Crisis In The Family Courts

Family Court and the Judicial Murder of Children's Lives

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 26, 2009
Family Court and the Judicial Murder of Children’s Lives

Yesterday, on the Susan Murphy Milano Show we highlighted mothers who have lost custody of their children because the court system in this country is ill equipped to properly deal with family issues involving the safe placement for custody of minor children.

Mental health experts prescribed in court by a judge on a “short list” mandated to determine the fitness of a parent and the well being of the children. What is often not determined is the safety of the child, especially when there are serious issues including sexual abuse, as we heard from Taylor’s mother a case in Virginia that wreaks of cover-up all in the name of winning a sick game called “Maternal Deprivation Abuse”. Imagine a legal system who determines financial matters and legal property disbursements using the same method on human lives under the age of 18 with total disregard for the safety and mental wellness of a child. A legal system taking on the burden of proof and yet throws it in the waste basket under their judicial bench. Sadly, with no regard for human lives and more importantly children unable to defend themselves from two evils the courts and theirabuser parent as discussed in Lundy Bancroft latest book.

The switchboard was inundated with calls from across the country from mothers asking for solutions on behalf of the silenced, their own children. After the show the email box filled up quickly because we were unable to get to all the callers woith questions.

One particular note we received on face book happens to be in my neck of the woods in Will County, Illinois. The same county where the trial for Christopher Vaughn is yet to begin for the brutal slayings of Kimberly Ellen Vaughn, 34, and her three children, Abigayle Elizabeth Vaughn, 12; Cassandra Ellen Vaughn, 11; and Blake Philip Vaughn, 8; all of Oswego, were found in June of 2007, shot to death in an SUV in far Illinois southwest. "Neighbors and friends said they were a nice family and a quiet couple."

This of course it is also the same county Drew Petersonwas finally arrested for the murder of Kathleen Savio and remains a suspect in the vanishing act of Stacy Peterson. And let us not forget that Lisa Stebic also from Will County going through a divorce has vanished and no one has been arrested. All of these women and in other cases across the country murdered because their abuser’s were not willing to split assets financially, pay child support or allow their wives to move on with their lives. These women fought and lost with their lives all in the name of a system that is like the storybook character humpty dumpty. It cannot be put back together again because it is broken.

The note said: "I know you are an advocate and maybe you can help – Right now in Will County Courthouse there is mother actually fighting for custody of her two little girls that have undergone sexual abuse. She has DNA evidence – Will County Sheriff’s police refuse to send evidence over to the DA and she is being given run around. The DCFS case worker is friend of ex-husband’s family and refuses to believe that there is anything going on – Basically they want her to recant and submit herself to intensive therapy which is unwarranted… based on her career, lifestyle and children’s success from a previous marriage. The action is occurring in Room 300 in the Will County Courthouse- Many wonder how The Connelly children wound up dead… anyone watching in that courtroom can see how awful our family courts can be…."

On Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM Central Time onThe Susan Murphy Milano show will continue the discussion on Mothers losing Custody. Returning to the show are Co-Founder of Protective Mothers Alliance and the case of Taylor and her mother’s fight to regain custody of her daughter lost to a system that denies a mother her rights.

If you would like to email your questions before the show we will try to answer them on-air. The address iskindlivingpress01@gmail.com. Please include the state and city where you live as different laws apply.

We will be taking your calls live at 347-326-9337

To listen to the show Mother’s Without Custody"turn on the volume on your computer and it will automatically play.

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What is Fair for Children of Abusive Men? by Jack C. Straton, Ph.D.

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 26, 2009

http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/nomas.html

originally presented at
What About the Kids? Custody and Visitation Decisions in Families with a History of Violence
National Training Project of the Duluth Domestic Abuse Project – Thursday, October 8, 1992, Duluth, Minnesota

from the Journal of the Task Group on Child Custody Issues*
of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism
Volume 5, Number 1, Spring1993 (Fourth Edition, 2001)
c/o University Studies, Portland State University, Portland, OR, 97207-0751
503-725-5844, 503-725-5977 (FAX) , straton@pdx.edu


What is Fair for Children of Abusive Men?
by Jack C. Straton, Ph.D.


INTRODUCTION

I want to express my deep gratitude to Ellen Pence, Madeline Dupre, Jim Soderberg and the others from the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project for giving me this opportunity to speak with you. The State of Minnesota should be proud that, quite literally, the world looks to this program for guidance on understanding and ending domestic violence. I also want to acknowledge how much I continually learn from Barbara Hart, of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

I will first critically examine the criterion at the base of all custody laws today, "What is in the best interests of the children?" I will the talk about children’s choice in these matters. Then I will examine the actual effects of wife-battering on children, and develop an alternative paradigm for custody based on those effects. From this I will examine the question, "Is it ever appropriate to ever give a batterer custody of a child?"

In the process, I am going to talk today about the effects of male power and control over children, not about parental power and control. I know that it is popular these days to de-gender family conflict, to talk about "spouse abuse" and "family violence" rather than "wife beating" and "rape." I know that we want a society in which men nurture children to the same extent that women do.

I know that fathers and mothers should both be capable parents. But if you ask "What about the kids?" I want to give you a serious answer. I cannot seriously entertain the myth that our society really is gender neutral, so to consider "What about the kids?" while pretending such neutrality is to engage in denial and cognitive dissonance. I cannot hope to arrive at an answer that will positively affect reality if my underlying assumptions are based on fantasy.

So I am going to talk today about the effects of male power and control over children, not about parental power and control. As I cite examples, some of you may hear your internal voice saying, "But women do that, too." As this happens I would ask you to be aware that such voices are often the voice of guilt that try to distract us from what we really know about men’s violence so that we need not take responsibility for this violence.

It is true, for example, that some women do batter men. But the number of severe cases of this type is so low when compared with the virtual war of men’s violence against women, that they cannot be seen above the statistical noise. This voice that says "But women do that, too" has as its purpose, not compassion for battered men or lesbians, but a distraction from the noble goal of ending battering of women.

So as you hear this voice today, become consciously aware of it. Let it into your conscious mind for a moment, and then let it drift on. It is just a tape recording that you can always come back to in an hour or two if there is a need. If you find that you just can’t contain this voice, that others must hear this tape recording, please do not hesitate to raise a hand or even to shout it out. We will pause to give it some space.

WHOSE BEST INTERESTS?

I want to begin by instilling in you a healthy skepticism about the "Best interests of the child" criterion that underlies custody laws today. It is important to acknowledge that the term "the best interests of the child" is so vague that some adult must state what constitutes "best interest."

In practice courts rely on social and psychological professionals to make this determination. While such individuals are surely skilled and caring individuals, it must be admitted that they operate out of a set of professional norms that are never openly discussed, and are subject to professional fad.

For instance, Irene Thèry of France notes that today

    "there is a real reversal of traditional models. The stigmatization of remarriage and the prescription of fidelity have given place to the stigmatization of solitude and the prescription of ‘remaking one’s life,’ i.e. finding a new partner." 1

As Martha L. Fineman, of this country, says, "A desire for sole custody has now been labeled ‘pathological’."There are obvious and serious consequences for battered women with the

    "creation of professional norms which would give custody to… the parent most willing to share the child with the other parent." 2

In addition, the "best interests" criterion is flawed because of its unpredictability, which presumably

    "has an impact on the number of cases brought before courts, since there is a stronger reason to have a case tried when the outcome is un- certain… The threat of bringing the case to court, with an uncertain outcome, may easily be used as pressure on the other party in order to obtain advantages in the [out of court] economic settlement,"

e.g. lower child support payments. 3

In this way the "best interests" criterion ironically may lead to the impoverishment of children. This is more serious in cases involving child abuse where the mother’s fear of losing custody to the father is extreme. Finally, Fineman notes that

    "rules that focus on the performance of nurturing or caretaking have been attacked, not because they are explicitly gender biased, but because in operation they will act to favor women who traditionally perform such tasks," 4

though clearly any man can choose to become the primary caretaker. So instead of viewing past behavior as a predictor of future behavior on behalf of the child, the "best interests" criterion looks at present status, such as income or a new partner (a more frequent occurrence for the fathers).

But Sandberg observes that in

    "consequence, the result of treating people equally when their situation is in fact different is a de factoinequality. Fathers have, because of the new legislation, obtained a stronger position in child custody cases than their efforts in the caretaking of children should fairly allow." 5

Joint Custody

Joint Custody is clearly a type of "best interests" criterion. It explicitly assumes that joint custody is in the child’s best interests. There are severe consequences for battered women subjected to joint custody presumptions.

Joint custody forced upon two hostile parents can create a toxic psychological environment for a child. Because 95% of all joint custody awards are for joint legal custody 6 the living arrangements are exactly the same
as under a sole-custody/ visitation order. However joint legal custody does expand the right of the non-primary-caretaking parent to impede the ability of the primary-caretaker to make needed and timely decisions.

Some provisions in joint legal custody laws require a minimum visitation period for the noncustodial parent that can be limited only when there is a threat of physical harm to the child. This threat is difficult to prove, especially when the accuser is perceived as a litigant with a vested interest in distortion. And such provisions also do not address psychological and emotional abuse.

The threat of a joint custody decision may be used by the husband to bargain out of court for a reduction in child support payments (trading children for money in a throwback to the 19th century laws in which children were considered to be property of the father). The potential for bartering away the child’s financial resources because of a bad faith request for custody is reinforced by ("friendly parent") provisions that give a preference to the parent requesting joint custody when the alternative of sole custody is considered by the court. Such "friendly parent" provisions also guarantee an abusive father or husband access to the victim. Men who batter their wives may also sexually abuse their children. 7 The more fearful a woman is of the father gaining sole custody, the more willing she may be to submit to joint custody or to a reduction in child support.

Children’s right to choose vs. abuser’s manipulation of a child.

I want to talk about the question of children advocating on their own behalf. As one who would like to see the rights of children recognized and affirmed, I am tempted to say that, yes, a child should have some input into a decision about with whom they will live.

Yet in the present case we have a man who, though he beats his wife, is often very charismatic to the rest of the world, and perhaps to his kids. And even if he beats his kids as well, it is known that intermittent affection can be a stronger binding agent than consistent affection. We also have a man who has demonstrated his power over another human being through brutality.

It is known that older children will sometimes join in the abuse of their mother. Since it is the older children to whom we might be tempted to accede some measure of choice, I find this mirroring of the father’s brutality disquieting. I do not ask you to take one side or the other of this question, but to be cautious until someone more wise than I can resolve the knot for you.

The Primary Caretaker Rule

My preference for the primary caretaker criterion will be obvious as I speak today. In Sandberg’s summary: This criterion

    "would hardly lead to worse decisions than ‘the best interests of the child’, considering all the uncertainty it implies."

    "It should only exceptionally result in a worse solution than if the other parent was chosen… That parent has demonstrated a willingness to take care of the child and has practice doing the job. There is also reason to believe that the child is emotionally more attached to her or him.

    Besides, during the marriage the parties after all set up the caretaker arrangement together, and would hardly have done this while thinking that the actual primary caretaker was less fit than the other parent."8

For today’s discussion, I will point out that since men are nearly always the batterers in domestic violence and women are nearly always the primary caretakers for the children, adoption of the primary caretaker criterion for custody would enormously relieve both the courts and advocates for battered women of much of their work around custody decisions.

    Murdering one’s wife

Before leaving this section, I want to note just how far the "best interest" criterion can be stretched. A Florida court in 1987 acknowledged 9 that a

    "man’s violent and irrational behavior included throwing his wife to the ground, beating her when she was four months pregnant, and threatening to kill her, her father, and himself,… [yet] the court accepted a psychologist’s conclusion that the man’s ‘past violence was related to the deterioration of his relationship with [his wife],’ and was presumably unrelated to his fitness as a parent." 10

Incredibly,

    "[c]ourts often are precluded from considering the actual abusive act of killing the other parent" 11

in custody decisions. Moreover, in one case 12 that explicitly considered the domestic violence factor as mandated by Illinois statute, a father who had killed the mother of his children was given not only visitation but custody.

The appeals court in 1989 noted that

    "a single criminal conviction, without more, will not support a finding of unfitness based on depravity."

If I may be somewhat flippant, they apparently require multiple murders before they are willing to terminate a man’s control over his children.

Moreover, it stated, neither Illinois courts nor the state legislature

    "has seen fit to set forth a rule of law that the killing of one parent by the other in the presence of the children no matter what the circumstances is sufficient to deprive that parent of his or her children on the basis of unfitness."

As with Minnesota law, Illinois only had to consider domestic violence as one of many factors. In contrast we have a case in West Virginia 13

    "in which a mother was accused of firing a rifle at her ex-husband when he came to visit their child. Although the evidence did not prove conclusively that the incident actually occurred, the court found the woman to be an unfit mother because she had ‘demonstrated [a] tendency to be violent… when she was upset but not in any way threatened.’ " 14

Their extreme cognitive dissonance indicates that courts are clearly loathe to deprive men of a "right" of access to and control over their children, though the same cannot be said of such "rights" for women.

The paradigm in which these jurists are trying to stuff reality is leftover from the 19th century notions of men’s ownership of both children and women. If the "best interests" criterion can encompass such bizarre rationalization, it is time we moved on to a new paradigm of relationship between men and women and children.

A new paradigm

Since I have cast doubt on the gender-neutrality of professionals’ norms in relation to the best interests of children criterion, I will not impose my own norm-base arguments for what constitutes "best interests." I will instead focus on an alternative criterion for custody of children exposed to domestic violence; what constitutes demonstrable harm. In particular, I will next argue that it causes demon-strable harm for a child to be given into the power and control of an abuser.

CUSTODY BY AN ABUSER
CREATES DEMONSTRABLE HARM

Our choice, as a society, to give parents control over children is predicated on the idea that parents’ love for their children will cause them to act in the child’s best interests (there’s that phrase again). Yet a man who violates his love for his wife by assaulting her is demonstrating that his actions are not in consonance with his avowals of love. In fact, those who are most remorseful are the ones to who
m we might be tempted to give custody, and these are the men whose actions and love are in greatest dissonance. What basis, then, do we have for presuming that he will act in his children’s best interest simply because he loves them? None.

So the sensible thing to do is to look at his actions to see what effect they really do have.

    The overlap between wife beating and abuse of children

The most obvious place to begin this examination is to determine how often men who batter their wives and partners abuse their children. We start by noting that 25 to 63% of domestic violence victims are pregnant when beaten. 15

While you may say that it is the woman, not the fetus, who is the target here, there is in any case total disregard for the welfare of the child-to-be. Lenore Walker and coworkers 16, 17 found that 53% of the batterers associated with their study had sexually or physically abused their children as well. In a longitudinal study of battered children of battered wives, Jean Giles-Sims found that 63% of the men who abused their wives also abused their children. 18

Rosenbaum and O’Leary 19 found that 82% of men who observed in- ter-parental spouse abuse were themselves victims of child abuse. In the most extensive study to date, of 1000 battered women, Bowker and coworkers found that 70% of the children were also abused. 20 They also noted that daughters of abused women are six and one-half times more likely to be sexually abused as girls from non-abused families. Thus 14% of girls in abusive homes will be sexually abused by a family member. 21

Furthermore, Bowker found that as the severity of the wife abuse increased, so did the severity of the child abuse. While it is true that women will spank children, Bergman et al. determined that men are ten and one-half times more likely than women to inflict serious harm. They found that every known perpetrator of the death of a child in their study was a father or father surrogate. 22

There should now be no question in your minds that access to children by abusive men constitutes serious probable harm to children. Given the serious consequences of physical and sexual abuse to children, which of you is willing to play roulette with a given child’s life, hoping that he or she will be one of the 30% or so not physically or sexually abused?

Prevalence of children who witness abuse

Let us consider for a moment that a 70% probability of physical or sexual abuse is deemed an insufficient barrier to deprive a man access to, and control over, a child. To put it most favorably,

    "But we would be depriving 30% of fathers who have never abused children the love and affection to which they are entitled by"

… ah, by… well, let’s set aside for the moment the issue of entitlement. What are the consequences for the children in violent homes who witness their fathers abusing their mothers? 23

Studies of battered women’s reports of child witnesses range from 68% 24 (to 76%, 25 to 80% 26) to 87%.27

    "However, from interviews with children [Jaffe, Wolf and Wilson found] that almost all can describe detailed accounts of violent behavior that their mother or father never realized they had witnessed." 28

Wallerstein and Blakeslee report that even if there is only one violent incident, children will remember it. 29

Behavioral and health effects on children who witness abuse

Pagelow has observed

    "children as young as one year begin to regress into states later diagnosed as ‘mental retardation’ when they were exposed to parental hostilities that never went beyond the verbal abuse level." 30

It is important to note for the question of contact with the abuser that the symptoms of retardation quickly disappeared after the parents separated. If even verbal abuse can be so traumatic, consider the cases in which women are sexually brutalized in front of their children. 31

If we look at children who have chronically witnessed abuse we find reactions similar to the reactions of children who have been physically abused;

    "disruptions of normal developmental patterns that result in disturbed patterns of cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioral adjustment… Infants who witness violence are often characterized by poor health, poor sleeping habits, and excessive screaming (all of which may contribute to further violence toward their mother)." 32

    "Among preschoolers, [Davidson 33 and Alessi and Hearn 34] found signs of terror, as evidenced by the children’s yelling, irritable behavior, hiding, shaking, and stuttering." 32

They often experience insomnia, sleepwalking, nightmares, and bed wetting. They suffer psychosomatic problems such as headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea, ulcers, asthma, 31 as well as regression to earlier stages of functioning. 33

Adolescent boys exposed to domestic violence may use aggression as a predominant form of problem solving, may project blame onto others, and may exhibit a high degree of anxiety. Girls are more likely be withdrawn and turn blame inward. 33

    "Sadly, both boys and girls have been known to participate in the beating of their mother after having witnessed such behavior over many years." 33

Jaffe and co-authors state in sum that

    "clinical and empirical data… suggest that children exposed to wife abuse may be similar to those children described as suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)." 35

    Effects on children’s relationships when they witness abuse

Children exposed to wife abuse 36 often have

    "difficulties with school, including poor academic performance, school phobia, and difficulties in concentration… They are constantly fighting with peers, rebelling against instruction and authority, and [are] unwilling to do school work. 37" 38

Children who live in abusive homes are at higher risk of juvenile delinquency, including crimes such as burglary, arson, prostitution, running away, drug use, and assaults. 39

Heath and coworkers compared 48 inmates incarcerated for violent crimes and 45 nonviolent incarcerated males and found exposure to television violence at ages 8-12 and maternal or paternal abuse was highly related to violent crime. 40

Lewis et al. found that 79% of violent children in institutions reported that they had witne
ssed extreme violence between their parents, whereas only 20% of the nonviolent offenders did so. 41

Longitudinal studies 42 have shown that on-going marital violence in childhood was significantly predictive of perpetration of serious crimes in adulthood – assault, attempted rape, attempted murder, kidnapping, and completed murder.

    The next generation of batterers

Studies show that boys who witness their fathers beating their mothers are three times more likely to abuse their own wives. Sons of the most violent families have a wife beating rate that is 1000 times larger than of sons of non-violent parents. 43

This finding is not only significant from the point of view of a society that wants to protect its future members from violence. If we look at the transition from child to abuser with greatest compassion, it is a testimonial to the very great trauma that these boys endure.

Which of us would trade places with them. Of course there must be some (at least imagined) benefits these abusers gain from their behavior because there is no data suggesting that girls who witness abuse grow up to be abusers.

Finally, we noted earlier that daughters of abused women are six and one-half times more likely to be sexually abused as girls from non-abused families. Not all of this behavior is likely to be attributable to direct actions of the father or father figure. 44

    "Just as there is a high statistical incidence of boys who witness their fathers battering their mothers growing up to become batterers themselves, so there is a high incidence of fathers and brothers [perpetrating sexual abuse against] female children in those families where the father is a batterer." 45

BUT AREN’T THINGS DIFFERENT
AFTER THE PARENTS SEPARATE?

In almost three-fourths of spouse-on-spouse assaults, the perpetrator and survivor were separated or divorced at the time of the incident. 46

More then 1/4 of the women killed by a man with whom they had resided were separated or divorced at the time they were killed, according to one study in Philadelphia and Chicago. 29% of the women were attempting to end the relationship when they were killed. 47

In one study of spousal homicide, over half of the male defendants were separated from their victims. 48

Also, let me stress that the effects of witnessing violence on children are more severe the longer the exposure continues. 49

Pett 50 found that the most important predictor of a child’s social adjustment in recovery from violence was the quality of the relationship with the custodial parent, a relationship severely hampered by ongoing conflict.

    Retaliation by Kidnapping

After separation,

    "batterers frequently abduct children as a way to retaliate against their mothers. Each year, more than 350,000 children are kidnapped in this country, most of them by fathers. More than half of these abductions occur in the context of domestic violence. 51

    The impact of abduction by an abusive parent can be severe. Studies 52 have shown that this event alone can result in a Post-traumatic stress disorder." 53

    SO YOU ARE GOING TO
    TAKE AWAY A FATHER’S RIGHTS?

I want to pause and acknowledge that I have just taken you through a morass of horrible statistics surrounding the effects of wife beating on children. Having passed through, scratched and shaken but alive, it will seem incredible to you that, by and large, courts in this country have declared wife beating to be unrelated to a man’s relationship to his child — no less than declaring a man’s murder of the children’s mother as irrelevant.

In my role as an advocate for children, I ask you, how can you give custody of children to an abusive man when you now know what effects that choice will have on those children?

There are those who will have you focus on this issue from the perspective contained in the phrase

    "But that would be taking away a man’s rights!"

One could certainly play the game from this perspective and insist that if a man has a right to access and control his children, he loses it the minute he abuses a woman. There is precedent. A man who commits any other violent crime can lose his "right" to vote and to run for public office. This is a part our system of deterrents to crime. Minnesota showed the world that arresting batterers decreases the recidivism rate. Don’t you think that if fathers knew that they would automatically lose custody of their children if they brutalize their wife, they would stop this abuse? If they didn’t stop even though they knew of this consequence, what does that say about their concern for their children and for their relationship with their children?

But I don’t even want to begin from a diversionary discussion of taking rights from men. I want to begin from the demonstrable fact that children exposed to woman abuse are harmed by the experience. As Michelle Etlin says,

    "When a child comes into a hospital with gangrene, we don’t ask about how amputating the leg will affect his father’s right to play baseball with him. We operate to save the child’s life." 54

Children of abusive men are at high risk, are we going to cut the disease from their life or are we going to worry about the rights of the disease?

    BUT DON’T CHILDREN NEED THEIR FATHERS?

But aren’t we also depriving children of their father if we deny them custody and possibly visitation? In answer, there can be no denying that children of abusive men may feel love for them and feel pain at separation, but an amputation is expected to be a painful but necessary act to avert foreseeable harm.

What are the long-term consequences? A study done in 1987 by Furstenberg, Morgan, and Allison, 55 found that children who had not seen their father in 5 years did significantly better than those who had spent 1 through 13 days with their father in the previous year. Another study by Zill 56 found that the well-being of children following divorce is not related to father-child contact.

I must qualify this assertion by noting that wherever the father rather than a mother is the primary caregiver for the children, there would likely be severe consequences to terminating the relationship. 49 As much as we might wish it, such a role is seldom adopted by men today.

    BUT WHAT ABOUT VISITATION?

You will note that my remarks imply that demonstrable harm to children has as its rational consequence not just termination of custody, not just requiring supervised visitation, but termination of visitation. I want to acknowledge that this is really what I mean to say.

[If a child wishes to visit with the father, an affirmative attitude toward children’s rights would lead one to allow this contact, even knowing the harm it may cause, and even knowing that further contact on the part of a male child might increase his indoctrination into abusive behavior himself. However, knowing of abuser’s abilities to manipu
late children’s attitudes it would be prudent to enforce a cooling-off period of 6 months or so, after which time the child might find that he or she is happier without visitation.

I also want to acknowledge that it is a political reality of today that visitation between an abusive father and his children will not often be severed, even when the child is unwilling to go. In particular, although a judge would be in the right to establish a "no-visitation" policy in an ex parte hearing for an order of protection for the abused mother, it is unlikely that a permanent "no-visitation" order based solely on the statistical likelihood of harm to the child would survive appeal.

It follows that we must develop protocols for determining actual harm to the children in question during the time between the ex parte hearing and the final custody decision. In any case, if we are to order visitation despite the realities of probable demonstrable harm to children, it is essential that we consciously acknowledge that we are disregarding the rational conclusion that follows from the harm.]

Of course if the abuser ever really changes his beliefs in male supremacy and ends all psychological and physical abuse, it may be a productive healing experience for a child to hear his apology. It is conceivable that a positive relationship could follow from this. Unfortunately, very few men ever really make the necessary changes. 57

Barring such a radical conversion, even supervised visitation will harm children. Lenore Walker summarizes the plight of children who witness wife battering eloquently:

    Children who live in a battering relationship experience the most insidious form of child abuse. Whether or not they are physically abused is less important than the psychological scars they bear from watching their fathers beat their mothers. They learn to become part of a dishonest conspiracy of silence. They learn to lie to prevent inappropriate behavior, and they learn to suspend fulfillment of their needs rather than risk another confrontation. They do extend a lot of energy avoiding problems. They live in a world of make-believe. 58

Consider the supervised visit in light of her remarks. Consider first the 14% of girls in abusive homes who have been sexually abused by a family member. 21 I would like to quote from Michelle Etlin: 59

    What, then, can be expected from supervised visitation with a molester who does not admit what he has done, and thus wants his victim’s revelations to be disbelieved? First of all, supervised visitation sets up a paradigm for the child to follow. In the past, contact between the abuser and victim was unsupervised, and the abuser did something he made the child feel part of. The primary thought in a child’s mind when she is being molested is — how should she act? Then she must carefully design how she should actevery single minute after being molested, because she never feels normal and natural again.Mark these words: nothing, nothing, ever feels normal and natural again for a child who has been molested. So, when a supervised visit occurs, the supervisor is seen as a powerful, authoritative figure defining – not how the abuser should act but how the child must act.

    This is the case because a child is not accustomed to anyone defining adult behavior… — she’s used to adults defining children’s behavior. Therefore, a visitation supervisor is perceived by a child as someone who lets her know what interactions are acceptable and valid — for her. Since the supervisor does not discuss the parent’s abusive actions with him and the child, the child learns they are not to be discussed. Since the supervisor does not display outrage and anger toward the adult, the child learns they are not acceptable.

    Since the supervisor covers over the reality of this enforced access, and pretends things are normal, the child’s reality is altered and her need to "pretend normal" is insidiously reinforced. Since the supervisor facilitates the availability of the child for the pleasant pastime of the adult, the child’s belief in her own status as a commodity — as a prostitute, really — is sealed.

    * * *

    Supervised visits with a molester also set up a clear preference for the pretend good visit interaction and the fake smile, something that causes rapid psychological deterioration in any child who has already suffered child sexual abuse. During visits, the supervisor acts as if nothing had happened wrong between father and child, and as if the father loves the child and the extra person is there to enforce a certain kind of protocol upon, and to bless, the interaction. The protocol is cool, dishonest, fraudulent and deadly. The supervisor invariably acts in a polite and accommodating manner to the father, setting an example for the child as to what is socially acceptable in the circumstances.

    What this does to the child’s fragile psyche is to remove permission from the child to be angry, withdrawn, afraid or honest about her feelings. She is supposed to, and does, act as if the offense had not occurred — returning her to the condition she suffered during the abuse.

    At worst, every supervised visit is an emotional replay of the dissociative feelings of being molested; at best, every supervised visit tells the child, very clearly:

    ACCOMMODATE THE ABUSE! You are to pretend nothing happened because Daddy pretends nothing happened and even this stranger who has authority agrees that we all pretend nothing happened. This is the correct way for everyone to behave.

    Yes, supervised visitation, in its own subtle psycho-tyrannical manner, is more invalidating to the child victim than any other form of coercion.

Not all children we are considering today have been sexually abused by their father, but the principle of accommodation of the father’s abuse through the act of providing a neutral supervisor carries over into visits with any of the kids from violent homes. At the very least, supervised visitation should not be automatically assumed.

CONCLUSION

Let me sum up what I have shared with you. I have criticized the "best interests of the child" criterion as being so vague that it requires us to rely upon the opinions of adults as to what "best interest" means. And the norms behind these opinions are seldom acknowledged, and thus not refutable. I then showed that courts who apply this criterion have disregarded the severe effects of domestic violence on children, even to the extent of saying that killing a child’s mother is not a sufficiently depraved act so as to deny a man custody. If it is possible for a custodial criterion to allow such twisted result to result from a jurists value system, that criterion itself is severely flawed.

BUSTING THE MYTH OF FATHERHOODWe then looked at the flaws inherent in presuming joint custody to be in children’s best interests. I then described the primary caretaker criterion and showed that for violent families it will almost automatically remove a child from harm’s way.

Finally I presented an alternative criterion based on demonstrable and foreseeable harm to children, and applied it to cases of domestic violence.

We found that some 70% of men who batter will also abuse their children, with 1/5 of these children being subjected to sexual abuse.

We found that virtually all children witness or are aware of domestic abuse, even those children who do not experience it
themselves. It was demonstrated that the psychological and somatic effects of chronically witnessing abuse are very similar to the effects of being physically abused, a Post-traumatic stress disorder.

We found that children who witness wife beating have difficulty in school and are much more prone to juvenile delinquency and, ultimately, violent crime than children from non-abusive families. They have poor relationships with peers and siblings, learn to despise their mother for her abuse, and learn to emulate their father in his expressions of aggression.

We found that the longer the abuse witnessed, the more severe the resultant disorder. Given that assaults on women actually increase after separation and divorce, we would expect that children have more traumas associated with this phase.

I was able to find only one rational conclusion from this cascade of phenomena; that a cessation of contact with the abuser is the only way to minimize demonstrable and foreseeable harm to these children.

When I look at the possibilities this society has to offer the word today, and the generations unborn, I mourn the tragedy of generation upon generation of children who are brutalized themselves, or psychologically scarred as they witness their mothers being brutalized by their fathers.

How can these children, who will become adults, ever find the mental peace with which to create the miracle of justice and prosperity that is the eventual destiny of a conscious and loving species, if they are entangled in fears and anxieties from childhood?

How can we hope to bring true civilization into our lives when each day children are taught aggression and brutality as the means to power?

How can we face future generations of our kind and say that we knew about the abuse and did nothing to help?

Join with me; take your place at the front of our march toward freedom; let it never be said that our generation was too afraid of male violence to stand up for the lives and hearts of children.


REFERENCES

1 Child Custody and the Politics of Gender, Carol Smart and Selma Sevenhuijsen (Eds.) (Routledge, New York, 1989), p.90.

2 Ibid., p.43

3 Kirstin Sanberg (Norway) in Ibid., p.105.

4 Ibid., p 34.

5 Ibid., p 109.

6 Levy & Chambers, The Folly of Joint Custody, 3 Fam. Adv. 6, 10 (Summer 1981).

7 Diana Russell’s random sample of 930 females from the natural population of women in San Francisco found a rate of 4.5%, and Gail Wyatt’s study of 248 women in Los Angeles, also statistically sound, found a rate of 8.1% [The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (Basic Books, 1986), p. 72].

8 Supra note 1, p.115 and 114, respectively, emphasis mine.

9 Collinsworth v. O’Connell, 508 So.2d 744 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1987).

10 Naomi R. Cahn, Civil Images of Battered Women: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody Decisions, Vanderbilt Law Review 44 , 1041-1097 (1991), p.1073. This article is an excellent resource on these issues.

11 Ibid., p 1080.

12 In re Lutgen, 177 Ill. App. 3d 954, 532 N.E.2d 976 (1988), appeal denied, 125 Ill. 2d 565, 537 N.E.2d 811 (1989).

13 Collins v. Collins, 297 S.E.2d 901, 902 (W. Va 1982).

14 Naomi R. Cahn, supra note 10, p 1073, citation No. 174..

15 Helton, McFarlane, and Anderson, Battered and Pregnant: A Prevalence Study, American J. of Public Health 77, 1337 (1987).

16 Lenore E. Walker, Roberta K. Thyfault, and Angela Browne, Beyond the Batterer’s Ken: Battered Women, Vermont Law Review 7, 1 (1982).

17 Lenore E. Walker, The Battered Woman Syndrome (1984), p. 27, 59.

18 Jean Giles-Sims, A Longitudinal Study of battered Children of Battered Wives, Family Relations 34 , 205 (1985).

19 Alan Rosenbaum and K. Daniel O’Leary, Children: The Unintended Victims of Marital Violence, Amer. J. Orthopsychiatry 51, 692 (1981).

20 Bowker, Arbitell, and McFerron, On the Relationship Between Wife Beating and Child Abuse, in Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse, K. Yllo and M. Bograd, eds. (1988), p. 158, 162.

21 14% = 16% x [6.5/(6.5+1)] where the 16% figure is the rate of familial sexual victimization of all girls before age 18 as given by Diana Russell’s statistically sound survey, The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (Basic Books, 1986), pp. 60-61.

22 Abraham B. Bergman, Rosanne M. Larsen, and Beth A. Mueller, Changing Spectrum of Child Abuse, Pediatrics 77, 113 (1986).

23 R. E. Dobash and R. P. Dobash, Violence Against Wives: A Case Against the Patriarchy (1979), p. 112; M. Bard, The Study and Modification of Intra-familial Violence, in The Control of Aggression, J. Singer, ed. (Academic Press, 1971).

24 L. G. Leighton, Spousal Abuse in Toronto: Research Report on the Response of the Criminal Justice System (Report No. 1989- 02) Ottawa: Solicitor General of Canada (1989), 68% of 2,910 cases.

25 Mildred D. Pagelow, Children in Violent Families: Direct and Indirect Victims, in Young Children and Their Families, Shirley Hill and B. J. Barnes, eds. (Lexington Books, 1982), p. 55.

26 D. Sinclair, Understanding Wife Assault: A Training Manual for Counselors and Advocates (Ontario Government Bookstore, Toronto, 1985).

27 L. Walker, supra note 17, p.59.

28 Peter G. Jaffe, David A. Wolf, and Susan K. Wilson, Children of Battered Women (Sage, 1990), p. 21. See also M. S. Rosenberg, Inter-generational Family Violence: A Critique and Implications for Witnessing Children. Paper presented to the 92nd annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto (1984).

29 J. Wallerstein and S. Blakeslee, Second Chances 121 (1989).

30 M. Pagelow supra note 25, p. 53.

31 Elaine Hilberman and Kit Munson, Sixty Battered Women, Victimology 2 , 460 (1977- 78).

32 Jaffe et al. supra note 28, p. 39-41.

33 T. Davidson, Conjugal Crime: Understanding and Changing the Wife Beating Pattern (Hawthorn, New York, 1978)

34 J. J. Alessi and K. Hearn Group Treatment of Children in Shelters for Battered Women, in Battered Women and their Families, A. R. Roberts, ed. (Springer, New York, 1984).

35 Jaffe et al. supra note 28, p. 72.

36 H. M. Hughes, Research With Children in Shelters: Implications for Clinical Services, Children Today (1986) pp. 21-25.

37 E. J. McKay, Children of Battered Women. Paper presented at the Third National Family Violence Researcher’s Conference, Durham, NC (1987).

38 Jaffe et al., supra note 28, p. 50.

39 Lenore E. Walker, Eliminating Sexism to End Bat
tering Relationships
. Paper presented to the American Psychological Association, Toronto (1984) pp. 2-3.

40 C. Heath, C. Kruttschnitt, and D. Ward, Television and Violent Criminal Behavior: Beyond the Bobo Doll, Violence and Victims 1, 177-190 (1986).

41 D. O. Lewis, S. S. Shanok, J. H. Pincus, and G. H. Glaser Violent Juvenile Delinquents: Psychiatric, Neurological, Psychological, and Abuse Factors. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry 18, 307-319 (1979).

42 J. McCord, A Forty Year Perspective on Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect, Child Abuse and Neglect 7, 265-270 (1983).

43 Stark and Flitcraft, Woman-battering, Child Abuse and Social Heredity: What is the Relationship?, in Marital Violence, N. Johnson, ed. (1985).

44 Russell, supra note 7, found that 4.5% of all women had been sexually abused by their father (biological, step-, foster, or adoptive). She also found that 2.0% of all women had been sexually abused by their brother (biological or half), p. 217. These rates are lower bounds on sexual abuse by batterers and batterer’s sons, respectively, with 14% being the upper bound on the sexual abuse rate for "either batterer or son," as given in supra note 21.

45 Lenore E. Walker, Terrifying Love (Harper & Row, 1989), p. 152.

46 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Reports to the Nation on Crime and Justice, October 1983, p. 21.

47 N. A. Cazenave and M. A. Zahn, "Women, Murder sand Male Domination: Police Re- ports of Domestic Homicide in Chicago and Philadelphia." in Intimate Violence: Inter- disciplinary Perspectives, E. C. Viano (ed.) (Hemisphere, Washington, 1992), pp.83-97.

48 Bernard, G.W., Vera, H., Vera M.I., and Newman, G., Till Death Do Us Part: A Study of Spouse Murder. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 10 (1982).

49 Jaffe et al., supra note 28.

50 M. Pett, Correlates of Children’s Social Adjustment Following Divorce, J. of Divorce 5, 25-39 (1982).

51 G. Grieg and R. Heger, When Parents Kidnap (1992).

52 Neil Senior, Toba Gladstone, and Barry Nurcomb, Childsnatching: A Case Report, J. of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry 21, 579-583 (1982); Terr, Psychic Trauma in Children and Adolescents, Psychiatric Clinics of North America 8, 815- 835 (1985); Palmer and Palmer, The Painful Phenomena of Child Snatching, Social Case- work 65, 330-336 (1984); and Susan E. Spangler, Snatching Legislative Power: The Justice Department’s Refusal to Enforce the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, J. of Criminal Law and Criminology 73, 1176-1203 (1982).

53 Barbara J. Hart and Margaret Klaw, Brief Amici Curiae in Valentini v. Montgomery, No 1615 Pittsburgh 1991.

54 Michelle Etlin, Mother’s Day Ralley for Childre’s Rights, Washington, D.C., 1992.

55 Frank F. Furstenberg, S. Philip Morgan, and Paul D. Allison, Am. Soc. Rev. 52, 695 (1987).

56 Nicholas Zill, in The Impact of Divorce, Single-parenting, and Stepparenting on Children, E. M. Hetherington and J. Arasteh (eds.) (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ, 1988).

57 Tolman and Bennet, A Review of Quantitative Research on Men Who Batter, Journal of Interpersonal Violence 5 , 107 (1990); Edelson and Grusznski, Treating Men Who Batter: Four Years of Outcome Data from Domestic Abuse Project, Journal of Social Service Research 12 (1988); and Hamberger and Hastings, Skills Training for Treatment of Spouse Abusers: An Outcome Study, Journal of Family Violence 3 (1988).

58 Lenore E. Walker, Battered Women (1979), p. 46.

59 Michelle Etlin, What is Visitation, Journal of the Child Custody Task Group of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (San Francisco) 4, 14 (1992).


NOMAS Task Group on Child Custody Issues

Jack Straton
C/o University Studies
Portland State University
Portland, OR, 97207-0751
503-725-5844
503-725-5977 (FAX)
E-mail: straton@pdx.edu

The National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS)
P.O. Box 455, Louisville, CO 80027
303-666-7043

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For the Children They March

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 26, 2009

For the Children They March

Dressed in bandages, slings and walking prams with broken dolls are the parents and grandparents of children abused during contact. Some are even victimized themselves. National Nine News merely touches the surface, when they state that it was during "unsupervised visitation". Some of the parents have had their time reduced because they dared to raise the concerns of their children’s or even their own safety.

National Council for Children Post-Separation (NCCPS) spokeswoman Barbara Biggs said,"We have a systemic failure when more than 15,000 Australian children are ordered into ongoing contact with parents the court itself has deemed violent and abusive,"

A growing mirror of Americas retaliatory killings, is a country that recently mourned together the devastating murder of Darcey Freeman who was tossed over the bridge after the father was granted shared parenting.

Darcey Freeman was not the only one, it was only because her death was so public that everybody began to learn how negligent the court really is. Then there are the arguments that "they are all making false allegations to be favored in custody proceedings". Actually, empirical research supports the fact that this is a very small percentage. In US studies it was proven that this small percentage consisted mostly of fathers who were abusive that were trying to divert the attention away from their actions.

Diverting the attention away from those who need the spotlight(researchers with facts) was part of the shared parenting campaign in the Howard era. They adopted the same strategies from their online helpers in UK and america. The law was made in such a way that it resulted in 70% of battered mothers losing custody to their children. The same set of techniques have been and are continuing to be used here in Australia.

For Domestic Violence and child advocates it was a living nightmare. The phenomena of what if the offenders banded together and used their coercion to bully government into handing over the victims became a reality. Right in front of us was a huge number of people claiming that they were falsely accused and we have a problem of fatherlessness.

Then there was Keith Shew who was publicly supported by the Lone Fathers Association as a man who was portrayed as a male victim of domestic violence and unfairly "cut off" from seeing his child. The Lone Fathers Association forgot to mention the lengthy criminal history of violence that was aired later.

They were on the list of the submissions for the shared parenting bill.

The Hillcrest murderer who killed seven members of the family before shooting himself was also supported by a mens rights group called, "The Mens Rights Agency".

They were on the list of submissions for the shared parenting bill.

Richard Hillman who claims that he was, "Cleared" of allegations of sexual abuse refers to a case where he was trying to sue a sexual abuse counsellor for the negligence towards his well being. The question that was raised in the high court was, "Does a child protection worker have a duty of care to the child or to the parent?" The Case was dismissed.

He was also on the list of submissions for the shared parenting bill.

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‘Men In My Town’ responds to “Charges Dropped in Child Sex Case” [KS]

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 26, 2009

 

Thank you Keith, thank you – thank you.!

“ For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope. “

For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at http://www.meninmytown.wordpress.com

Keith Smith
MenInMyTown@aol.com

 

Charges Dropped in Child Sex Case [KS]

June 17, 2009 · 1 Comment

Charges Dropped in Child Sex Case

another pedophile gets off –

http://www.kwch.com/Global/story.asp?S=10538195

by Cindy Klose (WICHITA, Kan)

 

 

Keith Smith
MenInMyTown@aol.com

My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet suburbs of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. He was arrested and indicted but never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at http://www.Amazon.com

For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at http://www.meninmytown.wordpress.com

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Dad assaults, molests six-WEEK-old baby (Carrollton, Georgia)

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 25, 2009

 

Father CASEY TODD took hold of his two-month old daughter and broke her leg, fractured her skull, AND sexually abused her. He has been charged with aggravated child molestation, aggravated battery, and first degree cruelty to a child.

The mother was asleep at the time and has not been charged. But regardless of those facts, the mom has lost custody of the baby to the Division of Family and Children Services.

http://www.cbsatlanta.com/news/19836519/detail.html

Father Charged With Assaulting His Child

Casey Todd Charged With Molesting His 6-Week-Old Child

POSTED: 4:01 pm EDT June 23, 2009

UPDATED: 5:52 pm EDT June 23, 2009

CARROLLTON, Ga. — A Carroll County man is charged with molesting and seriously hurting his 6-week-old child.

Casey Todd, 27, was arrested last week at a home in Carrollton after the child was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

CBS Atlanta spoke with great aunt of the baby’s mother.

Barbara Cox is so furious she could barely contain her rage.

"I am so disgusted. I wish I could get a hold of him," said Cox. "[I would] beat the hell out of him."

Todd fathered the child of Cox’s grand-niece and now Todd is accused of molesting his own two-month old daughter.

"Vile things. If you could’ve seen that baby when they brought her to the ambulance-you wouldn’t believe it," said Cox.

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department said it all happened a week ago Monday.

An investigator told CBS Atlanta the uncle of the baby girl had just come home from work early that morning and found his distraught sister with her badly injured child.

They called 911 and when investigators arrived they found a baby who had been assaulted in the most brutal way.

The sheriff’s department said the little girl suffered a fractured skull, broken leg and had been sexually abused.

"You can imagine a month old baby being put through that? That’s rough on the mother, on everybody," said Cox.

The sheriff’s department confirmed the baby’s 22-year-old mother was asleep at the time of the assault.

She was not charged.

Cox said the entire family is trying to recover from the unspeakable and the unthinkable.

The sheriff’s department says the baby is recovering and is in the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services.

Todd is charged with aggravated child molestation, aggravated battery, and first degree cruelty to a child.

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Mother's Losing Custody on The Susan Murphy Milano Show

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 24, 2009
Mother’s Losing Custody on The Susan Murphy Milano Show

In April, 2009, over at Women In Crime Ink I wrote about Amy Leichtenberg who filed orders of protection against Michael Connolly more than once after his repeated physical and emotional abuse in the later years of their marriage. Amy filed for divorce that year and moved out of their home. In a 2006, a petition for a protective order against her husband was filed, saying that his "controlling and obsessive behavior" included threats to kill himself and others along with a series of bizarre demands he made of her. Within a 15-month period, Connolly violated the orders of protection 57 times. He killed both children Jack age 7 and Duncan age 9.
Another form of abuse is referred to as parental alienation, but it is “maternal deprivation abuse” that is when a father makes Mommy pay for wanting to leave the relationship. It also happens during divorce in family court. The abusive husband does everything in their power to make mom crazy, unfit, insane and convinces court appointed mediators, judges and mental health experts to give them custody. This goes beyond parental alienation and the children who grow up without their mothers in these cases grow up to a world of hurt, anger, pain and destruction. Or they wind up murdered by their parent.

It is an epidemic. The legal system is enabling an abuser to continue using money, manipulation and control all because his wife wanted away from her violent relationship or to simply end the marriage.
This form of abuse is also called “maternal deprivation abuse” that is when a father makes Mommy pay for wanting to leave the relationship. It also happens during divorce in family court. The abusive husband does everything in their power to make mom crazy, unfit, insane and convinces court appointed mediators, judges and mental health experts to give them custody. This goes beyond parental alienation and the children who grow up without their mothers in these cases grow up to a world of hurt, anger, pain and destruction.

On Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 3:00 PM Central Time on The Susan Murphy Milano show will discuss this important topic on Mothers losing Custody with the Co-Founder of Protective Mothers Alliance and the case of Taylor and her mother’s fight to regain custody of her daughter lost to a system that denies a mother her rights.

We will be taking your calls live at 347-326-9337.

Posted by Susan Murphy Milano’s Journal at 01:42

Labels: Child Custody, Jack and Duncon Connolly, Justice Interrupted, Lawyer, Lisa Stebic, Stacy Peterson Kathleen Savio

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Child Custody Justice (Bancroft)

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 24, 2009

Introduction

Misconceptions About the Family Courts

How Family Courts Handle Domestic Abuse Allegations

Dealing with a Custody Evaluator

When You Have Concerns About Child Sexual Abuse

Should I Involve Child Protective Services?

Negotiating With an Abuser

What Can I Do?

Building a Broad-Based Movement for Family Justice

The Protective Mothers Alliance

There is no love deeper, more complete, and more vulnerable than the love that caring parents feel for their children. There is a bond so strong that it can be hard to tell exactly where the parent ends and the child begins, and the line is even harder to draw when our children are very young. Mothers have an additional bond from having carried their children inside of their bodies and having given birth to them, and more than half of mothers have experienced a deepened attachment through breast-feeding their babies. And mothers are, in the great majority of cases, their children’s primary caretakers, especially during their early years. All connections between caring, non-abusive parents and their children are so important as to be almost sacred, but there is usually a particular quality to the mother-child bond. That life-giving and sustaining connection deserves the full support and admiration of communities and nations.

And just as there is a special beauty and importance to relationships between mothers and their children, there is a special and extraordinary cruelty in the abusive man who attempts to break or weaken the mother-child bond, whether by turning children against their mother, by harming the children physically, sexually or psychologically, or by attempting to take custody of the children away from her.

Children need protection from their abusive parents. In the realm of custody litigation which involves abuse, the abusive parent tends to be the father while the protective parent is usually the mother, because most perpetrators of domestic violence and of child sexual abuse are male. We don’t know that much about what happens to protective fathers, since their cases are much less common, but we know that protective mothers frequently encounter a system that is insensitive, ignorant about the dynamics of abuse, and biased against women. In this context, mothers sometimes find themselves being forbidden by the court from protecting their children from a violent, cruel, or sexually abusive father. And this outcome is a tragic one, for children and for their mothers.

On behalf of the hundreds of people across the continent who are currently working for family court justice, I want to communicate to you our caring and solidarity with the challenging road you have ahead of you, as you fight to keep your children safe in body and soul. I want to let you know how critically important we believe that project to be, and how much your children need you to stand up for their rights and their well-being. You deserve admiration, not criticism, for the courageous risks you are taking on their behalf, and for your determination that all of you should have the opportunity to live in freedom and kindness.

Our society is currently giving mothers a powerful and crazy-making mixed message. First, it says to mothers, “If your children’s father is violent or abusive to you or to your children, you should leave him in order to keep your children from being exposed to his behavior.” But then, if the mother does leave, the society many times appears to do an abrupt about-face, and say, “Now that you are spilt up from your abusive partner, you must expose your children to him. Only now you must send them alone with him, without you even being around anymore to keep an eye on whether they are okay.”

What do we want? Do we want mothers to protect their children from abusers, or don’t we?

The sad result of this double-bind is that many mothers who take entirely appropriate steps to protect their children from exposure to abuse are being insulted by court personnel, harshly and unethically criticized and ridiculed in custody evaluations and psychological assessments, and required to send their children into unsupervised contact or even custody with their abusive fathers. And sometimes these rulings are coming in the face of overwhelming evidence that the children have both witnessed abuse and suffered it directly, evidence that would convince any reasonable and unbiased person that the children were in urgent need of protection. Family courts across the US and Canada appear to be guilty day in and day out of reckless endangerment of children.

Fortunately, there are also many women who do succeed in keeping their children safe post-separation. Some manage to persuade judges to grant the mother appropriate right to keep her children safe. Others lost in the early stages but do better later, as the abuser finally starts to show his true colors over time. Some women find that they succeed best by staying out of court, and using other methods to protect their children, such as waiting for the abuser to lose interest and drop out, or moving some distance away so that he will tire. Some women find that what works best is to focus on involving their children in supportive services, connecting them to healthy relatives, and teaching them to think critically and independently, so that they become strong children who see through the abuse and manipulation.

There is no formula that works for everyone. What strategies will work best for you depends on what your local court system is like, how much support you are receiving from friends and relatives, how much internal strength your children have, and how much (or how little) damage the abuser has already succeeded in doing to your relationships with your children. And each abuser is different. Some, for example, can be placated if they feel like they have won, and will gradually drift off, while others will never be satisfied with anything less than completely alienating children from their mother. Lawyers can advise you on court strategy, therapists can share their insight into children’s injuries and healing processes, but ultimately you have to rely most on your own judgment, because you are the only expert on the full complexities of you specific situation.

As you make your way ahead, I hope you will put a high priority on taking good care of yourself. Seek out kind, supportive people who are good listeners. Nurture your friendships and family relationships. Try to step through the stress long enough each day to spend some time showering your children with love if they are with you, and make sure to play with them, not just look after their needs. Notice what you have already done well, as a parent and as an advocate for your children. Give yourself credit for your own strength, and celebrate the fact that your mind is getting free of the abuse, even if your children are not free yet. Cry out your sorrows when you need to, sob into a pillow behind a closed door so you won’t upset your children, but do sob, because your heart needs the cleansing relief of those tears. And then build on your strengths and accomplishments to keep fighting.

I wish the “justice system” dispensed justice, but where it comes to child custody litigation involving abusive fathers, outcomes are mixed at best. With adequate knowledge and planning, and especially if you are among the fortunate mothers who are able to obtain competent legal representation
from a lawyer who understands what abusers are like as parents, you may be able to keep your children on the path to healing. If your case goes poorly, there are still ways that you can help your children feel your love and support surrounding them, and give them the strength to survive their father’s destructiveness. But regardless of the outcome you experience personally, you might want to keep the following points in mind:

  • The custody system in the US and Canada is broken. You are not the only person who has experienced unhealthy and biased responses, and you are not the crazy, paranoid, vindictive person they may be painting you as.
  • Other women need your help to change that system, so that protective mothers start receiving proper respects for their rights and their children’s rights.

Depending on where your own case stands currently, you may have trouble imagining any involvements right now beyond your day-to-day survival, and your efforts to keep your children functioning. But involvement in social change efforts is not necessarily separate from personal healing. Many women have found that when they become active in the protective parents movement, raising their voices loudly for the custody rights of mothers who have been battered or whose children have been sexually abused, their own healing leaps forward. Breaking down personal isolation sometimes goes hand in hand with breaking down political isolation. So I offer suggestions here not only for ways to carry on your own fight, but also for avenues to join forces with other women (and male allies) who are working for social justice, so that protective mothers and their children can stop being torn apart.

I want to express my personal gratitude to you for your efforts to protect your children from abuse, and to raise them into caring, kind, humane values. The whole world benefits when you fight for your children’s rights, and for their freedom. Protective mothers are some of our society’s most invisible and most important heroes, even while they are treated so often, in a bitter irony, as villains.

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DV Victims: Her Course Of Justice "Exposing Everything Article"

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 24, 2009

 

DV Victims: Her Course Of Justice


In recent news, it has been reported that "women abusers" are on the rise. No doubt that the phenomena exists and it has never been doubted by domestic violence advocates. What has often sparked debate in the past is whether the majority of victims are women as reported by the world health organization that prompted the UN to launch a worldwide campaign against violence towards women. What anc news has not exposed is what we will expose here. There is a secret war going on between the survivors and the perpetrators. Every effort on an official level is sabotaged by those who intend to suppress this war on women.

Mens groups have glided in the lime light over the years dashing in and out of the spotlight particularly when it is revealed that their organizations have in fact supported perpetrators. In 1995 Lone fathers channeled its resources into supporting Keith Shew, a man who claimed Brisbane Domestic Violence Resource

Centre had discriminated against him as the perpetrator rather than a victim. He was denied access to the shelter that his wife was residing.

After the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission dismissed the claims, Barry Williams of the Lone Fathers Association went very public and threatened to take it to the United Nations. They were stopped short when an investigative journalist from the Courier Mail uncovered a series of violent criminal charges that Mr Shew had engaged in. To rescue the reminents of his already tarnished reputation, Mr Williams withdrew his support of Mr Shew. His charade was later reported in the Green Left:

It was later debated in parliament on how extreme this group was within its statements and activities. In 1999 Tanya Plibersek stated,

"In 1997, when a mother was granted leave to move

from Queensland to Victoria with her daughters, the

Lone Fathers Association spokesperson responded by

saying:

. . . violence would result, and judges would have

blood on their hands."

Every step that has been made to secure the safety and rights of women and children, the mens movements have been there to ensure a back step was taken. The issue of violence against women and children is the heart of the women’s movement and what drives so many to ensure that there are adequate protections for them.

Yet at every point of uncovering the greatest scandals of our times, the mens movements have stood on the doorstep blocking every opportunity for change.

The research, policy, funding and even down to the training of the police force, have all been sabotaged. Geoff Holland the director of the Equal Parenting Party, made the following comments:

In this statement, he admits that a member of the Lone Fathers Association represents batterers when the police are called out. This explains why the stats of domestic violence in NSW point towards towards women being treated as "perpetrators".

Click on the images to enlarge.

Adding insult to injury for women, some of the men involved are lawyers who have become bitter post divorce. Their ability to cause damage through organizational and systematic abuse is great and if anyone had a case of perverting the course of justice for survivors, the great discourse from protecting women from violence would be it.

Furthermore "One Ring Rules" Wayne Butler, the site director and a director of many other sites recommends that they must also "denounce" violence against women.

Click on the image to enlarge.

The behavior of the Lone Fathers Association acting on behalf of perpetrators is evidential in this 2006 article, where it states:

Battered women are being wrongly prosecuted by NSW Police, an advocacy group says.

A report launched on Sunday by the Redfern Legal Centre in Sydney said police called to the scene of domestic violence often lacked the experience to properly interpret the situation.

The report, which has been forwarded to the NSW Ombudsman, is based on the study of seven women who had been assaulted by their partners but found themselves in court after calling police.

Police failed to take into account the emotional state of the female victims and could be manipulated by the often calmer men into believing they acted in self-defence, the report said.

Clearly, it is not the social trend that has dramatically changed within the span of two years but the ever-growing traps laid for women in their bid for freedom from violence against them.

Dad burns toddler with cigarette, puts him in clothes dryer (Edwardsville, Ill)

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 24, 2009

 

Caretaking stay-at-home dad Derek T. Hill, Sr. got to go to jail for his Father’s Day treat. He’s charged with burning his toddler son on the cheek with a cigarette and putting him in the clothes dryer. Happened while dad was "watching the children" because mom was working. As is typical with a lot of these "stay-at-home" dads, authorities said the house was "very filthy"–which they will no doubt blame mom for despite the role reversal stuff. Wait, they did arrest her for not stopping or preventing the abuse. On the same charge as the dad! Gee, do you think this kind of guy would stop abusing a two-year-old if you asked him nicely? Get a clue, folks.
http://www.bnd.com/179/story/818011.html?storylink=omni_popular
Father charged with burning son with cigarette, putting him in clothes dryer
Boy was burned; put in clothes dryer

BY BRIAN BRUEGGEMANN – News-Democrat

EDWARDSVILLE — An Edwardsville man went to jail on Father’s Day on charges that he burned his toddler son on the cheek with a cigarette and put him in a clothes dryer.

Derek T. Hill Sr., 21, of 3633 Edwardsville Road, was arrested Sunday on a charge of aggravated battery of a child. The child’s mother, Eva E. Hill, 27, was also arrested on the same charge. She is accused of knowing about the abuse but doing nothing to stop or prevent it.

Madison County sheriff’s deputies went to the Hill home about 11:15 a.m. Sunday after social workers were informed that the 2-year-old boy was being physically abused.

At the home, the Hills allowed police to see their other child, a 1-year-old, but claimed the 2-year-old was with relatives in Kentucky. Later in the day, authorities received information that the Hills had hidden the 2-year-old during the visit from police.

Deputies then located the Hills and the 2-year-old.

Sheriff’s Capt. Brad Wells said the child had a burn from a cigarette on his cheek, and it was "very obvious" that the child had been physically abused. Wells said the 2-year-old was put into the dryer a few days ago for an unknown length of time.

"The information from them is that they didn’t turn the dryer on," Wells said. "From what we understand, it was at least a minute, but may have been longer."

Wells said the child was put into the dryer "at least once" and was beaten at least once with a belt.

Wells said the abuse happened while the father was watching the children, while the mother would go to work at a temporary agency.

"The mother knew of the abuse when she came home," Wells said. "The abuse, we believe, had been occurring over a period of about three weeks."

He described the home as "very filthy."

Both children were put into protective custody by the state Department of Children and Family Services.

The Hills were in jail Monday afternoon with bail set at $50,000 apiece.

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Disorder in the Courts: Mothers and Their Allies Take on the Family Court System

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on June 22, 2009
Disorder in the Courts: Mothers and Their Allies Take on the Family Court System

This introduction is adapted from a section that I wrote forDisorder in the Courts: Mothers and Their Allies Take on the Family Court System, an e-book available from California NOW.

There is no love deeper, more complete, and more vulnerable than the love that caring parents feel for their children. There is a bond so strong that it can be hard to tell exactly where the parent ends and the child begins, and the line is even harder to draw when our children are very young. Mothers have an additional bond from having carried their children inside of their bodies and having given birth to them, and more than half of mothers have experienced a deepened attachment through breast-feeding their babies. And mothers are, in the great majority of cases, their children’s primary caretakers, especially during their early years. All connections between caring, non-abusive parents and their children are so important as to be almost sacred, but there is usually a particular quality to the mother-child bond. That life-giving and sustaining connection deserves the full support and admiration of communities and nations.

And just as there is a special beauty and importance to relationships between mothers and their children, there is a special and extraordinary cruelty in the abusive man who attempts to break or weaken the mother-child bond, whether by turning children against their mother, by harming the children physically, sexually or psychologically, or by attempting to take custody of the children away from her.

Children need protection from their abusive parents. In the realm of custody litigation which involves abuse, the abusive parent tends to be the father while the protective parent is usually the mother, because most perpetrators of domestic violence and of child sexual abuse are male. We don’t know that much about what happens to protective fathers, since their cases are much less common, but we know that protective mothers frequently encounter a system that is insensitive, ignorant about the dynamics of abuse, and biased against women. In this context, mothers sometimes find themselves being forbidden by the court from protecting their children from a violent, cruel, or sexually abusive father. And this outcome is a tragic one, for children and for their mothers.

On behalf of the hundreds of people across the continent who are currently working for family court justice, I want to communicate to you our caring and solidarity with the challenging road you have ahead of you, as you fight to keep your children safe in body and soul. I want to let you know how critically important we believe that project to be, and how much your children need you to stand up for their rights and their well-being. You deserve admiration, not criticism, for the courageous risks you are taking on their behalf, and for your determination that all of you should have the opportunity to live in freedom and kindness.

Our society is currently giving mothers a powerful and crazy-making mixed message. First, it says to mothers, “If your children’s father is violent or abusive to you or to your children, you should leave him in order to keep your children from being exposed to his behavior.” But then, if the mother does leave, the society many times appears to do an abrupt about-face, and say, “Now that you are spilt up from your abusive partner, you must expose your children to him. Only now you must send them alone with him, without you even being around anymore to keep an eye on whether they are okay.”