Psychological Abuse of Children

Why Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and Parental Alienation (PA) is child abuse on an appalling scale.

One of the most informative and short videos I have come across on the damage inflicted upon innocent children—and adult children of PAS and PA—is the one below:

Targeted parents (parents rejected by their children for no rational reason) suffer devastating dilemmas when their children reject them. They often ask, “Why are my kids rejecting and treating me like trash—worse than trash? What did I do to cause this kind of hurtful behavior?”

Such parents exist in a surreal world where everything is upside down and they can’t understand why. Their children, whom they once shared a loving bond, have suddenly, with no apparent reason, reject and hate them.

Parents faced with this kind of damaging behavior are at a loss to understand this, as if they were suddenly transported—blindfolded—to the middle of a foreign city in another country with no map, money, GPS, friends, or a translator to show them around. Their blindfold is removed in the center of this unknown city and told, “Find your own way home” and left on their own, stranded.

In the same way, targeted parents, who have yet learned about PAS/PA, face similar hurdles of anxiety and a general feeling of helplessness, fear, and confusion. “What is happening to me?” we ask. “Why are my kids acting as if they no longer know or love me? How can they possibly treat me so terrible, so disrespectful, with such venom and hate?”

The video above provides the answers to these questions in part. In families torn asunder by PAS/PA, I believe that true, genuine healing can only come about when both the targeted parent and their alienating children come to an awareness of what has been done to them through the actions of the alienating parent.

The alienated parent is the one who “wakes up” first. In their desperation to understand what happened between them and their children, they, like me, begin a search on the internet. As I have repeatedly stated elsewhere on this blog, that journey began about twenty years ago and continues to this day.

Unfortunately, for the alienated children, this awareness of what has been done to them by the other parent—the alienator—may never come. From my experience and research, many, if not most of these damaged children, never wake up but remain slaves to the destructive pathologies inflicted upon them by their other parent. They are prisoners in cellblocks whose chains have been forged by the very hands of the parent they have been brainwashed into believing unconditionally loves them. As these psychologically abused children will one day realize, such “love” comes with many strings attached.

Fortunately, some children do wake up, but I’m not certain this is true for children described as “severally alienated.” Their brainwashing, hatred, malice and fear of their other parent is so strong it may be impossible for them to ever “see the light.”

As I have often discovered in Youtube videos, the comments submitted by viewers or those who uploaded the videos are often excellent; this one is no exception. David K., who posted this video, wrote a lengthy but informative and enlightening comment which I will quote in its entirety:

“Healthy parents teach their kids independence and self-reliance. By contrast, alienating parents foster dependency and vulnerability in their children. Alienators need to be needed.

“Healthy parents reward or punish their child based upon the child’s behavior, and based upon a standard of right and wrong. But alienating parents reward or punish their child based upon how the child’s behavior makes the alienating parent FEEL. The alienator’s emotional state is the standard of right and wrong.

“Healthy parents love their children more than they need their children. But alienators need their children more than they love their children. In younger children alienators sow seeds of fear. In older children they sow seeds of hatred. This ensures the child’s undivided love.

“Healthy parents teach a child that the world is full of imperfect people who sometimes make mistakes and sometimes disappoint us. But alienators teach a child to see the world in black and white; people are either all-good or all-bad. Any actual mistakes an ‘all-bad’ person makes become the entirety of who they are.

“Alienators are masters of manipulation, and there are two main subtypes.

“Alienators with narcissistic traits (mostly men) are control freaks. They see themselves as perfect and anyone who dares to oppose them as inferior. They speak with charisma and conviction.

“Alienators with borderline traits (mostly women) are sympathy freaks. They see themselves as victims and anyone who dares to oppose them as abusers. They speak with passion and vulnerability.

“Regardless of the subtype, alienators are very convincing. Most people are duped. And by most people I mean friends, family members, teachers, coaches, counselors, custody evaluators, guardians ad litem, and, of course, their own children.

“The end result of all this manipulation is that the child aligns themself almost completely with the alienating parent. There are many reasons for this, and comparisons have been made to Stockholm syndrome/trauma bonding, but I believe a better analogy is that of cults. Whenever the child agrees with, or sympathizes with, or shows devotion to the alienator, then the alienator lavishes them with affection and makes them feel like a million dollars. But if the child ever falters in their devotion, then it is the opposite extreme. This is exactly how cult leaders are able to manipulate adults over a period of months. Now imagine a vulnerable child, who has no escape, being conditioned like this over a period of years.

“This process has been called pathological enmeshment, since the child’s personality is basically subsumed by that of the alienator. It has also been called the gatekeeper phenomenon, since the alienator becomes the gatekeeper of the child’s heart and mind. Whatever the alienator likes, the child reflexively likes; whatever the alienator hates, the child reflexively hates.

“All of this happens long before the divorce, long before the actual alienation. And then, at the time of divorce, when the alienator feels rejected by their spouse, and the alienator fears they might lose the undivided devotion of their children, the actual alienation takes place surprisingly quickly. The gatekeeper simply closes the gate.

“This is also why the mental health and legal professionals often get parental alienation cases wrong. They cannot imagine how a child would suddenly reject an otherwise loving parent. What they fail to recognize is that what looks like a warm close relationship with the favored parent is actually a longstanding form of co-dependent psychopathology.

“‘Just listen to my child!’ the alienator cries to the court. ‘They’ll tell you how inferior/abusive the other parent is!’ But it is no longer the child who speaks.

“Alienated children grow up hating half of who they are. They are exposed to almost constant manipulation. They are embroiled in almost constant drama. They are prone to a host of psychosocial problems later in life.

“This is why Parental Alienation is NOT a child custody issue.

“It’s a child PROTECTION issue.” (End of comment.)

Targeted parents must arm themselves with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the destructive powers of PAS/PA if they have any hope of surviving this debilitating nightmare.