Vengeful Father Syndrome
VENGEFUL FATHER SYNDROME
Most people, including the battered woman herself, believe that when a woman leaves a violent man, she will remain the primary caretaker of their children. Family courts, however, may not consider the history of woman abuse relevant in awarding custody. Recent studies suggest that an abusive man is more likely than a nonviolent father to seek sole physical custody of his children and may be just as likely (or even more likely) to be awarded custody as the mother. Often fathers win physical custody because men generally have greater financial resources and can continue the court battles with more legal assistance over a longer period of time.
Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children’s witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother’s behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.
This mental disorder [Vengeful Father Syndrome] is being increasingly found by researchers in fathers who have been rejected from marital and de facto relationships by their former wife/partner and commonly also by their children. They are found to be embittered and resentful at their loss of position and status, and the control and domination they exercised over their victims.
Early research indicates that the condition is a neuropathic disorder i.é. A deformity and defect in the composition of the brain and creating certain behaviors and behavioral responses to external stimuli.
This is a part of a longer Paper which is being prepared by the researchers, to enable discussion of this disorder and to collect further clinical examples and statistical estimates of the numbers in the male population.
This extract is published to engender discussion and debate and contributions by those who may have encountered Vengeful Fathers who exhibit these types of behaviours.
DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR VENGEFUL FATHER SYNDROME
The most notable behaviors and attitudes manifested by vengeful fathers and indicate Vengeful Father’s Syndrome.
Vengeful Fathers frequently use the law and the legal system as a means of enforcing their rights and demands and for continuing to persecute their victims, both mothers and children. They can also be found abundantly in the cases referred to voluntary organisations involved in Domestic Violence support services and child advocacy work.
1. CONTROL AND DOMINATION - The outstanding feature of Vengeful Father Syndrome is an obsessive and relentless drive for continuing control and domination over their former spouse and their children, who they view in terms of their personal ownership. In these cases, there is usually a history of spousal assault, rape, and a range of emotional, psychological, and physical maltreatment of their spouse and of their children, either directly or indirectly as a consequence of the spousal abuse. These are usually the factors which have led to the separation and ultimately to the divorce. Many such clinical examples case illustrations can be found in the Case Judgments in Family Law cases in all countries, as such
2. LACK OF EMOTION AND AFFECTIVE RESPONSES – Vengeful Fathers are notable for their absence of genuine emotions and feelings although some have developed relatively sophisticated methods of mimicking such attitudes and behaviors in order to appear `normal’;
3. LACK OF EMPATHY, COMPASSION, AND REMORSE – these are very significant features of the Vengeful Father who frequently obtain a schadenfreudic delight in observing the consequences of their behaviors in their victims’ responses and sufferings;
4. OBSESSIVELY DETERMINED TO `WIN’’ IN ANY FORM OF CONTEST, PARTICULARLY IN COURT PROCEEDINGS – THE VENGEFUL FATHER ALWAYS REQUIRES THAT HE IS PROVEN TO BE `RIGHT’ IN HIS VIEW OF THE WORLD, EVENTS, AND HIS PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS – found considerable support in the conjectures and contentions of R.A. Gardner regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome during its period of being favored in some Family Courts. PAS provided an immediate vehicle by which the Vengeful Father could transfer blame onto the mother, when his children rejected and despised him for his cruel and uncaring behaviors towards them in the past and the children resisted any attempts to force them into contact or residency with him. It has become increasingly obvious that in many cases where Vengeful Fathers have alleged PAS, that in fact it was a clear and convincing case of Self-Alienation.
5. DECEIT, CUNNING, AND MANIPULATION – Vengeful Fathers often present and portray themselves to relatives, family friends, and significant others as the `Perfect father’. The purpose of this is to encourage others to believe that their former spouse is the defective partner and parent, or is `to blame’ for the relationship breakdown and to thereby isolate them from their social groups and communities. This again is a part of the Vengeful Father’s `control and dominate’ strategy. With little or no support, it is easier for them to continue to persecute and torment their victims.
6. GROOMING AND MANIPULATION OF AUTHORITY FIGURES AND PROFESSIONALS – Vengeful fathers quickly recognize that lawyers, Court Reporters/Consultants, and judges have key roles in the Family Law system, They quickly learn the tactics and ploys to defend themselves in Courtrooms or receive advice from the many Father’s Rights groups and websites formed by other Vengeful Fathers. Such tactics and ploys involve : Denial or minimization of any allegations of assault or abuse, despite evidence to the contrary and including criminal convictions; Blaming the victims; Counter allegations to weaken the victim’s position; Provocation by the victims;
7. BLAME THE VICTIM – probably the most highly significant feature of the behavior and actions of the Vengeful Father, is a pathological aversion to accepting any form of responsibility for their actions. They readily blame the police, authority figures, the Courts, lawyers and even mothers, when proceedings do not go in the way they expect and anticipate. When thwarted in such ways and denied a ``winning’’ outcome, this is when they become at their most dangerous.
With thanks to Charles Pragnell for the article.