‘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.


Rhode Island: RIFC Chief Judge Bedrosian, “Naming Names” Corrupt Family Court Crisis, Abusers Getting Custody, Mothers being ‘locked’ in court rooms.


We frequently get mothers who want information published below follows such information “Naming Names” this is from RI

From: Rebecca L. McLaughlin

Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 7:07 PM

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Subject: Enjoy - R.

Republican Attorney Damon D'Ambrosio goes ballistic in April 2011 (Wayland Square - East Side)

Date: 2011-11-16, 1:06PM EST

Reply to: theflorencedevelopmentgroup@hotmail.com

Republican Attorney Damon D'Ambrosio [later suspended??????] went ballistic on RIFC Chief Judge Bedrosian for harming his client and her son intentionally, unethically and corruptly. He filed many motions against the RIFC Chief Bedrosian in Supreme Court for locking his client up in the courthouse for visits with her son, and not allowing his client to see or talk to her son for six weeks [let's talk about the truth] when all opposing parties were very well aware of the harm they were causing an innocent little precious boy "O." D'Ambrosio didn't sleep for days...and...days...and days, mostly without pay because he was determined to stop all of the above from harming an innocent mother and child.

His favorite saying was during that time in reference to Genesis 1:1, he "hoped opposing client could reap what he sowed." "You will reap what you sow! ... Genesis 1:11." Opposing client and Chief Legal Council for DCYF, and of course, with opposing council's knowledge, committed some of the most henious crimes against an innocent little precious boy "O," by committing blatant perjury and fraud to the RIFC in front of the RIFC Chief Judge. Bedrosian must make one of the ultimate decisions of her career continue to harm an innocent little precious boy, loved [by his mother not father], to keep politically fornicating as she so appears to need to do, or free the mother and child as she should do. D'Ambrosio, along with his clients "O" and his mother produced one of the most judicary arguments, thus far, in the case of RIFC 03-2979, that does not in any way imply that D'Ambrosio's client's first Attorney Quatrucci was anything but the best.

D'Ambrosio was also the Attorney on Case P08-6157 in the Superior Court representing "O's" mother, it is a case against Temple Habonim who's President and Rabbi from 2005 turned their back on "O's" mother after their contractor forced himself into the home she rented on the grounds of Temple Habonim. There is no doubt that "O's" mother has a huge mouth and a very loud voice, but she is not dangerous nor a liar. "O" says that is her best asset and to keep screaming and fighting for him. You can lock my mommy up he says but you can't shut her up. This case is still active, despite opposing attorney's efforts to dismiss the case based on the order from Family Court. That case is also about heinous calculated intentional corruption that destroyed the life that "O" and his mother once had in Barrington, Rhode Island, where "O's" mother has been active, and still is, her entire life. DCYF's Chief legal council also committed perjury and fraud to the police along with her brother "O's" father in that investigation as well, and of course many other politically fornicating monsters. That case was the beginning of the destruction of "O's" life and they will pay "O" monetarily for the damage, legally. And if there is a God they will all go straight to h... and hopefully suffer 10 times more on their way there.

"O's" mother is representing him and herself in FC and SC for the moment, her motto is "bring it on," "hit me with your best shot," "go f... yourselves." She found her dog Lola who was lost in the first few months of the custody battle, and after 4 1/2 yrs. as she promised "O" she found their dog Lola, and she has promised "O" that she will get him back too. If you know "O's" mother she always always keeps promises she makes, especially to her children. "O" is also one of the bravest boys his mother has ever met. Despite the constant inner turmoil he feels and pain from of the loss of his mother and the life he had before John Pagliaro committed a home invasion while "O" was there; he continues to fight, to stay healthy, do his school work and be a very good boy. His mother promises him constantly that she starts the fight to bring him home every morning the moment she opens her eyes. He constantly begs her and recently indicated that it must be 7 yrs., when will he ever get out of the courthouse and be able to go home with his mother and dog Lola.

"O" deserves insurmountable restitution from Judge Bedrosian, Judeg Suttle, JDC, Governor Caceri and Governor Chafee [who are more worried about a man that committed a murder than about an innocent child being harmed by the RIFC] Temple Habonim, opposing legal council McKiernan, Hessler DCYF's Legal Council ["O" paternal aunt who is at the helm of destruction of "O's" life], "O's" father, Patrick Lynch, Lynch's sister Margret, Susan Lincoln from East Bay Mental Health [at least they did what was ethical and professional and humane, not Lincoln, EBMH, they settled out of court with "O's" mother], Officer Traverse and Chief LaCross from Barrington, neither could solve anything never mind a corrupt home invasion where the victim had bruises, Louis Pulner, City Solicitor, Jay Litman,Chair of Temple Habonin, Rabbi Rosenberg and Patricia Buff, "O's" mother's family for committing fraud and perjury to DCYF and the FC ["O's" mother has made it very clear to her family she will never ever speak to any of them again unless the march down to the RIFC and tell the truth, depsite their constant efforts to contact her she will not, as she promised, never ever speak to them again], Pawtucket Police Department, domestic violence programs throughout the State of RI, RIFC Staff inlcuding Jerimiah, Tassoni, DCYF for allowing "O" to be in abusive situations, Cynthtia Roeberg from DCYF who took the stand in the custody case and blantantly committed perjury and fraud, Pagliaro contractor for Temple Habonim who ultimately destroyed "O's" life with his mother and dog Lola, and everyone else who turned their back on "O" and his mother shall "reap what they have sowed" as well.

So as you can see D'Ambrosio's suspension was not only about some of his character defects, which he admits freely, openly and honestly; it was also about his unending excellent devotion to his client "O," his belief in the justice system, the US and RI Constitution, and his ethical and professional character assests as well. D'Ambrosio also has another major character defect he did not charge most of his clients, which also caused him much turmoil. PS he is in need of a job, he can be reach at damonmdlaw@aol.com, although he can not do legal court work he can do some legal research, writing briefs, etc.

Footnote: McKiernan was not reprimanded for taking his penis out while completely intoxicated on East Avenue in Pawtucket, RI which was reported to the JDC after drinking at Patrick's Pub on Smith Street, during the day with a young witness. Isn't that corruption as well? Curtin says behavior not a violation.

There are always two perceptions to every story!!!!!!


Rhode Island is without any resources for women like "O's" mother including domestic violence program's that can protect her and her son, opposing council and DCYF Chief Legal Council ["O's" paternal aunt] is on the Sourjourner House Board of Directors, "O's" case is clearly about corruption, there is no where in the State of RI that "O" and his mother can go to seek justice and refuge from the abuse, she has tried endlessly for almost 6 yrs., except for one program headed by Anne Grant who has got to be one of the bravest, amazing women in Rhode Island, she is a retired minister, coordinates the Parenting Project at Mathewson Street United Methodist Church and writes http://custodyscam.blogspot.com, littlehostages.blogspot.com - custodyscam.blogspot.com/2011/01/hague-domestic-violence-project.html - http://www.rhode-island-divorce-lawyer.com/2008/07/ask-more-questi.html, without Anne most of the men and women would have given up. She has brought amazing men and women together to fight the RIFC. "O's" mother headed the first training programs for police, counselors, guards, etc. in the State of RI for Domestic Violence, which she was trained for by the State of Massachusetts while she was she overseeing a program in the Bristol County House of Corrections providing services to domestic violence perpetrators and sex offenders.

And she can't find anyone to help her. It appears that programs like Anne Grant's that are not funded by any outside sources are the best, Mathewson Street United Methodist Church which allows her a space to work and meet people, she funds it all on her own and runs it all on her own, endlessly every minute of the day. Please send donations to the RI Parenting Project or Anne Grant at 134 Mathewson Street Providence, RI 02903, Anne works endlessly to fight for innocent parents/care takers and children, as well as to the FDGroup, 49 Medway Street, Providence, RI 02906, which is owned by "O's" mother [not-tax-exempt] to help us to continue to fight for children in the State of RI. All monies will be given directly to the men and women who are fighting for their children and other children, supplies, staff employment, etc. Thank you. And please purchase "without providence" you will not be disappointed.

Other exceptionally amazing women in Rhode Island besides "O's" mother and Anne Grant are Patrice Livingstone who has not seen her daughter for over 2 yrs. who is beyond the legal age of 14 because of corruption as well, Phyllis Stafford who lost her child to corruption, Melanie Baron-Kent who is one of the bravest women of all of us who also fought for her son for 5 yrs. did unsubstantiated prison time because of fraud and perjury committed against her repeatedly by former husband, etc., who recently gained custody of her son [like "O's" mother she worked for DCYF and gave of her life endlessly to protect children], Karen Ricci who has battled the FC mostly alone for 9 yrs. and is without a doubt one of the most amazingly brave heroines who recently gained custody of her youngest daughter [her husband and childhood best friend hijacked her children like "O's" mother except it was "O's" mother's sister who had an affair with "O's" father during the custody trial, paternal aunt, neither see "O" anymore], Kathy Lee of Massachusetts who also continues a vicious battle to gain custody of her son for over 5 yrs. because she reported sexual abuse by the child's father and the courts gave him custody, Faith Torres who fought a gag order issued by the RIFC with the help of the ACLU, she has regained custody of 3 out of 4 of her children, and many others who have not given permission to be named. I added this again: "And let's not forget Melanie Baron-Kent's mother Louise who just published an amazing book about her daughter's fight for her own life, her endless days and nights worrying sick about how to protect her daughter and grandson from the horror which took over there lives for many years, how the son-n-law tortured their family endlessly and how the police ignored their constant screams for help, "without providence: A CHILD IN THE HANDS OF AN ABUSIVE FATHER" by Louise Baron-Kent, recently published by Tate Publishing & Enterprises. To purchase a copy please go to withoutprovidence.tateauthor.com. The book should be a best seller which is written by an amazing social revolutionist who broke the silence for all of us in Rhode Island who have children who are in the hands of an abusive parent.

All of the above have been traumatized, humiliated, been called lairs, loud, dangerous, obstructive, discriminated against, bullied by state judges and magistrates, clerks, capitol police, attorneys and others, brutally terrorized and horrified by the abuser and the system, maintains sanity despite outrageous judgments, ignored and laughed at, lose of finances, jobs, careers, friends, family, nights of sleep, hasn't posed a danger to the community nor coerces, threatens or intimidates anyone, is labeled alienating, unreasonable, labeled mentally ill, has to dispose of body fluids on demand, gave up all of their lives everything, i.e. reputation, financial security, submit to drug tests and intrusive forced paid by themselves for psychological and psychiatric evaluations to protect their children's rights and life, etc. These men and women are heroes and heroines.

Other educational resources available below [again there is no where to turn in RI because the politically corrupt are running most of the programs]:










NFOJA - National Forum On Judicial Accountability

The Official Network of Community Forums on Judicial Accountability (CFOJA)


The pictures below are of "O" and his mother while locked up in the RIFC supervised visitation program "O" is motioning with his tongue a scream to get him and his mommy out of the courthouse that she is innocent and the best best bravest mommy, he also says she is going to be famous one day [angels work there...complete kind angels]; D'Ambrosio whom "O" refers to as the sheriff who knew D'Ambrosio was going to be suspended a month before he did...how did a 10 year old know that D'Ambrosio was going to be suspended a month before D'Ambrosio? Corruption!!; and "O's" mother after she was locked up in the RIFC for telling the truth again with another man from the RIFC program who was also locked up with his daughter and consequently one of D'Ambrosio's clients, however, ironically, during the national protest [www.goveabuse.org] D'Ambrosio showed up and told him he had to go into the courthouse unexpected hearing, he received unsupervised visits that day. The final picture is of the bravest women and a man I know who daily from the moment their eyes open are at war with the abusers and the system that supports abuse of thier children and other's children. It is not a place of horror this war they face everyday, it is a place of justice, love, laughter, dignity and respect, which makes them feel liberated and useful in a very dreary dreary system. Please help us fight for the innocent children in the State of RI's corrupt FC and DCYF.

So, as you can see the newspapers forgot to include the other side of the story of D'Ambrosio's suspension. Republican liberal social activists who are in the RIFC are not allowed to protect their clients, especially if they go after the RIFC Chief Judge in the Supreme Court. Best to D'Ambrosio who is doing just fine except he needs to find employment, again, he can be reached at damonmdlaw@aol.com; he is very talented and motivated to succeed.

· Location: Wayland Square - East Side

· it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests





PostingID: 2705612540


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


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.


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


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


Courtesy Source: AMPP




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...


Gender Politics and Child Custody: The Puzzling Persistence of the Best Interest Standard


Elizabeth S. Scott* & Robert E. Emery**

The best interest of the child standard has been widely criticized by scholars for its vagueness and indeterminacy, and yet for forty years it has been the prevailing rule for resolving custody disputes. This article confirms the deficiencies of the standard, focusing particularly on a problem that has received little attention: Best interests poses daunting verifiability problems because a) much family information is private, b) parties often are unable to prove the qualitative factors that that lawmakers have endorsed as proxies for best interest, and c) the incommensurability of these factors precludes courts from assigning them appropriate weights.

Despite the substantial risk of erroneous or arbitrary custody decisions, the best interest standard remains firmly entrenched, with the apparent approval of policymakers and courts. We explain this puzzle as the product of two interrelated factors.

First, a protracted gender war has embroiled advocates for mothers or fathers for decades, thereby creating a political economy deadlock. The main front in the gender war has been the legislative battle over joint custody, but it has also played out in the efforts of mothers’ groups to make domestic violence a key factor in custody disputes and the responsive effort by fathers’ advocates to elevate claims of parental alienation. These efforts have brought apparent determinacy to important categories of cases, and thus have contributed to the entrenchment of the best interest standard.

Second, courts and legislatures have failed to recognize the intractable problems inherent in resolving these contests because they mistakenly believe that psychologists and other mental health professionals have the expertise to obtain accurate family information and then to evaluate and compare the competing evidentiary claims. Courts routinely ask these professionals to guide them in making custody decisions- an unusual role for experts in legal proceedings.

But mental health experts do not have the skill or knowledge to perform these functions; acting without the constraints generally applied to experts, they routinely go beyond the limits of science and of their own expertise in advising courts about custody. Their participation thus masks the deficiencies of the best interest standard and contributes to its perpetuation. Exposing the illusion that psychological experts can overcome the problems inherent in best interest determinations is an important step toward real reform and better custody decision making. Desirable reforms include adoption of the ALI approximation standard, restrictions on the admissibility of psychological
evidence, and encouragement of private ordering for resolving most custody disputes.

I. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................……….……..2

*Harold R. Medina Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law.
**Professor of Psychology; Director, Center for the Study of Children and the Law,
University of Virginia. For helpful comments, we thank Kate Bartlett, Emily Buss, Peg Brinig, Maxine Eichner, Bert Huang, Clare Huntington, Jeannie Suk, Lois Weithorn and especially Robert Scott. For excellent research assistance, we thank Sara Weinberg, Sadie Holtzmann and Kristine Van Hamersveld.


A. A Brief History of Modern Custody Doctrine ..........................................…………..7
B. Custody Decision making and the Limits of the Judicial Capacity ....................…9
      1. Traditional Arguments for and Against the Best Interest Standard ...........….. 9
      2. An Overlooked Consideration: The Problem of Verifiability ....................…….10
            a. Family Privacy and Verifiability. ..............................................…………….11
            b. The Challenge of Qualitative Proxies .........................................…………12
            c. The Incommensurability Problem .............................................………….13
      3. The Search For Better Proxies For Better Interest ............................………..13

III. THE GENDER WAR OVER CHILD CUSTODY REGULATION ............................... 15

A. Legislative Struggles and the Political Economy Deadlock ..............................…16
       1. The Father’s Movement and the Battle over Joint Custody ......................….16
       2. The Politics of Motherhood .........................................................……………20
       3. Legislative Response to Gender Politics.............................................……...22
B. Defining Best Interests- Domestic Violence and Parent Alienation .....................23
       1. The Domestic Violence Presumption ..............................................………..25
       2. Parental Alienation as a Response. .................................................………..31

DISPUTES ...........................................................................................……………………..35

A. How Important Are Mental Health Experts in Resolving Custody Disputes? ..........36
B. Analyzing the Custody Evaluation Process- The General Critique .....................…38
C. Assessing Family Violence and Parental Alienation ......................................……..41
      1. Family Violence. ......................................................................………………….41
      2. Parent Alienation “Syndrome.” ......................................................……………..43
D. Bad Science and the Absence of Evidentiary Standards .................................…..45

V. REFORMING THE BEST INTEREST STANDARD ................................................…..47

A. The Case for Approximation .............................................................………………48
B. Improving Accuracy in Custody Proceedings .............................................……….51
C. Avoiding Adjudication- Collaborative Divorce and Mediation ...........................……53
CONCLUSION ..................................................................................………………….56


Full Article Here:


Gender Politics and Child Custody- the Puzzling Persistence of the Best Interest Standard

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




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.

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
. 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

[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...


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.


The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women, and the Real Gender Gap. Why We Should Reconsider Gender Neutral Family Leave Policies


The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women, and the Real Gender Gap by Susan Pinker



Myth -- "Equality under the law" means that men and women are the same in all ways.

Fact: -- "Equality" under the law means that WHEN men and women are the same in all ways, the law will treat them that way, and that when they are not,
the law will not default to what is characteristic of "man" as the standard.

Thus, "equality under the law" means more than merely consideration of each person as an individual. It also means that that "consideration" will not be cast in terms of standards and rights that can attain only to non-gestating human beings. The law will not determine what is "reasonable" with reference solely to what would be "reasonable for a man;" the law will not determine what is "just" by reference solely to what could be "achievable by someone who cannot gestate;" and the law will not ignore reproductive differences between mothers and fathers where they do indeed exist and have effect.



Why We Should Reconsider Gender Neutral Family Leave Policies

Pages 79-80:

"...One might expect that men married to female university professors would be more likely to have egalitarian views and share child care
equally, but this is another myth. Steven Rhoads, a professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, had similar assumptions. He ran a nationwide study and found that 75 percent of female faculty believed their husbands should take on equal amounts of child care, housework, and
paid work. Just over half of their husbands agreed. Yet the women spent much more time with their children than their husbands did, and in
universities where they were offered paid parental leave, 67 percent of the eligible women took advantage of it, only 12 percent of male faculty
took that time off, and when they did, they didn't use the time the same way. 'We heard stories of male academics who took paid post-birth leave in
order to advance their publishing agendas,' wrote Rhoads, commenting that he'd heard of one school that changed its rules as a result. Upon
returning from her maternity leave, one female colleague recalled being asked by a male colleague how the leave had gone. She replied, 'I used the
time well.' Then the man said, 'So you got a lot of work done.' But that's not what she meant.

"If more academic mothers use a leave to spend time with their baby and more new fathers use the time to publish, then a system based on men and
women being identical ends up punishing women. When these family-friendly policies are applied equally to both sexes, academic women experience more discrimination, not less. One unofficial study at an Ivy league college found that parental leave benefits available to both sexes had that
paradoxical effect: no woman who had taken a family leave in the previous fifteen years had subsequently received tenure. Most if not all of the
small number of men who had taken family leave did. This was never published or even tallied up as a real study, but it became commonly cited
during the tenure discussion, summarized as 'a woman takes family leave and comes back with a backlog, a man takes family leave and comes back
with a book'... Realizing what was happening, a committee at the college tweaked the policy to allow additional leave for those who give birth
(obviously, fathers wouldn't be eligible). This helped... [N]o one wanted to discuss the issue openly, allow the college to be named, or be
identified in any way. The topic was taboo..."

Mothers and Fathers are Different

Pages 163-164:

"...given the choice, 60 to 80 percent of American and European women choose part-time work over full-time schedules or staying home full-time
-- even if they had initially intended to work full-time and even if the decision will cost them in job security and earnings. 'The vast majority of women who claim to be career-oriented discover that their priorities change after they have children.' writes [British sociologist Catherine] Hakim. Eroding the idea of a united sisterhood, Hakim has amassed data from European and American census and national surveys that clearly show that women in modern societies are hardly homogeneous. Instead, they separate fairly cleanly into three groups. There are those who want to stay home full-time, whom she calls 'home-centered' (approximately 20 percent). There are those whose careers take precedence, whom she calls 'work-centered' (approximately 20 percent). These career-oriented women experience few disadvantages to being female; if they have the same credentials and put in the same hours, they achieve the same rewards as men.

"The majority, the remaining 60 percent, are women who try to combine children and career, drifting between various work schedules and
positions, looking for the perfect arrangement. There 'adaptive' women adjust their careers to accommodate their families' needs and their own values, a trend as powerful in socially progressive Sweden and Norway as it is in the United States...

"Calling it 'Preference Theory,' Hakim nailed two realities. Not all women want the same thing. And when women have choices, only about 20 percent
will choose what men choose... exclusively career-oriented women are a minority, Hakim says..."

Pages 168-170:

"If you had asked me before my first child was born to choose from Hakim's three groups, I wouldn't have hesitated before placing myself with career
oriented women. I didn't expect to feel any differently after my baby was born than I did before -- or much differently than her father would. But
my plans for a swift return were shot to hell when a wrinkly, underweight, and squalling baby appeared instead of the placid, pink-cheeked, robust infant I'd imagined cheerily handing off to a babysitter... Work demands seemed remote... I was shocked by my protective feelings. I needed to be
with her. I needed her to be healthy....

"In the early eighties I was not alone in thinking that men and women had nearly identical brains, but that we had been socialized to take on
different roles. If my husband, a doting father, could leave his scrawny newborn after two weeks at home and go to work for ten hours a day without
a backward glance or a blip in his concentration, the script dictated that this was because he had learned that his role was to be the provider. And
if I felt physical distress about tearing myself away from a six-week-old baby -- notwithstanding the monotony and isolation of new motherhood -- I
had internalized mine as a maternal caregiver. Never mind that my mother and both grandmothers worked outside the home, as well as in it. Many of
us thought that if only women could tame their outdated sentimentality, if only men were present and willing to offer their babies more bottles, then
our parental roles could be reversed... At the time we assumed that men and women were equals -- not just in rights and opportunities, as they should be, but also in underlying psychology and behavior. Any differences, including physical differences, could be fixed via technology, policy, or force of will...

"This is the vanilla gender assumption: that female is just a variation of male. But more than two decades after my daughter was born, brain imaging
and neuroendocrinology have unveiled many of the biological networks underlying mothers' specific longing for their infants and their drive to nurture them... "

Pages 210-211:

"[Harvard professor Robert] Trivers's theory suggests that competitive risk-taking is wired into males. Due to her own unique wiring, a female invests greatly in her future offspring, feeding them nurturing them, and raising them to maturity, all at significant cost to herself... once pregnant, that's it. She's committed. No matter how many one-night stands she has, a female will only have a given number of offspring during her lifetime -- which she's programmed to guard with her life -- while a successful, competitive male striver can father... even a hundred...

"The math was demonstrated by Lucky Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty of Morocco (1646-1727), who fathered 888 children with multiple wives. Meanwhile, the female record holder, Madalena Carnauba of Brazil, married at 13 and gave birth to 32 children. The evolutionary anthropologist Sarah Hrdy points out that the context is missing. We don't know how many children from each family survived, or how many of their rivals' offspring were done in by Moulay's more competitive wives. But the difference in output between Lucky and Madalena is still 856 children. More recent accounts... Rahman, who has fathered seventy-eight children and set a target of one hundred children by 2015... Jogi... who became the world's oldest dad when he fathered his twenty-first child with his fourth wife..."According to Trivers, the parent who invests more in their offspring is the one who ultimately limits how many there are -- namely mothers..."

Feminist Fear and Political Correctness

Pages: 258-263:

"[T]There's a fear that if we recognize the existence of sex differences we'll become part of a conservative backlash that will send women back to the kitchen. I'd argue that a more nuanced understanding of the average differences between men and women can lead to progress instead. In fact,
several problems arise from NOT acknowledging that sex differences exist. Workplaces and career schedules designed for a single, standard male approach to competition and success now discourage many women, notwithstanding their native smarts, their educational opportunities, and
their impressive accomplishments...

"Exhorting women to make 'male' choices is more pernicious than simply encouraging them to earn more. Educated women who forgo the highest paying or high-status jobs are usually aware of their options and have weighed the pros and cons. The finger-wagging about being influenced by the media,
not knowing the consequences of their actions, or giving license to employers to discriminate against women... follows in a long tradition of assuming that women don't know their own minds... the prevailing message is that these women are either patsies or victims. The idea that women don't know what they want, or don't have the power, interest, or inclination to determine their own fate lends a feeling of deja vu to the debate about men, women, and work. Telling women that they'd prefer computer science to a degree in English or history if only they weren't blindered by cultural norms, or that putting in fourteen-hour days when their children are toddlers is really what's in their best interests, is a form of infantilization. It's also a form of homogenization. The problem is not that some women choose to opt out, others to work part-time, or that other women prefer to keep working as long and as hard as they can. The problem is that only one choice is seen as the right one..."

Subheadings on the excerpts above are by thelizlibrary.org
The URL for this webpage is http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/sexual-paradox.html