A Kidnapped Mind
A Mother's Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation Syndrome
By Pamela Richardson
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Dundurn Press (May 1, 2006)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
What does Parental Alienation Syndrome mean? In my case, it meant losing a child. When Dash was 4 1/2 years old his father and I broke up. I dealt with the death of our marriage and moved on but Peter stayed angry, eventually turning it toward his own house, teaching our son, day by day, bit by bit, to reject me. Parental Alienation Syndrome typically means one parent's pathological hatred, the other's passivity and a child used as a weapon of war. When Dash's wonderful raw materials were taken and shaken and melted down, he was recast as a foot soldier in a war against me.
Abraham Lincoln said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Within weeks of his first court win, Peter, a lawyer, had me removed from my volunteer work as Mother's Help in Dash's kindergarten. I took the issue to court but lost: Peter had been named custodial parent, by the barest of margins, and now he made the rules. He banned me from contact with Dash's doctor or dentist. I couldn't attend the twice-yearly parent-teacher nights, and because I didn't receive any of Dash's report cards, I missed the ones that, within a couple of years, began to spell trouble. I didn't know about Dash's school sports days or soccer games unless another mom told me. When Dash and I spoke on the phone our calls were monitored. Dash was rewarded if they went badly - if he was sullen or, better still, rude or difficult. Despite having an access order for 50% of Dash's time, I soon went months without seeing him.
Dash put up what resistance he could, and when I drove over each week to pick him up, if he was alone at home he would run outside to greet me, jumping right in the car for a blissful couple of hours with me. He'd sit close, not letting me out of his sight. He could be programmed to reject me, but not to hate me. I was his mom.
It wasn't long before he slid, however. At first he was emotional and aggressive but then he just shut down. He couldn't cope with anything. His teachers saw it, his friends walled themselves off, parents who didn't even know me asked, "Is your son OK?" I watched, listened and triaged his pain whenever I saw him. I documented the missed access, the blocked calls and the lies Dash had learned to repeat. Time and again I went to the courts and showed them Dash's trauma - the eight-year-old boy who cried, "I have a bad life", the nine-year-old boy who wanted to jump out a three-storey window and the twelve-year-old boy who wore his father's clothes to court. The provincial government appointed a child advocate who said: "Dash's memories have been augmented." Still, my ability to help Dash remained marginal. There was a sliver of hope, a slice of help, but no support from the courts. The judges wouldn't enforce the access order and none of them stood up to Peter.
I spent a quarter of a million dollars and twelve years in court, at first trying just to see him and then trying to get him help, so I never had the time to break down. I didn't even have time to get mad. From the margins of Dash's life I roused those who were in a position to help him. A Kidnapped Mind is the story of our struggle, the hope, the missteps and all the agonizing drama along the way. I fought for Dash every day of his life, knowing in my heart that I could still make a difference.
I wrote this book as the last gift to my wonderful, brave, brown-eyed son, Dash. All profits from this book go to The Dash Foundation, formed by my husband and I to increase awareness of the damage done by this insidious and oftentimes invisible form of child abuse.