Il fenomeno dell’alienazione parentale si intreccia spesso con una altro grave problema delle società globalizzate: quella della sottrazioni internazionale dei minori. Poiché sono sempre più le coppie che si formano tra uomini e donne di diversa nazionalità accade anche che sempre più divorzi coinvolgano cittadini di stati diversi. E così può capitare che uno dei due genitori cerchi di eliminare l’altro dalla vita dei figli semplicemente rendendosi irrepiribile all’estero, nel proprio paese di origine.
Parents & Abducted Children Together (PACT) è una organizzazione internazionale fondata nel 1999 da Catherine Meyer e registrata nel Regno Unito e negli USA. Collabora con l’International Center for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) fondato nel 1998 in USA da Ernie Allen e Catherine Meyer.
Nel 2005 Parents & Abducted Children Together ha prodotto il documentario Victims of Another War: The Aftermath of Parental Alienation per sensibilizzare l’opinione pubblica internazionale sul gravissimo problema dell’alienazione parentale. Moltissimi minori vittime di sottrazione internazionale vengono manipolati dal genitore che li porta all’estero ed indotti ad odiare il genitore assente, in modo da rendere difficile il rimpatrio una volta che il rapitore venisse rintracciato dalle autorità. L’alienazione parentale è un gravissimo abuso psicologico e se compiuta mediante una sottrazione internazionale è punita dalla Convenzione dell’Aia.
La fondatrice di Parents & Abducted Children Together è Lady Catherine Meyer, moglie di Sir Christopher Meyer, ambasciatore britannico negli USA dal 1997 al 2003.
Catherine Meyer, che ha operato professionalmente come broker finanziario, nel corso degli anni ottanta ha vissuto in Germania ed è stata sposata con un cittadino tedesco da cui ha avuto due figli per poi divorziare. Nel 1994 il padre dei suoi due figli si rifiutò di farli tornare a Londra dalla madre e li trattenne con sé in Germania. La signora Meyer ha dovuto intraprendere una lunghissima battaglia legale per rivedere i suoi due figli, che ha potuto incontrare di nuovo solo nove anni dopo, nel 2003. Durante il servizio prestato dal secondo marito come ambasciatore a Washington la signora Meyer si è dedicata alle campagne contro la sottrazione internazionale ed al sostegno di altri genitori che come lei avevano i figli in Germania o all’estero e non riuscivano più a vederli.
Ha scritto due libri sulla vicenda dei suoi due figli: Two Children Behind a Wall, Arrow Books Ltd. (ISBN 0-099-25504-9), e These are My Children, Too, PublicAffairs, U.S. (ISBN 1-891-62015-0). Un resoconto della lunga battaglia per rivedere i figli è contenuto anche in DC Confidential, il libro di memorie del marito Sir Christopher Meyer pubblicato nel 2005.
La produzione del documentario Victims of Another War: The Aftermath of Parental Alienation rappresenta un importante contributo alla lotta contro l’alienazione parentale. Il documentario è una testimonianza estremamente toccante sui danni incalcolabili causati dalla strumentalizzazione dei figli nel corso delle separazioni.
Nel 1999 Catherine Meyer ha rilasciato una Charlie Rose Show trasmessa dalla rete americana PBS. Nell’intervista Catherine Meyer parla anche dell’alienazione parentale e del grave abuso psicologico che viene compiuto sui minori da coloro che cancellano nella loro mente la figura di uno dei due genitori.
« Domanda (Charlie Rose): Cosa spera adesso?
Risposta (Catherine Meyer): Per il mio caso ho pochissime speranze. Conosco i miei figli, so che i ricordi su di me sono stati distrutti, so che probabilmente hanno dimenticato come era Londra, perché tutto ormai è stato loro raccontato in un modo diverso, ma spero solo che… sono sicura che il sentimento della mamma è ancora con loro. Sono sicura che sono molto confusi, capiscono che qualcosa non sta andando nel verso giusto, ma non possono sapere che sto lottando per loro. Hanno detto loro che io li ho abbandonati, ed è quello che credono, perché quando un bambino è piccolo e la mamma non è con lui, e il padre gli dice ‘La mamma ti ha abbandonato’ il bambino gli crede, pensa che se veramente la madre gli volesse bene sarebbe lì con lui. Però so che quando cresceranno verranno a cercarmi. Ma per loro comunque sarà una cosa estremamente traumatica.»
Full Transcript Charlie Rose Show
00:00 Charlie Rose: nightmare occurring with disturbing frequency — a woman marries a foreign national; they have children; the marriage ends in separation or divorce; and the husband defies all custody arrangements by keeping the children in his native country, leaving the mother with virtually no hope of getting them back. This is what happened to CATHERINE MEYER, whose ex-husband has convinced German courts that their two sons would rather live with him than with her. Ms. Meyer has since married the British ambassador to the United States, but even his efforts to secure at least visitation rights have gone for naught. CATHERINE MEYER has written a book about her ordeal. It is called They Are my Children, Too. I am pleased to have her on this broadcast. The subtitle of the book is called A Mother’s Struggle for her Sons. Welcome.
00:46 Catherine Meyer: Thank you.
00:48 Charlie Rose: This story has been told before in lots of different forums and venues, but tell me again how this happened. I mean, it seems incomprehensible that a mother would lose the kinds of rights that seem so basic.
00:59 Catherine Meyer: Absolutely. I mean, it’s basic–
01:04 Charlie Rose: Or not have the rights, rather than losing, but not have those rights.
01:08 Catherine Meyer: Yes, it’s basically– you know, the minimum basic right that any parent should have is to see his children. But in a case like mine, and I must tell that in fact unfortunately my case is not unique, there are many parents who find themselves in the same position. And, in America alone, there are 350,000 children that are kidnapped by one of their parents every year. When it’s interstate, it’s a problem. But many children are recovered. But, when a child is taken abroad to another country, the chances of recovering the children are very small. And the reason for that is that every country has its own judicial system. So, you can have a custody order in one country, and it’s not necessarily recognized in the other country. But, since the ’80s, there’s been a new convention — called The International Convention on Child Abduction. And the purpose of the convention is to protect children against abduction. Therefore, if a child is taken to another country, it should automatically be returned to the country of habitual residence. But, unfortunately, as — I suppose — with many conventions, some countries abide by them and some countries do not.
02:14 Charlie Rose: Tell me what happened to you.
02:16 Catherine Meyer: What happened to me? I married– I was married to a German citizen. We had two children. We got married in England, and we moved to Germany later. And in ’92 we separated. And we had a custody agreement. And the children would live with me, their mother, and they would visit their father during the holidays. And I thought it was, in fact, the best arrangement that could happen in the circumstance like ours because I went back to England. And so they went the French Elysee in London. They lived in a big city, and they lived with their mother. And then they went to see their father in the countryside in Germany. But two years on I sent the children on holidays for a summer holiday. And my ex-husband sent me a letter four days before they were due to return home saying the children are not coming back. And so I don’t know if you can just imagine how it is. I mean, you come home and you have your children’s bedroom with all their toys and all their things, their belongings and you read a letter saying your children are not coming back. And in — really — an instant your whole world is just a nightmare. And so I tried to call him. And I couldn’t reach him because he was– he basically disappeared for a month. So, I didn’t even know where my children were. I couldn’t speak to them on the telephone. So, I had to go to the high court in England. And the high court ordered the immediate return of the children, according to this international convention because what he did was illegal. And there was a first hearing in Germany. And the first court in Germany agreed with the high court in England and said the children should be returned to their mother immediately. But my ex-husband asked, ”Can I bring the children in half an hour?” And my lawyers naively agreed. And he absconded with the children again. And so the children were not returned. And then he run to a higher court in a small town nearby. And the high court in Seelowe (sp), which is in Lower Saxony, upheld the decision, and they said, ”OK, we’ll give you an appeal.” And what was extraordinary is I wasn’t even informed of that. It was ex parte, i.e. he saw the judges without me being present.
04:29 Charlie Rose: Or having representation.
04:32 Catherine Meyer: Exactly. And a month later there was a hearing in the higher court, and the judges decided completely the opposite of what all the other judges decided that, after all, the children at seven and nine are old enough to decide. And the children feel German. And the children were suffering in England because in England they could not speak German because in England one doesn’t speak German. And that the children should stay in Germany. And, since that moment, the awful thing is not only the children were not returned, as they should have been but every other decision happened to be in the small town in Germany. And in five years I have seen my children 26 hours. And not 26 hours in a row.
05:16 Charlie Rose: Help me understand why they won’t allow you to visit the children.
05:20 Catherine Meyer: Well–
05:22 Charlie Rose: Or allow someone who represents you to visit the children to make sure the children are OK. It would seem that, even if the German judicial system did not want them to reside in England or in the United States, they would not have a deaf and blind attitude about the mother’s right to see her children.
05:39 Catherine Meyer: Absolutely. But that– completely agree with you. But that’s our understanding. I mean, everybody in the world, I think, would agree that a child needs both his parents. And we all know there’s been enough studies made of how it affects children when– in a situation like that when you can only have access to one parent. But in Germany the mentality of the courts is different. They actually believe that in a situation of conflict it is better for a child not to have any access to the other parent. And, again talking about other cases, it’s exactly the same situation. I mean, I have written this book really for people to be aware of, you know, an injustice. Aware–
06:22 Charlie Rose: That this is not an isolated incident.
06:24 Catherine Meyer: It’s not at all an isolated instance. And I’d like people to be aware of that. And the mentality tells you that they think, ”OK, one parent should have custody. And it is not good for the child, who is now adapted to his new environment, to be in touch with the other parent. It will unsettle the child.” Which is extraordinary because in America, for instance, if one parent is seen to be alienating the child against the other parent or if one parent is blocking access of the child to the other parent, usually judges will make a point of changing custody order because they’ll say, ”Well, that parent is obviously not the parent who is thinking of the child.”
07:00 Charlie Rose: And not acting in the best interest of the child.
07:04 Catherine Meyer: Exactly. And in Germany for the moment it’s exactly the other way around.
07:09 Charlie Rose: What happened when you travelled to Germany to try to see the children?
07:13 Catherine Meyer: Well, I had sort-of one nightmare situation after the other because for six months I did not see my children at all. I couldn’t reach them on the telephone. I tried to phone them for Christmas. And I couldn’t get hold of them. And I don’t know if you can imagine how I felt. I mean, it was just unbearable. And so I was completely at my wits end. And so I took the plane, and I went with one person because, I mean, I was too afraid to go on my own. And I just wanted to look at my children, just to be able to see them. I didn’t know which school they went to. It’s a very small town, so I thought they’d be– it was one particular school. And I tried to see them. And immediately, you know, I was approached by the schoolteacher and saying, ”No, you can’t be here. You can’t see your children. And, if you came here, you’re probably coming here to re-abduct them.” So, they used that sort of idea that the children were abducted the first time, and then I shouldn’t be seeing them because, if I see them, I might re-abduct them. It’s very sort of– you know, it’s creating a fait accompli situation. I mean, a parent abducts a child into one place and then they’re saying, ”OK, the child should stay here because the child is now adapted to be here. But he shouldn’t see the other parent because the other parent could re-abduct him.” I mean, it’s terrible.
08:27 Charlie Rose: What hope do you have?
08:30 Catherine Meyer: For my case, very, very little. My case — I only hope that, you know, I know my children and I know that the memories of me have been destroyed, and they’ve forgot probably what was London like. They’ve probably forgot because everything’s been told to them in a different way. But I am sure that the emotion of mummy is still there. And I’m sure that they’re very confused and they know something is not right. They don’t know I’m fighting for them. They’ve been told I’ve abandoned them. And this is what they believe because when you’re small and your mother is not there and your father tells you, ”She’s abandoned you,” you believe it. ”If she loved you, she would be there,” you think. But I know that, when they’ll grow up, of course, they’ll come and look for me. But it’ll be a traumatic thing for them.
09:13 Charlie Rose: Do you think the father thinks he’s doing what’s in the best interest of the children?
09:17 Catherine Meyer: No. I think the father is probably caught in the sort of his own psychological problems. And, I mean, I would say one thing that a father or a parent in general, but let’s say ”a father” in this circumstance who really loves his children would never want to deny his own children their contact with their mother. I mean, we all know how important a mother is also.
09:40 Charlie Rose: This book is called They Are my Children, Too — A Mother’s Struggle for her Sons, CATHERINE MEYER. Thank you.
09:49 Catherine Meyer: Thank you.
Intervista televisiva a Catherine Meyer nel 1994
Cliccare CC per i sottotitoli
- Sito ufficiale della fondazione PACT: www.pact-online.org
- Wikipedia Parents and Abducted Children Together
- Wikipedia Catherine Meyer
- Wikipedia Christopher Meyer
- Intervista rilasciata da Catherine Meyer a The Herald nel 2006: www.heraldscotland.com
- Sito del film: www.victimsofanotherwar.com
- Youtube “Victims of Another War”: www.youtube.com