How We Get From Protecting Children to Endangering Them...Connecting the Dots
--by Beverly J.
When the home becomes unsafe a parent can flee with the children to a
shelter or safe place to escape the violence. But just when the parent,
usually the mother, thinks she's safe, a whole new problem arises.
According to a report from the American Psychological Association
Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (Violence and the
Family, 1996 report), fathers who battered the mother are twice as
likely to seek sole physical custody of their children than are
non-violent fathers. And a recent booklet by the American Judges'
Foundation (Domestic Violence & the Courtroom: Understanding the
Problem...Knowing the Victim) states: "batterers have been able to
convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole
custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases."
It's hard to believe that many children already exposed to abuse
continue to be raised by abusers through their learning years. Children
raised by abusive role models learn unhealthy ways to manage conflicts.
This has dire consequences for children from abusive homes and
ultimately for an entire generation. Here's how it happens:
The Protective Connection
Upon intake, if the shelter learns the children have been abused,
women's and children's advocates encourage the mother to make the
required report to Children's Protective Services (CPS) so she won't
later be accused of "failure to protect." They also encourage the mother
to file a Protective Order and participate in counseling. Unfortunately,
CPS considers any situation in which one parent has left the other
parent to be a custody case and, as many mothers have learned, CPS does
not investigate "custody cases." Thus necessary investigations
frequently do not take place or helpful evidence becomes stale.
The Legal Connection
When the mother receives the Protective Order, the order likely contains
"no finding of violence" (common wording in uncontested cases). Defense
attorneys can successfully use the "no finding of violence" in the
Protective Order to argue at the arraignment (if he's been arrested)
that he's not guilty. Now the abuser's attorney has free reign to
present the mother at the custody hearing as vindictive, crazy, and
unfit or, equally damaging, that she suffers from Munchoussen by Proxy
or Parental Alienation Syndrome. The Protective Order, once a
life-saving decision, now makes the mother appear vindictive and
unstable. The judge, following legal precedence, removes the children
from the mother or orders her into counseling to "fix" her. Ordering the
mother into counseling furthers the idea that the problem lies with the
mother and provides grounds for future legal hearings.
The Welfare Connection
Abuse is strongly linked with financial control, and abusers in the past
comprised a large percentage of the deadbeat dads. However, recent
changes in the law require mothers to first seek child support before
obtaining public funds for their children. Threatened with having to pay
child support, formerly non-supportive fathers are increasingly seeking
custody to avoid having to pay. Abusers, often better able to afford
legal representation, now rely on legal precedence to favor them. Abuse
is no longer a legal factor, and mothers are suspect for bringing it up.
The Whole Picture
What we forget is that GOOD fathers don't hurt their children's mothers.
GOOD fathers support their children where ever they live. Unfortunately,
criminals (abusers) DO become fathers, though they're not easy to spot
until the violence begins. When an abusive man selects the mother of his
children to destroy, he does not stop when she leaves the home.
There's a website (now relocated) that tells abusers how to remove
custody from mothers. There is advice for the abuser such as to use a
female judge or attorney to remove children from the mother; verbally
alter schedules while sticking to the original (so others will perceive
the mother as unstable); file police reports against the mother whenever
police arrive for a disturbance (no one knows what "really" happened,
and the reports can be used in court to cast a shadow on the mother's
fitness); sexually stimulate the child until the mother or another adult
seeks help (child molestation is hard to prove, and once a mother seeks
help, she is easily presented in court as vindictive and interfering in
the father-child relationship).
Family court, which has in the past ignored the best interests of
children by blindly assigning custody away from fathers has now reversed
itself in dangerous ways. Everyone wants to see GOOD fathers involved in
their children's lives. Unfortunately, when abuse has been involved,
children's needs are ignored for the politics of the day.
What Can We Learn from History?
The hardest wrongs to correct are those that appear too wrong to be
true. Who can believe we are awarding children to abusers to prepare
them for adult life? To end the Holocaust, we had to accept that the
problem existed in the first place. Such is the situation with mothers
and children from abusive homes today. The problem exists.
For more information, contact your local women's shelter or write Moms
On the Move, P.O. Box 164061, Austin, TX 78716.
Now here is my story and pleas for help:
Recently the court gave physical and legal custody of two girls, just weeks before their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, to their father, separating them from a mother and brother. The court found that I was "a person who intentionally and willfully devotes extraordinary effort and time into alienating her children from their fathers", specifically since I was "breastfeeding beyond normalcy", and my 16 year old son's father testimony against me, on behalf on my ex-husband. This was found even that the girls were weaned and bouncing back and forth every three days in a shared custody, and my oldest father had been criminally procesuted by the DA for unpaid support in excess of 23K, and a history of DUI's. This PAS is not even accepted by the APA or AMA.
I did not file first for the divorce, choosing to stay in the abusive relationship due to legitimate fear. In addition, between 1995 and 1997 I was pregnant 3 times, experiencing the death of one child and the joyous life of our two daughters. When, our youngest was born with severe difficulties, I personally cared for her both in NICU and at home afterwards. I never went to work until she was 6 months old the end of 1997, and the Doctor released her from the daily medication for her breathing. Only after the Stipulated Agreement signed and dated by original Judge in March 1998, did I actually separate from my husband on April 5, 1998.
An evaluation purchased by my husband was used with unverified, misquoted and omitted information unilaterally supplied by both my ex's; as per his request to the court that Dr. …evaluate me for "Parental Alienation Syndrome". All medical reports of abuse, both spousal and child were omitted. In addition, counselors, teachers and others were never contacted who would provide information regarding the children or myself. The Dr.s even stated "Mr. …. results suggest he has problems which result from outbursts of anger and hostility which may frequently be directed towards family members….he often expresses his feelings in an overly intense, imature and destructive manner…..unless have complete control".
This "complete control" is Domestic Violence. The purpose of battering is to instill fear, intimidate and control, using physical, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse against a spouse or child.
Curiously, even after an expert in the field of Domestic Violence testified in court, her findings that I was truthful and displayed the normal reactions of a battered women., the judge still would not allow medical reports from Kaiser, or police reports to be admitted as evidence. He also would not allow me other witness, specifically stating he only was interested in the "alienation".
The girl's father is an Israeli citizen. I was unaware that he was an illegal when we married, until after when he had me sign the papers. He has no green card yet, and tried to force me to obtain it when his temporary expired last August. He already has denied our daughter her American birthright, by having her declared an Israeli Citizen complete with Israeli passport.
Over and over, as I have been unable to afford an attorney my legal and constitutional rights have been denied.
I have been taken to court over a half dozen OSC's in the last 12 months, several which were signed in favor of my former spouse in Judge's private chambers.
Today, with my average take home pay around $1600 monthly, the Judge ordered me to pay child support of over $1200 monthly, to a man who owns multi-million businesses and property both in the United States and in Israel.
Please, I have another court in just a few weeks. I need help. I am terrified of this man, who is illegal in this country and just because he is rich, he can hurt and destroy those around him. I fear for the safety of two innocent baby girls,.
He is stalking me, threatening me. I fear that the girls will be taken out of the country very soon
If you can offer legal or emotional assistance to the author, please email me and I will forward the mail to her. Email me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org In the subject please list help for Beverly.
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