Re GB (Parental Alienation: Factual Findings) [2024] EWFC 75 (B) (28 March 2024)


Dr. Charlotte Proudman represented the mother in a case where the father accused her of ‘parental alienation’ and false allegations. The judge found the father used ‘parental alienation’ to distress, confuse and frighten her, and he obstructed her relationship with the children. He had raped, gaslit and abused her, persistently video recorded them, which created an atmosphere of control and intimidation, and he used family court proceedings to torment the mother and the children. He had to pay her over £50,000 in costs.

This is the first published judgment referring to DARVO. DARVO is an acronym that stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.

This recent judgment follows the previous case, Re GB (Part 25 Application: Parental Alienation) [2023] EWFC 150, in which Dr Charlotte Proudman represented the mother in a successful appeal. Cafcass applied for a psychological assessment to determine ‘parental alienation,’ among other issues. The judge allowed the mother’s appeal and dismissed the assessment.

The judge said ‘parental alienation’ is a question of fact for a Court to decide — it is not a psychological diagnosis. You can read more about the case in the Guardian here.


(1) From 2020 onwards, the father used coercive controlling behaviour towards the children and towards the mother:

(a) The father used force and threatening behaviour towards the mother when the children were present and was using force and abusive behaviour towards the children causing them upset and fear;

(b) The father was obstructive with the children’s contact with their mother and with the relationship between the mother and the children and he also used force to achieve his obstructions creating fear;

(c) The father would speak in a derogatory manner to professionals about the mother to damage her reputation and influence them negatively about her;

(d) The father made an application for a mental health assessment of the mother, despite there being no concerns or evidence of issues with her, her mental health, or her parenting;

(e) The father encouraged people who never met the mother to damage her reputation, to create a negative narrative about her and further provide it to the Court, CAFCASS and authorities as evidence;

(f) The father consistently sent the mother intimidating messages criticizing her and her parenting and continuously accused her of alienation from 2020 to the present in order to distress, confuse and frighten her;

(g) The father persistently video recorded the mother and the children which created an atmosphere of control and intimidation;

(h) The father regularly spoke in a derogatory manner to the mother in front of the children. This caused them upset and fear;

(i) The father would warp the mother’s perception of reality and accuse her of things of his own making to gain control;

(j) The father would undermine the children in front of each other, warp their perception of reality and would scapegoat them;

(2) In February 2022 the father neglected ‘B’s medical needs;

(3) Over various unspecified dates, the father exerted financial control causing the mother financial distress and consequences;

(4) From 2020 onwards, the father made major decisions about children’s lives without the mother’s consent, including giving notice to schools without securing and providing alternatives and withdrawing money from the children’s accounts. He then gaslit the mother stating that she had withdrawn the money from the children’s accounts;

(5) From 2020 onwards, the father did not follow recommendations, provided misleading information to the Court and used proceedings to emotionally torment the children and the mother;

(6) (a) In July 2020 and in August 2020 the father raped the mother while the family was on holiday in the mother’s country of origin…(c) the father was voyeuristic and took many sexual photographs and videos of the mother without her consent.


The mother had significant findings concerning her allegations of rape (6). She was clear that she had not consented to photography during intercourse during their marriage, nor had she consented to sex on holiday in July and August of 2020, which the judge accepted. Concerningly, it seems the mother’s reports to the police were not investigated, nor was she signposted to support services, and she only received information on seeking findings in the course of her court proceedings. [See 104]

“In respect of the allegations of rape that took place twice during a holiday in her country of origin, it was put to her on behalf of the father that she had initiated sexual intercourse. The mother flatly denied the suggestion. The mother was clear that she did not consent to intercourse nor did she consent to him photographing her during intercourse throughout their marriage.

This Court takes care not to draw any adverse inference against the mother for delayed reporting of the allegations of rape. It is clear that the mother did not report the incidents in her country of origin. She later reported the events to the police in the United Kingdom. It does not appear that the police signposted the mother for support via her GP or for therapeutic work. Indeed, it does not appear that the mother’s allegations were considered by way of any thorough police investigation. The allegations were largely dismissed by the police, it seems, without the father being questioned. The mother’s reports of the incidents were documented. The Court was informed that it was only when direct access Counsel become involved that the mother was given advice regarding seeking findings on the allegations and to provide a detailed statement.

The mother asserts that the father’s behaviour fits into a pattern of abusive, dominating and controlling behaviour, where he demands what he is entitled to.

In this Court’s judgement, the mother’s evidence regarding the two incidents of rape was clear and reliable. Consistent with her other evidence generally, the mother answered questions in cross-examination in a direct manner without evasion. Her evidence was detailed and compelling.” [104]

Domestic Abuse & Coercive Control Against the Mother and Abuse Against the Children

The father utilised coercion and control in a number of ways, with specific emphasis placed on his use of video camera recordings due to the captured footage of an incident to which the police responded on 12 March 2022. The mother made an emergency call after the father prevented the daughter from leaving her room, and officers spoke with the child, who described being intimidated by the father, hurt by his actions, and scared of incidents. The camera footage was shown in court, wherein the child can be heard screaming and calling for the mother [See 85 and 86]. The father blamed the mother and the child for the situation [See 87]. The mother describes her fear of reporting incidents to the police due to the father’s reactions- feelings of terror, intimidation, pain and fear. She described his actions as controlling, noting he was injured but waited roughly two days to contact police due to fears of upsetting the father [See 99].

“Dr Lopez told the Court in her report that the father’s, “dominant attachment strategy was to present himself as emotionally vulnerable and use coercive anger to force attachment figures to attend to his needs.” [135]

“Police body worn video footage of 12 March 2022 records the police arriving at the family home at 09:30, responding to an emergency call made by the mother. The father informed the investigating officer that his daughter was, “having a tantrum.” …’G’ told the investigating officer, regarding her father, “He wouldn’t let me through the door. I didn’t want to go to music school because he wants me to go his friend’s house. He got angry and called me mean and an actress…I felt really scared. He stood by the door and would not let me through the door. He nudged my arm. My hand really hurts. He grabbed my wrist hard. He tried to snatch my arm. He has a camera on. It’s really intimidating. He never listens to me. He poured freezing cold water on my legs [previously] and I was scared the socket would explode, a week before last.” [85]

“The video footage makes for disturbing viewing. The child is patently in a high state of distress. The father manifestly is seen to be behaving in a controlling, domineering manner preventing the child from leaving her bedroom. His behaviour is patently emotionally abusive. In his narrative to the police, the father sought to blame both the child and the child’s mother for a situation so demonstrably created by him. The events are vividly captured on the father’s body worn camera.” [87]

“The mother told the Court that she did not report the incident to the police for two days, stating, “I’m scared to do things when he is in the house that would upset him. I was injured on the Friday. He left on the Saturday. I called the police on the Sunday. I collected my thoughts and thought, all this is wrong…It was painful. I was terrified…I was scared to react because of how it would develop.

Most of the time it is control, intimidation and fear.”’ [99]


In regard to the father utilising DARVO, the judgment stated, “He sought to represent himself throughout as a victim and that she was the perpetrator, seeking to reverse the role of victim and offender.” [124] Given the evidence, it was recognised that his use of DARVO was a submission with significant weight [See 132]. Furthermore, Dr Lopez described the father’s perceptions of himself as a victim and subject to injustice by the mother. [See 139]

“Dr Proudman on behalf of the mother submitted that the father sought throughout his evidence to deflect or deny, to attack the mother and to seek to reverse the role of victim and offender. In doing so, it was submitted, the father sought to act manipulatively to avoid taking responsibility for his own actions and to seek to shift the blame onto the mother, who is the victim of the domestic abuse perpetrated by him.

The mother asserts that in respect of his relationship with the children, the father lays all the blame at the mother’s door and accuses her of lying about behaviours he has engaged in.

The mother submits that this is a pattern of behaviour, which was noted by Dr Lopez. In this Court’s judgment, having had the unique benefit of seeing and hearing the father give evidence, and having regard to all the evidence before the Court, there is significant weight in those submissions.” [132]

“Dr Lopez’s astute conclusions in respect of the father regarding his extreme preoccupation about his feelings of perceived injustice by the mother, presenting himself as the victim of abuse, his feelings of anger and indignation and his limited ability to think reflectively about his children were starkly and vividly revealed.” [139]


The mother was initially accused of ‘parental alienation’ (PA) by the father, who later withdrew the allegation under that exact phrasing. He did persist in allegations that her behaviours were used to negatively influence the children towards him, which the Court found no reliable evidence for [165]. The Court did, however, come to the conclusion that the father had sought to manipulate the mother and children into believing he was a victim, which led to the children rejecting him. The court viewed the children’s response as justifiable. The father has consistently tried to convey false beliefs about the mother [See 165 and 168] and accused her of colluding with the child, making up the abuse (specifically, the incidents collected on video camera in March 2022), and encouraging the children to misbehave [See 111].

“Having the benefit of all the evidence, this Court can clearly and definitively make the finding that there is no reliable evidence of the mother instructing the children to speak negatively about their father.” [165]

“On the contrary, looking now at the whole picture, the evidence before the Court leads to the clear conclusion that the father has sought consistently, systematically and falsely to manipulate the mother, the children, professionals and the Court into believing that he is the victim of domestic abuse perpetrated by the mother. His pernicious actions alone have resulted in both children rejecting him.

Both children are now refusing a relationship with him for reasons that are justifiable. The children have both aligned themselves fully with their mother, with whom they are living, by way of a normal and justifiable response to the father’s negative attitudes, communications and beliefs that have sought to denigrate, demean, vilify, malign, ridicule and dismiss the mother, persistently seeking to convey false beliefs about her. “ [168]

“Regarding the events of 12 March 2021…When asked in cross-examination by Dr Proudman what kind of message his behaviour sent to the children, that their mother cannot leave her room nor could ‘G’ leave her room, the father responded to Counsel, “You’re deliberately provoking me.”

He told the Court, “The mother is frustrating the father…clearly there was some sort of collusion going on…her mother is interfering with a normal relationship with me and her.”…The father told the Court, “She is very distressed when on the phone to the police. It’s made up. The situation is being contrived to portray me in a bad light.”…I can’t find any other explanation for the child screaming…I’m encouraging a good relationship. She [the mother] is telling them to misbehave in a very serious way, making the children lie.” [111]


Accusations of PA were used to frighten the mother- she was unable to give a clear report of her subjection to coercive control to the police due to fears of the system being against her as the father was attempting to give them the impression that she was alienating the children, including being in contact with Cafcass in this regard. She also noted he accused her of mental health problems, sent messages about alienation and implied the mother had something wrong with her, that she was at fault, and hurt the children. She describes feeling anxious, alone, unbelieved, terrified and unable to leave. [ See 100].

“It was put to the mother that when she reported matters to the police…she denied that she had been subject to coercive control.

The mother told the Court, “He was desperate to give the impression I was alienating the children. I was in fear of losing the children. I was scared of the system. He was in constant contact with Cafcass saying I was alienating the children, walking around the house with a camera and giving a narrative to the situation.

I did not want to accuse him of coercive control because he was using the system to scare me…he accused me of having mental health problems…I was terrified. I could not sleep or eat. I was scared to say anything…he would send messages telling me, ‘This is what you’re doing’ and sending extracts from psychology websites about alienation, implying there was something wrong with me, making me feel it was my fault. I did not know where to stand.

He would send messages saying I was wonderful and at the same time accusing me of being a horrible person…He would say, ‘I know what you’re doing,’ sending a link to an alienation website implying that I was hurting the children. I felt terrified with the messages.

He was implying I was hurting the children. I did not know what to think. He was playing with my reality. It made me feel very anxious. I could not think straight and could not sleep. What he was saying was not me…I was afraid and alone. I was not legally represented. I had not been believed by the Court. It was very hard for me to say things [to the police] over the phone.

I was not able to talk about things. I was scared of the consequences…I had nowhere to go, no money and could not afford being out of the house…he accuses me of alienation but it comes from his insensitive approach to the children which causes them harm.” [100]


The father’s behaviour during proceedings was often sarcastic and combative, with little insight into the impact on his children. He was described as unable to reflect on the clear evidence of his coercive and controlling behaviour. When Dr Proudman highlighted his grinning and smiling during the cross-examination, he accused Counsel of ‘false characterisation’ and stated, ‘I understand the campaign you’re running’.  [See 130]

“The father’s evidence to the Court was laced with sarcasm. He repeatedly grinned and smiled during cross-examination by Dr Proudman, which Dr Proudman properly highlighted when he was behaving in this manner.

His response was to state to Counsel, “I’m amused by the absurdity that I’m a lunatic angry man.” The father was repeatedly combative during cross-examination, asserting variously that Counsel was, “wilfully misinterpreting facts” and, “repeatedly stating falsehoods.” He accused Counsel of, “pure fantasy” and “not representing the true situation.” He accused Counsel repeatedly of, “false characterisation” He asserted to Counsel, “I understand the campaign you’re running.”

His combative approach did not assist the Court in the task before it of determining the factual matrix in the case nor did it assist the children. The father demonstrated not the slightest insight into the impact of his actions and behaviours on the children. In evidence to the Court, he found it impossible to think empathetically towards the children.

He was unable at all to reflect on the clearest possible evidence of his controlling and abusive behaviour, that being the video evidence he took on his body warn camera during the incident when he prevented ‘G’ from leaving her bedroom, resulting in the situation escalating to one of the child demonstrably experiencing such a high level of prolonged distress. The father took the decision to video record all movements in the family home. In doing so, he is hoist with his own petard.” [130]

Related barristers: Dr Charlotte Proudman

Related practice areas: Family


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