The Home Office is holding a consultation on the Statutory Guidance to the Domestic Abuse Act (DAA), which became law in April 2021. The Guidance is very important as it sets out in detail how the Act will be implemented. We will be responding and we are urging as many mothers as possible to write in too. The deadline is 11.45pm on Tuesday 14 September.You can respond online or by email: email@example.com
Women’s organising succeeded in stopping the male supremacist lobby from getting ‘parental alienation’ in the definition of domestic abuse, which would have made it much easier for violent fathers to claim they are the victims. They are now trying to bring ‘parental alienation’ through the backdoor by putting it in the Guidance (point 57, page 26). If this stands, more mothers struggling to protect our children from sexual and/or other abuse will be accused of ‘parental alienation’ in the family courts, lose our children to the abusers, and could even be charged with domestic abuse in the criminal courts.
This is how the Guidance refers to ‘parental alienation’:
Alienating behaviours , including invidious drip feeding of negative views to a child by one parent about the other parent, or any attempt by one parent to frustrate or limit the child’s contact with the other parent, other than for reasons based on concern about the risk to that child;
 Whilst there is no single definition of alienating behaviours (sometimes referred to as ’parental alienation’), the Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) defines parental alienation as when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent.
This state sanctioned child abuse must stop. We urge you to make your views heard by demanding that ‘parental alienation’ is dropped from the Guidance.
The government insisted that the DAA be ‘gender neutral’ so the Act doesn’t acknowledge that overwhelmingly women are the victims and men the perpetrators (including against male victims). But women’s organising did succeed in getting this truth reflected in the Guidance (point 4, page 12) as well as recognition that abusers may make ‘false or vexatious allegations’ and/or counter-allegations against victims (point 169, page 55).
It would be helpful to demand that these facts be spelt out in every chapter of the Guidance. As Women Against Rape points out, ‘Rape and domestic abuse investigations are marred by sexism, racism and indifference from many police officers and prosecutors, resulting in the shockingly low conviction rate of 1.6%. Unless the Guidance stresses that the overwhelming majority of victims are women, more mothers could lose their children and their homes to violent men.’
You are welcome to use the model letter (on our website and below) or write your own – either way do refer to your own experience if you can. You do not need to give your name and address unless you want to.
Please send us a copy of what you write and also send it to your MP. We will compile all the comments and send to those members of the House of Lords and MPs who spoke out against ‘parental alienation’ and urge them to tell the government to drop this dangerous clause.
Also: on 23 September (7-8pm) Law/SNS will be speaking on Domestic Abuse & Treatment of Mothers & Children in Family Courts, organised by Women’s Equality Barnet. Tickets/register here.
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To: firstname.lastname@example.org and cc Member of Parliament
Re: Home Office, Domestic Abuse – the Statutory Guidance Framework
MUST NOT include ‘parental alienation’
I am writing as [a mother who’s been/is in the family court/ is a victim of rape and/or domestic abuse …]
Or I am a concerned individual and/or a member of [name of organisation if relevant]
I live in [area of UK] – does not need address
I am commenting on Chapter 2, Understanding Domestic Abuse
I strongly object to ‘parental alienation’ being included in the definition of domestic abuse and urge you to remove all references to ‘alienating behaviours’ from the Statutory Guidance.
When the Domestic Abuse Bill was going through Parliament there was so much opposition to ‘parental alienation’ being included in the definition of domestic abuse that MPs and Peers refused any mention of it. Why is it now in the Statutory Guidance? The Guidance must not be used to thwart the will of Parliament by introducing through the back door what both Houses rejected.
It is officially acknowledged (by the Ministry of Justice ‘Harm’ Report) that the family courts are ridden with “sexism, racism and class bias” and that mothers raising safety concerns are treated as ‘alienators’. This is the result of misogynist fathers’ groups which deny domestic violence, especially Families Need Fathers, having been allowed to embed themselves in the court system, and in CAFCASS, social services, psychologists and other ‘experts’. They have had so much influence that protective mothers who raise concerns about safety, especially about child sexual abuse, are invariably accused of ‘parental alienation’. Judges have been quick to side with fathers against mothers and children, over-riding children’s testimonies and fears. Increasingly children are being forced to see abusive fathers and even live with them to the risk of their lives – so many have been killed. Researcher found 69 children killed since 2004, overwhelmingly by violent fathers. Others are taken into foster care for refusing to see their fathers.
My own experience is that:
The impact on my children and me has been/is:
‘Parental alienation’ was invented by a discredited US psychiatrist who promoted paedophilia. It has been rejected by a number of countries, including Scotland, Spain and Italy and by the United Nations. It is time the family courts in England and Wales rejected it as well.
I also urge you to stress in every chapter of the Guidance that overwhelmingly women are the victims and men the perpetrators. Unless this evident fact is underlined, violent men will continue to use the courts to terrorise women and children.