According to Alan Kemp in his book Abuse in the Family, domestic violence is defined as “A form of maltreatment perpetrated by a person with whom the victim has or had a close personal relationship.”
Says Joan T. Kloth-Zanard, RSS, LC: "This book is just one of many textbooks used to teach students and professionals about psychological maltreatment and the categories that make it up. Whether one believes in the term parental alienation or not, the following criteria helps to show that certain behavior perpetrated by a parent can cause a child to withdraw their love from the other parent. For the sake of this article, we will term this abuse as aggressive parenting.
Nine Signs of Aggressive Parenting:
Denying essential stimulation, emotional responsiveness, or availability
Unreliable and inconsistent parenting
Mental health, medical, or educational neglect
An Explanation of the Nine Signs:
By deliberately isolating the child from other family members and social supports, isolation is occurring. The whole premise of aggressive parenting is to isolate and distance the children from the targeted parent or any other individual who supports the targeted parent.
If the aggressive parent uses threats or denigrating tactics, to force the child to comply, this can be seen as terrorizing. As well, verbal denigration, harassment and exploitation of the targeted parent is very prominent and a key indicator of aggressive parenting.
Thus in aggressive parenting, when the child is used to destroy the targeted parent by denying visitation or a relationship between the other parent. and the child or is used for monetary gains such as excessive expenses beyond child support, they are in affect committing domestic violence. It is for these reasons that aggressive parenting or isolating the children from the Targeted Parent can be considered as a form of domestic violence.
When a parent rejects a child. because the child shows any love or affection for the targeted parent that is a form of abuse. This is not only a form of rejection, but terrorization. In fact, a child’s refusal to come to the targeted parent’s home for fear of losing the aggressive parent’s conditional love is fear and fear is terror.
When an aggressive parent refuses to comply with court orders and tells the child they do not have to either, this is corrupting. It is teaching the child that they are above the law and therefore immune to the courts authority. When a parent files false allegations of abuse and convinces the child to do the same, this is corruption.
Denying Essential Stimulation, Emotional Responsiveness, or Availability:
By refusing to allow the children to have a relationship with the targeted parent, for no reason other than their own need to control the ex-spouse, the aggressive parent is denying them the basic elements of stimulation, emotions and availability with the targeted parent.
Unreliable and Inconsistent Parenting:
Since the children have been denied a relationship with the targeted parent, they have also been denied a reliable and consistent parenting situation and the aggressive parent has proven that they cannot parent consistently and reliably in the supporting of a two-parent relationship with the children.
Mental, Medical and Educational Neglect:
When an aggressive parent refuses to comply with numerous separate court orders for counseling, they are denying their children's mental health.
If, despite numerous court orders or requests and recommendations, the aggressive parent continues to insult, verbally abuse and denigrate the child’s targeted parent in front of the child, this behavior degrades and devalues someone the child once respected and loved and in most cases, secretly wants a relationship with.
This disdain and disrespect for the targeted parent in front of the child is another form of psychological maltreatment as it permanently affects their view of the targeted parent, which transfers to their view of themselves. This creates a distorted sense of reality, of themselves and their ability to trust and accurately judge others.
When a parent deliberately sabotages a relationship with the targeted parent by refusing to allow visits, calls, or any form of healthy communication, with no evidence of abuse, this is called isolation. Furthermore, when a parent has initially allowed continuous contact with the children during the separation and divorce period, but reneges on this and engages in parental alienation, especially when they find out their ex-spouse has a new partner, this is isolation and abuse.
This is also called Remarriage as a Trigger for Parental Alienation Syndrome and can be further reviewed in an article by Dr. Richard Warshak, There is no doubt this is isolation and thus psychological abuse. (http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/warsha00.htm)
When a parent uses the children as pawns to get back at their ex spouse for not loving them anymore or to control them further, this is exploitation. When an aggressive parent uses the children and makes false allegations of abuse, terrorizing the children to state they hate the targeted parent, this is exploitation. When a parent uses the children for monetary gains such as child support, but yet does not allow the children a relationship with the targeted parent, this is exploitation.
When you add all these signs up, it is easy to see how Aggressive Parenting, can be classified as child psychological maltreatment in a divorce situation. When you put it all together, the DSM sums up the aggressive parent quite nicely under Cluster B Personality Disorder or, Antisocial Personality Disorder."
Joan T. Kloth-Zanard, RSS, LC has a BS in Health and Psychology with a Minor in Business and has continued her education with Graduate work in Marriage and Family Therapy as well as Professional Counseling. She is also Certified as a Recovery Support Specialist.
Since 1998, she has been running non-profit online support groups for victims of Psychological Abuse. She recently authored a book called "Where Did I Go Wrong? How Did I Miss The Signs? Dealing with Hostile Parenting and Parental Alienation." This book is a culmination of her research and studies into the world of high conflict divorce.