Donna Marie Logue, founder of La Dolce Vita Project, on the left, with Julie Smyth, project chairperson.
A local charity is leading the fight against the trauma of parental alienation by bringing an historic and international conference to the city for the first time.
La Dolce Vita Project, in association with Parental Alienation Europe, are collaborating to highlight the devastating impact of Parental Alienation and the harm caused on both children and parents across Ireland.
Parental alienation describes a process through which a child becomes estranged from one parent as the result of the psychological manipulation of another parent.
The conference, which takes place in the City Hotel on April 23, is titled 'United As One' and indicates the commitment from both sides of the border to promoting awareness and understanding of Parental Alienation among professionals in the areas of mental health, legal, social care and government regarding the damage that it causes not only to children and targeted parents, but to society as a whole.
La Dolce Vita Project is the first domestic abuse charity in Northern Ireland to have its city pass a motion to recognise parental alienation as a form of domestic abuse and child abuse and will now be the first charity to bring an International Parental Alienation Conference to the Island of Ireland.
Donna-Maria Logue and her team have been lobbying since January 2016 and will continue to work on the implementing of legislation to protect children from the psychological and emotional harm caused by parental alienation.
“It is time every individual working or involved in the decision making process with children, recognise and identify the harm of Parental Alienation and take the necessary steps to implement policies and legislation to protect our children,” Donna stated.
“La Dolce Vita will also continue to fight for protection of victims who find themselves re-victimised by perpetrators of domestic abuse, as perpetrators often use the family court process, to make false allegations, to control the situation, and to facilitate emotional and psychological abuse and harm to victims and their children. Without laws implemented this abuse will continue.
“We are also delighted to announce the conference will commence with an opening address from our mayor, Michaela Boyle.
“Furthermore, it is our privilege to welcome some of the world’s most respected and renowned international authorities on Parental Alienation to impart their knowledge, with the hope that it will encourage discussion and debate around this important subject.”
La Dolce Vita Project counsellor Orla McLaughlin, on the left, with Finance Officer, Cindy McCafferty.
Julie Smyth, who will be Chairperson at the April conference, stressed the importance of not only increasing awareness of Parental alienation, but ensuring that proper resources are made available to fight 'the severest form of emotional and psychological harm caused to our children'.
“This landmark conference has its focus on the legal, mental health, social care and policy interlock,” she explained. “It is drawing together all of the primary voices in the area of parental alienation, from prolific international experts to local and national voices and researchers in the field. The conference will serve to open conversation, bringing recognition to the problem and look positively towards collective resolution.
“Our hope is that we can be led by the authorities in this field, share knowledge and raise public awareness.”
Smyth continued by emphasising the urgency in addressing the impact of parental alienation, insisting that irreparable damage can be done due to its devastating consequences.
“Parental alienation is abusive to each and every child, however it is caused,” she said. “It is the severest form of emotional and psychological harm caused to our children, resulting in disastrous consequences for our children and ultimately society as a whole. This conference represents a milestone in the protection of children- adjusting the focus to that of child protection and mental health.
“There is an urgency to recognise this silent epidemic, the harm it is causing and the importance of helping alienated children find their way home.
“We as a city are not willing to sweep this under the carpet and allow it to seethe unchecked in the underbelly of society, only to raise itself up when we least anticipate it in the years to come - in the form of adults living with the emotional and psychological impact of parental alienation.
“There is hope. There are interventions, but we need to act now.
“Our wish is that this conference will act as a compelling and potent catalyst for change in the consciousness of every single individual who works with children in this situation.”
Members of La Dolce Vita Project team Orla McDermott, Gary Ferry, Orla McLaughlin, Julie Smyth, Cindy McCafferty, Koreta Callaghan and Donna Maria Logue.
Smyth works hand in hand with Donna Maria and the La Dolce Vita team and with great work going on behind the scenes to not only bring the 'United As One' conference to Derry, but to ensure its success, there is a determination that this huge step is only the first on the road to highlighting, understanding and addressing the problems caused by parental alienation.
“In terms of legacy, our commitment as a charity is towards the delivery of services to support families affected by parental alienation,” Julie added.
“Our hope is to provide the necessary education and support programmes which will enable our city to act on the consciousness awakened and knowledge acquired.
“I would encourage all those working with children in the city and beyond to avail of this opportunity to attend the conference and show your support for the protection of children - the future - and your willingness to affect positive change.”
The conference has been supported by Sinn Fein's Sandra Duffy
“I would like to commend the work undertaken by La Dolce Vita in raising not only awareness of domestic violence and parental alienation, but also in supporting victims of such crimes,” she said.
“I congratulate them on their efforts to bring this important conference to the city, where we will have the opportunity to listen to experts in this field and I would encourage local groups to attend.
“This is an important issue faced by many children and wider understanding of it is necessary if we are to protect families from its effects.
“There can be no place for domestic violence in our society and everyone, including council, has a role to play in preventing it.”
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