Ever since Gardner made the first connections between parental alienation and custody, relational, and situational (divorce) issues, cases like ours of child psychological abuse by narcissistic/borderline partners have been doomed to fail in family court. And as long as we continue to connect child psychological abuse with custody, cases like ours will continue to fail in family court.
We shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that family courts consistently get our cases wrong or that they appear so out of touch with the seriousness or reality that child psychological abuse is so harmful. They shouldn’t even have primary jurisdiction.
It has been said that family courts often fail because of their adversarial nature but in our cases, the reason that family courts fail is because they focus on resolving family disputes. The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), an organization of practitioners, researchers, teachers and policymakers that set the tone for family courts state that their mission is to improve “the lives of children and families through the resolution of family conflict.” This is an honorable intent given that most people are hardwired to build, maintain and repair disruptions in their family relationships, MOST people. Just not the ones we chose to marry and/or have children with.
Whether they have been officially diagnosed or not, our (ex) partners display fixed narcissistic/borderline personality disorder traits, which make them emotionally deficient and abusive partners and parents. During infancy and childhood, our ex-partners were deprived of the warmth and attention they needed to develop the ability to emotionally connect with others on a deep and meaningful level. They have never been able to love, care or empathize, which is how they can abuse those closest to them without guilt, regret, remorse or grief. In my opinion, only a parent with some type of emotional/mental deficiency can abuse their children. This deficiency also makes them think that they aren’t doing anything wrong and therefore do not feel the need to participate in any type of family resolution efforts or change anything that they are doing.
In essence, taking our child psychological abuse cases to family court under the heading of custody and/or parental alienation is like bowling down the wrong alley; nothing we do counts.
Why are we trying to manage child psychological
abuse cases in family court?
Child psychological abuse is not a dispute between the two parents (except that one parent is healthy and is trying to stop it). Think of how absurd it would be if Family Court handled sexual abuse in the same way it handles psychological abuse. For this example I am going to use the pronoun “he.”
A mother alleges that the father is sexually abusing their child. Family court wants the parents to “work this out” because they are both play a role in the conflict where one parent wants the abuse to stop and the other parent doesn’t. The court spends months or years deliberating on every new accusation that the abuser throws out to distract the court from looking in his direction; while he continues to sexually abuse the child. Then, because neither parent will compromise, family court starts shuffling them off to mediation, family counseling, and co-parenting classes to help them work out their conflict issue for the sake of the child.
Society would never tolerate this kind of blatant harm to come to a child. The only reason society tolerates child psychological abuse, which is much more prevalent and damaging to children than sexual abuse, is because no one brings these cases forward. If society knew the harm that was being done to our children because of psychological child abuse and if they knew the 3 clinical symptoms, it would stop.
Child psychological abuse needs to be handled in the same way that our court system handles physical and sexual abuse. Juvenile court not family court, decides whether children have been abused or neglected, as defined by State law. Then they order services and monitor cases to ensure that interventions are effective. Juvenile Court uses the expertise of CPS caseworkers, psychologists, mental health professionals, physicians, domestic violence specialists, educators, child development specialists and others to understand why the abuse or neglect occurred and why it necessitated court intervention.
Gardner put a great deal of distance between the problem of child psychological abuse and the solution by calling it parental alienation and implying it was a family court problem involving custody. We perpetuate that mistake by continuing to take our child psychological abuse cases to family court under “custody issues.”
The day we stop calling child psychological abuse
“parental alienation” and start calling it
child psychological abuse,
is the day the scales tip in our direction.