Is ‘Parental Alienation’ being used as a weapon against women and children?
Coercive control, the most insidious type of domestic abuse happens when a controlling perpetrator uses a pattern of manipulation, gaslighting, intimidation and aggression to keep their victim in a constant state of confusion and fear.
While some men experience domestic abuse, 96% of victims are women.
This pattern of behaviour is also used by perpetrators to flip the narrative and paint the other parent, the actual victim, as being an abuser and an alienator. It can be challenging for a judge to know which parent is the abusive parent and which one is the victim. After separation, the child becomes a pawn, as the perpetrator uses the family courts to keep their victim in that same state of fear and under control. The controlling parent manipulates the child’s thoughts and actions and attempts to get them on-side and turn them against the other, their safe parent.
When the victim of abuse (mostly mothers) claims that they are a victim of abusive, coercively controlling behaviour– the controlling parent denies their abusive behaviour and projects it back onto their victim. They say in court;“I’m not the abusive one – they are – they are alienating the child from me. It’s Parental Alienation.”
He becomes the victim of ‘parental alienation’ while his ongoing coercive control punishes the female victim and their children through the family courts. The abused parent is often disbelieved or the abusive behaviour being inflicted on her and her children does not get thoroughly investigated while his allegations that the protective parent is using PA against the perpetrator are used over and over.
Dr Adrienne Barnett’s research shows that parental alienation, in the context of domestic abuse cases, is a powerful weapon to deny and discredit real domestic abuse allegations.
So why is there an ongoing campaign to criminalise parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome (PA) in Ireland when coercive control is an offence under the Domestic Violence Act, and two men were convicted in 2020 and 2021?
The only people that would benefit in Ireland from the criminalisation of PA are coercively controlling perpetrators seeking to deny their abuse in a courtroom. That is according to experts such as Professor Evan Stark, who has advised the British, Irish and Scottish governments on domestic violence legislation and practice. He developed the theory of coercive control.
Dozens of academic studies show PA’ is a warped, misdiagnosis used by abusers to counter allegations of abuse by a protective parent, usually the mother.
Certain groups, who are linked to right-wing American religious groups, pushing to have ‘parental alienation/ parental alienation syndrome’ made a separate form of domestic abuse in Ireland and officially recognised by the courts.
Why are these PA groups still falsely claiming that the UN/WHO recognised PA as a physiological disorder?
In Ireland every single domestic violence/abuse/women’s rights NGO supports the DV Act and are firmly against PA being made an offence.