“What have John Bobbitt’s penis and too many children of divorce got in common?”

I know it sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it’s not. Both stories involve domestic violence, sexual abuse, and a bad narrative.

In an insightful story by Amy Chozic in the New York Times we hear about a young immigrant who endured years of domestic violence, was raped by her husband that night, had nowhere to go and finally snapped.

That is the story she tells in “Lorena,” a four-part, Jordan Peele-produced documentary that will debut on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 15.

John Bobbitt, a former marine, now a porn star with a “reattached and then, a couple of years later, surgically kind-of enlarged penis,’ denies all charges but went on to abuse other women. Described her as crazy. “I don’t even buy that he was raping her,” Stern said on one segment with John Bobbitt. “She’s not that great looking.”.

A young immigrant who endured years of domestic violence, was raped by her husband that night, had nowhere to go and finally snapped.

Lorena wasn’t the only woman harmed by his abuse, or the narrative that followed, but back to the children of divorce, domestic violence and rape.

There is no ideal divorce, but some divorces are a lot more dangerous than others. These are the divorces where women, and usually children, have found the right time to flee the mix of coercive control, physical and sometimes sexual violence they are experiencing.

When they do they throw themselves into the hands of family law judges who divide the property, and too often the children; including custody and rights to unsupervised visitation.

For the children of the worst abusers, the contested custody cases that courts call ‘High Conflict Cases,’ that’s the 3.8% of cases that are contested custody cases, the worst is yet to come. But this time it will be ordered by a family court judge.

Research from the National Institute of Justice, part of the Department of Justice, found that judges are making dangerous custody decisions in most custody cases where, and domestic violence, or sexual abuse including child sexual abuse has been claimed, and abusers counter with standard alienation claims that judges want to believe.

The Bala Study establishes that mothers in contested custody cases make deliberate false reports less than 2% of the time.  Nevertheless, abusers win 7 out of 10 cases involving domestic violence and 8 out of 10 cases that involve sexual abuse. The children in these cases suffer far worse than John Wayne Bobbitt ever did.

Courts demonstrate a belief that the ‘alienation’ of children from abusers is more harmful to children than witnessing domestic violence or abuse even though the Adverse Childhood Experience Study from the Centers for Disease Control shows this is dangerous.

Shocking? Imagine how it feels if you are the child.

The Saunders Study, also from the National Institute of Justice, shows why. Courts, naturally conservative, cling onto old, discredited theories like parental alienation syndrome. A theory developed by Doctor Richard Gardner.

Doctor Gardner was a child psychiatrist known for his work in psychotherapy with children introduced the term Parental Alienation Syndrome. He wrote 41 books and more than 200 professional journal articles and book chapters. His theories on parental alienation became the belief of our courts and started a cottage industry of evaluators and lawyers that make large incomes helping wealthy abusers. The acceptance of those beliefs creates a dangerous risk for children.

Doctor Gardner also believed it was okay for adults to have sex with children and made such statements that supported it.


“Older children may be helped to appreciate that sexual encounters between an adult and a child are not universally considered to be reprehensible act.”

Doctor Richard Gardner


To protect children from dangerous abusers America’s family and custody court judges must consider the latest research, recognize that abusers alienate themselves from their children, and introduce experts in domestic violence and child sexual abuse.

Not to, will sentence America’s children of divorce to continued harm.


It might make Judge Tom, and Sally look like Judge Dick too.

Mapping Gender: Shedding Empirical Light on Family Courts’ Treatment of Cases Involving Abuse and Alienation Joan S. Meier Sean Dickson.

Child Custody Evaluators’ Beliefs About Domestic Abuse Allegations: Their Relationship to Evaluator Demographics, Background, Domestic Violence Knowledge and Custody Visitation Recommendations Author: Daniel G. Saunders, Ph.D., Kathleen C. Faller, Ph.D., Richard M. Tolman, Ph.D.

An historical perspective on family violence and child abuse: Comment on Moloney et al, Allegations of Family Violence, 12 June 2007. Nicholas Bala PhD


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Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis


Andrew was a Captain in the British Army before practicing integrated marketing communications and marketing, mostly for global brands. A survivor of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and suicide, Andrew dedicated the second half of his life to protecting children from trauma.

Andrew has an ACE score of 5.


Authors express their own opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stop Abuse Campaign.