contact their victims, but the average battered woman is beaten up three times by her batterer duringthe pendency of a criminal domestic violence case.8 All victims threatened with further assault wantto drop their cases; battered women are actually more willing than other threatened victims to pursuetheir cases.9
Men who batter are not only adept at minimizing and denying their own abusive behaviors and their responsibility for it, they are also adept at blaming circumstances or their victims, thereby shiftingresponsibility and projecting their own behavior onto their victims.10 Yet while alcohol,11 poverty,and other circumstances may aggravate a situation, they do not cause violence, as most people insuch circumstances do not abuse. Similarly, victims are not to blame for the violence. Unfortunately,abusive men have been very successful in convincing courts and juries that their own behavior istheir female victims¶ fault, or that their partners provoked them, or wanted the abuse, or that badcircumstances caused the abuse.
Mental health experts lack expertise in family violence.
Complicating the problem is that the courts often rely on mental health experts to evaluate the parties, yet overwhelmingly those experts have never received adequate training in domestic violenceor child sexual abuse; indeed, their professional schools seldom teach the subjects and 40% of thoseworking in mental health fields in the U.S. admit they have never received any training aboutintimate partner violence and even fewer received training about child sexual abuse.12 The contentof what little training exists in schools in continuing education programs is often questionable or outright misleading, or so short (one hour is not that uncommon over the course of a career)13 that isclearly inadequate. Guardians ad litem, who are supposed to represent the children¶s best interests tothe court, generally lack training in any aspects of family violence or even child development.14Only 10% of custody evaluators know enough about incest to not be dangerous in these cases.15Without the training and sensitivity to abuse issues, few therapists and custody evaluators evenscreen for it or follow up when told about it. 16 When they do follow up, batterers are adept atmanipulating mental health professionals, appearing very together and, if he admits the abuse,contrite and regretful, justifying his abuse or making it appear part of a substance abuse or depression problem or caused by his partner.17 All this convinces the professional that the abuse was anaberration that will be controlled in the future, although this is most unlikely.18 Mental healthevaluators and guardians ad litem, having been trained in a system that blames mothers for most problems that people have,19 are particularly vulnerable to being persuaded by fathers who denytheir abuse and blame their partners, with the result being that they discredit the mother¶s accusationsand fears, and recommend that custody to go to fathers, even when the men are abusive. The result isthat domestic violence is seldom considered in the vast majority of child custody determinations,20 particularly when there are allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a child.21 This is an