Imagine that your home was broken into, vandalized and burglarized one night. You were roughed up and tied up while he ransacked your home. Fortunately, he left you shaken and hurt, but not seriously injured such as to require hospitalization. You were successfully able to identify him and his vehicle as he sped away.
Upon your call to the police, the offender is apprehended with the goods in his possession and brought to court to stand trial for his crimes against you.
You arrive in court and the first thing the judge asks you is if you are willing to go to mediation with the burglar. When you refuse, the judge labels you ‘uncooperative’ and ‘hostile’ to the burglar's continued relationship with you. Even though the burglar was caught red-handed with your goods, and you were an eye witness to the crime, the judge now decides that he can't possibly decide the case without first appointing a social worker termed a "burglary evaluator" to assess yours and the burglar's relationship.
When the social worker/evaluator cannot determine what is best for your relationship or your stolen goods, they ask the judge to have both you and the burglar psychologically evaluated, because you seem "anxious", "angry" and "uncooperative" with the burglar. The court-appointed psychologist, who has no experience in being the victim of violent crime and has not studied the effects of such trauma, also determines that you are uncooperative, hostile, anxious, and you have a negative opinion of the burglar that can't be healthy. After all, the burglar had nothing but good things to say about you, your home and your belongings during his evaluation.
The psychologist recommends that you be restricted from access to your belongings until you can accept the burglar's rightful relationship to continued access to your home and personal effects. He further recommends you attend weekly conjoint therapy with the burglar to work on being more cooperative with him in the future.
All at your expense of course.
The judge decides to wait a year or so to see how you work through your relationship with the burglar before he can decide upon the burglary conviction. He chastises you that you had better really work at the relationship or he may just grant the burglar's request to maintain sole ownership of your property. None of these "experts" can be sued civilly for their negligence and incompetence because they have judicial or quasi-judicial immunity.
Insanity? Nope. Family court in Kansas.
Domestic violence victims walk into family court to ask a judge to protect their children from a known abuser. Instead, they face the above-described nightmare that can span years and put them into financial ruin, mental and emotional exhaustion, not to mention directly back into the path of the abuser. Judges pressure them to mediate, assign a custody evaluator who pressures them to accept 50/50 joint physical and legal custody with theirs and their children's abuser.
They and their children are put through psychological evaluations by persons with little to no training in domestic violence, and some judges force co-parenting therapy and reunification therapy upon mother and child with their perpetrators. If they can not fit into the mold of cooperative "co-parenting" and the children continue to be reluctant to visit with the man that abused them, they face losing custody to him.
We have spent millions of dollars printing brochures and making public service announcements to victims of domestic violence encouraging them to leave violent relationships and telling them of the harmful effects on their children.
But when they do get the courage to leave, the same system tells them they are wrong to try to protect their children once they have divorced their abuser, and that they should now fully and freely support unsupervised visitation with the same dangerous person. Contrary to popular belief, children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the couple splits up as they were when the family was still together. In fact, many children experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point.
Most people assume that a fit mother never loses custody. If only that were true. The American Judges Association reports that "Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases." Unfortunately, the state of Kansas’s current laws also says that none of these people can be held accountable, either.
And so we go on, handing down family violence from one generation to the next...
KMFCJ-founded by Claudine Dombrowski,a Protective Parent, survivor of Domestic Violence and systemic abuse. The goals of KMFCJ is to publish informed news releases, links and commentaries relating to protective parents and their children who continue to be victimized by the abuser and or the court system.
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