Domestic Violence – Some thoughts

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flikr, Attribution: Jonas Tana

I was reading an article today in “Welt Online” titled “Every third day a woman dies from domestic violence”.

Now without going into a rant “But men are abused too”, there was some very interesting statistics in the article. No, I don’t mean that one about 40% of all women are subject to sexual or physical abuse in their lifetimes (citation definitely needed). I mean the figure that is qualified when one reads the comments (nearly always better!) that in Germany there are 350 refuges for women and three for men. Yes, three!

When reading the comments there is one single voice that talks about abuse against men, and he was insulted with a comment from a man that literally translates to “grow some balls”. It is generally agreed that domestic violence is not as one-sided as one would have us believe, more a 40% men, 60% split. That society is also starting to accept that men can as well be emotionally and physically abused, but when it comes to a family split this framework is quickly forgotten.

Also interesting was the comment that detailed what has happened to a lot of us when we split from our partners: False accusations. Or even better provocation on th part of the mother to have the father banned from his house and children, and all chances of seeing his children are shot because he is “violent”. Can this happen?  Yes, of course, I had to endure my (still) wife sitting next to me and saying things about her lover like “When he kisses me I stop breathing”, or “He satisfies me”. The only reason why I didn’t do something in the heat of the moment was because I was saved by something others in my position, unfortunately, don’t have. Her best friend warned me that she wanted me to hit her so she could have me arrested by the police. Her best friend gave me one of the best pieces of advice in my life “Leave the room, don’t let her provoke you”. Needless to say, she didn’t want to stay the best friend much longer after she found this out!

Perhaps if society provided more help for the men in abusive marriages as well as women then things would be different for both partners, and potentially the children as well. Imagine a refuge for men, where specialised mental/ therapeutic help was available – somebody to talk to save the marriage or at least a split without friction. Wouldn’t that be the best solution for mum, dad, and the children, and also potentially in a small way lead to a reduction in the pressure on social services and family court systems.

Will this change someday? Hopefully. In the same way, I also hope that someday we may also come out of this identity-driven reporting, i.e. away from a war of the sexes as we have now have at the moment, the consequence of which is that everything is reduced to right and wrong … guilty and not-guilty.

 

(c) lostdad 2018

 

Why isn’t Parental Alienation being taken seriously?

Why is parental alienation not more widely known? why does it still exist after so many years, and more importantly, why isn’t anything happening to stop it?

Let’s take a somewhat different example that can be seen in every newspaper these days: Transgender discussions. Without going into any of the detail in the different arguments, or groups involved, let’s just take a figure: The UK assume that the number of transgenders in the population is around 0.1%, the United States says it is around 0.3%. Taking the figure to mean the entire population of the United Kingdom, that means that there are around 68,000 transgenders in the UK.

Why I am mentioning this?  Because this is the number at any one time. How many do you think are suffering from parental alienation at any one time? Children, absent parents, grandparents, etc.  Given that in 2012 according to the office of national statistics there were 236,000 divorces of which half involved children under 16 years, and for argument’s sake 5-10% are acrimonious then it is probably safe to say that the figure of those affected by parental alienation is probably an order of magnitude higher. So why is this?

Lobbying

Following through on the example above the transgender lobby is substantial, it includes a substantial part of the LGBT community and associated support groups, as well as a number of people from all walks of life. Other causes have their lobby in civil liberties groups and in parliament, others even take to the street to make their voice heard. Parental Alienation has nothing as far as I can see. It is slowly becoming accepted as a concept in the wider population, but no group is championing us or even supporting us.

The United Kingdom Parliament did, in fact, have one MP give a speech about PA, but he resigned under a cloud before the last general election (Simon Danczuk). additionally, there are a couple of current MPs that support the fight against PA as part of a wider men’s rights perspective (Philip Davies for example), but they (certainly Davies) are under attack from the womans and equality committee,  and indeed from quite a few of their peers, and are therefore not taken seriously enough to be supported in any major way, and more importantly not senior enough to push through an initiative in the House of Commons. In Germany where I live there parental alienation is simply not visible, and as far as I can see this is also the situation in Austria.

One group that lobbies on behalf of fathers and their children is Fathers4Justice. a group that through its stunts previously is, unfortunately, ‘tainted’ and not regarded as serious enough, alone the latest stunt from the founder was certainly not supportive of the cause. Reading through this blog, and also within the current social media atmosphere, once a discussion has taken occurred you appear to be tainted for life, or at least a great part thereof.

In this constellation, there appears to be no chance of getting any major change in the public perception of PA to support any positive change in the UK family law.

Mums Net, Feminism & Co.

Even though I believe that women and men are capable of PA, there is one group that tries very hard to stop the issue entering a mainstream discussion, even to the extent of complete denial that it exists. Their lobbying is so successful for instance that for example no political party in the UK (apart from UKIP) supports shared parenting even though it is supported by the European Council, been studied to death and found to be positive for the children. The US National Organisation of Women (NOW) for instance actively and openly advocates against it at a national level.

Anti-Experts 

In a recent post the parental alienation expert Karen Woodall details the’success’ of ‘experts’ who – believe it or not – successfully lobby with CAFCASS for a system of letting the child or children choose which parent they want to stay with after the split, thus creating a ‘non-parent’ for want of a better phrase. Liz Trinder has been quite successful in lobbying for the voice of the child a feminist-driven agenda. Here is the post in full it is definitely worth a read.

In addition, there is still a school of thought – pushed by all mothers – that the child should stay with the mother, that it belongs to the mother. The reaction to the Sarah Baldwin case is in the case of many mothers just that. The mother drugged her own children to blame it on the father, and a huge swath of mothers found this to be acceptable to stop the father having the children. Even if the father is capable, and was the stay at home parent this can change in an instant in a court of law during a divorce.

Headline ‘Sponsors’

Parental Alienation has no sponsors, no headline celebrity to champion our cause. Just a splattering of absent fathers that are A and B-list celebrities that give a television interview once in a while ( Mathieu Carriere and Ingo Appelt in Germany for example), or just let it sneak out into the press and hope for a positive result for themselves (Brad Pitt, ….). In the case of Ingo Applelt in Germany he was given time to express the case for parental alienation based on his own experiences while sitting across from John Cleese without socks on, as he (Cleese) had immediately before done something funny!

Men’s Rights

Now, this is a tricky one. For anyone who looks into the figures, it should be immediately apparent that men do have problems, certainly in terms of the number of suicides, workplace deaths. But looking into the men’s rights forums parental alienation takes a back seat to practically all issues.

Prejudices

Who hasn’t been in this situation?  I know I certainly have, the question is always there, and always gets asked when you open yourself up with someone new.

“What did you do wrong?”

Whatever the reason for the split, the background to the PA, The default setting is you are the guilty party instead of the victim. To turn this around is difficult, especially if you are the one who left the mother, or there were real or alleged allegations of domestic violence. Couple this with the fact that most people cannot even perceive what it means to be separated from your children and then have them turned against you, and it is an upward battle to change this subconscious bias.

Media Exposure

Sometimes I have the idea that the media certainly does not report on PA, and the number of times it has been reported on sympathetically tends towards zero. Take the example above with John Cleese on how to turn PA into a side issue for instance, or the report by Victoria Derbyshire, where she did report on PA, but predominately from the alienated mothers perspective. As I have said before there are female victims of PA, but I think we can agree that the overwhelming majority of cases are alienated fathers.

A Positive Note

I have come to the conclusion that it will take decades for parental alienation to be accepted by the general public. By this I mean quite simply a time when there will be no support from friends and family should  somebody alienate their children from the other parent. It should be socially unacceptable and ‘frowned upon’. This requires societal change, perhaps even with legislation or at the very least some common sense open judgements from the family court.

The feminist lobby is too strong for any meaningful attempt at legislation to combat parental alienation. And then the question is how to legislate in such a subjective minefield of attacks and counter-attacks.

The valiant efforts of Karen Woodhouse as a practitioner in the field of dealing with parental alienation and its effects do give me hope nevertheless. Her efforts in dealing with these issues, and also in organising European symposia to discuss this at an international level is laudatory.

What remains are silly little blogs like this, and others to detail the scale of the problem, the hurt for the children and the alienated parents and grandparents. It becomes a body of knowledge that hopefully indicates the scale of the problem.

What is required is visibility and acceptance that we do have a problem and that it not only effects the alienated parents, but also the children – potentially all their lives.

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’.

I’m back!

Just a short post to say that I am back!

I apologise to those who are followers for the several month long hiatus, but there is a very good reason. After one and a half years of looking for a job after redundancy, I finally found one – and even a better job than my previous one.

The new colleagues are very friendly and exceptionally helpful in getting me up to speed, and the work is approaching ‘hobby’ level in terms of job satisfaction.

So the bottom line is – I devoted myself to getting settled into the new job for the last few months. I look forward to writing new posts in the future, as well as passing on interesting posts for you to read.

So I wish all of you – whatever your religious persuasion – a happy new year. And for those of you that are where I was (and in some small way I still am) I wish you success in all your endeavours.

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?

Continue reading →

Away for the weekend

Leicester - Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alant79/

Leicester – Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alant79/

I was in the country of my birth last weekend. The first time privately (not business) since 2009. There are many reasons for this – lack of money, the shame of what has happened to me etc. etc.

The reason was for a reunion of friends that graduated in the summer of 1987. Yes it really is thirty years since I graduated, when my whole life seemed rosy and full of promise!

To tell the truth I did not want to go. I was afraid of another round of having to explain why I am in the situation with the children that I now find myself, “What did you do to make her do that?”. My wife persuaded me to go, and I love her for it, for I had one of the best weekends ever.

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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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