It may be one of the most damaging forms of child abuse you've most likely never heard of, but it does have a name: Parental Alienation. It's where children are brought into the bitterness of divorce often times used to get back at the other parent. One local father is driving across the country to try to stop this little known form of abuse.
"It's more than just a custody dispute," said Joe Barrow of La Quinta.
Barrow has been avoiding checking the mail for days, not wanting to see the letter he's expecting that will determine whether or not he will be apart of his teenage daughter's life.
"It's just like losing a child, which is a parent's worst nightmare, but the only consolidation is that your child is out there somewhere," said Barrow.
The letter didn't come when he checked it on Friday, but Barrow knows it will soon as apart of a custody dispute.
"There are some that hold on to that bitterness and basically use their children as pawns to get at the other parent," said Barrow.
Barrow says that's called parental alienation.
"Basically one parent will turn the child against the other and unfortunately it's not hard to do when your children are younger," said Barrow. "A child is alienated not just from the parent but basically from that entire side of the family."
Because of his current battle, Barrow left his family therapy practice to start the website April25.org named after National Parental Alienation Awareness Day.
"There are a lot of people that haven't seen their children in years," said Barrow.
Sometimes the only recourse is family court, but Barrow says in extreme cases a court order doesn't even help.
"The court orders are basically worthless, there is no recourse if you don't follow it," said Barrow.
And Barrow is working to change that.
"Just like if someone were to fail to pay their child support there are consequences for that, well if one parent is unwilling to share their child that is really detrimental to the child, there should be consequences for that," said Barrow.
Next week he and his family are taking this message on the road.
"Our goal is for it to become a household name," said Barrow.
He is traveling from La Quinta to Times Square in New York City.
"It maybe too late for our family and our daughter but we are determined to bring awareness and eventually help put and end to this, because it's devastating," said Barrow.
For more information about parental alienation click here.