In addition to the two core elements of parental alienation already listed, both my own experience as well as research of others indicates that spousal abuse is a third element of parental alienation. Here are some of the identifiers in a target parent:
• Depression due to limited or no contact with child
• High levels of anxiety
• Loss of identity as a parent
• Lost sense of purpose
• Inability to form or sustain new relationships
• Disturbing thought patterns related to shame, stigma, self-blame, and learned helplessness and hopelessness
• Suicidal thoughts (about half of parents who believe they are alienated have considered suicide within the past year)
What Target Parents Had to SayThis is absolutely the most debilitating thing I have ever been through. I liken it to dealing with the death of my daughter daily, but it never ends.
My son has drifted in and out of my life for the past 15 years … When he went to live with his father, I suffered panic attacks and PTSD. I am now better but feel neither my son nor I will ever recover. I feel distrustful of others now, and I don’t want to have to tell my story. There’s too much judgment. I struggle with self-doubt because I could not protect him.
My mind goes haywire when I start thinking about this stuff. It is going on right now. I think I have developed PTSD. I just can’t function. My mind shuts down and I feel so frustrated because I can’t express what I have to say. Everything gets scrambled. I sound like a nut … too much anxiety.
I desperately want to warn other parents … am struggling to keep my head above water. Shame is a daily burden.
I have been angry for a decade, to the extent that I have trouble keeping a job. In fact, I am unemployed right now. Insomnia keeps me exhausted … (Father)
I am not able to work. I was hospitalized for a month and a half and am on meds; I have PTSD. Reunification is TOUGH! It is impossible to find therapists who have experience and knowledge to deal with PA. (Mother)
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