by Barry Goldstein Esq.
The movement to end domestic violence started when women began to speak to each other about their experiences of spousal abuse, which had always been considered a private matter. These discussions led to the realization that domestic violence was far more common then generally believed. This discovery was necessary in order to begin the work to end domestic violence.
Today, disturbingly, in thousands of custody-visitation cases all over the country, abused women and children are being revictimized rather than protected. Some of the cases have been publicized, but most have been hidden from public view. Often the media is reluctant to feature such cases, because they don’t have the resources to determine which side is telling the truth or out of fear of lawsuits. As a result, only the victims and genuine experts are aware of the pattern and frequency of such cases.
When women first started to learn about the extent to which men were abusing their female partners, there was no term to describe such behavior. Only later was the term domestic violence invented. This was an important step, because it gave us common language to describe an all too common and harmful behavior pattern. I believe we now need a term that describes cases in which women and children are further abused by the courts instead of being protected. I suggest using the term CUSTODY-VISITATION SCANDAL CASES, which would help us to better detect and understand the pattern and frequency of such atrocities, so that we can stop such abuse in the future.
Custody-Visitation Scandal Cases can be defined as having many but not all of the following attributes:
1. Allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse made by the mother and/or child(ren)
2. A failure or refusal by court agents (attorneys, law guardians, forensic evaluator, therapists, and/or judge) to take such allegations seriously.
3. An outcome that places the children at serious risk
4. An outcome that appears to be 180 degrees from what it should be.
5. An outcome that gives custody to the alleged abuser and restricted visitation to the protective mother.
6. The use by the abusive father and his attorney of “standard abuser tactics” (i.e. seeking custody to punish the mother or maintain control; using visitation or custody to harass mother; claiming that unfounded child protective claims were made falsely and maliciously by the mother; attempting to manipulate the children etc.)
7. The propagation of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence (i.e. that mothers and children frequently make false allegations of abuse to gain an advantage in litigation) by the court and its agents.
8. Using “experts” with little or no training and understanding of domestic violence.
9. Gender bias and double standards (mothers being held to a higher standard than fathers)
10. Failure to consider and use up-to-date domestic violence research.
11. Approaches that blame the victim.
12. Use of biased or unsupported theories (i.e. Parental Alienation Syndrome; “Angry women”; “Vindictive women”; alienation; masochism etc.)
13. Extreme penalties against protective mothers.
14. Outcomes that make it appear like the judge was bribed even though that is usually not the cause of the judicial abuse.
I am not saying that every case that fits many of the above criteria has to have been improperly decided, but I believe research will find that 98% or more of such cases have been tragically mishandled. Custody-Visitation Scandal Cases should be identified, examined. and corrected when necessary. Even more important, society must create a system to prevent such cases from happening.