Victim or Survivor?

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Attribution: Flickr – The Survivor by Jose Maria Cuellar

It’s a strange title I know, but it is something that has occurred to me after reading about #MeToo and the fact that most are calling themselves victims instead of a survivor.

So what are we – the abused and absent parents, are we victims, whose voice should be heard? Or are we survivors – to be forgotten, while we have come to terms with our loss and have moved on?

Let’s look at the Oxford Dictionary for a bit of help

A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

A person who is tricked or duped.

A person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment

A living creature killed as a religious sacrifice.

Leaving aside the last definition, the first three are relevant, especially the third. There are many absent parents that cannot come to terms with what has happened and live their lives – if that is what you can call them – always in terms of what has happened. The first statement fits as well – how many of us have been emotionally harmed by what has happened to us, through no fault of our own.

Now let’s look at the definition for survivor:

A person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.

The remainder of a group of people or things.

A person who copes well with difficulties in their life.

The third definition fits to those of us that have tried to move on with our lives, but arguably the first definition, a type of ‘living death’ also describes what all of us are feeling who have no access to our children, or who have had their own flesh and blood turned against them
I would describe myself as a survivor, having been able to move on, remarry, bring up my stepson, live again. But at the same time, I also feel a sense of betrayal. In moving on, and stopping to fight in the courts for access to the children, accepting what has happened I have given up. In surviving – a natural human act, I feel I have betrayed my own children.
I think what I am trying to say is that I have never stopped being a victim – I have survived where sadly others have not. I along with thousands of others have been harmed, emotionally abused and sentenced to a life without those we hold dearest – our children.
Being a survivor is important – surviving is a primaeval instinct but in accepting this fact, it for me devalues what has happened in the past – what made me a victim of the conscious acts of my ex-wife. It enables those listening to you to simply say ‘They will get in touch when they are older. You have survived.” and move the conversation on to other things.
I see now that I will never stop being a victim, and state that I simply ‘survived’.

The Empathy Gap

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WARNING: Dilettantish, exceptionally amateur psychology follows, please look away if you are not empathetic (!)

Looking around the internet while researching this there are several articles discussing the empathy gap between couples. For instance, when one partner doesn’t give the appropriate response the other partner expects when something happens, be it a cut finger, slip, being fired, etc. etc. Empathy with the partner declines when one or both of the partners are not interested in the relationship anymore. This is logical – another way of putting it would be to say they are not in love anymore.

But what happens afterwards?

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A Living Death ?

This post was suggested by my various professionals during my journey and a post by David Shubert on iwaserased.com

I have thought about this a lot over the previous years. How to put into words the loss that I feel not seeing my children, having no idea what they are up to, not being asked daddy questions and an infinite amount of other possible situations.

I was ‘lucky’, in that I have found (or they found me?) a wonderful new partner and her son, both of whom adore me. They make me feel whole, and the residual doubt that I had every now and then that I could have been to blame for what happened between my children, their mother and I have been exorcised. I know I am a good partner and a good father to a son who isn’t mine. I certainly must take part of the blame, as no break-up is without fault on both sides, but certainly, the majority lies with my ex-wife and her new partner, whose actions regarding the children I really cannot even begin to understand. And to be frank I don’t think I am even capable of understanding how insidious their campaign against me was and probably still is.

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Types of alienation

Again, based on personal experience and has no relation to the work of practising members of the psychology profession!

I have been intimately involved in parental alienation for several years now. I have researched the hell out of it, and since the start of this blog at the start of the year I have also come across dozens more cases, some with their own blog, others through my twitter feed.

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How to Lie

That’s a strange title for a post isn’t it?

Well after several years of having to deal with this I have a theory. It probably will be shot down by any practising psychologist within a three-kilometer radius but here goes…

The problem with downright lying is that it is hard to reproduce. I mean we have all seen those crime series on TV, where the same questions are asked time and time again, sometimes from several angles to try and catch the perpetrator out. Well, there is a reason for this. If you make it up completely – I mean Pinocchio level lying, then it never happened, so how do you actually remember it? It is difficult, and some can do it, even maintaining the framework of several lies.

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Self-Reflection

Meditation - Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/

Meditation – Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/

I was reading this report today on transparency about a father that brought a  case of Parental Alienation against his wife with respect to his two boys. The analysis of the case by the superbly independent Transparency Group showed that he was probably to blame for his actions, and ultimately the fact that he did not allow himself to reconsider the ramifications of his actions, or show any empathy for the circumstances which effectively caused the situation that now existed.

I read this report three times, and as always I drifted off in contemplation. All sorts of questions came to mind: Did I cause my own situation?  I am to blame? Am I possessed with blaming my ex-wife and her new husband for something that is ultimately down to me?

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Choosing the right lawyer

This is potentially one of the most important decisions that you will make if custody becomes contested or access starts being violated.

I cannot stress this more strongly. 

I, unfortunately, went on a recommendation and landed a lawyer that just reacted. We cannot in the main expect lawyers to be pro-active, after all, they have other clients. But I now expect a lawyer to be pro-active in so far as they suggest different courses of action leading to a pre-defined and agreed goal.

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