16 days of Activism to end Gender-Based-Violence and the Parental Alienation Hoax

16 days of activism against gender-based-violence and the 'Parental Alienation' hoax legal strategy, used around the world to deny domestic abuse and child abuse of women and children

November 26, 2022

Friday November 25th, 2022 marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which is an annual global campaign that begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs through to International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

Led by civil society, the campaign is supported by the United Nations through the Secretary General’s ‘UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative’. This year, the UN marks the 16 Days under the theme “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”.

A backlash against women’s rights is underway around the world. Anti-feminist movements are on the rise, attacks against women human rights defenders and activists are up, and the legal status of women’s rights is increasingly imperilled in many countries. Regressive new laws are exacerbating impunity for perpetrators of domestic violence, governments are using force against femicide and gender-based violence protestors, and women’s rights organizations are being increasingly marginalized (UN, 2022).

The time to act is upon us.

A particularly harmful form of gender-based-violence is the use of 'Parental Alienation' allegations, a legal strategy used mostly by abusive fathers and their legal teams to Deny they have abused their ex-partner (and/or child), Attack the mother (and/or child) with the allegation of ‘Parental Alienation’ (that the mother has ‘brainwashed’ the child to report abuse) and subsequently Reverse the Victim(s) (Mother and child) into becoming the Offender(s) (the abusive father then becomes the victim by claiming the mother and child are lying about the abuse and stating the mother and/or child are the real offenders). This is known as DARVO and is used widely by perpetrators across the globe to deny abuse they have perpetrated. What we need to do is hold perpetrators accountable for choosing to abuse and to pivot to the perpetrator.

Parental Alienation allegations are the most damaging type of victim-blaming and gaslighting we have ever seen. It is also part of a lucrative ‘cottage industry’, with children across the globe speaking out about this ‘hoax’ and evidencing the extreme harm they are being exposed to in so-called ‘parental alienation reunification camps’, where children are often stolen from safe parents and forced against their will to attend these camps in the hopes they will be ‘reunified’ with the parent who has been abusing them.

‘Parental Alienation’ is an unscientific belief system. It is not a scientific theory or concept. It is the notion that a child has been brainwashed by one parent to report abuse from the other parent. It is rejected broadly by the scientific community, having no robust evidence, with many studies being methodologically weak, non-random, not generalisable and based on unreliable applications of the label (Doughty, 2018; Barnett, 2020; Meier et al., 2020; Milchman et al., 2020; Katz, 2022; Prigent and Sueur, 2021; Sheehy and Lapierre, 2022, and for a comprehensive overview of all studies see Mercer and Drew, 2022).

Parental Alienation allegations are evidenced as harmful to mothers and children who are victim-survivors of abuse. It has been denounced by the United Nations, as 'regressive pseudo-scientific theory' and many others including but not limited to; The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Women's Aid, Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Council of Europe), The European Association for Psychotherapy, The American Psychological Society, The New Zealand Psychological Society and has received much negative media attention recently including comments from the Association of Clinical Psychologists UK Chair Professor Mike Wang who stated to the Guardian Newspaper on 12th June 2022:

"The organisation is aware of unregulated experts making findings of so-called parental alienation and doing tremendous harm. I’ve seen children taken away by the force of the state on the basis of PA. But what the public needs to know is that there is an international consensus that the evidence-base on parental alienation is not sufficiently robust to be making decisions about child-contact arrangements."

Nobody denies that a child can be used by one parent to exert control over another parent, but this should be explored within a framework of parent-child relationship sabotage and understood by examining in depth the wider pattern of behaviour of the perpetrator parent, within the context of the parent-child and parent-parent relationships, the history of abuse/relationship, a coercive control framework and other contextual factors (Domestic Abuse Act statutory guidance, 2022). This should not be explored within the unscientific, narrow-minded belief system ‘Parental Alienation’, which statistically is likely to result in women and children victim-survivors being disbelieved, with claims of ‘Parental Alienation’ doubling the risk of mothers losing custody of their child to the perpetrator father.

It is also deeply problematic, that ‘Parental Alienation’ was developed by the disgraced late Dr Richard Gardner, who has been widely criticised for his pro-paedophilic statements and who arguably developed the belief system to protect abusive fathers. Here are some pro-paedophilic statements made my Gardner (with thanks to Dr Andrew Cicchetti for below images):
Gardner, R.A. (1992) True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse:


The below video includes a brief discussion from Dr Gardner, where he claims if a child raises sexual abuse by a father, a mother should say '"I don't believe you, I'm going to beat you for saying it..."

In addition, Gardner proposes that many different types of human sexual behaviour, including paedophilia, sexual sadism, necrophilia (sex with corpses), zoophilia (sex with animals), coprophilia (sex involving defecation), can be seen as having species survival value and thus do "not warrant being excluded from the list of the `so-called natural forms of human sexual behavior.'"

See, Gardner, R.A. (1992). True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse . Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics. (pp. 18-32)

We are hopeful you will all join us in marking this important event by denouncing ‘Parental Alienation’ allegations as a legal strategy of post-separation abuse and gender-based-violence, by using some of the following strategies, whichever you feel most comfortable with:

1. If you or your family members have been exposed to domestic abuse / violence, custody or family court proceedings and you have been accused of ‘Parental Alienation’, please submit to this global call (below) from the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls to report how it has impacted you by 15TH December 2022: https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input/2022/call-inputs-custody-cases-violence-against-women-and-violence-against-children

2. You can wear orange on one or more of the 16 days of activism, take a picture of yourself and post it along with your pledge to end violence against women, citing what you will do to make a difference. Use the hashtags: #16daysofactivism2022 and #OrangeTheWorld #ParentalAlienationHoax #genderbasedviolence

and don’t forget to tag @UNWomen @sherafamily

3. You can add the following orange the world graphic to your email signature (go to insert, signature and paste the graphic into your signature by holding control and V buttons on your keypad, then click save):


4. You can donate to UN Women here to help them orange the world: https://donate.unwomen.org/en

5. Simply share this video ‘Against the Pushback, We #PushForward | 16 Days 2022’ from UN Women on your social media or with your friends and family by email: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx8Mw8ofi6Y

6. You can access a wide range of other ways to highlight the cause including infographics, messages and facts here: https://trello.com/b/r98ukL1H/16-days-of-activism-2022

7. You can support women and children facing domestic violence and further abuse in family courts across the globe by following the SHERA Research Group social media accounts and sharing the website resources with others: www.shera-research.com and https://twitter.com/SheraFamily

We hope you join us in our efforts to empower survivors, reduce and prevent violence against women and girls, and protect women’s rights. Thank you!

Share your story with us and/or find out about membership today!

We welcome input from a wide field of expertise including experts by experience victim-survivors. Get in touch if you would like to contribute.