Karen Woodall, a specialist working with families affected by Parental Alienation, shares insights on how alienation affects a child, and what they may be experiencing from a deeply personal level.

Through her experience, and skill, Woodall gives voice to the traumatize and wounded children who can not speak for themselves.
“The mind of the captured child would, if we could look inside it, appear not as we expect it to be, but would appear to be almost empty. This is because the doors to the unpleasantness that these children direct towards the parent they are rejecting, remain firmly closed when that parent is not around. Put simply, when they are not busy rejecting, these children do not want to think about the parent they do not see because it brings up too many painful feelings for them.”

Woodall also advocates establishing a multi-model support system to help children recover, and heal from alienation. Woodall says, “The mind of the captured child can only be freed when the power dynamic around them changes and someone is willing to intervene.”

To Learn More, Please Read: Rescuing the mind of the captured child

Karen Woodall

Those of us working in the field of parental alienation spend a lot of our time thinking about and working with, children whose minds have been captured by a parent’s emotional or psychological reactions to significant change.  As someone working regularly with children who reject or resist a relationship with a parent after separation, I spend more time than most in the company of such children.  I find them to be both fascinating as well as terrifying and somewhere in between, deeply troubled.  For these children, the task of coping with the schism in the sub and unconscious mind of the families they are torn between, can be impossible. Helping them to escape from the pressures that this brings to bear in their lives is what our work is all about.  Helping to restructure the power dynamics around the family is part of that process.

My fascination with alienated children…

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Tips for Practitioners Working with Families Experiencing Parental Alienation.

Insights on what an Alienated Child is experiencing, and how their perception of reality, and themselves, has been damaged by alienation.

When the mirrors reflect not your own self but that of the alienating parent and when the words which are spoken jar horribly with the language that the body of the alienating parent is speaking, the brain and the mind becomes used to responding to the ‘truth’ and not the lie which is heard. Of course the ‘truth’ is the lie and the lie is the truth in this world and keeping that firmly in the foreground of the mind as a practitioner is a critical element of successful practice.

Article by Karen Woodall

Karen Woodall

This week I have been working on several projects concerned with increasing parental awareness of what is happening to their children when alienation strikes.  All this alongside working with parents whose children are alienated and children who think that the parent they have rejected is quite simply horrible. I have also been working with parents who are so indignantly determined that their version of why a child no longer sees a parent is correct, that they will go to any lengths to ‘prove’ it.  The world of children’s rejection of a parent is indeed a world in which everyone is concerned about what they know. And of course,  everyone believes that what they know is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Working in the midst of this can feel a little bit like being down the rabbit hole with Alice, I half expect the mad hatter…

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“You are GUILTY until proven innocent in family law” — Carlos Morales

CPS Whistleblower Exposes CPS’s Corruption, Kidnapping, and Drugging of Children by Carlos Morales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0OiNdj2aP4

About: Former Child Protective Investigator, Carlos Morales, Exposes CPS’s Corruption, Kidnapping, and Drugging of Children. He explains the incentives that the State gives to destroy families, and what to do if CPS comes after you, your friends, and your community on The Renegade Variety Hour (interviewed by Taryn Harris).

The first podcast discussing this can be found at: http://therenegadevarietyhour.podomatic.com/entry/2013-09-30T15_45_15-07_00

Includes:

*How the CPS system is built to fail, and how its procedures destroy lives. Morales quit working for CPS because he saw the system was destroying lives
*Insight how how CPS “enforces the war on drugs more than enforcing the war on child abuse”. They vast majority of cases we had were not for physical abuse but for supposed neglect or they were cases that were completely made up–completely made up.” And then CPS had to question children about graphic allegations of abuse, which traumatized them
-In cases where actual abuse occurred, putting the children into a foster home, often was not a better alternative. Morales says, (2:52) “In foster you have a way higher chance of being raped, molested, abused and killed than you do in an actual home where you are already being abused.”
*Family law has an incentive to “prove” abuse and remove children from homes, because that is how we get paid (Morales)
*Financial incentives in the foster care system, labeling children with disorders and drugging them for profit (they get money for every disability a child has). Often times, these labels do not account for the natural stress, disruption and reactions child experience when taken from their homes and community, and put into a foster home. Morales says not all foster care homes are bad, he just wants to show the incentives and systematic failures that contribute to corruption, and put children at risk
*The lack of training, education, qualifications and experience in CPS officers
*Tips on what to do if you are investigated by CPS
*Tips on how to handle a CPS interview
*Tips on how to keep notes about your case
*Get informed about your rights!

A Review “What I Like About Me! A Book Celebrating Differences”

Author: Allia Zobel-Nolan

Illustrator: Miki Sakamoto

Publisher: Reader’s Digest Children’s Books: Pleasantville, NY. 2010.

Genre: Children’s Books, Board Books. Age range 2-8, but suitable for all ages. The message and bright colors would also appeal to older kids, and teens.

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“This fun-loving book proves to kids that, in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special” — From the back cover.

“What I Like About Me” is a lyrical, silly children’s book that reads like a child skipping through a park on a windy, spring day.

The message is very endearing. “What I Like About Me” praises the unique, one of a kind characteristics of “Me”–the unibrow, big ears that wiggle, braces, and big feet are all given a loving tribute. The book is beautifully illustrated with bold colors, expressive faces and humorous touches. “Me” is portrayed in the faces of children from all backgrounds, who romp and play throughout the pages. This book is upbeat, and leaves room for parents to add their own creative touches when reading to their child.

For a child who has been abused, bullied or feels different in any way–this book will be especially inspiring. Qualities that may cause children to be teased, or bullied, are celebrated in this book. Also, one of the neat aspects of “What I Like About Me” is that it shows children how to reframe their thoughts, or the messages given to them to turn a negative into a positive, and to celebrate their individuality. The silly rhyme and humor will appeal to children, and get them thinking at the same time.

I highly recommend “What I Like About Me: A Book Celebrating Differences”, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂 EJ Perth, 2012

 

Allia Zobel  Nolan Author Page: http://www.alliawrites.com

 


The failures of Family Court affect children with devastating consequences. Vulnerable, often abused or witnesses to abuse, children rely on Family Court to protect them, and ensure their well being in the choices they make when deciding custody or visitation. When that does not happen, children are traumatized and subjected to further abuse.

For children with special needs, such as Autism, the results can be particularly detrimental because not only is their safety being compromised but their medical needs are not being met. An abuser who gains custody of an Autistic or special needs child may neglect medical care or even deny there is a problem because they don’t want that child to get well, and reveal what is going on in the home. The abuser may also use the child as a pawn to gain control over the ex partner, to gain sympathy/attention or for financial benefit. Other abusers may neglect the child or not be able to handle the demands and resort to further physical or mental abuse. So these kids with special needs suffer the agony of a broken family while also struggling with tasks of daily life caused by their disability; their coping strategies are already weakened or impaired and the additional trauma can trigger symptoms or lead to crisis, causing their symptoms to worsen.

Another factor to consider is that if the Court does not have the education or experience to understand Autism, the child’s needs may be completely ignored or overlooked. In this case, getting help for the child becomes a legal battle—and is not considered a priority. An abusive father may negate the child’s illness, blame the mother or raise false allegations, and resort to manipulation to gain custody. Parents seeking help for their children are likely to lose custody because it now appears they can’t manage the child or the child only has troubles while in their care! And the abuser will be happy to point this out.

I lost custody of my son who is suspected of having Aspberger’s (high functioning Autism) in this way. I am sharing a little bit of my story to raise awareness, and to let other moms going through a similar struggle to know that you are not alone. Though I lost custody, I know I did the right thing to fight to get my son help. I will never stop fighting to bring him home.

Remembering…

The moment came with the darkness of raven wings soaring over my tiny one bedroom apartment, the realization that I have done all I could to help my son and now I had to let him go. The realization that Son (age 6 1/2) needed more help than I could provide (in-home PCA services and respite care) and since I shared joint legal custody with the abuser who was refusing treatment, I could not get that help.

The abuser fought my attempts to get treatment for Son knowing that when Son was well, he’d talk about the abuse. Already Son had disclosed that dad choked him, dad broke his toys, when dad gets mad the dog shakes…Son said he hit himself in the head with his fist because the pain took away the bad memories.

The abuser not only prevented treatment for Son but he would make no one would believe me when I asked for help by doing everything he could to destroy my reputation with various false allegations against me. I couldn’t just be a mother doing her best to help her troubled child I had to think like an attorney and anticipate the latest attack or legal charge the abuser would wage against me. I had to think like a therapist and find ways to help my son, often relying on my own resourcefulness and creativity. I had to be an advocate for my son. I had to be the punching bag when my son had a “meltdown” and take the hitting, biting, kicking, swearing and threats. I had to take it again when the abuser went to court claiming nothing is wrong with my son, I am making this all up…or I did something to provoke my son’s rage or I deserved to be hit. I had to hold back tears and stay strong.

When the moment came, Son had a “meltdown” and after hitting and spitting on me, I put Son in time out in the bathroom. A psychiatrist told me the bathroom was the safest place for time out because there was nothing Son could throw at me, and since I cleaned the bathroom out–nothing he could use to hurt himself. I kept the door open to keep an eye on Son, who leaned against the wall, heaving. His knees were to his chest and dark eyes glared at me, full of challenge. Son sat that way for some time when I turned my back to check on my daughter. Then I heard a loud crash BAM! Again, BAM! BAM! I ran to the bathroom, my heart racing. Son was now standing, pounding his small fist against the wall with such force that he was punching holes in it! Intervention was met with this fists pounding me. Tears welled in my eyes as I called 911. I knew when the police came, they’d take Son away..that there was a good chance my abusive ex would move to take my child away permanently. I also knew that things could not keep on this way, my son needed help. This was the hardest decision I had to make.

Later, in the behavioral unit of the ER, Son was strangely calm–detached, his face blank. He clutched his fist possessively to his chest. Then slowly his fingers uncurled, revealing a small chunk of drywall–a piece of the wall. Son would treasure this last reminder of home, and keep it with him through the changes that would come.

In a small voice, hardly audible, Son said, “I did this Mom?”

“Yes you did that Son.” I sighed, exhaustion dragging my shoulders down.

“Am I going to the hospbible?”

“Yes, to get help. We have to get you feeling better so you can be safe at home.”

“I like the hospbible. My big feelings go away.”

Since the abuser attacked me then threw the kids and I on the street like trash, we’d been homeless for months. Only recently had we been accepted into transitional housing. I wondered if the hospital psychiatric unit with it’s predictable routine, it’s warm bed and toys and fun OT activities, it’s dining room with meals Son could pick foods from several choices on the menu became the home, the safety Son was looking for. I felt like a failure. I fled the abuse to give my kids a better life and instead Son was falling apart.

“I’m gonna miss you Mommy. I cry at night for you.”

“I will miss you too Son.” I turned my head so Son would not see the pain written across my face, I’d do anything to have him come back home and be a happy child who did not struggle with memories of abuse.

— EJ  2011

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For More Information: Autism Custody Battles

http://autismcustodybattles.wordpress.com/blow-the-whistle-get-slanderered/

My child often says, “I’m afraid Dad will hit me.” When my child plays “house” using dolls, the male is yelling at and hitting the female. My child’s play gets so intense that there have been times I have been hit with a doll that is hurled across the room or called “bitch ass” and “stupid”. The guardian ad litem has negated my concerns with the statement of “you’re living in the past”—meaning just because someone has a history of violence doesn’t mean there is any chance past behavior will be repeated.

Living in the past” means the guardian ad litem refuses to consider that my ex is the third generation of his family, to be involved in addiction, criminal acts and domestic violence. When I attempted to inform family court of the abuse I have endured including being slammed to the floor, threatened, and hit with objects, I was told that I need counseling because I am “upset” and my fear may cause my child to have a bad relationship with the father. The abuser has not been recommended to any counseling and effectively has been able to avoid any real responsibility for his actions. In the end, the children will suffer.

The system fails to protect families and children from violence and instead gives the perpetrator an excuse, and means, to further harm and intimidate the already vulnerable.

The reason for this—“you’re living in the past”. Protecting children from dangerous family situations must go beyond throwing the perpetrator in jail but also must include a justice and family court system that is trained and responsive to effectively handle situations of family violence, and be willing to put personal agendas aside in order to protect the children.

EJ, ⓒ 2008.

Author: Augusten Burroughs, USA

Sources: Augusten Burroughs Website: http://augusten.com/

Child Abuse-The Hidden Bruises: http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/chldabus.htm

Books Reviewed: Running With Scissors, Dry, and Magical Thinking

Augusten Burroughs specializes memoir, his work is a surprising blend of South Park featuring Stephen King. I found Augusten’s work to be visceral, painful, humorous and painfully honest.

I am also working on a memoir and I can say, from experience, that of all the writing I have done memoir is the toughest. A good memoir puts your vulnerabilities, your deepest secrets, all things you wished to say but never did on paper for the world to see; and once published you can never take those words back. When writing my memoir, at first I felt like a character in one of my books. I stood apart from really feeling or owning my experiences. It was much easier to be detached than to really relive what I had buried in the past. Then I took a class on writing memoir with an accomplished author. My teacher was very intelligent, a thoughtful writer with a lot of flair. She encouraged me to explore, and delve into the scenes in my book. To relive each moment from a different sense, to put words to intuition. As my book flourished so did my sense of “This is me!”. Laugh* In a sense, writing memoir can be a sort of therapy…and sometimes a mirror that sees into the all the walls you have put up.

Augusten’s works are revealing, and embody all the aspects of a well-written memoir. Often I felt as if I was standing beside Augusten, walking through the streets of memory, as I read his books. In Running With Scissors when Augusten recalls the abuse, neglect, and lack of support he survived as a child I wanted to scream—to fight for him. He takes you in a very personal way, through some of the darkest moments in his life and you cannot help but to be moved, but in the same way you don’t want to get too close.

Augusten can be critical, sarcastic and at times distant. In Dry Augusten recalls his alcoholism, recovery and self-destructiveness. The mystery of Augusten is that his anger is directed outward—especially in Magical Thinking do you get the brunt of a rather cutting, often caustic sense of humor. Augusten does not elaborate on coping with a traumatic childhood, and there is no sense of resolution. Perhaps there are subtle clues such as Augusten’s struggle to form close relationships, and a past tendency for sexual encounters with men that he had not known for very long. Or how uncomfortable Augusten feels around children, despite being rather sensitive towards others. Humor, clearly is Augusten’s release, there are so many memorable stories but my favorite is in Magical Thinking when the little girl goes on an Easter egg hunt, excitedly picks up a bag she thought was candy to see a lump of dog turd inside. Humor, and determination are common themes in all three books. Even at his lowest point, these attributes provide strength and perhaps, a way to triumph.

Another aspect that Augusten’s works brought forth in me is the impact of trauma and abuse on a child. Reading the news or hearing horrific stories, it may be easy to judge abuse by the severity or physical blows. However, for a child the pain of abuse and the pain on the psyche cannot be separated. While an outsider may judge abuse based on bruises or neglect, may think that yelling at a child is not as bad as hitting, in a child’s reality the actual abuse is compounded by trauma and psychological damage. Often the full measure of abuse is repressed or separated, in which case as an adult the abuse is experienced all over again. If there is no resolution, abusive and dysfunctional patterns may continue –sometimes to the next generation

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I also thought it was interesting that in Running With Scissors Augusten does not actually say that he was raped as a child, I was often left with the impression that the dysfunction and insanity of his youth was normal. One example of this is the wife of the psychiatrist sitting in the living room, eating handfuls of dog food from a bag. She convinces everybody that the dog food tastes good, and they ought to try some before judging her for eating it. While Augusten is initially skeptical, he does try a kibble of dog food and later agrees that it does taste good, and starts eating more of it. In a very real way, the crazy, the dysfunctional has become “normal”.

The process of anger, of feeling wronged becomes more fully developed in Dry and Magical Thinking. I was actually appalled, to the point of wanting to throw up, that readers would ask Augusten if he had ever seen or heard from Bookman (the pedophile). Facing your abuser in a memoir takes a tremendous amount of courage. I cannot imagine what it would be like to see this person face to face, as an adult. I can honestly say that the face of an abuser is not easily erased from your mind—nor from the normal life you strive for after surviving abuse or trauma. Victims often see the abuser in their minds, their nightmares, and other aspects of their life—the healing process is a lot like recovering from severe burns in the most vulnerable parts of who you are.

Anger is also a part of  healing. For abuse victims it’s a lot easier to be angry at yourself, or people perceived to be weaker than to directly confront the abuser through feelings or memories. Anger towards the self becomes justified by the manipulation of the abuser. Often abuse victims will blame themselves for letting the abuse happen because they feel weak, vulnerable, or were seeking something (love, support, attention, etc.) that was only met by abuse or violence. As an abuse victim, healing involves taking back your power. There are many aspects of taking back your power but at its core that involves being comfortable in who you are (learning to live with the abuse in a way that does not continue the pattern of dysfunction or violence). Getting to that point is going through a dark maze of emotion and pain and anger. For a time the victim may turn to addiction, resist intimacy or use defenses to shield themselves.  I can imagine that writing a memoir that is published all over the world will cause you to let down your shields, or at least be open to having them knocked down.! For this, I applaud Augusten.

I highly recommend the writing of Augusten Burroughs, though it is not for the faint of heart. The writing of Augusten, overall, is very unique and insightful.

Review by “EJ” ⓒ 2007

The heart of a child
Is in your hands now
So let’s see you smile
’cause I’m not impressed with your loneliness
And it’s been a while
Since you forgave all your changes made

Of a Broken Heart”, Zwan

“Child abuse is reported on an average of every 10 seconds and three children die every day as a result of such abuse. ” — Tennyson Center for Children (www.childabuse.org)