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Claudine Dombrowski's Voice

Claudine Dombrowski's Voice

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Published by AnotherAnonymom
Claudine Dombrowski has been an activist in the domestic violence movement for a long time. Her picture has become synonymous with the term “battered mother” and for battered women, she has become a revered icon.
Claudine Dombrowski has been an activist in the domestic violence movement for a long time. Her picture has become synonymous with the term “battered mother” and for battered women, she has become a revered icon.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: AnotherAnonymom on Dec 17, 2012
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12/17/2012

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Claudine Dombrowski’s Voice
Claudine Dombrowski has been an activist in the domestic violence movementfor a long time. Her picture has become synonymous with the term “battered mother” andfor battered women, she has become a revered icon. Throughout her court cases and her  blog, there is much talk about reporting domestic violence, not reporting, using onesvoice to share their story, and remaining silent. The common opinion is that domesticviolence will not stop unless it is reported and prosecuted. All states have mandatoryreporting laws now, but there are times when those in authority discourage disclosure of abuse. The consensus is that domestic violence, as a whole will not stop unless it isreported and prosecuted. Perhaps when reporting and prosecuting are both appliedaccording to the letter and intent of the laws, the incidences of domestic violence woulddecrease. One has to have an understanding of domestic violence in order to make it stop,and when children are involved the cycle gets much more complicated. Claudine’s life provides a view into the life of a battered mother as we try to understand when, how, whyand if domestic violence should be reported by the victim.Claudine Dombrowski has been through family Court, Appeals court, the UnitedStates Supreme Court and her case is currently in the Inter-American Commission onHuman Rights Court (IACHR), which is our international court. From her case record,the core issues that brought her into the system were child custody and domesticviolence. She was a psychiatric LPN when she met the father of her child. She was four months pregnant when she found out he was married and their relationship went downhillfrom there. They later married and he filed for divorce four months later. During
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litigation he admitted to hitting Claudine, and beating her two or three times a week. Hekicked her out and at times she left in an effort to keep herself and her baby girl safe. Thecourt used that as evidence that she would hide the child from the father. He had eightcriminal convictions, including three for domestic violence against her and assaulting a police officer. He was ordered to anger management but they asked him to leave. Both parents went through psychological evaluations and Claudine was deemed safe to bearound her child and he admitted to violence, yet he has custody. The photographs of her abuse are publicly available on the Internet, many were used as evidence in her case(Dombrowski et el).Jay Silverman wrote concerning a three year study on battered mothers inMassachusetts which included four hour interviews with abused mothers in their twentiesto their fifties who were involved in family court. Their incomes ranged from fifteenthousand to one hundred and five thousand per year. Advocates for these women werealso questioned about how the court experience was from their perception, and focusgroups were also used. Mothers stated their evidence was ignored by court officials inregards to domestic violence and because of that custody of their children was stripped.The majority experienced continued abuse or mistreatment by their ex-partners after leaving them and entering the court system. More than a third claimed they were stalkedafter the separation and nearly one-fourth received death threats. Most women reportedthe restraining order was violated and they were abused either physically or sexually.Their children were also harmed during court-ordered exchanges or visits. More than half had lost complete or partial custody at some point during the proceedings (Silverman).
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Phyllis Chesler explains in her book, Mothers on Trial, that in 82% of thedisputed custody cases fathers were awarded sole custody even though only 13% had been involved in the care of their child before the divorce (79). The American Bar Association, in a publication for court judges has stated that abusive spouses may usethreats to seek custody to maintain control (Rauber 104). One of the publications by theAmerican Judges Association accepts the fact that batterers have been able to convincethe authorities that victims are unfit or don’t deserve sole custody in approximately 70%of challenged custody cases (American 5).Claudine’s IACHR case speaks of the role of court personnel in her legal battletoo. Dr. Bernie Nobo, a licensed social worker diagnosed her as depressed and the father with adjustment disorder. He testified that he had to stop the father from assaultingClaudine in a meeting. He recommended supervised visitation for the father. The courtservices officer suggested the child be put into foster care, punishing the child and themother further. The concern was the child having access to the father, not the safety of the mother and child. The Guardian ad litem, commonly referred to as a GAL,recommended custody go to the father because he lived closer to the court and the GALsaid the violence was so far fetched he did not believe it. Judges were changed on her case over time and one judge said that she provoked the violence that was perpetratedagainst her. When her child spoke about the abuse Child Protective Services claimed thechild’s words were coached (Dombrowski et el).Silverman’s 2005 study in Massachusetts discussed the fact that battered mothersget mixed messages from the government. These women are urged by state personnel toleave the abuser and go to a shelter, and when they comply they are pressured by the
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