Sunday, April 12, 2009

Misconceptions, Perceptions, and Ethics

My look at the Family Rights Movement leadership, and the PAAO
by: Theresa M. Martin

Recently, a number of emails, message board and blog entries have been posted that show organizations and individuals involved with the Family Rights Movement in a negative light. I feel these communications do not serve the movement's goals, and only further infighting and discord among those persons and organizations involved. The various online communications (blogs, articles, etc.) are viewable from anyone performing a web search, and do not show a unified online front for the Parental Alienation Organizations (PAAO, PAAO-US), or any related groups (Fathers for Justice (F4J), United Civil Rights Councils of America (UCRCoA), etc.). In some cases, the infighting has escalated to a level previously unseen, and is poised to transition from online bickering to the very real issue of legal action being taken against certain individuals or organizations. Over the next few paragraphs, I will outline specific examples that have direct impact on me personally, and professionally (as an activist in the movement), and provide insight into my dealings with Torm Howse, Sarvy Emo, and the PAAO organization. I would like to directly address two issues in particular, and suggest ways that the various factions of the movement can 'get back on track'.

Torm Howse
A good case for a review of Ethics

Background: Torm Howse was known to me from online resources as a leader in the father's rights movement, and I perceived him to be a hard charging go getter. I met him in person for the first time in September 2006 at the National Family Law Reform conference held in Washington DC. Since then, Torm and I have worked on a number of projects that include the creation of the UCRCoA organization, creation of and the PAAO-US organization. We have also worked together on organizing and holding the PAAOWorkshop2007. Torm has helped me write and file legal documents for my personal family court case.

As with getting to know any person, I discovered over time that Torm (like all of us) has certain ethical flaws. I'll spare the audience the gritty details, but will offer these observations: As detailed in a recent blog post, Torm has wronged me (as well as others) personally. Torm's distorted ethics and morals have led to slanderous lying behavior, and I no longer feel comfortable being in the same room with him.

The issues brought up in the blog post are centered on Torm's offers to write/file legal documents, and not following through on work promised. All of the issues listed in the blog post are related to individual personal issues with Torm Howse, not his work for any of the organizations involved with Family Rights. I agree that these types of actions are unethical and wrong, but he should not be crucified or ostracized by members of the movement for these actions alone. As someone whom has been wronged, I understand the anger that is directed at him, but do not feel his actions justify jailing or imprisonment. Members of the family rights movement are supposed to be fighting against the government intrusion into our lives, not calling for the government to invade one individual's life.

Parental Alienation
Perceptions and Misconceptions Clarified

Background: My involvement in the family rights movement began in 2006 when I attended a conference in Miami hosted by Robin Denison of Over time, my involvement in the organization grew, and while planning the PAAOWorkshop2007 event, I was added as an official board member in the organization. As the organization became larger, there were many ideas discussed on 'next steps to take' and what areas to focus on. To keep up with the changes, there were a number of unofficial revisions to the newly formed organization's bylaws implemented by the organization's president, Sarvy Emo.

The US members of the organization started a governor's campaign, to get the governors of the states to sign proclamations stating that April 25th is Parental Alienation Awareness day. Many US members also held a firm belief that partnering with other organizations such as Fathers for Justice, American Coalition for Fathers and Children, J.A.I.L.4Judges, Fathers and Families (among others) would provide these organizations with needed information on Parental Alienation, as well as further the PA cause. Many US members also believed in a 'Shared Equal Parenting' concept: the belief that children need both parents. These three items did not go over well with Sarvy.

Ms. Robin Denison and I were invited to the DC Rally 2007 event to come and represent the PAAO (website now renamed organization. Robin penned a speech to which Sarvy did not agree. Sarvy made multiple edits to the speech, which was deemed unacceptable by the author. Robin and I announced that we would attend the event, and Robin would read the speech as originally penned. Sarvy and another board member, Neil, tendered their formal resignations to the board, and renounced all dealings with the organization. Robin and I did attend the DC Rally 2007, and Robin did read the speech as penned.

Two weeks after Sarvy and Neil sent in their resignations, I registered the domain, the PAAO-US organization as a legal entity (business with a federal tax ID number) in the United States. Sarvy stayed involved with the PAAO website (which became PAAO Canada) despite her official resignation.

The (my) and (PAAO Canada / Sarvy) organizations have a fundamental difference of opinion on how to further the Parental Alienation cause. Both organizations are trying to achieve similar goals, and got our starts from the same original organization. The PAAO-US organization has no legal ties, affiliations, or obligations to PAAO Canada. There was no requirement for asking permission to create or maintain PAAO-US.

Parting Thoughts

Though there are no excuses for blatantly violating laws, rules and/or agreements, in the world of parental alienation, these types of problems are a way of life. We learn to recognize the behavior, and take a firm stand against them. Individuals have been personally attacked with slanderous remarks, half truths, and false allegations (some baseless, others not). Organizations are currently fearful of associating with other groups or individuals for fear of having their names brought into this confusing melee of he-said-she-said.

Public perception is nothing more than blurred vision to the honest truth. Media (online or otherwise) can be manipulated, with very real impact to individuals and organizations. Posting scathing attacks on blogs, misguided notices on websites, and other negativity will not further the family rights cause, and essentially only serve to demonstrate individual person's self-serving agenda.

Personal: In the case of attacks directed at myself, I feel some of these attacks are fueled by envy, in an attempt to undermine my good name and the wonderful work which has been accomplished by the PAAO-US organization. I have only performed positive work for the unity of the movement by teaching all who deal with high conflict custody cases about parental alienation. Neither I, nor other Alienated Parents in the United States will ever stop fighting for their children. Attacking me personally does not serve the greater good, and only further sows seeds of discord in the family rights movement.

I'd like to take this opportunity to address a statement made by Mr. Torm Howse concerning my personal life: I am not planning on getting married (as noted by Torm Howse) nor am I planning on obtaining any future relationship commitments with him, or anyone else. I'd also like to add that Torm Howse did initially help to set up the website, but he is not a Director, Trustee or otherwise legally tied to PAAO-US no matter what he puts in his signature block. He has been asked to remove this part of his signature, but true to (unethical) form, has not done so.

Regarding PAAO/PAAO-US: The large 'Notice' on the website is a self-serving affront on the PAAO-US organization. People are well aware of what website they are on, and further aware of what organization they would be donating to or purchasing from. No 'authorization' is, or ever was required to use PAAO-US as a name. The fact that PAAO-US is a registered legal entity in the United States should have long ago put that issue to rest. The fact that Sarvy has registered other PAAO-US top level domains (thru an anonymous proxy to cover her tracks), is currently cyber squatting on those domain names, (and at one point had posted slanderous content using those domain names) is a good example of self serving behavior. What good comes by posting a notice on a website intended as a resource for alienated parents? How will cyber squatting on domain names further the cause of any organization?

Regarding the DCRally2008/DCFestival2008: Many organizations and people pulled together to make this happen. I feel that not everyone that should have been there was there. Some were not able to set aside their personal differences, and it showed. With any circumstance that causes strong emotions, it is sometimes difficult to separate the personal from the professional. For those who did pull together, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and apologize for the lack of professionalism displayed due to personal issues. For those whom declined to participate, please check your egos and unprofessional attitudes in at the door, and remain mindful of the overall goals of family rights, and your specific organization.

I feel the hard work that I put into the DC 2008 event went largely unnoticed and unmentioned. This shows a great lack of appreciation so, this year I am encouraging all organizations to come out and obtain a permit for anytime during July 18th-26th. I will be working with professional, reputable organizations that will follow through and ensure my safety in order for me to be seen and heard. I feel it is extremely important to stop parental alienation across the United States. Empowering the parents is where it begins, so let's all pull together for the 2009 event.