Parental Alienation as Domestic Violence: 20 ways to leave your Mugger

In the spirit of New Year this first post is a handy guide to your resolutions if you are an alienated parent. Based on the premise that you cannot change anyone else, you can only change yourself, understanding this guide is written to help you to understand those questions that you ask yourself again and again – ‘what did I do, why has this happened to me, how do I change what feels impossible to change?’

Many people will tell you that you didn’t do anything wrong, that it is bad luck that this happened to you and that you cannot change things because the power lies in the hands of the other person. To which I say ‘piffle, piffle and triple piffle.’ If all you do is lie down and give in then all you are going to get is more of the same that you have already suffered. If all you do is project blame and wring your hands and say there is nothing you can do then all you will get is what you have always got. There is no one magic key to resolving the situation you are in but there are a number of things that you can do and keep doing that will, eventually, bring about change. Stasis is your enemy in alienation, as is a lack of self knowledge. When you are in this situation you need to be light on your feet and quick as a flash, you need to know that the problem is both ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ which means that the alienating behaviour is located in the other person but the way that you react to it contributes mightily to it being pronounced and prolonged or softened and shortened. When you are hit with an alienation reaction in a child it can feel like the winds of hell are howling through your world but it is not that, not really. When you unpick the component parts of an alienation reaction you will find multilayered behaviours, thoughts and actions that combine to create the rejection both in the alienator and the alienated. Alienated parents are often like people who have been mugged, unsuspecting, shocked and somewhat in denial. unpicking, understanding and uncovering the reality of what has happened to you is your task at hand. In all cases of alienation there are patterns of violence at play which create particular dynamics. Changing those dynamics is a key part of changing the landscape for your children. Therefore, starting with yourself and moving outwards, just like peeling the layers of the onion from the inside out, here is your handy guide to getting going on your road to recovery. Here are your first 20 ways to leave your mugger.

1. Understand what drew you to this person in the first place – good looks, charm, feeling like the centre of her universe? When you fell in love with her did you suddenly find she had gone off you and was onto her next ‘fix’ of undying love and attention? If so, your mugger is a narcissist and your first task is to understand that whatever you do and however you do it, you are never going to change this baby, she is in it for herself because she is unwell, all you can do is learn how to manage her. Get started by reading everything you can about narcissism.

2. Know that this person knows you better than you know yourself, that is how they managed to do what they have done. Make like the wind and get to know yourself as fast as you possibly can.

3. Get a buddy, a helper, a mentor. Someone who can walk and run alongside you on this path. When you are hit by an alienation reaction it can become so absorbing that you can lose friends and family simply because you cannot stop talking and thinking about it. Find someone who is willing to go through this with you, preferably someone who really understands it.

4. Review your previous relationships, was this one like others you have had or was this one very different? What is it about this person that stands out differently from the rest.

5. Do not waste time hoping this will go away, it won’t. When alienation strikes it is here to stay, especially from the day your child says he doesn’t want to see you anymore. Act fast and act now.

6. Recognise that this is happening because of the person you had your child with not because of your child. Alienation is a reaction that occurs in the child but is caused by the actions of a hostile other parent. Love your child, be very aware of their other parent’s behaviours.

7. Accept that you cannot change the other person you can only change yourself and that when you change yourself everything else automatically changes. In physics every action has an opposite and equal reaction, the same is so of human relationships, believe it, change it do it now.

8. Understand the grieving that you inevitably are forced to go through when your child rejects you. Understand that the unending nature of this grief is directly related to the power that you give to the other person. Understand at its deepest level, what this actually means. The next point helps you to do that.

9. The grief you suffer is unending when all that you do is focus upon the power that the other person has over you and your child. When you grief is linked to the power that you give away you will always be faced with the same drop off the cliff, the same silence, the same sense of powerlessness. That is because you have given all of your power away. Power over your child is held by the other parent but power over you is held by you and you alone. If you hand your power to other person and allow them to hurt you with that as well as the power they hold over your child, your grief will be unending. You are not powerless. Understand that and believe it.

10. When you continue to hand your power to the person you are no longer in relationship with you are in fact still in relationship with them. Why are you still in relationship with them?

11. Chances are you are still in relationship with them because they are holding your children hostage. Are you going to be the kind of person who negotiates with kidnappers or are you going to refuse to pay the ransom? Know which you are and know it now, it shortens your journey to recovery.

12. Know that your child is in the position that you were once in. How did you escape? Who helped you? Who is going to help your child to escape?

13. You cannot slip out the back in this one, you have to stay present but there are times when you need to rest. What do you do that rests your soul? Do it now, do it every day, this is marathon and not a sprint.

14. Know that not everyone understands what you are going through. When you meet that person who asks you what you have done to cause your children not to want to see you, silently bless them for reminding you that there is a dual role in alienation, that of being alienated and that of educating others about alienation. And then tell them that your child’s other parent has caused your child to reject you and educate, educate, educate.

15. Send your child letters, emails, text messages and other communications and keep them appropriate to the position they are in. They do not know they have been kidnapped so do not spend your time telling them that they have been. Tell them that you love them, that you are coping, that you are well and waiting. Time will come for perspective work, but not whilst they are still in thrall to their kidnapper.

16. Keep a close eye on what the other parent is doing but do not stalk, threaten or crowd them. Make it your business to know, however you can get to know but you only need to know in so far as it impacts on your children. Any further and you are falling back into the trap.

17. Get fit and stay fit. Stay sharp in your mind. Stay focused and stay well.

18. Identify yourself as an alienated parent and make it your business to know how to be a powerful alienated parent (following this guide is one of your first steps).

19. Get the best lawyer/attorney/barrister you can afford and find yourself a powerful mental health practitioner who can educate your legal team if necessary. If you feel that your team is not in there fighting for you but is instead falling for the other side’s narrative, get rid of them and start again. If you are going to do the right thing for your child you need to be punching well above your weight on all matters legal, you run your team and they work for you. Within the protocols of any given legal arena, make sure your people are always working for you and your child’s best interests.

20. Withdraw your projections of blame but know where the cause of the alienation arises from. When you project blame constantly you can mislead people into thinking that you are the cause of the problem. When you know where the problem lies and allow others to see it, you are well on the way to establishing the reality and you are already building a road home for your child.

This are just the first steps in managing alienation and coping as an alienated parent but they are critical steps that you cannot and must not avoid if you are to help your child to escape the trap they are in. Knowing when to step forward and when to step back, knowing when to push back and when to let go and knowing the rules and ropes of being an alienated parent will make the experience so much less painful than it is when you are at sea and lost in a bewildering fog of fear.

Understanding your experience as part of a pattern of violence is perhaps something new to many of you but if you follow the steps above and begin to unpack and unpick what has lead you here, I promise you will find exactly those patterns which are at play in family violence. If you begin to look upwards you will see the generational patterns and if you look inwards you will see the psychological patterns. Looking back you will find historical patterns. Your task is to make sure that the patterns you create going forward are not those of the past but new patterns for the future which leave your mugger behind and which bring freedom for your child (and you).

25 comments

  1. mothererased · January 3, 2015

    How I wish my own mother had this kind of advice and support! Though I clearly see my father’s main part in alienating our mother from me and my sister, I will always wish our mother had seen herself as holding some power rather than a victim who had no choice but to ‘roll over’ and allow the alienation. She did not understand the brainwashing that is involved and actually asked my sister, who was six yrs old at the time, if she wanted her to continue visiting despite my father’s making it very difficult. My sister, who was angered by our mother’s abandonment, replied “NO, we have a new mother now,”. And that was the last time we saw her. My sister suffered from being given this power by our mother- to be able to push her away when deep down she wanted her there.

    I had never used the term ‘kidnapped’ before in regards to my childhood, but in reading your post it hit me that this is exactly what happened.

    At the same time as feeling discouraged that parent alienation is so much more common that I had ever known, I am so encouraged that there are resources now, like this one, and that alienated parents are finding and using these resources. It is far too late for my mother, but not at all too late for so many others.

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    • karenwoodall · January 3, 2015

      perhaps you would like to write something for us mothererased? It would be so helpful for our readers to have the experience of an alienated child and to hear directly from you what would have been helpful. I have been struck by your comments and how you wish things had been different, perhaps writing about it would help and help others at the same time? K

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      • mothererased · January 3, 2015

        Yes, I would be happy to.

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      • karenwoodall · January 3, 2015

        wonderful news mothererased, I have just looked at your own blog too, perhaps I could reblog some of what you have already written? But if you have chance to write something about what alienated parents need to know about their alienated child and how he/she is feeling it would be such a powerful help. If you publish it to your blog and then let me know I will reblog it on here. Many thanks indeed. I am sure so many parents will be heartened and helped to read it. K

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      • mothererased · January 4, 2015

        Karen, I have just posted a piece on my blog and titled it “A Message from your estranged child”. I hope this will be helpful to some parents who are struggling to understand their alienated children. Of course each child is so different, but I think most will recognize some common truths to my message.

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      • karenwoodall · January 5, 2015

        thank you so much mothererased, will reblog it now. K

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  2. Kris K · January 3, 2015

    mothererased, I too, would find it helpful to hear what your thoughts and feelings are. I am an alienated mom and am trying desperately to find a way to ‘reach’ my children. I’m sorry you went through this heart-wrenching crime 😦

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    • mothererased · January 3, 2015

      I’m so glad you are not giving up, Kris. That is a gift to you children; even if they are not responsive to you, knowing you want to reach them is making a big difference to them, even if you cannot see this.

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      • Kris K · January 4, 2015

        Thank You mothererased, it brings comfort to hear that, so often I feel like stepping away to put an end to the pain for everyone. I look forward to reading your writings. ((Hugs))
        Kris

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Donna OK · January 3, 2015

    Yes, please share, mothererased. I’m so sorry to hear what you went through and still do. Same with Kris K, I am an alienated mother. Court just turned full custody of my 10 yr old son to me after three years of battle and it’s not over as my ex filed a motion for reconsideration. My two adult daughters are alienated from me and I’m sure even more angry now because of the judge’s decision. There is no support here in Kauai, Hawaii in regards to PA. This has given me hope.

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  4. mothererased · January 3, 2015

    Karen, yes please do feel free to reblog anything you find useful from my blog. I will write something ‘to the alienated parent’ from the perspective of ‘the alienated child’ that I think will offer something helpful. I know there is no easy answer, and I know of the huge obstacles, but if I can add some useful insight, then that I am happy to. I will alert you to the addition of this info/post on my blog or email it to you to post or use as you like.

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  5. Vince · January 3, 2015

    Thanks Karen, a useful blog and picks up many points I’ve read recently. Agree totally that the alienated parent can hand power to the alienator. The only point I have a problem with is 19. As a litigant in person with no funds I am forced to take on the task of raising issues myself and going against the alienator, their solicitor, a hostile Guardian and the Guardian’s solicitor (all of whom seem to be very familiar with the Judge), I am being pushed down a track that seems to lead to the inevitable situation where I will be deemed vexatious, my former partner will be deemed a loving, caring, totally dedicated Mother. All of my concerns are likely to be thrown out even though the signs are clear to see and I might find that in trying to stop the harm my kids have suffered (I’ve witnessed their upset and tears) I could lose all direct contact. The Court is a vicious animal with no rules, no morals, no reason, no interest in establishing fact. Undoubtedly, as a LIP I have little hope of a fair trial but I long ago came to terms with the fact that I can only do what I can do and if I lose all contact I will at least have done what I thought best.

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    • Vince, I totally empathise with your situation, having been down the same route myself. Things got so bad in my case, that I was blackmailed into giving my consent for my daughter to be adopted by her stepfather, meaning I lost my Parental Rights and was told not to contact my daughter in the future. This was all as a result of nonsensical false allegations of child abuse made against me by her mother (and ultimately by my daughter also), trumped up to be make me look as bad as possible by social workers. Needless to say there was no evidence whatsoever of any of these allegations made against me, but this did not seem to matter with respect to the end result. I agree with you totally, that if you do lose contact with your kids, do take comfort in that you will have at least done what you thought best. I am a strong believer that in all these cases the truth will come when ready, and these situations will be resolved in time. In the meantime, the awful profile of Parental Alienation needs to be raised amongst the general public, as well as the dreadful injustice being handed out by the family courts. This is something I believe inwhich we can all play a part.

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  6. Grandmani · January 3, 2015

    Re Step 15
    Can someone please tell me how to communicate with an alienated child when all the suggested channels are completely blocked by the alienating parent.
    I am really weary of experts and associations telling me to keep communicating with my grandson to assure him that I still love him.For nearly 4 years since contact was broken phone calls,emails,etc to GS and his mother have all been blocked and we have been told by his mother that cards,letters will be kept from him.
    My son (the alienated father) has a 1st class degree in Computer Engineering and a career in the computer industry.Yet he also has been completely unable to make contact with his son since Feb 2011.
    Any new suggestions ?
    .

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    • karenwoodall · January 4, 2015

      Hi Grandmani, when all the channels are blocked you must simply stop trying to use those channels, to do so is to bang your head against the wall that the alienator has built and give more of your power away to her. Stop trying to use those channels and use the ones that you and only you can control – get on social media and set up a face book page, an instagram account, use as many different channels that are under your control and not hers as you can/ And post regularly, happy things, loving notes, memories and so on. No-one can stop you and no-one can stop children who are curious going looking (kids can listen round corners and can therefore also get onto social media with their eyes closed and under the nose of the alienated parent – and they do – many children tell us that that is exactly what they do – they go looking when the parent who has trapped them is not looking)…when I talk about giving your power away I am talking about when you focus only on the power that the alienating parent has over you. When you focus on the power you have instead of the power she has over the child and you then you find new openings. I hope that when mothererased writes for us about her experience of being an alienated child, much of which seems to chime exactly with what I have been writing about, you will get a sense of how important to the child to keep finding ways of communicating that are under your control. What is clear to me is that children need to know that their family is still there and that their family still loves them and social media is one of the ways that this can be achieved which is entirely under your control. I am not advocating setting up pages which tell children how awful the alienating parent is, that doesn’t help anyone, least of all the child but on setting up and maintaining pages which show the child you are still there and well and the child is still loved and missed. You are unlikely to get anything back for a long time but that is not your goal. Alienated families have to keep being able to give out the love with nothing back to ensure that the child gets the message they are still loved and still missed and still wanted. That is how the road home is built and kept alive for the child. You would be surprised how many children tell me that without that they would never have been able to face the alienating parent’s wrath and escape. I hear your despair and I know it is incredibly hard to keep doing it but do it you must – one way communication into the black void is an absolute necessity – use your power to do what is under your control and keep on doing it because it works. K

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    • Heartbroken · March 24, 2015

      To Grandmani….I read once, of a man that started a web page for his children. He wrote to them as if they were reading it. He posted pictures of the children and him from Before…..he told them over and over that he loved them. He said that eventually, one day his children found the website and responded. It is just an idea. I live in a fantasy world where my children read my e-mail every week and secretly are so happy I write to them all the time. It makes me feel happy and maybe it is even true that they are reading them. Good Luck. I have read that it takes Super Human strength to go through this!!!!! I am smiling. My children love me and will tell me so one day. I hope soon!!!!!

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  7. CG · January 3, 2015

    Thank you Karen. I wonder how things could have been different if we’d found you sooner, but then we didn’t know what we were dealing with, and naively believed for so long that fairness and truth and decency would prevail in the mother, and then also in the court system.
    What advice can you offer when there is no contact.
    As you know we have very very limited court sanctioned contact (no contact now for another 10 months), and we are sure even that which is sent is previewed, minimised and diluted before the bare minimum is allowed through. Although bland basic emails of thanks have been received we think these are sent by the mother, not the child.
    So, in a scenario where there is no contact, no-one who can mediate, seemingly no opportunity to even come across the alienated child in any setting, and no access to court, how we do keep communication open? My husband’s facebook page is unrestrictedly open with a picture of him and his son on the main page. We are trying to keep contact with the school open, even though they are resistant in case of upsetting the mother.
    We’re keeping healthy and trying to stay strong, but the road ahead looks long and barren.

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    • karenwoodall · January 4, 2015

      It is long and barren CG if you let it and that is the pain that you have to face unfortunately but it doesn’t have to be constant unremitting and endless, you have the power to do something other than suffer. You have done what you can and now you must focus on what you can do without directly reaching out. Your facebook pages are essential, they must be welcoming and loving and show the child how much he is missed but nothing more, nothing about the other parent, nothing about what has happened, that is too much for the child right now and only falls into the trap of the other parent who can say ‘see, they are the ones who are causing it, look what they are saying about me…’ essentially, right now, there is nothing you can do other than focus on each other and enjoy the life that you have together. Make your relationship strong and happy, do not let moments slip by unnoticed but make them count. Withdraw your giving of your power to the other parent and give your power to each other, do things for each other and enjoy doing them, your relationship is the foundation stone of a happier future for your child who will need you to be there, one day when the time is right and the sun is shining and he is older and more able to face his captor. You have to wait it out right now but it doesn’t have to be barren, it can be full of the things in life that you enjoy and want to enjoy together. K

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      • CG · January 12, 2015

        Thank you Karen. We’ve taken a few things to heart, especially the ‘do what you can do’ theme. So we’ve pledged to put things onto my husbands facebook page more frequently and will focus some of the language when that’s appropriate/possible. I read the letter by the mother to her child on the ‘write me a river’ blog and the style and honesty touched me deeply, so we’ll try talking publicly about memories maybe.
        A question – a number of people talk about blogs and I wonder what your view is. I know children Google their own names sometimes and I wonder about creating a ‘photos blog’ and posting it under my husbands sons name. Is that too much?

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  8. karenwoodall · January 4, 2015

    I think perhaps the line ‘as a LIP I have little hope of a fair trial’ could be amended to say ‘as the parent without the control of the child, I have little hope of a fair trial’ Vince, it certainly seems to me, that in this overriding culture of cases being driven by the wishes and feelings of the children, the parent who does not have control over the children is in a very fragile position in terms of getting anything like a fair hearing. All of your concerns may well be thrown out because of the ‘lens’ through which your family court professionals are looking, that is why I say it is a marathon, not a sprint – I have never seen a case of alienation ‘proved’ in court with appropriate action taken within the first year of it happening, most, if not all of the cases I have worked on have taken years to get to a point where the professionals ‘get it’ and sometimes, even when the Judge clearly gets it, the professionals continue not to. When you are in such a situation you need all your wits about you and you need to know that this is a long game, you are unlikely to turn the views and opinions of those people around in one go. I know it is a difficult thing to hear and it is a difficult thing to say but you could well need to stick in for a very long time before anyone starts to think the unthinkable. This is why education on these matters is so important and how you conduct your case so that you stand back and let people see what is going on is key. Even then however you are likely to find it will take a lot longer than you think/hope to get people to listen. K

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  9. Heartbroken · January 4, 2015

    My story has been going on for seven years but really it was 13 years ago that my ex-husband decided to leave. We have four children, then 6,7, 9 and 10. Now 18. 20. 21 and 23. I would never want to go back and do this again but I am so hopeful that this may end soon. I am fortunate to have e-mail addresses for my children. I write to three of them every Sunday morning. One of my children has blocked me totally. I write to them and tell them I love them. I tell them I miss them. I talk to each of them as if I was having a conversation….eg. good luck on exams, hope school is going well, hope your friends are nice people, hope you are sleeping well, eating well, exercising well etc. I try to say things I would say to them in person. I try to tell them a bit about my life, funny stories, I ran into so and so, what I did that week.

    I always end up with saying they are important to me, I am so proud of them, I love them, I miss them terribly. I tell them to please be good people, be honest people, be happy. I tell them I miss them so very much and that I am here always here waiting for them. That is the juste of what I write. I have done much reading and from this have never been angry at them. I have never tried to make them feel guilty. I never really talk about alienation, never talk about their dad. I know that my children have been and are probably still being abused and I would never get angry at them for being abused. I believe I am paving a way for them to come back to me. I think I even told them that one time. I love my children above all else and they are being abused. This is not about me but about them. I cannot rest until I know they are safe. They will not be safe until they are out of the brain control. There have been cars, trips etc. given to them so I am up against a very tough situation. I have told them all I have is unconditional love. And that is the good kind. I get sad often and this is extremely hard but they are worth it. It is my job to protect them and I am doing the best I can with what I have been given. I hope this will be enough.

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  10. Anonymous · January 4, 2015

    If the alienator has diverted you into a battle which you perceive must be won in Court, and you believe her and her entourage then they are always going to beat you. You seem destined to spend much wasted energy and pain grieving about that predicament.

    Once you convince yourself that being an LIP is quite a powerful position and represents the person that is you; the one who seeks a loving relationship with your children, then great things will happen……………….seek successful LIP’s, meet your fellow strugglers at monthly meetings or wherever you seek them. Engage them and make notes, get pointers, devise strategies, leave thoughts of your alienator behind.

    Court is generally not a place where the alienated parent will have much success. The Court is an ugly weapon devised to give power to one individual at the expense of another. It is clumsy and crass in the extreme.

    Your efforts to salvage a relationship with your children are something that requires guile and cunning, a tenderness of the heart and a strong degree of self-control.

    It is so easy to fall into the trap of playing the “blame game” perhaps we all do this to some extent…………………..but it is the positive actions we take that will release us from the necessity to blame anybody.

    Ps I like this blogg very much, extremely perceptive and helpful.

    Kind regards

    Like

  11. Howie Dennison · January 6, 2015

    Alright, I took some action, and believe it was a small step forward (and half a small step back).

    After my child’s sporting event where they did well but did not get as much playing time as one might have wished for, the alienating parent predictably engaged in the whole borderline response to disappointment – confided with our child and lashed out at the other players and lashed out at the coach. instead of letting it happen, I identified it as not healthy and pleaded for no denigration in response to disappointment.

    In response, naturally, of course, our child said I was denigrating the other parent.

    After a pause, I improved it and put into into assertive normal form “whey you do that, I feel afraid for our child and would ask that you not teach them that”.

    It wasn’t perfect, but I think it was better than nothing. At least our child has some seed as to what borderline is all about.

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  12. Grandmani · January 12, 2015

    Thank you Karen for your positive encouraging reply.
    I’m inexperienced and wary of social media but I will set out to remedy that in the New Year.
    I’ve been publishing a blog of family news since Feb 2013 but I would like advice re making it more visible to those I would like to see it,
    I will take your advice- ‘use my power to do what is under my control and keep on doing it’.

    Like

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