Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Auld Lang Syne" Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?

Mothers Are Vanishing – humanity is at a critical threshold, teetering on the balance of survival or destruction. We - alone or together can and will be the answer. as we bring in the new year. Know that this may be the beginning—or the end.

May your heart be full of love – your conscious clear. Let ‘truth, self respect and dignity’ be your guide and "Auld Lang Syne"

Happy New Year!

xoxo

Claudine Dombrowski (mother of Rikki Dombrowski)

A Battered Mother Survives

####

Below you will find the lyrics for this traditional favorite in the English Translation (minimalist). I included a few interesting facts concerning this wonderful old song. I hope knowing the words to "Auld Lang Syne" in advance of the festivities, will help you to enjoy your New Year celebration even more.

- "Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song." It's often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year, generally at the stroke of midnight.

- "Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularizing the use of the song at New Year’s celebrations in America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. The song became his trademark."

"Same Auld Lang Syne"

   As another year comes to a close, we are reminded of the many major events that have taken place in the world and in our lives; wars and fighting, new territories conquered, great heroes and heroines that we have lost, new friends we have made, babies that have born into our families- our children stolen by pedophiles and abusers, Friends and relatives that have passed on through this world and into their eternal destiny. (Betty Gail sales –Stumpf)

There have been good times and not so good times, but those are the building blocks that construct and build the multi-levels and form the layers of our lives. Memories created and forever etched in our minds, hearts thoughts and lives; this is the stuff that life is made up of, so we take the good and the bad and make the best of it, choosing to highlight the good and joyful times.

   The new year is rapidly approaching and as such, we plan our traditional New year's Eve parties. Bringing in the new year with good food, music, prayer, hugging and kissing; grateful and thankful to be in good company during this special time as we usher in a fresh new year full of possibilities and potential.

   Countdown to the new year begins at 10 seconds before midnight, then as the clock strikes 12:00, it's time to share your rendition of the classic traditional song, "Auld Lang Syne".

The only problem that can exist now is the possibility that you might not know or remember all the lyrics or words to the song, since it's not a tune that is sung on a regular basis throughout the year. The lyrics (words) to this traditional classic are as follows:

"Auld Lang Syne" English Translation (minimalist)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne ?

 

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we'll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

 

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !

and surely I’ll buy mine !

And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,

and picked the daisies fine ;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

since auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,

from morning sun till dine† ;

But seas between us broad have roared

since auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !

And give us a hand o’ thine !

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

for auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

Repeat

"Auld Lang Syne" Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?

Mothers Are Vanishing – humanity is at a critical threshold, teetering on the balance of survival or destruction. We - alone or together can and will be the answer. as we bring in the new year. Know that this may be the beginning—or the end.

May your heart be full of love – your conscious clear. Let ‘truth, self respect and dignity’ be your guide and "Auld Lang Syne"

Happy New Year!

xoxo

Claudine Dombrowski (mother of Rikki Dombrowski)

A Battered Mother Survives

####

Below you will find the lyrics for this traditional favorite in the English Translation (minimalist). I included a few interesting facts concerning this wonderful old song. I hope knowing the words to "Auld Lang Syne" in advance of the festivities, will help you to enjoy your New Year celebration even more.

- "Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song." It's often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year, generally at the stroke of midnight.

- "Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularizing the use of the song at New Year’s celebrations in America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. The song became his trademark."

"Same Auld Lang Syne"

   As another year comes to a close, we are reminded of the many major events that have taken place in the world and in our lives; wars and fighting, new territories conquered, great heroes and heroines that we have lost, new friends we have made, babies that have born into our families- our children stolen by pedophiles and abusers, Friends and relatives that have passed on through this world and into their eternal destiny. (Betty Gail sales –Stumpf)

There have been good times and not so good times, but those are the building blocks that construct and build the multi-levels and form the layers of our lives. Memories created and forever etched in our minds, hearts thoughts and lives; this is the stuff that life is made up of, so we take the good and the bad and make the best of it, choosing to highlight the good and joyful times.

   The new year is rapidly approaching and as such, we plan our traditional New year's Eve parties. Bringing in the new year with good food, music, prayer, hugging and kissing; grateful and thankful to be in good company during this special time as we usher in a fresh new year full of possibilities and potential.

   Countdown to the new year begins at 10 seconds before midnight, then as the clock strikes 12:00, it's time to share your rendition of the classic traditional song, "Auld Lang Syne".

The only problem that can exist now is the possibility that you might not know or remember all the lyrics or words to the song, since it's not a tune that is sung on a regular basis throughout the year. The lyrics (words) to this traditional classic are as follows:

"Auld Lang Syne" English Translation (minimalist)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne ?

 

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we'll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

 

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !

and surely I’ll buy mine !

And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,

and picked the daisies fine ;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

since auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,

from morning sun till dine† ;

But seas between us broad have roared

since auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !

And give us a hand o’ thine !

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

for auld lang syne.

 

CHORUS

Repeat

Monday, December 19, 2011

Who Will Protest Against the DSM Harm? Integrity, Concern, and Action is needed for DSM Protest

Paula Caplan, Ph.D. on psych diagnosing

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-isnt-golden/201112/who-will-protest-against-the-dsm-harm

Science Isn't Golden

Matters of the mind and heart

by Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D.

Who Will Protest Against the DSM Harm?

Integrity, Concern, and Action is needed for DSM Protest

Published on December 19, 2011 by Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D. in Science Isn't Golden

Problems

The good news: More people than ever before are learning that psychiatric diagnosis is not grounded in good science and causes a vast array of harm to people who have turned for alleviation of their suffering to those who are called helping professionals. The bad news: The forces keeping the psychiatric diagnosis juggernaut rolling and misleading the public are more powerful than ever.
I have written about these concerns here before, as well as elsewhere (They Say You're Crazy: How the World's Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who's Normal and Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis, as well as at psychdiagnosis.net), so I will not repeat most of what I have already said. Today I focus on the danger of assuming that organized protest against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is well in hand and likely to be effective in stopping the harm. There is no reason to believe that this is the case.

You may have heard about the petition started by several divisions of the American Psychological Association, who express concern about possible harm to children, adolescents, and the elderly and ask for an external group (the DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association) to evaluate the proposals for the next edition, called DSM-5. This petition has garnered thousands of signatures and the support of additional American Psychological Association divisions. Although it is wonderful that these brave divisions have at last spoken out about the devastation caused to untold numbers of people over the many decades of the DSM'sexistence, it is stunning that they would specifically omit mention of harm to adults who are not elderly. When I wrote petition coordinator David Elkins to inquire about this, he did not respond to the question. (Note added December 19: Please see in Comments section after this article that Dr. Elkins has now responded there to the question I had emailed him about this awhile back. I am delighted to hear that his group is also concerned about adults who are not elderly, and I hope they will take pains to make clear in the future that they are concerned about everyone who has been hurt by psychiatric diagnosis. This does not change the other concerns in this essay, and in his comment here below, Dr. Elkins did not address those.) It is hard not to wonder whether this is due to the association of Allen Frances with this petition.

Former Psychiatric Manual Chief Demonizes Those Hurt By His System

Frances, the psychiatrist who headed the work on DSM-IV - on which I served as a member of two committees before resigning in horror at the way they ignored, distorted, and even lied about the scientific basis for their diagnoses - recently wrote in an article called "The user's revolt against DSM-5: Will it work?" in the November 10, 2011, Psychiatric Timesthat he was worried that the "harmful anti-psychiatry movement" would damage this petition campaign. He pointed out that, although "DSM-5 is such a mess," nevertheless, psychiatry "is essential and extremely helpful - DSM-5 is nor more than an unfortunate and temporary aberration." His intense need to defend and protect psychiatry in general is clear.

I simply could not believe my eyes when I read Frances' opening statement in that article. He wrote: "When it comes to DSM-5, experience has proven conclusively that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will not attend to the science, evaluate the risks, or listen to reason. A user's revolt has become the last and only hope for derailing the worst of the DSM-5 suggestions." I thought of the many years during which he steadfastly ignored the questions that were raised about the woeful state of "science" in his edition of the DSM, his dismissive attitude when concerns were raised directly with him about the patients whose lives had been ruined because of psychiatric diagnosis, and his claim, when asked, "Is there at least some evidence that more people have been helped than harmed," that "Well, of course there's no way of knowing that." Hardly the response of someone who understands that science is useful in answering exactly such questions.

Frances' disdain for those adults (who include some proportion but by no means the majority who are elderly members) who joined the anti-psychiatry movement because they were so profoundly harmed by the traditional mental health system is revealing...and terrifying. Are the only good ex-patients those who stuff deep inside themselves the ways the system hurt them? And I have to wonder, does he not grasp the point that, even though he believes the anti-psychiatry movement is harmful, he might want to refrain from publicly tarring a movement that includes such sterling organizations as MindFreedom International, The Icarus Project, PsychRights , the National Empowerment Center, and the International Society for Ethics in Psychology and Psychiatry (which includes some survivors as well as some professionals)?

This would matter less if the APA petition had a prayer of leading to change. I fervently hope I am proven wrong, but here are two of the major reasons for doubt:

(1) In the mid-1980s, beginning at the Association for Women in Psychology conference, I coordinated the first petition campaign in which any DSM categories were challenged. This was in regard to then-forthcoming DSM-III-R, whose Task Force was headed by Robert Spitzer, who is now, like Frances, suddenly speaking out about the lack of science and the harm from psychiatric diagnosis. Did they suddenly discover this once they were no longer in command of the manual? Our 1980s campaign ultimately netted signatures and letters from individuals and organizations representing more than six million people (in contrast to the thousands so far signing the Elkins petition), but that did not stop theDSM authors from steamrolling ahead. And it certainly did not stop Allen Frances from including in his edition, DSM-IV, categories that he knew had led to harm. How do I know he knew? I told him in a telephone conversation, and I sent him documentation of harm. If another major lobby group, the American Psychological Association, which long ago raised serious concerns about the DSM but now refuses to challenge it as a body (hence the courage of those of its divisions that started this petition) and in fact profits from offering Continuing Education courses about the DSM that lack critical components, would get on board with any anti-DSM petition, that would carry considerable weight. Up to now, they have refused to do so. In a recent press release (December 2, 2011), they stated that any psychiatric classification system "must be based on the best available science and serve the public interest." The disingenuousness of that statement is striking, given that unless they have spent many decades under a rock, they know full well that the DSMis unscientific and causes harm. Furthermore, according to the press release, they share the belief of the petition's authors that "the purpose of any diagnostic classification system should be to improve treatment outcomes." Yes, it should be. But as I have learned through reading the research, diagnosis of mental disorders does not help (except to get insurance coverage, and I have a proposal for how to deal with that), does often cause harm, and does not correlate with outcome. We learn from the press release that the American Psychological Association has "called upon the DSM-5 Task Force to adhere to an open, transparent process based on the best available science and in the best interest of the public." They might as well shut themselves in a closet and whisper that request.

(2) So many powerful systems have a stake in maintaining the fundamentals of psychiatric diagnosis that it strains credibility to think that the DSM-5 heads would turn over the evaluation of their work to some outside group. Historically, under Spitzer and Frances, the DSM chiefs boasted about "consulting" with many hundreds of professionals (note: they included hardly any, if any, people who had been patients in their system) in constructing their manuals, but I know from my experience and the experiences of others that they compile an impressive list of all these consultants but freely reject any opinion that goes against their aims, no matter how grounded in science and/or humane concerns those conflicting opinions might be.

Actions

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-isnt-golden/201112/who-will-protest-against-the-dsm-harm

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

From Tragedy To Action: The National Release of "Jana’s Story". Jana Mackey Kansas University Student & NOW Lobbyist Who Was Brutally Murdered In An Act of Domestic Violence....

The video "Jana's Story" is now available. Please see the link below. http://www.JanasStory.org/

This powerful video is about the dramatic impact of domestic violence. Most importantly, however, this short film is about hope, inspiration, and encouragement for others to take action. Today, Jana's light shines brighter than ever. VIEW IT. SHARE IT. and LIVE IT by taking action and making a difference.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3rUqTSxSrc]

 

 

National Release of "Jana’s Story" Video Set For December 6th

On December 6, 2011, Jana's Campaign will release its long anticipated video "Jana’s Story".  This powerful video brings to light the dramatic impact of domestic violence.  The story of Jana’s life and death are illustrated in the hopes of encouraging others to take action.  See the video at www.JanasStory.org. VIEW IT. Witness the powerful story of Jana’s life.  SHARE IT.  Help us tell Jana’s story and spread the word.  LIVE IT.  Take action and make a difference.

The timing of this video release has been scheduled to coincide with The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.  This campaign begins on November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day. 

These dates symbolically link violence against women and human rights, and emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation.  Since 1991, this annual campaign has mobilized more than 3,700 organizations in 164 countries to raise awareness about the multiple forms of violence women face.  The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is hosted and sponsored by the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University.

Jana’s Campaign would like to thank all those who have made this video production possible. 

Jana's Campaign

10,000 Angels - Justice For Mother and Child

Courtesy MamaLiberty 10,000 Angels

 

Mindy McCready sang about 10,000 angels in 1996 and now they sing for her.  Protective mothers who also know all too well about family courts, DCF and abusers what Mindy has been through with custody of her son.  This is a victory that will not go unnoticed with the large community of protective mothers.  We applaud Judge Harrod for what we can only assume is reason and logic that a mother should be with their child, we couldn’t agree more.

All Smiles

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/mindy-mccready-leaves-court-happy-girl-ruling-son/story?id=15089586

By LUCHINA FISHER (@luchina) and YUNJI DE NIES Dec. 6, 2011

Country singer Mindy McCready left an Arkansas courthouse a “happy girl” Monday without divulging details about a juvenile court judge’s ruling on what will happen to her and her five-year-old son Zander.

“I can’t talk about it, but I can tell you all I’m a happy girl. I’m a happy girl right now,” she said to reporters gathered outside the Izard County courtroom of Judge Lee Harrod.

“I love Judge Harrod, I’ll tell you that. I love that man. He’s a good man,” she said before being driven away from the courthouse.

Later Monday evening, McCready sent a text message to HLN’s Jane Valez Mitchell that the host read on air.

“WE WON!!! ZAN STAYS,” McCready wrote. “Court details sealed but we love Judge Lee W Harrod.”

Details on when the singer may be able to take Zander back home to Nashville, and whether McCready will get permanent custody of her son remain unclear.

“The next step would be for the judge to decide,” Amy Webb, director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, told ABC News.

Florida Department of Children and Families officials had been expected to request in the hearing that Zander be sent back to Cape Coral, Fla., where McCready’s mother, Gayle Inge, is his legal guardian.

“We will not discuss details of this case per the judge’s order. Of course we continue to work with all involved parties to ensure this child’s safety and well-being,” a Florida DCF spokeswoman told ABCNews.com.

McCready’s rep offered no information either. “All proceedings and documentation surrounding the hearing are sealed,” Kat Atwood said in a statement to ABCNews.com. “No further information is available at this time.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpzzY3r_0Ec]

activism, child abuse, Child Custody Issues, Children's Rights,domestic violence, Family Courts, Government Corruption
Tags: abused children, CPS, family court, Florida DCF, mat

10,000 Angels - Justice For Mother and Child

Courtesy MamaLiberty 10,000 Angels

 

Mindy McCready sang about 10,000 angels in 1996 and now they sing for her.  Protective mothers who also know all too well about family courts, DCF and abusers what Mindy has been through with custody of her son.  This is a victory that will not go unnoticed with the large community of protective mothers.  We applaud Judge Harrod for what we can only assume is reason and logic that a mother should be with their child, we couldn’t agree more.

All Smiles

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/mindy-mccready-leaves-court-happy-girl-ruling-son/story?id=15089586

By LUCHINA FISHER (@luchina) and YUNJI DE NIES Dec. 6, 2011

Country singer Mindy McCready left an Arkansas courthouse a “happy girl” Monday without divulging details about a juvenile court judge’s ruling on what will happen to her and her five-year-old son Zander.

“I can’t talk about it, but I can tell you all I’m a happy girl. I’m a happy girl right now,” she said to reporters gathered outside the Izard County courtroom of Judge Lee Harrod.

“I love Judge Harrod, I’ll tell you that. I love that man. He’s a good man,” she said before being driven away from the courthouse.

Later Monday evening, McCready sent a text message to HLN’s Jane Valez Mitchell that the host read on air.

“WE WON!!! ZAN STAYS,” McCready wrote. “Court details sealed but we love Judge Lee W Harrod.”

Details on when the singer may be able to take Zander back home to Nashville, and whether McCready will get permanent custody of her son remain unclear.

“The next step would be for the judge to decide,” Amy Webb, director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, told ABC News.

Florida Department of Children and Families officials had been expected to request in the hearing that Zander be sent back to Cape Coral, Fla., where McCready’s mother, Gayle Inge, is his legal guardian.

“We will not discuss details of this case per the judge’s order. Of course we continue to work with all involved parties to ensure this child’s safety and well-being,” a Florida DCF spokeswoman told ABCNews.com.

McCready’s rep offered no information either. “All proceedings and documentation surrounding the hearing are sealed,” Kat Atwood said in a statement to ABCNews.com. “No further information is available at this time.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpzzY3r_0Ec]

activism, child abuse, Child Custody Issues, Children's Rights,domestic violence, Family Courts, Government Corruption
Tags: abused children, CPS, family court, Florida DCF, mat

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

‘Monsters’ Short Animated Video That Depicts Devastating View of Domestic Violence From a Child’s Perspective Launched by Verizon and National Domestic Violence Hotline

Verizon and National Domestic Violence Hotline Launch ‘Monsters,’ a Short Animated Video That Depicts Devastating View of Domestic Violence From a Child’s Perspective

Monsters 1Monsters 2

 

Video (below) Aimed at Encouraging Public to Support Domestic Violence Prevention Efforts and to Call for Help

 

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. —“Monsters,” a provocative new video, portrays the alarming impact of domestic violence on families and children, as seen through the eyes of a young girl. Produced and funded by theVerizon Foundation and supported by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the video encourages the public to get involved in domestic violence prevention and education efforts, and also emphasizes that help for victims and their families is just a phone call away: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233).

Verizon Wireless customers can quickly reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing #HOPE. The hotline offers confidential help 24/7. To help support the hotline’s efforts, Verizon Wireless, through HopeLine has donated $75,000. HopeLine collects no-longer-used wireless phones and recycles or refurbishes them to support domestic violence victims and survivors.

The video, two minutes and 34 seconds long, graphically describes how domestic violence affects children. The child’s voice states:

“A child who lives with domestic violence lives in darkness. …She struggles to separate her nightmares from reality because there’s very little difference. The child who lives with domestic violence isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of her dad because the monster doesn’t live in her closet – it’s just down the hall.”

Studies suggest that between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence each year. And according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, witnessing violence between parents or caregivers is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. The video notes that girls who witness abuse are more likely to be abused later in life, and boys are twice as likely to abuse their own partners – “because that’s the world they know.”

Rose Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation, said:

“To end this devastating cycle of violence, we must motivate silent bystanders to take action. People need to understand that when they look the other way, they condone this deplorable behavior. Verizon is committed to preventing domestic violence by educating our employees, customers and the public about the importance of stepping in to help someone in need. We believe that this provocative video will help us accomplish this life-saving goal.”

According to some studies, less that 1 percent of domestic violence cases are reported to the police.

Dyanne Purcell, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said: “It takes an incredible amount of courage to come forward and ask for help. The more established domestic violence is in our national dialogue, the more likely victims will be able to seek help and make a lasting change.”

The video concludes with the child narrator making a poignant plea for the public to help:

“Maybe you don’t wake up every day shaking, or jump every time the phone rings. But maybe you should look a little harder. Maybe it’s a friend, a co-worker, or your neighbor. …Your help could make all the difference. We need everyone to bring domestic violence into the light.”

Kirk said, “Please share the link to the ‘Monsters’ video with your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. It’s a simple action that may have a huge impact.”

The “Monsters” video can be viewed athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=367JvtoTm34.

About the National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress and is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The Hotline is a nonprofit organization providing crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The Hotline answers a variety of calls and is a resource for domestic violence advocates, government officials, law enforcement agencies and the general public. http://www.thehotline.org

About Verizon Foundation

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. Verizon has invested more than $28 million in domestic violence prevention. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

VERIZON’S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high-quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon’s News Center on the World Wide Web atwww.verizon.com/news. To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.

Friday, November 25, 2011

U. S. Department of Justice v. Custody Court System

(Battered Mothers, Abused Children are Being Further Battered and Abused by the US Courts failure to let Domestic Violence Mothers Leave With Their Children. Many Ask, “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?” When it comes to Domestic Violence, besides all the other very unsafe reasons those with children will loose their children to the very animal who hurt them and their children. Many mothers,(most) have never seen their children again after the Courts gave their child[ren] to the Abusers. Most Children, if the survive, end up just like they were taught raised and reinforced by the Courts, as abusers themselves for boys and victims for girls. That is not county all the other trauma related issues. This has passed beyond just injustice but has stepped full fledge in Human Rights Violations. It truly is like the holocaust, the destruction of women and their children by the USA, Sanctioned Genocide Against Mothers and their Children. Right in Plain View, See: Mothers Day Law Suit filed Against the U.S. at the Inter American Commission Human Rights. (still pending)

From Times –Up!! Attorney Barry Goldstein

clip_image002

photo courtesy of Family Court Crisis-Abusers Getting Custody!

By Barry Goldstein

Protective mothers have been complaining about mistreatment by the custody court system, but have routinely been dismissed as “disgruntled litigants.” As recently as the beginning of the Battered Mothers Custody Conferences in 2004, there was little professional support for protective mothers. The mothers’ complaints have now been confirmed and supported by the domestic violence community, many women’s organizations, numerous governmental agencies, many in the academic community and a substantial body of research such as contained in our book DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY.


Last summer at the NCADV Conference, Dr. Daniel Saunders of the University of Michigan and some of his colleagues presented their findings from a major Department of Justice study that confirms the findings in our book and other research that the present custody court practices for domestic violence cases are deeply flawed. The publication of these findings has taken longer than expected as Dr. Saunders and the Justice Department seek to carefully present the information in a clear and accurate manner, but they should soon be available on the Department of Justice web site. Many of us who seek to reform the broken custody court system are excited about this study because it should be difficult for the courts to dismiss or ignore because of where it comes from. Significantly, the findings are incompatible with a continued belief that the present practices are working for the benefit of the children the courts are supposed to protect.


Custody Courts Frequently Disbelieve Valid Abuse Complaints


Custody courts have a particularly poor record in responding to domestic violence cases. The research demonstrates that court professionals reject a high percentage of valid complaints by protective mothers. This problem has been confirmed in many ways. It is confirmed based on the frequency of mistaken outcomes. Although battered mothers make deliberately false allegations only one or two percent of the time, in contested custody cases the alleged abuser wins custody or joint custody over seventy percent of the time. Subsequent events regularly confirm courts’ mistakes. This occurs when men found safe by the court professionals are later convicted or otherwise found to have to have committed domestic violence, sexual abuse, murder or other similar crimes.


The revelations of the Courageous Kids Network further demonstrate the frequency in which courts fail to recognize valid complaints of abuse. Courageous Kids are young adults who have aged out of their custody orders and decided to speak out about the harm caused by these orders. The context is important in understanding their stories. These are cases in which the court disbelieved the mothers’ abuse allegations and gave the fathers complete control. The children have been threatened, coerced and punished if they continue to complain about their father’s abuse or seek a relationship with their mother. In other words the fathers have had tremendous assistance in silencing the children. Accordingly the children now speaking out represent a small minority of those mistreated by fathers the court believed were safe. The descriptions by the Courageous Kids demonstrate the fathers deliberately sought to hurt the mother and children based upon their belief system that the mother had no right to leave them. The children have had little or no contact with their mothers often for many years so we know the mothers could not be influencing the children’s decision to speak out about the fathers’ abuse. These are all too common examples of cases in which the court professionals failed to believe valid allegations of abuse.


The research not only demonstrates the fact that the custody courts get a large majority of domestic violence cases wrong, but also that the standard practices used by court professionals are deeply flawed and make it difficult for judges to recognize legitimate complaints about domestic violence and child abuse.
Court professionals routinely discredit allegations of abuse based upon factors that are not probative. At the same time these professionals do not understand the importance of looking to the abusers’ patterns of controlling and coercive behavior in order to recognize domestic violence. The court professionals often make the mistake of considering each incident and each allegation separately. Genuine domestic violence experts understand the importance of context in recognizing domestic violence, but the mental health and other professionals relied on by the courts do not understand the importance of context and thus make it more difficult to recognize valid allegations of abuse.


One of the big obstacles to recognizing valid abuse complaints is the common use of mental health and other professionals without expertise in domestic violence. The main purpose of considering domestic violence in custody cases is to protect the safety of children. Nevertheless the evaluators relied on by custody courts rarely know how to conduct a safety assessment or what behaviors have been associated with higher lethality and other dangers. The evaluators do not understand domestic violence dynamics and often are unfamiliar with the effects of domestic violence on children or other information based upon the specialized body of scientific research that could be used to better understand domestic violence issues and recognize truthful allegations of abuse.


The new Department of Justice study helps explain why the evaluators and other professionals relied on by custody courts routinely fails to recognize domestic violence. The study found that most evaluators and other professionals relied on by the courts do not have adequate domestic violence training and those with inadequate training are more likely to believe in the myth that women frequently make false allegations of abuse to gain an advantage in litigation. The professionals who believe this myth, in turn are more likely to make recommendations that harm children. In other words judges have little chance to protect the children under their control as long as they rely on these unqualified professionals and tend to believe their deeply flawed analysis.


Judges often become defensive when protective mothers or their attorneys request that any evaluator or other court professional be required to have domestic violence expertise in order to be appointed. We have repeatedly seen judges refuse to listen to domestic violence experts offered on behalf of protective mothers. The courts often focus on the need for a mental health degree even though the academic training for most mental health professionals included no or virtually no domestic violence instruction and the law does not require advance degrees to qualify as an expert (a common example is a mechanic without a high school degree who can testify as an expert in automotive repair based on experience and training).


In recent years most court systems have encouraged and usually required some domestic violence training for court professionals. This is a good thing but has often been implemented in ways that undermine the purpose. Many of the trainings include substantial misinformation such as the belief most contested custody cases are “high conflict” when the research establishes a large majority are really domestic violence cases. Some of the trainings even include Parental Alienation Syndrome (sometimes by another name because of its deserved notoriety) even though it was recently again rejected for inclusion in the DSM-V because there is no scientific basis for it. Many of the trainings fail to include domestic violence advocates or other genuine experts in domestic violence.

 
We have also seen some really good programs used to train court professionals, but I have heard many trainers complain that some of the judges, evaluators and lawyers pay little attention to the valuable information presented. In one Queens County, New York case I cross-examined an experienced evaluator who went to a really excellent domestic violence training in order to qualify as a parent coordinator. They provided numerous excellent research studies that could have helped him recognize domestic violence and protect children. During my cross-examination it became clear he never read the research and was unfamiliar with the current scientific research he needed to understand the case. When I pressed him about the training he described it as “not a life changing experience.” This was a man who needed a life changing experience because he failed to recognize the obvious history of abuse by the father, demanded the mother cooperate with her abuser and when she continued to try to protect herself and her son, the unqualified evaluator recommended custody for the abusive father. The judge failed to discredit the evaluator based on his failure to read or consider the current scientific research provided at the training.


We need much more and better trainings for court professionals, but there is also the danger that attending trainings can give judges and other professionals a false sense of confidence in their understanding of domestic violence. The findings by Dr. Saunders and his colleagues that most court professionals have inadequate training in domestic violence confirms our concern that in most cases the professionals relied on by the court are not qualified to participate in a domestic violence case without the assistance of a genuine expert. Even if the judge has received good training the court is likely to be influenced by unqualified evaluators and other court professionals.


The failure to possess adequate training in domestic violence means that it will be difficult for these professionals to recognize and respond effectively to domestic violence, but the widespread belief in the myth that women frequently make false allegations of abuse is a bias that strongly undermines the cases of protective mothers. These mistakes result in frequent findings denying the mother’s abuse allegations which is exactly what the other research has found. If a professional believes the myth they will expect to see false allegations and without training in how to recognize domestic violence they have little chance to get these cases right and protect the children. Even worse, courts having found against the mothers because of the deeply flawed practices and biases are severely punishing mothers and children because the mothers continue to believe their true allegations despite the disbelief of the unqualified court professionals.


A few months ago, in this forum, I wrote an article about the extreme decisions we often see in domestic violence cases. These are decisions in which the alleged abuser receives custody and the mother who was the primary attachment figure is limited to supervised or no visitation. The primary attachment figure is the parent who provided most of the child care during the first couple of years of the child’s life. When children are separated from their primary attachment figure they are significantly more likely to suffer depression, low self-esteem and to commit suicide when older. It can never be right to separate children from their primary attachment figure unless she is unsafe such as a drug addict, someone who beats the kids or otherwise poses a danger. In most of these cases the father allowed or even demanded the mother provide child care until she decided to leave him. It should be obvious that her decision to leave a man she found to be abusive does not make the mother unsafe. Unqualified court professionals frequently limit the mother’s contact with her children based upon some version of alienation or pathologizing the mother based on psychological tests that were not made for the populations seen in custody cases. We know the diagnosis is not safety related because the mother functions fine in all other aspects of her life except interacting with her abuser and the court professionals supporting him. These are not safety issues so these extreme decisions can never be beneficial to the children.


The reliance on court professionals with inadequate training and belief in the myth takes place in the context of many other common mistakes discussed in earlier research. The courts cannot protect mothers and children in domestic violence cases if they cannot recognize domestic violence when it is present. The frequent decisions that harm children are confirmed by later findings and information, the extensive research court professionals routinely fail to consider and the new Department of Justice study and they provide multiple confirmations of the present inability of custody courts to recognize domestic violence and child abuse when it exists.


Misuse of Mothers’ Anger and Emotion


Let’s look at this issue from the mother’s perspective and in the context of her experience. These are domestic violence cases. The father usually has a long history of controlling and coercive behaviors and the mother has finally gained the courage and resources to leave her abuser in order to protect her children. She is fearful because of the many threats he made of what he would do if she left and knowledge that the most dangerous time for a woman is after she has left. She is angry at the way he has mistreated her and often the children. She may be worried about her ability to support and protect her children because her partner has been telling her how useless she is throughout their relationship.

Even if the father’s physical abuse ends when he no longer has access to the mother (which makes unqualified court professionals believe he is now safe), he continues his domestic violence through litigation abuse and often other ways. The abusers often use any contact provided by the court to seek reconciliation and/or to harass and attack her verbally or psychologically. Many women expect the courts to protect her children because the evidence is so overwhelming and instead find the court pressuring her to cooperate with her abuser and punishing her if she tries to protect her children from a man they have found to be hostile and dangerous. In other words she has good reason to be angry and emotional and in fact this would be a normal reaction to her experiences.

The research contained in our book and elsewhere supports this understanding and analysis. We discussed the common mistake of custody courts that treat the mother’s actions as a litigant as if they were an indication of her behavior as a parent. Over forty states and many judicial districts have created court sponsored gender bias committees. These committees have found widespread bias particularly against women litigants. One of the common examples of gender bias was blaming women for the actions of their abusers. One of the typical examples of this bias is when courts blame mothers for their anger and emotion caused by the father’s mistreatment of them and their children. In many cases the abusers deliberately harass or pressure them shortly before a court appearance is scheduled in order to obtain an emotional reaction the court is likely to misunderstand. Abusers tend to be extremely manipulative and so after their abuse that the judge does not see, come to court calm and cooperative. Court professionals are often fooled by this act.


The new Department of Justice study confirms what we said in our book and other similar research. Dr. Saunders found that court professionals frequently treat mothers’ anger and emotion as far more important than it actually is in terms of the well being of children. These professionals may be uncomfortable with the mothers’ emotions particularly if she criticizes their response to the father’s abuse. Clearly these are difficult and unpleasant issues to confront. The misinformation treating contested custody as if it were “high conflict” when it is actually domestic violence contributes to the misunderstanding of the mothers’ anger and emotion. The professionals are focused on forcing the parties to cooperate even though this is not the best approach for children. When the parties have difficulty cooperating and certainly in domestic violence cases, parallel parenting is a more effective approach for children. The problem, as demonstrated by the Saunders’ study is that these professionals are focused on their beliefs and preferences rather than research about what works best for children. The custody courts did not get into the practice of looking to current scientific research and particularly the specialized body of research about domestic violence because there was no such research when the initial court practices were developed. We now have substantial research that would help inform court decisions and avoid the frequent mistakes but court professionals rarely look to this research to help them make better decisions. This is why we rarely see custody courts weigh the benefits and harms to children of a proposed resolution. The Department of Justice study establishes that these flawed practices lead to decisions that hurt children.


Cottage Industry Supporting Abusive Fathers


We often hear complaints about corruption in the custody court system. This belief is supported by the many cases in which courts make findings that are far removed from a fair evaluation of the evidence and decisions that seem to be disconnected from the well being of the children involved. There are cases of outright corruption such as the Garson case in Brooklyn, New York, but more often, I believe courts create the appearance of corruption because of bias, ignorance and deeply flawed practices. One of my concerns with complaints about corruption is that it makes it harder for judges in the broken system to hear the complaints and create the reforms that are needed. An important contributing factor to the widespread belief in corruption is the cottage industry that has been created to support abusive fathers.


Most contested custody cases involve abusive fathers seeking custody as a tactic to pressure their victims to return or punish them for leaving. Domestic violence is all about control so these abusive fathers usually have controlled the family finances and have these resources to support their custody litigation. Some lawyers and mental health professionals have figured out that they can make a large income by supporting practices and approaches that support abusers. We often see them advertise as supporting “fathers’ rights.” In many cases we see fathers’ attorneys and GALs promoting the appointment of evaluators who support abusive fathers. It is particularly frustrating when judges refer to these professionals who regularly support abusers as “neutral professionals.”


Protective mothers often have no chance when these biased professionals are appointed regardless of how strong their cases may be. Many of the mothers have complained that the evaluators and GALs make misrepresentations to the court in order to justify findings in favor of the abusive fathers paying their fees. When such professionals lie to the court about the evidence or to justify fees they did not earn, the mothers are justified in complaints suggesting corruption.
Many of these biased professionals strongly support PAS despite a lack of scientific justification. Significantly, PAS is based upon the assumption that virtually every complaint by mothers about the father’s abuse is deliberately false. The Department of Justice study found a problem with inadequately trained professionals who believe the myth that women frequently make deliberately false allegations of abuse. The unqualified professionals supporting PAS are even worse assuming that virtually all such allegations are false. The courts have virtually no chance of making the right decision if they treat such biased professionals as having any credibility.
The Department of Justice study’s contribution to this issue is a finding that evaluators working for the court or the county made recommendations that worked better for children than those of evaluators in private practice. When Dr. Saunders described this finding at a workshop during the NCADV Conference I asked him if he thought the findings supported our concerns about the cottage industry that has developed to support abusive fathers. He agreed this was a good interpretation. Evaluators working for the court or county are not paid extra for each evaluation so they have no incentive to favor the wealthier parent.


Professionals often have fundamental conflicts of interest. Medical doctors who schedule tests or procedures will earn money from performing the services they recommend. Tests may be scheduled to shield the doctor from potential lawsuits rather than to benefit the patient. Lawyers who recommend going to trial, starting a lawsuit or making a motion will earn money when the client takes their advice. Similarly, mental health professionals benefit financially when patients accept recommendations for more services. The conflict of interest is largely unavoidable and the professionals are expected to have the integrity to act in their client’s best interests instead of their own. Unfortunately some of the evaluators and lawyers, particularly those supporting abusive fathers have not fulfilled this ethical obligation.


We have repeatedly seen problems in custody courts with mental health professionals and particularly ones sympathetic to abusive fathers making recommendations requiring protective mothers to use their unwanted and unneeded services. We see these biased professionals pathologizing mothers who have always taken good care of their children with diagnoses that are clearly wrong. This would include the frequent finding of rare conditions such as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, conditions like paranoia or delusional based on the mothers’ continued belief in the father’s abuse despite the failure of the court professionals to recognize his abuse and other emotional problems that magically seem to affect only her relationship with her abuser and the court. They seem oblivious to the fact that that she does fine in other parts of her life that under any unbiased circumstances would rule out the claimed diagnosis.


Some of these mistakes are clearly deliberate and qualify as corruption. Other cases may involve bias and ignorance and a lack of the needed qualifications as the Saunders’ study demonstrates. When the professionals who are part of the cottage industry engage in gender bias they usually do so without realizing it. Many actually believe in the theories and practices they use despite a lack of scientific basis. Some of this can be explained by confirmation bias where the professional focuses on information or accusations that support what the professional expects to find and ignores information that undermines their theories and assumptions. We see this kind of mistake frequently in domestic violence custody cases and the mental health professional is often unconscious that they are engaging in confirmation bias. In fact they are likely to become defensive and angry at the suggestion. The Department of Justice study demonstrates the harm of using professionals who are part of the cottage industry and the need for custody courts to screen court professionals to avoid relying on them. Even worse, courts often use these unqualified professionals to train other court professionals. This can only serve to spread misinformation which makes it harder for court officials to recognize the problems demonstrated by the Saunders’ study and other current scientific research.


Conclusion


The custody court system tends to look at each case and each issue or event in a case separately. This is based on a belief that just because a man slapped his wife on Monday does not mean he punched her on Friday. The court system uses stare decisis which means once a case or an issue has been decided the same parties cannot relitigate it. There are good reasons for these practices, but they work poorly in domestic violence cases because of the importance of context in understanding domestic violence. We often see cases where the court denies allegations of domestic violence and they may even have been right if there was insufficient evidence. Naturally the abuser continues his abusive behavior so more evidence becomes available, but many courts refuse to hear the new evidence or refuse to consider it in the context of the previous evidence because those issues were previously litigated. In doing this the court is denying itself the ability to recognize the pattern of the father’s abuse and protect the children. Domestic violence experts are confident that the custody court system is broken because we see the pattern of mistakes and harmful decisions, but the powers in the court system are offended at the criticism and cannot believe the problem because they refuse to look at the patterns.


The findings of the Department of Justice study, by itself, provides convincing documentation that the custody court system is getting a large majority of domestic violence custody cases wrong. It would be impossible for courts to get most cases right when most of the court professionals have inadequate domestic violence training, those with inadequate training tend to believe the myth that women frequently make false allegations, the courts are placing too much weight on mothers’ anger and emotion and the evaluators who earn additional money through appointment in custody cases are making decisions more harmful to children then those who do not have a financial incentive. This study was not made in a vacuum, but was produced in the context of a substantial and growing body of scientific research that establishes the custody courts are making bad decisions in contested custody cases that endanger children. The research also establishes that the standard practices used in the custody courts are deeply flawed and outdated.


I am hopeful that a study coming from the U. S. Department of Justice will be harder for the custody court system to ignore. They have a strong reputation and can only be considered neutral. Furthermore, the courts frequently seek grants and other funding from the Department of Justice. Protective mothers and their attorneys can cite this research and it should be harder for the courts to ignore. I can’t wait until it is published on the DOJ web site.

 

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence expert, speaker, writer and consultant. He is the co-editor with Mo Therese Hannah of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY. Barry can be reached by email at their web sitewww.Domesticviolenceabuseandchildcustody.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts

Courtesy Source: AMPP

SEATTLE JOURNAL FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

[excerpt]

II. REASONS WHY BATTERERS USE FAMILY COURTS TO CONTINUE THEIR ABUSE

When a couple divorces, the legal system may become a symbolic battleground on which the male batterer continues his abuse. Custody and visitation may keep the battered woman in a relationship with the battering man; on the battleground, the children become the pawns.36

After looking at how domestic violence operates as a mechanism of control, perhaps it is not surprising to discover that batterers manipulate the courts and their victims during dissolution, custody, and visitation proceedings. After all,domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that is not easily reversed, so separation alone is unlikely to break the pattern of abuse.

There are numerous reasons why a batterer chooses to use the courts and the litigation process; many of them are explored below. Before delving into the specific reasons, it is important to discuss the frequency with which batterers decide to participate in family court proceedings.

As mentioned earlier, fathers who abuse are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children as nonviolent fathers, and notably, abusive fathers are three times as likely to be in arrears of child support.37 In one recent study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38 percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children, despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reported to have abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and continued to do so after separation.38

Thus, before exploring why courts may choose to disregard a history of domestic violence,39 it is important to note that a history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the batterer will seek custody.

So, why do batterers use family courts as a battleground at all? What is it about the courts, and family courts specifically, that is so appealing to them?

[because they can]

A. Only Available Contact Left

One of the most obvious reasons batterers use family courts is because it is often the only way they can legally maintain any contact with the survivor.40 After leaving their abuser, survivors may try to keep their contact information private in order to keep as much distance from the batterer as they can. They may seek formal protection through restraining orders or civil protection orders. They may move without allowing the batterer access to their current address or phone number. However, even if a survivor can achieve this physical distance from a batterer, the batterer may try to initiate contact through the courts by seeking custody of or visitation rights with his child/children. In this way,the courtroom may present an opportunity to prolong contact with the victim or seek contact that is not otherwise available.41

As mentioned earlier, not all batterers who abuse the mothers will abuse the children. Certainly, nuanced solutions exist that can provide an opportunity for fathers, even those with a history of domestic violence, to remain in some sort of communication with their children. Every family has unique circumstances that can allow for a variety of solutions;however, because the courts may be the only way and the only forum for abusive fathers to continue abusing their former spouse and children, it is important for courts to take a comprehensive look at each situation and to act carefully if a history of abuse is present.

See Full Document From Journal Here:
One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts

 

One More Battleground Domestic Violence, Child Custody, And the Batterers' Relentless Pursuit of Their Vict...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts

 

II. REASONS WHY BATTERERS USE FAMILY COURTS TO CONTINUE
THEIR ABUSE


When a couple divorces, the legal system may become a symbolic
battleground on which the male batterer continues his abuse.
Custody and visitation may keep the battered woman in a
relationship with the battering man; on the battleground, the
children become the pawns.
36


After looking at how domestic violence operates as a mechanism of
control, perhaps it is not surprising to discover that batterers manipulate the
courts and their victims during dissolution, custody, and visitation
proceedings
. After all, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that is not
easily reversed, so separation alone is unlikely to break the pattern of abuse.
There are numerous reasons why a batterer chooses to use the courts and
the litigation process; many of them are explored below. Before delving
into the specific reasons, it is important to discuss the frequency with which
batterers decide to participate in family court proceedings.


As mentioned earlier, fathers who abuse are twice as likely to seek sole
custody of their children as nonviolent fathers, and notably, abusive fathers
are three times as likely to be in arrears of child support
.37 In one recent
study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38
percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children,
despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reported to have
abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and
continued to do so after separation.38 Thus, before exploring why courts
may choose to disregard a history of domestic violence,39 it is important to
note that a history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining
custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the
batterer will seek custody.


So, why do batterers use family courts as a battleground at all? What is it
about the courts, and family courts specifically, that is so appealing to
them?

[because they can]

A. Only Available Contact Left
One of the most obvious reasons batterers use family courts is because it
is often the only way they can legally maintain any contact with the
survivor.40 After leaving their abuser, survivors may try to keep their
contact information private in order to keep as much distance from the
batterer as they can. They may seek formal protection through restraining
orders or civil protection orders. They may move without allowing the
batterer access to their current address or phone number. However, even if a
survivor can achieve this physical distance from a batterer, the batterer may
try to initiate contact through the courts by seeking custody of or visitation
rights with his child/children.
In this way, the courtroom may present an
opportunity to prolong contact with the victim or seek contact that is not
otherwise available.41


As mentioned earlier, not all batterers who abuse the mothers will abuse
the children. Certainly, nuanced solutions exist that can provide an
opportunity for fathers, even those with a history of domestic violence, to
remain in some sort of communication with their children. Every family has
unique circumstances that can allow for a variety of solutions; however,
because the courts may be the only way and the only forum for abusive
fathers to continue abusing their former spouse and children, it is important
for courts to take a comprehensive look at each situation and to act carefully
if a history of abuse is present.

Full Document Here:

One More Battleground Domestic Violence, Child Custody, And the Batterers' Relentless Pursuit of Their Vict... http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=73301306&access_key=key-1zb9x2hkdqmw641m75ob&page=1&viewMode=list

WHEN BATTERED WOMEN LOSE CUSTODY: Dangerous Parents or Systems Failure?

By: Daniel G. Saunders, Ph.D.
University of Michigan School of Social Work

Note: This article is summarized in part from the article, Child Custody and Visitation Decisions in Domestic Violence Cases: Legal Trends, Risk Factors, and Safety Concerns (Revised 2007) by Daniel G. Saunders (saunddan@umich.edu), and published by VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The article can be retrieved fromhttp://new.vawnet.org/category/Main_Doc.php?docid=1134 See this source for a complete list of supporting citations.

When a mother enters a visitation/exchange program as the visiting parent, workers may be quick to assume she failed as a parent or, worse, that she’s dangerous. After all, her referral to the center probably came at the end of a lengthy process of expert evaluation and court hearings. However, in all too many domestic violence cases, community systems have failed her. There is growing evidence that gender bias and myths about battered women stack the cards against them in child custody disputes. Ironically, their very attempts to protect their children may make it more likely they will lose custody to an abusive ex-partner.

Slowly, battered mothers have received increased legal protections. For example, some states in the U.S. exempt them from mandatory mediation or make it easier for them to move a safer distance from an abuser. Approximately half of all states have a legal presumption that an abuser should not have sole or joint physical custody. In the remaining states, the judge must consider domestic violence in custody and visitation decisions, but as just one of many factors for consideration. Canada has no presumption in its federal law against granting custody to abusers and the law states that maximum contact should be given to the noncustodial parent. However, protections are increasing in some provinces through consideration of domestic violence as a factor in decision making. Some provinces also apply conditions to temporary protection orders and order abusers into treatment as a condition of visitation. With new legal protections have come more domestic violence training and resource manuals for judges, custody evaluators, and others involved in custody decisions.

Despite this progress, misconceptions and faulty practice continue. One common misconception is that allegations of domestic violence are common in disputed custody cases. There is also no evidence, despite claims from fathers’ rights groups, that false allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse are common, especially from mothers. On the contrary, evidence shows that false allegations are rare. In addition, a recent comparison of mothers’ and fathers’ abuse allegations showed that mothers’ allegations were substantiated more often. Another misconception is that “high conflict” do not involve domestic violence. It is now clear that domestic violence is a current or past reality in the majority of these “high conflict” relationships. Domestic violence simply goes undetected in many cases, an oversight that increases danger to children and their mothers.

More alarming are findings that, even when detected, domestic violence is often not considered or taken seriously in court decisions and mediators’ and evaluators recommendations. A 1990s study found that custody evaluators did not consider domestic violence to be a major factor in their recommendations, yet they often considered parental alienation to be crucial. In a more recent study, evaluators reported that domestic violence weighed heavily in their recommendations, but only a third of them attempted to systematically detect the violence. The impact of the violence must also be considered. Psychological and custody evaluations can be misleading when a survivor’s trauma history is ignored. Her traumatic stress symptoms can mimic severe mental illness or personality disorders. Survivors are usually at a disadvantage due to the effects of overwhelming stress, not only from domestic violence, but from the intense fear of losing a child to an abuser.

Several studies show that knowing the history of domestic violence appears to have little influence on judges’ decisions and mediators’ recommendations. A likely explanation for courtroom outcomes is gender bias. Gender bias commissions over the last decade report frequent, negative stereotyping of women, especially about their credibility. When domestic violence is not adequately understood, victim-blaming, accusations of lying, and trivializing the abuse are more common. Judges may hold images of the “good” or “typical” victim -- terrified and submissive – and lack understanding of those who are angry or with a history of substance abuse. A study of cases brought to appeal showed reversals in the mothers’ favor when domestic violence was considered. Not surprisingly, there is some evidence that female judges show more support for victim protection. Training also seems to matter. In one study, judges with domestic violence education and more knowledge of domestic violence were more likely to grant sole custody to abused mothers.

A further barrier for battered women is that some laws and psychiatric theories often put them in a “Catch-22.” As a result of the “friendly parent” legal standard and the nonscientific “parent alienation syndrome,” actions to protect themselves and their children often work against them. In many cases, battered women are reasonably reluctant to co-parent out of fear that their ex-partner will harm them or their children. These women may sense that separation increases the risk of homicide, which in reality it does. In addition, physical abuse, harassment, and stalking of women continue at fairly high rates or escalate after separation, affecting as many as 35% of survivors. Up to a fourth of battered women report that their ex-partner threatened to hurt the children or kidnap them. Women may be reluctant to reveal their address or allow unsupervised visits. Yet such reluctance means they are more likely to be seen as “unfriendly” or “uncooperative,” which counts against them in the custody criteria of most states and the Canadian Divorce Act. Claims of “parent alienation syndrome” (PAS) similarly place women in a Catch-22. If mothers report child abuse or even raise concerns about danger to their children, some evaluators and courts immediately label them as “alienators.” In the original formulation of PAS, no investigation of her allegations has to occur and she is labeled as pathological simply for exercising a legal right. The syndrome assumes that programming has occurred if an allegation is made and thus has a circular definition. PAS does not have legal standing, yet the general concept or label may influence decision makers.

What are the implications of these findings for supervised visitation/exchange programs? First, providers would be wise to check for their own potential biases about visiting mothers who are survivors. Second, comprehensive provider training is essential. Topics need to include methods for detecting abuse and assessing danger, the impact of domestic violence on children, the ways that abusers often manipulate court and social systems, and, in particular, the impact of violence on survivors. Visiting mothers are often depressed and have post-traumatic stress symptoms as a result of being battered and losing their children. Providers need to realize that depression and traumatic stress symptoms often manifest as anger or apathy. Without such understanding, providers may be quick to label these mothers as “hostile,” “uncooperative,” or “disinterested.”

Third, although supervised visitation/exchange programs cannot act as advocates for individual women who lose custody disputes, they can raise concerns about apparent systems failures with their community’s domestic violence coordinating councils. Building a close collaborative tie with your local coordinating body can place visitation/exchange programs in a position to help make changes in local policies and practices. (For more information on advocacy roles for supervised visitation programs, see “Guiding Principles: Safe Havens Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program” at www.praxisinternational.org/pages/visitation/materials.asp.)

In addition, providers may need new skills for protecting mothers and their children. Supervised Visitation Network (SVN) standards require that programs “refer any victim of domestic violence to a resource expert that can assist and help the victim in developing a personal safety plan.” This assumes that program staff have the skills and screening tools to detect domestic violence among their clients. In addition, a referral for safety planning may not go far enough. A referral for legal advocacy, such as help with stalking, threats, and restraining order violations, may be necessary to protect a mother and her children. Recent evidence shows surprisingly high rates of stalking and threats occur between visits and exchanges. Close working relationships with domestic violence programs will help make the most meaningful and effective referrals – through first hand knowledge of these programs and the ability to learn detection and referral skills from them. By failing to take steps to help, supervised visitation centers risk being one of a long line of so-called “helping systems” that fail survivors, adding another blow to their psyches.

(For more information on domestic violence practice in supervised visitation see “Beyond Observation: Considerations for Advancing Domestic Violence Practice in Supervised Visitation” at http://endabuse.org/programs/children/).

Providers may be reluctant to make referrals or give other help for fear of violating a standard of “neutrality.” However, SVN Standards are clear: “Neutral/neutrality means maintaining an unbiased, objective, and balanced environment. . . . Being neutral does not mean providers disregard behaviors such as abuse or violence of any kind.” Centers can create a neutral “environment” for parents to visit with their children, but they should never be neutral toward violence against either children or adults. Specialized help can also be given to abusers without violating the standard of neutrality. Supervised visitation programs are in a unique position to encourage men to become responsible fathers, which in turn can increase their motivation to participate in abuser intervention and fathering-after-violence programs. (For more information on fathering-after-violence programs, see “Fathering After Violence: Working with Abusive Fathers in Supervised Visitation” at http://endabuse.org/programs/children/)

On a broader level, programs can work with other agencies and professional organizations to ensure that judges, mediators, custody evaluators and other professionals have adequate domestic violence training. Systems advocacy can mean working to remove “friendly parent” standards for cases of domestic violence. In this way, programs can help those who have suffered doubly - from the personal injustice of intimate partner abuse and from the social injustice of “helping systems” that fail to help. A likely result will be greater long-term safety for the children and parents who are your clients.