I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In OZ ~ The clock ticks, but the hands the hands stay still

I made this comment on the newspaper site. http://fwd4.me/5jC. Ozzy papers are odd in that they offer you the choice to make comments but frequently they never appear for whatever reason the editor has. This is currently the case on this story. Its a bit silly particularly if it is such a heartbreaking story as this. Maybe the maternalists (female supremacists who believe only moms have child rearing capability) and slime anyone who thinks otherwise) were sending in hateful comments. They are infamous for that. I am one of many in the international community on watch with you. I know the terrible loneliness to have your child kidnapped emotionally and physically. Abduction is one of the worst forms of Parental Alienation and can have life lasting impact on an innocent child. Over Christmas the feelings become magnified beyond what mere mortals can comprehend into an agony of deep introspection. It passes and makes you stronger but it still hurts day in and day out. Unlike a death in the family where the grieving may recede with time yours does not. It is with you each and every day with similar intensity and it wears heavily on your soul and your health. I wish you well my fellow dad and know this - I have been in your dark valley and I have gazed at the abyss of hell without my children. You have my best wishes and with you I hope the light at the end of the tunnel gets a little brighter as the days pass. It can, against what appear to be impossible odds, become more luminescent. I know this from experience. Be with other friends and family at Christmas. It is not a substitute but it will help.MJM

Ken Thompson

Counting the seconds ... Ken Thompson at in his son Andrew's room at Hunters Hill / Pic: Alan Pryke Source: The Daily Telegraph

THIRTY-one days, 11 hours, 44 minutes and 13 seconds. Eight seconds. Five seconds. Two seconds.

There's a certain depressing predictability about the countdown to Christmas, which kicks into high gear at this time of year: you know, for example, that some twit will refuse to hang decorations on the basis that it might offend a religious minority and that such a stance will have the sole effect of annoying everybody equally.

The first cards will arrive, smugly written and sent, proving that someone, somewhere, has nothing better to do than punch out 500 soul-destroyingly dull words about how Aunt Mildred was shipped off to a nursing home in May and cousin Werner took up the euphonium in July.

And then there's that stupid ad on the radio, reminding you at least four times an hour that you need to get your order in now if you want your couch delivered ahead of the festive season.

And so, with feverish visions of a sack-wielding Santa getting crushed to death by a couple of sofa-toting deliverymen, you'll rush to the phone, only to realise that you're panicking for nothing because you don't need a couch.

In the midst of it all, it's easy to forget that there are people who, through sheer miserable circumstance, are divorced from the kind of temporary madness that overtakes the rest of us.

Currently, Ken Thompson can also measure his life by days, hours and seconds, only in his case, there's absolutely no chance of respite coming along in the form of a credit card bill and a handful of broken new years' resolutions.

For 19 hellish months, he has been without his only child - a six-year-old named Andrew who was aged just four when his mother Melinda spirited him to an undisclosed overseas location.

Last December, Mr Thompson successfully petitioned the Family Court to lift a ban on identifying Andrew in the media, allowing him to go public with the details of his search for his son.

In another lifetime, he was the state's deputy fire chief, but three months ago he finally took a leave of absence, acknowledging that every moment spent not looking for Andrew felt like a gross betrayal of his boy.

With no idea as to where to start looking, he has pinned his hopes on a Find Andrew website and the resources of the international online community, which has rallied to support his exhaustive efforts.

In doing so, Mr Thompson has laid bare the raw details of his life.

At times, the strain has been overwhelming.

He has been examined by psychiatrists, submitted to polygraph testing and been admitted to hospital suffering double pneumonia.

Two months ago, his lung capacity was just 15 per cent - doctors warned him that if he didn't start taking care of himself, the consequences would almost certainly be fatal.

Every milestone brings fresh agony.

Statistically, Mr Thompson was told, children in Andrew's situation are likely to be returned within 12 weeks of their abduction. On that date last year, he wrote an email to international authorities to thank them for their continued efforts.

He cried as he hit the button to send it.

This morning, as with every other, he will get up and check his phone and his emails, praying that something will have changed overnight, spurred by the memory of his tiny son's hugs and the hope that one day, Andrew will be returned to him.

In the meantime, as the clock ticks on, he remains prisoner to a timetable he has no control over.

"This Christmas . . . I really don't know. Honestly, I'm just doing things day-to-day," he said yesterday.

"I can't plan ahead because I don't know how I'll be feeling from one day to the next. I'm living in limbo. It's just this ongoing, horrible trauma of not knowing where my child is - and my wife - and it's with me 24 hours a day.

"It's a really difficult feeling to describe. It's just constant uncertainty, incredible stress and anxiety and just not being able to move forward. My whole life is on hold until I find Andrew."

Anyone with information about the location of Andrew or his mother is asked to contatc the Australian Federal Police on 6126 7777.

Anyone who recognises the mother is asked not to approach her but to contact the AFP on the above number which applies in all states and territories.


Men's Rights ~ Feminism should be about equality--for males too.

Forbes.com Commentary Cathy Young, 11.19.09, 10:30 AM ET

Earlier this month DoubleX, Slate's short-lived female-oriented publication (launched six months ago and about to be folded back into the parent site as a women's section), ran an article ringing the alarm about the dire threat posed by the power of the men's rights movement. But the article, written by New York-based freelance writer Kathryn Joyce and titled "Men's Rights' Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective," says more about the state of feminism--and journalistic bias--than it does about men's groups.

Joyce's indictment is directed at a loose network of activists seeking to raise awareness and change policy on such issues as false accusations of domestic violence, the plight of divorced fathers denied access to children and domestic abuse of men. In her view, groups such as RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) and individuals like columnist and radio talk show host Glenn Sacks are merely "respectable" and "savvy" faces for what is actually an anti-female backlash from "angry white men."

As proof of this underlying misogyny, Joyce asserts that men who commit "acts of violence perceived to be in opposition to a feminist status quo" are routinely lionized in the men's movement. This claim is purportedly backed up with a reference that, in fact, does not in any way support it: an article in Foreign Policy about the decline of male dominance around the globe. Joyce's one specific example is that the diary of George Sodini, a Pittsburgh man who opened fire on women in a gym in retaliation for feeling rejected by women, was reposted online by the blogger "Angry Harry" as a wake-up call to the Western world that "it cannot continue to treat men so appallingly and get away with it." But does this have anything to do with more mainstream men's rights groups? The original version of the article claimed that Sacks, who called "Harry" an "idiot" in his interview with Joyce, nonetheless "cautiously defends" the blogger; DoubleX later ran a correction on this point.

Sacks himself admits to Joyce that the men's movement has a "not-insubstantial lunatic fringe." Yet in her eyes, even the mainstream men's groups are promoting a dangerous agenda, above all infiltrating mainstream opinion with the view that reports of domestic violence are exaggerated and that a lot of spousal abuse is female-perpetrated. The latter claim, Joyce asserts, comes from "a small group of social scientists" led by "sociologist Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, who has written extensively on female violence." (In fact, Straus, founder of the renowned Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, is a pre-eminent scholar on family violence in general and was the first to conduct national surveys on the prevalence of wife-beating.)

Joyce repeats common critiques of Straus' research: For instance, he equates "a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs" or "a single act of female violence with years of male abuse." Yet these charges have been long refuted: Straus' studies measure the frequency of violence and specifically inquire about which partner initiated the physical violence. Furthermore, Joyce fails to mention that virtually all social scientists studying domestic violence, including self-identified feminists such as University of Pittsburgh psychologist Irene Frieze, find high rates of mutual aggression.

Reviews of hundreds of existing studies, such as one conducted by University of Central Lancashire psychologist John Archer in a 2000 article in Psychological Bulletin, have found that at least in Western countries, women are as likely to initiate partner violence as men. While the consequences to women are more severe--they are twice as likely to report injuries and about three times more likely to fear an abusive spouse--these findings also show that men hardly escape unscathed. Joyce claims that "Straus' research is starting to move public opinion," but in fact, some of the strongest recent challenges to the conventional feminist view of domestic violence--as almost invariably involving female victims and male batterers--come from female scholars like New York University psychologist Linda Mills.

Contrary to Joyce's claims, these challenges, so far, have made very limited inroads into public opinion. One of her examples of the scary power of men's rights groups is that "a Los Angeles conference this July dedicated to discussing male victims of domestic violence, 'From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,' received positive mainstream press for its 'inclusive' efforts.'" In fact, the conference--which featured leading researchers on domestic violence from several countries, half of them women, and focused on much more than just male victims--received virtually no mainstream press coverage. One of the very few exceptions was a column I wrote for The Boston Globe, also reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Whatever minor successes men's groups may have achieved, the reality is that public policy on domestic violence in the U.S. is heavily dominated by feminist advocacy groups. For the most part, these groups embrace a rigid orthodoxy that treats domestic violence as male terrorism against women, rooted in patriarchal power and intended to enforce it. They also have a record of making grotesquely exaggerated, thoroughly debunked claims about an epidemic of violence against women--for instance, that battering causes more hospital visits by women every year than car accidents, muggings and cancer combined.

These advocacy groups practically designed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and they dominate the state coalitions against domestic violence to which local domestic violence programs must belong in order to qualify for federal funds. As a result of the advocates' influence, federal assistance is denied to programs that offer joint counseling to couples in which there is domestic violence, and court-mandated treatment for violent men downplays drug and alcohol abuse (since it's all about the patriarchy).

Against the backdrop of this enforced party line, Joyce is alarmed by the smallest signs that men's rights groups may be gaining even a modest voice in framing domestic violence policy. She points out that in a few states, men's rights activists have succeeded in "criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases" (this is apparently meant to be a bad thing) and "winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory" (in fact, the California Court of Appeals ruled last year that state-funded domestic violence programs that refuse to provide service to abused men violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection, but also emphasized that the services need not be identical and coed shelters are not required).

To bolster her case, Joyce consistently quotes advocates--or scholars explicitly allied with the advocacy movement, such as Edward Gondolf of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute--to discredit the claims of the men's movement. She also repeats uncorroborated allegations that many leaders of the movement are themselves abusers, but offers only one specific example: eccentric British activist Jason Hatch, who once scaled Buckingham Palace in a Batman costume to protest injustices against fathers, and who was taken to court for allegedly threatening one of his ex-wives during a custody dispute.

The article is laced with the presumption that, with regard to both general data and individual cases, any charge of domestic violence made by a woman against a man must be true.

One case Joyce uses to illustrate her thesis is that of Genia Shockome, who claimed to have been severely battered by her ex-husband Tim and lost custody of her two children after being accused of intentionally alienating them from their father. Yet Joyce never mentions that Shockome's claims of violent abuse were unsupported by any evidence, that she herself did not mention any abuse in her initial divorce complaint, or that three custody evaluators--including a feminist psychologist who had worked with the Battered Women's Justice Center at Pace University--sided with the father.

More than a quarter-century ago, British feminist philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards wrote, "No feminist whose concern for women stems from a concern for justice in general can ever legitimately allow her only interest to be the advantage of women." Joyce's article is a stark example of feminism as exclusive concern with women and their perceived advantage, rather than justice or truth.

Cathy Young, a contributing editor at Reason magazine and columnist for RealClearPolitics.com, is the author of Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality. She blogs at www.cathyyoung.wordpress.com.


Fathers 4 Justice to protest at cathedral

A Fathers for Justice group will be demonstrating at Canterbury Cathedral as part of their campaign to change family law. New Fathers for Justice are urging all dads who will not be able to see their children this Christmas to join them at 10am on Saturday, December 12 to support their campaign. The group will be dressed in Santa costumes to put pressure on the church to help them “put the father back into Christmas”. A spokesman for the group said: “New Fathers for Justice will yet again attempt to get our message across to the church which, like this arrogant Labour government, had ignored the plight of fathers since they have been in office. “We are urging the church to support us in our fight to change family law and plug dads back into families in time for Christmas. “We see this as a great necessity as we are now potentially only six months away from the general election. We hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will help us with the plight of dads in Britain this Christmas.” The group has urged dads to come along with banners and wearing Father Christmas outfits. Campaigners from father’s rights groups have made a name for themselves using direct action campaigning methods to fight for better rights for fathers who want to see their children. High profile demonstrations include a campaigner dressed as Batman staging a five-hour protest on a Buckingham Palace ledge and a father dressed as Spiderman protesting on the London Eye for 18 hours, causing it to close.