Child Abuse

The Canadian Government released this free online guide titled “International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents” that offers good information and help for anyone in this situation, and resources for parents in Canada.

Topics include:
– What you can do if your child is missing, what kinds of help you can find with the agencies you are reaching out to (police, school, lawyer, family/friends, consular services etc). And what information to offer these agencies when requesting assistance.
-Tips on searching for your child. Organizations that can aid you in your search.
-Obstacles you can expect, and how to cope with them.
-The Return of your child
How to manage a voluntary return
How and when to use the Hague Convention Rules:
-Filing criminal charges against the abducting parent, pros vs. cons, challenges, what to expect in court, etc
-Reuniting with your child- Getting used to each other, Psychological Issues, Legal Issues, etc
-Information and Documentation Checklist (this is very helpful and shold be kept on hand if you have concerns the other parent may abduct your child, or has made threats to)
-Search & Action checklist
-Warning signs of parental abduction
-Teaching your child how to contact you

The full article can be viewed at:

To obtain more information or free copies of this publication, write to:

Enquiries Service
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: 1-800-267-8376 (in Canada) or 613-944-4000

In a historic move for judicial reform, the Slovakian government has threatened to take Britian to the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) over serious concerns that Britian is unlawfully taking Slovak children, and separating families. According to the Telegraph: ” So disturbed is the government of Slovakia by the number of Slovak parents who have lost their children in Britain in recent years that its justice ministry has posted a declaration highly critical of Britain on its website and says that, if a decision of the Appeal Court this Tuesday goes against one Slovak family, it will back an appeal to the Strasbourg court that Britain has acted illegally.”

The Slovak government is angry that British social workers traveling into Slovakia, and taking children (who have a British parent), from their family without just cause. Allegations also say the British government is removing children from foreign families who are in Britain, even on holiday (!!). Many of these children are being adopted out despite the objections of their parents, and without any real or legal cause to terminate parental rights.

According to the Daily Mail, social workers get a bonus for taking children & placing them up for adopted. The rates of children removed from their homes and placed for adoption is alarming, as of 2008, “The number of babies under one month old being taken into care for adoption  is now running at almost four a day (a 300 per cent increase over a decade). In total, 75 children of all ages are being removed from their parents every  week before being handed over to new families. Some of these may have been willingly given up for adoption, but critics of  the Government’s policy are convinced that the vast majority are taken by  force.” Fit, loving parents are losing their children for non sense reason whil government officials are making handsome profits. :

According to the Daily Mail: “John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP campaigning to change the adoption system,  said yesterday: “I have evidence that 1,000 children are wrongly being seized  from their birth parents each year even though they have not been harmed in any way.”
It is illegal for parents to talk about what is happening, so all of this is happening in secret. Infants and young children are especially desirable, there are even reports of children being taken from maternity wards. Others are targeted before birth, and proceedings begin to terminate parental rights while the mother is still pregnant.

This is only going to change if we shed a blinding light on what is happening in Britain and demand reform with a loud, unified voice. For the children and families involved we must not be silent! Please post your comments and ideas below, you can remain anonymous.

Source: “Foreign government may take UK to European court over its ‘illegal’
child-snatching by Christopher Booker”, The Telegraph.

“How social services are paid bonuses to snatch babies for adoption”, by Sue Reid, Daily Mail Online.

Failures in Social Services and Family Court fail to assess perpetrators of domestic violence and fail to respond to allegations of abuse, putting the lives of vulnerable children at risk (this article does not specify if the victims are even believed when they speak out).

A recent report by the Family Rights Group (FRG) and the Parenting Fund found that: “..88% of the men surveyed continued to have contact with their children despite often long histories of domestic violence..” Further, men who have found to have a history of abuse not getting needed help or intervention services.

As a result, Cathy Ashley of FRG reports that “Really scary, violent fathers are routinely falling through the gaps in children’s services, putting children who have already been raised in homes where domestic violence was present, at risk of further physical and emotional harm.”  Similarly, divorced fathers who report concerns with the new spouse or boyfriend of the ex have faced challenges with the system failing to protect their children from abuse by the new partner when allegations or warning signs arise.

What is happening? The report concludes the following:

* Social services often ignores or minimizes allegations of abuse. As a result, alleged perpetrators often are not assessed so their parenting ability remains unknown, and children’s lives are put at serious risk of harm.

* Assessments often fail to include important details, or information is missing-suggesting the method of assessment is faulty or the person conducting the assessment is not properly trained. Which also means the results can’t be trusted.This report suggests that female assessors may be intimidated by the abusers. Alternately, I have heard stories of family court staff flirting with abusers or using their sexuality to yield power in the court.

* Programs to help perpetrators of domestic violence are few, and identified perpetrators rarely get help. To be fair, treatment for abusers is highly controversial as so many abusers go to divorce classes, anger management, parenting classes or similar supports and often return to violent or threatening behavior. Very few abusers are actually “cured”.

This is an excellent article that provides valuable information about the failures in the system to protect children but also compels us to look at why this is happening, and what we can do about it.

Source: The Guardian, Thursday 3, February 2011

Title: Children in danger from violent fathers ‘due to social services failures’

Author: Amelia Hill

Shariatpur, Bangladesh: After 14 year old Hena Begum was raped by a 40 year old cousin, she was convicted of “adultery” by a council of elders and Muslim clerics who practice Sharia law. Hena was sentenced to 100 lashes, and publicly flogged. In the middle of the grueling punishment she collapsed and was taken to a hospital where she died six days later.
Young Hena had suffered horribly. First she had been raped by a 40 year old married cousin, whose family members beat her up then accused her of “adultery”. She was brutalized then humiliated in a public trial, where the rapist was exonerated and the shem the victim, found guilty by order of a fatwa (religious ruling). Hena endured an estimated 80 lashes before collapsing. If that’s not bad enough, her father, Dorbesh Khan, was fined $700.
Bangladesh’s court has declared Sharia punishment illegal 8 months ago. Since this incident 4 people have been arrested in connection with Hena’s death, and police are searching for 14 more suspects.
We need to take a stand against child abuse and laws that condone child abuse. It is appalling that an entire village witnessed Hena being flogged–her body lashed over and over again, her flesh torn and bleeding, her screams ringing through the crowd. And no one did anything to stop the flogging; if Hena had lived who would demand justice? And why is a rape victim being brought up on charges while the rapist goes free? This is a horrific failure of justice–which will likely continue until Sharia is abolished, and government officials actively work to end its practice. In addition, people need to learn God’s truth, rather than blindly follow a law out of fear or archaic loyalty.
Hena’s death was ordered under the guise of religion but let there be no mistake, this act of brutality is the work of the devil.
Here is the TRUTH: Scripture tells us that our children are an inheritance from the Lord, a blessing (Psalms 127:3). This beautiful child’s was given life by God, the Creator. Hena was wonderfully made (Psalms 139), her name was written on the palms of God (Isaiah 49:16), she is a jewel in the crown of the King (Zechariah 9:16).  God’s law instructs us to love and protect our children, and condemns violence and brutality.
My prayers go out to Hena’s family and friends, God hears your cries and will wipe away every tear. May precious Hena rest in peace.
Hena Begum (BBC News)
AOL News, “Rape Victim, 14 Dies After Public Flogging in Bangladesh”. Feb, 3, 2011:
BBC News, “Four arrested after Bangladesh girl ‘lashed to death”. by Anbarasan Ethirajan. Feb. 2, 2011:

The failures of Family Court affect children with devastating consequences. Vulnerable, often abused or witnesses to abuse, children rely on Family Court to protect them, and ensure their well being in the choices they make when deciding custody or visitation. When that does not happen, children are traumatized and subjected to further abuse.

For children with special needs, such as Autism, the results can be particularly detrimental because not only is their safety being compromised but their medical needs are not being met. An abuser who gains custody of an Autistic or special needs child may neglect medical care or even deny there is a problem because they don’t want that child to get well, and reveal what is going on in the home. The abuser may also use the child as a pawn to gain control over the ex partner, to gain sympathy/attention or for financial benefit. Other abusers may neglect the child or not be able to handle the demands and resort to further physical or mental abuse. So these kids with special needs suffer the agony of a broken family while also struggling with tasks of daily life caused by their disability; their coping strategies are already weakened or impaired and the additional trauma can trigger symptoms or lead to crisis, causing their symptoms to worsen.

 Another factor to consider is that if the Court does not have the education or experience to understand Autism, the child’s needs may be completely ignored or overlooked. In this case, getting help for the child becomes a legal battle—and is not considered a priority. An abusive father may negate the child’s illness, blame the mother or raise false allegations, and resort to manipulation to gain custody. Mothers seeking help for their children are likely to lose custody because it now appears they can’t manage the child or the child only has troubles while in their care! And the abuser will be happy to point this out.

I lost custody of my son with Aspberger’s (high functioning Autism) in this way. I am sharing a little bit of my story to raise awareness, and to let other moms going through a similar struggle to know that you are not alone. Though I lost custody, I know I did the right thing to fight to get my son help. I will never stop fighting to bring him home.


 The moment came with the darkness of raven wings soaring over my tiny one bedroom apartment, the realization that I have done all I could to help my son and now I had to let him go. The realization that Son (age 6 1/2) needed more help than I could provide (in-home PCA services and respite care) and since I shared joint legal custody with the abuser who was refusing treatment, I could not get that help.

The abuser fought my attempts to get treatment for Son knowing that when Son was well, he’d talk about the abuse. Already Son had disclosed that dad choked him, dad broke his toys, when dad gets mad the dog shakes…Son said he hit himself in the head with his fist because the pain took away the bad memories.

The abuser not only prevented treatment for Son but he would make no one would believe me when I asked for help by doing everything he could to destroy my reputation with various false allegations against me. I couldn’t just be a mother doing her best to help her troubled child I had to think like an attorney and anticipate the latest attack or legal charge the abuser would wage against me. I had to think like a therapist and find ways to help my son, often relying on my own resourcefulness and creativity. I had to be an advocate for my son. I had to be the punching bag when my son had a “meltdown” and take the hitting, biting, kicking, swearing and threats. I had to take it again when the abuser went to court claiming nothing is wrong with my son, I am making this all up…or I did something to provoke my son’s rage or I deserved to be hit. I had to hold back tears and stay strong.

When the moment came, Son had a “meltdown” and after hitting and spitting on me, I put Son in time out in the bathroom. A psychiatrist told me the bathroom was the safest place for time out because there was nothing Son could throw at me, and since I cleaned the bathroom out–nothing he could use to hurt himself. I kept the door open to keep an eye on Son, who leaned against the wall, heaving. His knees were to his chest and dark eyes glared at me, full of challenge. Son sat that way for some time when I turned my back to check on my daughter. Then I heard a loud crash BAM! Again, BAM! BAM! I ran to the bathroom, my heart racing. Son was now standing, pounding his small fist against the wall with such force that he was punching holes in it! Intervention was met with this fists pounding me. Tears welled in my eyes as I called 911. I knew when the police came, they’d take Son away and he’d never come back home. I also knew that things could not keep on this way, this was the hardest decision I had to make.

Later, in the behavioral unit of the ER, Son was strangely calm–sedated, his face blank. He clutched his fist possesively to his chest. Then slowly his fingers uncurled, revealing a small chunk of drywall–a piece of the wall. Son would treasure this last reminder of home, and keep it with him through the changes that would come.

In a small voice, hardly audible, Son said, “I did this Mom?”

“Yes you did that Son.” I sighed, exhaustion dragging my shoulders down.

“Am I going to the hospbible?”

“Yes, to get help. We have to get you feeling better so you can be safe at home.”

“I like the hospbible. My big feelings go away.”

Since the abuser attacked me then threw the kids and I on the street like trash, we’d been homeless for months. Only recently had we been accepted into transitional housing. I wondered if the hospital psychiatric unit with it’s predictable routine, it’s warm bed and toys and fun OT activities, it’s dining room with meals Son could pick foods from several choices on the menu became the home, the safety Son was looking for. I felt like a failure. I fled the abuse to give my kids a better life and instead Son was falling apart.

“I’m gonna miss you Mommy. I cry at night for you.”

“I will miss you too Son.” I turned my head so Son would not see the pain written across my face, I’d do anything to have him come back home and be a happy child who did not struggle with memories of abuse.

– EJ Perth, 2011


For More Information: Autism Custody Battles

 Women who bravely flee abuse begin their new lives anticipating danger, and unable to truly feel safe when court ordered parenting time presents further risks to their lives, and that of their children.

Abusers often use access to the children (transitioning from one home to the other, contact made around visitation/parenting time, ongoing communication about parenting issues, etc.) as a means to retaliate against victims.

Abusers are rarely punished for these inappropriate, harmful behaviors–nor are they required to seek help or change their ways. Most family court rulings reward abusive men  with the same “rights”  as loving, non-abusive fathers and act without regard to the safety or well-being of the children involved. These courts blindly believe that abusers deserve to see their children, at any cost; that more harm would come to the children if kept away from the abuser. Nothing could be further from the truth.                        

According to an article from The Leadership Council: “When his victim leaves him, batterers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt his partner is to assert his legal rights to control her access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive male now has a powerful tool which allows him to continue to stalk, harass and batter an ex-partner even when he has no direct access to her.” (Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy: Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not “PAS” . September 2009).

It is very important for victims of domestic violence, or those who have been threatened by an ex spouse or partner, to establish a safety plan for any contact with the abuser, especially around times when children will be transferred from one home to the other. Also, if you are in a situation where you will be using public transportation for transfers or visits, let the advocate or professionals working with your family know so extra precautions can be made.

Note: Abusive behavior can be disguised! Abusers are adept at conning, charming, and manipulating people to their cause. Also, children may be bribed or threatened not to report concerns; or they may speak out because they feel no one will help them or they assume this behavior is “normal”.  It is very important to document any past concerns or acts of abuse and then to keep note of any current concerns or “red flags”. Once you are able to establish a pattern or unmask the manipulation for what it is, as abuse, you will be in a better position to advocate for your family. Don’t wait for the explosion–get help immediately. If you feel afraid, threatened or notice dramatic changes in your children, get help or professional advise right away. The abuse will only escalate so it is imperative that you act sooner than later.

Common Examples of how Abusers will use Custody or Access to the Children as a Means to Threaten, Harass or Further Intimidate:

* Manipulating Family Court, the Legal System or CPS to intimidate, threaten or gain control (filing frivolous motions or lawsuits, threatening to take the kids, raising false allegations, using the cost of court proceedings to cause financial hardship, minimizing violence in proceedings, falsely accusing mother of mental illness/substance abuse or being generally unfit etc.)

 * Involving Family Court, the Legal System or CPS to force unwanted contact (with the abuser), this is very effective if the victim is afraid she will lose custody or be punished by the court system if she does not comply. Contact may include: marital counseling, family counseling, mediation, co-parenting plans, verbal communication and unsupervised exchange. OR involve instances such as school events, holiday events or religious events where both parents will be present to support the child or participate in an important occasion.

* Threatening to take the children either through the legal system or by kidnapping, running away or hiding in another country or with a family member.

 * Threats of harm–may include the children, the victim, family pets, friends, family, or co-workers. An abuser may also threaten to kill himself, or say things like “I can’t live without you”, “I don’t know what I will do without you” or ” I’m lost without you/I don’t know how I will make it” to imply harm if the victim does not do what they want.

This is a form of emotional abuse that often evokes feelings of fear, confusion, guilt and helplessness. The victim is tormented by thoughts, feelings or messages that come from the abuser, stating they will be responsible or are the cause for the abuser harming someone else or turning to suicide.

 *Denigrating the victim or making false accusations about her.  Or trying to win sympathy by portraying victim as unfit. The abuser may reach out to: daycare staff, school staff, church members, family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, Family Court, CPS, law enforcement, mediators, counselors, etc with false allegations, degrading remarks about the woman or lies meant to destroy her reputation and character. The abuser may also go online and make similiar derogatory remarks.

The damage caused by these remarks and false statements is virtually impossible to overcome–your reputation and character has not only been assaulted but any attempts to defend yourself will be viewed with disbelief or suspicion. The woman will also be isolated, and unable to communicate with those working with her children/family.

Example: My son needs special education services in school, and the abuser was against this so he told the school officials lies about me including that I took drugs while pregnant and that I am mentally ill (and just saying my son needs help because I really want it for myself). The school was so convinced by these lies that they were reported in my son’s IEP. The school also refused to talk to me, or involve me in my son’s educational plan. It got so bad that when I attempted to contact the school, they reported me to the guardian ad litem! There was no evidence for any of these remarks. In this kind of situation it’s best to seek outside help, and don’t go alone to meetings or contact with the other party–they will likely be brainwashed, confused and defensive and it may take awhile for them to come around, if ever.

* Using the children to send messages or carry out tasks for the abuser.  If this is occuring you may consider seeking additional help or support for the child.

* Manipulating children so they don’t want to spend time with the other parent (bribes, giving scary or negative messages, threats to the children if they go with the other parent, planning fun events with the purpose of causing the child to refuse a visit with the other parent, etc)

* Making negative remarks about the other parent to the children. Initiating the children to make negative remarks. Or initiating the children to ask embarassing or intrusive questions.

* Creating an inconsistent or unpredictable visitation schedule–not showing up, showing up at random times, allowing access to the children (including phone calls) only when he feels like it, changing the transfer location at the last minute, unreasonable requests, asking mother to exchange children in unsafe/isolated/ or out of the way locations etc. If the mother has been denied access to the children or is afraid she will be hurt, she may become so desperate that she gives into the abuser’s unreasonable demands or unpredictable behavior, putting herself at risk.

* Returning children from visits or sending to visits dressed inappropriately for the weather or occasion, missing needed or important items (like medications, school backpack, comfort toy/blanket, etc) or doing something to make the child uncomfortable or unprepared for the visit.

It is very disruptive (this has happened to me) when your child comes to your visit wearing clothing that is dirty, torn, doesn’t fit or isn’t right for the season. At the same time, you may have to wash the child, brush their hair, and provide whatever is needed. You can only do this so many times before you are depleting your resources or just missing out on the activities you had planned. Doing this to a child repeatedly, over time is abuse. I have even heard of parents giving children pop and candy so they will be hyper and out of control during the other parent’s visit.

*Unpredictable, erratic or dangerous behavior at exchanges. The abuser may be adept at acting one way in front of others but when he is alone with the victim, he is completely different. This may include: actual physical attacks, verbal threats, stalking,  threatening gestures. If his behavior is reported, the abuser may makke a  false reports to police/CPS/ or family court to blame the woman for any problems with exchanges and avoid any responsibility for his role in it. This also works to show the mother is “unfriendly” or “uncooperative”. which can seriously jeopardize her ability to gain custody or visitation time in family court.

Please feel free to leave any other examples or stories below.

E.J. Perth, Dec. 2010

Additional Information:

Child Custody and Visitation Decisions in Domestic Violence Cases: Legal Trends, Research Findings, and Recommendations by Daniel G. Saunders P.h.D. (University of Michigan School of Social Work).  Revised October 1998 (Includes Visitation Guidelines):
Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy: Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not “PAS” , The Leadership Council, September 2009:
Domestic Violence Safety Plan, Aardvarc:
Safety Planning, BPD 411:
Safety Planning, The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Woman Abuse and Child Custody and Access/Ways You Can Help:

The outcome of my custody case was based solely on the party who had the money to afford an attorney. — An attorney who was familiar with the county and befriended the court officers. An attorney who knew the laws well enough to find loopholes and create legal manipulations. An attorney who was adept at character assasination, and could laugh at an abused women because she “acts like she is afraid he will kill her!”. An attorney who could portray the ugliest things about his client in the limelight of an errant rockstar (maybe flawed but still likeable, even trustworthy). That is to say telling the truth and hoping for justice does not get you far in Family Court, especially when proceedings are complicated and can drag on for years–an abuser will use every opportunity to make things even more complicated in an effort to exhaust or manipulate the system to his advantage. If the abuser has an attorney he is likely to win custody over a protective mom who is facing multiple challenges in an already biased court system, and may not have the resources to obtain proper legal assistance.

 I went to court alone. I could not afford legal help. I was ignorant of my rights.  I didn’t know how to wage an effective legal strategy, let alone understand the laws being used against me were actually designed to protect me. And I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress after years of abuse. I fought valiantly for my children: I presented evidence, I cited laws at statutes when relevant, I pointed out patterns of behavior that endangered my children in the care of their father and I petitioned for a new Guardian ad Litem (was denied). I was a Mom with a “squeaky clean” background, I taught Sunday school and volunteered in my community. I held steady employment and after being homeless (due to abuse), I secured housing in a good neighborhood. Again, none of that seemed to matter.

The court even ignored glaring red flags with my ex–his criminal history and outstanding arrest warrants, his association  with a man convicted of a sexual assault against a child (my children refer to him as “Uncle”), that my child had attempted to run away from dad’s home several times–and my ex’s refusal to get help for my son (who was disclosing abuse in therapy) until crisis ensued. The Guardian ad Litem refused to speak to witnesses or look into multiple allegations of abuse.  The judge BFF the GAL and during the hearings, praised her work while rejecting my valid, documented concerns. After escaping abuse to seek a better life for my family, I lost custody of my children to an abuser and was allowed only supervised visitation (without no evidence to show I had done anything to hurt or endanger my children).

The one, strange comfort I have is that despite this, I was able to confront the man who raped me, threatened me, attacked me and made my life a living hell without tears, without breaking down. I made it through the worst day of my life while somehow being able to keep my head up. I saved the tears for later, and the nightmares and flashbacks would come in the days to follow.

But for one moment my abuser saw me as strongI take comfort in knowing that one day my children will know the whole story of what has happened. More important than the abuse or the horror of family court we endured, my children will see that their mother, though vulnerable and unarmed, was stronger than anything against me because I spoke the truth, and never gave up on fighting to give them a better life.

~ EJ Perth, November 2010


Protective Moms who go to Family Court without legal representation are likely to lose custody:

“…because most assessment tools used in custody evaluations were never developed to take into account the effects of domestic violence on victims, the tools distort the results to incorrectly show that most frightened victims have psychiatric disorders..Without experts able to refute the faulty diagnoses (and few battered women have the money to pay for such experts, even if any are available who are willing to criticize their colleagues), battered women and mothers of children who have been abused risk being assessed as incompetent mothers, and so lose custody…” Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation: Denial and Complicity In the Family Courts by by Joan Zorza, Esq.


May 2010: “Battered women who have lost custody of children to spouses pleaded for legal help at a demonstration Friday in front of the Passaic County Courthouse…

A nearby demonstrator, Kelly DePaola of West Milford, ‘A lot of us are [legally] untrained; they leave you without alimony, evicted from where you live,’ she said. ‘You are desolate and completely vulnerable and homeless. You don’t have an attorney, but your ex does and they can say anything about you and get custody. You can’t win.’

..Administrators of social and legal agencies confirm it’s almost impossible for a woman without resources to get publicly provided legal representation in a custody case. And now, with major budget cuts to state-funded Legal Services, the chance is even more remote.

John Fitzgerald, director of Northeast New Jersey Legal Services programs in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties, said custody cases can be ‘very complicated.’  ‘You can go to court, file on your own without an attorney for custody and visitation, but often one side is in a better financial position, usually the man, to hire an attorney,’ he said. ‘Men are the people with access to funds as well as higher-paying jobs. Women are at a definite disadvantage.’” Battered women call for legal aid in custody battles. Friday, May 7, 2010 BY ELAINE D’AURIZIO, The Record, STAFF WRITE. Retrieved 11/19/2010,


“Yes, there has been a tragic trend in our family court system to take parental rights away from good mothers and give it to sociopathic abusive fathers…There are several reasons good Mothers lose custody and the top of the list is the unfortunate reality of financial status. Fathers that have the money to take a custody battle into the family court system for several years, usually (approximately 80% of the time), wins full custody and the Mother, not only loses her 50% physical custody, but loses her parental rights, as well. This is a devastating and difficult situation for the mother as well as the children…If the father wants to fight and has the financial resources to do so, if you cannot meet or exceed his financial resources, the likelihood of the father getting custody and the mother losing parental rights is extremely high…this is the very real and very sad reality of our nation’s family court system.” Tragic Discrimination by our Family Court System of Good Mothers while our Children Pay the Price by Irene Watson, M.A.:
2008: “…In a report released  by the (New York-based) Voices of Women Organizing Project, family courts retraumatize battered women by forcing them to confront men they fear and granting custody to abusers 37 percent of the time despite the women’s roles as primary caregivers…All the women interviewed for the report identified themselves as victims of abuse and were involved in family court cases in 2005 or 2006. ..Nearly a quarter, 23 percent, of the women did not have attorneys, and 90 percent of those who did had court-appointed lawyers. (The authors did not report how many male counterparties had attorneys.) Sixty-seven percent of the women could not afford copies of court transcripts, leaving them unsure of how accurately the official records reflected the proceedings. About 15 percent said transcripts were not accurate. Women were advised, sometimes by lawyers, not to mention domestic violence in one-quarter of cases, and not to challenge custody for fear of worsening the situation...When they appear in court, battered mothers, still fearful of their abusers and suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, often provide a weak portrait to courts of how they juggle stresses, the report concluded.” Dangerous Trends, Innovative Responses Pt. 20, “Report: Abused Women See Danger in Family Court”. By Alison Bowen, WeNews, May 8, 2008:

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