Interpersonal Terrorism: The Use of Power in Parental Alienation

“In reality, interpersonal terrorism is an act of coercive control in which the power held by one person is used to strip the other of their sense of control and ability to make choices about their lives. The truth is that interpersonal terrorism is used by men against women, by women against men and by both men AND women against children. The underlying dynamic is the use of personal power to manage and manipulate another person. In parental alienation, the child becomes the conduit through which the power wielded by an interpersonal terrorist is deployed.”

Karen Woodall

This week I have been working with children who are affected by intergenerational terrorism.  In writing about this I should be clear about what I mean by the word terrorism as in the current climate we are living in, the word conjurs up particular images.  There are however, so many similarities between what happens in parental alienation and what happens in the world at large in terms of how terror impacts upon the mind.  In the terrorism created by ISIS for example, the fear of suicide bombers and other random attacks, keeps us both vigilant and cowed as well as shocked and horrified by the possibility of such barbaric acts of violence.  In cases of parental alienation, the fear of the power of the alienating parent to escalate the situation, and remove the child completely, keeps the targeted parent both vigilant and cowed in terms of their parenting of the…

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