ACCESS DENIED – 2018
Mixed media on paper
58 (H) x 40cm (W)
Framed: Natural Timber with bright white matt board.
Frame size 89 x 55 x 3 | Ready to hang.
The most obvious and devastating tactics used by one parent to alienate their child from the other parent is denial of access to their child.
For alienated parents that experience often starts out in more subtle forms which builds quickly towards a relentless assault on everything they do as both a person and a parent. The alienator will start by maybe limiting time on school holidays saying “Sally thought a week with you was too long last time. She was bored as you did not arrange enough activities for her. This holidays she only wants to do 3 days at a time”. It moves on to things like “Sally has exams this week. She needs to have me here to support her during her exams so she won’t be coming to your house this week”. Then it gradually moves on to “Sally misses her pets when she is at your place. She only wants to spend 2 days a week with you instead of 5.” Over time as the alienation process is taking hold it escalates to “Sally was extremely upset when you raised your voice at her. You are clearly unable to put the needs of your child before your own. Your behaviour scares your child. Your child had to seek out MY support because she was so upset. Your child does not wish to spend more time with you until you can prove to us in writing that you have done the work necessary to control your anger and be a loving father to your child.”
Before you know it you are blocked from all social media accounts. You are not allowed mobile numbers or email addresses. At least you are not given details to anything that actually gets to your children. Alienators will give you bogus account information that THEY control. They actually want continued access to the target parent so they can keep the fight going and continue to punish their ex for leaving them. It is what fuels their life. For the targeted parent any attempts to rectify all of the perceived ‘wrongdoings’ are either ignored or completely diminished as a facade, apologies go unacknowledged and therefore any road back towards seeing their child is completely blocked. There is no way back in to the heart and mind of your child. ACCESS DENIED.
There is a strong public misconception that if an ex spouse denies you access to your children that the courts will simply step in and order them to do so. The stark reality is that in most cases this does not happen. As one judge lamented ‘there is no law against being a malicious mother(or father)’. Which sadly means there is no law (YET) against this devastating form of child abuse. Even when court orders are handed down to allow access to a child, where parental alienation is present orders are often ignored with no legal consequence with the alienator almost always insisting that it is out of their hands – it is the child’s decision not to see their parent.
It is true that children sometimes make this decision. But where there was previously a normal loving relationship, the child is now reacting to their inability to cope with the conflict between their parents. In order to avoid being physically and psychologically pulled between their parents a child will often ‘align’ with one parent – that is to say they choose the side where the pressure is too great to resist.
Ironically it sometimes the alienated parents who end up foregoing access to their children and for people who have never experienced parental alienation this is the hardest thing to understand. But it becomes a question of choosing to save yourself (by holding tight the bonds to you children) or choosing to save your child from more suffering.
Even if the alienated parent is able to obtain access via the courts the alienation process itself does not stop. And it is the alienation process which is the intolerable experience for the child. When forced to acknowledge the rights of the child’s other parent and provide them access to their child, alienators will step up their campaign of denigration against the other parent, they will raise endless problems and fears within the child warning them of all the things they need to protect themselves against whilst with their Dad (or Mum).
Rules in the targeted parents home are totally overridden by the opinions of the alienator who will interfere with visits by controlling what can happen, where, when and with who. They provide a list of endless and ludicrous conditions to which the other parent must agree in order to see their child. If things don’t go exactly according to THEIR plan whilst the child spends time with their Dad(or Mum), then both the child and the targeted parent are held to account and open themselves up for intense scrutiny and criticism by the alienator.
Alienators will make many phones calls and send texts throughout the visit asking if everything is OK? Or if the child “NEEDS” to come “HOME’. Their pressure is ever present. They set up secret codes for the child which the child is told are ‘vital’ in case anything goes wrong while they are at their Dad’s (or Mum’s) place. When the child does get home they are immediately interrogated over every detail of their visit. If there is a perception that the child had fun or a lovely time the alienator makes their displeasure known by scolding the child or withdrawing affection. Children are encouraged and rewarded in finding fault with their father (or mother). The food that was served was unhealthy or didn’t taste good. They drive too fast. They don’t give the child enough time to get up in the morning. They don’t like their friends. They don’t like their bedroom at their dad’s place. The complaints go on because they get rewarded. And when they do, a host of bitter accusations are subsequently levelled back at the targeted parent with all of the reasons why the visit was terrible for the child, why the parent needs to change THEIR behaviour. No wonder this cycle creates a massively stressful situation that the child wants to avoid at all costs.
The child obviously becomes traumatised during this process with the entire blame around their distress being squarely levelled on on the targeted parent who is then told that the child does not want to see them. They are told the child will run away if they are ‘forced’ to spend time with them. The alienator will have the gall to ask the child’s father (or mother) how THEY could put their child through that!!!?? There is so much much irony and so little justice in the world of parental alienation.
This is an impossible situation for genuinely loving parents who can recognise that their child is suffering quite severely. By pushing for more access they know that they intensify the actions of the alienator which in turn puts more pressure on their child. Faced with this impossible situation of ‘losing’ their children many alienated parents stop pressuring for access to their child simply to stop the child’s suffering. They choose to live with their anguish rather than make their child suffer more trauma.
Although denying your child access to the other parent is akin to child abduction there remains no criminal consequences for the perpetrators. This is starting to change around the world with parental alienation now being recognised in the American DSM as a form of child abuse. Social Services systems are changing their approaches to parental alienation across the UK and Europe and it is illegal in some South American countries. Australia is slow to react although things may start to change with recent inquiries into the the family law system. The same kind of controlling and damaging treatment dished out to a woman in a domestic violence situation (psychological abuse) is a chargeable offence and yet we won’t protect our children from the same thing. We need to keep telling these stories and help prevent future generations of kids and parents suffering through this hideous ordeal.