Trevor first started this book in the late 2000's whilst in the middle of a bitter separation. He experienced various tactics to ensure the relationship with his daughter was severed forever. The trauma of re-living much of what had occurred while writing this book meant that it has been put down several times.
What happened to drive Trevor to pick it back up and complete this book?
- in Trevor's words -
The first was my daughter, and that if she ever asks why I was not around then there is a record and a clear message that she is loved.
The second was a request to participate into a research project which started with “I need to advise you that I have the phone numbers of some emergency counselling services if required and I must inform you that if I feel there is any danger that I will call the emergency services”. The impact on the displaced and loving parent, frustrated by common tactics of those doing the alienation who are aided by government agencies, police and courts is profound. This situation has such an impact on so many people’s lives it needs to be more openly discussed by more than just academia and felt this story needed to be told.
The third was the information provided by experts in the field of parental alienation. While varying in their methods of diagnosis using ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders’ (DSM5) or ‘International Classification of Diseases’ (ICD11), they were all consistent in the devastating impact on the children and declaring parental alienation as a form of child abuse. Having facilitated groups in this area I had been also been exposed to those impacted by the attempted and completed suicides of their children, that have suffered this form of child abuse. I considered that bringing a real case to the attention of the general public as important.
The fourth was the experience from running separated-parent’s groups. One therapist doing his second Ph.D. and was on work experience watched me facilitating over several weeks and was astounded that whatever people revealed, I was able to give snippets of my story to build rapport and then have others in the group share their experience. He became fascinated by what I had experienced and how anyone could cope under such circumstances. For the group participants, knowing they are not ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and that their experience, psychological and physical manifestation are not unique, helped them enormously. Hearing from others and that have successfully navigated the path ahead and learning that there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel is crucial for them to continue and maintain or improve their mental health. It was clear that sharing my experience was helping others. To the professionals not exposed to this area and for those going through a difficult separation I hope this book assists you in your dark days.
While the experts phrase it in various ways, my personal perspective of parental alienation is essentially to manipulate a child, psychologically, against their parent to cause rejection for no legitimate reason.
Organisations dealing with this phenomenon are finding it is impacting mothers and fathers at around an equal rate so it is not a gender issue. It can happen even relationship between the targeted child and targeted parent was once a very positive one. As such the book is relevant to every parent, grandparent, brother, and sister as this can happen to someone you love. In the lightest case, it can be that the child simply wants to please the alienating parent. The alienating parent may sigh when the child requests to see the other parent, so the child learns not to ask again as they want to please that alienating parent. Education of the alienating parent of the impact on the child and how to manage the parent‘s emotions in these cases may quickly resolve the issue.
In the extreme cases this may be facilitated by phrases such as, ―If he/she really loved you, he/she would have sent you a birthday present‖ (when the present was sent and concealed) or, ―If he/she really wanted you, he/she would be here fighting for you, but you can rely on me‖ (when kept away through court or other actions), or, ―I cannot explain to you why you can‘t have those sneakers, if your father/mother supported you, you would have them‖ (when money was available), ―I had to go to court to force him/her to support you‖ (when reasonable offers were made). The list is long and continues, but you get the idea.
There is hope. Mainstream psychologists talk about brain development and that with maturity and personal experience the child will question, seek understanding and why they were estranged from their parent. One generalist clinical psychologist said to me “god help the parent when the child realizes they were deceived and denied their other parent. I have seen it too often.” Specialists in this area are forming standards of practice, while many courts have traditionally rejected the expression ‘parental alienation’ they are starting to understand the dynamics with several countries even making parental alienation a criminal offense.
What I have learned in my very personal journey in terms of mental health, the family separation industry, the challenges faced and either overcome or accepted them, form the basis of this book. This may impact how others perceive and cope in their personal situation and how government policies and practices impact the people they represent in their darkest days.