The Real Parental Alienation
PAS, or Parental Alienation Syndrome, refers to the poisoning of children’s minds by one parent (usually the mother), against the other (usually the father). The so-called “cure” is to take the children away from the parent who is “poisoning” them and place them with the other parent. Richard Gardner, a known pedophile apologist came up with this theory from his own research with his clients in 1985, while working to defend abusers in court who were at risk of losing access to their children to protective parents. Gardner self-published his work and had no scientific basis for his PAS theory. But it’s still successfully used today, by many lawyers, to underhandedly win custody for abusive men.
The National District Attorneys Association says that, “PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children.”
Yet many courts still allow it and many abusers know it.
The twisted part to all this, is that alienation actually does exist. Parents do attempt to turn their kids against the other parent. But not the way Gardner suggests. It’s usually the abuser who does the actual alienation, all while they are busy taking the protective parent to court and using PAS as a magic bullet to win more custody of the kids.
Here is how it often seems to work:
When the kids withdraw or distance themselves from the abusive parent, or when the protective parent attempts to limit the children’s exposure to the abusive parent because they are (no shock here) abusive, the abusive parent says this distancing behavior is ‘proof’ of PAS. The abusive parent lies to the court, claiming that the protective parent is alienating the children from them. This deceitful tactic is often used to scare the protective parent and silence the protective parent. The abuser doesn’t want the protective parent speaking up and exposing the abuse.
Tragically, this tactic often works. Many abusive parents get custody this way. Many others get unsupervised access when they are in fact so dangerous to the kids that the kids are suffering severe traumatic symptoms. We are talking here not just about abusers intimidating the kids, or modeling poor character and morals to the kids. We are also talking about abusers who sexually abuse kids, who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol with the kids in the car, who fail to feed the kids properly, change nappies/diapers regularly, and all the other things that parents should do to keep kids healthy and safe. These are just a few examples.
Once they have custody, the abusive parents often start their own aggressive campaign with their children, to set the children against the protective parent. When the protective parent points that out as real and legitimate parental alienation, the courts often dismiss it, as they consider the behavior to be “paternal bonding”.
Leave it to abusers to find a way to project their own behaviors onto their victims, so that they can continue to get away with their abuse! It’s the old ‘turn everything upside down and inside out’ game, the crazy-making game that abusers specialize in. Not only are they actually alienating their kids from the protective parent, but they blame-shift onto the protective parent, in order to deliver a knock out blow and punish the protective parent for ever having crossed them. Slowly but surely, or sometimes before the protective parent even knows what has happened, the abuser has stripped the protective parent of both their legal rights and their emotional connection to their children.
Gardner and his theory of PAS have done much to discredit the real alienation that happens in abusive custody situations, succeeding in confusing the real perpetrators with the true victims, and many children and protective parents have suffered horribly for this, since its wider acceptance in 1987.
But there is hope. The tide of justice seems to be slowly shifting now. The American Psychological Association dismissed and rejected PAS as junk science, refusing to include it in the fifth revision of their Diagnostic Manual (DSM-5). Many courts around America are also beginning to refuse to hear PAS evidence, citing the lack of research to back it as a valid theory as well as its potential danger to true victims of abuse. Lawyers are now being taught how to defend Protective parents against allegations of PAS.
The truth is beginning to show through the darkness. Lies are starting to be exposed. Abusers are being called out, slowly, but it is happening. Still, it’s not enough. There is much damage that still needs repairing. Abusers need to be held accountable for the true alienation that they are perpetrating between kids and their protective parents and for those of us, still fighting, trying anything we can to protect our kids, there are still miles to go before we sleep…
For more information on PAS, its validity, perceptions in the courts today and how to defend against it, please visit: