Interview with Dr. Kathleen Reay

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

reayDr. Kathleen Reay is no stranger to our website. She is an internationally recognized expert in high-conflict divorce, parental alienation, parent-child estrangement, and child emotional abuse and related trauma. We have introduced her before and brought to your attention the many Parental Alienation webinars, presentations and training workshops Kathleen does throughout British Columbia.

Dr. Reay has not stopped there! Kathleen and her team have been working on a massive project for over three years and she is pleased to announce that The Family Reflections Reunification Program for Severely Alienated Children and Their Family Members has come to fruition.

The program is the first of its kind in Canada. In two pilot studies the program had 95% success rate in re-establishing a relationship between the child(ren) and the alienated parent within a very short period of time. Located in a serene and tranquil semi-desert setting in the heart of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, the program consists of a flexible 4-5 day residential component and follow up services.

If only we had access to a program like this when my family was in the throes of PAS – what a difference it would have made! There is no question in my mind that Dr. Reay’s concept will help families shattered by the emotional damage created when one parent alienates their child(ren) against a once-loved parent.

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Reay about The Family Reflections Reunification Program for Severely Alienated Children and Family Members:

Pamela: Tell us about The Family Reflections Reunification Program for Severely Alienated Children and their Family Members.

Dr. Reay: My vision for this unique reunification program began several years ago. After three intense years of working on this project, it finally came to fruition this year. The FRRP is designed for a severely alienated child or youth between 8 and 18 years of age who completely refuses or increasingly opposes contact with a parent for no legitimate justifiable reasons. The rejected parent and child must have had a good, loving relationship prior to the start of the alienation dynamics. Families come to our retreat from all over Canada and the United States.

A court order for custody reversal to the rejected parent is absolutely necessary for admittance to our program. In doing so, the rejected parent is given the legal power to make appropriate health care decisions for his or her child(ren) or youth(s). All members of an alienated family must also be court-ordered to attend reunification therapy of the rejected parent’s choice or mandated to specifically participate in the FRRP. Our program is flexible, adaptable and can be custom-designed to fit the requirements of specific interventions contemplated in a particular U.S. State or Canadian Province’s family law statutes. For example, in British Columbia, a court may order, under Section 40 and 41 of the Family Law Act, that the target parent (or some suitable third party) shall have guardianship of the child to the exclusion of the alienated parent. As such, the guardian would also have parental responsibility and authority to enroll and place the child or youth in our program under my direction for a period of 9 months to 2 years.

Sunoka BeachOur retreat is located in a serene and tranquil setting in the heart of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. We offer luxurious lodging and nutritious meals at a large private residence. The Okanagan is a semi-arid desert and a 4-seasons playground. As such, participants at our retreat have the ability to engage in various seasonal outdoor recreational activities with our youth workers, including, but not limited to, swimming, boating, hiking, biking, fishing, snow shoeing, cross-country or downhill skiing. We make it fun, engaging and non-confrontational. And, we do not use a one-size-fits-all approach but tailor our program to meet the needs of each family. In two pilot studies, our program has shown a 95% success rate in reestablishing a relationship between the child(ren) and the alienated parent. It’s the first of its kind in Canada.

There are several primary objectives of our program. One is to assist a family to transition after the court has ordered a change in custody to the rejected parent. Pre-arrangements are made for the alienated child or youth and any alienated siblings to come to our retreat and are offered psychoeducation and various counselling interventions, which may include traumatic incident reduction therapy and EMDR therapy to prepare them to feel safe and make healthy steps towards reunification with the rejected parent at the retreat. The rejected parent arrives not long after but has no immediate contact with his/her child(ren). The rejected parent works separately with a psychologist in preparation for the reunification. To complement the intensive clinical aspects of our program, our youth workers offer many educational, social, cultural and recreational opportunities for children and their rejected parents.

I assign a therapist who begins working with the alienating parent off-site. In some cases, the alienating parent works with a therapist in his or her locale as long as that therapist has successfully completed an intensive training program under my direction and has become certified to be an independent contractor with our organization. In the event that there isn’t a trained and certified therapist in the alienating parent’s locale, then the parent is required to work with one of our trained therapists in the Okanagan or elsewhere in-person or through video-conferencing.

The primary purposes of our program are to restore the child’s relationship with the rejected parent, to maintain healthy relationship between them, and to redevelop some healthy relationships between both parents. Keeping the latter in mind, the third component of our program is aftercare services, which are an important key to obtaining long-term success.

We have an interdisciplinary team consisting of psychologists, counsellors, social workers, senior youth and family workers, junior youth workers, therapy pets and admin staff. Our retreat is staffed around the clock for safety, security, and crisis management. Our team both on- and off-site has been trained by me. As Clinical Director, I personally monitor each case and may have the ability to report back to the court outcomes including progress and any noncompliance issues.

familyPamela: Why reunification therapy?

Dr. Reay: More and more parental alienation cases are being heard in court. In severe alienation cases, the judiciary is increasingly aware that reunification therapy must be mandated to help these families and protect the children from further emotional and psychological harm. It’s important to note that traditional therapy has been shown to offer little to no usefulness in these types of cases. Because of the nature of parental alienation, the most promising and effective approach is intensive reunification approaches. And that’s what we do best. One family at a time.

Pamela: Why is it so important to be in this type of environment?

Dr. Reay: Some research studies and other clinical literature suggest that intense work conducted within a very short period of time in a different environmental setting presents an opportunity for the family to engage in a deeper, more meaningful transformative healing process. It’s like an inoculation takes place when each family member chooses to absorb him or herself in intense work for the purpose of healing old scars. And, as previously mentioned, literature also consistently suggests that traditional therapy offers little to no hope for severe cases of alienation. Here’s how I see our intensive reunification program unfold:

“It’s ‘as if’ each family member gets inoculated at the same time for a horrible family disease that’s seriously spread out of control. Each individuals’ inoculation may feel a little uncomfortable at first. However, within a very brief period of time, it provides protection to each person while preventing further harmful parent-parent and parent-child conditions from occurring.”

Pamela: One of the biggest problems is getting the short and long term cooperation of alienators. In severe PAS cases how do you get the alienator to comply with the program? Do court orders help?

Dr. Reay: That’s a great question. You’re absolutely right. One of the biggest problems is getting the short and long term cooperation of the programming parent. It’s important to keep in mind that in severe cases, the alienating parent typically has significant psychopathology or a personality disorder. By the time families are admitted to our program, there usually have been quite a few failed attempts made by the judiciary and mental health professionals to help the alienated family. Various legal remedies and counselling approaches have not been successful. Typically, both the alienating parent and alienated child(ren) or youth(s) have been noncompliant. The alienating parent has acted in various ways to help illustrate that he or she is above the law and has continually engaged in various sabotaging or alienating behaviours.

As such, a lot of groundwork is necessary between the rejected parent’s lawyer, the rejected parent and my team long before the family may be able to participate in the FRRP. In some cases, the alienating parent’s lawyer will also be a part of the groundwork process. I provide the lawyer(s) a lot of written data which can be submitted as affidavits to a judge. I can also provide expert testimony.

The FRRP has high entry admission requirements in order to facilitate high success rates. With these types of severe alienation cases, reunification therapy will not be successful when a child(ren) or youth(s) continue to have direct or indirect contact with the alienating parent or others who have been highly involved in alienating the child(ren) or youth(s). Therefore, as mentioned earlier, the court order must stipulate custody change to the rejected parent and must stipulate that a suspension of direct and indirect contact for an indefinite period of time is necessary between the alienated child(ren) or youth(s) and the alienating parent. In some cases, step-parents or extended family members (for example the alienating parent’s mother and/or father who have also proven to be alienators) may also be court-ordered to participate in our program.

It’s up to the alienator(s) to prove to our collaborative mental health team and the judiciary that he or she is genuinely accountable, made very good progress in therapy and is not at risk of engaging in future sabotaging or alienating behaviours when contact is resumed with the child(ren) or youth(s). I cannot emphasize enough how important these measures are to help ensure program compliance and outcome success amongst all family members involved. The court order also must stipulate the need for both parents to cooperate throughout the duration of the program both on and off-site. Enforcement clauses are a very necessary component of the court order, too. The latter may include a clause for financial penalties, law enforcement, or other penalties or sanctions, especially for non-compliance issues.

The court order needs to also state that the Clinical Director of the Family Reflections Reunification Program is responsible for monitoring and reporting information to the court including progress and non-compliance issues. Therefore, the court is also considered the client and there is no protection of confidentiality between the parties involved (the judge, the assigned therapists and youth workers by the Clinical Director, the parents, the children, and any other court-appointed personnel).

In order for the transition process to go as smoothly as possible for the child, I strongly recommend that another term is included in the court order. That is, the alienating parent needs to tell the child that he or she is safe and okay, even if the parent doesn’t really believe it. Then the alienating parent needs to hand the child to a couple of our team members directly. Although it’s something we don’t encourage, when necessary, the alienating parent may need to hand the children to a sheriff or police officer. My preference is a plain-clothes officer. Then the child is handed over to us. It’s very important that the alienating parent and child say goodbye to each other, but this must be supervised by one or more of our team members.

The court order must also define who will be responsible to pay for all aspects of the reunification program.

Mother-holding-childs-han-001Pamela: Do most children feel anxious, scared, frightened, or even traumatized when they are court-ordered to separate from the alienating parent and are forced to participate in your program?

Dr. Reay: It’s not uncommon for a child, youth or any other sibling to feel a number of negative emotions including some you’ve mentioned prior to entering our program or at the beginning of it. As a matter of fact there’s been some opposition to this approach by some mental health and legal professionals who consider such an approach potentially damaging to a child. Based on my experience, that’s truly not the case.

Please feel rest assured that our team provides a number of strategies to help all of our participants feel physically, mentally and emotionally safe throughout the transition process and the reunification process. Many factors are considered and decisions are made during the comprehensive screening and admissions process. We strongly consider these types of matters and take extra precautionary steps to help work things through prior to the start of the program. Our team members are very flexible, open, patient, empathic and understanding. In many instances one or more team members will meet the child(ren) in person or online before entering the program. As a matter of fact, it’s our preference to have a couple of team members meet the child(ren) at the courthouse or some other prearranged spot right after a court-ordered decision has been made for their family to participate in our program.

Here’s something else for readers to hopefully feel some comfort knowing That is, an extremely high percentage of children and youths who start off feeling really anxious and stressed do adjust very, very quickly. They also reconnect with the rejected parent relatively quickly, too. Why? Well, we don’t know the exact reasons. We can only speculate at present. What seems evident is the fact that once the children and youths learn and recognize that the litigation process is over and court-mandated decisions have been made, they tend to quickly realize that the alienation game or charade is over. In doing so, they become very open to engaging in various other psychoeducational components of our on-site program. Then they feel ready to re-establish a relationship with the rejected parent. We believe this may be a major reason why we’ve had an exceptional track record.

Pamela: How important is follow up?

Dr. Reay: A strong continuing care plan supports the reunification process and is an important key to obtaining long-term success. As our on-site program draws to a close, clients work with their counsellor to develop appropriate future plans of action. This ensures the elements of a good recovery plan are in place before the family leaves our retreat. The plan may include individual and/or family therapy by one of our trained therapists located near the family’s home and/or continued involvement via phone or Internet with the on-site therapists at our centre.

TeamworkPamela: To be successful doesn’t the whole system have to be “on board” and how do you get support for your program?

Dr. Reay: Yes, there are many layers of players involved in an alienated child’s life. For example, the programming parent, the rejected parent, step-parents, grandparents, friends, judges, lawyers representing both parents, therapists, custody evaluators, forensic experts, parenting coordinators, and sometimes even child protection workers, among others. In order to be successful, it’s important to attempt to get the whole system on board.

For well over three years, I’ve been providing a lot of speaking engagements throughout Canada and parts of the United States for alienated parents and their loved ones. I’ve also provided 2 or 3-day in-person or online training programs for mental health and other social service providers called Effective Clinical Assessments and Therapeutic Interventions for Alienated Children and Their Family Members. Participants who have successfully completed the trainings have the option to become certified and to become independent contractors with our program. On an as needed basis, these certified therapists are provided referrals for counselling various family members in their area. Some will work with the alienating parent in the same locale and others will work with the reunified parent and child through our aftercare counselling services component.

Since opening the FRRP, I’ve been receiving invitations to present at various Canadian Bar Association meetings. My presentation is called Parental Alienation: It’s Not Business As Usual for Therapeutic Interventions and the Court Process. Suggested components of court orders governing reunification therapy, in particular the requirements for participation in the FRRP are provided. I’m also in the midst of putting together an online training program for lawyers and the judiciary that offers continuing education credits. I’ve also had the good fortune to work with a lot family law lawyers, therapists and child custody evaluators throughout the years. They are all well aware of the FRRP and many have already made referrals. Manuscripts are also being submitted to editors of some appropriate peer-reviewed scholarly journals as well as articles are being submitted for inclusion in newsletters of professional mental health regulatory bodies. Additionally, there are a couple of popular online websites that members of the Canadian Bar Association enjoy reading. Articles are being submitted to them.

Over the last couple of years many alienated parents, their loved ones and professionals have signed up for our free online newsletters. Social media has played a large role in spreading the word about our unique program.

We have separate brochures for professionals and alienated parents that can be downloaded from our website at www.familyreflectionsprogram.com.

Pamela: Does the latest issue of DMS 5 give enough qualifications to empower the courts and others to use the description without directly inferring to PAS to help children and families in the throes of PAS in the court system and elsewhere?

Dr. Reay: Yes, although the term parental alienation is not listed as a mental disorder in the DSM-5, the concept of PA is undeniably in the new manual. Clearly, parental alienation is a horrific form of child psychological abuse. Fortunately, Child Psychological Abuse and Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress are two new diagnoses in the DSM-5. Parent-Child Relational Problem now has a discussion in the text of the new 5th edition. Moreover, Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another and delusional symptoms in partner of individual with delusional disorder is the terminology for Shared Psychotic Disorder. Depending on the family situation, each of the above-noted diagnoses can be used to help children and families in the throes of legitimate unjustifiable alienation cases in the mental health and court systems.

Pamela: What can and should the courts be doing to help children and families-is there a hit list of 5 top recommendations?

Dr. Reay: Wow! I can only provide a hit list of 5 top recommendations? That’s not so easy. Okay, here goes! These are the top 5 recommendations that come to mind:

1) Take swift action. The seeds of alienation sprout quickly. These cases must be understood and treated differently than most other types of family law disputes. There should be judicial  case management for these types of cases.

2) When allegations of alienation are being made, it’s important to court-order an independent comprehensive family evaluation right away by a mental health professional who is trained and well experienced with high-conflict divorce and parental alienation.

3 ) When allegations of alienation are being made, it’s also important to not court-order a Views of a Child Assessment because it will likely be biased and skewed. The child will likely be manipulated by the favoured parent. A moderate-severely alienated child will likely state that he or she wants to reside with the programming parent. In true alienation cases, the child or adolescent may even state that he or she does not want to have any future contact with the targeted parent. Let’s face it. It’s against the law for a child or adolescent to get tattoos, vote, drive a motor vehicle, consume alcohol, purchase cigarettes, and purchase pesticides, among other things. So why should a child or teenager be able to decide what’s in his or her own best interest when it comes to making very serious decisions about their relationships with both parents, especially when allegations of alienation have been made? A child and teenager’s brain, including executive functioning, does not fully develop until the early twenties.

4) It’s recommended that custody reversal and suspension of direct and indirect contact between the favoured parent and the alienated child should occur in severe alienation cases when  all other judicial and mental health remedies have proven futile.

5) Specific, multiple enforcement clauses need to be in court orders, which should include financial penalties and sanctions for noncompliance and other issues. Otherwise too many alienating parents will continue to disregard the law and disregard the need for reunification therapy.

Pamela: Are there future plans to expand the FRRP in Canada and beyond?

Dr. Reay: Yes, there is a future plan to open up other FRRP retreats across Canada and beyond.

Pamela: What can people do to help support your program?

Dr. Reay: Thank you for asking that question, Pamela. For those of you who are interested in helping support our program, please feel free to pass along as much information as possible about it. If you are an alienated parent, please pass your knowledge about our reunification program to your legal representative, therapist, child custody evaluator and so on. Word of mouth, social media, and networking are all very, very helpful. I’m open to invitations for keynote speaking engagements and media and publicity events. Additionally, there are many, many alienated parents who very much want to participate in our family reunification program but do not have the financial means to do so. Donations of any size are very much appreciated.

computerPamela: How do families get involved with your new program?

Dr. Reay: Parents, child custody evaluators, parenting coordinators, therapists, judges, lawyers and attorneys are invited to spend time on our website www.familyreflectionsprogram.com to learn more about the FRRP, our team and follow-up services. Other menus on the website include frequently asked questions (FAQ), a photo gallery and career opportunities. Those interested can also contact us via telephone at (250) 276-9467 or toll-free (888) 208-8565. Or, please email us at familyreflectionsprogram@gmail.com to learn more about our screening and admissions procedures.

 

 

Letter from Corina

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Dear Pamela,

I have a court case coming up this month. I feel sick even reading excerpts from your book. I am the custodial parent of a beautiful little girl. She comes home frequently from visits with her father upset and crying.

I made one decision a year ago to not let her go on a weekend long camping trip with her father, but instead to have a sleepover at his house in the city.

He is now accusing me of alienating her from him. According to our daughter, he bad mouths me continuously on visits, and it makes her feel sad. He is berating to her, and in her words she doesn’t feel safe with him.

However, if I try and shelter her, I am alienating and risk losing custody of her. I have to push her out the door into cruelty. and it breaks my heart. I am responding because I feel a lot of fear hearing about this issue. I fear this is a super-charged issue with a lot of emotion affecting families on a very deep level.

I feel deep empathy for Ms. Richardson’s experience. I can not imagine, (and pray I never have to) losing a child. It is excruciating watching our daughter suffer presently, and I am fighting with hopes of her quality of life improving.

I think it is dangerous to paint the portrait of a complex issue with only one brush. I fear that if we load a term such as PAS with intense emotion, and then define it with generalities about custodial parents for example, or mothers, or whatever the case may be; people start behaving erratically.

I am hoping and praying that the judicial system will take the time and care to really look into the issues on a per family case, with calm rational, or else we will be further depriving families of justice.

Corina
Canada

 

Letter from Louie

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Hi Pamela,

I just finished your book in 2 days and bought 2 more – for my lawyer and parenting coordinator. I am a father of five kids who I have seen only 3 times in five years. The parallelism and the heartbreaks you had were very similar to what is happening to me right now. My eldest daughter has severe PAS in my opinion and this started when she was 8 or 9 but now she is eighteen. Before I had healthy relationship with them and tried my best to stay with their mother. BUt after 4 break ups, it was already too much. So when I separated, the kids also told me they were divorcing me and abused me verbally just like in your book. I am very heartbroken and paralyzed emotionally. As I read every word of your book my heart bled as I can relate to what you were feeling at that time. Before I existed for my kids though I was in a loveless marriage for years. Yet with all my sacrifices, my kids abused me, swear at me and cannot even call me Daddy. If there is hell on earth, I guess I am in it right now. I hope I will write my story in the future and pray it will not end the same way for the kids.

If you have any words of advise, I will really appreciate it.
Louie

Letter from Lee

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

To Pamela Richardson,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your efforts in this cause. From listening to you on the CBC Radio, I finally have a label and some understanding of the terrible ordeal that my family went through over the last ten years. While I sought legal advise and many counselors to help my children, PAS was never mentioned. Instead I was told my son was depressed and anxious, which I now realize was the outcome of PAS not the cause. My son used to come home every week in tears and felt completely torn by his father’s requests for him to discuss legal and financial issues with me. It came to the point that I stopped accepting any child support in the hopes that his father would leave him alone.

Unfortunately, I saw this all unfold again for my children, when their father who is a lawyer divorced his third wife and continued the cycle all over again with their step mom. Things have settled down again, but I so wish I had this knowledge during those difficult times, when it seems no one really understands the effect this is having on your children. I will try to learn how to foster happiness and confidence with the resources that you have provided. I am grateful that you took your tragedy to make the world a safer and happier place for all children. I wish you the best in this pursuit.

Letter from Marcus

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

I have just looked at the information on the Dash Foundation Web site for the first time and feel compelled to express my admiration and gratitude for your courage and generosity in carrying on a crucial campaign against one of the most sinister threats to children in our society: PAS.

I, like you, am one of those “passive” parents on the receiving end of PAS. However, I believe I may have managed to wake up in time to save my child from the worst consequences of PAS. There was a costly and frustratingly slow and unnecessarily prolonged trial that resulted with the judge recognizing all the damage that had been and would continue to be perpetrated against the child and, yet, the judge decided to leave the child with the perpetrator parent without granting me even supervised access. I am happy to say that the Supreme Court judge’s decision was overturned on appeal. However, our ordeal is far from over as the Supreme Court of British Columbia seems all to willing to continue to empower the abusive parent to carry on her cruel campaign to destroy our child’s chances to heal emotionally and mentally.

I believe that the children of PAS are ultimately victimized by a cynical and self-serving judicial system. I only wish I had the means to embark on a campaign to bring about much needed legislation to stop the judicial system from using children’s lives as a pretext to engage in the financial exploitation of parents.

- Marcus.

Letter from North Shore Law

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Dear Ms. Richardson:

Thank you for the copies of the book you couriered to my office. It was very generous of you and I do appreciate it. I will see if I can forward them to people involved in this area in the hope that the message gets through and helps at least one family. It is sad that so tragic a circumstance had to occur and that, despite your best efforts, nothing could stop the damage being done to your son.

I can tell you that my conversations with clients that are even passively influencing their children against the children’s other parent have a new urgency after reading your book. My clients are responding accordingly as I call upon their love of their child(ren) to ensure that what they say and do not say is supportive of the other parent’s relationship with their child. I am noticing a distinct difference in their response as they ask me to take steps to relay the same message to counsel for the other parent.

In the meantime, a group of Vancouver family lawyers have taken steps to incorporate a society of Parenting Coordinators to act as referees, in high conflict cases. The Parenting Coordinators are family lawyers, psychologists and counsellors trained in mediation and arbitration. The parties sign a contract which lasts as much as two years and retain the Parenting Coordinator to resolve disputes regarding children, promptly, by attempting mediation and, when that fails, by arbitrating disputes. We hope that this will reduce the level of conflict children are exposed to and reduce the length of time any particular conflict takes to resolve. Of course, decisions that are arbitrated are subject to review by the courts, but the standard of review is such that we expect only decisions that are clearly wrong will be set aside.

The courts are supportive of the Parenting Coordinators and we are already seeing Judges and Masters encouraging parties to use them.

I believe your book will be helpful in educating the courts and counsel about the dangers of not dealing aggressively with signs of child alienation. I am much more than just saddened that you had to endure the experiences you detail within it, but hopeful that it will enlighten those who are in a position to help others. I appreciate your courage and the phenomenal strength it must have taken to complete the book.

Sincerely,

North Shore Law
Per: Patricia Bond

Letter from Y.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Dear Pamela Richardson,

Your appearance on W5 last November occurred right in the middle of my own experience of PAS. I am so thankful to W5 for airing that show and to you for having the courage to be on it to help people like me and to educate the public, which is so badly needed. I want you to know how much your pain and courage are helping others.

That TV feature was the first I had ever heard of PAS and confirmed for me that this is exactly what I was going through. Unfortunately, the week W5 aired and I finally realized what was happening, my son was gone. He left me to “spend and extra week” with his father (we have 50/50 custody) and since he left I have not been able to see him or speak to him for 6 months. I am being blocked from contacting him by phone or email. He has even shut out my parents and all his aunts, uncles and cousins.

My ex and I have been divorced for 8 years now, and the PAS started full force when he got re-married. I tried being his wife’s friend from the time they met, but then she told me she couldn’t speak to me any more because my “ex” didn’t want her to, and then the emotional battle for my son began.

She now has my son calling her “mom” and he is convinced that I am an evil person or dangerous monster. He is trained to ignore me and turn the other way if he ever sees me in public or I try to say “hi” to him. His dad shows up at school morning, noon and after school to make sure I don’t try to talk to him in the hallway, to the point where my ex follows me wherever I go in the school.

My ex has even tried to block me from knowing any information about my son, such as extra-curricular, academic and medical, even though, as joint custodian, I have the right to this information and have had to fight for it. Like your ex Peter, my ex-husband coaches most of my son’s sports, so naturally I am never emailed information or even told what team my son is on.

I have tried the “legal” route as you did, but lawyers simply say, “He’s 13; he can do whatever he wants”.

I think to myself, “Yeah, until my dysfunctional son is vandalizing your car or dating your daughter….”

Fortunately, my 11 year-old-daughter has not succumbed to their Alienation tactics, even though they do not allow her to call me or talk to me if I see her when she is with them in public. She is not allowed to mention me or say anything about me in their presence. My son tries to make her feel bad for continuing to love me and see me.

Part of the reason she has not been poisoned is because I decided that I needed to educate her as much as I could on PAS. I can’t do anything to help my son, but maybe I can save my daughter. I showed her the W5 episode, which really helped her understanding and awareness of what is going on. When she saw that you had written a book, she said “You should get that book, mom.” I wasn’t really interested in getting the book since I knew the end of your story through the show, and I already had a stack of reading I wanted to get through.

Then we saw the book when we were out and my daughter again encouraged me to get it, so I humoured her and got it, but put it on my shelf. She relentlessly asked me how the book was and when I told her I hadn’t started it, she kept asking, “Why not?” Part of the reason is that I was trying to get over the horrible pain that plagued me day and night, and I felt reading your book would only increase my pain and feeling of hopelessness.

I was right. After the first chapter or two I had to stop, because your story was all too similar to mine and my heart ached with the turn of every page; I couldn’t take it. I wanted to ignore it all and pretend this wasn’t really happening to me, that I would wake up tomorrow and it would all be over, just a bad dream. I often liked the first 10 seconds of waking up just for that reason; in the first 10 seconds you forgot the pain and thought your life was normal, then the sinking feeling begins in your stomach and you realize that sleep was the reality and your life is the nightmare.

But something pushed me on to keep reading your book, like a train wreck you don’t want to see but can’t help but look. I felt that maybe by facing the pain it would help heal me somehow.

Reading your book helped me in so many ways and gave some relief to my soul. I realized what is seriously wrong with the Family Court System – there are no consequences to people who decide to disobey the Orders. If they were to implement fines or jail time for parents who don’t follow Court Orders, I think more people would fly straight and kids would be better taken care of by the justice system.

I realized that there is no use going down the path that you did, that all the money in the world will not bring my son back, especially since he is 13 and the courts will let him decide what he wants. One of the most frustrating things was trying to convince and educate my lawyer about PAS. She would not believe me and indicated that I must have done “something” to precipitate this situation, since “it is extremely unusual” that a child would treat his mom this way for no reason and there is no “reason or logic” for my ex and his wife to do this to me.

Even my son’s psychologist, who specializes in helping kids of divorce, said she was “vaguely aware”of Parental Alienation Syndrome. How can you be a specialist for divorced families and not have any training or knowledge of PAS? This needs to be a requirement for anyone working in the family court system.

The frustration of PAS is that unless someone knows you personally and that you are a good mom, they just can’t believe a child can turn against a parent like this. My son’s psychologist refused to see what was going on and now it is too late. My friends and their mothers have all cried for me and my situation, because they know how unjust this is and what kind of a relationship I once shared with my son. I have boxes of cards and notes he wrote to me up until 6 months ago, saying how much he loved me and how great a mom I was.

I used to have such a close bond with my son and he swore he would always love me and never leave me for anything. Then somehow my ex and his wife managed to brainwash him to the point that he will deny that I am even his mom. How do 13 years of loving memories just disappear for a kid? How do you deny your own mother?

I have thanked my daughter many times for making me read your book. It has taught me more than anybody or anything else I have read. I thank you, Pamela for writing your book and being so open with all the details, as painful as they are, but your story is the validation that victims of PAS need. You have encouraged me by your strength to go on, for there were so many times I really felt that I couldn’t go on, nor did I really want to.

I came to realize that my daughter needs me more than ever now, and I need to be thankful for her and pour my life into keeping her strong by being a strong example and to educate her on PAS. I need to show her that I can get through the PAS, and that she has the strength in herself to resist the poison that her dad, stepmom and brother continually try to inflict on her.

Thank you again for your strength and using your painful story to educate others. I hope your book will continue to create awareness and fall into the hands of people who have the power to execute the change needed to save our children.

Signed “Y”

Letter from Dennis

Monday, January 11th, 2010

I feel for what you went through. What I find sickening is how those in the legal system involved with your son, the Judges, the lawyers and psychologists how they can sleep at night with what happened. There was a case in early 2009 where the court overturned a decision to give custody to the father after the mother tried for 10 yrs to alienate her children from the father….it only took 10 years and the emotional abuse will last a life time…….they poor children are scarred for life….how can your ex husband look at himself in the mirror and not realize he lost the most precious thing a parent can have in life and that is a happy child! I don’t get it….I just don’t get it…..

Dennis

Letter from Janie

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

I am just in the middle of your book right now. I am doing a report/essay on PAS for my college English class and I came across your book. I am so sorry for your loss. It is a great book, well written, and I can relate fully.

My husbands ex-wife has alienated his 2 children form him for the past 7 years now. We went to trial and like yours, we had a psychologist that was not for us, guardian ad litem that was friends with the ex’s lawyer, and a judge that just wanted it off his docket. Our expert psychologist told the judge he must get the kids out of her care ASAP. The judge seemed to like the PAS expert and said he believed he was accurate, however, 2 months later when he gave his final order, he gave full custody to the mom?

We found out her uncle was a retired bailiff in the same court and she conveniently married a police officer in the same jurisdiction. (they are no longer together, she ripped him off blindly – another story). The kids are now 17 and 18 and they live with their mom who now has put them both in jail this year at different times, claiming they beat her. Child Protective Services were called and the kids said the mom abuses them, but, they don’t belive the kids. The school knows, they can’t do anything. We know this because we just started hearing from his daughter after 5 years via email.

However, suddenly the emails have stopped, and we think mom may have found out. She is now not responding to any of ours. They are so afraid of their mother, it’s pathetic. Now I have a friend in Florida who is going thru this. Her son is now 14 and her daughter is 8. When she went over on Thanksgiving to visit, unannounced, since no one ever returned her calls, she brought all of her kids cousins, grandparents, etc, and they asked the children to come outside so they can see them.

My friend said her son (the 14 yr. old) was so frightened, he kept looking back at the house, afraid that someone was going to come out, or just afraid of what may be said to him when he went back in. Her daughter is now becoming non-responsive to her when she shows up at the soccer games.

She never heard of PAS and I am trying to help her as much as I can. Needless to say she is devastated, and fears for her children’s lives. She said she has never seen her children look this way. She doesn’t have much money to fight this and just is at a loss. Her lawyer doesn’t know much about PAS either, just what I am feeding her.

I am going to do all I can to help her, I will do research or whatever it takes. I will not stand back and see more children go thru this. Your case sounds just like ours went. Unfortunately your son is not alive, and my heart goes out to you and your family. I commend you for all your efforts and may God Bless you. If you know of anyone who can help, please let us know. Thank you.

Janie

Thank you from Pamela

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Hello,
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has bravely sent in such painful and heartfelt letters. It is never easy to write about the emotional abuse of your children.

As you know I am a parent who has lived with PAS and not a professional. It is this reason and the pain of having to relive my own grief that cautions me from contacting all of you.

Through my website you can find resources that will hopefully be of some help. If anyone has any updated information whether it be research, articles, books or personal experience please write to me. Your voice is heard.

I have been asked to be a guest speaker at The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome in Toronto. The dates are March 27th through to 29th, 2009. My book, A Kidnapped Mind will be available at the conference as a gift from The Dash Foundation.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart,
Pamela