as the primary caregivers for their children, they have often been granted custody of their children, causing some fathers to feel marginalized. Thus, one longstanding goal of fathers’ rights groups is obtaining “shared parenting,” asking that courts uphold a rebuttable presumption of joint custody after divorce or separation. Under a shared parenting arrangement, children would be required to live with each parent for the same amount of time, unless there were valid reasons not to do so.

Fathers’ rights advocates claim that women often falsify allegations of domestic violence to gain advantage in family law cases, and misuse protection orders to remove men from their homes or deny them contact with their children. Attorneys and advocates for abused women note that while it is not uncommon for family court proceedings to be accompanied by allegations of domestic violence and the use of protection orders, this is largely representative of the prevalence of domestic violence in our society, and of the fact that domestic violence often increases (or begins) at the time of separation or divorce. Many battered women seek protection orders as a last resort, after being subjected to continuous violence, because the orders can provide an effective means to gaining safety from the batterer.

While many mothers are awarded custody, there are many contested custody cases. In these contested cases, fathers often seek and win joint or full custody of the children. One way that a mother might lose custody is through the father’s use of a theory called parental alienation syndrome (PAS). Fathers’ rights groups see PAS as occurring when the mother has “poisoned” the minds of their children toward the other parent by brainwashing them into reporting abuse. When this legal tactic is used, the mother often loses custody or is forced to accept joint custody based on the father’s allegations of PAS.

While the fathers’ rights movement presents PAS as a credible theory, it is recognized as deeply flawed, based on extreme gender bias, and rooted in a disbelief of women and children who report abuse. Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognizes PAS as a credible theory, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has rejected the theory and recommended that it not be used when considering custody matters.

Women’s rights groups and profeminist men argue that fathers’ rights groups want to entrench patriarchy and undo the advances made by women in society. Those opposed to the fathers’ rights movement believe that the bias fathers’ rights members speak of in family courts either does not exist or is such that single mothers in particular are not advantaged as a class to the extent stated, especially in the face of sexism and male privilege and power.

—Ana Ottman and Rebekah Lee

Ottman, Ana, and Rebekah Lee. “Fathers’ Rights Movement.” Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence. 2008. SAGE Publications

NOW Foundation Opposes Phony Parental Alienation Disorder

In Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on April 24, 2010 at 3:53 am

From the National Organization of Women’s Foundation website:

Over the years, hundreds of women have contacted National Organization for Women chapters looking for assistance in their efforts to protect minor children in family court custody proceedings. Often these women have been accused of a phony psychiatric condition, termed Parental Alienation Disorder (PAD). The “disorder” has been proposed by so-called father’s rights (men’s custody) activists to be added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostics and Statistics Manual – V to give it more legitimacy than it currently has — or should have — in court.

This accusation is made by abusive ex-husbands and is intended to cause the courts to disregard mothers’ claims of fathers’ physical or sexual abuse in an effort to gain the fathers’ full or joint custody. NOW Foundation is concerned that because of the alienation accusation known batterers and child abusers have been awarded custody; the numbers of cases involving dads in custody disputes abusing and murdering children is appalling. (See link below)

The notion of a parental alienation in custody disputes was advanced by the late Dr. Richard Gardner who committed suicide in 2003. The alienation accusation has been embraced by men’s custody activists as an effective weapon to undermine mothers’ bid for legal custody of minor children. Many advocates on behalf of mothers believe that batterers, child abusers and pedophiles populate these men’s custody networks. There have been numerous instances of documented batterers and child abusers being awarded custody by biased family court judges.

NOW Foundation has sent a letter recently to the American Psychiatric Association noting that publications by the American Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges have concluded proposed “alienation disorder” is inadmissible in court and has been discredited by the scientific community. Accordingly, family court judges, lawyers and other court personnel should take action against the use of the alienation accusation in cases before them. Read NOW Foundation’s letter (PDF) and for more information on family court issues, go to the family law website.

More information on fathers and ex-partners involved in child custody or child support matters who have killed children, murdered mothers and/or committed suicide, please visit this website.

PAS Treatment Central:Warshak’s Work Doesn’t Meet Generally Accepted Principles for a Valid Scientific Study

In Dr Richard Warshak, Dr. Richard Gardner, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on April 20, 2010 at 4:03 am

By Jan Weir | Law Times Publication Date: Monday, 19 April 2010

It can be put no better than the oft-reported quote of Dr. Sol Goldstein, who talked about the “scourge” of parental alienation in Canada.

Some commentators call it the “20/80” of the court, referring to the 20 per cent of the cases that take up 80 per cent of the time. There seems to be no effective solution.

Dr. Richard Gardner, a New York psychiatrist, proposed a theory in the early 1980s that some alienation was irrational in that the accepted parent had brainwashed the children to the extent that the cure was to deprogram them of their rejection of the other parent.

Enter Richard Warshak into the Ontario court system. He’s a psychologist from Texas who claims to have developed a four-day workshop at a cost of up to $20,000 to cure the irrational brainwashing type of alienation.

Only a handful of psychologists have training in the techniques. In some cases, the courts will order children into the custody of the rejected parent, who will then have them take the program. Sometimes, the court suspends contact with the accepted parent for a period of time.

One criticism of this theory is that it gives a tremendous amount of power to the health professional in that a misdiagnosis takes away the children’s right to object to certain parental behaviour and subjects them to an intimidating experience. The risk of that scenario increases when one parent is wealthy and the other is unable to retain an expert.

But how successful is the workshop? While it’s been around for 17 years, there hasn’t been an independent study to decide the criteria for evaluating success, monitor the cases, and compile the data.

The courts have developed rules of evidence on expert opinions because judges are intelligent amateurs who don’t want to pass judgment on the validity of scientific theories.  Thus, they are gatekeepers. For the first test of admissibility, they rely on the scientific community to determine whether the theory or technique is generally acceptable. There is no such evidence for the Warshak workshop.

Additionally, because there is a recognition that a novel theory or technique may not have been in existence long enough, the courts have developed four criteria to admit such evidence. The Warshak workshop doesn’t meet the criteria for novelty because it has been around for more than 17 years.

However, even if it were novel, the reliability of the evidence on its validity wouldn’t meet the four-part test. That’s because the first element is that it’s capable of being and in fact has been tested. Here, while the data is available for an independent test, none has taken place according to generally accepted scientific principles.

Warshak has recently published a study he did himself claiming the workshop is highly effective. But this work doesn’t meet generally accepted principles for a valid scientific study.

The guarantee of validity is independent confirmation or repeatability by other scientists. The history of science is replete with examples of very intelligent and respected scientists who have made claims that, after review by other experts, have proven unreliable.

There is enough data for short- and long-term evaluation of the Warshak workshop. One of the concerns is whether, even if the data confirms the claims, the workshop works for the right reasons.

The procedure may be so intimidating that it may frighten the children into submission. Some of them are now old enough to give feedback on such concerns.

I know of the results of just two orders from Ontario judges sending children to the Warshak workshop. One is J.K.L. v. N.C.S. The other is a case widely reported in the media in which an older brother sought to intervene to get custody of his brothers after an associate of Warshak sent them to a hospital psychiatric department alleging they had mental health issues.

The report in The Globe and Mail on the case noted that the psychiatrist at the hospital said there was nothing wrong with the boys.

Judges appear to be ignoring the Mohan general acceptance test out of desperation for a solution to this seemingly unsolvable problem. But will this prove justified?

Given that judges are making these orders and there is now local data, a study could keep track of these cases. It’s an important issue for which a research grant would likely be available.

Warshak may also reach into his altruism to make his techniques known to the health profession at large. Although it would entail a significant financial sacrifice, doing so would bring the benefit of these methods to people of more modest means and permit evaluation of them according to the usual cautionary measures of science.

The idea isn’t to deny that the workshop is effective. Warshak’s claims may in fact be correct. What’s missing is the proper scientific basis to support them and hence their admissibility in court.

There is no doubt in my mind that Warshak believes in his theory and techniques. However, as Ontario’s recent experience has shown, belief in a beneficial theory can be harmful. The only safe control on such good intentions is an independent review by the scientific community.


Jan Weir is a Toronto lawyer who was involved in S.G.B. v. S.J.L., a case in which a judge overturned an arbitrator’s award ordering participation in Warshak’s program. That matter is to go back to court for a new trial.

Parental Alienation Awareness Day

In Dr. Richard Gardner, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on April 10, 2010 at 4:21 am

If a group of pedophiles and abusers named their cause, “Abusers Awareness Day”, no one would help champion their goals.

There needs to be a little bit of propaganda to blanket their true goals.

Richard Gardner gave them that blanket by promoting ideas that society should punish those to speak against abuse as, “sick” and “requiring therapy”. He coined the term, “Parental Alienation Syndrome”. Appalled by the pro-pedophile material that was circulated on a large scale, researchers on child abuse and family violence worked even harder to debunk this content and for many years it has been frequently rejected by the American Psychology Association as a Syndrome. Regardless of the theory being discredited, it has still been used on court cases all over the world including a case where it was a defense for a brutal murder of a mother. Some backyard psychologists have even held workshops about, “Maternal Gate-keeping” and others have promoted theories such as, “Malicious Mother Syndrome”.

Whilst in most debates, we all amicably prefer to keep things gender neutral apart from where one gender is being targeted in a way no different to the apartheid in Africa, the slavery towards African Americans and of course the stolen generation of aboriginal children. Whilst the use of parental alienation syndrome appears to be one of those gender neutral terms, the literature and statistics of court cases where the reversal of custody cases involving abuse allegations suggests that the number one target is the mother. Enmeshed with child abuse cases are often intimate partner terrorism, mostly perpetrated by fathers and a deep lack of community support towards mothers who try against many odds to protect their children from further abuse and exposure to violence. The superficial surface of parent alienation suggests that their goal is to stop “false accusers” despite statistics stating over and over again that false accusers are a minority of cases and in fact most of the false allegations are use by fathers. Empirical research has defined this as part of a series of behaviors that follow the intervention of a intimate partner terrorism relationship. This is where the real problem lies, with little support thanks to the erosion of domestic violence and child protection services, mothers experiencing false accusations towards them have drifted unknowingly towards the movement that is solely there to continue these abuses against her and the children.

Supporters of this theory have even gone as far as promoting it as a form of child abuse and sadly many court cases involving child abuse and intimate partner terrorism with evidence are treated as alienation resulting with the child being transferred to the abuser. The influence of this theory has been so great that other aspects of the system where the perpetrator could be convicted are thwarted.

Whilst Parental Alienation attracts pedophile lobbyists, batterers and abusers, they also attract mistaken victims. These victims are in turn used to become the front of the organisations eliminating the promotion of any true need for children and victims of violence and appear as though they are gender inclusive. The laws, case statistics and culture of the courts are a true reflection of the backyard psych therapists and abuse excuser’s causes. Some organisations are obvious in their agenda, whilst others confuse the situation.

Given the clusters of abusers that are attracted to the cause, it is important to encourage police abuse units to investigate the members of these groups as they do with pedophile rings. This could help stop abuse occurring. Other things that can be done is reporting professionals who use the theory as a form of diagnosis to psychologist registers, law bars and social worker accreditation organisations. The use of junk science destroys the credibility of professionals who do not practice backyard therapies and such reports are welcomed to peak bodies. By alerting other parents of the dangers of these organisations, parents can then become aware of the potential risks they could expose the children to by engaging with potential abusers activities and prevent abuse from occurring.

Here are a list of confirmed pedophile organisations that promote Parent Alienation:

Gender Biased and Punitive: Why Abusers Get Away With Claiming “Parental Alienation”

In Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on April 6, 2010 at 2:19 am

The late Richard Gardner developed the theory of parental alienation syndrome (PAS) after claiming that one parent alienated the children from the other parent in 90% of his divorcing patients. Though claiming that the “disorder” was not sex specific, he used it almost exclusively against mothers, maintaining that mothers falsely raise domestic violence and incest during custody disputes for tactical gain. Even Gardner admitted PAS was not an actual syndrome; some call it parental alienation (PA), but the concept is identical.

Acceptance

Gardner claimed to have testified in 400 custody cases in 25 states. Although no state has codified PAS, at least 31 states have adopted Gardner’s friendly parent concept (FPC) in which courts are encouraged to give custody to the parent who will foster a better relationship between the children and the other parent. Even where not codified, many judges and custody evaluators base decisions or recommendations on PAS, PA, or the FPC.

Problems

There are problems associated with PAS, PA, and the FPC. They may deflect investigation from the validity of abuse accusations to the protective parent’s behavior. In addition, PAS, PA, and the FPC may deflect courts from noticing that men’s alienation allegations may themselves be alienating behaviors raised for tactical gain.

False Premises

Gardner incorrectly assumed that women need a tactical ploy to not lose custody under the best interest of the child standard. Gardner evidently was unaware that once a child passed its tender years, roughly at age 7, fathers were presumptively entitled to reclaim custody, and that most mothers still win custody under the best interest of the child standard.

Gardner also wrongfully assumed that women often make false incest accusations in custody cases and that they gain advantage from doing so. Incest is raised in only about 6% of custody cases, and only a very small fraction (2%-3%) of this 6% are false. Investigated incest allegations are substantiated as often during custody disputes as at other times, but many child protection agencies do not investigate when a case is in court. Men have been found to make 16 times as many false incest allegations as women (21% vs. 1.3%).

Gardner’s Motivations

Gardner, who had no hospital admitting privileges for his last 25 years and fraudulently claimed to be a clinical professor of child psychiatry, derived his theories to discredit mothers who complained that their partners were abusing them or their children. Gardner, who often testified on behalf of pedophiles, admitted that probably over 95% of all sex abuse allegations are legitimate, but claimed incest and many other deviant sexual practices are normal and not harmful.

Gender Biased and Punitive

PAS, PA, and the FPC may discourage battered women and mothers in incest cases from complaining. Gardner advocated removing custody and if the behaviors continue, denying visitation to the alienating parent. These concepts may not be in the best interest of children as they generally deprive them of their protective parents and place them in the custody of abusive parents. They also may prevent protective parents and children from realizing the wrongfulness of the abuse or from venting their anger, thus exacerbating their pain and inhibiting healing.

These concepts can be considered gender biased since their definitions exclude alienating behaviors most commonly committed by fathers: domestic violence, nonpayment of child support, and raising alienation allegations. They can be used only against custodial parents and impose no penalty on alienating noncustodial parents. An attempt to rename PAS as malicious mother syndrome confirms the bias.

Inadmissible Evidence

Gardner promoted PAS in self-published books. PAS has never been subjected to peer review or been recognized by any professional associations, including the American Psychiatric Association. The Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family characterizes PAS and PA as having no validity. With no validity within the scientific community, neither PAS nor PA is considered admissible in evidence.

—Joan Zorza

Further Readings

Bruch C. Parental alienation syndrome and parental alienation: Getting it wrong in child custody cases. Family Law Quarterly vol. 35 (2001). no. (3), pp. 527–552.

Dallam S. J. Dr. Richard Gardner: A review of his theories and opinions on atypical sexuality, pedophilia, and treatment issues. Treating Abuse Today vol. 8 (1998). no. (1), pp. 15–22.

Dore M. K. The “friendly parent” concept: A flawed factor for child custody. Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law vol. 6 (2004). no. (1), pp. 41–56.

Smith R. and Coukos P. Fairness and accuracy in evaluations of domestic violence and child abuse in custody determinations. The Judges’ Journal vol. 36 (1997). no. (4), pp. 38–42, 54–56.

Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not “Parental Alienation Syndrome”

In Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on March 29, 2010 at 11:22 pm

From the Leadership Council:

Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy:
Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not “PAS”

As more and more abused women lose custody to batterers in family courts, they are wrongly embracing the very ideas that enabled their abusers to gain custody in the first place. False accusations of “parental alienation” are often used by batterers to gain custody and to defend against accusations of abuse.

Some unfortunate women after years of enduring domestic violence have lost custody to the batterers who abused them. In these cases, batterers have made good on their threat to attack their ex-partner in the place she is the most vulnerable—by taking her children away from her. After separation, these batterers continue to wage their campaign of manipulation and abuse by attempting to convince involved children that their mothers never loved them. Looking for a way to describe their batterers’ behavior, some mothers have called what their batterer is doing “parental alienation syndrome.”

In reality, what these women are describing from their ex-partners is better termed Domestic Violence by Proxy (DV by Proxy), a term first used by Alina Patterson, author of Health and Healing. DV by Proxy refers to a pattern of behavior which is a parent with a history of using domestic violence or intimidation, uses a child as a substitute when he no longer has access to his former partner. Calling this behavior “parental alienation” is not strong enough to convey the criminal pattern of terroristic behaviors employed by batterers.

When his victim leaves him, batterers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt his partner is to assert his legal rights to control her access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive male now has a powerful tool which allows him to continue to stalk, harass and batter an ex-partner even when he has no direct access to her. Moreover, by emotionally torturing the child and severing the bond between children and their mother, he is able to hurt his intended victim — the mother — in a way she cannot resist.

DV by Proxy includes tactics such as: threats of harm to children if they display a positive bond to the mother, destroying favored possessions given by the mother, and emotional torture (for example, telling the child the mother hates them, wanted an abortion, and is not coming to get them because they are unloved).

DV by Proxy may also include coaching the child to make false allegations regarding their mother’s behavior and harming or punishing the child for not complying. DV by Proxy perpetrators may also create fraudulent documents to defraud the court in order to prevent the mother from gaining custody. Whether or not the child is biologically related to them is irrelevant to perpetrators of DV by Proxy. The perpetrator’s main motivation is to hurt his ex; whether or not his own child is harmed in the process is irrelevant to him.

This is very different from “parental alienation syndrome” as described by the late Richard A. Gardner. Dr. Gardner described PAS as an internal process by which a child aligns themselves with a preferred parent to protect themselves from the divorce conflict. “PAS” is conceptualized as a psychological process of identification with a parent who, according to the theory, encourages this identification at the expense of the other parent.

PAS inducing parents, according to Gardner, are often unconscious of what they are doing to encourage the identification. In contrast, perpetrators of DV by Proxy are very conscious of what they are doing. Controlling, coercive, illegal acts often done by abusive and controlling people, usually men, are not subtle, and do not encourage an identification with a parent. Criminal, fraudulent, coercive acts are visible and obvious. These behaviors encourage compliance by threats and fear. Behaviors involved in DV by Proxy are deliberate and often illegal. These behaviors include: battery, destruction of property, locking children in rooms to prevent them from calling parents, falsifying documents, along with other similar overt behaviors.

The most dangerous aspect of Gardner’s PAS theory is that that the alienating parent’s behavior is theorized to be so subtle as to be unobservable. In other words, the behaviors that are supposed to cause the alienation are assumed to be happening without any proof that they have actually occured. As many women have discovered this makes a charge of “alienation” almost impossible to defend against.

While Gardner’s theories regarding PAS have been shown to be overly general and have not been supported by careful research, behaviors seen in DV by Proxy can be readily observed. Behaviors involved in DV by Proxy are deliberate and planned; many are illegal, and if the child is given the freedom to talk, will be described in great detail by the child.

If the child’s formerly favorable view of the victimized parent changes when exposed to tactics like this over time then it is more likely a form of “Stockholm Syndrome” or traumatic attachment to the abuser, rather than the alignment with one parent and negative reaction to the other that Gardner described as “alienation”.

A recent and comprehensive article on PAS and its use in the court system, by Jennifer Hoult can be downloaded here.

For further information:

Once Again, So-Called Parental Alienation Syndrome is Used to Excuse Alleged Child Sexual Abuse

In Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Ernie Allen, NCMEC, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on March 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Her mother, Wendy Hill, sits in jail….gee, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that nobody wants to be “reunited” with a parent who stuck your mother in jail. Especially when she was trying to protect you from CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. Again, the father’s rights folks are marching out “parental alienation syndrome” as an excuse to cover up the allegations and stop the girl from having a voice.  Ernie Allen of NCMEC brings money to his organization with each claim explaining child separation (even wrongly so).  This is why the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges warned judges again accepting claims of so-called “parental alienation syndrome” and “parental alienation.” From ABC News:

Exclusive: Jessica Click-Hill, Found after 14 Years, Says She Is Still Hiding From Dad

Jessica Click-Hill Denies She Was Brainwashed By Mom, Accuses Dad of Molesting Her

By MARY KATHRYN BURKE, March 26, 2010

The 22-year-old woman who refuses to see her father after hiding from him since the age of 8 says she is still in hiding, afraid that her father “is going to find me and show up on my doorstep.”

Jessica Click-Hill, Missing for 14 Years, Found 'Alive and Well'

After a 14-year search for his daughter, Dean Click finally knows that she is alive and safe. That her mother, Wendy Hill, is the sole suspect in their daughter’s alleged abduction came as little surprise to Click.

(Courtesy Dean Click)

Jessica Click-Hill was found last month and her mother Wendy Hill was arrested after 14 years of moving frequently and living under aliases.

She and her mother went on the lam after Jessica’s father, Dean Click, won a court battle to share custody of the then little girl.

Since her discovery early this month, Jessica has refused to meet her father, prompting him to claim that Jessica has been brainwashed by her mother.

Jessica, who has changed her name to elude any attempt by her father to find her, talked exclusively to ABC News denying her father’s claims.

“I have woken up screaming a couple times,” Jessica stated. “I’ve not been brainwashed. I was there for everything that happened. I could go into vivid detail. They were nauseating and horrific acts.

“I am truly scared of him. I don’t want him in my life. I don’t want his letters. I am scared he is going to find me and show up on my doorstep,” she told ABC News in an email statement following several conversations.

Jessica admitted that the constant moves to stay underground were difficult on a young girl, but said she felt the justice system was not doing enough to keep her father away from her.

“My childhood was happy, despite moving quite a bit,” Jessica said. “I attended one high school. I’m now 22 and was married last year. I would describe myself as a geek, because I love video games. I would love to go to an art institute to study video-game art and design.”

“I tried to tell people. No one other than my family would listen to me that this was going on,” she said.

Jessica Click-Hill claims her father began molesting her at the age of 2.

Jessica is hoping to tell her version of what happened to her. “I’ve spent all these years hoping that my story could be told. Now that I’m an adult, I can stop feeling like a child no one cared to listen to,” she said.

Jessica said she will continue to stand by her mother. “It saddens me that my mother… is being portrayed as a kidnapper. She had nothing else in mind than to keep me from the monster that is my father,” she said.

Pam Davis, Dean Click’s lawyer, told ABC News that he is “saddened” not to see his daughter. Davis added that at the time of the allegations, there was never enough evidence to charge Click. She said that he took a voluntary polygraph indicating he was not guilty of any abuse.

“His only concern is not about himself but about the possibility of meeting his daughter someday,” Davis said. “He really loves his daughter.”

Enormously Complicated

Ernie Allen, of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, declined to speak specifically about Jessica’s case. He said, however, the group often encounters situations where a young person has been lied to by a parent.

“It is enormously complicated,” Allen said. “A lot of these reunification scenarios are not ‘happily ever after’ and a lot of the time the child wants nothing to do with the other parent for a host of reasons.”

“It’s been referred to as ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome,’” Allen added. “The premise from the abducting parent is ‘I am doing this for you – to save you – to protect you.’ The children in these scenarios are very young and you have to believe in the rule of law. We pursued the search for Jessica for all these years because there was a felony warrant out for her mother’s arrest.”

Allen said that although Jessica does not want to see her father, the NCMEC succeeded in that it gave her father the information he had been seeking, the knowledge that Jessica was alive and well.

“Her father now knows she is ok and where she is,” Allen said. “Reunification in parental abduction cases is a very difficult challenge. In 80 percent of these cases the motivation for the abduction is anger or revenge for the other spouse. That doesn’t mean that in some cases the abduction parent doesn’t have real concern or sometimes feel they have no other choice. But judges every day in cases like this one are asked to play Solomon. Obviously, the judge in this case did not find any proof of the allegation. Our focus is on finding the child.”

Parental Alienation Syndrome: The Task to Combat Psychiatric Coersion is Important

In Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on March 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm

“Labeling a child as mentally ill is stigmatization, not diagnosis.”

“Giving a child a psychiatric drug is poisoning, not treatment.”