Members or a parental alienation group were surprised to find that the route they had decided on for their march through Britain’s City of Culture actually spelt out the word DADs on the map.
The word – in capital letters – can clearly be seen as the route, expected to be taken by at least 100 protesters, snakes round Hull in East Yorkshire.
Andrew John Teague, who set up the Facebook group D.A.D.s (Dads Against Double Standards) last year and already has more than 22,000 members, said: “It was a bit of light relief when we mapped out the route and we saw the word begin to reveal itself … okay, it’s a bit scrawly and spidery but in the heat of trying to get the law changed over one of the most universal of family crimes it brought a smile.”
But the march has a very serious side too – a number of victims in the City of Culture have come forward in recent months to tell their stories. There has also been at least one death related to the syndrome.
One father, who asked not to be named, says he has been driven to the brink of suicide after not seeing his daughter for two years.
He will be joining the peaceful protest on November 17.
The father says he has had to see a therapist to cope without seeing his child. She last saw her dad when he took her to a rugby match on a supervised visit two years ago.
Andrew said: “I have travelled the country this year aiming to get the message across to people by holding peaceful protests outside family courts. I have walked from Swansea to London and from Swansea to Snowdon all to get the message across that we need family court reform desperately.”
The march starts at Blundells Corner before moving to Cafcass offices in Tower Street and then to Hull Crown Court.
Andrew said: “We will march peacefully in the city centre and while doing this the route we shall take will spell dad on Google Maps … we want to respect all the dads and mums worldwide who have lost there live this year in the court system.”
Part of the event is the ‘shirt off my back’ protest where a shirt containing the names of victims of parental alienation is hung on the door of a local family court building.
Andrew also wears different coloured shirts along the march to make a silent statement about who the syndrome causes heartache for.
He wears pink t shirt to represent daughters and granddaughters, blue for sons and grandsons, white for mums, black for dads and red for grandparents and extended families.
Andrew also talked about his determination in the battle to make parental alienation a crime and finally, after more than a year of campaigning, there are some glimmers of hope as people in power begin to accept that the syndrome exists.
A spokesman for the Welsh government has pledged to help victims of Parental alienation.
In a statement the devolved government said: “There are benefits children derive from having an ongoing positive relationship with both parents, as long as it is safe and in their best interest.
“To support parents who are separating we are developing information and advice services to help them focus upon how they can best support their children and make arrangements that meet their long term emotional needs.”
This follows an online petition calling on the Welsh Government to recognise PA as a type of emotional abuse of children and parents and proposes funding for mandatory training for professionals.
PA is when one parent undermines the role of the other by turning a child against them following a separation.
Between 2013 and 2016, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in Wales dealt with 22,670 cases involving children.
And Dr Sue Whitcombe, from not-for-profit Family Psychology Solutions, said social workers, psychologists and solicitors should be receiving training.
“This is a severe form of child emotional abuse when at its most severe and pure form and it needs to recognised along with those other types of child abuse,” she said.
There are laws in some countries, including Mexico and Italy, which punish parents who alienate one another.
Andrew revealed that more and more he and others running the site are spending time talking to estranged parents who have hit rock bottom as their ex-partners twist their children against them or they come up against the brick wall of bureaucracy which ham-strings courts and social services.
Many parents find it so difficult to see their children that despite paying hundreds of pounds in maintenance they are also paying for supervised access. One man says this costs him EIGHTY pounds a time to spend two hours with his child.
Estranged parents – who have perhaps lost all contact because of lies about them – are certainly vulnerable and sadly to some suicide can appear to be the only way out.
Since Andrew began campaigning less than twelve months ago there have been some major breakthroughs in the battle against Parental Alienation.
Recently, www.consumerwatchfoundation.com reported on the fact that the head of the Britain’s family courts agency has finally agreed divorced and estranged parents who deliberately turn their children against ex-partners are guilty of abuse.
Anthony Douglas, chief executive of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, has publicly come out against “parental alienation” admitting that manipulation of children by a parent has become so endemic in family break-ups that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or abuse.
Andrew said: “Finally, our group and the many other groups battling against parental alienation, can take some comfort in what has been said – but it doesn’t mean the battle is over. Now we need to get the law to see it as a crime.”