A strange and damaging myth lurking within the family courts is one of parental alienation. Similar to the missile throwing of historic abuse, hot on it's heels follows the accusation or inference that one parent is doing there best to alienate another.
As with all custodial cases there are the situations where a parent truly is maligning the other, there are situations when a female has been abusive to a male. However these are in the minority.
As we see repeatedly in courts with rape cases, the notion of a false allegation negates and cloaks the reality, that these are minority cases. To then harm children and families over what is statistically unlikely is another illustration of the archaic and patriachal way our family courts function, and how deeply rooted these ideas are.
With the court hearings we were dragged through it was inferred several times that what the children stated was not their true feelings and they felt something else "deep down inside". A statement that rings in my head as insidious and completely baseless. No conversation had every occured directly with the children to ever ascertain their feelings on anything that occured, each time a new excuse was rolled out as to how that had not been possible.
Courts do have a challenge in deciphering such cases, there is limited experience and training into the area of coercive control, limited time to look into the historiacal patterns.
As survivors I feel it is important to see those patterns, not to dwell or harbour repetitive thoughts, but as a full stop. Once you acknowledge a pattern of behaviour, see it clearly mapped out, what follows becomes clearer to see, and protect ourselves from.
Through the entirety of my relationship there was a pattern of people falling in and out of our lives. People who treated my ex unfairly, disrespectfully, never understood his true worth.
Siblings he would claim were abusive, domineering, who never gave him a voice and reduced him. Ones who made him feel as though he were always walking on egg shells, ones who took advantage of him and did not know him.
There were friends he had complex relationships with. Stuck in the hey days of boarding school his only reference to who they were was what he did with them back in the days. In the times I encouraged him to reach out and spend time with them as more and more of them relocated to the city we live in, he would claim they were not his people. He had grown up and saw them as limited or having climbed on their parents backs and money and he had no time for people who did not have talent or merit of their own.
This was a belief that repeated many times over the years, the merits and talent of those around him. In quiet moments he would apologise, state it was insecurity and bravado and to forgive his childishness. I know now how much he truly believed it.
Colleagues at work were rarely good enough. They made working life harder, doubled his load, got to where they were because of some fault in the system, people they knew. He would complain about staff nights, meetings, any social events, regularly mimicing the attributes of those he worked closest to.
Later, many years later I pieced together that he was doing the same in return, telling them a different story, a tale of a wife who did not let him out, who did not respect his work, had not supported him.
These are patterns of behaviour present through the entirety of not only our relationship but that he has with everyone, his world created with careful moves from the moment of each new interaction.
It is when you look at these moves, these pieces, very much like the chess games he adores, you see how reflective it is of his legal moves, and choices regarding the children. Not a single thought is of them or their well being, it is always about winning, being the person who was wronged, coming out on top.
When everything is repeatedly the doing of other people, the weakness, the lack of talent, the maliciousness of all those around him, the lack of introspection of who he truly is there is very slim chance of a court understanding what is happening.
It is here that knowing, staying firm, and refusing to engage in the blame, the moves to draw myself back in, in truly realising that no matter how many times he or those around him sling their rocks I see who they are, who he is.
These actions of an abuser, deliberate moves to create a world where they are wronged, these beahviours of the courtiers around them who uphold their lies and fan their bombastic beliefs are at the foundation of estrangement.
It is a complex, long thought out tactic, heavily aided by those who only long to be close in proximity to the power of an abuser.