I have asked to hear from you about your successes in overcoming severe alienation. I am now starting to hear your stories that I want to share. I am not publishing any story without permission and I am changing names to protect privacy. After the story, I have made some comments that may be helpful. I just hope the stories inspire you from quitting. Anyway, keep you stories coming.
Our story is a bit different then some and what you're looking for but I must quickly say it anyway. My fiancée has residential custody of his two young boys ages 6 and 8. Their Bio-Mother was trying to gain custody thereby trying to convince these children their father "beat" her and would "abuse" them. She also told them they did not need him and did not want to be with him. Luckily for us they do live with us. At first we were so upset at all of her accusations and we reacted rather than "pro-acting." We tried to defend ourselves, which only caused problems. What we decided to do was to just simply let it go. When the boys come home with things she has said or accused their father of we will say, "Were sorry she thinks that or feels that." If the boys ask us further we don't denigrate her in ANY way. To tell children nothing doesn't help, one must deal with it. Unfortunately, neither David nor his ex-wife really spoke to any of the children prior to the divorce. The boys are currently catching her in lies as it is and that is tough enough to deal with. We don't think we should confuse them more. Our success story is we are resisting the game! Stacie
Showing restraint is better for the kids than retaliating against the other parent with alienating comments. Kids in time will make up their own mind based on their personal experience if parents focus more on keeping their relationship strong rather than tearing down the other person. I believe that was Stacie's point.
I married a Naval fighter pilot in 1979. By 1986 we had three young children and a hopelessly wrecked marriage. He had gotten out of the service and had taken a sales job that put him on the road 80% of the time. I was alone and began to resent all the work I had to do at home without his help. I started going out at night to seek companionship, I never was unfaithful and soon stopped this practice because the men I was meeting were scaring me. He was very jealous, and cruel. He abused me emotionally for years. I told him I wanted a divorce. He threatened me with everything you could imagine including getting custody of the children. A year later that's exactly what happened. He had taken all the money and hired an excellent lawyer, something I didn't know at the time. I admitted myself to the hospital for inpatient help with an eating disorder, while there I was served with divorce papers and a restraining order to stay away from the house. The year was 1987; I have never lived with my children since that day. I was an emotional wreck. I contemplated suicide and was severely depressed. My lawyer was a fraud who allowed him to be bullied and pushed around by my husband. I didn't realize I could fight back. I had never won a confrontation with this guy. I was hugely intimidated. I had no friends and my family was embarrassed by the proceedings and chose to stay out of the fray. My oldest boy was almost six, my daughter 4, and the baby 18 months.
Some background info might be helpful here. When my first child was born named Benjamin, my husband was on a military cruise. The first time he saw Ben, the child was nearly 7 months old. I was insanely in love with my baby. He was the best thing I had ever done. I was 22 years old and a military child myself. I had absentee issues with my father and a mother who drank. Everything appeared well on the surface but mine was a dysfunctional family. I had already established an eating disorder and had low self-esteem, although I was considered very bright and beautiful. I dropped out of college when I married my husband; I had only one semester under my belt. When my husband decided to get out of the Navy I found out I was expecting. This worried me because his discharge date and my due date were very close. The dreams I had of being nurtured after the birth, in light of the isolation I got after Ben's birth, were now taking a back seat to my husbands new career search. He accepted a job in Phoenix even though the baby was due any minute. We packed up the house and went to my parents. I was overdue and the job was to start the next week. My husband and the military DR. S agreed that I should have a C-section. Ben had been a C-section because of his size, but this baby was much smaller and I was going to try a vaginal birth. I was furious about this and couldn't believe what was happening. I was admitted to Balboa naval hospital 10/31/83. The woman in the room with me was a mother of 4 and her husband was overseas. She took me to Burger King she said it would help me go into labor, I wasn't supposed to be eating but I did it anyway. I went into labor 6 hours later and delivered Callie. The next day my husband and Ben drove to Phoenix, I was to fly with Callie 2 days later. But I developed a severe spinal headache and had to go back to the hospital for a blood patch. My husband's new job was to begin with 4 weeks of job training in Chicago. When I arrived in Phoenix I was greeted by a 2 year old, a house full of boxes, and a husband on his way out the door. So much for my nurturing dreams. I hated the house, I hated Phoenix but I adored my children. I coped but I was depressed. My husband was enjoying his new position immensely. He loved the travel and prestige. I was dying inside.
I decided to leave him and got an apartment, I also started an affair. I told him about my lover and said I wanted a divorce. While we were separated 3 months (he got a nanny for the children) and I went to work. Then he told me he had gotten a transfer back to CA. He knew I desperately wanted to leave Phoenix and I didn't want him to take the children that he said he would do. I went back to him and broke off the affair. We moved to CA. Once again the marriage went sour. Nothing had changed, I told him I wanted a divorce and moved into the spare bedroom. One night against my will he forced himself on me sexually. The result was our third child. So I endured until I could endure no more. This brings me back to the beginning of my story. I was a physical & emotional wreck. I am 5-8 1/2 and I weighed 114 pounds then. I needed to get professional help, but the receiving of divorce papers while I was trying to get well was a stunning blow. I went trough therapy but I was dead inside. When we went to court in conservative Orange County I was sleepwalking. The months out of the hospital had been a nightmare. I lived in a recovery house with recovering bulimic and other addicts. My jewelry and clothing were stolen. On New Year's Eve 1987 I got arrested for a DUI. Everything in my life had fallen apart. We went to court in May 1988. The affair, the DUI, the separation in Phoenix, my nights out in Orange County, my pot smoking in high school, my mothers drinking, all combined to say I should not be given physical custody. That should go to my former Eagle Scout, former Fighter Pilot, newly and Christian, pillar of the community husband. A misogynist judge felt the same and that's what happened. Of course he had to get a live-in right away because he was never home. I got nothing in the divorce, not even a car. We were deeply in debt at the time. Since I had crashed mine on New Year's Eve and my now ex husband was going to pay to have it fixed so it was only fair that he get to keep it. I thought I would lose my mind. I still had no friends and my family was so ashamed that I didn't get custody I became THE PARIAH. The only way I could see the children was to take the bus and visit them at or near their house. They were so little; it was damn hard to do anything with 3 children and no car. When the time had passed for my ex to marry again he did so. He married the Christian woman who was his live-in. He had known her 8 months. He proceeded to instruct the children to call her Mom. He explained this to me by saying he had asked the children and they elected to call her that. They were 6, 4 & 18 months for Christ sake. Over the next few years I tried to see them as much as I could but it was so painful for me, I spent much time grieving. The first 2 years following the divorce were awful. There were fights and screaming and everything horrible you could imagine. My sister in No. CA realized I was sinking fast and she asked me to come live with her. I told my ex I needed time to heal and that I would be back. The children were confused but much to my heartbreak they were becoming totally alienated to me anyway. Only Ben was truly crushed that I was going, we were very close. So I came north and got stronger. Things weren't perfect but I was working and bought a crummy car. I made several trips to see the children and take them to my parents in San Diego. My family realized they had completely let me down and were trying to correct that. These trips were excruciating. Callie & Ian called me Mary not mom. Ian cried when I picked them up. He wanted to stay with his "mom."
I do not know how I got through those first couple of years. It was sheer Hell. But I persevered and NEVER stop letting my children know how much I loved them. My ex came to NO CA to tell me that he was being temporarily assigned to a job in Dallas. He said it was only for a year, not to worry; it would be easier for us not to go to court again, he would fly the children out at his expense. I had just gotten some stability in my life and I had a job, I believed him. I could wait another year before I went back to so. CA. and tried to get custody of the children. They flew out once on his dime. After that (6 months later) he told me they were never coming back into the state of CA and he had consulted with an attorney, his custody was secure and the children would live in Texas with him. The children were now 9, 7, & 5. I was crushed; I could barely take time off work to see them much less fly them out. The first year I had them for a week. I was already hearing their father's vitriol coming forth. Horrible things were said about me to the children on a daily basis, Ben told me. He tried to stand up for me but his father screamed at him "are you calling me a liar?" Ben told me this in tears. Callie and Ian were definitely under their "moms" spell, but at least had now taken to calling me Mom Mary instead of Mary. I just kept calling them, loving them, writing them, sending them photos, anything to keep my memory alive in their hearts. Also I took the stand to NOT talk badly about their father, who was now by the way heavily involved in the church and was growing wealthy. He still traveled 80% of the time. The children had a stepbrother and a brother their dad and step mom bore. Ben was beginning to notice favoritism. He had never taken to his step mom and it infuriated my ex. He was brutal in his alienation tactics against me especially with Ben. It hurt Ben very much and I often got a sobbing phone call. I tried to bring this up with my ex but he would hang up on me. The years rolled on and now with the help of generous friends and family the children were now able to stay an entire month with me. My sister paid for the airfare, my father sent them to camp and bought us food, my other sister got childcare when I worked.
My family was experiencing wealth of it's own. Something my ex hated. He also hated the support I was getting. It was obvious I was loved and had been misunderstood for so long. The children and I grew increasingly closer. As they got into their teens they began to resent the awful things their father continued to say about me. They knew me, he no longer did, plus they loved me. Their father scared them, and he was never home long enough to interact or talk to them. Their step mom finally took the kid gloves off and began to ignore them when their father was out of town (most of the time) and their dad was more concerned with his money than anything else including them. He was still a deep Christian; they thought he was a hypocrite. He uses Christianity to keep them in line, i.e., no dancing, rock n roll; make up, almost any movie. It is repressive and the kids know it. Every one of them has told me that their friends think their dad and step-mom are freaks & phonies.
This past summer my ex moved the family to Minnesota, Ben was very hurt because this was his senior year. He told his dad in August that he wanted to live with me. He recalled the conversation to me the next day. He was hysterical just trying to explain what had gone down. I guess my ex exploded and began ranting and raving about all of my flaws, bringing up inappropriate sexual subjects, all he had done for them, etc., etc. Ben collapsed into tears.
Vowing to himself to come to CA after he graduates, he will be 18 then. I'm convinced Callie & Ian will follow as at 16 & 13 they are fully able to voice their opinion in court. Myriad of things helped me get to this point with my kids. My family, friends, love, and hope. I think their father helped to further my cause by abandoning the children emotionally. When they opened
themselves up to my love they all three realized what is lacking in their home. Oh sure it is talked about all the time but it is only when they see or hear me do they FEEL it. We email each other dozens of time a week and talk on the phone 2 hours on Sunday. Their father is still talking badly about me. Ben surmises that his father has never gotten over me, and his anger is his
way of coping with the loss of my love. He wrote me a letter recently and in it he said, "our relationship is sort of like a boomerang, I always have to throw the 3 of them towards their father, but when thrown correctly it (they) will always come back. Someday mom you'll be able to put the damn thing down for good and we will be whole again." How is that for 17-year-old wisdom?
I apologize for the length of this tome, and believe me this is a short version. I think that love can overcome ANYTHING, including parental alienation. I hope this is helpful. I am now back in school and will soon get my degree in US History. Life is still hard, I still cry a great deal, I have missed out on so much, but I have faith that my children will be with me someday soon.
Thank you for listening to my story. Mary, Northern, CA.
Mary's story is a good example of how a parent can prevail with strength and perseverance. Here life was obviously a mess and she had a lot of rebuilding to do, both for herself and the children. Fortunately for Mary, the children never abandoned her. Father probably didn't help himself with the alienation. Alienation can backfire in time.
Jessie and Ben's Story
I have bought and read your book and it has helped us greatly in our PA battle. I would really like to take this opportunity to tell you our success story.
I was the struggling girlfriend dating a wonderful man with a young daughter (4) who had a very vindictive, manipulative mommy who slandered me all to hell in court affidavits trying desperately to restrict my daughter. Translation: She was jealous that he had found happiness with another woman and was threatened by me as a 'rival mother'. Regardless of the fact that she is remarried and my boyfriend's daughter calls this new man 'daddy'. She resorted to using his child as a weapon and as leverage to hurt him. Before I came into the picture she slandered his parents, friends, coworkers, basically anyone to keep his access minimal.
Quick facts: My boyfriend has paid his child support since day one and has never missed a payment. He has always fought for visitation and followed through with what ever he was granted by the courts. Way back when it all began, she told him when he left her: "You leave me you will never see your child again! I didn't have a father and I turned out fine. She does not need you. Leave us alone!" Seeing him reminded her of a failed relationship that she wanted to forget about. Now involved with a new husband the idea was to 'black out' biodad completely. My boyfriend went to court usually 2 -3 times a year to try and get more visitation. Each time it was a fight and he was slandered badly. Each time he went up against her, his daughter refused any visitation he was granted and would hide on him. The mom let his daughter decide whether she wanted to go or not. Basically giving the child the choice whether to comply with the court order or not. Mom had set up 'other activities' to entice the child so she would not want to go and grin like a cat watching him struggle with her to come out of hiding and say 'hello'. During the times (that were very rare) when she would come for a few hours, she had the need to call mommy and tell her bad things about us. She would tell her mother what she wanted to hear. In turn, mommy would tell her about all the 'fun things' she was doing, making his daughter feel that she was 'missing out on fun with mommy' and she would start to cry and want to go home. Toys and clothes we sent home with her 'got wrecked' as she would tell us. She referred to my boyfriend by his first name to her mother and mom's husband as 'dad'. His little daughter was torn between what to do. She wanted to respond to mommy's wishes, as she knew that mommy hated daddy. But there has always been a fondness between daddy and daughter, therefore it never got to the point of PAS. I did a bunch of research and knew that we had to do something to stop this manipulative mom before she could influence the little one even more in a negative way against us. In the past when my boyfriend would see how his daughter would respond to him negatively when he fought against mommy in court, he would give up and go along with what ever access mom saw fit. When things were going good, he would try for more access. His daughter would start hiding and acting strange towards him, so he would give up again and let the mother have complete control. It was a pattern. The mom used his daughter to 'punish' him when he would go up against her in court. This hurt and scared him.
Well, we broke the pattern. We hired a family law specialist and fought like hell. Basically we drained mom and her new husband financially. For over a year we sent tons of HUGE affidavits that she would have to respond to. We had every little bit of manipulation and snotty remark covered. Finally when we requested that his daughter get an updated assessment (cost: $1,500 each parent) to figure out why she was always refusing access, mom gave up. She was not happy, but his daughter was waiting and ready for daddy when he would come to get her! She didn't call mommy and tell her bad things any longer! After over a year of fighting my boyfriend came out with every-other weekends, mid-week access pick up from school and telephone access twice a week!! I have always done everything I can to make things 'happy'. I never ever say anything negative about mom or mom's family to her. She is very comfortable taking about them in front of us and we laugh with her about funny stories about her family. I also compliment her mother to her by saying: "Boy, you do a great job cleaning up your toys, your mommy did a good job teaching you to clean up after yourself!" I send her home squeaky clean with washed and folded clothes to show mom that I'm not such a demon after all! She is now 6, and loves all of us!
Mom is now involving dad in school activities and talks openly with him about their daughter. She involves him in their daughter's problems and asks for his advice! We don't speak. We've never met. But I answer the phone nicely and send notes home when necessary concerning the little one. I know that she now sees that I have not taken her child away from her. Mom went through very stressful times while dad was taking her to court and not giving up! Once she saw that things were not so horrible, she softened up. I hope things continue on this way in the future. However, she will always remember the 'stressful, money intense court battle that sent her and her husband to see a marriage counselor', so I think she may think twice about using the child against us again! Thanks for listening and feel free to add my story to your website!
I guess I have what I consider I success story, although it is still unfolding as most PAS stories do. After a nasty separation and divorce, my ex-wife has done any and everything imaginable to interfere with my emotional pain possible. She initiated an IRS audit, accused me of everything in the book from beating her to thinly veiled allegations of sexual abuse to my daughter and even my son! She told the neighbors that I had not paid child support in over a year. I had paid on time every month for over two years, but he very first time I was one day late she went to the magistrate and talked her into swearing a warrant for my arrest for criminal non-support. I was arrested and had a trail two months later. Thankfully the judge threw it out which only more infuriated my ex-wife. From the time or our separation, my daughter would barely speak to me and the few times she visited she was very angry and hateful, always citing every wrong I had done and of course parroting all of my ex-wife's allegations and criticisms. This hurt me to the point of finally giving up on seeing her, so for the next year and a half I barely saw her at all. By accident I discovered information on PAS on the internet and was shocked to see an exact description of my daughters behavior and of my ex-wife , a obsessed alienator. I realized that in order to have any relationship with my daughter I would have to have time with her, so I started volunteering at her school and demanded to see her on my assigned weekends. Her mother of course refused saying Terri didn't want to see me and I guess she really didn't, but I persisted. I filed a contempt order and had a hearing before the judge, who asked my daughter if she wanted to spend time with me. To my shock she walked over, stood by me and said yes she did. I had felt that deep down she had wanted to the whole time but didn't want to anger her mother. The judge had made it ok for her to see me so the burden was on him not her. It has taken over a year but finally our relationship has gotten almost back to normal. It has been a slow process. At first she was pretty distant and guarded calling her mother every hour or so.
Now a year later, it is totally different. She hugs me a lot asks me to come visit her at school for lunch and volunteers me for everything possible. On my assigned weekends, initially she would not spend the night with he brother and I , finally telling me her mother said if she did even once, that I would tell the judge and he would make her spend the night every time whether she wanted to or not. I promised her that was not so and it was her decision and that if she wanted to go home I would take her, and for a while she always got homesick and did. She now spends the night every time she comes and always looks forward to it. What a drastic change! I would tell everyone that persistence is the answer. Do not give up and even if there are some setbacks, time and knowledge is on your side. Keep in contact, document everything and fight like hell for your visitation.
I have had some success in reversing my ex's obsessive parental alienation.
Let me first start with where I began.
My ex refuses to co-parent, even after 12 years of divorce. He went above and beyond denigration, sabotage, and the abuse of my relationships with my three daughters.
He'd show up on school at nights after 9pm with presents. Most notably he has and continues to disrupt holidays and vacations with texts, emails and phone calls.
It really got out of hand when our daughters started puberty. He manipulated our girls, intimidated mutual friends and neighbors in his campaign to participate in persecuting me professionally and socially. Many felt they had to choose sides. I forgive them.
This resulted in two major personal breakdowns that resulted in losing my job, my good credit rating, and almost my life. There is no greater sorrow then a woman who loses her child. In my case, it was three beautiful young women. The courts were no help. My ex manipulated our girls in so many inappropriate ways...and the court system did nothing to recognize or stop the abusive and inappropriate behavior.
So here I am post 4 years of hell. Despite my desperate attempts to recover from the Great Recession, I'm losing my home but I HAVE NOT LOST MY GIRLS!
Here is my recipe for reversing Parent Alienation:
1. Get a good therapist that understands PAS and is willing to work with both parents.
2. Never stop being a PARENT. Put personal feelings and hurt aside.
3. Reinforce and continue to create happy memories with my kids.
4. Never ever say anything negative about the ex.
5. Practice self care. Work out, go to church, hike, do yoga...anything that makes me feel healthy and whole.
6. Surround myself with mature adults that love me and support my children, but don't take sides.
7. Set positive examples.
I have so much more to say. Some memories are too painful to write down in an email and best shared with my therapist and God.
Most are joyful-watching my daughters slowly recover from PAS has been painful and slow- but it does happen. My eldest Caitlin, has graduated from college, Brianna 19 is flourishing at UCSB, and my baby Samantha 16 is doing well in high school. Life still isn't normal for them, but we are in each others lives and in my mind, that is all that matters today.
My ex continues to disrupt, interfere, and sabatoge my time with our daughters. My therapist intervenes and now that our daughters are older, he has less and less control over them. It is actually starting to back fire.
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute in a small way,
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