Being an Alienated Parent is Excruciating
“An alienated parent’s life is an excruciating existence, one that takes an enormous amount of energy to live. The results of your efforts are always filled with disappointment and pain. What else would you do, in your life, that involves so much fortitude to be rejected every time? No one likes rejection, but for you, the alienated parent, rejection is your new normal. Still, it hurts each time you reach out to your precious child only to hear silence. The wound never gets a chance to heal.” https://www.susanshofer.com/when-parental-alienation-has-you-ready-to-give-up/
“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating…”
from “If” by Rudyard Kipling
This is part one in a series exploring the various tactics Gaslighters use to silence, control, isolate, marginalize, and psychologically torture their victims. This article will explore the double bind – the no-win situation engineered by the Gaslighter. One psychoanalyst, Lenoard Shengold, described this process as “soul murder”.
Gaslighting, at it’s very core, is an attempt to “drive someone crazy”, and to orchestrate this belief in the victim’s support system, to isolate them. It’s a calculated, preemptive strategy to discredit the victim, so that the Gaslighter can abuse with impunity, while even recruiting proxies to join in. Thus, the abuser escapes accountability, the victim is alone, making it impossible to fight back, while a group of proxy abusers is formed, frequently even from the victim’s own family, who will carry on the abuse, group or family mobbing and social bullying, even in their absence.
“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes including low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. Instances can range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents occurred, to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.”
“The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation of a victim by her husband in Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 stage play Gas Light, and the film adaptations released in 1940 and 1944. In the story, the husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. Gaslighting-Wikipedia
One of the most insidious, underhanded tactics Gaslighters use, is to manufacture situations where the victim cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither opt out, or resolve the situation. So, the double-bind is two conflicting demands, neither of which can be ignored or escaped. The victim is torn both ways, and no matter which way they turn, or how hard they try, they can never win. The Gaslighter knows the game is rigged, but the victim doesn’t find out until they have exhausted every possible attempt to satisfy the demands of the Gaslighter.
A few of my own personal examples are as follows: The Gaslighter regularly complained that he needed me to “make more money”. Unknown to me, he went behind my back to my family making those same false allegations, while turning on his magnificent “charm”. It’s important to note that not only was there a heavy guilt trip, demanding that I “do more”, facts were conveniently missing from these statements and demands – the money I was earning already, along with the substantial savings by having no child care expense.
I was already well-trained by the Gaslighter to believe anything that went wrong must be my fault, and could be fixed if I’d only try harder. So, I got more employment, but it would require the Gaslighter to help by putting our child on the school bus two mornings per week. He readily agreed, and so I began the job. However, after a few weeks, the Gaslighter made vague excuses and suddenly wasn’t available, even though his job allowed him to do it.
This happened repeatedly. The Gaslighter loudly complaining about a fictitious lack of money for all to hear. Then I would start a job, only to have him duck out on his responsibilities after a few weeks. It became a repeating cycle, with the Gaslighter sabotaging my employment every single time. Yet, he continued blaming me for not earning enough, and complaining about my so-called “unwillingness to work” behind my back to my family, while of course, never admitting that he was purposely sabotaging it.
Another double-bind the Gaslighter manufactured was “losing the house”. The family home went into foreclosure during the separation, when the Gaslighter stopped paying the mortgage. However, the mortgage was only in his name, and I had no legal rights to even talk to the bank, much less pay the mortgage.
But yet, I was the only one attending all of the foreclosure court dates downtown at the Chicago Daley Center – alone. After considerable effort, with the help of a foreclosure community action group, I somehow even managed to work my way up to the very top of management at Bank of America, obtaining an unheard of meeting with the VP of State Government Relations. This bank executive put me into a cab with her where we went to meet with the underwriter. A deal was offered that would have allowed us to keep the family home for our child. They agreed to refinance the loan, and allow me to assume the mortgage after a month’s time.
All the Gaslighter had to do was provide documents directly to the bank to process the refinance, since the mortgage was only in his name. Then, after refinancing, they would let me assume the loan. So not only could the family home be saved for our child, the Gaslighter would no longer have a foreclosure on his record. This was beneficial to him as well.
The VP of Government Relations sent an email to the Gaslighter, outlining the bank’s offer, as well as assurance his information would be confidential, and I would not have access to it. However, the Gaslighter refused to provide the documents. He wasn’t asked for any money-only documents.
This double-bind was set up so that he could blame the loss of our house on ME, while omitting the fact that he made it happen.
With this strategy, he was able to falsely portray me as a lazy person who couldn’t be trusted with money, to my family. These are a few of the tactics that enabled him to influence my elderly, ill father to give him tens of thousands of dollars for family court lawyers, and to sign over my share of our four generation family farm trust to him. It also enabled him to get money out of my very elderly grandmother.
It can be a very arduous, painful process, but, the victim can slowly heal from the deep traumas created by the Gaslighter. In time, with hard work, much perseverance, and a strong support system, the victim can re-claim their own voice. It may be difficult to see, but there is life out there beyond Gaslighting, abuse, trauma, and social bullying.
Naive, easily-deceived people may be forever lost to us. And, there are those who will never be able to let go of the Gaslighter’s smear campaign because it serves their psychological need for a scapegoat. There are also those simply too proud to admit they were duped. While they may be lost forever, the world keeps turning, life goes on without them, and I wish them well. But, one by one, many have also quietly come to offer heart-felt apologies for listening to the lies, and participating in the family mobbing, as they have finally taken the time to remember who I am, and investigate all of the facts.
Sadly, the Gaslighter will always be who they are, forever trapped in their sick, compulsive need to control others, and use them to soothe their fragile egos. But the victim can heal, and there is much joy out there in the real world, free from days spent being traumatized, isolated and exploited by a Gaslighter.
It is important to note, that if you have been fooled or manipulated by a Gaslighter, you are a victim too. Gaslighters are very highly skilled manipulators, and most people have difficulty seeing through their considerable charm, elaborate layers of lies, subtle manipulations and distortions of the truth, and their seemingly uncanny ability to zero in on each victim’s particular emotional weak point, to manipulate them for the desired effect. Most people don’t operate in this purposely deceitful manner, and so they naturally don’t expect others to do so, particular when it is someone you love, trust and admire, or sadly, even rely upon. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you too were deceived about the victim. Victims come to realize that those who were manipulated against them are not really to blame – the real blame lies with the Gaslighter!
Please visit the Resources page for further information on Gaslighting: Resources
In the opening scene of The Sound of Music, Maria sings “I go to the hills when my heart is lonely, I know I will hear what I’ve heard before…” The Sound of Music, Opening Scene People have long known that being in nature is good medicine. They didn’t need scientists or researchers to tell them that time spent outdoors, especially among trees, has countless health benefits.
Now science has caught up with this ancient wisdom.
Forest Bathing For Trauma Recovery “Reconnecting to nature can be a powerful activity as part of trauma recovery and healing centered engagement. Playing in the dirt and walking barefoot heals us in infinite ways. Forests and natural landscapes expose us to healthy bacteria, sunshine, and phytoncides (chemicals released by trees that are known for their ability to improve our immune responses). Forests decrease stress hormones and rumination and regulate our heart rate and blood pressure.”
Forest Bathing “Forest bathing is based on an ancient Japanese cultural respect and reverence for the natural world and the interactions with the landscape that occur as a result. Shinrin-yoku (lit. “Immersion in the Forest Air”) is an experience that lets people be mindfully present with the surrounding forest. The sights, sounds and smells of the environment support and comfort each person as they literally “bathe” in the forest air.”
And for those of us who are survivors of Therapist Abuse by court shrinks paid for by the highest bidder, we know too well the trauma when these so-called “professionals” – the lawyers, court doctors, court therapists and hired gun evaluators – trap and re-traumatize us in their lucrative litigation therapy racket. Forcing a trauma victim to sit in their office re-living traumatic memories while they bill by the hour, scribbling their notes, writing false reports for corrupt Child Reps, Guardian Ad Litems, and guns for hire custody evaluators. Because you are court-ordered to do it. How convenient for them.
The survivors of the Rwandan genocide who famously kicked out the Western mental health practitioners further illustrates the damage talk therapy can do to trauma survivors. “As the Rwandan, paraphrased by Solomon, puts it: “Their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.” Exporting trauma: can the talking cure do more harm than good?
I’ll never forget the corrupt Child Representative Natalie Koga’s Machiavellian sneer, and her arrogant, fake, sing-songy, patronizing voice: “Lisa, you just need to try har-der in ther-a-peeee”. Have you completed your “treeeat-meeent”? While she lied and abused me in court. Met secretly with my ex. Harmed my child. Exploited my family. Natalie Koga Confronted With Eye-Witness To Her Corruption
Dr. Daniel Fisher, who wrote Natalie Koga’s made to order false reports, repeated his mantra, in his saccharin-sweet, pretending to care “therapist” voice: “How’s your “therapy” going?” Probing for anything to pounce on, all the while, working for the other side. Dr. Daniel Fisher’s Misconduct, With Michael Volpe
And who could ever forget Dr. Fisher’s disturbing, cringe-worthy performance for a packed courtroom during one of his several days of false testimony!
Bizarrely, finishing his star turn on the witness stand, taking center stage while raising his chest into a stiff military posture, he faced my ex-husband directly. Then, with a grand flourish, GAVE HIM A FULL MILITARY SALUTE RIGHT IN THE FRONT OF THE COURTROOM!
He remained “at attention” for a full two seconds, then suddenly remembering himself, flustered, looking down, eyes darting about. My ex-husband beamed with delight as Dr. Fisher tottered off the “stage”. Natalie Koga rewarded him by giving him even more inappropriate power and control over our lives.
As a treating therapist, it was against the law for Dr. Fisher to take on multiple roles. But he used this as spring-board, becoming an unofficial parenting coordinator, custody evaluator, and suddenly in charge of all of the parties court ordered “therapy”. Dr. Fisher already had a prior license sanction for the same misconduct in another case. Fisher_Redacted
Then there’s my ex’s hired gun custody evaluator Dr. Mark Goldstein. My attorney had already caught Natalie Koga, Child Rep, and opposing counsel Meg Jackson conspiring to have him write a false report about me. I felt like a lamb led to slaughter, while he crossed professional boundaries, plying me with inappropriate, sick questions.
When I objected, he noted that I had an “anger problem”. But his psychological testing showed the opposite, which of course he omitted from the custody evaluation, like the good little hired gun that he was. When I showed the natural indignation of any normal, decent person to his disgusting questions, he wrote that I was “emotionally labile“.
And Judge Alfred Levinson’s perpetually red face from sipping out of his mystery container all day long, bellowing: “Have you completed your therapy?” – trying to make me look crazy – because the lawyers sitting up front waiting for their cases to be called saw his courtroom was a three ring circus. And the evidence I brought. Then Natalie Koga would lie some more – ignoring my therapy report as an excuse to label me uncooperative, and continue to completely bar any communication whatsoever between my son and I.
You see, just like Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, they aren’t in it to help people connect with their inner strength or heal from the trauma of abuse. They aren’t there to cheer you on to re-build your life.
As hired gun crazy-makers, these “therapists” don’t encourage you to speak your own truth with confidence. An empowered victim is the LAST thing they want.
They don’t advise you to walk on the beach, find the peace of the woods, garden, go barefoot savoring the cool grass between your toes, laugh, make art, go to concerts, further your education – or just take a break from endless talking about it – or anything else that challenges their power and control over their cash cows.
They WANT you continually stressed and traumatized. They have no interest in your wellness. They are not encouragers.
That would be counter-productive to the racket.
They are the bottom feeders of their professions who need you trapped, or they won’t have a job.
Their JOB is to Gaslight the victim. To put them off balance – to mess with their heads. To re-traumatize them.
To manufacture a “crazy label” for the victim in their Kids for Cash scam. Hiding abuse, and keeping it going is big business. And if they could, they would keep their cash cows trapped in their litigation therapy racket forever.
After this pack of vicious predators got through with me, I understood how so many have been bullied to death in family court. I went from being an award-winning professional opera singer singing in Carnegie Hall, performing comfortably for two to three thousand people, to not even able to speak. My brain knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t make the words come out of my mouth.
I developed “Broken Heart Syndrome” with such severe chest pain, I struggled with my teaching job. I went from the woman doing it all, all the time – raising her child mostly alone, running a teaching studio, singing, and maintaining a large wooded property – to bed-ridden, after these vicious people finished running me through their Kids for Cash machine.
I knew that in order to survive, I had to go back to the country. I fell asleep listening to the music of crickets singing. Walked my dog in the rolling, wooded hills with the sun on my face.
I basked in the warm embraces of those who knew me best – the people who I grew up with – my family, friends and community. This was emergency care to a soul shattered by my ex and his gang’s constant drumming of the vicious lie that I was an outcast, so why not take everything away from me anyway.
I couldn’t hold a job anymore due to the trauma of the legal abuse. They succeeded in their goal of completely destroying me. So I worked when I could, sometimes only an hour per day, clearing weeds 6 feet high, started a garden, and slowly resurrected a friend’s old house that had been vacant for 10 years. I thought by saving my friend’s old family home, I just might save myself in the process.
And I slowly regained my ability to speak. It took two years. I set about the arduous task of rebuilding a life that my ex-husband and his gang of ruthless financial predators did everything in their power to destroy.
So, go to the woods. Let the vast, majestic strength and beauty of a forest place it’s loving arms around you. And dance out in the sun! Kick your shoes off. Plunge your hands into beautiful, dark earth, get it under your fingernails, and plant a garden. Sing around the campfire, enjoy a few beers, roast some hot dogs, and howl at the moon!
If you live in a city, and have to drive to nature, do it. Just Do it-You’ll be glad you did! Even large cities have nature reserves, walking trails, botanical gardens, and parks for their citizen’s tired, frayed nerves!
The great naturalist, John Muir, “father of our national parks” said:
Have you ever noticed that the psychologically abusive person invariably accuses you of what they’re really doing? Once I understood this, I never bothered to entertain these pathetic, over the top, manipulative mind games again.
Their nonsensical word-salad, hysterical shrieking & carrying-on, their woe-is-me guilt trips, sneaky, sleight of hand distractions, lies of omission, half-truths & distortions, “because I said so” circular logic, their exaggerated over-acting, wild gesticulations, stomping about, and verbal diarrhea will show itself as the ridiculous and pathetic over-acting job that it really is; a desperate attempt to conceal who and what they really are, underneath their carefully crafted, charming charade. And you will know everything that they themselves are really up to, behind all of their ridiculous blustering, and blundering about. The following article does a wonderful analysis of these sad tactics.
“Like a volcano burbling and and ready to spew hot magma, hissing and blowing steam, prepared to erupt at any given moment, narcissistic abusers have great difficulty when their false self mask slips. Underneath the mask lies a psychic void in which the narcissist seeks to extract ego fuel, or narcissistic supply, from his/her relationships and interactions (Schneider, 2017). When a narcissistic abuser feels exposed due to a short-coming of their own, this person will feel as if a narcissistic injury has been imposed upon them by their targeted object (person supplying ego fuel). It’s hard to fathom that setting a healthy boundary with a narcissist is interpreted by the abuser as an egregious, blasphemous and slanderous statement they take very personally. A healthy individual would receive a constructive comment as an opportunity to learn, grow, make amends, compromise, and evolve with their loved one. A narcissistic person is threatened by any input which renders them any thing less than exceptionally unique and special.”
FOG =Fear, Obligation & Guilt. FOG is hard to see through, hard to walk through, and easy to get lost in. But you don’t have to.
It can be hard to understand how to break free from the FOG created by harmful relationships or unhealthy relationship dynamics. It can be equally hard to understand why we at times feel so stuck. There can be times when we know it’s not healthy, we can see the harmful behaviors, know we are being lied to or manipulated, but feel powerless to chart a healthier course for ourselves. Not all scars are visible. Sometimes the most painful wounds can be well hidden, even from ourselves. But we can overcome them. We can take back our power when we learn how. When we learn what is holding us back, we can overcome it all. Our relationships don’t have to hurt.
But to do so, first we need to understand Coercive Control, Gaslighting, Traumatic Bonding and Stockholm Syndrome. Fancy terms that all boil down to the invisible psychological bonds that keep us enslaved in relationships that we know are hurting us. Traumatic Bonding is very powerful; it is intermittent positive reinforcement that we cling to, in the hopes that the bad will never happen again. Once we understand these concepts, then we understand how manipulative people exert their subtle and unseen control over us, and even others around us.
Coercive Control Collective “Coercive and controlling abuse impacts a survivor’s sense of safety, identity, autonomy and their attachments to others. Without understanding this dynamic and its full impact, victims who have survived this particular type of trauma continue to be isolated by the complexity of their experience and their needs for recovery are misunderstood and unmet.”
11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting “Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. ”
The Place of Stockholm Syndrome in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome “Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological term used to describe the paradoxical phenomenon of the relationship that develops between a captor and its hostage. In such a relationship, to the amazement of onlookers, the hostage expresses empathy and positive feelings towards their abusive captor, and often they will display a desire to defend them.”
5 Signs You’re In A Dangerous Trauma Bond With A Toxic Person “A trauma bond is a bond that forms due to intense, emotional experiences, usually with a toxic person. Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, it holds us emotionally captive to a manipulator who keeps us “hostage” – whether that be through physical or emotional abuse. According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, these types of destructive attachments are known as “betrayal bonds” and can take place in any context where a relationship can be forged. They can occur in romantic relationships, friendships, within the family, and the workplace.”
10 Steps to Recovering From a Traumatic Bond “Trauma bonds occur in very toxic relationships, and tend to be strengthened by inconsistent positive reinforcement—or at least the hope of something better to come. Trauma bonds occur in extreme situations such as abusive relationships, hostage situations, and incestuous relationships, but also in any ongoing attached relationship in which there is a great deal of pain interspersed with times of calm (or maybe just less pain). I liken it to a heroin addiction—the relationship promises much, gives fleeting feelings of utopia, and then it sucks away your very soul.”
Boundaries and self-care are important, healthy and necessary. It’s not selfish to love and value yourself!
Coercive control is dangerous to your mental health. It is sneaky, insidious, manipulative, and ultimately very destructive. These all-encompassing strategies to control someone’s realities, their personality, daily interactions may not seem to be like “real abuse”, but it is definitely very harmful. The goal is to completely overpower you until you no longer remember who you are, until the abuser has complete control over every aspect of your life, and of your very identity.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/car.2611 When Coercive Control Continues To Harm Children Post-Separation
Kim Saeed writes that within each cycle of abuse there is a moment where a change can be made, an opportunity, if you will to change the negative script that keeps repeating. Perhaps every time an abusive incident happens we think (or hope) it will be the last and we will be saved from having to make a “hard decision”. But according to this article, this is actually a chance, an opportunity to start a new pattern in life for our future. What do you think? .
“What happens to grown children of a narcissist father during and after divorce?
This is important to consider because after you’ve left the Narcissist far behind and relieved yourself of the pain, your children continue to deal with him. It’s not a pretty picture. As the healthy parent, understanding the Narcissist, knowing what to expect and providing tips for the children will lessen the pain for everyone….
During a divorce, co-parenting with a narcissist can be dangerous. They will go to great lengths to possess the children. They will fabricate or distort the truth in order to maintain allegiance from their children. Deep down a Narc is highly insecure. Parenting after divorce becomes a popularity contest for the Narc. They have to ‘win’ the children at all costs. Their ego is vulnerable and causes them to lash out at the person who has rejected their idealistic view of themselves.
If you have asked for the divorce you can bet their wrath will be focused on you. So what begins as a type of possession can escalate into a destructive pattern of parental alienation. It is fair to say, a Narc parent is more likely than a regular parent, to use parental alienation as a method to retaliate. What begins as possessive and nonstop attention from the father inevitably turns to rejection as the children enter adulthood.”
By Patricia Mitchell
Rich, poor, middle class – no child in America is safe. These words of award-winning investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow (author of The Worst Interests of the Child) refer to the abusive practices that regularly occur within the Family Courts and Child Protective Services (CPS) Courts. On their watch, each year hundreds of thousands of children suffer from abuse (including rape and prolonged torture) that would not have happened without this court system’s initial invasion and subsequent entrapment.