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Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation Denial and Complicity in the Family

Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation Denial and Complicity in the Family

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Published by: AnotherAnonymom on Aug 09, 2011
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Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation Denial and
Complicity In the Family Courts
 Indomestic lawon July 27, 2010at 2:31 pm
Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation Denial and Complicity In the Family Courts
y Joan Zorza, Esq
Family Courts Excuse Male Mis
ehavior, But Blame Women
 Most family and divorce (hereinafter, ³family´) court judges insist that people going through custodyand divorce cases are good people, but that they often behave very badly because they are so stressedout by the pressures of the separation and court dispute. 1 The reality, as Massachusetts has found, isthat nothing could be further from the truth for the men who abuse their female intimate partners andchildren (called either ³abusers´ or ³batterers´).Massachusetts, which has since 1978 allowed its criminal court judges to issue restraining ordersagainst abusers, and which now requires all judges±even the family ones, to consult offender  probation records whenever a petition for protection in an abuse case is filed, keeps very carefulrecords which it periodically analyses. It has found that almost 80% of the male abusers havecriminal records,2 46% for violent offenses, and 39% have prior restraining orders entered againstthem and 15% for violating of those orders within the first 6 months. The men with prior orders arealmost equally divided between those who have repeatedly abused one victim and those who haveabusing multiple victims.3 Massachusetts also was the first state in the county to create a statewideregistry for orders of protection, and it also enters orders of protection onto the defendants¶ probationrecords, so that judges automatically become aware of the defendants¶ prior record, even his juvenileone or cases which were later continued without any finding. This is not to say that all abusive menhave records or are abnormal,4 or that no female partners of abusers ever have records. However,abusive men, although they tend to be considerably older, better educated and are more likely to bewhite than other criminals, and hence to have been given far more breaks in the criminal justicesystem, are simply not the stressed out good guys as the family courts assume. Men who abuse do soas a matter of choice, as a way to assert power and control over their female partners, punish them, to be sexually aroused, or less often because they enjoy causing pain.5In contrast, although the family courts assign at least equal blame to the men¶s victims, the victimsare generally no different than other women, except for having been abused and suffering the effectsof that abuse. Prior to being abused, battered women are no different from other women.6 It is theeffects of the abuse makes them frightened and show other effects, often making them appear lesscredible as witnesses.7 Courts, police and prosecutors often refuse to help battered women anddiscourage them from pursuing cases, but then blame them for dropping their cases. In fact, batteredwomen are no more likely to drop cases than are other victims of violent crimes who are beingthreatened by their abusers. What is different is that most violent criminals never reassault or even
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
Batterers are
elieved in
laming victims.
 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
amazing omission, given that at least 47 states and the District of Columbia require courts to consider domestic violence when making child custody determinations. (The three states which do not areConnecticut, Mississippi and Utah.)22Judges, like mental health professionals, make the gender biased and inaccurate assumption that mostdomestic violence or child abuse accusations made in custody cases are falsely made for tacticalgain, so take these cases far less seriously than they should.23 In fact, incest allegations are onlymade in 2-3% of custody cases, and mothers make few false accusations either of domesticviolence24 or of child sexual abuse.25 Although no psychological test can definitively prove thatsomeone has battered or sexually abused someone,26 many family courts require women toconclusively prove the abuse±a virtually impossible burden±or they refuse to believe that any abusehappened.Furthermore, because most assessment tools used in custody evaluations were never developed totake into account the effects of domestic violence on victims, the tools distort the results toincorrectly show that most frightened victims are paranoid or have other psychiatric disorders, suchas major depression, paranoid schizophrenia, dependent personality disorder, or borderline personality disorder,27diagnoses that will hurt her in any custody fight.28 Without experts able torefute 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.Despite myths put out by fathers that mothers always win custody cases, fathers actually win custodyin 70% of custody disputes,29 and this is true even though most men who abuse women and childrenare far more likely than other fathers to fight for custody and engage in prolonged litigation.30
Batterers Retaliate
 Batterers do not only manipulate mental health professionals. When batterers feel that their authorityis being threatened, they escalate their violent and terroristic tactics, often threatening to kill or seriously injure their victims,31 their families, children or loved ones,32 and even themselves.33After separation they often carry out these threats, hurting their partners 14 times as often after separation as when they were together.34 Most of these men also rape their female partners, andthese rapes are more brutal than stranger rapes, and 10% of the rapes occur in from of the children.35Batterers retaliate in many other ways as well, often being extremely imaginative and unpredictable.They are notorious in fighting for custody,36 even though most of them never paid much attention tothe children while then they were together with the children¶s mother.37 Most batterers seek thechildren knowing that depriving the mother of custody is the best way to punish and hurt her.38Batterers, who are notoriously poor at paying child support,39 also know that winning custody notonly absolves them from having to pay child support, it may obligate the mothers to pay them childsupport, which they see as another way to hurt the women.

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