Let’s stop playing the Trauma Olympics

GG croppedAugust 14, 2019 by Ginger Gentile

Everyday I am contacted by parents who are suffering greatly because they cannot see their beloved children after divorce or separation. For some, it has been months. For others, decades. Finding the family courts to be of no help and few resources, they are desperate for their story to be heard. In an attempt to capture attention, they often start their stories with the same words:

“My Parental Alienation story is the worst you ever heard.”

As a documentary filmmaker ( I have seen parental alienation stories end in suicide, murder, murder-suicides, and worse (don’t ask). Trust me, you don’t want to be in the competition for worse story. 

By making each story exceptional, we fail to effectively communicate that these stories share many factors: histories of family trauma being played out in custody battles, the failure of the family courts to intervene, lack of resources, and societal pressure to “lawyer up” and “protect what’s yours”. When we fail to communicate what the stories have in common, we are unable to effectively push for legislative reform-default shared parenting-and moving away from an adversarial family court system. Politicians, academics and family court professionals aren’t moved by an exceptional case, they are moved by data and patterns. 

If you are moved to tell your story, put it in context: how many other cases like yours are you aware of in your community? You can also mention the polling done by Professor Jennifer Harman out of Colorado State University which found that over 22 million parents in the United States report being alienated from one or more of their children.

Let’s stop playing the trauma olympics. Let’s focus on reform and positive efforts to reunite our families erased by the family courts. 

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