Parental Alienation and Domestic Violence in the Huffington Post’s divorce section

This is my article in the Huffington Post: Parental Alienation and Domestic Violence   I’ll comment more on the divorce section of the Huffpost later.

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Richard Warshak: Bad-mouthing domestic violence advocates on a pro-PAS blog

In the “you’ve gotta be kidding me” department, we have Mr. Richard Warshak – PhD – not MD – bad-mouthing and “alienating” domestic violence advocates & survivors and poisoning the blogosphere with his rebuttal to critics – on no other than a pro-PAS blog.

The man sends out an email to his fan-base asking them to comment on his Huffpo piece. He censors anyone commenting that has a dissenting viewpoint (so noboby can read these opposing comments, of course).  Then, he writes a rebuttal on a pro-PAS blog. A rebuttal to what, Mr. Warshak???? Nobody can read our comments!!!  Are you kidding me?!?

These are some of his “alienating” comments he makes about domestic violence advocates/survivors:

“…the brick wall of a closed mind… misguided ideas…fanatics… extremists…one website claims a conspiracy… when my wife reads these vicious and absurd accounts, she shakes her head in disbelief… ‘Don’t they know that you’ve devoted your career to the welfare of children?’…the drumbeat of misinformation… their zeal…their smears.”

Closed mind? Misguided? Fanatics? Extremists?

I guess you’d also call the APA, the ABA, the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges, the American Judges Association, and the National DA’s Association the same?!?

He’s devoted his career to the “welfare of children”?!  More likely, the children’s moms end up on welfare after they’ve been dragged through the court with false accusations of “alienation.” He could care less about children’s welfare – he sends them, sometimes by police force, to his pricey reunification ranch in Texas to deprogram them. God forbid children have their own thoughts, preferences, or bonds. He’ll brainwash them into accepting a parent whether they like it or not. Say good-bye to the parent they bonded with – they lose custody and are not invited to the ranch. No, they want to force a bond on the child and the parent the child fears or hates – no matter if violence or abuse broke that bond. Children’s welfare? More like parent’s money. Whoever has the money, gets the child deprogrammed. It’s a controversial, unproven, and unethical method he employs.

Warshak writes, “The many parents I have helped, women and men, express astonishment that some people demonize me, attempt to tarnish my reputation, and spread misleading and false information about my work and me. Although my supporters far outweigh my detractors, the people seeking to quiet my voice yell loudly and work hard to circulate their misinformation.”

This is a joke, right?

It’d be funny if his ideas weren’t so dangerous.

He also says, “Until now I have allowed the personal attacks and gross misrepresentations to go without answer.”  — That’s not true, Mr. Warshak. All the comments that were posted on the Huffpo article stuck to facts and quotes. We resorted to our blogs when you censored us. Blogs are a lot less formal but I haven’t read any attacks.

He states, “They cling to misguided ideas rather than acknowledge the widespread mistreatment of children described in Divorce Poison and my other works.” — Ahhh, Mr. Warshak, you mean we cling to science rather than buy your snake poison. Your peddling your book and “other works” – DVDs, reunification ranch, etc.

No, Mr. Warshak, we aint buying it — and neither is the legal, mental health, medical, or scientific community.

“Some of these people would have you believe that there is an epidemic of judges who take joy in placing children with parents who beat or sexually molest them.” Well, Mr. Warshak, there was the case of Katie Tagle. Funny, the judge said she was the liar who was trying to block access to the father. He handed a 9-month-old infant over to the dad. Do you know what happened to the infant, Mr. Devoted-to-Children’s-Welfare? The father killed him.

This is not an isolated case, but to go on any further would be a total loss of time on my part.

Warshak’s ruse: Act like he supports domestic violence survivors

Warshak posted this comment on his Huffpo article:

My earlier replies to comments, and my professional articles, make it clear that I agree with you that abusers can be the alienating parent. Here are quotes from my earlier replies to comments: “Some alienated mothers have left coercive, controlling husbands and these women should expect support from those who advocate on behalf of DV victims.” “A child who was intimidated by a coercive father into rejecting the mother may reach out to the mother once the child has established some independence from the father.”

“Should expect support”? What a bunch of hog wash. Any woman, man, or child can expect support from a domestic violence agency, he needn’t patronize the DV community or act like we’re not supporting abused individuals.

What he calls “alienating” behavior or the obnoxious “divorce poison” can be domestic violence if it involves coercion, threats, or intimidation. We’ve been trying to say this – he refuses to post our comments. He’d much rather censor us and make his mulah off of folks with his DVDs, books, and bogus treatment centers. He’d see an end to the cash cow if he simply called abusive behavior domestic violence.

And, speaking of which, what the hell are his credentials for discussing domestic violence? How many classes did he take? Has he volunteered at an agency? Does he donate?

He’s also referencing help to mothers a lot – bull crap. PA/PAS/PAD is overwhelmingly used by men.
He has yet to acknowledge the fact that PAS has been used by abusers in family court to counter allegations of abuse. When he has, he distorted the information and made it look like we said “all men” use PA as an abuse excuse. I wrote a comment suggesting he either had a reading comprehension problem or was an idealogue that was blinded to other views.
The guy’s position is completely divergent from the domestic violence community – make no mistake – yet he’s posturing as if he understands abuse and HE supports individuals (rather than the DV community) — He supports anybody who’s a potential customer, that’s who he supports.
 
Alienation? Yes, he’s alienated the domestic violence community.
Here’s a few resources on PAS
‘When children reject their abusive fathers, it is common for the batterer and others to blame the mother for alienating the children. They often do not understand the legitimate fears of the child. Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children’s attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children’s fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations.” (page 40) “THE TRUTH ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME AND THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION”. Statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005).
“When mental health experts or attorneys claim that P.A.S. is a ‘syndrome’– knowing full well that it lacks scientific validity, is the concoction of a disgraced psychologist, and has been soundly rejected by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — that is disingenuous at best and unethical at worst.  Moreover, when it is used as a vehicle to keep children in the custody of men who abuse them, it is also immoral. ” , Randy Burton, Founder, Chairman and President – Justice for Children. http://www.jfcadvocacy.org/pas.asp

“The vast majority of these mothers (97%) reported that court personnel ignored or minimized reports of abuse. They reported feeling that they were punished for trying to protect their children and 65% said they were threatened with sanctions if the “talked publicly” about the case. In all, 45% of the mothers say they were labeled as having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The protective parents reported that the average cost of the court proceedings was over $80,000. Over a quarter of the protective parents say they were forced to file bankruptcy as a result of filing for custody of their children. Eighty-five percent of the protective parents surveyed believe that their children are still being abused; however, 63% say they stopped reporting the abuse for fear that contact with their children will be terminated. Eleven percent of the children were reported to have attempted suicide.” “Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation”. Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Leadership Council. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html   

For more quotes, go to: Parenting abused children

Comments by DV advocates on Dr. Richard Warshak and PAS have been censored by Huffington Post – Are they trying to silence the DV community?

Maybe this should come as no surprise. From what I’m learning, Huffington Post doesn’t care much about scientific facts or freedom of speech.

Check this out on Digg.

Richard Warshak now has a post up on divorce and parental alienation syndrome (PAS). A bunch of domestic violence advocates and domestic violence survivors have tried to post opposing viewpoints – to no avail. At least 5 of us have had our posts deleted. Many of these posts provided research citations and quotes.

Here is a domestic violence advocate and survivor’s post:

Here is the American Psychological Association’s other statement on parental alienation: “Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children’s witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother’s behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.
Some professionals assume that accusations of physical or sexual abuse of children that arise during divorce or custody disputes are likely to be false, but the empirical research to date shows no such increase in false reporting at that time. In many instances, children are frightened about being alone with a father they have seen use violence towards their mother or a father who has abused them. Sometimes children make it clear to the court that they wish to remain with the mother because they are afraid of the father, but their wishes are ignored.”
 
I posted this from Newseek:
 
Under the theory, children fear or reject one parent because they have been corrupted or coached to lie by the other. Parental alienation is now the leading defense for parents accused of abuse in custody cases, according to domestic-violence advocates. And it’s working. The few current studies done on the subject consider only small samples. But according to one 2004 survey in Massachusetts by Harvard’s Jay Silverman, 54 percent of custody cases involving documented spousal abuse were decided in favor of the alleged batterers. Parental alienation was used as an argument in nearly every case.
 
This year the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges denounced the theory as “junk science,” and at least four states have passed legislation to curtail its use in custody cases involving allegations of domestic violence. “It’s really been a cancer in the family courts,” says Richard Ducote, an attorney in Pittsburgh who has represented abuse victims in custody cases for 22 years. “It’s made it really difficult for parents to protect their kids. If you ask for protection, you’re deemed a vindictive, alienating parent.”
 
I also shortened this & posted it:

 

Sherman, Rorie. (Aug. 16, 1993). Gardner’s Law: A Controversial Psychiatrist and Influential Witness Leads the Backlash Against Child Sex Abuse ‘Hysteria,’ National Law Journal, 15, at 1, 45.

This article notes that forensic child psychiatrist Richard Gardner is one of the most prominent experts who is speaking out against what he considers to be child abuse hysteria.  Most of Gardner ‘s court testimony is devoted to defending men accused of child sexual abuse.  Gardner ‘s theories, most of which have never been tested empirically, are influencing court-appointed therapists around the country.  Gardner has been certified to testify in at least 70 sex-abuse cases, both criminal and civil. He is an outspoken media commentator and has hired his own publicist to help him gain access to more media outlets. Gardner calls child abuse allegations the “third-greatest wave of hysteria” that nation has seen, with the first two being the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings. Many of his colleagues state that there is little scientific evidence to support his theories.  They also note that his ideas are not filtered through the peer-review system before they reach the courts because he publishes them himself.
To help cure society of false allegations, Gardner suggests that courts should appoint therapists familiar with his theory of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) to evaluate custody cases. This theory suggests that there is an epidemic of vindictive women accusing fathers of child sex abuse to gain leverage in child-custody disputes.  The only way to deal with severe cases of PAS, according to Gardner , is to take the children away from their brainwashing mother until they can be deprogrammed.  Gardner claims that the vast majority of sex-abuse accusations made during custody disputes are false, in-spite of numerous research studies which show the opposite is true. There is no research that confirms that PAS even exists, yet Gardner recommends that children be removed from their mother’s care based on it.  Critics state that Gardner almost always sides with a man against his wife, and even testified that a man who murdered his wife during a custody dispute should be found not guilty because his wife had driven him temporarily insane
Gardner also developed a psychological test called the Sex Abuse Legitimacy Scale (SALS) which is a checklist of criteria that Gardner claims will help determine whether child sex-abuse accusations are credible.  Since 1987, therapists nationwide started using this scale even though there was no research documenting that it was valid.  Recently the SALS has been discredited by academics, rejected by one appellate court and withdrawn from the market by Dr. Gardner.  One researcher used Gardner ‘s SALS to evaluate confirmed cases of child sexual abuse and found that the scale produced inaccurate assessments. A lawyer commented that under the theories expounded by Gardner , no matter what a woman who discovers her child is being sexually abused does, she is going to do something wrong unless she disbelieves her child. If a mother goes to an attorney or a doctor for help, the SALS finds the child’s allegations less credible. When asked to explain why all of the men who hire him to testify for them in sexual abuse cases are confirmed innocent by him, Gardner says that guilty men don’t ask him to testify for them.  Gardner states: “People who are falsely accused are more likely to come to me…Pedophiles recognize that I am not so easily fooled.”
 

And this-
 

 

“PAS is junk science at its worst,” says Dr. Paul Fink, President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, and a former President of the American Psychiatric Association.  Dr. Fink explains, “Science tells us that the most likely reason that a child becomes estranged from a parent is that parent’s own behavior. Labels, such as PAS, serve to deflect attention away from those behaviors.”
 

 Oh yeah, here’s Warshak’s article: Stop Divorce Poison