For the past three days, Croatia had hosted the 3rd European Conference with International Participation of EAPAP (European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners), organized by the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center in the form of a webinar.
In addition to local experts in the field of health, social care and justice (such as Gordana Buljan Flander, Marina Ajduković, Renata Šantek, Lane Peto Kujundžić), experts from all over the world participated – such as Jill Salberg, Jennifer Harman and Kelley Baker (USA), Wilfred von Boch-Galau (Germany), Benjamin Bailey and Inbal Kivenson Bar-On (Israel), Marina Walter and Thomas Demessence (Switzerland), Sandra Inês Feitor (Portugal), Brian Ludmer (Canada), (USA), Karen and Nick Woodall (England), Mirela Badurina (BiH), Sara Jerebic (Slovenia), Milica Pejović Milovančević and Teodora Minčić (Serbia) and Simona Vladica (Romania), Sietske Dijkstra (Netherlands) and Claire Francica (Malta).
The participants of the conference are united in the message – the treatment is in what we do, not in what we say, and they assessed the conference as the beginning of a reform in harmonizing the best practices for dealing with alienation cases. Their goal is to ensure that the guidelines for work are internationally harmonized, to achieve respect for alienation by the judiciary, and to connect, communicate and respond to all experts in the system in a timely manner, as this is a prerequisite for interventions to protect abused children.
Professor Gordana Buljan Flader, PhD, pointed out in her closing speech: “As has been said many times in the last few days, we as experts often feel lonely and attacked working on cases of alienation. We all face similar problems and challenges, but we also live one mission and one goal, and that is to protect children. Without exaggerating, I firmly believe that together we create both history and the future”. In her speech, the director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center especially emphasized the quote by doctor Benjamin Bailey, an expert from Israel that participated in the conference and said that he reminded her of the time of raising public awareness about the problem of sexual abuse of children in Croatia 30 years ago. “He said that this is not a short race, but a marathon. And I firmly believe, today more than ever, that we can run it.”- she said.
Karen and Nick Woodall, experts from the UK, stated in their conclusions that this conference paved the way for reshaping the tasks of experts that once concerned proving alienation in court and are now focused on treating relational trauma.
“Relational trauma in divorce and separation of parents is a hidden abuse of children, and its recognition is essential to shed light on cases. Since children abused in divorce have been ignored for too long, it is time to recognize the harmfulness of this practice. This region is a world leader in dealing with this problem, and we are extremely honored to be able to hold this conference in Zagreb with our partners, the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center”- said Karen and Nick Woodall.