“How are you, what terrors are you going through? Hiding it from the Abuser, the One you ran from, and are now imprisoned in his home..”

A YouTube video with absolutely no sound leaves an impression even more powerful than the mighty roar of a lion… “Silent Child” by Family Court Abuse is a narrative/poem about the pain, grief and fear a parent experiences after their child has been placed in the custody of an abuser by an unjust order of the family court.  As a result of the ruling, the parent has been forced out of the life of their child, and can only speak through the stark black and white images of this silent video. 

The video description reads: “This is about Family Court decisions to seperate children and mothers who are victims of domestic abuse/violence, giving custody to an abusive father, how they are broken and silenced by courtroom tactics, and the painful silent space left in the home of the child and heart of the mother (and child). The lack of training in domestic abuse for Judges and Cafcass is a strong influence on decisions to force children into damaging and traumatic situations with an abuser.

What is portrayed in “Silent Child” is REAL and happening to parents in the United States, U.K. and all over the world…. family courts are awarding custody to abusive or unfit parents at alarming rates, and punishing the parent who is trying to protect the child from harm.

Studies have been conducted on the intersection of family court and domestic violence and revealed a consistent pattern in the court’s failure to protect children from harm by granting custody and/or unsupervised visitation with abusive parents:

** The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that: “…in all contested custody cases, 84% of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79% of the cases. In 26% of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children.” Are “Good Enough” Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners? (Leadership Council)

** “Only 10% of children alleging incest are adequately protected from their identified perpetrators by family courts through long-term supervised visitation orders or no-contact orders. The remaining 90% of children disclosing abuse receive no protection, with 70% continuing in shared custody and visitation arrangements without any supervision, and 20% being placed in the custody of the parent they accused of the sexual abuse, and losing unsupervised or all contact with the parent who sought to protect them.” FACT SHEET CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES (Child Abuse Solutions, Inc.)

** “… A history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the batterer will seek custody…In one recent study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38 percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children, despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reportLosed to have abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and continued to do so after separation..” “One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts” by Mary Przekop

** “My own survey of the case law in 2001 identified 38 appellate state court decisions concerning custody and domestic violence. The survey found that 36 of the 38 trial courts had awarded joint or sole custody to alleged and adjudicated batterers. Two-thirds of these decisions were reversed on appeal. –  Joan S. Meier, Esq., Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and Child Protection: RATES AT WHICH ACCUSED AND ADJUDICATED BATTERERS RECEIVE SOLE OR JOINT CUSTODY (Compiled by Joan S. Meier, Esq).

The tragic result of family court failures is that children are being abused and have absolutely no avenue for help or legal protection because the abuser is being protected by the legal system (not the child), and the child has become silenced. As parents and professionals we have a responsibility to protect our children.. and when systems fail, it is our responsibility to fight for justice so these silenced children can finally have a voice. 

 

 

 

Why can’t we just drop everything we’ve said?

All I want is a peaceful night in bed… 

Without these bizarre thoughts all runnin’ through my head

Sometimes you make me wish I was dead…

I Know It Is Hard” describes the experience of Domestic Violence by Proxy/Alienation from the broken heart of a teen.

The powerful words of the rap song “I Know It Is Hard” were written and performed by a teen who has been physically alienated from a parent and used as a weapon since the age of 14.

The video was posted online after being sent to a targeted parent in 2012.

 

(Note: I am writing this from a mother’s perspective because I am a mother.. but this could apply to anyone, male or female, who is grieving the loss of a child)

“Finding Dory” (2016, Pixar) is a touching animated movie about a fish named Dory who gets separated from her parents at a young age, and goes on a journey in search of them. Guiding Dory are the memories she has held onto all of her life. Since Dory suffers from “short term remembery loss” she is guided by only glimpses of her past, and along with it, the sense of home, and feeling of belonging.

Years pass. Dory meets new friends, including a quirky fish named Nemo, that become like family. One day, Dory’s memory gets triggered, and she is compelled to find her lost family.When Dory was young, her parents set out a trail of purple shells to teach her how to find her way back home, she follows it.  So Dory sets off on an epic journey to find her parents.

 

Dory’s parents spent years forming trails for her to follow – up and down valleys, across distances and through the dark currents of the ocean, in the hopes that she would eventually find them.

“Finding Dory” offers a powerful message for Protective Parents separated from their children that is familiar to those who have experienced this particular kind of pain, grief and loss.  

And for children separated from their mothers, what Dory felt may also be familiar – missing family, fear of rejection and the emotional experience of trying to piece together memories.

The purple shells are what connect Dory to her parents, and trigger the memories that eventually lead her home. The tiny shells are unremarkable in the vastness of the ocean. At times the sandy floor washes over them, and they disappear. But Dory is not alone, with the support of her friends, she finds her way.

 

What are your purple shells? Each parent and child has something special or shares something that links them together. It could be a physical or emotional reminder. A trinket, photograph, a prayer or special song, a drawing or toy etc

You can also create “purple shells” to honor your parent/child or to preserve special memories. Some ideas: scrap booking, releasing balloons on special occasions, lighting a candle, spiritual celebration, talking with friends/family, writing a letter etc.

Create a Path in the ways you can. Find creative ways to connect to or reach out to your parent/child if possible. Use your shells to bridge the distance. Seek support to help cope with the loss or grief.

Another message in “Finding Dory” is that Dory, and her parents, never gave up hope.The love they have for each other is unconditional. For those mothers/children who are estranged from each other, and have no contact or communication, there is a value in hope. And value in holding onto the love you share. Through love, we maintain our “purple shells”, our connection to our family – and it does not diminish with time or distance.

Also, when Dory was separated from her parents she found other ways to express her energy and love, and was able to channel her loss in a positive direction. You see that especially in her unique optimism, and her loyalty to friends. Though a loss of a parent/child can never be replaced, we can channel the expression of our love, and what that person meant to us, in other areas of our life. Or use that love to make a positive difference in the world. Some ideas: volunteer, be a friend, participate in community groups/activities, do something in memory of your loved one, fight for a cause, raise awareness, join a prayer chain etc

Final message – Never give up!

~ EJ, © 2016.

Another Perspective:  

Mother, Carrie Goldman, shares her thoughts after watching “Finding Dory” with her family. Carrie’s teen daughter was profoundly moved by the movie. Carrie shares insights from her perspective of “Finding Dory” and on her daughter’s reaction to it. Finding Dory: Why It Made My Seventh Grader Cry by Carrie Goldman

 

Commentary on Botched 60 Minutes Child Rescue Also Says Alot About Abusive, and Alienating Parents. 

Amy Stockwell’s commentary offers background information about the non-custodial kidnapping of the el-Amien children and offers deeper insight into parents who use children as a pawn in custody disputes. 

“But here’s the thing: Even if you disagree with your ex-partner about how to raise your kids, you don’t get to steal them.

You don’t get to arrange an access visit and keep them.

You do not get to use the misogynistic laws of another country to get around the fact that you’re not entitled to permanent custody of your children.

You do not get to keep your ex-partner in prison in order to get the child custody you want.

You do not own your kids…”

Commentary written by Amy Stockwell: 60 Minutes: Ali el-Amine now has everything he wants. Because this case was all about him.

Abusive and alienating parents will lie, manipulate, triangulate and create havoc because their feelings of entitlement or feelings of being right are placed higher than the well-being of their own children.

Children should NOT be used as a pawn, or as a weapon, to wield against a former partner or to be used to further one parent’s agenda or interests.

BACKGROUND: MOTHER SALLY FAULKNER ATTEMPTS TO RESCUE KIDNAPPED CHILDREN IN LEBANON

Sally Faulkner and Children. Source: News Talk ZB http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz

April 2016: Australian mother, Sally Faulkner, was given sole custody of her two children (6 year old Lahela and 3 year old Noah) by an Australian court. Their Lebanese-born father, Ali el-Amien, took the children to a holiday in his home country and never returned – that is kidnapping. However, Lebanon is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, so it does not have to enforce or acknowledge  the Court’s orders to return the children to Australia.

Ali el-Amien took the children because he was jealous that Faulkner had moved on from their relationship, and was dating another man.

In a desperate attempt to get her children back, Faulkner and a four-member crew from 60 Minutes went to Beirut to attempt to rescue the children, and were arrested in the process.  They faced up to a 20 year sentence in jail.

60 Minutes Team. Clockwise from top left: Tara Brown, David “Tangles” Ballment, Stephen Rice and Ben Williamson. Source: Facebook Source: Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au

Ali el-Amien’s family has strong political connections in Lebanon’s parliament, and was given custody of the children by a religious court.

After being detained, a deal was struck where no criminal charges would be filed if Faulkner were to relinquish custody of the children, and co-operate in obtaining a religious divorce from el-Amien. The deal was struck after a closed-doors meeting between lawyers representing the parties and the judge.

Faulkner was pregnant at the time, likely agreed to the deal in order to save her unborn child. 

Everybody is happy,” said Nine Network lawyer, Kamal Aboudaher. It is hard to imagine a mother being “happy” to lose custody of her children who will be raised in another country by the father who kidnapped them, and now has total control over both the children and is restricting her access to them.

Channel Nine will also pay a financial settlement, of an undisclosed amount, as a settlement to el-Amien to drop his civil claim. News Corp reports the settlement may be as high as several million dollars. el-Amien says he did not receive financial compensation, and he may be willing to allow a visit between the children and their mother at some time in the future; however he will not allow the children to return to Australia because he is afraid they will not come home (the custody order would be enforced).

Faulkner’s legal rights in Australia mean nothing in Lebanon. Faulkner’s Lebanese lawyer Ghassan Moghabghab said El-Amien will get everything he wants because he has the legal rights in Lebanon. 

Faulkner was allowed a short visit with her children before leaving Lebanon. Her daughter gave her mother a Barbie ring “so you won’t forget me”.  Faulkner reports that she is overwhelmed with grief due to the loss of her children, and has not had any contact with them. 

Ali el-Amien admitted that the children ask to return to their mother. 

Read More: 

60 Minutes crew face jail term over attempted child ’rescue’ in Lebanon by Janet Fife-Yeomans

60 Minutes: Sally Faulkner’s estranged husband admits children want to be with mum by Latika Bourke, Ruth Pollard and Suzan Haidamous

Deal struck in 60 Minutes ‘child-abduction’ case by Latika Bourke

The heartbreaking moment Sally Faulkner had to say goodbye to her now estranged children by Holly Byrnes, with staff writers News Corp Australia Network

‘I call this injustice’: Adam Whittington refused bail with three other men accused over 60 Minutes botched child abduction attempt by Daily Mail

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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